One of my best friends has a pretty rockin’ blog where she covers everything fashion and fitness. It’s pretty awesome, you should check it out here.
I was inspired by one of her recent “Recipes of the Week,” where she used Greek yogurt and Ranch seasoning packet to make her buffalo chicken mac on the lighter side.
So I was just about to make the exact same dish, until I realized – I’m out of Greek yogurt (gasp)! So I used what I had on hand to create my own variation of this dish. Best news is, it’s still pretty healthy given I avoided using the typical cup or two of ranch dressing and I used lower fat cream cheese.
Here’s what you’ll need for a 9” x 11” Pyrex dish of buffalo chicken mac and cheese, which serves 8-10 people easily:
- 2-3 cups of dry whole wheat pasta
- 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, shredded
- Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce
- ¾ of a package of reduced fat cream cheese
- 1 cup of low fat shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup of Panko bread crumbs (optional, for crunch)
- Gorgonzola cheese crumbs (optional)
1) The night before you plan to make this, boil your chicken breasts in water. Once they’ve cooled down, shred them up using two forks and some muscle.
2) Now, once you’re ready to make the dish, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and spray your Pyrex dish with some non-stick cooking spray.
3) Boil your whole wheat pasta (can also use rice pasta) in hot water. Cook it until a bit under al dente, as it will cook a bit more once in the oven.
4) In a skillet, combine your shredded chicken with the hot sauce. Use as little or as much as you like – it all depends on how spicy you like your pasta dish.
5) Once simmering, add in ¾ of a standard package of reduced fat cream cheese (at room temperature). Use a potato masher utensil to really break up the cream cheese and incorporate it into the chicken.
6) Combine pasta into large skillet with the spicy chicken. Give it a few stirs, then transfer it to your greased Pyrex dish.
7) Top with cheeses (optional, and comes with additional calories, of course) and Panko bread crumbs for a crunch. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until your cheese comes out nice and bubbly.
This dish is very filling, so watch your portions and add a side of veggies so you don’t go back for thirds. Although I didn’t use ranch dressing, you really couldn’t notice as the cream cheese gave it a lot of flavor. And Panko is my all-time favorite ingredients, since it is a healthier alternative to standard breadcrumbs and gives the same crunch as some ground up Ritz crackers.