Friday, June 28, 2013

Babies First Birthday

I Really, really, really wanted to use this banner for my moms birthday party, but since that didn't work out, I saved it for my littlest's first birthday dessert table. Here are the pictures of her little party:
The Dessert Table
The Birthday Cake
(Raspberry Vanilla Butter cake with Lemon Curd filling, Raspberry Butter Cream, and a White Chocolate Fondant.)

Close up of the Ombre ruffles, Fondant lace, Fondant Pearls, and the huge Fondant Flower I had SO much fun making!

Little baby smash-cake

Cannolis (to go with the rest of our Italian meal)

Peach Lemonade

Happy Birthday Sweet Little Lady.

Chicken with Orange Tomato Cream and Pesto Vermicelli

This dish was inspired by The Cheesecake Factory's 'Chicken Bellagio'.  Always a favorite dish of mine, I wanted to re-create it but put my own spin on it. Traditionally it is a breaded chicken, served over a pesto spaghetti, drizzled with Alfredo, and topped with prosciutto and arugula.
Here is my version: I started by marinating my chicken overnight before I breaded it. MUCH more flavor is infused that way. Then I breaded it, pan-fried it, and finished it in the oven. Served atop a pesto Vermicelli(I love Costco's pre-made pesto. It's cost-effective and tasty) and then topped with a burst orange tomato cream with basil from my own little herb garden(I have living herbs! Like.....I haven't killed them yet!) this makes the perfect hearty summer meal.
I suppose you could use any color of tomato..yellow would be fun! but I love the orange. I just love anything orange. It's my happy color!

For the Breaded Chicken:

4 Chicken Breasts
1/2 bottle Lawry's Garlic Herb Marinade
1 1/2 C. Flour
2 Eggs, well beaten
1 1/2-2 Cups Italian Breadcrumbs
Kosher Salt
3 T. Butter
3 T. Olive oil

Slice each chicken breast in half horizontally, so you are left with two thin pieces of chicken from each breast. Lay the chicken pieces on a cutting board and cover them with a large piece of saran wrap. Pound each piece of chicken with a mallet until they are about 1/4" thin. Place the chicken in a gallon sized Ziploc bag and then pour the marinade over the top. Seal the bag and let the chicken marinate in the fridge overnight, or at least for 5-6 hours.

When you are ready to cook your chicken, set up your breading station. Place a bowl of flour on the counter with your bowl of eggs next to it(on the right) and your breadcrumbs next to the eggs. 
Have a large frying pan on the stove with 1 T. Butter and 1 T. oil in it set to medium/high heat.(I like to place my breaded chicken straight into the frying pan instead of breading it all and letting it sit.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have a baking sheet topped with a cooling rack next to your frying pan so that you can transfer the browned chicken directly to it for baking.
Take one piece of chicken and let the marinade drip of for a few seconds. lay it in the flour and turn it to coat. Then dip the floured chicken into the beaten eggs. Let the excess egg drip off. Place the egg coated chicken in the breadcrumbs and toss the crumbs on the side of the bowl over the top of the chicken. Then press the crumbs firmly into the chicken. Gently shake off the excess crumb from the chicken and place directly in the frying pan. Fry over medium-medium high head until the bottom is golden brown. Flip the chicken over and fry the other side until it is also golden brown. Transfer the browned chicken to the cooling rack on the baking sheet(this will ensure that your chicken does not finish cooking in its own juices and will stay nice and crispy, not soggy!).
Finish breading and frying the remaining chicken pieces(I do several at once and bread a chicken piece while another is frying).
Once your chicken is all fried, placed the baking sheet in the oven and finish cooking for another 10-15 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, cook your pasta and make your cream sauce.

For the Pesto Vermicelli:

1 LB. Vermicelli
1/2-1 cup Pesto Sauce

Set a large pot of water to boil. Add 2 T. Olive oil and 1 T. kosher salt to the pasta water. When it has reached a rolling boil, add the dry pasta to the water and stir once. Let the pasta boil for 6-7 minutes just until al-dente. Drain the water from the pasta and place back in the pot. Add the pesto to the pasta and toss to coat. Add more or less pesto depending on your preference.

Serve hot.

For the Orange Tomato Basil Cream Sauce:

4 T. Olive oil
2 Cups Orange cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 T. Chopped Garlic
2 C. Heavy Cream
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
5-6 Fresh Basil leaves, chopped

Heat a large frying pan to medium/high heat. Pour in the olive oil. When oil is hot, add in the garlic and cherry tomatoes. Saute the tomatoes for 5-6 minutes, until they have burst and started to break down and the garlic has started to caramelize. Pour in the cream and let it boil until it has reduced and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the fresh basil.

Serve atop the breaded chicken.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dinner Party for the Birthday Baby!

I love summer birthdays! Birthdays are great on their own, but when you can celebrate that Birthday outside it's even better. And let me tell you, I've been waiting forever to have a family member with a summer birthday, just so I can throw party outside. I have been the only summer birthday for years, but last year I was blessed with a little Love bug and I have been looking forward to celebrating her birthday ever since.

Our dinner table....good thing it's difficult to see all the miss-matched chairs!

I found these cute little lanterns at Jo-Ann's(70%off!)

Peach Lemonade
Baby Green Salad with Raspberries, Brie, and Candied Almonds

I thawed Rhodes rolls and tied them in knots to make these easy rolls.

I think the Birthday Girl was satisfied!
(click on food titles under each picture to be taken to the recipe).