Main Dishes

Cheesecake Factory Chicken Bellagio Copycat

by Shawnda on October 29, 2014

in Chicken & Poultry,Copycats,Pasta, Rice, and Grains

Cheesecake Factory Chicken Bellagio Copycat

This is the greatest restaurant ever, momma.

There are some points you just can’t argue against.

Cheesecake Factory Chicken Bellagio Copycat

Last week, Landry & I took a Mommy-Daughter day. A field-trip with her preschool class to a local farm, flu shots (because I am the epitome of fun), half-marathon packet pickup, and a trip to the Lego Store was capped off with a super late lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.

Side note: The look of wonder on a sweet 4-year-old’s face after she discovers what’s hiding inside the fried mac & cheese far surpasses the magic of any five Christmas mornings.

Cheesecake Factory Chicken Bellagio Copycat

My very very favorite dish is the Chicken Bellagio. It is a wonderfully delicious calorie- and sodium-bomb of perfection. You have a half pound (or more) of pesto spaghetti topped with fried chicken cutlets, topped with prosciutto, topped with a simple arugula salad.

For $15, it feeds us 2 bigs and 1 little twice. But you can shave the calories and sodium and price down quite a bit at home without a lot of effort.

And you don’t have to put on pants or mascara to do it (though I do recommend wearing pants while cooking the chicken). (You know.) (Because splatters.)

Cheesecake Factory Chicken Bellagio Copycat

You have three components here: the pasta, the chicken, and the salad. Put the pasta into the boiling water at the same time as you start cooking the chicken and with the exception of quickly tossing some salad greens with some olive oil, lemon juice, and parmesan, everything should finish up at the same time.

Copycat Chicken Bellagio

A copycat recipe for the Cheesecake Factory's Chicken Bellagio. Make it at home and skimp on the calories, not the flavor.

Ingredients

  • For the pasta:
  • 8 oz uncooked thin spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup cream, optional*
  • For the chicken:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 cup panko
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • For the salad:
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • Your favorite dark salad greens (I had a baby spinach-kale mix on hand)
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon wedges
  • Parmesan
  • *I was looking to lighten the dish and didn't want anything as heavy as cream in the recipe. The restaurant obviously uses a cream-based sauce - so if you want to go big, stir in a bit of heavy cream.

Instructions

  1. Bring water to boil in a large pot.
  2. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Whisk egg with 1 Tbsp water and pour into a plate or small pan (I used an 8-inch sq baking dish).
  4. Mix together the panko, Italian seasoning, a generous pinch of salt, pepper, and cheese in another plate or small pan (I used a dinner plate).
  5. Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally and place in a large zipper bag (or between sheets of plastic wrap) and lightly pound a few times to even and thin them out (thin enough so that they cook quickly but not thin enough that you can see through them).
  6. Add flour to the zipper bag and shake to coat the chicken.
  7. Shake off the excess flour and dip the chicken into the egg mixture, flipping to coat.
  8. Press the chicken into the panko mixture and flip and press again. Transfer to another plate or pan and set aside, repeat for the remaining 3 pieces of chicken.
  9. Put the pasta into the boiling water at the same time you start the first two pieces of chicken in the frying pan.
  10. Cook the chicken two pieces at a time, for 2-3 minutes on each side, decreasing the heat a little if it browns too quickly.
  11. Before draining the pasta, pull out ~1 cup of the pasta water and set aside.
  12. Drain the pasta and return to the pan with half of the pasta water and the pesto. Toss until a creamy sauce forms, adding additional pasta water, as necessary.
  13. Divide the pasta between 4 plates and top with the chicken cutlets as they come out of the pan. Season with additional salt and pepper.
  14. Top each piece of chicken with a slice of prosciutto.
  15. In a medium bowl, toss 4 handfuls of salad greens with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a squeeze of 2 lemon wedges, and a small handful of grated parmesan.
  16. Divide between the 4 plates and enjoy. Without mascara. Pants also optional.

Notes

Yields: 4 generous servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 45 minutes

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Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos and Enchiladas

Well, actually three ways. But I didn’t photograph the third way.

(Can’t wait to see those Google keyword searches next week!) ([giggle])

Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos and Enchiladas

Let me introduce you to the most amazing thing to come out of my crockpot since… well, that last amazing thing that came out of my crockpot.

I call it Honey Chipotle Chicken. And I call it dinner for 4 nights this week.

Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos and Enchiladas

It starts with 3 lbs of chicken breasts, some honey, a can of chipotles in adobo, and some onion and garlic. ~5 hours later, you have enough chicken to feed a small army for nearly the rest of the week. An army that will absolutely adore you.

The cooking sauce is defatted (it’s a word) and thickened and then drizzled over the shredded chicken. The sauce has a pretty amazing balance of sweet and heat – my 4 year old actually claimed it to be “too spicy”… but I watched her mop up every single drop of sauce with her quesadilla because seriously – what won’t that kid do for a bowl of Blue Bell? (Besides not cleaning her room.)

Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos and Enchiladas

The first night we made those tacos and quesadillas (because my 4 year old will not eat a taco that hasn’t been sufficiently smashed), topping them with pico de gallo and some crumbled goat cheese. For lunch the next day, I served it over a bowl of some fancy rice-quinoa mix.

Then we made enchiladas. And I have no reservations about telling you this: They are absolutely the best enchiladas I’ve made or eaten. Ever. Sweet, spicy (but not craaazy hot), and cheesy comfort food.

Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos and Enchiladas

And I’ve still got 1/2 lb of shredded chicken and a cup of sauce left. I can tell you one thing – the weekend’s football munchies are going to be killer good.

Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Chicken

Sweet and spicy Honey Chipotle Chicken made in the crockpot. Tacos, enchiladas, sandwiches, or gameday appetizers - it's uses are as endless as the dish is amazing.

Ingredients

  • For the Honey Chipotle Chicken:
  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 7 oz can chipotles in adobo
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • To serve as tacos:
  • Tortillas
  • Tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Crumbled goat cheese
  • To serve as enchiladas:
  • 12 tortillas
  • 4 oz grated Monterrey Jack cheese
  • Cilantro

Instructions

  1. Place chicken breasts in a large crockpot.
  2. Place the chipotles, honey, onion, garlic, a couple dashes of Worcestershire, and black pepper into a blender (you can chop/mince everything by hand if you'd like). Fill the empty chipotle can with water and add the water to the blender.
  3. Blend for 15-20 seconds until you have a pourable sauce (super smooth, homogenous liquid not necessary).
  4. Pour the sauce over the chicken and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
  5. Remove the chicken and shred (I am still loving this method!); cover and set aside.
  6. Skim the fat from the top of the sauce or pour the sauce into a fat separator (I have this one and didn't use the strainer attachment).
  7. Transfer defatted liquid to a sauce pan on the stove over medium high heat. Pull out ~1/2 cup of liquid and whisk it with 3 Tbsp cornstarch. Add it back to the sauce pan and cook until it the sauce boils and thickens.
  8. I tossed 1/2 cup sauce with the shredded chicken to keep it moist and then stored the two separately (I had 3.5 cups of liquid).
  9. To make tacos, serve the shredded chicken drizzled with 1-2 Tbsp of honey chipotle sauce and top with chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and crumbled goat cheese.
  10. To make enchiladas, place 1/2 cup of sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Preheat the oven to 375. Wrap chicken and a pinch of shredded cheese in each tortilla and place in the dish (I used half the cheese inside the enchiladas, the other half on top). Top with 1-1.5 cups honey chipotle sauce and the remaining cheese. Bake ~15 mintutes, until browning and bubbly. Serve topped with chopped cilantro (if you're not a hater).

Notes

Yields: A Whole Lot

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride, method inspired by The World Famous Honey Sesame Chicken

Estimated time: 5 hours 30 minutes

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Chorizo and Black Bean Queso

Last weekend, we had the most amazingly glorious cool front blow through southeast Texas that left me so ready for sweatshirts and frito pie and Friday night football games.

We don’t usually get very much of (what most people consider) a fall, but the snippets we do get are to be immediately celebrated with early morning runs, crockpots full of chili, and publicly sporting a scarf and riding boots. Even though we all know that chilly morning low of 60 will quickly climb to 81 by lunch.

IT STILL COUNTS.

Chorizo and Black Bean Queso

With windows open and Pandora blasting a carefully crafted no-BroCountry-allowed station, we set out to make football munchies for the don’t-even-think-about-turning-on-the-AC weekend.

We started with melted cheese. And a shot of tequila.

Chorizo and Black Bean Queso

We cook up some Chorizo (mexican pork sausage) and then deglaze the pan with tequila to get the flavors from all those browned bits of wonderful into the dip.

