I’ve been on a Pinterest cooking kick lately because I need other moms who manage to cook while chasing kids and doing their jobs to tell me what to make for dinner. Occasionally I feel feisty enough to reach for a Food & Wine recipe, but lately it’s been amazing if food is on the table before, like, 10pm.

This was a Pinterest find from a site called Julia’s Album. Truth be told, her actual site makes me a little nuts. Things pop up, there are tons of ads, and I’ve had the site crash on me a few times. In this recipe she says to rinse the pasta with cold water “to stop it cooking,” and I just cannot get behind that. It goes against everything I’ve ever learned about cooking pasta.

But the lady knows how to make all the food I want to cook these days. I’ve edited out a few of the odd directions, but for non-fancy weeknight food this was still yummy.

3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small jar (3-4 oz) sun-dried tomatoes in oil
1 lb chicken breast tenders (I just cut up some chicken breasts)
Pinch of paprika
1 cup half and half, or a mix of milk and heavy cream (which is what I had on hand)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 oz penne pasta
1-2 Tbsp fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (at least, add more to taste)
1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water (or more)

Slice up the sun-dried tomatoes. In a large pan, on high heat, sauté garlic and sun-dried tomatoes in 2 tablespoons of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes jar, for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant.


Remove sun-dried tomatoes from the pan, leaving the oil, and add chicken tenders, salted and lightly covered in paprika (for color) and cook on high heat for 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat.

IMG_4567Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve some cooked pasta water.
Add the tomatoes and garlic back to the skillet with chicken.


Add half and half and cheese to the skillet, too, and bring to a gentle boil.



Immediately reduce to simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts and creamy sauce forms.


Add cooked pasta to the skillet with the creamy sauce, and stir to combine. Add 1 tablespoon of basil, and at least 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.

Add about 1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water to think out the sauce, as needed. Immediately, season the pasta with salt and more red pepper flakes, to taste, if needed. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes for flavors to combine.