buffalo chicken quinoa casserole

The ultimate guilty-pleasure...  with a little bit of health thrown in.

Buffalo chicken in a quinoa-loaded casserole.  Yum!

If you have never tried quinoa before, it is a super-healthy protein-packed starch that is a great replacement for rice in recipes.  Give it a try sometime!

(And if you are scared of buffalo sauce, try this Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole!)

I make my own condensed cream-of-chicken soup, though you can obviously substitute the canned stuff...

But homemade is super simple and much better for you (not to mention cheaper!) than the canned stuff!

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Casserole Recipe

4 cups cooked quinoa
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cups chopped celery
3 chicken breasts, diced or shredded
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Frank's buffalo sauce, divided (3/4 cup + 1/4 cup)
3 cups homemade condensed cream of chicken soup* (or 2 regular cans)
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Butter a 9x13" baking dish.

In a large pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Sauté the onions & celery until soft and the add in the chicken and garlic, sautéing until the chicken is cooked through.  Stir in 3/4 cup buffalo sauce and simmer until the sauce has thickened and reduced a bit;  Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the cooked quinoa, cream of chicken soup, mayo, most of the shredded cheese (saving a little bit to sprinkle on top) and the remaining 1/4 cup buffalo sauce.

Gently fold in the chicken/celery/onion mixture and dump into the greased pan.  Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top is golden and the casserole is bubbling.

Serve with a drizzle of blue cheese dressing (or crumbles sprinkled on top!) if you'd like, and fresh celery on the side!

*Homemade Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup Recipe
makes 3 cups (or 2 cans worth)

1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups milk, divided (1/2 cup + 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt & pepper, to taste
2/3 cup + 1/4 cup flour

In a small saucepan, combine the chicken stock, 1/2 cup milk, and seasonings and bring to a boil. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and remaining 1 cup cold milk. Whisk the flour mixture into the boiling stock mixture and continue boiling and whisking until you have reached your desired thickness (won't take more than a minute)!

Use as directed in any recipe calling for condensed soup!

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