Food & Drink

Pudding and pasta among faves

Slow-Cooker Bacon-Ranch Chicken and Pasta
Slow-Cooker Bacon-Ranch Chicken and Pasta

It’s that time of year when companies make lists of “The Best of” and “Top 10/100,” reflecting on the previous year’s highlights, whether it’s food or cars.

Hands-down one of my favorite desserts is banana pudding (or banana cream pie). I just never make it because it takes a little time to cook from scratch. Taste of Home says it’s one of its Top 100 dishes of 2015. I can understand. It’s comfort food for me.

Betty Crocker says Slow-Cooker Bacon-Ranch Chicken and Pasta was the most popular recipe in Illinois in 2015. There’s no real explanation as to how the company came up with that information, but I think it sounds pretty tasty.

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Banana Pudding

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups low-fat milk

3 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

8 ounces vanilla wafers (about 60 cookies), divided

4 large ripe bananas, cut into 1/4-inch slices

In a large saucepan, mix sugar, flour and salt. Whisk in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs. Whisk a small amount of hot mixture into eggs; return all to pan, whisking constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Cool 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish, layer 25 vanilla wafers, half of the banana slices and half of the pudding. Repeat layers.

Press plastic wrap onto surface of pudding. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Just before serving, crush remaining wafers and sprinkle over top.

Yield: 9 servings. 1 serving equals 302 calories, 7 grams fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 206 mg sodium, 55 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 7 grams protein.

Tip: You can also layer it in a trifle dish with an extra layer of whipped topping or put it in parfait glasses in the same manner.

Slow-Cooker Bacon-Ranch Chicken and Pasta

1 pound chicken breasts

6 slices bacon, cooked and diced

2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 package (1 ounce) ranch dressing and seasoning mix

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup

1 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup water

8 ounces spaghetti, cooked

Spray 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray; place chicken breasts in cooker.

In medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients except spaghetti. Pour over top of chicken.

Cover; cook on low heat setting 6 hours or on high heat setting 3 to 4 hours.

When about 15 minutes are left, cook and drain spaghetti as directed on package.

Just before serving, shred chicken with two forks, and toss creamy chicken mixture with cooked spaghetti. Serves 6.

Tips: Don't have spaghetti on hand? Any of your favorite pastas would work great with this recipe. Serve this delicious main dish with a fresh garden salad for a well rounded meal.