Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue ~ Disneyland Resort ~ S'mores Bake

How can something so gooey and delicious be so easy to make? This crowd pleaser is one of the desserts offered at Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, and is very reminiscent of S'mores without needing an open flame.
Read on and try it out.
1 (10 1/2 ounce) box fudge brownie mix
1 (1pound) bag large marshmallows
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons hot fudge cause, warmed ( I went crazy and used more like 1/2 cup)
8 graham crackers

Bake brownies as instructed on box, in a 9 x 13" pan, about 20-22 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it.
Turn oven to broil.
Put marshmallows on top of brownies, and put under broiler 1 1/2 inches to 2 minutes until marshmallows are golden brown. Leave oven door ajar and watch closely to prevent burning. (I must have missed this part, because I had flames.)
Drizzle hot fudge sauce on top.
Take half of the graham crackers and break them into planks; crush other half of graham crackers into crumbs.
Sprinkle crushed graham crackers over top of toasted marshmallows, and place graham cracker planks randomly into toasted marshmallows. Serve immediately.

The final picture is how this looks served at Disneyland. Pretty close, right?






Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Disney Cruise to Alaska Trip Review ~ Part 4~ Top 5 Things to Do on a Sea Day

Some might think sea days are the boring days...just passing time until the main event of ports of call. Not to me! Sea days are like a vacation within a vacation. There's so much to do, it's hard to narrow it all down to the top five, but read along and see if you agree.
1. Good morning! or late morning, or afternoon or whatever. You can sleep in if you wish with no worries. Here's a tip...before bedtime, put out a room service request for coffee and a nice hot pot will arrive at your appointed time, all for the cost of a tip.
 When you decide it's breakfast time, disregard the buffet and head to the full service restaurant listed in your navigator (your daily activity guide), for an elegant full breakfast in a lovely setting. We generally choose Eggs can see why.

2. Explore the ship. A great way to do this is to participate in a Fish Extender group. So named because of the fish shaped hooks by stateroom doors on Disney Cruise Line, folks sign up for these little gift exchanges and then deliver the gifts. I'll be doing a whole series of blog articles on this, so stay tuned.
  This is also a great time to check out the art gallery and explore areas you might not otherwise see. Find the Shuffleboard game, jog around the jogging track (or walk, being sure to stay at the side for quicker passengers), have a specialty coffee or just lounge by the pool.
3. Experience special presentations or activities. Since the cruise I was on was a DVC Member's Cruise, there were more special presentations than usual, but every cruise offers many to choose from on sea days. Going to Alaska, it was very helpful to attend presentations by a naturalist on board, and there are offerings such as cooking demonstrations, beverage tastings, craft creations and more. Want to see a first run movie? you can do that. Play trivia or meet characters? Check. How about Bingo?
4. Shop! The stores cannot be open in port, so sea days are perfect for exploring their wares. Disney tends to change out the offerings during the cruise, so you never know what you'll find. Besides the usual shops, there is also a duty free store, so don't miss that. If you're a shopping fiend, there are also presentations by shopping guides letting you know about what special things you might find in upcoming ports. While you're around the stores, don't forget to check the schedule for Pin Trading.
5. Sightsee! On an Alaskan cruise, you spend very little time in open water. No matter where you look, any time of the day or night, you'll discover stunning views. So sit back, relax, and enjoy your day of a vacation within a vacation.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Disneyland Hungry Bear Restaurant ~ Lemon Bumblebee Cupcake Recipe ~ My Take

Hungry Bear is one of my favorite restaurants at Disneyland. Tucked away from the crowds, the restaurant has wonderful river side seating, not to mention a delicious Fried Green Tomato sandwich, and this luscious lemon cupcake.

1 boxed lemon cake mix, prepared as cupcakes

Lemon Curd Filling
1-ounce packet powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
1 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/2 tablespoon butter

Honey Lemon Frosting
lemon curd filling
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup heavy cream

Easy cheesy beginning. Make cupcakes from a cake mix and cool.

