Wednesday, March 27, 2013

(Somewhat) Healthified Slow Cooker Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

I never knew how much I would love cooking until I got the opportunity to practice it. Being able to cook almost every night of the week for almost two years now, I think I can say I've gotten pretty good at it. One thing I'm terrible at is following recipes. Oh, I follow the spirit, so to speak. But I'm a big fan of guesstimating measurements and making off-the-cuff substitutions when I find my pantry is not up to snuff. With that in mind, I've decided to start posting my recipe combinations here on my (much-neglected) blog, in hopes that the next time I look for a particular recipe, I'll remember that I rejiggered it and will know where to look.

Most of my recipes are pulled from Pinterest (and I'm currently sitting at 1000+ on my personal pinboard), though before that I was a big fan of Allrecipes.com. Tonight's dinner creation (which smells heavenly by the way!) is a mish-mash of a few different recipes, all sourced below. We don't use cans in this household, and I added broccoli to the original following the recommendation of my kids' playgroup teacher, who told me about it in the first place (thanks Patty!).

Here are the original recipes:
Healthy Substitutions: Ditch the Condensed Soup by Simple Homemade



And here is what I did:
(Somewhat) Healthified Slow Cooker Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Mmmm turkey bacon!
Ingredients:
3 Organic, free-range chicken breasts
3 tbsp Organic, unsalted butter
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
Pinch of salt
1 cup low-sodium, organic Chicken broth
1 clove garlic, minced
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 cup plain Greek Yogurt (I used nonfat)
2 cups broccoli (fresh or frozen)
4 slices Turkey bacon
8 oz Whole Wheat pasta

Directions:
Spray crock pot with nonstick cooking spray and place in chicken breasts.
In a small pot over the medium heat, melt the butter, then whisk in the flour and salt until bubbly.
Stir in the chicken stock and whisk until well-combined.
Remove from heat, stir in the Greek yogurt, ranch dressing mix, and minced garlic.
Pour sauce over chicken and turn on high for 3 hours (longer if your chicken is frozen, mine was not)
When you have one hour left, add broccoli to the slow cooker.
Cook bacon (oven, stovetop, microwave, your call) and cut into small pieces.
Mixing it up.
Cook pasta according to package directions, then set aside
When chicken is done, shred with a fork, mix in bacon pieces, and place over pasta (or throw the pasta in and mix it all together, heck I love improvisation).
Enjoy!

For a little kick, throw in some red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or ground black pepper.

I really enjoyed it, and so did the husband, so I'll call this one a success. I'll definitely make it again, though this is not one of the easy, one-pot-set-and-forget meals. It's worth the extra work, though!

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