Friday, August 29, 2014

Playlist: August 2014

Most of the time when I sit down to create a playlist to share on this blog, I have no idea what my theme for the month is going to be.  The only exception was May's playlist, which came together pretty easily.  I had a really rough month, and I knew I wanted the music I shared to reflect that.  It also helps that I listen to a lot of really sad music, so it wasn't much of a challenge to select at least 10 songs about death.  (If you haven't heard this very depressing playlist, it can be found here.)

This month will be another exception.  I realized on the morning of my birthday that this would be the perfect month to do a "throwback" playlist for this blog.

I know a lot of people never want to be reminded of their high school years, but I actually enjoyed that time in my life (for the most part anyway).  I wasn't the most popular girl in school or anything, but I had a really great group of close friends.  I usually had a boyfriend (though sometimes those "relationships" would only last a month or two), and I eventually found myself in my first really serious long term relationship.  I was involved in a lot of activities, some that I still really miss (drama in particular).  I was also a great student, graduating at the top of my class (something that later allowed me to go to college on a full scholarship).

Although I have a lot of good high school memories, I also have a lot of bad ones.  Some friendships were tested (some didn't survive), some guys were assholes, and I spent a lot of time worrying that I would never be good enough.  I've mentioned before that I've dealt with depression and anxiety for most of my life, and some of my lows in high school were so awful that I could barely get out of bed.  I would literally just sit around in my room listening to music and cry.

The songs I'll be sharing today immediately bring me back to that time in my life.  I can't listen to any of these songs without being swept away in a sea of memories ... Some good, some bad.  These are also bands and artists I still listen to (some more than others), and even now it's hard to escape that flood of emotion when I decide to put on one of these old favorites.

Click on the link below to listen to this playlist.

It was really difficult to narrow it down to just a select few songs.  I could have easily made a playlist containing at least 100 songs that I loved as a teenager, but this will have to do.  (At least until I decide to do another "throwback" playlist.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Once Best Friends, Now Strangers With Memories

I've mentioned before that sometimes I really just don't feel like growing up.  I realize that at the ripe old age of 30 I should probably just go with this whole "I'm an adult" thing, but there are times when I really don't want to.

One of the worst things about getting older is the way your friendships can change.  Between moving, marriages, babies, work, and life in general, people start to grow and drift apart.  And I'm not going to sugarcoat this: it fucking sucks.

I found this quote on Pinterest, and I thought it really set the mood of this post.  This isn't a "feel good" kind of post, but it's real ... It's a post about my feelings and how things have changed for me (and the people in my life) over the last few years.

By the time a woman hits 30, she'll find herself shoved into one of two categories:

The Moms


Women Without Kids

(In case you're new to this blog, I fall into the latter category.)

Here's the thing ... There are so many ways to define yourself.  I'm not just a woman without a kid.  I have interests, goals, and talents.  I have pet peeves, annoying habits, and guilty pleasures.  I'm a person with real thoughts and feelings and opinions.  I'll say it again: I'm not just a woman without a kid.

The problem is that not everyone looks at things this way.  Sure, most people understand that being a mom (or not) doesn't have to completely consume you.  You're still you whether you're responsible for a child, a pet, or no one but yourself.  You may not have as much time for yourself if you're trying to raise a couple of young kids, but the part of you that loves reading and bad soap operas and dancing around the house to cheesy '80s music didn't just disappear.  You know what else didn't disappear?  The part of you that can be a really great friend, the one everyone always counts on because you've always had a good head on your shoulders.  The one that always listens.

Unfortunately, it often seems as though those parts slowly start to fade into the background once a woman becomes a mother.  And, to make matters worse, they don't stop fading until they're almost completely gone.

