I’m super excited about today’s chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese recipe for some very special reasons. First and foremost, it involves BACON and CHEESE. Helllooooo LOVER! Plus, I lightened it up so that it’s lower in carbs and fat, so enjoying it can come with a little less guilt. Awesome, right?
I also love this recipe because it was inspired by a wonderful blogger buddy of mine, Monica, from Sweet Heat Chefs. She doesn’t blog any more, or I’d link up to her recipe, but I can still publicly declare my love for her, and I do!
I adore carb loaded recipes, like Monica’s recipe… and like Ina Garten’s grown up bacon mac & cheese.
Then I remembered that I promised myself I’d eat less carbs this year. Why why why?! Oh yeah…’cuz I absolutely refuse to buy a bigger pair of stretchy pants. crap.
So I put on my thinking cap and began to wait for the thinking to happen…and it DID! I remembered that I’m part of the Dreamfields Pasta “Taste & Tell Team”. HOORAY!
Dreamfields pasta products are excellent sources of fiber, have the same great taste and texture of regular pasta products, AND they only have 5 grams of digestible carbs per serving!
This is perfect for those of us who are are watching their weight, or for those who count carbs for health related reasons like diabetes. I grabbed one of the coupons they provided me with and off to the store I went. They make 7 different varieties of pasta, so I was indecisive about what kind I wanted to put into my mac & cheese. I passed over the spaghetti, linguine, angel hair, and lasagna noodles and narrowed the selection down to elbow, rotini, and penne pasta. I decided to go with elbow for this batch. Traditional AND healthier for the win!
Truth be told, this recipe isn’t too far off from this one, but the added tang of ranch boosted up the flavor to a whole new, amazing taste level.
Please do your taste buds a favor and make yourself some of this comfort food. You can thank me later
- 16 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
- 1/2 lb sliced bacon (any variety)
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite sized pieces
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 2.5 cups shredded cheese (1 cup Grueyere, 1 cup Colby Jack, 1/2 cup sharp cheddar)
- 2 tablespoons powdered ranch dressing mix
- Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
- Cooking spray
- Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, but don't rinse; Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
- Use kitchen shears or a chef's knife to cut bacon into bite sized pieces. Cook in a large 3-quart saucepan over medium heat until crisp, then drain on paper towel and set aside. Reserving drippings in pan.
- Add chicken to drippings in pan, sprinkle with pepper and salt and sauté for 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
- Melt butter into the same pan over medium heat and add flour. Stir to combine and cook 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in milk, then stir in ranch powder.
- Bring to a slow boil; cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses. Once cheese has all melted, stir in pasta, chicken, and most of bacon. (Reserve some bacon to garnish the top of the dish)
- Spoon mixture into a greased 9" x 13" baking dish. (A lasagna pan works well.) Sprinkle evenly with reserved bacon and bake for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.