Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dinner Time

A few days ago, when Jordan and I were trying to decide on dinner, we realized that we were missing a key ingredient for one of our favorite easy comfort food meals, poppyseed chicken. Not wanting to drive the 1 mile to the grocery store and remembering I'd recently bought all the ingredients for a Pinterest meal, I jumped out on a limb and tried out a new Pinterest-inspired meal!

I LOVE all things buffalo. I'm not necessarily a fan of nuclear hot food, but give me some moderately hot buffalo wings any day. Kickin Chicken Sandwich from Zaxby's? Drool. WingStop? Yes, please. You get the picture, right? So when I saw someone had posted a recipe for Buffalo Chicken Casserole, I knew it'd be right up my alley. Thankfully, Jordan and I are equally yoked when it comes to a love of buffalo things, so I knew he'd probably also enjoy this meal!

The original meal feeds 6-8 people (9x13"pan), which is an entire family more than what we actually need food for, so I tweaked & adjusted the portions to make an 8x8" pan's worth of food. We both ate full plates of food (and by full plates, I mean, my hubby cleaned his plate and I ate about 6 bites and was stuffed.) Some of the measurements are approximations and I've included a few tips that I think I'll put into practice when I make this meal for a second time. It's easy to prepare, filling, and comforting food. It would be a perfect hospital meal or freezer casserole. Try it out sometime!

Buffalo Chicken Casserole

MmmMmmMmm... Molten bubbly goodness

1 large or 2 small Chicken breasts, thawed and cut into strips
1/3 Cup Frank's red hot buffalo sauce
1 Can Cream of chicken soup
1/2 Cup Ranch dressing
1/2 Cup shredded cheese
2.5 Cups frozen hashbrowns (the shredded kind)
Enough Panko to cover the top
Salt & Pepper to taste

350 degrees.
Spray 8x8" pan with cooking spray. Season chicken with salt & pepper and combine with buffalo sauce. This is your first layer, so go ahead & dump that into your pan and spread it out to a nice even layer. Mix the next 4 ingredients in a separate bowl until it's all cohesive and lovely, then make that layer numero dos in your pan. Sprinkle the panko over the top for the third and final layer. Cover with aluminum foil and bake x30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 25 minutes or until golden brown & bubbly. After this, I ended up popping the pan under the broiler for another 3 minutes to get a nice & crispy topping. Eat something relatively redeeming along with this cheesy creamy buffalo fest like a salad or something.

Here's what I think I'll do differently next time: first, I think this would be yummier with shredded chicken versus the chicken strips/chunks. I'll often buy a rotisserie chicken from the store, shred the meat and use it in a few different applications, and now also this casserole. I ended up putting a few shakes of Frank's on top of my dished out portion. If you're worried this will be too hot, I didn't find it to be overly hot even with the extra on top. Perhaps next time I'll bump the measurement up to 1/2 cup of hot sauce. I think I'll cut the potatoes to 2 cups and use sour cream plus ranch mix instead of the dressing, just because I'm not a big fan of bottled ranch dressing.  There are so many different ways to make this dish your own -- swap the ranch dressing for blue cheese -- use cream of celery instead of chicken -- top with shredded cheese instead of Panko -- the possibilities are varied and delicious! 

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