Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

with Chicken

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Weeknight cooking may seem daunting at times when trying to juggle feeding your family, appointments and activities.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, some of the best dishes are quick and simply. Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken is a fantastic combination of garlic, sun-dried tomato pesto and cream.   This gloriously creamy pasta dish is a perfect family meal yet delicious enough for company. 

I enjoy boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe but you can easily use boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead if that is your preference.  Shrimp is also a fantastic combination as well. Or skip the protein all together for a great meatless meal option. Using store bought sun-dried tomato pesto helps to make this recipe quick and easy.  There are plenty of brands out there to choose from and I cannot say that one is better than the other is, so find one you like and keep it at the ready.  You’ll want this gorgeous dish on repeat!!

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Cook Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces fettuccine
  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs 3-4 depending on size
  • as needed salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomato pesto
  • as needed freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions in well-salted water. Drain well, reserving a cup of pasta water.
  • While the pasta is cooking, season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add chicken and cook until browned on both sides and cooked through. About 5-6 minutes per side.
  • Remove the chicken to a clean dish and cover it with aluminum foil to keep it warm.
  • To the same skillet add the minced garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes over low heat.
  • Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up the browned bits left in the pan and allow the wine to reduce slightly.
  • Add chicken broth, stir and reduce for 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir in heavy cream and reduce for 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.
  • Add sun-dried tomato pesto and stir over low heat until combined. Remove from heat.
  • Slice cooked chicken into strips.
  • Add chicken and pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a generous splash of pasta water. Toss to combine well over low heat.
  • Serve immediately with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.

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Lemon Semifreddo

Lemon Semifreddo

Lemon Semifreddo

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Lemon Semifreddo rivals ice cream, yet requires no ice cream maker. Cool, creamy and bursting with fresh lemon flavour for a wonderful summer treat served with lightly macerated berries. It is simple to make and best of all it is made ahead of time so it’s ready when you are.

Semifreddo means “half frozen” in Italian. Semifreddo is similar to ice cream, yet it does have some differences. Semifreddo contains a little more fat and sugar than ice cream, but that’s what helps to give it an ice cream texture without the churning. It also has more air from the beaten cream, making it less dense than ice cream. It is a lovely dessert that is worthy of company but also nice to have on hand for a family treat. Enjoy!

There are a couple of things that are important when making Semifreddo. The first is to whisk the eggs constantly over a double boiler until the temperature reaches 170°F. This ensures the eggs won’t start to overcook before they reach the desired temperature. The second is to not overbeat the cream. Soft peaks are what you’re after, so they fold into the egg mixture evenly. Stiff cream is harder to incorporate without over-mixing the final product. It is really quite a simple and delicious dessert.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Lemon Semifreddo

Ingredients

  • 500 ml Whipping cream/Heavy cream
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 125 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  • Whip cream until soft peaks, cover and chill.
  • Add egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt to a sauce pot fitted to a double boiler.
  • Whisk until combined and cook, stirring constantly until thick, coats a spoon and reaches 170°F.
  • Remove from the double boiler and set in an ice bath. Beat with an electric mixer until cool, thick and pale.
  • Pour into prepared whipped cream and fold until combined well.
  • Pour into a sealable container and freeze for 8-24 hours.
  • Scoop and serve with macerated berries.

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Potato and Mushroom Gratin

Potato and Mushroom Gratin

Potato and Mushroom Gratin

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Sliced mushrooms, gruyere cheese and potatoes in a basket are being prepped for Potato and Mushroom Gratin.

With Easter just around the corner, you’ll want to be dinner ready for family and friends. Hopefully, with some luck, the Covid-19 gathering restrictions will ease in my area and a modest gathering can take place. I do miss my family and friends, and I miss cooking for them. It’s the best part of any gathering, in my opinion. You’re gonna love this easy and delicious Potato and Mushroom Gratin. It feeds 8 people, it’s easy to assemble and bakes up golden and creamy every time. There’s no messing around with cooking a white sauce, there’s no boilovers and no pre-cooking potatoes. It’s a no-fuss casserole, loaded with earthy mushrooms and Gruyere cheese, and has become my favourite to serve with ham. It’s also fantastic served with roast chicken, pork or grilled steak.

Sauteed mushroom in a stainless steel skillet that have been cooked for Potato and Mushroom Gratin.
A prepped and layered Potato and Mushroom Gratin in a red casserole dish ready for the oven.

