Cheesy Pesto BLT

Cheesy Pesto BLT

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Cheesy Pesto BLT is grilled cheese and BLT sandwiches married together with vibrant pesto.  It’s the indulgent, adult sandwich for the kid in all of us.

Cheesy Pesto BLT sandwich cut and stacked on a small wooden tray.

I was recently asked by a friend and co-worker what he and his work crew could cook up with limited kitchen gear. Available was a frying pan, electric grill press and a toaster oven.  One of my first thoughts was a  grilled cheese sandwich.  But on second thought, who wants just a grilled cheese, other than a 5-year-old of course?

I sent him a recipe for a pesto grilled cheese because I knew the combo would be amazing and it got me thinking that it could be the start of something great. I knew I wanted to add some kind of meat, and plenty of chewy bacon was the answer for a heartier sandwich. And how can you not have bacon without fresh tomato slices and cool, crisp lettuce? They bring balance to the melty cheese and salty bacon which are wonderfully paired with the pesto.  So remember, grilled cheese doesn’t have to be “JUST” a grilled cheese.

Ingredients for Cheesy Pesto BLT arranged on a small wooden tray draped with a white kitchen towel.

Truthfully, the kid in me loves that simple and traditional grilled cheese made with processed cheese slices, but I also love pesto and BLT’s, so it only made sense to put them all together into one delicious sandwich.  So don’t just think grilled cheese when graving crispy fried bread and oozy cheese.  Think Cheesy Pesto BLT!!

Cheesy Pesto BLT
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    2 people 15 minutes
    Cook Time
    10 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    2 people 15 minutes
    Cook Time
    10 minutes
    Cheesy Pesto BLT
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      2 people 15 minutes
      Cook Time
      10 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      2 people 15 minutes
      Cook Time
      10 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: people
      Instructions
      1. Heat a non-stick stick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot.
      2. Butter the outside of each bread slice.
      3. Place the bread buttered side down in skillet and layer provolone evenly over two slices. Adjust heat to medium-low.
      4. Spread 1 tbsp of pesto evenly over the cheese and top with 3 slices of bacon each.
      5. Cook on medium-low to medium until bottoms are golden and cheese is melty. (I find medium-low best to melt cheese while not overcooking the bread)
      6. Remove grilled bread from pan and top the cheese side slices with tomato slices. Season tomatoes with freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste. Top with lettuce and remaining grilled bread.
      7. Cut as desired and serve immediately.
      Recipe Notes

      - You can use fresh or purchased pesto in this recipe.  I do recommend using fresh if possible like my Classic Pesto

      -Prep time is based on using pre-made pesto and pre-cooked bacon.

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      I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
      Homemade Pork Breakfast Patties

      Homemade Pork Breakfast Patties

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      Homemade Pork Breakfast Patties panfried in a cast iron skillet and garnished with fresh herbs.

      One of my favourite things is enjoying a leisurely weekend morning with nothing more to do than drink coffee and chat idly over a satisfying, belly bursting breakfast/brunch.  It’s the kind of time that I cherish because there’s no rushing, no chores, just good company, yummy food and belly scratches for the cat.  Even though my husband and I both love bacon, we couldn’t help but fall hard for these juicy and flavourful Homemade Pork Breakfast Patties.  They’re the absolute best thing for my perfect weekend morning. Easy, delicious, homemade and amazing with crispy fried eggs.

      Uncooked Homemade Pork Breakfast Patties on a parchment lined tray ready for pan frying.

      What makes a great homemade sausage patty?

      -don’t overmix, over mixing will cause the mixture to be gummy and harder to handle.
      -use dampened hands, fingers and ring molds to form the patties into neat rounds.  Just a dab of water goes a long way to keep the stickiness at bay.
      -season appropriately with enough salt and spices.  Remember, plain meats need salt to bring out the flavour and additional spices and herbs enhance the meat.  Salt enhances the herbs too.
      -don’t overcook the patties, they only need to be cooked through not cooked to death which will result in dry patties.
      -use freshly ground pork if possible as it will be less weepy or watery than ground pork that has been frozen and thawed.
      -measure or weigh each portion for uniform patties that will cook evenly.

