4 slices thick cut bacon, diced
FOR THE CHICKEN
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 (1-pound, total) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
FOR THE RANCH CREAM CHEESE
4- ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon dried chives
4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, white or yellow – I use a little of both
chopped fresh parsley
sliced green scallions
Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Set a large skillet over medium-high heat and add in diced bacon; cook until crispy. Remove bacon from skillet and set aside. DON’T discard bacon fat. Return skillet to heat and add vegetable oil to the remaining bacon fat.
Pound chicken breasts to a 1/4-inch thickness and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Add chicken breasts to the hot oil – you may have to do this in batches if skillet isn’t big enough – and cook chicken breasts for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown.
Flip over the chicken breasts, add butter, and continue to cook for 3 more minutes.
Remove chicken breasts from skillet and arrange in previously prepared baking dish. Set aside. In a small bowl combine cream cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, dill weed, and chives; mix until thoroughly combined. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly. *You can also just stir in 1 tablespoon of store-bought ranch seasoning.
Top each chicken breast with 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture. Spread to coat the surface of each chicken breast.
Take half of the bacon and add on top of the cream cheese.
Sprinkle shredded cheese over the chicken breasts.
Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and cheese is melted and lightly browned. Remove from oven.
Garnish with remaining bacon, fresh parsley, and scallions. Serve.