Fearless Friday, Tomatoes & Chicken Pesto Mac & Cheese

I know we are all shedding a tear as the end of summer tomatoes looms on the horizon 😒



Here are some ways to enjoy summer tomatoes all year-

You can paint Tomatoes easily with the Waterlogue App

Preset Style = Vibrant Format = 6" (Medium) Format Margin = Small Format Border = Sm. Rounded Drawing = #2 Pencil Drawing Weight = Medium Drawing Detail = Medium Paint = Natural Paint Lightness = Auto Paint Intensity = More Water = Tap Water Water Edges = Medium Water Bleed = Average Brush = Natural Detail Brush Focus = Everything Brush Spacing = Narrow Paper = Watercolor Paper Texture = Medium Paper Shading = Light Options Faces = Enhance Faces

Pastel pencil on paper

pastel pencil tomato crate

Stacked Tomato Salad

tomatoes thepaintedapron.com

Watercolor  tomatoes

watercolor tomato sketch

A Farmer’s Market Seasonal Chart with colored pencil can help you keep track of peak tomato season

tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini thepaintedapron.com

Acrylic on canvas

tomatoes in a black and white bowl thepaintedapron.com

On glass

tomato glasses thepaintedapron.com

Painting tomatoes is easy,

tomatoes thepaintedapron.com

Just a few simple strokes with a brush

tomatoes 4 thepaintedapron.com

The secret is to these quick acrylic tomatoes is to use several tones of red, orange or yellow on a fat round brush,  and let the colors mix as you apply them

tomatoes 3 thepaintedapron.com

Once dry, go back and add quick strokes for the tops, using a smaller pointed brush loaded with yellow and dark green

fresh tomato cocktail thepaintedapron.com

Now that we’ve painted tomatoes, let’s celebrate with this tomato topped mac & cheese with chicken and basil!

tomato topped mac & cheese thepaintedapron.ocm

A one dish meal to satisfy all kinds of cravings  πŸ˜‹

hierloom tomatoes

I adapted this recipe from Caprese Mac & Cheese from Half Baked Harvest

draining tomatoes

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make Chicken Cordon Bleu Mac & Cheese, {Cordon Bleu basically means chicken with ham and a cheese sauce}

or a Pesto Mac & Cheese, {adding basil pesto to creamy pasta}

but I knew I wanted to put pretty heirloom tomatoes on top, so I just combined everything into one big tasty dish

pesto chicken mac & cheese 2

You can adopt this recipe in numerous ways,

substitute bacon or sausage for ham,

skip the meat altogether,

use whatever pasta you like,

eliminate the pesto or tomatoes…

Parmesan topped pasta casserole

It’s basically just mac & cheese…

chicken pesto mac & cheese thepaintedapron.com

All dressed up!  πŸ‘ 

Basil Topped Chicken Pesto Mac & Cheese thepaintedapron.com

Chicken Pesto Mac & Cheese

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 5


  • 4 oz. spiral pasta
  • 1 large boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 4 medium thick slices deli ham
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T flour
  • 4 oz vermont white cheddar cheese grated
  • 2-4 T pesto
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 oz grated or shaved Parmesan
  • 1-2 yellow red or heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • fresh basil for garnish


  • Bring a sauce pan filled about 1/2 way with water to a boil. Season water well with salt and pepper. Add chicken, cover and turn burner off, but leave pan on burner. Let sit 30 minutes
  • Remove chicken from pot to safe cutting board. Bring water back to boil, adding more salt. Add pasta, stir, cover. Turn burner off and let pasta sit on burner for 10 minutes or until you’re ready for it.
  • Cook ham slices in hot skillet for 1-2 minutes to render any fat and to get a little char on them. Remove to cutting board. Cut ham and chicken into bite size pieces.
  • Drain pasta, return to sauce pan and toss with pesto. Add chicken and ham pieces to pasta and stir
  • Melt butter in skillet that ham was cooked in, stirring to incorporate any leftover browned bits from ham. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add flour and stir, forming a thick white roux. Pour in 1 cup milk. Cook and stir until milk is thickened then add remaining cup of milk. Cook and stir until thickened. Add cheddar cheese and stir until melted.
  • Add sauce to pasta pot and stir well. Turn mixture out into a greased baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Can be covered and refrigerated at this point. Just before baking slice tomatoes and drain on paper towels. Arrange tomatoes on top of casserole and season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with more Parmesan. Bake pasta at 350 for 30-45 minutes until hot and bubbly. Garnish with lots of fresh basil. Serves 4-6
Keyword chicken and pasta casserole, chicken pesto mac & cheese, mac & cheese, mac & cheese with tomatoes
tomato topped mac & cheese thepaintedapron.ocm

Remember, they’re your creations, Be Fearless!

