Recipe: Chicken Cheddar Bacon Ranch Mac ’n Cheese
- 1¾ cups dry penne pasta (like Dreamfelds)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into coins
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Cheese Sauce recipe (below)
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 tablespoon real bacon bits
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions
- 3/4 cup low-fat evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt with parsley
- 1 cup reduced-fat shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
Cook the pasta according to package directions. When the pasta has 3 minutes of cook time remaining, add the carrots to the pasta water and continue cooking. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 8 minutes, or until they begin to caramelize and soften, stirring occasionally. Toss the chicken with dill and pepper; add to the skillet. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked, and onions are well caramelized.
While the chicken is cooking, in a small saucepan over medium heat, make the cheese sauce, using ¾ cup of cheese in the sauce as directed, adding the onion powder and liquid smoke. Add the pasta to the chicken, toss to combine, and the cheese sauce, and mix well. Garnish with the last ¼ cup cheese, bacon bits and green onions.