Someone onions, cheese, a can of black beans later, and a bowl of pico de gallo later, we’re ready for action. (And by “action,” I mean sitting on the couch in front of football.)

Chorizo and Black Bean Queso

Serve it in any one of these approved, tried-and-true methods: with chips, straight from a bowl. Make a big pan of nachos and graze all day while screaming Mommy words at the TV. Grab a stack of tortillas and wrap up a scoop of the leftovers with scrambled eggs the next morning.

Your call. You win.

Nachos with Chorizo and Black Bean Queso

Chile con queso spiked with tequila, black beans, and chorizo sausage.

Ingredients

  • For the queso:
  • 12 oz Chorizo sausage, removed from casing and crumbled
  • 1 1/2 oz (3 Tbsp) tequila
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 1/2-3/4 cup milk
  • 12 oz white American cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • For the nachos:
  • Tortilla chips
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, diced
  • 2 jalapenos, sliced
  • Small handful of cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from half a lime
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. In a sauce pan over medium-high, brown the sausage thoroughly.
  3. Transfer the cooked sausage to a strainer (I also quickly ran the strainer under hot water to remove extra fat - sacrilegious but seriously, there's so much fat!) and remove as much of the grease from the pan as possible without scraping off any of the browned bits from the pan.
  4. Add tequila and red onions to the pan and return it to the cooktop, stirring and scraping the browned bits from the pan.
  5. When the liquid has evaporated, add 1/2 cup milk and the shredded cheese.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir frequently to help melting along. Add cooked chorizo, beans, and additional milk if, after melted, it still seems too thick.
  7. Place tortilla chips on a baking sheet.
  8. Pour the queso over the chips (I saved a few spoonfuls for breakfast tacos) and pop into the oven for 10 minutes.
  9. Mix the tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro, lime juice, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Spoon over the nachos fresh from the oven.
  10. Serve hot or warm.

Notes

Yields: Servings vary

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 20 minutes

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Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

You are looking at the greatest thing to ever happen to eggplant since pizza crust and goat cheese.

Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

The eggplant tree in my garden still thinks it’s summer. And frankly, with highs still in the low 90s, it IS still summer.

While I was out of town last weekend, Jason sent me a picture of the three soccer ball-sized fruits he picked from the “tree.” All bigger than my 4-year-old’s head. When I got back, I took one of those soccer balls (just one – and I had leftover slices!) and turned it into the most amazing version of Eggplant Parmesan.

Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

The dish comes together pretty easily – assuming you don’t find out at the last minute that what you thought was a jar of marinara turns out to be calorie-bomb vodka sauce and then thank all the baby Jesuses for those two cans of crushed tomatoes buried behind the year-old can of pumpkin.

Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

You roast sliced eggplant for ~30 minutes to remove excess water and concentrate the flavors and then you layer it in a dish on top of half-cooked pasta with marinara (or “improvinara”), mozzarella, and parmesan. Another 30 minute spin through the oven and you have a golden brown, bubbling dish of Eggplant Parmesan perfection.

And your house doesn’t stink like yesterday’s fried foods the next morning.

Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

Not all comfort food is terrible for you. This version of Eggplant Parmesan is lighter on fat, heavy on flavor.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 331.8 | Fat: 10.4g | Fiber 8.9g | Protein 12.9g | Carbs 49.5g

Ingredients

  • 8 oz dry pasta (I used whole wheat)
  • Olive oil
  • ~3 lbs eggplant, cut in 1/2-inch slices
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 1/4 cups marinara sauce, divided
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella torn into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz) shredded Parmesan
  • Basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Lightly grease a casserole dish and a baking sheet (two sheets, if your eggplant is soccer ball-sized).
  2. Preheat oven to 400.
  3. Cook the pasta for half the time suggested on the package and then drain.
  4. Add the pasta to the casserole dish along with 3/4 cup of marinara sauce, stirring to mix. Top with another 3/4 cup marinara
  5. Brush each side of the eggplant rounds with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Roast for 15 minutes, flip and roast for 15 minutes more.
  7. Place half of the eggplant rounds over the pasta and top with half the mozzarella and Parmesan.
  8. Spread the remaining 3/4 cup marinara over top, followed by the remaining eggplant, mozzarella, and Parmesan.
  9. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbling.
  10. Serve topped with basil, if desired.

Notes

Yields: ~6 servings

Adapted from Feast, via Annie's Eats

Estimated time: 1 hour 15 minutes

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