πŸ…  πŸ…  πŸ…  πŸ…  πŸ…  πŸ…

I will be joining these fabulous parties and blogs:

Celebrate and DecorateRustic and Refined,

Between Naps on the Porch, Coastal Charm, Cooking and Crafting with J&JThe Scoop,   A Stroll Thru Life    Inspire Me Monday

Tickle My TastebudsWow Us Wednesday

Full Plate ThursdayWork it Wednesday

Poofing the Pillows,  Creatively Crafty,  Your Inspired Design














20 Responses to “Fearless Friday, Tomatoes & Chicken Pesto Mac & Cheese”
  1. Emily says:

    Everyone knows I love tomatoes. My daddy always had a tomato garden and I loved them as a child. What a wonderful way to enjoy tomatoes fresh with a favorite side. Great recipe Jenna. Yes, you will enjoy them all year with your painting, the glasses are so pretty. Great idea to photograph and paint with the Waterlogue App. Now I will have to be an early bird at the farmer’s market for tomatoes! Thanks for the inspiration…….

  2. Jenna, beautiful art and food, is there a better combination! Tomatoes are such a summer pleasure…and who wouldn’t love this dish (love pesto)!!! Happy weekend, Pam @ Everyday Living

  3. Mary says:

    Your Chicken Pesto Mac & Cheese sounds so good Jenna! It’s the perfect recipe to transition from summer into fall. Love your painted tomato harvest too πŸ™‚

  4. Just picked my garden’s first heirloom tomatoe this morning and your mac’n cheese is making me drool. Love Half Baked Harvest blog too. Always enjoy your how to paint tutorials! Happy tomatoe eating and painting Jenna!

  5. carolyn says:

    I have to try this Mac’ n Cheese! Looks and sounds just scrumptious.

  6. I always love seeing your artwork and, you know, your Waterlogue pictures even look better than mine! You need say no more, you had me with “pesto” and “mac and cheese.” This looks amazing. Trying it soon!

  7. cozinest says:

    Oh my goodness, that stacked tomato salad reminds me of a salad at Camellia’s here in Fairhope! If I can’t have yours, theirs is the next best thing. Making a reservation now!!!

  8. Leslie Anne Tarabella says:

    My tomato plants were loaded with little yellow blossoms . . . but something went dreadfully wrong and I didn’t have one single tomato!!!!! What a rotten trick!

    You’ll be happy (or die laughing) to know I’ve pulled out my paints and am painting up a storm! So, a happy weekend of painting to you!

  9. The tomato mac and cheese sounds good Jenna! My coworker was kind enough to bring me a few beauties today:@)

  10. Jodi says:

    Oh Jenna! I am swooning all of this tomato art and love…… you are such an amazing creative wonder in so many ways. and oh that recipe! O M G ! YUM!!

  11. Summer Daisy says:

    Lovely painting and photos! I am in the mood to eat some tomatoes now β™₯


  12. diy180 says:

    This looks amazing and I love the gorgeous painting. Thank you for sharing at Dishing it and Digging it link party. We love having you.

  13. Kim says:

    This looks amazing, Jenna! Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? πŸ™‚

  14. JESS44903 says:

    The tomatoes look amazing! And that dish…YUM!

    I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips/

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  15. Ava says:

    I rarely bother with store bought tomatoes but love home grown. I’m hoping to get a garden fence up this fall so that I can grow my own next year. This recipe sounds delicious and you make the painting look so easy.

  16. Ava says:

    I usually don’t bother with store bought tomatoes but I love home grown. I’m hoping to get a garden fence in this fall so I can grow my own next year. This dish looks delicious and you make the painting look so easy!

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