Saturday, November 17, 2012

WDW 2013: Pinocchio Themed Dinner

Just some of the ingredients for this week's meal!
After an unplanned break last week - I was super super super sick - we are back on track with the Tasteful Countdown for our 2013 Disney trip. This week's movie was Pinocchio. It's not one of my favorites, but it has the song that became Disney's "theme", so it is a must watch. I found out that dad's favorite Disney character growing up with Jiminy Cricket, so that also made it special! We're learning more about each other as a family as we go through this.

The menu was themed around Northern Italy as that is the area that Pinocchio is supposed to take place (who knew?! I always thought he was German! LOL). It was difficult to find something that was Northern Italian that wasn't really *out there* or expensive, or that anyone would eat. I finally found a website that linked recipes by region and away we went.

Dad helped with the menu, I'm trying to keep him excited about this adventure, and so we settled on a main dish of Chicken with a Fire roasted red pepper red sauce over fettucine, and the dessert was a Peach tart with a Cocoa-Almond crust (the best part of that being it was gluten free so mom could have it). I couldn't figure out a good side dish, but my friends at Golden Skate Forums helped me out and suggested Polenta. DorisPulaski gave me a good recipe for a creamy polenta so my menu was all set.

Thursday rolled around and I felt all set - until we realized we never went and got the ingredients. So mom made a quick trip to the store in between her Bible Study and PCC duties, and called me to let me know I'd have to get the stuff out of her car on my way home from the office. No problem, a quick drive over and I had the stuff and was on my way home. That's when I noticed that I was missing some key ingredients - mainly the roasted red peppers!

The peach tart's directions were scary,
but it was successful!
So I sat around hoping I'd just missed a bag in mom's car. No such luck, instead of roasted red peppers she'd bought roasted tomatos! Whoops! So as I started on the dessert mom hurried over to the store and got the missing peppers. The tart had me very nervous because I had to make a syrup with the peaches and I was so scared that I would burn the sugar (I didn't!). When I chose this dish, I just read the ingredients and not the instructions. There's a lot to this little tart! I didn't have all of the tools I needed, but I made do.

With the tart baking in the oven, I started on the main dish. It was easy peasy and I realized the sauce was going to be finished before the rest of the meal! Oh no! I took it off the heat and made the polenta. I was worried I would do it wrong, and so I think I cooked it a bit longer than what I should have, but how was I to know?! While I finished up the polenta I boiled the pasta, and finished the sauce. Unfortunately this meant the polenta was cold by the time it was ready to dish up. I guess I still need to work on my timing!

Main dish was awesome!
The chicken also had me worried, as I didn't want to cook it wrong. Mom "taught" me by doing it herself. She said I watched so I would be able to do it next time... okay, mom, whatever you say! Once everything was done I dished up the plates, sliced up the chicken breasts and served my family. Duane was at youth group, so he was dining on Pizza while we had our own Italian meal. He was fine with missing out - except that he wanted dessert! Mom and Dad loved everything on the menu, but I found I am not a fan of polenta, so mom was happy because that means she's gotten to have left over polenta for days!

We also decided that the next time we make the main dish that we'd make a double batch - we needed more sauce! The sauce was super yummy - and I'm not normally a fan of peppers, but this was really good! I definitely ate all of that on my plate, but I was full from lunch (I ate late, my bad!) so I didn't eat all the chicken and I skipped the polenta.

The tart was so good dad ate half of it!
Dessert was served about half way through the movie, and Duane was back from youth group, so he had nothing to worry about. I am not a fan of peaches at all, so I didn't try a piece, but judging by the reactions of my family they all loved it. I served it with ice cream and the extra peace syrup and they gobbled it up!

Because it was an almond crust, I used almond flour instead of the all purpose the recipe called for - so mom could have it. From what I could tell it didn't do anything to negatively affect the dish - though the dough was a little wetter than it called for. We also had to use frozen peaches, so the syrup was runny and we had more of it, which made the middle of the tart to be very soft, but everything was cooked through. Dad ate the last piece of it the same night, so obviously it was a win!

