Friday, December 18, 2015

Florentine Cookies ~ Walt Disney World ~ Epcot ~ Biergarten

Here's a quick and festive cookie, made easy with a refrigerated cookie base. Mine stayed 'floppy' for a long time, so I'd think if you started with a cold dough (I'd left mine out so it was super soft), it might work a bit better. This is very tasty and does set up, even if it takes longer than the recipe calls for.

1 16.5 ounce refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup sliced almonds ( I toasted mine)
1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar.
Preheat oven to 350. Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit inside a regular sheet pan. Place the parchment rectangle on the counter, and place cookie dough on the parchment paper.
Roll out cookie dough to cover most of the rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border of paper. The dough should be approximately 1/8-inch thick.
Carefully transfer dough on parchment to the sheet pan.
Spoon jam onto dough, and use the back of a spoon to spread it evenly over dough.
Evenly sprinkle with almonds and sugar.
Bake for 15-18 minutes.
Transfer sheet pan to a wire rack and cool completely, at least 1 hour,
When cool, slide baked dough off of sheet pan. Cut into rectangles with a pizza cutter or knife. Store cookies in an airtight container, separating layers with pieces of parchment paper to prevent them from sticking together.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Disney Cruise Line Muster Drill ~ Five Things To Know

You've done it! You've finally arrived at the port for your Disney Cruise! Go through all the details at the port to board and don't forget to get your very first Navigator. The Navigator is Disney's version of your daily newspaper and your guide to all things happening on the ship. If this is not given to you before boarding head over to the Guest Services desk to pick one up. No need to stand in line, as the Navigators should be in a rack easily accessible. You will be directed to a place to eat and before you know it your stateroom is ready. Now all you need to do is head to the Adventures Away party with a fruity drink in hand, right? Wrong! Before the cruise is officially underway, the Muster Drill will take place.
Here's what you need to know.

1. This is Mandatory.'s MANDATORY! Don't embarrass yourself and your family and not show up, or irritate your fellow passengers and be late.

2. Be aware of what you need to do BEFORE mustering. You can't NOT know what to do. As you enter your stateroom Muster instructions will be playing on your television, so don't turn it off, and instructions are also in that Navigator you picked up.

3. Know where to go. Your muster station letter is on your room key in the corner and is also on the back of your door. Hallways have directional signs on how to get you there, and the muster deck has the areas clearly marked.
4. Life Jackets are on the top shelf of the closet in your stateroom and more are in closets and stored in benches on deck. You do not need to bring this to the drill, but do take time to familiarize yourself with them and ensure you have enough for your family and that they will fit.
5. You know when it's going to happen, right? You've watched TV and read your Navigator. You don't need to wait until the alarm is sounded ( is LOUD) so a few minutes before, beat the crowd and make your way to your appointed station.

Once you are there you'll be lined up and checked in. You'll see how to put on the life jacket and where the whistle is and learn that the light comes on if you hit the water :::gulp:::. You will see your special Disney colored lifeboat above you (did you know that Disney had to get special permission for this classic Mickey yellow to be painted on the boats?).
The drill is short and painless. Now that it's over, go get that fruity drink and prepare to sail away.




Monday, November 2, 2015

Disney Recipe ~ Grilled Pork Tenderloin ~ California Grill

Served at the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World, this dish is a great choice for a dinner party. Easy but elegant with great flavor. I served this with homemade applesauce.

Pork Tenderloin
One-third to one-half pound of fresh pork tenderloins per person. Coat with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Sear in a hot cast iron skillet, browning on all sides, set aside. Reserve pan juices.
Mustard Butter for Pork
1 stick of butter (softened)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
splash Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients until well blended. Set aside. Makes enough  to coat 3-4 pound of pork.

1 cup diced white onion
1 head garlic, diced and sautéed
1 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups polenta (less if you prefer a softer texture)
1 cup Asiago cheese
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbles
1/4 cup finely chopped herbs-equal parts thyme, rosemary, sage and chives (if using dried herbs, cut proportions in half)
salt and pepper to taste
( I used a Parmesan/Romano/Asiago blend for the cheese and skipped the goat cheese, increasing the other cheese to make up the difference. If you'd like to cut the fat, substitute water or yogurt for the milk and heavy cream)
Saute onion in a small amount of olive oil until transparent. Stir in garlic, then add water, ilk and cream and bring to a boil. Whisk in polenta slowly, stirring until thick and bubbling. Stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let thicken for 5 minutes.
Put mixture into a pan and bake at 275 for 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and fold in cheeses and herbs. Add salt and pepper and pour into serving dish.
Balsamic Smothered Mushrooms
1/2 cup shallots, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup stock (chicken or beef)
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
Place shallots in a sauté pan with the reserved pork tenderloin pan juice. Saute, stirring, then deglaze the pan with the wine and vinegar. Reduce liquid by half, then add the stock and continue cooking until liquid has reached a light glaze consistency.
Wash, slice and season the mushrooms with a little olive oil. Spread the mushrooms out on a grill rack and place over low heat. Cover for a few minutes to lightly smoke the mushrooms. Combine the mushrooms with the reduced liquid and set aside. (I don't have a grill pan so just sautéed in a skillet)
Next, grill the tenderloins over a low to medium fire, turning frequently to lightly brown on all sides (about 2 minutes). Baste occasionally with the mustard butter and continue to grill until the tenderloins reach desired doneness.
To serve, place a cup of polenta on each plate. Slice tenderloins into thick coins and place in center of the polenta. Ladle the balsamic mushroom sauce over the coins.








Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Disney Cruise Line Fish Extenders ~ Easy Tutorial

First off, what are these Fish Extenders (or FEs) you hear about? Should you participate?
Fish Extenders are the little fish that stick out from the wall next to stateroom doors on the Disney Cruise Line.
 In essence, you are extending the creating a hanging set of pockets. You then join Fish Extender groups and exchange little gifts with one another during the cruise. Groups may be found on several forums (such as DIS or Facebook, by searching for your cruise date). An organizer then oversees the creation of the groups. In general, there are groups for families and groups for just  adults. Depending on how many people sign up, a cruise my have many, many Fish Extender groups going on, since most like to cap each group at about 20 or so staterooms. You get a list of names and staterooms, and then during the cruise you make your deliveries. For the most part you are expected to only do 1 gift per stateroom, and/or 1 gift per person in each stateroom.

The first thing is to have a Fish Extender to hang outside your door. This can be as simple or elaborate as you'd like. Essentially, all you need is a strip of fabric with a pocket attached for each person in your party.

Here's how I made ours...
First, I gathered some of my favorite Disney fabric.
I figured out how large it would need to be for the two of us (because of the size of the area where the Fish Extender is located, you must stay under 10" in width and 4 feet in length). I knew I wanted a small loop of fabric at the top for a small dowel for weight at the top. so took that into consideration. I also wanted an area for our last name, and a pocket for each of us.
For our pockets I used a couple of office supply pockets I found on clearance at Staples. Pockets should have a small gusset, or if made of a chunk fabric be sewn on loose enough for items to be placed inside.
Since my sewing machine is worthless, I cut it all out leaving a bit for the seam, hand sewed three sides inside out (like a long narrow pillow case), then turned it right side out and finished off the top, which was then folded over for the dowel. Pretty much everything else was glued on.
For our name, I used felt for the backing and letters. After cutting out the letters, I stitched (and glued) them onto the felt backing with rustic 'x's' from decorative cord, added a ribbon (glued) and a couple of nautical buttons (sewed).
On the pockets, I made Mickey shapes from felt, assembled them with glue and more cord, then added a bowtie for a man and hair bow for a woman, then glued the Mickey shapes onto the pockets. I then glued on a decorative ribbon.The pockets were glued onto the fabric, with cord sewn through the pocket grommets at the tops for more stability.
Finally, a small dowel was cut to size, coated with glue and slipped into the top loop opening. I finished it off with a ribbon for hanging. Voila!
Now, should you participate? It's a fun little activity and adds excitement to a cruise. It does take some planning and extra effort, so be prepared for that. Also, you will have more luggage dragging stuff you bring onboard and stuff you get off! If you decide to join in, what should you bring? Stay tuned to further blog posts for ideas for that!









Thursday, October 22, 2015

Goofy's Kitchen Pumpkin Bread

This is a standard pumpkin bread, but if you close your eyes and put some Disney music on, you can pretend you're enjoying it at Goofy's Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel.

1 cup cake flour
3/4 cup bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoons nutmeg
2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray and set aside.

Whisk together flours, (I used all purpose) baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside.
Whisk together eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, water, and oil in a medium bowl.
 Add egg mixture to flour mixture, stirring until just combined; do not overmix. Stir in raisins (I used Craisins).
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
 Turn loaf out of pan unto wire rack to cool.






Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pumpkin Mousse Trifle with Cranberries & Apricot-Orange Sauce

This recipe was actually served at the Hops & Barley Kiosk in front of The American Adventure at Walt Disney World's World Showcase, so I don't know how it snuck into the article about pumpkin recipes at Disneyland, but it's tasty enough to allow in. Really easy, this would make an impressive dinner party dessert.
Store bought spice cake mix, prepared according to package directions and cooled
1/2 cup Ocean Spray Craisins

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons melted butter
Apricot Orange Sauce
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup orange juice

Pumpkin Mousse
1 egg yolk or 1/4 cup pasteurized egg yolks
3/4 cup canned pumpkin pie filling
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream

For Streusel
Preheat oven to 325. Line a sheet pan with foil, set aside. Combine oats, flour, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir until mixture is crumbly. Pour onto prepared sheet pan, bake 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside to cool, crumble into small pieces.
For Orange Sauce
Combine apricot jam and orange juice in a small bowl. Whisk together until smooth.
For Pumpkin Mousse
Whisk egg yolk into pumpkin pie filling. Melt white chocolate chops in a microwave or using a double boiler. Whisk melted white chocolate into pumpkin mixture. Whip heavy cream to medium peaks. Gently fold whipped cream into pumpkin mixture.
To Serve
Cut spice cake into cubes. Place a dollop of mousse at the bottom of serving dish. Top with cranberries and a drizzle of sauce. Place a few cubes of cake over mousse. Top with another layer of mousse, cranberries and sauce, then top with streusel.






Saturday, October 10, 2015

Five Tips to Make the Best of Mickey's Hallowen Party ~ Disneyland

You've paid a lot for that extra party ticket to be able to experience Mickey's Halloween Party, so you want to make the best of it. These tips also apply to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World, since they are similar.

1.Use the Halloween Party ticket as your ticket for the day.
Generally, you are allowed admittance at 4:00 pm with the party ticket, so today is a great day to enjoy your hotel and Downtown Disney (or Disney Springs at Walt Disney World), have some swim time and, most importantly, a NAP. To get the most bang for your buck, you'll want to stay late, so it's best to conserve your energy during the day. Arrive fully in costume as soon as your ticket allows, and start your Disney day at that time. Be prepared for crowds! Although the park is not as packed after it closes to day guests, it may be a surprise to you just how crowded it remains.
2. Wear a costume with park touring in mind.
Unless all you want to do all night is walk around and look pretty or dashing or villain-y, plan accordingly. Lightweight fabric that allows easy movement and a not overly fussy costume will greatly improve your party experience. Imagine yourself on your feet for upward of 8 hours, in crowded conditions, getting in and out of ride vehicles. This may not be the time for 'looks like glass' high heels and huge hoop underskirts, or anything on your head that could blow off easily. Although cool to look at, wearing a 'Push" garbage can costume might prove cumbersome while boarding Pirates.
3. Ride rides.
While the littles are all getting treats focus on some rides, alternating with the treat trails. Try not to run back and forth all over the park, but have a general plan in mind just as you would for a regular park day. Ride lines will be shorter after the day guests leave so take advantage of that (another reason to control that costume). Lines that will be HUGE are for the characters, so only go through that if you just must have a picture with a favorite character.
4. Come prepared for buckets of treats
You are given a little bag for Trick or Treating. It is not big enough. Treat trails are plentiful, and easy to see by finding the giant Mickey ghosts (during out party...this is subject to change). You are also given a map with the treat trails identified. Use it.
You not only get candy, but there are options for healthier snacks such as apples and raisins. An empty backpack  comes in handy to dump your bags into when filled. A group of five in our party came away with close to 30 pounds of treats.
5. Stay late.
Since you've done everything right as far as coming to the party well rested in an easy to get around in costume, you are free to stay as late as you wish. Don't miss the spectacular themed fireworks show.
After the fireworks, the crowd begins to thin as those who didn't plan as well as you did have grown tired and leave. Not you! Now is the time to ride more rides, top off the backpack, enjoy the wonderful park decorations and mingle with other guests. Part of our party went as the seven dwarfs and a party attendee Snow White just had to have a picture.
Like all things, a little planning goes a long way toward making your party experience a memorable one...for all the right reasons.








Thursday, October 8, 2015

Disneyland Pumpkin Muffins

Served at multiple locations at the Disneyland Resort, this classic Pumpkin Muffin is tasty and quick. These would go fast at a bake sale! Find them at the park in such places at Jolly Holiday Bakery, Whitewater Snacks and Pacific Wharf Café. Recipe makes about a dozen.

Muffin Ingredients

1 cup cake flour
1 cup bread flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 cup golden raisins

Streusel Ingredients

2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375 and line a muffin pan with liners. Sift together flour (I only had all purpose, so  used just that), baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat together sugar and eggs until pale yellow (the recipe calls for the paddle attachment on the mixer, but I used regular beaters). Blend in oil and pumpkin until mixture is smooth.
 Add half the flour mixture to the egg mixture and combine. Add in raisins ( I used Craisins), then rest of the egg mixture, mixing until just combined.

Scoop into prepared muffin tins until about 3/4 full.

For Streusel: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mash butter with a fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of streusel on each muffin.
Bake 18 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 325 and bake 5 minutes more until golden brown.