The Dude Diet: Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bake (and BIG NEWS!)
Happy my birthday to you, friends!!!
Given that today is my favorite day of the year, I thought it an appropriate time to drop some big news, feeeeeelings, and an epic quinoa bake. I’m Logan-style PSYCHED about it. (I also feel like I might throw up a little.)
Here’s the thing. I’ve been contemplating this post for a while now. And the more I thought about it, the more I built it up in my head. I wanted to deliver this news and its accompanying emotions—Excitement! Joy! Humility! Terror!—with just the right balance of genuine gratitude and sparkling wit. In short, the post needed to be fucking splashy.
Then I woke up yesterday with a rash on my face.
Sure, the rash could be due to recent night serum experiments or the bomb cyclone currently swirling outside my window, but I’m 90% convinced it was triggered by stress related to the subject of this post (and the writing of the post itself). So, instead of adding to my angst by trying to bedazzle the following announcement, I’m just gonna come right out with it…
A DUDE DIET SEQUEL IS ON ITS MERRY WAY!!!!!!!!!
That’s right, dudes. Your weird blog lady is hard at work on cookbook #2, which will be hitting your kitchens sometime in September of 2019. The working title is Dude Diet Dinners, and this bad boy will be packed with more than 125 cleanish recipes to help make your nighttime feasts a little more delicious. And doable.
Truth be told, I actually got the deal the week of my wedding back in early October, and I’ve been sitting on this news/cranking on some bomb recipes for almost 6 months. Sooo, if you saw a picture of a meal on Instagram, and it never showed up on the blog, or you asked me for the recipe and I was awkward or cagey about it….surprise! It’s probably a DDD recipe!! I’m sorry for keeping it from you. Please forgive me.
I didn’t say anything until now for a few reasons, but mostly because it felt silly to hit the Internets with my enthusiasm for a Dude Diet follow up, only to be like, “I’m so pumped for you to see it in 2 years!!” I realize a year and a half also seems ridiculously far away, but whateva. I can wait no more!! (The road to cookbook is looooong, but it will be here before we know it?)
Now, for a tiny bit of that gushy stuff. The Dude Diet, from its blog inception to this very second, has been my professional (and personal) pride and joy. I love that I get to write about something I believe in—accessible healthy eating and ridding the world of man boobs!—and create recipes that get people excited to cook and eat real, nourishing food.
And watching people (men, women and cool children alike) climb aboard The Dude Diet bandwagon over the past few years? The feeling is impossible to articulate, but it makes me tear up on the reg. Seriously. Every Instagram photo of a DD creation or message about DD success, even if it’s just that the book made you laugh, brings me an embarrassing amount of joy. So, thank you. You, my Internet friends, are the greatest, and I owe you big time. This next book wouldn’t be possible without your support of the first, and I feel Britney Spears lucky to have a virtual community of such smart, funny, good-looking, talented individuals. (Just FYI, that’s how I picture you.)
I also feel endlessly lucky to be married to my muse. Logan’s fiery passion for all things dank provides me with daily Dude Diet inspiration, and I am forever in his debt. Snaps for the Dude.
Sidenote: If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that Logan is absolutely crushing as Dude Diet ambassador. Not gonna lie, I had a feeling the serious wonderland bod he was rocking at our wedding was temporary, but the dude has kept it outrageously tight. (Thank you to the few individuals who have recognized Logan in public—his belief that he is now the “Timberlake of diet ambassadors” serves as excellent maintenance motivation.) I can’t take full credit for him being “the skinniest dude alive,” but I’m going to anyway. I’m a birthday princess!!
Now is the part of this post where I shamelessly ask you for help…
I NEED RECIPE TESTERS!!
*Update 3/23: Unfortunately, I am no longer accepting testers!! Thank you so much for the OVERWHELMING response!
What made The Dude Diet so awesome is that all of the recipes were tested by blog readers. Feedback from badass home cooks versus professional recipe testers (yes, that’s a real job) was a game changer and made all the difference in streamlining the recipes and ensuring they were as delicious and idiotproof as humanly possible. So, if you have any interest in testing new Dude Diet recipes (i.e. Bulgogi Burritos, Salmon and Soba Bowls, Turkey Taco Salad with Avocado Ranch), drop me a line, and I’ll give you all the dirty details on the process. No cooking/recipe testing experience necessary. In fact, the more culinary-challenged you are, the better—I want all of these recipes to be battle tested.
Before I leave you to go drink pink champagne and do #birthdayprincess things, let’s quickly discuss this celebratory Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bake.
I know I say this about every quinoa bake, but I really do think this might be my best one yet, people. The spicy, tangy, cheesy awesomeness is, as Logan said last night amidst wild appreciation grunts, “the HFA” (hot fuck action). It’s loaded with superfood quinoa, lean chicken breast, two cheeses and Dude Diet Yogurt Ranch (from the famous fingie recipe), and the flavor fireworks are straight up insane. I even snuck in some cauliflower for a little nutrient boost, along with the carrots and celery, but I promise you can’t taste it.
This bake is on the straightforward side, but I’ve got a few notes and you do you options. First, Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce is NOT the same as regular Frank’s. It’s thicker and more mild, so if you use the original sauce start with ¼ cup and go from there, or you will literally burn your face off. I used a couple idiotproof chicken breasts for this recipe, but feel free to use a store-bought rotisserie bird for the sake of convenience. Oh, and like all quinoa bakes, this one calls for a responsible amount of cheese. However, if you’re a cheese fetishist and it happens to be No-Calorie Sunday, you may wish to add a little extra. I didn’t use any blue cheese (because I hate it, sorry), but you can add some on top or to the filling if you’re more of a traditionalist.
Dude Diet FOREVER. Virtual chest bump.
Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bake (Serves 4 generously)
1 cup quinoa
1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1½ cups cauliflower “rice” (aka very finely chopped cauliflower florets)
½ medium yellow onion, minced
½ cup finely chopped carrots
½ cup finely chopped celery
2 cups diced or shredded chicken breast (I used the foolproof method, but feel free to use the meat from a store-bought rotisserie bird.)
½ cup Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce (plus extra for serving)
¾ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
¾ cup grated provolone cheese (Gouda is also great!)
¼ cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
3 scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
For the Yogurt Ranch:
1½ cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon dried parsley, crushed (Just use your fingers to crush the flakes.)
½ teaspoon dried dill weed
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
-Combine the quinoa and chicken broth in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover the saucepan with a lid, and cook for 14 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Let the quinoa rest, covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
-Meanwhile, whip up the yogurt ranch! In a medium bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the ranch. Briefly set that deliciousness aside.
-Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
-Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet or shallow Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the cauliflower, onion, carrot, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion is translucent and the vegetables are tender.
-Add the cooked quinoa, chicken, and Frank’s to the pan and fold everything together. Turn off the heat and fold in 1 cup of the yogurt ranch and half of the cheddar and provolone. Taste the filling. Add a little extra Frank’s if you deem it necessary.
-Smooth the top of the filling with a spatula. Add the remaining cheese in an even layer and sprinkle with the panko.
-Bake for 25 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling. If you want to brown the top of the bake (I DO!!), pop the casserole under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes until the bread crumbs turn golden brown.
-Whisk a tablespoon or two of water into the remaining yogurt ranch just until it has a drizzle-able consistency. Serve the quinoa bake drizzled with as much extra ranch and Frank’s as you like and garnish with scallions.
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