Next week is Thanksgiving, so no movie night - but I will be baking on Tuesday it looks like! Grandpa is coming from Anchorage to spend the holiday with us, he flies in on Wednesday and will be here through Saturday. Should be fun. Week after next we will be watching Bambi. Going to go with a vegetarian theme as I just find it wrong to eat forest animals while watching it! I'm having trouble coming up with the menu, so it's a good thing that I have a lot of time to figure it out!

If you have any vegetarian ideas please share them with me by commenting on this post! I need all the help I can get!

Links to recipes from this week meal:
Chicken Fettuccine with roasted red pepper sauce
DorisPulaski's Creamy Polenta
Peach Tart with Almond-Cocoa Crust

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Disneyland 2012: Getting sick does slow you down (recap pt. 5)

After our long day at Sea World - and a late night drive back to the hotel - we all slept in the next morning. Haille and I had a breakfast date, which she didn't seem too happy about because she felt she was missing out on time at the hotel (because you know sitting in a hotel room watching people get dressed is super fun). I think she was mainly just tired of her trip (she'd been away from home for two weeks, and away from her mom for nearly a week, that's a lot for a little kid).

Still, we did the best we could to make her feel like this was a good thing. She wanted to take the bus, and we were going to do just that, but Gaylord didn't like the idea of us doing that, so he dropped us off at the front gate and we headed into Disneyland. Haille chattered the whole time about rides and how she needed shorts instead of the long black pants she had (they were the last clean pair we could find). She wanted to shop first thing, but we were already late for our breakfast, so I hurried her along which did not improve her mood.

I was feeling like I was coming down with a cold, you know that feeling where you're in slow motion and you know the dam is about to break on your sinuses. I was doing my best to not let it get to me, but I knew as the day wore on I was bound to poop out, but I was going to make sure the breakfast and morning was as good as we could make it.

This girl is the queen of word searches! So awesome!
Our breakfast was at the Carnation Cafe, which is one of my must dos whenever I go to Disneyland. Normally I sit outside, but with the heat I figured it would be better to be inside. The remodel was fantastic, and I was worried the menu would be different, so I was happy to see my favorite was still a menu item. I always get the Mickey Waffle. Haille the whole time said she wasn't going to eat anything, but I made her choose something and she also picked the waffles. We both picked the sausage, which was chicken and apple (which sounds better than it actually was). Haille immediately openned up the children's menu to the activities. A year ago she'd only do the color pages, now she was doing the word searches! Where did my little girl go?!

After ordering and getting into the activity book, Haille chilled out and we had a good breakfast. She definitely started laying the ground work for a guilt trip for me not being around as much now that I moved, but for the most part we kept it positive and she was laying out her plans on what she was going to buy in the stores. She had a gift card, but her grandma had it and we had to wait for them to get to the parks (which would be its own set of issues it seemed).

Once the food came, Haille realized she was hungry, and she lit up when she saw that the Mickey Waffles did, in fact, have a Mickey face! She didn't want a lot of syrup, but I doused mine. What's a waffle without syrup?! We both ate our waffles in no time flat but we left the sausage (I tried eating both but it just wasn't working for me). While we were eating a familiar face stopped by our table, Oscar! He's the longest working employee of the Disney parks. He started as a teen when Disneyland was still new, and while he never worked alongside Walt Disney he met him and worked for him. It'd been rumored that he had retired, so I asked about that.

Oscar shows off the Children waffles.
Oscar had planned to retire this year, but his wife got sick and he had to stay on to financially support her. They've been married for decades, and I could tell he was worried about her. But he said she was a fighter and that she'd be sure to beat this. Considering what my grandmother was going through, it touched me a lot and I just let him talk. He seemed to need to just vent, and I was more than willing to lend an ear. Haille even seemed sympathetic, even though she had no idea who he was. She is such a sweet, good hearted kid - even though she has her moments. After a while Oscar seemed to decide he needed to let us finish and off he went to greet more diners.

