Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chicken Cheddar Bacon Ranch Bake

Tonight's dinner was a selection that I was wary about. I chose a recipe I found on Pinterest that I had all of the ingredients for, a Chicken Cheddar Bacon Ranch Bake.
Chicken Cheddar Bacon Ranch Bake

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup low-sugar ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled (or equivalent store-bought bacon bits)
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and rub the bottom and sides of your 9"x13" baking dish with butter.
  2. Arrange the six chicken breasts so that they're just barely touching.
  3. Top each with ranch dressing, making sure that no chicken is left exposed so it won't dry out.
  4. Then, layer on crumbled bacon and cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes in your 375-degree oven or until the chicken reached 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.
Tom really liked this dish! I was so surprised, since he swears he doesn't like ranch anything. We ended up adding twice as much cheddar cheese and bacon, since out chicken breasts were huge! We also baked the chicken for much longer.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Panera Mac & Cheese

I decided to make macaroni and cheese again tonight, and decided on a clone that my office-mate, Linda, had e-mailed me.
Panera Mac & Cheese

  • 1 16 oz. package of rigatoni pasta (or other small pasta shells)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups 2% reduced fat milk (or cream)
  • 6 slices white American cheese, chopped
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) shredded extra-sharp white Vermont cheddar
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. hot sauce
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on box or bag.
  2. Melt the butter over low heat, and stir in flour. Cook for one minute. Gradually stir in milk or cream, whichever you choose to use. Cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.
  3. Add cheeses, mustard, salt and hot sauce, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth. Stir in cooked pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 minute (or until thoroughly heated). Serve warm.
  4. Serves 4.
Well, I've never had Panera's Macaroni & Cheese, and I did have to make a few slight modifications (I used regular mustard instead of Dijon, and I omitted the hot sauce), but I wasn't crazy about it. Tom didn't try it - he ate the other stuff I made for dinner instead.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese

I decided to make macaroni and cheese for dinner tonight, and from the selection on Pinterest, this is the one I chose:
Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 6-ounce bag fresh spinach
  • 1 14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, roughly chopped, and divided
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese, shredded and divided
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, minced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced and divided
  • 1 12-ounce box whole wheat penne pasta
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) medium Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin Havarti Cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon sriacha sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. If using fresh spinach, heat olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat, add spinach and wilt. Remove to plate to cool. Squeeze excess water from spinach. Set aside.
  2. In small bowl, combine half of drained spinach and half of chopped artichoke hearts. Stir in softened cream cheese and ½ cup Parmesan Cheese. Stir in shallots and 1 tablespoon garlic. Pour mixture into oven- safe baking dish and bake for 15 minutes or until the mixture is toasted on top and heated through. Remove from oven; cover to keep warm and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside. In medium pot, melt butter and whisk in flour. Continue whisking vigorously over medium high heat until roux becomes golden brown. Add milk slowly, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking during each addition. Bring mixture to boil. Add mustard, pepper, 1 tablespoon garlic, remaining cheeses and sriacha sauce. Stir in reserved spinach and artichokes, mixing until evenly incorporated.
  4. Pour pasta into cheese mixture; mix to ensure all pasta is coated evenly. Plate and top with a generous spoonful of warm spinach and artichoke mixture. Serve and devour.
I loved it! Tom had one bowl, and decided it wasn't for him. I did omit the sriacha sauce, for Tom's benefit, but it didn't make a difference, it was still delicious for me.