Easy, Delicious Weeknight Meal | Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Bake

Let me start this post by telling y'all that I never thought I'd be a good cook.  People had convinced me because I was a picky eater that I  couldn't possibly be someone who knew how to cook... so when my husband walked in the door and said "whatever is cooking smells amazing!!!," I decided maybe I am a good cook after all.  Today I'm sharing a super simple, healthy, and delicious recipe that will make your next "what the heck do I make tonight" moment a lot easier!

I originally found this recipe from Life in the Lofthouse, but made a few modifications to make it better suited for our tastes! 

You'll Need:

  • 8 oz. penne pasta (I used whole grain to make our meal a little healthier, and it doesn't taste any different!) - note:  this is half a box!
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1.5 tablespoons of ranch dressing mix
  • 2 tablespoons butter, salted 
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ranch dressing mix 
  • 1/2 tablespoon flour 
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream 
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 5 slices bacon, cooked
To Prepare:
  1. Boil penne pasta until al dente in a large pot of water.  When finished, drain as usual.
  2. Toss cubed chicken in a bowl with ranch seasoning.  Add a teaspoon of canola or olive oil to a large skillet and cook chicken over medium-high heat.  It'll take about 12 minutes - use a meat thermometer to make sure it's fully cooked!  Once done, remove from skillet.
  3. Carefully wipe your skillet clean to use again for the sauce!
  4. Add butter to clean skillet and melt over medium heat.  Add garlic and stir for around one minute until fragrant.  Add ranch dressing mix and flour, whisking constantly for 30 seconds.  Slowly (and carefully) add in the heavy whipping cream.  Whisk for one minute until your sauce begins to bubble/boil.  
  5. Remove from heat and mix in parmesan cheese until melted completely.  Season lightly with pepper.
  6. Carefully add cooked pasta and cooked chicken to the sauce in your skillet.  Stir well to coat the chicken and pasta with sauce.
  7. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and pour in combined mixture.  Top with mozzarella cheese and crumbled/chopped bacon.  
  8. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes at 375 until cheese is melted and bubbly.
  9. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Add extra parmesan and a big side salad and enjoy!

I hope you'll try this simple, delicious meal and share it with the people you love!  For me, cooking is one way to share love with others and an awesome stress reliever, too.  Comment below if you decide to try this recipe and let me know if you and your family love it!  It will definitely be on repeat around here ;)

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