After breakfast we headed over to one of the "clothing shops" on Main Street to find some shorts for Haille that would match her top. There wasn't a whole lot of selection, but Haille spotted some Minnie Mouse ones that worked and thankfully they had some in her size. Once we changed her into those it was much better. I texted Judy to find out what the game plan was and we were told to stay on main street so we could meet up. But our few minute wait turned into over an hour.

While we waited we hung out in the shops and played around with the different toys and souveniers, Haille tried on hats and ears and other fun things, and we tried to make the best of it... but an hour is a long time to be in a store when you can hear the laughter and screams coming from further into the park. We should've just said we'd meet up with them whenever we could, but we were trying to do things as a group that day. But it was tough on both Haille and me. Why tour at the hottest part of the day?!

Haille let her inner pirate out in the gift shop.
By the time everyone was back together it was the heat of the day and the lines were insane. Haille wanted to go on the Matterhorn and the line was an hour long, but we got in line anyway and the rest of the group (sans Judy who was with us) headed off for smaller rides. We got almost up to the sleds and the ride broke down! So we grabbed some frozen lemonade and headed for Small World where there was almost no wait, and it was air conditioned. Haille ate most of Judy's frozen lemonade while we rode in the boat. She can make even the bummer stuff fun, that's for sure. Next thing we knew she was almost out of the stuff (she did feed her gma a few bites).

After that we tried, once again, for Splash Mountain by taking the train (which the line for that was long as was the wait). It was hot on the train, but it was nice to be off our feet. Haille thought the section where we saw the dinosaurs was real, and she wanted to know how Disney kept them alive. We told her Disney Magic, what could it hurt, right?

When the train got to the section closest to Splash Mountain we got out and looked to see what the wait time was and it was long, so I went to see what the fastpass return time was. It was far off and I asked the attendant what he would do in that situation and he said to just come back at night, that the line wouldn't be as bad. So that's what we planned to do. We went and got lunch across the way at the Critter Country eatery and tried getting in touch with the other half of our group. We were hoping to park hop in the evening and catch the Aladdin Show. We planned to meet at the park entrance, so off we went to go shopping on Main Street.

We stopped long enough to go through the Haunted Mansion again, because it's Haille's favorite ride, and then took the train all the way over. When the train let out at the Main Street station we found we were just in time for teh parade! So we stood up on the platform - pretty much had it to ourselves! - and watched. The Sound-sational parade is awesome. Drumline start it out, with Mickey playing the drums as well! It was a lot of fun to watch and Haille enjoyed it. Once that was over, I sat in the gift shop while she and Judy shopped for stuff.

Haille watching the parade

Once again it was a lot of waiting once shopping was done and it was meet up time. We waited for a long while before we decided to just head over to the other park to catch Aladdin without them when there they were. So we all made our way to California Adventure. We put our stuff in lockers and off we went. We were too late to make the final Aladdin show so we headed to Soarin'. This is a ride I cannot stomach without drugs, but I wanted to see Haille on the ride, she loves it, and so I was going to suck it up. Plus I didn't want to try and find the family later. I was feeling extremely sick by this point, but I was trying to tough it out. Just about the time we got through the line I realized I was too sick to do anything so I said I would sit outside and wait for them...

The whole time they were on the ride I continued to go downhill fast. I hate being sick at Disney. It's my favorite place to be, and when I can't enjoy it it is the worst feeling. I saw them come out of the ride and I made my way over, gave them the maps and photopass card and said I needed to go to the hotel and take meds and just be sick. Haille wouldn't come near me because I had germs, but was worried I couldn't make it back by myself (you and me both, kid) but I assured everyone I was fine. Gaylord wanted to take me back but I didn't want to ruin everyone else's night so I just (probably angrily) told him NO I would be fine I did it all by myself last year.

I went to the hotel, ordered chinese, took my meds and turned on the Olympics and went to sleep... woke up to the phone ringing saying my food was in the lobby. So in my disney pjs (heck yes I have many pairs of disney pjs) I went down, got my sweet and sour chicken and went back to my room. Ate dinner and then passed out in my room and didn't even notice when the others got in. When morning came I was still in no condition to do anything so the family went off to Universal Studios without me. I cannot begin to tell you how bummed I was to not get to go - again - to Hollywood Studios!

