Friday, March 29, 2013

So Proud

Wes dyed easter eggs for the first time today. He's a natural artist.

He loved it so much that most of them were dipped in color, then painted with a brush, and then dipped again. 
Look what a great dying job he did on his hands. I'm so proud! He kept saying "pink" holding up his left hand and "green" holding up his right. 
Aren't they fabulous? And only about half of them were broken by the time we were done. 

Friday, March 15, 2013


We found this in Wesley's room this week:

Looks like we're all in trouble when his little brother gets here in September. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cheesecake Factory Chicken Bellagio

There's a recipe at the end of this if you stick with me. I believe in bribery, I do.

Thanks to some fabulous gift cards, Cam and I got to go on a date to the Cheesecake Factory! I had never been before. Since it was a Saturday night, they don't take reservations, so we showed up at a nice early 5:20 and were told they had a "50, like 5-0 minute wait" (yes, the hostess really did spell it out for me lest I thought she said 15).

We decided to walk around the mall which was helpful in killing the first half-hour, making us super hungry, and also in forcing us to come to the realization of how very unfashionable we are these days. Our magic beeper finally went off after an hour, and we went back inside and noticed that they had switched to the "mood lighting" while we were gone, so we strained our eyes to follow the host to our seats.

As we sat down I noticed a small polar bear figurine on the top of my bench. I snagged it and was going to take it home for Wes, but Cam made me put it back in case someone came looking for it. Sometime after our drinks showed up it disappeared in a small hand from the other side.

And then we discovered the wonderful thing about the Cheesecake Factory. My good friend Stacey who is somewhat of a foodie made sure we knew exactly what to order... and I'm passing this on to you as well: the Avacado Eggrolls as an appetizer (Fabulous, with a magical sauce) and the Chicken Bellagio (just one to split... we still only ate half).

The polar bear reappeared as we were finishing, only to be snagged quickly when we heard a "don't put that up there! Where's your penguin?" Which is made even sillier if you know much about arctic habitats. We got to meet the penguin later when it was nudged out of reach by our small friend and I had to retrieve it (much to the mother's horror), which we thought was hilarious only because our small person was at a friend's house and not the cause of the problem... which is typical.

Somehow when our leftovers went to be boxed up they were accidentally thrown away. The manager came to apologize profusely and offered us either another Chicken Bellagio to take home or a free cheesecake. We picked cheesecake. Yum. But I still left thinking about my leftover Bellagio that was never to be. So I looked online and found a recipe on the Cheesecake Factory's own website that looked ridiculously too complicated for me to do on my own. So I found an accomplice.

Stacey and I worked hard for about 2 hours on this while our children watched a movie and ate marshmallows (hey, whatever it takes okay?) But check this out:

Almost as awesome looking as the real thing (and fed our dinner party of 4 ). It only took us that long because we had no idea what we were doing, and did things in all the wrong order, and had to stop to search online to figure out how one cooks prosciutto (fyi: one doesn't). And for your culinary pleasure and kudos for still reading here is our much better organized version, for italian cooking newbs. The trick is, do them in the listed order, and when you get a break while doing one thing, start in on the next, and it should all finish about the same time.

(Kim and Stacey's) Cheesecake Factory Chicken Bellagio
Serving size: 4

1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil

8 oz. Spaghettini Pasta
1 tbsp. Butter
1/4 oz. Parmesan/Romano Cheese Blend

2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (3 Oz.)
1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/8 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 oz. All-Purpose Flour
2 oz. Egg Wash (or an egg beaten with a fork in a shallow dish)
2 oz. Seasoned Breadcrumbs

2tbsp. butter
2tsp. flour
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 oz. Baby Arugula
1/2 tsp. Olive Oil
1  tsp. Lemon Juice, Freshly Squeezed
1/4 oz. Parmesan/Romano Cheese Blend

3/4 oz. Prosciutto
1/2 tsp. Parsley chopped

Basil Oil (in the original recipe it's a given you know this, so this recipe is from Epicurious):
Blanch basil in medium saucepan of boiling water 10 seconds. Drain. Rinse under cold water. Pat basil dry with paper towels. Transfer to blender. Add oil; puree until smooth. Transfer to small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 3 days ahead). Cover and chill.

Heat up a saucepan of salted water for the noodles. When it boils, add the noodles and cook until "Al Dente" (about 8 min). Add to heated basil oil, 1 tbsp butter and 1/4 oz. parmesan/romano cheese blend, tossing to incorporate

Pound your chicken breasts approximately 6" wide. Season one side with salt and pepper. Then coat the chicken with flour on both sides, shaking off any excess. Dip the chicken into the egg wash coat with seasoned breadcrumbs, gently press the breadcrumbs to help them stick.  Pour a little oil on a flat grill or skillet and allow it to heat. Carefully place the breaded chicken breasts in the pan and cook until the chicken is crispy and a light even brown. Turn the chicken over and cook until done.

Parmesan Cream Sauce (in the original it's a given you know this, so this is from TLC Cooking):
Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add flour; cook and stir with wire whisk 1 minute. Add cream, whisking vigorously until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in Parmesan.  Set Aside And Keep Warm.  

Arugula Salad:
Place the Arugla in a clean mixing bowl. Drizzle the oil and squeeze the lemon wedge over the bowl. Season with a little salt and pepper. Add 1/4 oz. Parm/Romano blend to the bowl and toss together to coat. 

Slice the prosciutto into long thin (1/16") strips. Warm, but do not crisp. 

Mound the noodles in the center of the serving platter leaving a 1" boarder around the rim. Ladle 2/3 of the parmesan cream sauce around the pasta. 

Place the chicken on top of the pasta at a a slight angle. When plated correctly, very little pasta will be visible. Drizzle remaining cream sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle chopped parsley over chicken and pasta. 

Set the prosciotto slices around the top of the chicken forming a fluffy "crown" with an open area in the center.

Mound the arugula inside the "crown" spilling over the prosciutto.

Quick! Serve before it the chicken gets chilly and the arugula gets warm!