There’s this small restaurant near the town where I grew up that holds a very special place in my heart. I know, you’ve heard this before, but go with this.
I grew up a stone’s throw from Evanston, IL, home of Northwestern University, and also home to many many high school memories. Our town had little or nothing to do on weekends, so we’d venture to Evanston to hang out on the lakefront, gouge ourselves on Kentucky sundaes (a.k.a. the Kinky Sundae, but that’s a story for when I recreate it), and sit on the outdoor patio of our favorite cafe well into the winter months.
This story of Evanston goes back farther than high school though. I was about 9 years old, and my mom came home with quite possibly, the most amazing cheese fries I’d ever tasted. Real melted cheddar atop crispy waffle-cut fries… I drool just thinking about them. But there was something else. There was a white paper bag with a spicy smell I’d never smelled before… the scent was none other than Buffalo sauce. The restaurant? Buffalo Joe’s.
This began a long and rather sordid affair with all things Buffalo flavored. Every time I came back into town from college, I’d go to Buffalo Joe’s. I’d venture from the mild sauce, to the hot, eventually to the “suicide” sauce, and always got a side of the cheddar fries. (Any guesses as to how I gained 40 pounds my freshman year of college?)
You want to know where I’m going with this? My obsession with all things Buffalo sauce moved into my favorite dip, and when I saw that Spiceaholic over at Spice’s Bites made a Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese, I had to do it. I varied from her recipe a bit, but the general idea is the same.
Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
* 1 lb. cooked whole wheat pasta, kept hot
* 2 large chicken breasts, diced
* 8 oz. fat free cream cheese
* 1/4 c. fat free sour cream
* 2 c. reduced-fat cheddar cheese
* 1 packed fat free ranch mix (Hidden Valley or the like)
* 2 c. steamed broccoli
* 1/4 c. panko breadcrumbs
* Frank’s Red Hot Sauce to taste (I used about 1/4 c.)
Pre-heat your oven to 375*. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken until cooked through, then sprinkle the ranch mix over the chicken. Cook a few minutes, then add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Add the sour cream, cheese, Frank’s Red Hot, and then stir in the noodles and broccoli. (You could easily stop here and just eat.) Pour the entire macaroni and cheese mixture into a baking pan. Sprinkle with panko and bake until golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
Enjoy I did. I had a nice bowl of this spicy concoction and gladly offered it to Adam. Who tasted it and promptly declared it “weird” and left it all for me.
Don’t forget to enter the Chavrie and Alouette Giveaway by tomorrow night!
Do you have a food obsession like mine with Buffalo?