Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

When I first saw this recipe on Pinterest, I was a little unsure about it. I repinned it to revisit later. What I wasn’t sure about was how the bacon and the ranch would taste with pasta and cheddar cheese. Well, in my house, it was a hit. My hunny LOVED it. I know this because he went back for seconds. And then told me he would eat leftovers (Shock and amazement abounds)! What I really like about this recipe is that it used a majority of the remainder of the rotisserie chicken that I had bought in hopes of putting it on salads all week. Obviously my plan didn’t quite work out. And it’s a one pot meal!

Oh yes, the other thing that i really enjoyed about this pasta is that it was cheap. I’m all about the low cost meals these days. Rachel Ray could totally feature this on thirty minute meals. So final thought, yay for a Pinterest meal turning out awesome!

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Ingredients:
2 cups chicken, chopped -leftover rotisserie is great
5-7 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tbsps ranch seasoning mix – works out to be about 1/2 a packet (for those of you who have never used this before, you can find it in the dressing aisle, NOT with the onion soup mix.)
Pasta of your choice, about half a pound, which is half a box – I would suggest using a pasta like penne rigate that has ridges for the sauce to stick to
2 cups of milk
1 1/2 tbsps flour
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese – or more if you’re a cheese hound like me.

Directions:
1. Prep your ingredients, aka chop the chicken and cook the bacon. And yes, you can cook the bacon in the microwave, I totally did. Thats the prep. Awesome, right?
2. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water. Once it’s cooked, drain and set aside.
3. In that pot you cooked the water in, add the butter and melt. Then add 1 tbsp of the flour. Whisk… for you more experienced cooks, you’re making a roux here. Once everything is in a dough-y consistency, slowly add in your milk, whisking in to your doughy stuff. Make sure you break up all the clumps, that is what makes the sauce thicker. And here is where that other half a tbsp of flour comes in to play. The original recipe called for only 1 tbsp but I found that wasnt enough. Add it here and whisk. Let this cook for a few minutes on medium heat until it thickens a little bit… probably about 5 minutes.
4. Once you have a sauce coming together, add in the ranch seasoning, and the cheese. Stir it all together. You will find that you have a fantastically thick sauce now. Once the cheese is mostly melted, add in your chicken and bacon and toss to coat. Let this cook a couple minutes to heat up the chicken.
5. Add in your pasta, coat it with the delicious sauce, and let it warm back up for about 2 minutes. Serve with garlic bread and a salad to help balance out the meal.

Final thoughts: this isn’t the healthiest meal we have ever had. But it is delicious, and everything in moderation, right? Sometimes you have to jump off the health food bandwagon for some good comfort food. And I’m betting this would be really good with some chopped broccoli added in.

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Going Green…

When the hunny is away, the wife will…

Eat salad!

My hunny doesn’t like veggies. Not one little bit. There are a couple that I can get him to eat. Corn, if it’s on the cob, broccoli if it’s only a couple ”trees,” sweet potatoes, if they are fries. Salad, but only when doused in ranch or it’s a caesar with no cheese and minimal croutouns. Just a salad for dinner? No meat or only a small amount of chicken? For-get-about-it. And of course, he has the metabolism of a 12-year-old, so he can get away with it. Sometimes I hate that fact.

So since he’s off doing what he does, I can have a salad for dinner. I’m trying to watch what I eat and not just be on a “see-food” diet, so salad is a good thing. What’s I’ve found though, is that a lot of people who try diets hate salad. But they have this crazy idea in their head that salad is some lettuce and some dressing. And that it’s boring and tasteless and miserable to eat. But one of my favorite things is that you can mix salad with anything. Whatever kind of great flavors you like, it can go in a salad. It doesn’t just have to be tomatoes and croutons.

My salad tonight was a smorgasbord of yummy goodness. I actually made too much, and I’m hoping it will keep in my fridge for a couple days so I can enjoy it again. My salad started out with a mix of romaine lettuce and iceberg lettuce. I like crunchy leaves, but a lot of people like the spicy crispness of arugula. Then some tomatoes went in, followed by dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, bleu cheese, carrots, pecans, and some crumbled bacon. Though not very good all by it’s lonesome, one or two slices of crispy bacon crumbled into a salad adds a nice saltiness and crunch. Everything in moderation people.

So then my salad was topped by avocado (yes, a whole one; I like the green stuff), and grilled (on my George Foreman Grill) chicken breast that was spiced with garlic and some red pepper and black pepper and onion spices. Finally, I took some of the mandarin orange juice, lemon juice, garlic powder, lemon pepper, salt, black pepper, and oregano, mixed it with olive oil, and tossed the salad in a bag so that it was evenly coated. Served with a little bitty biscuit, and I’m a happy girl.

The moral of the story is that a salad doesn’t have to be boring. Mine was bright and vibrant and crunchy and delicious. If you like the flavor of something solo, there is a good chance it could be incorporated into a salad somehow. Ask me, I’ll tell you how.

Twice-Baked Potatoes

Yuuummm!!!

I was watching a show on the Food Network the other day, and the chef was making twice baked potatoes for a tail gate party. It sounded so good. Especially smothered in cheese! We all know how much I like cheese.

Potatoes fresh out of the oven.

They don’t look so pretty – I’m not sure how they ever would look so pretty. But it doesn’t matter because they are absolutely scrumptious!

The basic concept for twice baked potatoes is to bake them once (duh!) at 400 degrees. Then you scoop out the middle, leaving just a tad of a border so they don’t fall apart, and mix the middle of the potato with good stuff, like cheese and chives and oregano. If I had the energy, I would have added sauteed onions and garlic with mushrooms to the mix, but instead I just added the dried versions.

Bake the potatoes again for another 20 minutes until the cheese is golden – oh and did I mention the bacon? That makes it salty and crispy and more scrumptious. I think I died and went to heaven.

Stuffed Burgers

I’m pretty sure this is about the simplest, yet one of the tastiest recipes I’ve ever made. I thought that stuffed burgers were common-place, that everyone had at least heard of them, if they hadn’t eaten them. Apparently I was wrong. My dinner date (the boyfriend) thought these burgers were the coolest things ever, once he finally grasped what I meant by “all the goodies are on the inside.”

So, what I did: a pound of ground beef – I’m sure ground turkey would work too – goes into a bowl, to which I added my scrumptious garlic mustard, ground oregano, steak sauce, and Worcestershire, just a bit of each (equal parts of the steak sauce and Worcestershire though).  Afterward, I caramelized onions and mushrooms, then some bacon that was chopped into little pieces. I took a quarter of the meat, divided it in two, and flattened it to make a patty shape. Then I put some of the onions, mushrooms and bacon, as well as two little cubes of cheese into the middle, and took the other half and shaped it on the top. I made sure the edges were closed up, and then patted it a bit flatter so it would cook evenly. I repeated the process for the other three quarters, broiled them in a pan until the edges weren’t pink anymore (which meant that the middle was still a tad pink), and served them on onion buns with mayo, mustard and ketchup. Mmmm tasty!

I’m betting that other ingredients in the middle would be pretty tasty too, or even just cheese. If I had some guacamole, that would have gone on top, to make a bacon avocado burger. Like I said, easy.