This may literally be the best Mac & Cheese you will ever put into your face.  As you all know, I am addicted to Carnival Cruises.  And one of the highlights of every cruise is the night they have Mac & Cheese as an entree in the dining room.  I have been searching to find a recipe like it: one that includes chicken and bacon and everything else you expect from the ultimate comfort food.  And I think I finally found it.  Check out this ridiculous recipe for Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese.  And, you're welcome in advance!  It's gonna make you want to chew your own face off. LOOK!

Photo by Tad

Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese

8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni

1/2 pound thick sliced bacon

1/2 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups milk (I use skim)

1/3 cup condensed cream of chicken soup

3/4 cup shredded Italian cheese blend

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon fresh dill (you can find this in your produce section)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese

Chopped green onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

The Pasta:  In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain it and set aside.

The Meat: In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove bacon slices from the pan and drain on paper towels.  Now, while we're absorbing the grease off the bacon strips (to be healthy . . . LOL), we're going to leave the drippings in the pan to cook the chicken.  Yep!  That's right.  We're cooking the chicken in the bacon grease.  Don't hate on it.  It's flipping awesome!  When the chicken is cooked through, remove from the pan and chop chicken into 1/2 chunks (or smaller).  Also, cut or crush the bacon strips into bits.

The Sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and the cream of chicken soup.  Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Sprinkle flour evenly into the pan.  Cook for roughly 2 minutes while stirring constantly with a whisk.  Gradually add the milk and soup mixture to the saucepan . . . and make sure you keep whisking!  Yes, your wrist is going to feel like it's gonna fall off, but keep up the good work.  You'll forget all about your Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome when you taste this.  Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes.  You will notice that the sauce will start to get thick.  When it does, remove from heat and let it stand for about 4 minutes.  Then, add your Italian cheese blend, the onion powder, garlic powder, dill and salt.  Stir until the Italian cheese melts.

Now that you've completed the three separate components of the dish, it's magic time!  Let's put it all together!   To the saucepan, we are going to stir in the pasta, chicken, and half the cooked bacon.

Then, butter (you could use cooking spray, but I prefer to pull a Paula Deen and just coat the dish in real butter) an 8-inch square baking dish.  Spoon the Mac & Cheese mixture into it and sprinkle your Colby-Jack cheese over the top.  Then top with your remaining bacon bits!

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (when the cheese melts and you see bubbling, you're good to go)!

Remove from the oven and top with some green onions.