Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta (and keeping up with New Years resolutions…)

268 baked buffalo chicken pasta

By this point in 2013, we’ve all forgotten about our New Years resolutions, right? Your fingernails are freshly bitten, you’ve had a cookie in the past 24 hours, and and your spare bedroom/hall closet/kitchen cabinets are just as disorganized as ever. It’s OK — we’re all friends here. I won’t judge you for not making it to the gym this week.

This year, I did go ahead and make a couple of resolutions, but nothing crazy like eliminating sweets or working out every day or anything like that. I decided to aim a little lot lower this year, and (knock on wood) I’ve actually done OK. My first resolution was to write down one thing that made me happy or thankful each day, and that one has actually been really fun to keep. Even when life is going well, it’s easy to focus on the negative, so forcing myself to spend ten seconds each day reflecting on the good stuff has been really nice.

My second resolution can’t really be called a “new years” resolution, because I only resolved to follow it for the first three months — and that is, don’t buy any new clothes in the first quarter of 2013. Moving into our new apartment has forced me to share a closet with my husband, which has in turn forced me to realize how much my wardrobe has gotten out of control. Maybe someday I’ll take on the monstrous task of sorting through/weeding out/getting rid/donating, but for now my goal is merely to avoid adding to the problem. At least until April 1 : )

Thank goodness I didn’t resolve to stop eating yummy baked pastas full of cheese and chicken. I mean, that would really be crazy.

BAKED BUFFALO CHICKEN PASTA (recipe from Prevention RD)

1 lb short whole wheat pasta (penne, fusilli, ziti, etc)
3 skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into chunks
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk (skim is fine)
4 oz Monterey jack cheese, grated (1/2 an 8-oz package)
1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce, plus more for drizzling on top
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 375. Cook pasta (to al dente) according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. While pasta is cooking, heat medium saucepan over medium heat. Add butter, allow to heat up until melted and bubbly, then add flour. Whisk together to create a roux and cook for 1-2 minutes until mixture turns slightly golden-colored. Add milk, stir, and reduce heat to low. Continue stirring until milk thickens. Add in grated Monterey jack and cheddar cheeses and continue to stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in buffalo wing sauce (you can add more than 1/3 cup if you like things spicier). Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
3. Spray a 9 x 13 dish with non-stick or olive oil spray. Add pasta and chicken, then pour in buffalo/cheese sauce, mixing thoroughly until everything is coated. Sprinkle with panko. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
4. Remove from oven and immediately top with gorgonzola, green onions and cilantro. Drizzle with additional buffalo wing sauce.

We both liked this a lot — even though I used whole wheat pasta, skim milk, and part-skim cheese, it still tasted nice and decadent. It’s hard to beat that buffalo flavor!

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