I'm not saying this is true for everyone ... I know plenty of mothers who are still down for girl talk and shopping and any number of other activities that don't involve their children (at least sometimes).  And, to be honest, they don't have to exclude their children all the time.  I'm always completely fine with just hanging out at their house talking while their kids play nearby or going to a kid friendly restaurant for a quick meal.  (Basically what I'm trying to say is that I'm not a childless bitch with no regard for the fact that some of my friends have children and may want to include them and/or not bother with a babysitter if we're going to hang out.)

But then there are the mothers who have dedicated their entire lives to their kids.  If that's what they want to do, that's awesome.  However, it's not awesome for their childless friends who still actually care about them and want them in their lives.

I realize this probably sounds incredibly selfish.  And it is to some extent.  But the thing is, I'm not asking for some major time commitment.  I don't expect dinners out together once a week if we live in the same area or hour long phone conversations each week if we don't.  But a text once in a while would be nice.  Maybe a lunch date one weekend (with or without kids).  I'd even settle for something as impersonal as a Facebook message!  (And seriously, do not say busy mothers don't have time for this ... It's pretty obvious they do considering the moms I'm friends with typically post pictures and status updates multiple times every day.)

Unfortunately, once I'm actually talking to and/or spending time with my mom friends, other issues start to arise.

For example, there's this unspoken pressure to become a mother when I'm around these women.  I almost feel like I have to justify how I spend my time because (obviously) if I'm not nurturing young minds and/or making the shit out of every kid-approved craft on Pinterest, I'm not doing anything with my life.  Forget the fact that I work hard 40 (sometimes more) hours each week at a job I actually enjoy.  Forget the fact that I've been keeping a pretty regular exercise regimen that includes yoga and weight lifting classes.  Forget the fact that I spend many evenings in the kitchen trying new recipes not only for Eric and me, but to share on this blog.  Forget the fact that I spend any time working on this blog.  Forget the fact that I have other interests and hobbies, like reading and going to concerts and traveling (which I don't get to do enough of!).  All anyone hears if you're 30 and childless is "I have so much free time because I don't have kids."

That's not really incorrect ... But it's not completely accurate either.  I mean, just because I don't have kids doesn't mean I don't have other responsibilities.  Eric and I still have to maintain our household and work and pay bills.  We still have to make sure we can actually, you know, live.

Not only do I feel like I need to justify how I spend my time, I also feel like I have to somehow prove that I'm doing something worthwhile with my life.  I think this pisses me off more than describing my often jampacked schedule because, really, who can judge whether or not my life has any meaning?  I'm pretty sure I'm the only person actually qualified to do that, but (on more than one occasion) I've been made to feel as though my life is pretty much worthless because I'm depriving myself of the joys of motherhood.  Whether this was intentional or not, it still hurt.

As I said, I don't think all mothers are like this.  But, if you're like me, there are probably one or two in your life that are.  And, unfortunately, these are often people you really can't ignore because they actually matter to you.  These are the friends that will break your heart over and over because you're just not ready to let go.  In my case, I'm still hanging on to the idea of who these women once were ... The person I truly believe is still buried somewhere deep inside.

I hope I'm not wrong about that.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Parmesan Pesto Tilapia

Eric and I completed a health screen recently.  If we completed the screen and got a high enough score, we'd be eligible for a discount on our health insurance.  We've been going to the gym quite a bit lately anyway, so we kept up our workout regimen.  We started trying to eat a little healthier for a couple of weeks prior to the screening as well.  After the health screen, we decided we'd earned an extra fatty meal so we each got an AM Crunchwrap from Taco Bell (total disgusting guilty pleasure) and a Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino from Starbucks.

I regret nothing!

I shared that story not because I want everyone reading this to know that my husband and I can pack away some serious shit, but because it seemed like a good introduction to the healthy recipe I'm going to share today.  (And also because I find it funny and ridiculous.)