What makes this potato casserole a winner in my books is the simplicity of the sauce. The mixture of cream and sour cream makes it extra creamy and the sour cream gives a little tang. The sauce is whisked together cold and poured over the potato slices. I find there’s no need to be fussy with the potato arrangement either. Simply toss the slices into the casserole dish and spread them around evenly instead of trying to layer them ever so carefully. If you don’t have a mandolin for thinly slicing the potatoes, that’s no problem, simply slice as thin as you can by hand and cook for the longest time suggested in the recipe. Remember, dinner doesn’t need to be fussy. This simple casserole is not only delicious, but it also feeds a small crowd and is worthy of your family gathering. Enjoy!

Potato and Mushroom Gratin baked golden in a red casserole dish and garnished with chopped green onions.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Potato and Mushroom Gratin baked golden in a red casserole dish and garnished with chopped green onions.
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Potato and Mushroom Gratin

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 8 people

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tbsp unsalted butter plus more for dish
  • 16 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced see note
  • 1 small onion, thinly slice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sour cream, full fat
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes see note
  • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F and butter a large 3-quart casserole dish.
  • Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until starting to foam. Add mushroom and cook until lightly browned and the moisture has evaporated. Add minced garlic and continue to cook, stirring often for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove to a clean bowl.
  • Melt another 1-2 tbsp of butter over medium heat and add sliced onions. Sprinkle with salt and sauté for 4-5 minutes until starting to soften.
  • While mushrooms and onions are cooking, whisk together cream, sour cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg. In a separate bowl whisk together milk and flour until smooth. Add to the sour cream mixture and whisk until incorporated. Grate the cheese and set it aside.
  • Peel and thinly slice the potatoes and dab dry with a paper towel. Spread half of the potato slices evenly in the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Scatter half of the sauteed mushrooms and onions over the potatoes. Top evenly with half of the cheese. Repeat with remaining potatoes, mushrooms and cheese.
  • Pour the cream mixture evenly over the potatoes. Give the pan a gentle shake to help flatten everything out. Cover and bake for 45-60 minutes (this will depend on how thin you've sliced the potatoes) Start checking at 45 minutes. The potatoes should be "just" tender in the center. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 20 minutes until the top is golden and the potatoes are cooked through.
  • Remove from oven, cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or sliced green onions if desired.

Notes

-The cooking of the mushrooms and onions, along with the mixing of the sauce can be done several hours and up to one day in advance. So all you have left to do is slice the potatoes, assemble and bake the casserole.
-Russet potatoes work well for this recipe, however, I've also used red potatoes with equally good results.
-The covered cooking time will vary slightly depending on how thin you've sliced the potatoes.  I find cutting them by hand instead of using a mandolin requires closer to 60 minutes covered.
-I like using a mix of cremini and white mushrooms for this recipe but either/or will work well.

Chocolate Chambord Truffles

Chocolate Chambord Truffles

Chocolate Chambord Truffles

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Chocolate Chambord Truffles decorated with pink hearts are arranged on a pink napkin lined plate on a black back drop.

Truffles may look difficult to make, but in reality, they are quite simple. There’s no special equipment or forbidden secret, like how you get the caramel in the Caramilk bar. What is needed most is a little bit of patience and part of that is the patience not to eat the ganache before the truffles are rolled, LOL! It takes time for cooling, rolling and coating the truffles, but trust me, they are simple and delicious.

Truffles are merely chocolate ganache (chocolate and heavy cream) rolled into balls and coated with cocoa powder or melted chocolate and anything you’d like to sprinkle on them. This recipe flavours the ganache with Chambord (raspberry liqueur) and then garnished with a chocolate coating and candied hearts for an elegant yet simple finish.

Chocolate Chambord Truffles decorated with pink hearts are arranged on a pink napkin lined plate on a black back drop.

Don’t be afraid of tempering chocolate if you want a smooth glossy finish to your truffles. I did not temper the chocolate for this post (the ones in the pictures), and they still look amazing. It’s an optional process if you choose to do it. It provides stable chocolate that keeps a gloss even when set.

Basic tempering:

Finely chop chocolate and heat 2/3 of it over a double boiler until melted and not warmer than 120°F. Turn off the heat and remove the bowl, wiping any moisture from the bottom. Gradually add 1-2 tablespoons of chopped chocolate, stirring and allowing the chocolate to melt before adding more until the temperature drops to 86°F. Return the bowl to the double boiler and warm to 88-91°F and start dipping.

