31 Days of Frugal Meals // Day 27 Bacon, Ranch, and Chicken Mac and Cheese

October 27, 2012

I made this for the guys not long ago an they loved it! Bacon, Ranch, and Chicken Mac and Cheese is super simple and really filling. With the cuts I made it is even cheaper to make.

Bacon, Ranch, and Chicken Mac and Cheese

Here is the original recipe with my changes in pink:

  • Ingredients:
  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 slice applewood-smoked bacon (real bacon bits, cheaper than a whole pack of bacon and I usually have them on hand)
  • 8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk (almond milk, its what I have)
  • 1/3 cup condensed 45% reduced-sodium 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded six-cheese Italian blend (such as Sargento) (I just bought one bag of colby jack to save $ and left the Italian cheese out)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder (instead of the following 4 ingredients I use ranch dressing mix, I had some on hand.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (if you use the seasonings they include you can easily replace the fresh dill for dried, it is cheaper and lasts longer)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded colby-Jack cheese
  • 1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
    2. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Finely chop bacon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken to drippings in pan; sauté 6 minutes or until done.
    3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; sprinkle flour evenly into pan. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Combine milk and soup, stirring with a whisk; gradually add milk mixture to saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; let stand 4 minutes or until sauce cools to 155°. Add Italian cheese blend, onion powder, garlic powder, dill, and salt, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in pasta and chicken.
    4. Preheat broiler.
    5. Spoon mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with reserved bacon and colby-Jack cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.