Longtime readers of this blog may remember that I have not always been great at packing leftovers to take for lunch. Well, I’m happy to report that I’ve really turned that ship around and now take my lunch four or five days per week. I think my hurdle was always portion control, but I finally solved that problem by buying several identical, 2-cup pyrex containers. Now I’ll shove however much leftovers will fit in that container, and that’s my lunch. Easy peasy.
I may have gotten the hang of packing my lunch for the time being, but I’m still definitely a lunch-packing novice. You know what sounds terrifying? Packing a lunch for kids. Figuring out things they like, things that are healthy, things that will keep well in a lunch box…and then getting that ready on top of all the other cooking you do. Plus, even if you successfully do it once, chances are they’ll want lunch the next day and the day after that, and then it just snowballs until you’re really in a pickle. Plus, if you have kids to pack lunches for, you probably have to do other kid-related chores, like making them brush their teeth and buying them new shoes when their feet grow and taking their temperature if they start sniffling. I don’t know, man. Sounds like a lot of work.
AND – even if you get all that stuff done and manage to pack them wholesome, healthy lunches every day of the week, it may turn out that your kid has a smart mouth and will serve you with one of these. Get a load of those kids! “Today on my sandwich the bread was stale and the cheese was rotten.” Yikes. That’s a kid who needs to spend the next week eating from the school cafeteria.
Anyway. I don’t know what kind of mean notes this buffalo chicken potato casserole would get me from kids, but I enjoyed it very much for two lunches in a row.
BUFFALO CHICKEN POTATO CASSEROLE (adapted from Cook Lisa Cook)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks (I used Yukon gold)
1 cup chopped carrots and celery (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 cup hot sauce (such as Frank’s)
8 oz shredded cheese (I used half cheddar, half pepperjack)
1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles (optional)
4 slices bacon, diced and pan-fried until crispy
3 green onions, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 500. In large bowl, mix together olive oil, salt and pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and hot sauce. Add potatoes and carrots and celery (if using) to bowl, tossing to coat. Toss to coat, then carefully remove veggies from bowl and onto baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray, leaving as much of the sauce mixture in bowl as possible.
2. Bake veggies 40-50 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking, until they are cooked through and browned. While veggies cook, add (raw) chicken pieces to bowl with remaining sauce, stirring to coat.
3. When potatoes are fully cooked, remove from oven and reduce temperature to 400. Top potatoes with marinated chicken pieces, then top with cheeses, bacon, and green onions.
4. Return dish to oven and cook 10-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and cheese is bubbly. Serve with additional hot sauce or ranch dressing, if desired.
Not the healthiest dish I’ve ever made, but it sure was good. I decided to add some chopped carrots in with the potatoes just because I happened to have them, but I think adding both carrots and celery would be a great way to up the veggie content in this dish. It probably goes without saying given that the word “buffalo” is in the recipe title, but this was very much husband-approved, too.