I developed the recipe for Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese as a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.
What is the dish that most screams “comfort food” to you? Is there a special recipe your mom made when you were little or that you want when you’ve had a rough day? When you’re tired and cold and it’s gloomy outside what are the foods that “call” to you, make you feel warm, at home, comfortable and content? Being part of this fun #CookinComfort campaign with #CollectiveBias got me thinking about what comfort food really is. When someone calls a dish “comfort food”, we inherently know what they mean, but the specific foods that say “comfort” to one person may not be the same ones that appeal to someone else. Is it cultural? Is it about memories? Is it about feeling loved and pampered? Is it about amazing flavors? Is it about simplicity? Or is it about the time spent with friends and family enjoying that food? YES! I think it’s all of them. “Comfort food” evokes an emotional response that is triggered by any one, or a combination of, all of those things. It soothes, warms and satisfies. It transports you “home” and wraps you up in the feelings that mean “home” to you. Plus, it TASTES amazing! 🙂
You all know I’m usually a make-it-from-scratch kind of girl, but macaroni and cheese is one dish I have never perfected to my, or my family’s satisfaction. In the end we always still prefer “the box”, no matter how many different recipes I try. I guess that’s part of the “comfort” of it — that familiar, happy-memory-invoking creaminess and taste. Plus, it makes for a great time-saver in this dish, which you’ll love on busy nights where you need something hearty and wonderful, but don’t have a lot of time to invest. Kraft Shells and Cheese it is!
Living in a small town can make budget-friendly grocery shopping a little bit of a challenge, but I am incredibly fortunate to live in one of those small communities that is home to a Walmart Super Center. Original Kraft Velveeta Shells and Cheese was affordable and easy to find, there. As a shopper on a mission, being able to get in, get the ingredients I need and get out quickly is a perk. I like knowing my way around our hometown Walmart. The Kraft Shells and Cheese is in the pasta aisle and even with many brands and varieties to choose from, the familiar golden box, pops out at me from the shelves.
“Buffalo”-anything is an instant hit with my kids. I’m not exactly sure when the “buffalo phenomenon” swept across America, but I know I initially missed the memo. My older children first discovered it, in its many forms, and when I received the opportunity to create a comfort food recipe with Kraft, I decided to take my family’s new-found “buffalo” love and incorporate it in my dish. So, Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole was born. The crunchy, flavor-packed Ranch and Blue Cheese Topping takes this yummy dish to the extreme of perfection. Sadly, no matter how intense the effort, our crew of five has not been able to convert their mild-loving Dad to the “buffalo” craze, so for him, this dish was still “a little spicy”, but everyone else adored it! If you have “buffalo” fans in your home, this delicious dish will be an instant favorite! The recipe filled my large 4 1/2 quart Bubble and Brown Casserole Dish, so it’s plenty for a big family dinner, potluck at church or for a hungry, fired-up crew watching football. It would easily feed 12 – 16 people. Enjoy!
How to Make Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
- 3 boxes (12 oz) Kraft Velveeta Original Shells and Cheese
- 2½ lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
- ¼ cup butter
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ¾ cup buffalo sauce
- 1 cup green onion
- 1 cup red bell pepper
- 1 cup celery
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 cups cheddar
- 2 cups monterey jack
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- ½ cup ranch
- ½ cup blue cheese
- 2 cups Italian Panko
- Prepare Kraft Shells and Cheese according to package directions.
- In a large, deep skillet melt ¼ cup butter.
- Add chicken chunks, salting and peppering to taste. (I used no salt, since many of the other ingredients contain salt.)
- Stir the chicken, quickly, and then cover with a lid to allow to cook.10 -15 minutes should be sufficient for cooking the chicken through. You can easily boil the macaroni and cook the chicken, at the same time.
- When chicken has fully cooked, add bell peppers, onions and celery to the skillet.
- Then add cream cheese, sour cream and buffalo sauce.
- Stir all ingredients together over low heat, until cream cheese has melted and ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
- For the first layer, spread ½ of the prepared macaroni and cheese in the botom of your casserole dish. I used a 4½ qt Bubble and Brown casserole dish, but if you don't have a dish that big, you can also try to layer it into a couple of 9x13 baking pans.
- For the second layer, pour ½ the buffalo chicken mixture over the macaroni and cheese.
- Spread 1 cup each of grated cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese over the buffalo chicken layer.
- Repeat the layers with remaining mac and cheese, chicken and cheese.
- Mix the crumb topping by combining the ¼ cup melted butter, ranch and blue cheese dressings and Italian Panko in a medium bowl. Topping will be very moist.
- Plop chunks of topping over the entire surface of the casserole.
- The topping will bake up quite crisp and packed with powerful flavor, like croutons on the casserole.
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Increase the temperature to 425 degrees and allow the topping to brown up for 5-10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and serve with your favorite veggies or a delicious green salad. This casserole has so much wonderful flavor and the textures are fantastic. Enjoy!