For lemon curd filling:
Combined powdered gelatin and cold water in a small bowl and set aside. Bring lemon juice and 3/4 cup sugar to a simmer over low heat. Whisk together remaining sugar, eggs, and egg yolks in a medium bowl.
 Pour half of simmering lemon-sugar mixture into egg mixture, whisking so eggs do not cook.
 Pour contents of bowl back into pan with remaining lemon mixture. Continue cooking, whisking constantly for several minutes, until mixture reaches 170 degrees and thickens.
 Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin mixture and butter, mixing well. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl.
Reserve 1 cup of mixture in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap placed directly on surface. Refrigerate 1 hour. Pour remaining mixture into a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap placed directly on surface. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
For honey-lemon frosting
Stir honey into cooled medium bowl of lemon curd. Cover and refrigerate for another 15 minutes. In bowl of electric mixer, beat heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add honey-lemon curd and mix well. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

The original directions also had at home directions for sticking together chocolate chips with almond slices for wings to make a bee decoration, but as can be seen in the picture, this didn't work well, so I skipped it.
To assemble
With a small melon baller or teaspoon, scoop out a small portion from the middle of each cupcake top.

Place remaining lemon curd filling in a plastic piping bag and cut a small hole in the end. Pipe 1 tablespoon into hole in each cupcake.
Place honey-lemon frosting in a plastic piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe a generous spiral of frosting on top of each cupcake.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This all fell apart at the decorating stage. I nearly whipped the cream into butter so stiff peaks weren't a problem. I put the frosting in the refrigerator longer than 2 hours. Immediately upon trying to pipe, the frosting softened and poured off the edge of the cupcakes. Back in the refrigerator and try to spread on top of cupcakes and get back in the refrigerator before it all slide off. The next day the frosting was much more spreadable, so you might try that.. But..these are delicious even with the frosting threatening to run down your arm when you eat it. The curd is tart and goes will with the cupcake flavor, and the bit of honey in the icing adds a depth of flavor.










Sunday, July 5, 2015

Disney Cruise to Alaska Trip Review ~ Part 3~ Welcome Aboard the Disney Wonder

After the excitement of seeing the Disney Wonder docked right outside our hotel, all we wanted to do was get started. Of course, all the people from the previous cruise needed to get off, the entire ship cleaned and readied and tons of goods put on board before that could happen.
We had bell services take away our bags and hoped to see them again one day, then took the elevator down to the cruise level a half hour before our 'official' arrival time. Don't be alarmed by the crowd. Even though this was our view as far as the eye could see, the line moved rapidly and was well organized.
Two ships were boarding that day from Canada Place, but no worries ending up in the wrong line. At various points in the line documents need to be seen so it's best to have them all ready to go, passports open, health form filled out and the like.

Finally, the proper boarding group was called and off we went to be welcomed aboard by the crew.

As is usual, they start feeding you right away and before you know it the staterooms are ready.
Bags do not arrive until later, so just spend time to look around the ship a bit and see all the people admiring the ship from the shore, wishing they were aboard too.
The television plays a loop about the lifeboat drill. You do not take your lifejackets to this, but it's good to check to make sure they are in the closet. At the appointed time everyone heads to their stations, the location of which is printed on your cruise card, roll is taken and the drill done and over in quick time.
Now, let the vacation begin!

The Adventures Away party is a fun time on the top decks, with characters cavorting around, the cruise director and other crew highlighting what will occur during the cruise and the first drink of the day is available. Yea!
The countdown to depart raises the excitement and then the ship horn, playing 'When You Wish Upon A Star' is played and excitement is in the air.

And then, we're off!

Before you know it, it's time to eat again and you begin your dining rotation. They give you a little card explaining all this, but it is also printed on the bottom of the cruise card in a bit of a code, along with your dining time and table number. For example, our rotation was PTAPTAP. So 'P' stands for Parrot Cay, 'T' for Tritons and 'A' for Animator's Palette.

The first show of the cruise is "All Aboard!", and is an overview of shows to come. If you dine at 5:45 you attend the 8:30 show and if you have late dining at 8:15, you attend the 6:15 show.



As usual, the first day aboard was exciting, and the evening view stunning. An appropriate beginning to a great vacation!