Buffalo Quinoa Bites
*this post was updated with new photos in January 2016
I think it’s time for some football food. Because let’s be honest, everyone loves football food.
I mean, what’s not to like about wings, ribs, beers, and Tom Brady? All of these things are delicious. But unfortunately my skinny jeans just don’t approve of my Sunday indulgences, so all too often sacrifices have been made.
Since I’m obviously not giving up beer, I needed to find a way to snack my way through game day without busting a seam. And not just any snack, a satisfying one that’s filled with the greasy good taste of traditional football food, but without any of that leggings-for-life guilt.
I needed a snack like THIS.
Why is that food just tastes better when it’s small? I’ll take sliders over a whole burger any day, I’m totally obsessed with tapas, and mini cupcakes make me feel good about myself… even though I inevitably end up eating 12 of them. Maybe it’s the cutesy thing? Cause ya know, cute things come in small packages.
So if it’s bite size, count me in. And if I had to pick some of my all-time favorite miniature dishes, rice balls would definitely be on the list. So when I decided to make a game day snack that’s loaded with flavor but light on calories, I knew a rice-ball recreation was in order – I swapped out rice for quinoa, traded marinara sauce for buffalo, and stuffed the centers silly with crumbled blue cheese.
And the end result? A crazy tasty batch of Buffalo Quinoa Bites.
From the start I knew buffalo would be the perfect football food flavor to inject. I’m one of those people who’s a downright buffalo freak, so to me there’s no way you can go wrong with a buffalo/blue cheese combo. Once I had my flavors down, my next idea was to swap out rice for quinoa. I was skeptical about how successful this switch would be, but to my delight it worked out perfectly. By letting the quinoa rest after cooking, it developed a malleable, fluffy texture, making it easy to roll up my bites. And best of all, preparing these is as simple as it gets – Cook the quinoa, mix your ingredients together, toss them in the oven, and you’re set!
My favorite part of this dish was as much as I loved it, Dave was digging it even more! He was wolfing them down so fast, I had to scramble for a few before he gobbled them all up. And really, who can blame him? The melty goodness of blue cheese, the spice of buffalo, and a chick friendly football food that even the men will rave about?
Now that’s a certified touchdown.
Buffalo Quinoa Bites
Yield: 7 servings
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
- 2 1/2 cups Cooked Quinoa
- 1/2 cup Blue Cheese, crumbled + more for stuffing the center (need ~4 oz. total)
- 1/2 cup Part-Skim Shredded Mozzarella
- 1/2 cup Buffalo Sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot)
- 1 Large Egg
- 1/4 cup Flour
- 1 1/4 cups Panko Crumbs (I used Ian's)
- 1 tsp Cilantro, diced
- pinch of Salt & Pepper
- PAM Cooking Spray to grease/coat
- Blue Cheese Dressing to serve (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375F. Liberally grease baking sheet with cooking spray.
- In large mixing bowl combine all ingredients, whisking the egg separately before adding in. Next, with lightly damp hands roll mixture into golf-size rounds. Once rolled, flatten each round and place a crumble of blue cheese in the center, then roll up again before transferring to well greased baking sheet. Repeat as necessary.
- Lightly coat the tops of each round with cooking spray, then bake for 25-30mins until browned and crisp. Immediately plate and serve, pairing with extra buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing on the side.
>> I recommend cooking your quinoa in chicken broth - the flavor is better. Also, allowing the quinoa to rest let's it "fluff up" and makes it easier to work with.
>> Two bites = 1 serving.