Exercise is good for the mind.
There’s a local hiking spot here in the Bay Area called Mt. Diablo, and the name is pretty apt, as hiking there on a hot day feels like marching through a steep, unshaded hell filled with horse flies. I’ve now hiked it twice, most recently enduring the full base to summit loop as practice for the Wyoming hike. The thinking was that though it is a shorter hike at (only) 13 miles, Mt. Diablo is steeper and hotter and would be a good test of our stamina and general fitness levels before heading to the Tetons. We all obviously survived the hike, but it was so unenjoyable I don’t think any of us has plans to ever hike it again. There is no real payoff for your effort until you get to the summit, and even if it’s a clear day, the view never quite seems worth it.
The one thing that kept me sane on this last Mt. Diablo hike was dreaming up these buffalo chicken wraps. At the start of the hike, I got into a discussion with my friend Susan about those fried buffalo chicken wontons you can find at the Cheesecake Factory, and she was lamenting how she wasn’t able to eat them due to a special low-fat diet she’s been following. I immediately thought of some baked samosas I had made using brown rice wrappers, and started wondering if I could adapt the same technique to these buffalo chicken wontons. By the time we got to the summit I had already sweat off my sunscreen twice and downed two liters of water, but I also had mapped out a rough recipe for these in my head. The air was hazy and so the view from the summit was unspectacular, but I got a payoff afterall.
Shredded poached chicken breast gets combined with low-fat cream cheese, buffalo sauce, celery and carrots, to bring all aspects of a wing plate inside the wrapper, garnish and all. The wrapped pouches are brushed with oil and baked at high heat until crispy yet still slightly chewy, then they get dipped in a cooling yogurt sauce spiked with scallions. The result is a spicy, indulgent treat perfect for football season that manages not to blow your calorie intake for the day so you can have that extra sad or celebratory beer guilt free.
Better Buffalo Blasts
Inspired by The Cheesecake Factory and My New Roots
2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 ribs celery, diced small
8 oz. low fat cream cheese
12 oz. Frank's Red Hot Sauce
16-32 brown rice wrappers
2 tsp olive oil, divided
Yogurt Scallion Dipping Sauce
8 oz. fat free greek yogurt
1 tsp rice vinegar
3 scallions, thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 425. Poach the chicken breasts until just barely done. When cool enough to handle, finely dice or shred the chicken.
- While the chicken is poaching, saute the carrots and celery in 1 tsp olive oil until softened, about 3-5 minutes, then mix with the cream cheese until fully incorporated.
- Stir the hot sauce into the cream cheese mixture until combined, then fold in the chicken until completely coated.
- To assemble, soak a sheet of the rice paper in warm water until it is pliable and lay it on a flat surface. Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture into the center of the wrapper, then fold the sides over to seal, starting with the left, then the right, then the bottom, then the top (like wrapping a present). See below for a step by step photo guide.
- Repeat with the remaining wrappers. You should have 16 little packages. If you want to double wrap them, repeat the process with each, using 32 total wrappers. I would recommend this since they can break at the edges in the oven when you flip them.
- Brush each packet with half of the remaining 1 tsp olive oil, then bake 30 minutes, flipping halfway through and brushing with the remaining olive oil.
- While baking, make the dipping sauce. Mix all ingredients together and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- When hot and crispy, remove from the oven and serve immediately with the dipping sauce and extra celery sticks, if desired.