Blue Cheese Pasta with Buffalo Shrimp

Friends, it’s been way too long…since I shared some buffalo deliciousness with y’all.

I mean, we’re in the smack dab middle of college football season and I’ve been giving you salads and quinoa. For that, I am sorry. (Not that they aren’t delicious, they just don’t scream “let’s have a beer and watch football together!”.)

So obviously, I decided to rectify that. Now, this is a recipe I concocted based on a delicious meal I had with my husband’s family at a little restaurant in Pontotoc, Mississippi. The special was a “black and blue” pasta, so it was blue cheese pasta paired with some yummy charred steak.

It was great, but we all know I like some buffalo with my blue cheese. So I have been dreaming up how to pull it off while still keeping it light. I deem this one a success, and it’s perfect to serve with a small group gathered to watch the big game, the perfect balance of fancy and casual. And it can be served with a crisp white wine or an ice cold beer. Everybody wins.

Blue Cheese Pasta with Buffalo Shrimp (Serves 2 / 11 WW pts. per serving)

Ingredients_BlueCheesePasta

For the Pasta:

3 oz. whole wheat spaghetti

2 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine (I use Blue Bonnet Light)

1 1/2 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour

1/2 cup fat-free milk

1/3 cup reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Shrimp:

8 oz. pre-cooked shrimp (remove the tails)

1 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

1/4 cup celery, chopped

1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

2 Tbsp. green onion, chopped

To start, bring a medium pot of water to a boil and cook your spaghetti as instructed.

While the water gets going, it’s time to get started on your blue cheese sauce – starting with the roux. If you’ve never worked with a roux, the staple of rich sauces and soups (think creamy mac and cheese or your favorite gumbo) then I’ll give you a brief tutorial.

In a small saucepan, melt your butter over medium-low heat. Next, stir in your flour. It will look weird and pasty, but that’s good. Cook for 1-2 minutes to slightly darken (the color of the roux can impact the flavor of your dish or sauce). Now, add a little of your milk (about 1/3 of the full amount), whisking vigorously into the roux. Repeat with the next 1/3, and again until all of the liquid has been added. Once you are happy with the texture, time to stir in the cheese until it has melted. Add a little salt and pepper to taste and adjust accordingly (I probably added another Tbsp. blue cheese crumbles to make sure the kick was there!). Roux_BlueCheeseSauce

Once your pasta has cooked, drain and return to saucepan. Pour blue cheese sauce over the pasta and stir until coated.

So the pasta is in good shape – time for the shrimp! In a medium skillet, add 1 Tbsp. margarine and melt over medium heat. Add chopped celery and shrimp. Saute shrimp for 1-2 minutes, then pour Frank’s Red Hot Sauce over the shrimp. Toss shrimp to coat and cook 4-5 minutes until heated through and hot sauce has reduced slightly.

Now it’s time to assemble. Add the pasta to your plate, top with the shrimp, making sure to drizzle with any excess sauce, and sprinkle with green onions.

Assembled_BlueCheesePasta-BuffaloShrimp

Serve with a slice of crusty bread for any sopping up – trust me, you won’t want any of this deliciousness to go to waste.

Blue Cheese Pasta and Buffalo Shrimp_CookingontheBrightSide

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

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Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pecans and Blue Cheese

If I could face plant into a pile of all things Fall, I would. I know, I know – just living up to all of the internet memes out there. But I have my reasons…

Overhead_SproutsSalad

It’s not because of Starbucks…although their Salted Caramel Mocha does make a good case for itself.

It’s not because of scarves. Because no matter how many times I pin it, I still don’t actually believe there are 12 ways to tie a scarf cause they all turn out the same when I do it. I just get frustrated and give up.

It’s not because of the boots. Okay, I love boots – but I love looking at them in stores more than I actually love buying and wearing them. I’d rather a fancy pair of heels any day…I know, totally going against the grain here.

What I CAN (and do) get behind in the Fall are the colors (reds, yellows, jewel tones!), the smells (cinnamon, fires, pumpkin!) and the flavors (all of them!)…and yes, smells and flavors are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!

Well here, we’re all about the flavors. Enter a delicious side salad that screams Fall. Roasted brussels sprouts? Toasted pecans? Bring it on!

Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pecans and Blue Cheese (2 servings/4 WW points per serving)

Ingredients_SproutsSalad

½ pound uncooked Brussels sprouts
1 Tbsp. minced shallot
½ Tbsp. olive oil
1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. minced garlic
Dash cracked black pepper & kosher salt
2 Tbsp. chopped/halved pecans
2 Tbsp. reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

Whisk together shallot, olive oil, mustard, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat oven to 350. Thinly slice sprouts and arrange on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Arrange pecans on baking sheet. Bake (both) for 5 minutes to soften sprouts and toast pecans.

SlicedandDressedSprouts

Add sprouts to a small bowl and drizzle with dressing, stir to coat. Divide and top with 1 Tbsp. each pecans and blue cheese.

BrusselsSproutSalad_cookingonthebrightside

Note that this is a small portion to be enjoyed as a side. We enjoyed it with some Orange Mustard Glazed Pork Chops and green beans for a delicious meal. I’m pretty sure red wine was involved as well, so there’s that.

On that note, hope y’all have a great weekend!

Eating Light – Mexican Quinoa Casserole

Today, I invite all of you to head on over to my sister’s (aka my Biffer) blog to check out my guest post. I was able to contribute to Day 10 of her 31 day challenge on blogging about LIGHT – so I provided a recipe for eating lightBaked Mexican Quinoa Casserole

My sister has been on a major quinoa kick – so I figured I’d follow along. Check out my recipe for Mexican Quinoa Casserole on her site: Our Morning Glories.

It’s an awesome recipe for Meatless Monday – but honestly, I ate it for two meals after that! It’s packed with protein so it fills you up without filling you out (see what I did there?). So stop by her blog, stay a while and read about my stinking adorable nephews, and make sure to give this recipe a try!

Mexican Quinoa Casserole_cookingonthebrightside

Also, if you love you some quinoa like we do, check out some of these other recipes she has posted:

Cashew Quinoa

Quinoa Apple Salad

Thai Veggie Quinoa (where the broccoli is raw, right Biffer?)

Lemon-Cilantro Quinoa

And of course, you can find Buffalo Quinoa Cakes on my blog. Because here, we do all the buffalo-flavored things!

Hope y’all have a great weekend!