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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake

Aaron has an unhealthy obsession with Pizza Hut's boneless buffalo wings.  On Wednesdays they have a deal where the wings are only 50 cents each.  An 8 piece buffalo wings only costs $4.  Back when I used to go to Mom's on Wednesdays instead of Tuesdays Aaron used to order wings while I was out.  He's been trying to find a cheaper substitute because Pizza Hut is kind of expensive, but nothing really compares to Pizza Hut.

Ever since I got pregnant with Bailey I just can't handle the smell of buffalo sauce.  When I was pregnant it made me downright sick, but now it's just annoying and unpleasant.  I guess part of it is the warm vinegar.  I can't stand that smell.  Anyway, I was looking on Pinterest for new recipes for May and realized that I had pinned this buffalo chicken pasta bake almost a year ago and had yet to try it because of my distaste for buffalo sauce.  I decided that it was time to make something for Aaron even if I ended up hating it.  I have to say, to have been made with buffalo sauce it really wasn't too bad, and Aaron really enjoyed it.

As I had expected, Bailey did not like it.  It's not really a meal for little kids, especially kids who can't handle spicy foods.  The pasta IS spicy so if you can't handle spicy foods then please skip this recipe.  If you like spicy then this is definitely for you.  I ended up making macaroni and cheese with ham and frozen veggies for Bailey, but maybe as she gets older she'll grow to like the buffalo sauce like her Daddy.  Buffalo sauce is kind of an acquired taste anyway.

The original recipe was a bit confusing because the ingredients are vague and I determined that the reason was because some people like more ranch and some like more buffalo sauce.   I decided to let Aaron taste the sauce and tell me when I had the mixture right and it only took two tries!   Definitely taste your sauce before you mix it with the pasta so that you can adjust it to your taste before you bake it.

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake

16 oz penne pasta, cooked and drained
1 lb chicken breast, cooked and cubed (2-3 breasts)
1/2-1 cup buffalo sauce of your choice
3/4-1 1/4 cup creamy ranch dressing
1-2 cups colby jack cheese, shredded
salt and pepper

Start by cooking the pasta and the chicken.  I cooked my chicken already cubed in a skillet with just olive oil and salt and pepper.  Cook the chicken until it is no longer pink.  You could also use pre-cooked chicken, shredded rotisserie or roasted chicken or leftover chicken from a previous meal.  You could grill the chicken too.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x9 baking dish with vegetable oil spray.

In a small mixing bowl combine 1/2 cup of the buffalo sauce and 3/4 cup of the ranch.  Mix them together and then taste and adjust according to your preference.  We ended up with 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp of buffalo sauce and 3/4 cup of ranch.  The original recipe called for Frank's Hot sauce but I already had this sauce in the fridge so I went with it.  I think any buffalo sauce you like would be fine.

In a large mixing bowl combine the pasta,

and the chicken.

Add the sauce mixture and about 1-1/2 cups of the cheese and mix well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Top with 1/2-1 cup of cheese if desired.  I desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Definitely serve this warm.  It wasn't very good once it started to get cold, but I'm a mom so I usually end up eating my food cold anyway.

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