This family-friendly pasta recipe is a great way to teach older kids a variety of skills, such as sautéing and creating a simple cheese sauce. Cooper, 12, recommends adding chopped green onions to serve along with the extra bacon.
1 pound pasta, any type
6 strips bacon, diced; divided use
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts; cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 packet ranch dip mix
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and keep warm.
2. While pasta is cooking, cook bacon in a large, deep-sided skillet over medium heat until crisp, then remove and drain on a paper towel. Drain all but one tablespoon of bacon drippings from pan.
3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add butter to the skillet with the bacon drippings, stirring to melt, then add chicken. Cook until tender and no longer pink, 8–10 minutes.
4. Mix together flour and ranch dip mix, then sprinkle evenly over the chicken and stir to coat. Stir in the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and bubbly.
5. Stir in cheddar and half of the reserved bacon, stirring to melt the cheese completely. Add the pasta and stir to mix well. Serve with remaining bacon sprinkled on top.