So, as I said, we spent a couple of weeks trying to eat healthier meals.  This was definitely one of my favorites.  It's so simple and light that it's perfect for a weeknight meal.  (And, if you've been reading my blog, you've probably noticed that I'm a huge fan of simple weeknight dinners.  We're usually busy and/or exhausted during the week, so anything that requires minimal effort is perfect.)  I made very minimal changes to the original recipe (which was pretty perfect in its simplicity), but those tiny tweaks made it an absolutely perfect meal for us.

I wish pesto photographed a little better, but you get the idea.

Parmesan Pesto Tilapia

A recipe from Pinch of Yum.

Ingredient List:
  • 2-4 tilapia fillets (I used 2 large fillets, but the recipe would work just as well with 4 smaller pieces of fish)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto (I used Classico pesto)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 tomato, chopped (I used a fresh garden tomato given to me by my BodyFlow instructor, and it was so delicious!)
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper


1.  Preheat the broiler on the low setting.

2.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray.

3.  Place the fish fillets on the baking sheet and drizzle the olive oil over each piece.

4.  Sprinkle the garlic salt, black pepper, and Parmesan cheese over the fish.

5.  Broil on low 10-12 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily.

6.  Remove the fish from the oven, and top with pesto and chopped tomatoes.

As you can probably see from the picture, I paired this meal with a side of whole wheat gnocchi with more pesto and some Steamfresh mixed vegetables.

If you're looking for a quick, easy (I mean, seriously ... Look at those instructions!), healthy recipe, please give this a try.  Eric and I were both pleased with the way it turned out and plan to start including it in our regular meal rotation.

Monday, August 25, 2014

"The Fear"

Image provided by Unsplash (

I realize I skipped an entire week of blogging, and I'll try to make up for it this week with a few extra posts.  I debated even acknowledging this since I don't exactly have a huge number of readers or anything, but I decided I might as well.  I mean, maybe someone out there actually did care that I didn't share anything new last week.  Or maybe I'm just delusional.  Either way, I'm back and ready to write!

And, actually, today I wanted to talk about just that: writing.  (Or, more specifically, blogging.)

I know, I know ... A blog post about blogging.  How original.  This isn't going to be a "tips for bloggers" kind of post, though (I mean, I'm still pretty new to this whole thing and I'm obviously not a "big" blogger, so I'm probably not the best resource for that).  Today's post is more about how I feel about sharing parts of my life on this blog.

Years ago, I started writing in a LiveJournal.  It was initially public, but I later made it "friends only" because I was writing about a lot of extremely personal things.  I still log in to my old LiveJournal from time to time to read my old entries.  It's nice to have those memories documented somewhere (even though some entries are actually pretty painful to read).

The reason I bring this up now is because sometimes I have a hard time determining how much I should share on this blog.  When I started Divulge and Indulge, I started it with the intention of sharing both recipes and personal thoughts and stories.  The problem with this, though, is that sometimes I like to overshare.  (Just ask my husband!)

Writing (even in a blog) can be extremely cathartic for me.  Because of this, sometimes it's difficult for me to draw the line between what's okay to share in a public forum and what isn't.  I think it's awesome when bloggers really put themselves out there by sharing really personal things.  Sometimes I'll read a post and think, "Wow!  I wish I felt comfortable enough to write something so personal on my blog."

Unfortunately, I have "the fear."  The biggest reason I haven't really put myself out there and promoted my blog is because I get absolutely terrified when I start thinking about who might find it.  This is also the biggest reason why I don't always write extremely personal posts.  While I've never shared anything I wouldn't want someone I know in real life to read, I also don't know how I'd feel if I actually knew that a friend, family member, coworker, or even casual acquaintance came across my blog and read through it.

Here's the thing ... I don't really tell many people that I have a blog.  I've mentioned it to my mom, my mother-in-law, and a couple of friends (but only because I was really drunk and felt like sharing everything that evening).  I've never shared the title or link with any of them, though.  In fact, the only person I know in real life who has read this blog (that I know of, anyway) is my husband.  (He's actually probably my only regular reader, which is actually pretty sweet and awesome.)

