* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
* 1 package (about 3 tablespoons) dry ranch seasoning
Macaroni and Cheese
* 1/4 cup unsalted butter
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
* 2 tablespoons dry ranch seasoning
* 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, freshly grated
* 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, freshly grated
* 8 ounces (2 cups uncooked) elbow macaroni, cooked al dente and drained
* 4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
* Salt and pepper to taste
* Parsley, chopped (for garnish)
In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken and ranch seasoning. Toss to coat evenly.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken in batches. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side (or until golden brown and internal temperature is 165°F). Remove from heat and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Wipe out the skillet to use for the macaroni and cheese.
Macaroni and Cheese
In the skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1-2 minutes (or until the mixture turns light brown).
Remove from heat and gradually pour in the warm milk, whisking constantly.
Return the pan to the heat and whisk another 3-5 minutes, or until thickened.
Add the salt, garlic powder, and ranch seasoning. Stir to combine and remove from heat.
Add the cheeses, stirring to melt.
Pour the cooked noodles over the top of the sauce. Stir to combine.
Season with salt and pepper, and top with the chicken, bacon, and chopped parsley
Certainly! Here are some tips to make your chicken bacon ranch macaroni and cheese:
1. Use lean chicken breast: Opt for boneless, skinless chicken breasts and grill or bake them instead of frying. This helps reduce the fat content while still providing protein.
2. Choose turkey bacon or lean bacon: Turkey bacon or lean bacon varieties can be used instead of regular bacon to reduce the saturated fat content.
3. Incorporate whole wheat or whole grain pasta: Instead of using traditional white pasta, choose whole wheat or whole grain pasta. These options provide more fiber and nutrients.
4. Add vegetables: Enhance the nutritional value of the dish by adding vegetables like broccoli, spinach, or peas. These will add fiber, vitamins, and minerals to the macaroni and cheese.
5. Use reduced-fat cheese: Opt for reduced-fat or part-skim cheese options to decrease the saturated fat content while still enjoying the creamy texture and flavor.
6. Make a healthier ranch dressing: Consider making your own ranch dressing using Greek yogurt or light mayonnaise instead of regular mayonnaise. This helps reduce the calorie and fat content while still providing the tangy flavor.
7. Control portion sizes: Macaroni and cheese can be quite rich, so be mindful of portion sizes to avoid overeating. Pair it with a side salad or steamed vegetables to create a balanced meal.
8. Experiment with herbs and spices: Add flavor to your macaroni and cheese without adding extra calories by incorporating herbs and spices like garlic, paprika, or onion powder. This can enhance the taste and reduce the need for excessive cheese or seasoning.
Remember, while these tips can make your chicken bacon ranch macaroni and cheese a bit healthier, it is still a dish that should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.