Sunday, April 23, 2017

Disney Recipe ~ Aulani ~ Caramel Hawaiian Sweet Bread Pudding

Wanting a touch of the tropics, I decided to try this bread pudding recipe. Be glad I did! It's yummy.
5 cups 1-inch-cuded Hawaiian Sweet Bread
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/3 cup water
6 eggs
3 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 250. Place bread cubes in an even layer on two sheet pans. Toast brad until it feels dry and is light golden, about 15-25 minutes. Set aside.

Combine 1 cup sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Raise heat to medium-high and cook without stirring or touching pan until liquid caramelizes and turns dark gold (it's hard not to mess with it, but force yourself)
.Pour caramel into a 9-inch-square baking dish, tilting dish slightly in all directions to allow caramel to coat bottom surface. Set aside.
Increase oven temperature to 350.

Whisk eggs and remaining 1/2 cup sugar together until just combined. Whisk in milk, vanilla extract, and salt until well combined and sugar dissolves. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Set aside

Fill prepared dish with toasted bread, pour 3/4 of the custard mixture over toasted bread. Press bread down with the back of a large spoon. Pour remaining custard mixture over bread. Press down again with the spoon, allowing bread to soak up liquid.
Sprinkle cinnamon evenly over top.
Wrap sides of pan in aluminum foil..
Slide center rack out of oven; place dish inside a larger baking pan on center rack. Fill larger pan with water until it reaches halfway up sides of baking dish. Cover top with foil.
Carefully slide center rack into oven. Back until set and a small knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Uncover dish and set aside to cool in water 20 minutes; run paring knife along sides of bread pudding to loosen. Carefully invert onto serving platter and serve warm.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Disney Cruise Line ~ A Primer

Many people are surprised to learn that Disney has a cruise line, and then they want to know the details. Following is a very brief introduction.
Disney began its foray into cruising in 1985 with a partnership with Premier and their "Big Red Boat", allowing their characters and brand to be highlighted. Discovering the publics appetite for Disney combined with cruising, the company decided to have their own boats, all with a classic look and with Disney's dedication to detail, service, and quality. Welcome the Disney Magic in 1998, followed by the Disney Wonder in 1998, the Disney Dream in 2011 and the Disney Fantasy in 2012. Two more ships have been announced, and names have not yet been released.

The Magic and Wonder are the smaller ships in the fleet, carrying 2,700 passengers, while the Dream and Fantasy carry 4,000. No matter the ship, many things are the same.
Such as, what's included? A lot. You can get on a Disney ship and really have nothing else to pay, except for gratuities. Currently these run $12 per person per sailing night. Many cruise lines will 'get you' with extra cost dining venues. Disney has one or two of these, depending on the ship. All ships have Palo, while the Dream and Fantasy also have Remy. These are fine dining adult only spots with an extra charge.
 You will also pay extra for items from the bar, specialty coffees, Spa services and the like.
 What you will NOT pay for is unlimited soda, coffee and tea from the deck station and in the dining rooms. Free ice cream? there you have it. Meals between meals and room service? Included.
Another Disney Difference is rotational dining, which is unique to Disney Cruise Line. For dinner you will rotate between the main dining rooms nightly, each of which have their own special décor, entertainment and theme. Rotating with you is your serving staff, so you truly get to know these folks, and they you. If you don't feel like eating where you are assigned, that is fine. There are plenty of options for dinner as well as other meals, including a tasty buffet.
What to do? It's Disney. There's characters, fun and games, special events, first run movies and Broadway quality shows, as well as adult and family activities, classes and crafts.
To keep all this organized, refer to your dialing schedule, the Navigator, or use the app of the same name.
Afraid of the ship being over run with little ones? Fear not. Each ship has a good size and well appointed adult area with adult only pool area, coffee bar and more. There are many nightclubs and lounges, some of which become adult only in the evening.
Of course, you can expect clubs for children and youth to also have the Disney dedication to quality. Ages 3-12 will find plenty to do in the Oceaneers Club and Lab, and you'll be grateful for the plentiful and well trained staff. Ages 11-14 can hang out in the Edge and enjoy activities planned just for them, while those 14-17 have their own place, Vibe. These clubs are complimentary and have the longest hours at sea, for no extra charge, staying open until midnight -2:00 am. If you are sailing with infants or toddlers there is also Small World Nursery where you may pay to have a few adult hours alone time, and leave your littles in a safe and friendly environment.
Folks cruise to have some time off the ship as well. Disney travels the world, with cruises going to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico, the British Isles, Europe, the Mediterranean and so much more. You can stop in locales around the world with the ship being your well appointed floating hotel.
It's important to know that all ships will not go everywhere all year round, but go certain places during certain times. The same holds true for departure ports. Disney's main port is Port Canaveral, by Orlando, Florida (yes, a land & sea vacation with a stay at Walt Disney World is a good idea). But they also sail, at certain times of the year, from Miami, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Galveston, Texas, Vancouver, New York and of course the overseas locations. You can also experience a Panama Canal and Transatlantic cruise on Disney and a or two they've gone to Hawaii. One never knows what will be announced next.
A feather in Disney's cap is their beautiful private island, Castaway Cay. Many cruises make a stop here, and it's a fan favorite. For no extra charge you can relax all day on the beach, engage in great water activities and have lunch provided for you. There is a family section and an adult only section, so if beach and quiet are what you're looking for you'll also find it here. For an extra charge you may also rent bikes to explore, snorkel equipment and more, as well as take an excursion.
Special events are also huge with Disney. Most sailings will include a Pirates In the Caribbean party, and/or other special themed events. Like Star Wars or marvel? There's sailings with that focus. If you sail during a holiday, you'll enjoy Christmas or Halloween activities, theming and décor.
The only thing you need to worry about on a Disney cruise is how addictive it can be. Don't worry, you can book a future cruise while on board, and be rewarded with extra goodies and perks for doing so.