I don't know ... I guess it's just weird to think about someone I know in real life reading this.  I feel kind of silly saying that because the shit I used to write about in my LiveJournal was ridiculously personal and the majority of the people on my friends list with access to those entries were people I was friends with in real life.  Granted, I don't know if everyone read everything I wrote (in fact, I doubt they did since I'd often write lengthy entries and post multiple times a week) ... But the point is that I was comfortable enough to share those things knowing that someone I knew in real life had access to it.

I do hope that eventually I'll overcome this fear I've developed and start sharing more personal things.  I actually have a post scheduled later this week that I was a little hesitant to share (and trust me when I say it underwent numerous edits before I felt comfortable enough to schedule it), so maybe that will be a starting point.  Honestly, it's not even that personal.  I think it was just a difficult subject for me to write about because it's something I've been struggling to put into words for a while.  And, for whatever reason, one day it just kind of came pouring out.  I felt better after writing it, but it's one of those things that I might feel awkward about if someone I knew in real life read it.

Hopefully I'll start to drift back toward my LiveJournal mentality ... The "I don't give a fuck if someone I know reads this" attitude.  I'm not saying I'm suddenly going to share every detail of my life on this blog.  (Seriously, who would want to read that kind of shit anyway?)  I'm just saying that I want to start pushing myself to post things I'm uncomfortable sharing once in a while.

I also need to break out of my shell a bit and comment on the blogs I read or try participating in a link-up or ... Something.  I don't need to have 10,000+ followers or anything, but it might be nice to know that a few people regularly read and care about what I have to say.  And, based on everything I've read (and common sense, of course), the best way to get readers is to promote your blog either directly (by purchasing ad space on a popular blog) or indirectly (by commenting, participating in link-ups and giveaways, etc.).  It's just hard for me to do this because I'm constantly thinking, "What if everything I write is complete shit?"  Or, going back to my other major issue, "What if someone I know in real life starts reading this and thinks I'm [insert negative word here ... Examples include stupid, lame, narcissistic, and crazy]?"

I know it's dumb, but I worry about that kind of thing.  I just need to stop worrying and start pushing myself out of my comfort zone when it comes to blogging.

We'll see how this goes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Mini Cheese Meatloaves

It feels kind of weird to follow up a post about a fancy French/Belgian dinner with a post about meatloaf, but, since this is my blog and I make the rules, I've decided that that's what I want to write about today.

So let's talk about meatloaf for a minute.  When I was a kid, I really hated it.  I thought the name sounded disgusting (I mean, seriously ... A loaf of meat?  Does that really sound appetizing at all?), and I always had to force down a few bites when my mom made it (which wasn't often, but often enough).

It wasn't that my mom's meatloaf was bad, though ... I just didn't like it at the time.  I can say that with certainty because I've had her meatloaf as an adult, and it tasted much better (and the recipe was exactly the same).  Tastes can change with time (mine certainly have!), and I'm honestly glad I've grown to enjoy meatloaf because it's such a comforting homestyle meal.

You might think, then, that over the years I would have perfected a meatloaf recipe.  This is not even close to being true.  I'd actually never even attempted to make it until recently.  First of all, I always thought I'd need a loaf pan (not true).  Secondly, I thought it was more difficult to make (I have no idea why because this is also very much not true).  I'm not usually one to shy away from difficult recipes, but meatloaf seems like one of those things that can go very wrong very easily.  I didn't want to end up with a lump of dried out meat (or, conversely, a wad of completely undercooked meat), and I didn't want to start hating it again.

But, since I've been consistently trying to step out of my comfort zone in the kitchen, I figured it was time to give meatloaf a shot.  I mean, I couldn't fuck it up that much ... Right?

Everything about this meatloaf recipe was fantastic, and it's so simple and quick to throw together!

