November 28, 2017

Baked Chicken, Bacon & Ranch Macaroni and Cheese


The Christmas tree is up, our coal stove is roaring, and my Pandora Christmas jazz station is softly serenading us.  This is the time of year when I most relate to the hibernating bear... not the sleeping part; the part where he doesn't leave his den.  No, I'm not depressed... it's just that after we deck our halls, our den is at its coziest, and I hate to have to venture into the cold, dark-too-early places on the other side of my walls.  A simple reality check reveals that our schedule has us out every night of the week.  A girl can dream, can't she? 

This time of year, I also find myself using my oven a lot more than usual.  We had this Baked Chicken, Bacon & Ranch Macaroni and Cheese last night, and it really is amazing.  I mean, can you really go wrong with these ingredients?!  I couldn't wait until lunch today to have it leftover, and it was just as good!  Give it a try; you won't be disappointed!

A crisp salad, garlic bread, and steamed vegetables are perfect complements to this dish!

Ingredients:


  • 8 oz elbow macaroni
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning mix 
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 c shredded mozzarella cheese 
  • 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped 

Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp butter 
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1/2 c heavy cream 
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1/4 c Ranch dressing 
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese 
  • Pepper, to taste 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease a 2 1/2 qt. baking dish 

Cook the elbow macaroni according to package instructions to al dente and drain.  Set aside.  

Combine the chicken with the olive oil and Ranch seasoning mix.  Allow the mixture to marinate for at least 30 minutes.  

Meanwhile, make the sauce.  In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the garlic, heavy cream, milk, and Ranch dressing, and bring to just a boil.  Turn down the heat to low and whisk in the Parmesan cheese.  Continue to cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.  Set aside. 

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat.  Remove the bacon from the pan and reserve 1 tbsp of the bacon grease.  Chop the bacon, and set it aside. 

In the same skillet, cook the chicken on all sides, until just cooked through.  Set aside.  

Pull it all together.  Pour the cooked pasta in the bottom of the prepared dish.  Distribute the chicken evenly on top and pour the sauce evenly over all.  Evenly distribute the bacon on top.  Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese evenly over all.  

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and garnish with parsley.   

Serve immediately.  

Enjoy!






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