Easy One-Pot Buffalo Chicken Pasta

One thing that has surprised me about having a baby is how much longer everything takes. Getting out the door, doing laundry, going to bed, making dinner…. The only things that seem to be happening faster these days are eating, showering, and sleeping. So as much as I love a good complicated recipe, I have been defaulting to quick and easy dishes pretty much every night (that doesn’t end in fast food :/ ). Things that I can throw together in 30 minutes or less are perfect for me. And if the recipe doesn’t dirty a ton of dishes, then it’s really a winner. So when I made the Skillet BBQ Chicken Pasta from Nicole’s new cookbook a few weeks ago, I was in love – and inspired!

After making that pasta dish I almost immediately started thinking about making a Buffalo Chicken version. I thought the creamy pasta base would be a perfect match for the spicy Buffalo sauce. I have made different versions of Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese several times, and while they were all amazingly delicious, they were also packed full of fatty calories and more time consuming to make. This pasta is lightened up with the use of Greek yogurt and less cheese and also easier to make! Definitely a new favorite in our house!

 


A few more spicy Buffalo ideas!
Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells
Homemade Buffalo Sauce
Buffalo Chicken Salad
Buffalo Chicken Bites

Slow Cooker Chicken and Quinoa Chili

Even living in a slightly warmer climate, there’s just something about winter that makes me crave hearty, warm, soups and chilis. These warm and hearty dinners are even better when they basically prepare themselves. That’s one of the things I loved about this chili. I literally threw all of the ingredients in my slowcooker and let time do the rest. The other great thing about this chili is that its good for you! Loaded with good for you quinoa, black beans, tomatoes, and corn and have very minimal fat (especially if you top it with nonfat Greek yogurt and low fat cheese!). Oh, and they go perfectly with those Cheddar Jalapeno Drop Biscuits I posted last week!

I was excited when I found this recipe, but of course I had to make a few adjustments. First, I like a bit of smokey spicy taste to my chili, so I replaced the bell pepper with chipotle pepper. Second, I upped the smokey flavor by using fire-roasted tomatoes. If you can’t find fire-roasted tomatoes (or don’t care for them) you can of course use regular tomatoes, but I really loved the flavor they added. I also cut back just a bit on the chicken stock and added some tomato paste. I wanted a thick chili and I think the result was really great. Finally, I had a huge split chicken breast thawed, so I used that instead of boneless skinless. I’m sure the bones helped to add a little bit of flavor, but to be honest the breast was so tender it just fell away from the bones, and it was kind of a pain making sure that I got all of them out of the thick chili. Next time I’ll probably go the boneless skinless route (and the recipe below will reflect that).

 

 

Honey Sesame Chicken

I am surrounded by delicious, authentic Chinese food and I have lots of local favorites. There is a cabbage dish at a local restaurant that I could literally eat every single day for the rest of my life. I’ve also come to appreciate and love a level of spicy unlike anything I’ve ever had in the US (seriously, not the kind of spicy that makes you sweat, the kind that literally makes your mouth go numb). And there is a green bean dish that I order at every single restaurant that has it. But sometimes….

Well… sometimes I crave American Chinese food. That’s right. I live in China and I crave Chinese food – from America. Food that is sticky and sweet and salty (kind of like the Jack Daniels Glaze). Sad, I know.

I was having one of those cravings a few weeks ago, so I went on the hunt for a recipe. I came across this Honey Sesame Chicken and I knew it would be a winner. This chicken had all of the flavors I was looking for. The recipe originally called for using a crockpot – but I don’t have one here in China, so I just used my dutch oven and cooked it in the oven. It was still very easy and mostly hands off! I’ll include both methods so you can choose!

 

 

Mexi-Corn

The family that worked for in San Diego had a dog, but not just a dog, a really cool dog. He knew all sorts of fun tricks and was generally really well behaved. Since we never had a dog when I was growing up, he was really the first dog that I got to spend an extended and consistent amount of time with. We got to be great friends and he really opened my eyes to the “dog world”.

Our favorite times together were when I would sing to him. (OK, his favorite times were actually probably more like when I would take him for a walk or feed him. But my favorite times were when I would sing.) His name was Max and one of the songs I would sing to him went a little like this, “Maxito Bombito from Max-ico. Likes to eat Max-a-roni and cheese and sometimes Max-ican.” Original lyrics, huh? Anyway, I couldn’t help but giggle when I was making this side dish. Totally reminded me of him. :)

Along with making me giggle, this corn was just the side dish I was looking for when making Enchilada Casserole. It’s light but still flavorful and ridiculously easy. I also love the pops of color it adds to the meal. And as it turns, it’s also really good when scooped up on a chip and eaten like salsa.  If you’re in a rut and looking for a new side dish to add to your rotation, give this a try!