As you can see from the picture above, I didn't fuck it up.  It actually turned out to be some of the best meatloaf I've ever had!  (If I do say so myself.)  It was moist and flavorful, and making the mini meatloaves seemed to ensure even cooking.  I'm so glad I didn't shy away from trying this recipe!  It's seriously so easy, and worth the 45 minute wait while the meatloaves bake.  Even if you've never enjoyed meatloaf, you should give this a try ... You might change your mind!

Mini Cheese Meatloaves

Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Taste and Tell.

Ingredient List:
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used 1% milk, which is what we usually have on hand)
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced (You could use white onion as well, but I feel like red onions generally give more flavor)
  • 1 cup cheese, shredded (I used the same cheddar Jack blend I used in the Cheesy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta)
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp prepared yellow mustard


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Beat the egg and milk together in a large bowl.

3.  Stir in all remaining ingredients except the ketchup, brown sugar, and yellow mustard.  Mix well using your hands.

4.  Spray an 8x8 inch pan with cooking spray.

5.  Shape the meat mixture into 4 small loaves (I should probably clarify that they'll be a little more like patties than actual loaves), and place each meatloaf in the 8x8 inch pan.

6.  Combine the ketchup, brown sugar, and yellow mustard in a small bowl.  The sauce should be pretty thick when everything is completely mixed.

7.  Spoon the sauce over each meatloaf.  (This does make quite a bit of sauce, so you can reduce the amount of ingredients you use if you prefer a less saucy meatloaf.  I personally felt like the sauce really made the dish, though, so I added quite a bit to each loaf.)

8.  Bake the meatloaves for 45 minutes, or until the meat has completely cooked through and no pink remains.

photo 1 copy 2
These mini meatloaves were the perfect size for us.  The leftovers also reheated very nicely for a quick meal later in the week.

I served these mini meatloaves with a side of Steamfresh vegetables (the potato/green bean mixture you see in the first picture) and a simple green salad.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Fabulous 30th Birthday Dinner

Well, I survived turning 30.  Not that I didn't think I would ... It's just still a little hard to wrap my head around the fact that I'm 30 years old.

I typically don't do weekend recaps on this blog (mostly because the majority of my weekends are pretty low-key), but I'm going to make an exception this week and at least offer up a birthday dinner recap.

We didn't go out to celebrate on my actual birthday (Friday).  This was my choice.  By Friday I'm usually pretty exhausted, and reenergizing with a yoga class seemed like a better idea than getting ready and going out for a nice dinner (though, to be fair, that's never a bad idea).  We did end the evening with a treat, though: Talenti gelato.  (And no, this isn't a sponsored post.  I just like sharing products I actually really enjoy.)  Eric picked up two pints at Target as a little surprise for me since I've been going on and on about how much I love gelato.  We tried the Tahitian Vanilla Bean and Sicilian Pistachio, and both were delicious (especially the Sicilian Pistachio ... I just kept saying, "Oh my God, this is amazing!" with every bite).  I now want to try pretty much every other flavor they offer.

Saturday, though, was the main event.  Since I surprised Eric with his birthday dinner and had a lot of fun researching the perfect place and making secret plans, I told him I wanted to be surprised as well.  I had no idea what he'd come up with, but, since he loves trying new restaurants as much as I do, I knew it would be awesome.

He did not disappoint!

We ended up at Dario's Brasserie, a local French and Belgian restaurant.  (This is actually perfect because we'll be heading to France, Belgium, and The Netherlands in a few months to celebrate our 1 year anniversary as a married couple!  I don't think I've shared that on this blog yet, but we're both really excited!)

Eric tried a couple of Belgian beers, including the Delirium Nocturnum featured in this picture.  I had two glasses of delicious sparkling wine (according to the menu, this is made in the Champagne style and it tasted almost exactly like champagne.

We kept our appetizer simple with some Belgian Pommes Frites.  We considered ordering a platter of mussels to split and then an entrée, but I was a little worried that the platter would be huge and  we wouldn't be hungry for our meals (or dessert).  These were really good, though, so I'm glad I decided to order them.

