Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

It's winter.  That means it is time for comfort food.

And what is more comforting than macaroni and cheese?  And what's easier than a crockpot?

I found this recipe on Pinterest from the Crockpot Gourmet, and it looked absolutely delicious.  But, as I am trying to be healthier, I wondered if I could maybe modify it to make it a little better.

At least a little, it's still macaroni and cheese.

This was the result, and it was absolutely delicious!  Rich and creamy with a nice kick from the buffalo sauce.  When I input the ingredients into MyFitnessPal, it came up with the calculation of 488 calories per serving, which is about a cup.  It's super filling, so a cup with a nice side salad would be a perfect meal!

I made a few changes, using vegan butter and greek yogurt, as well as reduced fat cheese and coconut - almond milk.  I also used whole grain pasta (and tried it with gluten free as well) and both were delicious.  Some added protein and healthy ingredients and you can't tell the difference!

And, it's even better the next day.  I actually doubled this recipe and had lots of leftovers!

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
(Serves 5 - 488 Calories per Cup)

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups low sodium, fat free chicken broth
1/2 cup Frank's hot sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
8 oz. whole grain pasta
3 tablespoons butter (I used vegan butter and it was delicious!)
2 tbsp. flour
2 cups unsweetened almond or almond coconut milk
1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt
2 cups reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese

Spray crockpot insert.  Place the chicken breasts, hot sauce, chicken broth, garlic powder, and onion powder in the crockpot and stir to combine.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours.

Remove cooked chicken and shred with a fork, then add back into the crockpot.  Pour the pasta in the crockpot and cook in the sauce for about 30 minutes (or until done).  If you need to, add a splash more chicken broth.

When the pasta is near done, melt butter in a saucepan and whisk in flour.  Cook for a minute, whisking constantly, to cook out the flour taste.  Slowly pour in milk, whisking until smooth.  Then add Greek yogurt, whisking until it is melted into the sauce. 

Bring to a simmer - about 4-6 minutes - until sauce thickens.  It won't be as thick as a regular cheese sauce but it will thicken up!  Remove from heat and add cheese, stirring until melted and smooth.

Add cheese sauce to crockpot and stir to combine.  Turn the crockpot to low and let it sit for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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