      Homemade Pork Breakfast Patties
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        12-13 patties 30 minutes
        Cook Time
        8-10 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        12-13 patties 30 minutes
        Cook Time
        8-10 minutes
        Homemade Pork Breakfast Patties
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          12-13 patties 30 minutes
          Cook Time
          8-10 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          12-13 patties 30 minutes
          Cook Time
          8-10 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: patties
          Instructions
          1. Crush fennel seeds with the bottom of a glass or chop with a knife to break apart the seeds.
          2. Combine crushed fennel with the remaining seasonings and 1/4 cup of water.
          3. Add ground pork to a large bowl and add seasonings. Mix until seasoning is evenly incorporated but do not overmix. I find it best to use my hands.
          4. Portion mixture into 2.5 ounces each. Form into 3.5" patties either using your hands or pressing into a ring mold (see note). Place on a flat plate or tray and separate layers with parchment.
          5. Add 1 tbsp of oil to your favourite medium-size skillet ( I used cast iron) and heat over medium until hot. Add patties to the pan without overcrowding and cook for 4-5 minutes per side until browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and serve immediately. Or keep warm in a low oven and repeat with remaining oil and uncooked patties.
          Recipe Notes

          -I like to mix the seasonings with water prior to adding to the pork as I find it helps distribute them nicely without overmixing.

          -a small dab of water on your hands and/or ring mold between forming patties will keep the stickiness under control.

          -pre-formed patties can be frozen raw and will keep for at least a month well wrapped and separated with parchment paper.

           

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          I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
          Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup

          Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup

          A day for family…

          February 18, 2019 marks Family Day in my province of Alberta, Canada.  A holiday to promote family values and spending time together as a family.  Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup is perfect for your family day weekend.  Super easy to toss together in your slow cooker, and forget about until dinner time. Giving you the whole day to spend with your family without having to worry about dinner until the last few touches are required, which is hours later.

          Dinner is ready…

          With just a couple of last minute touches to the soup, the whole family can enjoy a hearty and satisfying soup made from scratch.  It’s a wonderful bowlful to warm everyone up from a day of outdoor activities even if it’s not a holiday.  The recipe makes about 10 cups and freezes well too.

          To ham or not to ham…

          I love the subtle smokiness a ham bone can bring to soup and I just happen to have a ham bone leftover from the holidays. If a ham bone isn’t available to you, a smoked pork hock works just as well and they’re readily available all year.   I also like the texture and flavour of meaty little bites of ham throughout the soup too, so I’ll definitely ham it up when I can. But don’t fret, this is a lovely vegan soup without the ham if that is your preference.  The dill and vinegar in the recipe add a little brightness to the soup and helps to cut the starchiness of the lentils.  It’s so, so good.

          Now, about the lentil…

          I could rattle on and on about the lentil, but the lentils website is very informative about the varieties, nutrition and cooking of the lentil.  It’s a good read with lots of information.  

          Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            10 cups 30 minutes
            Cook Time
            7 hours
            Servings Prep Time
            10 cups 30 minutes
            Cook Time
            7 hours
            Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              10 cups 30 minutes
              Cook Time
              7 hours
              Servings Prep Time
              10 cups 30 minutes
              Cook Time
              7 hours
              Ingredients
              Servings: cups
              Instructions
              1. Rinse and drain lentils. Add lentils along with onion, celery, carrots, cabbage, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, thyme to your slow cooker.
              2. Cut excess ham away from bone and save for later.
              3. Add ham bone and 7 cups of broth to slow cooker. Stir to combine, cover and cook on low for about 7 hours, stirring once or twice.
              4. While soup is cooking, coursely chop or shred ham. Cover and refrigerate until soup is ready.
              5. Remove ham bone and bay leaf from soup. Adjust consistency with the additional cup of broth. Stir in chopped ham and white vinegar. Cover and allow to cook for 5-10 more minutes to warm ham. Add a generous sprinkle of fresh dill and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and more fresh dill.
              Recipe Notes
              • a smoked pork hock will work in place of a meaty ham bone.
              • for a vegetarian/vegan option, use vegetable broth and omit the ham and sour cream.

              Affiliate Disclosure

              I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
              Cranberry Pork Rib Roast

              Cranberry Pork Rib Roast

              Move over turkey, there’s another succulent, juicy, easy to carve meat in town.  Cranberry Pork Rib Roast is an excellent way to entertain and impress this holiday season.  Flavoured with rosemary, mustard and garlic, it roasts up beautifully in a couple of hours.  Served with a cranberry apple sauce gives it a wonderfully delicious holiday flare that’s sure to impress.