Eric ordered the King Salmon.  Unfortunately, they haven't updated their menu online (the one we ordered from was different than the one posted on their website), so I can't give any additional details about the dish.  I did try a bite, though, and it was amazing!
I decided to be adventurous and ordered the Rabbit Roulade (a sausage made from rabbit loin, according to the menu).  I'd never tried rabbit before, and it was delicious.  I don't know what I could compare it to, but it did have a bit of a gamey flavor sort of like venison or bison (which is actually something I really like).
Of course, no birthday dinner is complete without dessert.  Everything on the dessert menu sounded great, but I couldn't pass up crème brûlée.  And this was amazing!

I couldn't get the best pictures in the restaurant because the lighting wasn't really made for picture taking (not to mention the fact that I was using my iPhone).  It was, however, nice for a romantic ambience.  It was perfect for a date, and I'm so glad Eric chose to have my birthday dinner there!

And finally, no recap post is complete without a picture (or two) of the people involved:

Yeah, yeah ... The car picture probably doesn't reflect super safe driving.  Don't worry, though ... He looked over for just a second while I snapped the picture.

There's a reason I've included a picture of a shoe.  Even though I didn't get a good picture of my outfit, I had to share this: I actually wore a dress and heels!  Now for most women, this isn't a big deal.  In fact, I'm sure someone reading this right now is probably like, "Um okay ... I wear that every day."  But here's the thing ... I don't.  I'm a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl.  While I actually do love fashion, I love being comfortable more.  (It probably also doesn't help that I work in an environment where jeans and t-shirts are the norm.  After all, you just cover up your clothes with a lab coat anyway.)  So it was actually a big deal for me to put on a dress and heels!

Eric seemed to love the look too (I got so many compliments from him that night!), so maybe I'll have to incorporate more dresses and heels into my wardrobe.  I'll definitely have to practice walking in heels a little more, though.  The reason my foot isn't in that shoe is because my feet were killing me by the time we got home (we only had to walk maybe 3 blocks to the restaurant from our parking spot, so it wasn't like we traipsed all over town), and I had to immediately remove my shoes.  I can't imagine wearing heels all the time!  (Though, let's be honest ... It would be pretty awesome to become Carrie Bradshaw fabulous and have the ability to run all over Manhattan in 4" Manolos.  Maybe one day.)

Overall, it was a fantastic and relaxing weekend.  Hopefully this is only the beginning of a wonderful and exciting new decade!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Goodbye 29, Hello 30

I've never been the type of person who loves celebrating birthdays.  I always found it kind of depressing to see another year pass by (mostly because I usually haven't accomplished all the things I hoped I would in that time).

This year is a little different, though.

Tonight is not only the night before my birthday ... It's also the last night of my 20s.

This is a completely unedited picture of me taken this evening.  I wanted to document what I looked like at 29 in case, you know, I wake up looking completely different on the morning of my 30th birthday.

It's so crazy to think that I'm finishing up not only another year of my life, but an entire decade.

I wish I had something really profound to say about turning 30, but I really don't.  I just kind of can't believe it.  I mean, I don't feel like I'm 30.  I guess I really don't know what 30 is supposed to feel like, but I imagine I should feel a little more settled than I actually do ... Maybe a little more comfortable in my own skin.

I'm trying not to be completely depressed about turning 30, but it's really hard.  I wanted to accomplish so much more by this point in my life.  I'm nervous about completely superficial things like the tiny lines I'm starting to see around my eyes and whether or not my metabolism is going to suddenly say, "Fuck you!"  It's starting to sink in that if Eric and I are going to have children, we have to do it pretty soon because, you know, biological clocks are a real thing.

It's not all bad, though.

