Who doesn’t love buffalo wings?! They are one of my favorite foods, however they aren’t the healthiest of snacks. What a lot of people don’t know is that buffalo sauce at most restaurants has a TON of butter, no wonder it’s so addicting. Plus sometimes they have a lot of breading, and to top it off they are deep-fried. This usually doesn’t stop me from ordering them, but it does stop me from making them at home. There are however, lots of alternatives that you can make at home that can satisfy your craving without having a deep-fried, drenched in butter appetizer.
I’ll start off with Buffalo Chicken Blue Cheese Dip, a little lighter than your typical version. Than a gluten-free staple in my house, Buffalo Quinoa and Cheese. It’s seriously so delicious, you won’t miss the macaroni. To top it off, I’ll show you Buffalo Cauliflower Bites. These are the closest to wings, they are so good…plus you are getting a full serving of vegetables!
The first time I had buffalo chicken dip I was instantly addicted. Then I learned it was made with processed chicken, lots of cream cheese and half a bottle of ranch dressing. I decided to try to make this healthier, without sacrificing all the addictive qualities. I used greek yogurt and yogurt dressing, plus 2% cheese…and it’s amazing! I love blue cheese so I put lots in, but it can easily be substituted or skipped if you choose. Just mix it all up and bake until it’s nice and bubbly.
Next, the main attraction. I love macaroni and cheese, and of course hot sauce. My favorite veggie is broccoli, throw in some quinoa and BAM! This sauce can also be used with any kind of starch, including macaroni.
Start by making your quinoa. Take uncooked quinoa and rinse it really well, then place in a pan. Add in chicken broth and stir. Then carefully set broccoli on top of quinoa without mixing, and cook to quinoa directions or until all the broth is absorbed.
The sauce does take a couple of steps, but it’s really REALLY quick. Have everything ready to go, or you’ll be rushing while the sauce is coming together.
Start by making a béchamel sauce, which is basically a cream sauce. First, melt some butter, saute some garlic, then add the flour. Whisk until the flour starts to brown.
Then slowly add the milk, whisking at the same time. Whisk until smooth. Then stir until the mixture is nice and thick. The trick to knowing if the sauce is thick enough is to dip a wooden spoon into the sauce. Then run your finger down the middle of the back of the spoon (be careful, it’s hot). If the line made by your finger stays without running, you know the sauce is thick enough.
Then start stirring in all the cheesy glorious-ness. So…much…cheese. LOVE IT! Just save a little bit of each to sprinkle on top before baking.
Stir until all the cheeses are melted. Keep it together…it only gets better. Add BUTTER and FRANK’S hot sauce…now you have liquid gold.
Add the cubed chicken and quinoa/broccoli mixture and stir it allll together. Please refrain from picking up a spoon and eating it all now.
Then carefully pour everything into a greased 9×9 baking dish. Top it with some left over cheese.
Bake for 15 minutes at 375°. Then turn on your broiler and let the cheese brown up a little. Top it with cilantro and green onion and serve it up with some celery and carrots to get the whole “wing experience”. Try to have a little control and save some, the leftovers are even better after sitting overnight! You’re welcome
This last gem is a Pinterest find that I have changed up a little. These are a great way to get your veggie in, but it’s also a delicious side dish alternative to french fries. I usually make this when we have burgers.
While we are on the buffalo subject, I’ll beg you all to try another one of my favorites. The buffalo chicken burger patties at Mariano’s and Whole Foods are life changing. It’s so much better than a grilled chicken breast dipped in buffalo sauce. They have blue cheese, hot sauce and seasoning…ALL IN ONE PATTY. Do it.
Ok, back to the cauliflower. I prefer a lighter batter, I didn’t like a few I tried from Pinterest, they used way too much flour and ended up tasting too “doughy.” I also used buttermilk because it gives a nice tang, and most boneless wings are marinated in buttermilk. I add garlic and onion powder then salt and pepper, which is basically all that’s in those ranch seasoning packets. Mix it allll together in a big bowl, just use your hands.
But these little gems onto a greased baking sheet, or line one with a silicone sheet.
Silpat sheets are seriously the best. They are nonstick, without having to use a greasy spray (more calories).
Bake the cauliflower at 450° for 20 minutes. While they are baking make the hot sauce mixture. Melt butter, then mix in hot sauce and honey and whisk it together. Remove the cauliflower from the oven after 20 minutes. Coat them with the hot sauce mixture.
You can brush them, individually dip each one, or put all back into a large bowl and coat well with hot sauce. Return cauliflower to the oven for another 10 minutes. Let them cool, then serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing. I love to dip in Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Blue Cheese dressing. ENJOY!
I seriously love anything buffalo, and these are some great things to make at home. Nothing cuts it like wings, but my versions are much healthier and ALMOST just as satisfying. If you ever want to cheat, I have a couple of recommendations for amazing wings. For the Chicagoland area, Two Brothers Tap House in Warrenville makes awesome smoked wings. They serve it with their homemade Blue Cheese dressing, I could drink this stuff. But my all time favorite wings are from Mackinaw Brewing Company in Traverse City, MI. They house smoke the wings, and they are AMAZEBALLS!
I promise if you make these recipes at home everyone in the family while love them!
I also posted a couple new recipes earlier this week, so please check them out! Just keeping it Hopefully Healthy! Have a great week…and Happy Spring!