Thirty Minute Thursdays: Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Potatoes. Yeah, I went there.

My high school gustatory passions pretty much consisted of cheesesteaks, French fries (cheese fries were even more heavenly), and buffalo wings – the hotter, the better. I remember one time actually needing to hold ice cubes to my lips after a particularly harrowing experience courtesy of a hotel room service menu in Colorado. I haven’t bitten into a real cheesesteak since giving up non-grassfed beef almost a year ago, and my French fry consumption has mostly been weaned out and replaced by things like roasted root vegetables cut into fry shapes (lest you think this is some form of self-deprivation, I’d like to add that I find the roasted veggies to be much tastier now than a plate of greasy fries). I also haven’t chowed down on a good plate of wings in what seems like eons.

So when I saw a recipe for buffalo chicken sandwiches in Rachael Ray’s Classic 30 Minute Meals, I couldn’t get it off my mind. Every week when I sat down to plan my menu, I would think of that recipe. It was only a matter of time before I gave in and tried it out. Of course, I revamped it, giving it my RD-to-Be stamp of approval (without, of course, disappointing the high schooler who is still very much a part of me, believe it or not). I also like to think that I cut back on some of the total calories, making it a more me-sized meal, since I tend to eat several smaller meals throughout the day. One super-stuffed baked potato and a chicken sandwich and dessert just seemed like a bit much.

Words cannot describe what I wound up with on my plate that night. This was a total indulgence, 100% enjoyable, and not even something that anyone should feel overly guilty about (brushing aside the whole-other debate of whether or not there’s really any food we should feel guilty about in the long run). With this meal, you get fiber, lean protein, and more flavor than some people might know what to do with. This is also the first time I’ve liked celery in a dish – it gave the potato filling a nice crunch and freshness – so bonus points for that.

Next time, I might make it a little spicier – the buffalo flavor came through loud and clear, but needless to say I didn’t need 10 glasses of water to help me through the finish line. I also need to remember that microwaving times vary depending on how much food is being heated in them, so when I cut the recipe down and didn’t change the potato cooking time, I wound up with some pretty shriveled potato skins. Not the end of the world.

In the end, this is probably my favorite from Rachael Ray’s cookbook so far. I may actually catalog this in my real, honest-to-goodness recipe box, and if you’ve been following my Thirty Minute Thursday posts at all, you’ll know that most of the time I tell you that her recipes are really just rough guidelines to keep in the back of your mind. They aren’t the kind of meals you need to follow step-by-step. It’s true that you can tweak this and mess around with it just like the other recipes, but I do want to remember this for future meals because you can bet it’ll be gracing the Floptimism kitchen again. And again. And again…

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Baked Potato, adapted from Rachael Ray’s Classic 30 Minute Meals
Yield: 4 servings

The Ingredients
4 small all-purpose potatoes
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
olive oil, to drizzle
½ cup non-fat plain greek yogurt
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 celery ribs, chopped
¾ cup crumbled blue cheese
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup hot pepper sauce
for serving:
2 large carrots, cut into sticks
4 celery ribs, cut into sticks

The Method
Pierce the potatoes with a fork to allow for venting and microwave on high for approximately 12 minutes, or until well-heated and cooked. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, lightly grease a large skillet. Cube the chicken and season with pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Place the chicken in the skillet over medium-high heat and cook all the way through, flipping halfway, approximately 5-10 minutes total.

Return to the potatoes while the chicken cooks: slit the tops of the potatoes and scoop out the flesh into a small bowl. Mix in the greek yogurt, onion, chopped celery, blue cheese, and pepper. Divide the mixture evenly back into the potato skins and broil to lightly brown the tops.

While the potatoes are browning, put the finishing touches on the chicken by transferring the chunks to the bowl you just used for the potato filling. Add in the hot sauce and toss to coat. Serve with the potatoes and carrot & celery sticks on the side.


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