I've definitely grown a lot since my early 20s.  You know when you're young and think everyone is completely full of shit when they say "You'll understand when you're older?"  Well, they're not completely full of shit.  I definitely don't know everything, but that's kind of the point: when you're 20, you think you know everything.  When you're 30, you realize you really don't.  You also realize that's okay.

And, if nothing else, I get to spend my birthday (and the rest of my life) with this guy:

This was also taken tonight.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Cheesy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

If you've been following my Tasty Tuesday posts, you've probably noticed that I love pasta dishes.  Although my tastes have changed over the years, my love for pasta has remained constant.

One of the things I love most about pasta is how versatile it is.  It can be a comforting plate of spaghetti and meatballs or macaroni and cheese.  It can combine two very different flavors to make a creative dish (like chicken enchilada pasta or the Creamy French Onion Chicken and Pasta I shared a couple of weeks ago).  It can even be elevated to something a little fancier by adding something like lobster or prime rib.  (Sorry I don't have a "fancy" pasta recipe to link to ... Yet.)

Because it's so versatile, you can add pretty much anything to pasta and end up with a delicious meal.  The flavor combinations in the recipe I'm sharing today are pretty classic: chicken, bacon, cheddar, and ranch.  I knew from the moment I saw the recipe on Cassie Craves that we'd love it.  I only made a few very minor changes because it already seemed pretty perfect.

And it did not disappoint.  Seriously, if you're craving pasta and you like meat and cheese, make this dish.  You'll be really glad you did!

Looking at this picture makes me wish we still had some leftovers in the fridge.

Cheesy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Cassie Craves.

Ingredient List:
  • 1 box short pasta (I used a 14.5 oz. box of wheat rotini, but you can use whatever you like)
  • 8 slices bacon (I used turkey bacon and the flavor was great, so don't worry if that's what you'd usually use or if you want to cut some of the fat and calories)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp low fat margarine or butter (I used low fat margarine)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
  • 2 cups milk (I used 1% milk, which is what we usually have on hand)
  • 1 1/3 cups cheese, shredded (I used a cheddar Jack blend and would definitely recommend using some type of cheddar cheese or cheddar blend for this recipe)
  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 4-5 green onions, diced (this is optional, but I highly recommend it since it really enhances the flavor)
The lighting in this picture isn't as good, but I still like it.  I mean, who wouldn't like a picture of a gigantic plate of delicious pasta?


1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2.  Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp.  I cooked mine for quite a while because I wanted it to be so crispy that it could easily be crumbled.  Even if that's not how you normally like your bacon (I actually prefer my bacon much less crispy if I'm just eating a slice), you'll want it to be crumbly for this recipe.

3.  Once the bacon is crisp, remove it from the skillet.  (I just placed mine on a paper towel lined plate and set it to the side.)  If you're using turkey bacon, you won't have much grease left in the skillet so you can just move on to the next step.  If you're using regular bacon, drain all but approximately one tablespoon of the grease.

4.  Add the butter to the skillet and allow it to melt with the bacon grease.

5.  Season the chicken with the garlic salt and black pepper and add it to the skillet.  Cook over medium heat until the chicken is slightly brown and no longer pink.

6.  While the chicken is cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water.  Cook according to package directions until al dente and drain.

7.  Once the chicken is cooked through, sprinkle the flour and dry ranch dressing mix over the meat, stirring to coat evenly.

8.  Add the milk and cook until the sauce is thick and bubbly, stirring occasionally.

9.  Mix the cheese into the sauce, stirring until it's completely melted.

10.  Crumble all of the bacon on the plate.  Add approximately half to the chicken and sauce, stirring to combine.

11.  Pour the drained pasta into the skillet, and stir until evenly coated with sauce.  Serve with additional crumbled bacon and diced green onions on top.

This is a pretty quick dinner to throw together, making it great for a busy weeknight.  It's not the healthiest recipe in the world, but it's delicious (and you can definitely lighten it up a bit like I did with turkey bacon, low fat margarine, and 1% milk).  I served this meal with a simple green salad.