Monday, October 18, 2010

Bad Day = Gooooooood Food

Is there anything better at the end of a bad day than really good food? Yeah, okay, you got me - a really stiff drink is pretty damn good. But there really is a reason that some foods are called comfort foods. So when deciding what to make for dinner I factored in that pasta (a go to food when I'm in a bad mood) had to be included.

Looking through the menu that the weeone and I came up this past weekend, I found Bacon, Ranch and Chicken Mac and Cheese, but I didn't want chicken. I wanted I adapted the recipe, made Bacon and Ranch Mac and Cheese and paired it with Panko Crusted Tilapia and the weeone whipped up a lemon dill sauce. Yum!

***please note that there is not one vegetable in sight in this meal and I'm completely okay with that. ;D Just don't tell my Dietician...she'll kick my arse!***

So, I started out by boiling 8 oz of elbow macaroni. While that was cooking I took two Tilapia fliets, ran them through an egg white and some Panko bread crumbs that had been seasoned with paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and itty bitty bit of salt. They went onto a baking sheet bound for the broiler a bit later.

While I was readying the fish, I also cooked up a few slices of applewood smoked bacon. Now, I really only needed like 1 slice for the Mac and Cheese, but we're a pork fat kind of household and I knew as soon as the weeone smelled bacon, her homework would be abandoned and she'd find her way into the kitchen to steal some. For the record, I was right.

Once the bacon was cooked, drained, crumbled and set aside, I grabbed my favorite Le Crueset Green soup pot and melted some butter. The butter was soon joined by a tablespoon of flour and lots of whisking.

Once those were well combined and thickening 1 1/2 cups of skim milk and 1/3 cup of Cream of Mushroom soup were added to the quickly developing sauce. The weeone took over stirring responsibility for me for this step, waiting for it to boil the cooking for several minutes before removing it from the heat to let it cool a bit.

Once the sauce had dropped in temp somewhat the six cheese Italian Blend cheese went in for a swim. It was mixed in and melted along with garlic powder, onion powder and a pinch of salt.

Next, the elbow macaroni joined the sauce and was mixed it and then topped with some colby-Jack cheese as well as the crumbled bacon.

Everything was now ready to go under the broiler: the fish for 4 minutes per side and the Mac and Cheese for about 4 minutes just to melt the cheese topping.

During those 8 minutes the weeone mixed up about 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and a teaspoon of chopped fresh dill. Sauce? Check.

This meal was a winner all around. I think adding a salad of some sort would round it out as when all was said and done, I was craving something green. Don't tell Sarah G. She'll think I've gone all healthy on her and I need her to know that french fries are still a priority in my life....along with vodka. After all...this is the sous chef I've got to deal with -

Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese (adapted from the recipe below)
Bacon, Ranch and Chicken Mac and Cheese from Cooking Light

Yield : 4 Servings


  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 slice applewood-smoked bacon
  • 8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
  • 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)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 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. Melt butter 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.


Jeff said...

Wow, that looks great! You are a fine writer.

Dangrdafne said...

This all sounds amazing - now I am hungry again. But in particular I loved this line, "the six cheese Italian Blend cheese went in for a swim." Weeeeeee

Mmmmm love it

Anonymous said...

Dill is green right. So sort of a veggie. Ha. Looks great. Have to try the Tilapia -- I don't cook fish very often. Great to see you on the CLBB. Always enjoyed your posts, food related or not. Hope things are good with you and the weeone.

AGirlintheSouth said...

Jeff - Thanks! It was pretty darn tasty-

Dangrdafne - You know I love any sentence that includes the word cheese!

Anonymous -The weeone would agree with you on your assessment of Dill as a vegetable since it's green, but I'm going to have to go against the popular vote...and call it an herb! ;D