              I love pork rib roasts for the bones.  They provide a little extra fat and flavour, plus, they help to keep the roast moist throughout the roasting process.  This stunning pork rib roast is just as much a showpiece as your golden turkey, it’s easy to carve and perfect for 6-10 people, depending on size and how you slice it.  Pork and apples are a natural pairing, which makes the cranberry apple sauce the perfect accompaniment to this lovely roast.  Enjoy!

              Recipe source for Cranberry Pork Rib Roast:  Compelled To Cook

              Cranberry Pork Rib Roast
              Print Recipe
                Servings Prep Time
                6-10 people 30 minutes
                Cook Time Passive Time
                120 minutes 20-30 minutes
                Servings Prep Time
                6-10 people 30 minutes
                Cook Time Passive Time
                120 minutes 20-30 minutes
                Cranberry Pork Rib Roast
                Print Recipe
                  Servings Prep Time
                  6-10 people 30 minutes
                  Cook Time Passive Time
                  120 minutes 20-30 minutes
                  Servings Prep Time
                  6-10 people 30 minutes
                  Cook Time Passive Time
                  120 minutes 20-30 minutes
                  Ingredients
                  Servings: people
                  Instructions
                  Pork Rib Roast
                  1. Preheat oven to 475℉. Pat roast dry with a paper towel and season generously on all sides with salt and pepper. In a small bowl whisk together remaining ingredients until smooth and rub evenly onto the roast. Place roast on a large baking tray or shallow roasting pan fat side up. Cook for 15 minutes in preheated oven then reduce temperature to 350℉. Continue to roast for 90-120 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 145℉. The meat will continue to rise about 10℉ as it rests.
                  2. Remove roast from oven and cover loosely with foil. Allow to rest for a minimum of 20 minutes before carving. For larger appetites, you can carve the roast into chops between the bones and serve. Alternatively, you can carve off the bones from the center loin, allowing you to slice the loin to your desired thickness. Cut the ribs between the bones and serve along side.
                  Cranberry Apple Sauce
                  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan and sauté shallots for 1-2 minutes until starting to soften. Add cranberries, apple, 1/2 cup water, white wine, brown sugar, rosemary and ginger. Allow to simmer gently, stirring occasionally until the cranberries are soft and the apples are tender. This will take about 20 minutes and most of the excess moisture will be evaporated.
                  2. Stir in jellied cranberry, cinnamon and salt, allowing the jellied cranberry to melt into the sauce. Adjust consistency with a tablespoon or two of water if necessary. The sauce can be made ahead and warmed gently for serving. Makes 1 3/4 cups of sauce.

                  Baked Apricot Mustard Ham

                  Baked Apricot Mustard Ham

                  Looking to feed a crowd of hungry relatives and friends this Easter? Baked Apricot Mustard Ham will not only feed the small army you call family, it will also slice out enough ham for leftovers along with a ham bone for soup. The meal that keeps on giving, in an oooh so tasty and simple way. The herby mustard rub is my standard go to paste to rub on most everything but this time with the addition of apricot jam. The jam helps to glaze the ham and cut the salt with a touch of sweetness. You’ll also love, love, love the fresh herbs, especially the rosemary, which is such a wonderful pairing with ham.

                  Aside from the ham, which I could chatter on about, this post also warms my heart for another reason. It’s the kind gesture and thoughtfulness from a wonderful friend who gave me the opportunity to use a family treasure in my post. The silver and stainless steel carving set used in the pictures belonged to my friend’s Grandmother on his father’s side.

                  There are actually 3 pieces to the set although I only used two in my pictures. The set includes a fork, knife and sharpening steel, which looks much different from what we see today. All pieces are stamped with WM Rogers and Son, who was a well know silversmith and pioneer in the silver plate industry. They’re tarnished like heck and the knife is uneven from use or sharpening, but this vintage set is prop gold and absolutely beautiful in my photos. Thank you Mike for thinking of me, Happy Easter.

                  Recipe source for Baked Apricot Mustard Ham:  Compelled To Cook

                  You may also like Braised Lamb Shoulder for your Easter gathering.