Chocolate Chambord Truffles decorated with pink hearts are arranged on a pink napkin lined plate on a black back drop.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Chocolate Chambord Truffles decorated with pink hearts are arranged on a pink napkin lined plate on a black back drop.
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Chocolate Chambord Truffles

Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Resting time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

Truffles

  • 8 ounces good quality semi-sweet chocolate 60-70% cocoa
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Chambord raspberry liqueur
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Dipping

  • 10 ounces good quality milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate

Instructions

Truffles

  • Finely chop chocolate and place in a medium bowl. Heat cream until hot but not boiling. Pour cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Whisk gently to bring cream and chocolate together and the mixture is smooth and silky.
  • Stir in the Chambord until combined and then stir in the room temperature butter. Scrape the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the chocolate. Allow to cool at room temperature until scoopable (mixture will still be soft).
  • Using a 15ml scoop or a tablespoon, scoop chocolate onto a parchment lined tray. Chill until firm.
  • Using clean dry hands, roll each scoop into a smooth ball and place on a clean sheet of parchment. Rinsing your hands in cool water and drying them about every 4 rolls helps to achieve a uniform and smooth ball.
  • Keep truffles chilled until ready to coat.

Dipping

  • Finely chop the chocolate and place it in the top of a double boiler making sure the water does not touch the upper bowl/pot. Melt gently, stirring occasionally until liquid and smooth.
  • Pour melted chocolate into a small wide glass or wide mouth 250ml mason jar. Using a skewer or toothpick dip each ball into the melted chocolate to cover completely. Remove immediately and allow excess chocolate to drip off. Place truffle on a clean parchment-lined tray and twist toothpick gently to remove. Repeat the dipping process for each truffle. Chill truffles until firm. Alternatively, you can dip each truffle by placing one at a time directly in the melted chocolate and removing with a fork from underneath the truffle, allowing the excess chocolate to drip off.
  • Decorate truffles by drizzling remaining dipping chocolate over each truffle and garnish with your favourite edible decoration.

Notes

-You can roll each truffle in cocoa if you prefer and skip the dipping.
-Keeping the truffles chilled as you go in the dipping process helps keep them firm enough to handle.
-I did not have a 1tbsp scoop, so I used a 2tbsp scoop and sliced each ball in half before rolling.
-Placing the cup or mason jar with the melted dipping chocolate in a larger vessel with hot water helps to keep chocolate warm and smooth for dipping (plan for the water displacement). Warming for 30 seconds in the microwave will also help keep it melted as you go.
-Any remaining dipping chocolate can be poured onto parchment and allowed to set for use in another recipe (do not waste it).

Caramel Irish Coffee

Caramel Irish Coffee

Caramel Irish Coffee

Caramel Irish Coffee drizzled with caramel sauce and served in a clear mug.

Who knew Irish Coffee had its own day? According to Foodimentary, January 25th is National Irish Coffee Day. So let’s celebrate with a delicious and warming Caramel Irish Coffee. It is a tasty twist on the original Irish Coffee, which is sweetened with sugar. The caramel not only adds the required sweetness but depth of flavour. I recommend using homemade caramel sauce, but you can use store-bought if using a quality product. It is also important to make good quality coffee for this recipe as it is the major component. I used a medium roast Colombian coffee. You can use your favourite, it just needs to be robust, fresh and hot!! If you like an after-dinner sipper, this cocktail encompasses dessert as well in my opinion. Sweet and creamy with a punch of whiskey and coffee. It is delicious, enjoy!

Looking for more fun food days??

Foodimentary

Need a dreamy caramel sauce?

Spiced Rum Caramel

Caramel Irish Coffee drizzled with caramel sauce and served in a clear mug.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Caramel Irish Coffee drizzled with caramel sauce and served in a clear mug.
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Caramel Irish Coffee

Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces Irish Whiskey I used Jameson
  • 1 heaping tbsp caramel sauce plus more for top
  • 6 ounces robust, hot coffee
  • as needed lightly whipped heavy cream

Instructions

  • Add hot water to an 8 ounce or larger coffee mug and allow to sit and warm mug while proceeding.
  • Make coffee and whip 1/4-1/3 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form or use a whipped cream dispenser.
  • Pour the water out of the mug and add Irish whiskey and caramel, stir to combine. Pour in coffee and stir. Top with whipped cream and garnish with additional caramel sauce as desired.

Notes

-you can use homemade or store bought caramel sauce.  My preference is homemade, here is a link to the one I used substituting the spiced rum with a tsp of vanilla. Spiced Rum Caramel
-the prep time for this recipe does not include the time it takes to make homemade caramel sauce.