Cheddar Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta

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This is a great pasta dish that your family will be sure to love - I know mine did. The sauce is creamy, cheesy, and ranch dressing-y. Yum. I got the recipe from Half Hour Meals and changed it just slightly to suit my family's tastes (a splash of heavy cream makes everything better:)). For a faster meal you can use shredded rotisserie chicken. I served it with a spinach salad with dried cherries, almonds, and crumbled blue cheese.

Cheddar Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
olive oil
1 lb mostaccioli or penne pasta
6 strips bacon
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
2 cups milk
heavy cream (a couple tablespoons)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
1/4 cup sliced green onions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry with paper towels.  Rub a little olive oil on both sides of the chicken breasts and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 30-35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (it should still be nice and moist - don't over cook). Shred chicken with 2 forks, place in a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

While chicken and pasta are cooking, start making sauce. In a large skillet fry 6 slices of bacon until crispy, turning half way through. Remove bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Chop up the bacon into small pieces and set aside.

Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter to the bacon fat in the skillet. Whisk in flour and ranch dressing powder. Whisk in milk and cook, stirring, until thickened. Add a splash of heavy cream and season with salt a pepper. Add shredded cheddar, stirring until all cheese is melted. Add cooked pasta, bacon pieces, and shredded chicken to the sauce. Add sliced green onions and stir until mixed in. Check seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as needed.
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