                  Baked Apricot Mustard Ham
                  Print Recipe
                    Servings Prep Time
                    12-15 people 20 minutes
                    Cook Time Passive Time
                    3 hours 15 minutes
                    Servings Prep Time
                    12-15 people 20 minutes
                    Cook Time Passive Time
                    3 hours 15 minutes
                    Baked Apricot Mustard Ham
                    Print Recipe
                      Servings Prep Time
                      12-15 people 20 minutes
                      Cook Time Passive Time
                      3 hours 15 minutes
                      Servings Prep Time
                      12-15 people 20 minutes
                      Cook Time Passive Time
                      3 hours 15 minutes
                      Ingredients
                      Servings: people
                      Instructions
                      1. Preheat oven to 325℉. Remove ham from packaging and dab dry with a paper towel. Score ham by cutting just through the skin in diagonal lines about 1" apart. Repeat diagonal line in the opposite direction to create a diamond pattern.
                      2. In a small bowl whisk together mustard, half the apricot jam, chopped fresh herbs, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
                      3. Lay ham face down in roasting pan and scatter a handful of fresh herbs around the ham. Smear half of the mustard rub evenly over ham. Add 3/4 cup water to the pan and cover tightly with foil.
                      4. Bake for approximately 2-2 1/2 hours until warmed through and an internal temperature of 135℉ is reached. Increase oven temperature to 400℉ and strain liquid from pan. Rub ham with remaining mustard rub and continue to bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes until golden and browned and the internal temperature is 145℉. Remove from oven and recover with foil and allow to rest 15 minutes. Slice and serve.
                      5. While ham is resting, reduce liquid from pan by 1/3. Whisk in 1/4-1/3 cup apricot jam to taste and serve along side the ham.

                      Mushroom Bacon Risotto

                      Mushroom Bacon Risotto

                      Truthfully, I don’t make a lot of risotto, so when a friend recently made me a delicious bacon risotto, I remembered what all the fuss is about. Mushroom Bacon Risotto is a splendid variation, loaded with flavour, creamy and luscious.

                      With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Mushroom Bacon Risotto is a lovely dish to share with your sweetheart. Indulgent with bacon and cheese, bright with a splash of wine and earthy with garlic and mushrooms. Tastes wickedly good without being too heavy and perfect with steamed asparagus and a glass of wine. Simple and elegant!

                      It’s not the quickest risotto, having to sauté the bacon and mushrooms first, but the combination is fantastic and worth the extra effort. I like to add the cooked bacon and mushrooms at the end, that way they retain their texture, especially the bacon. For me, it’s best with a little bit of crispiness and chew, giving the risotto some texture. The bacon also adds salt, so I find low sodium broth is best in this case, seasoning accordingly at the end. So come and find out what the fuss is all about with Mushroom Bacon Risotto!

                      Recipe source for Mushroom Bacon Risotto:  Compelled To Cook

                       

                      Mushroom Bacon Risotto
                      Print Recipe
                        Servings Prep Time
                        3 people 10 minutes
                        Cook Time
                        43-45 minutes
                        Servings Prep Time
                        3 people 10 minutes
                        Cook Time
                        43-45 minutes
                        Mushroom Bacon Risotto
                        Print Recipe
                          Servings Prep Time
                          3 people 10 minutes
                          Cook Time
                          43-45 minutes
                          Servings Prep Time
                          3 people 10 minutes
                          Cook Time
                          43-45 minutes
                          Ingredients
                          Servings: people
                          Instructions
                          1. In a large skillet fry bacon over medium heat until crisp tender and most of the fat has rendered. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and reserve fat. Once bacon has cooled enough to handle, coarsely chop.
                          2. Using same skillet, increase heat to medium high and add 1 tbsp of bacon fat. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until starting to brown and moisture has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
                          3. In same skillet over medium heat add 1 tbsp of bacon fat and chopped shallot and sauté until starting to soften but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add minced garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute, stirring often.
                          4. Stir in rice and continue to sauté and stir until rice is coated, about 1 minute. Add wine, stirring to combine and scraping up any bits stuck to the pan. Allow to be mostly absorbed, about 1 minute.
                          5. Adjust temperature to medium and add 1/2 cup of broth, stirring to combine and allowing broth to absorb. Continue adding broth by the 1/2 cup, allowing each portion to be mostly absorbed before adding more, stirring often.
                          6. When down to the last cup of broth, test for texture and add more broth if desired, saving 1/4 cup for finishing. When the rice is al dente and the last addition of broth has been absorbed, stir in mushrooms and bacon. Add remaining 1/4 cup of broth, parmesan cheese, butter and parsley. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.
                          Recipe Notes

                          Makes approximately 4 1/2 cups of risotto, enough for 3 main dish servings or 6 side dish servings.