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Weekday dinner inspiration: Bacon, Ranch and Chicken Mac and Cheese

Mon | Good morning, dinner

Scrambled Eggs With Mushrooms is this week's meatless meal. Serve them with buttered toast and fresh fruit. To make the eggs, saute sliced mushrooms seasoned with salt and pepper in a bit of melted butter until they are soft. Stir in whisked eggs and gently move around until soft and firm. Serve immediately. For each serving, you'll need 2 eggs and about 5 sliced button mushrooms.

Tues | Soup and sandwich

Make your favorite grilled cheese sandwich and serve it with Creamy Tomato and Tarragon Soup. To make the soup, saute 1 medium diced onion in olive oil until soft. Add 28-ounce and 15-ounce cans of diced tomatoes and ¼ cup water. Simmer for 10 minutes and then puree in a blender or use an immersion blender in pan. Return to pan over low heat and whisk in ⅓ cup sour cream and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1 ½ teaspoons dried tarragon. Season with salt and pepper.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Use a rotisserie chicken to prepare Caesar Salad Pizza. Cover a Boboli pizza crust with 2 large handfuls of shredded mozzarella. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese melts, about 8 minutes. While pizza is cooking, mix shredded chicken with 8 cups of chopped romaine, ⅓ cup grated Parmesan, croutons and Caesar dressing. Place greens mixture on top of hot pizza, slice and serve.

Thurs | Kid-friendly

Bacon, Ranch and Chicken Mac and Cheese (recipe below) sounds like it could be the most fattening thing you could have for dinner but Cooking Light scales it back so that it's about 495 calories per serving. Low-fat ingredients plus smaller portions lighten it up. Serve with a green salad. The kids will love it.

Fri | Oom-pah-pah chops

Pork Chops With Apples and Sauerkraut will remind the family that, calendar-wise, fall is here. Saute some slices apples in a bit of melted butter. When they start to soften, remove and set aside. In the same skillet, brown lightly breaded pork chops on both sides. Return apples to the pan along with a few cups of lightly drained sauerkraut and about ½ cup of apple juice. (If you've got caraway seeds, add a teaspoon.) Put the lid on the pan and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8586. Follow @roadeats on Twitter.

>>MODERATE

Bacon, Ranch and Chicken Mac and Cheese

8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni

1 slice applewood-smoked bacon

8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups fat-free milk

cup condensed reduced-sodium, fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

¾ cup (3 ounces) shredded six-cheese Italian blend (such as Sargento)

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon chopped fresh dill

teaspoon salt

Cooking spray

½ cup (2 ounces) shredded Colby-Jack cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon, reserving drippings in pan. Finely chop bacon and set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken to drippings in pan and saute 6 minutes or until done.

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 slightly. Add Italian cheese blend, onion powder, garlic powder, dill and salt, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in pasta and chicken.

Preheat broiler. 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.

Serves 4.

Source: Cooking Light

Weekday dinner inspiration: Bacon, Ranch and Chicken Mac and Cheese 09/23/13 [Last modified: Monday, September 23, 2013 12:16pm]
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