Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta Bake

Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta casserole -- A Pinch of Joy
Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta casserole -- A Pinch of Joy

Soooo good you’ll want seconds – and thirds!  Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta Bake goes together fairly quickly.  While you are preparing the pasta, you can also cook the bacon and then the chicken. I prefer to use thinner chicken breast cuts because they cook quickly and can be more easily cut into uniform pieces. Cut the bacon before browning, either with a knife on a cutting board or with a pair of kitchen shears. I always burn my fingers trying to cut bacon after it is browned! Roux is melted butter (or other fat) and flour mixed together. When the flour has been incorporated into the fat, cook just long enough for the mixture to turn slightly golden before adding the liquid. Cooking too long or over too high a heat will make the sauce lumpy. Better to prevent lumps than try to whisk them out!   I had a bottle of Bacon Ranch dressing in the refrigerator when I made this for dinner. Using it added a nice depth to the bacon flavor.


Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta Bake
 
Soooo good you'll want seconds -- and thirds!
Author:
Recipe type: Casserole Main Dish
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups chicken, cooked and diced
  • 2 ½ cups (8 ounces) rigatoni
  • 8 slices bacon, chopped and browned
  • 3 teaspoons garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup of Milk
  • ¾ cup of Ranch Dressing
  • 2 cups cheese
Instructions
  1. Bring pot of water to boil and cook rigatoni according to package directions.
  2. Cut bacon into one inch pieces and place in skillet to brown.
  3. Dice chicken.
  4. When bacon is done, remove from skillet with slotted spoon or spatula and drain on paper towel.
  5. Add diced chicken to bacon fat. Cover and cook until done.
  6. When rigatoni is done cooking, drain. Melt butter in bottom of pan, adding minced garlic.
  7. Add flour to melted butter and stir to make roux. Add milk and ranch dressing to roux and whisk over medium heat until slightly thickened and smooth, about 3 minutes.
  8. Add 1 cup of cheese to white sauce and mix thoroughly. Fold in rigatoni.
  9. Pour into greased 8x8 pan or equivalent sized casserole. Distribute remaining cup of cheese over top of casserole.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and casserole is hot through.

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Peanut Butter Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars -- A Pinch of Joy
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars -- A Pinch of Joy

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars. With a long name like that, you should know what to expect. All those yum flavors are contained in one little square of not too sweet goodness! What you don’t expect is the chewiness, the subtle texture, the hint of peanut butter. Top that off with the melty chocolate chips —- mmmmm!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups oatmeal
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups semi sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line 9x13 inch pan with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Spray with cooking spray.
  3. Beat together butter and peanut butter until well mixed.
  4. Add sugars and beat well until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each one is well incorporated.
  6. Add flour, baking powder and salt and stir until mixed. Add oatmeal and mix well.
  7. Stir in chocolate chips.
  8. Pat dough into prepared baking pan.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes until golden. Do not overbake.
  10. Let cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, then lift from pan to cooling rack, using the aluminum foil for handles.
  11. Store in airtight container.

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Coffee Cake in a mug with cinnamon oatmeal struesel topping

Coffee Cake in a Mug with cinnamon oatmeal struesel topping -- A Pinch of Joy
Coffee Cake in a Mug with cinnamon oatmeal struesel topping -- A Pinch of Joy

Sometimes just a little sweet will make the day so much better. I try not to have temptation setting around because – well, it’s just too tempting! If a whole cake is in the kitchen, it is “evened out” for breakfast, just a little piece for lunch and a small piece for afternoon tea, then a dinner sized piece in the evening. But we are well disciplined and never have a piece after dinner. :-) That’s a lot of carb, calories and sweet stuff in a day. One sweet serving is just perfect. Especially if it is divided between two people.

I’ve been experimenting with mug recipes for that sweet craving. This is one of our favorites. The yogurt replaces egg. I used low carb yogurt because that’s what I usually have on hand, but Greek yogurt or any other plain or vanilla yogurt would work. If you keep your butter on the counter, you are good to go. If you refrigerate butter, you’ll need to soften it for 5-10 seconds in the microwave so it will mix evenly in the dough. Be careful not to overcook the coffee cake as it will quickly become dry.  Eat while warm for best results. I won’t tell you that this is better than your favorite baked coffee cake recipe – but it will tide you over a sweet craving very nicely and it’s pretty darn good on its own merits.

Coffee Cake in a mug with cinnamon oatmeal struesel topping
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, softened
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla yogurt
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
Struesel Topping
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons quick oatmeal
  • 1 scant tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Place 1 tablespoon of room temperature butter in mug. If cold, place in microwave for about 10 seconds. Do not melt.
  2. Add sugar and mix well.
  3. Add yogurt and dry ingredients, stirring until just combined.
  4. Mixture should be thick. Smooth across the bottom of the mug.
  5. In small bowl, combine streusel topping ingredients using a fork until well mixed. Sprinkle on top of coffee cake in mug.
  6. Cook at full power in microwave for 1 minute. Top should be shiny, look slightly underdone and firm to touch. If additional cooking time is needed, do only 10 seconds at a time to avoid overcooking.
  7. Eat while warm!!!!


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