I spent the day watching an Auction Kings marathon on TV, and then late in the afternoon I decided to do laundry. Haille was out of undies (we found out later that she was having accidents and instead of telling us, she was just switching out panties) so I needed to take care of her stuff. That was an adventure, both the washing machine and dryer that I originally chose were full of coin so it wouldn't take my money but it wouldn't give it back either! I was at the mercy of maintenance, and then they didn't even refund me my detergent I'd already put in (because that's what the instructions told me to do!).

Once that adventure was over, I was feeling pretty good -not great- and I was itching to get out and take pics at Disney... so I texted Judy that I was headed out. It was another mistake, I was on cold meds and by myself in Disneyland... I made it to the park and lost all energy, but darn it I was there and I was going to make the best of it. So after standing on main street for 20-30 minutes (no joke, I'm sure I looked stoned out of my mind) I started walking towards Adventureland. Not even sure why! I heard booming coming from there and realized it must be time for FANTASMIC which is my favorite evening show in WDW... and I wanted to see if Murphy was out as s/he was MIA last year. I got to the show just in time to see that Murphy was not there, but it was only the first showing.

For those wondering who the heck Murphy is, Murphy is what Cast Members call Maleficent's Dragon in the show. The prop is huge and amazing.

I caught the eye of a cast member as they let the crowds go after the showing and asked if the dragon would make it out for the second show. He said he couldn't promise anything but he knew what the issue was and that they were working on it. He said if at all possible I should sit it out and wait. I took his advice... meaning I once again missed the Wishes at the Castle... I haven't seen the fireworks show at the castle since 2006! ugh! LOL However I still got to watch the show and it was as always beautiful. And, since I was doped up on the cold meds I was easily moved to tears.

Watching Fantasmic put me in a good mood after being invaded by *those* groups that suddenly forget their manners and english. I'm not being racist, I just find it incredibly convenient that these people were talking to each other and people they don't know in perfectly fine english until they're asked to not invade someone's space. Then they look at you like you've spoken Klingon or something. Not cool, guys.
As the show neared the Maleficent part I was more and more nervous that she would not turn into a dragon. In fact I was getting ready to pack up as I thought I saw her coming back out in her human form when the whole place went dark except for the glowing eyes of the... Dragon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't think I've cheered so hard in my life. It was amazing. Jaw dropping. My dreams come true. Maleficent has always been my favorite "baddie" and I LOVE the dragon. The one at WDW is impressive as a big head and neck, but the one at Disneyland is a full body dragon designed to look just like the one in the movie....

I'd seen video, pictures... read other reports, but I was still overcome in the moment! She was amazing, and I was mad at Mickey for a good long while after he vanquished her! I mean, how dare he have the courage to retake his dream! Didn't he know I wanted it to last forever?! I truly feel that this dragon would have excited Walt Disney in such a way that he'd have been over the moon - and he'd make sure that she wasn't as tempermental as she seems to be!

After the show I decided to head back to the hotel. I think I stayed in the parks all of three hours, but I knew it was a full final day tomorrow and I wanted to make it through the whole thing. So I made my way back and the gang had beaten me by half an hour back to the room. Not too bad. We made a game plan for our last day and then we all went straight to bed.

Next up - A California Dream Come True...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

WDW 2013: A Tasteful Countdown

With Disney almost a year away, I have been trying to find a way to get the family more involved in counting down. With all of us being adults (or nearly so) some of the tried and true methods (countdown chaings, for example) I was at a loss... until I read an article by Chip and Co. that mentioned doing a family movie night and have dinner that went with the movie. That sounded like something I would be a bit more adult than most, so after talking with the family that's what we decided.

It also helps because mom, the main cook of the house, is busy on Thursday, and this would give her a bit of a break (it was normally taco night, and dad was getting tired of tacos). So I think that was the true selling point.

Tonight was the first themed dinner night, and I have to say it was an amazing success! Tonight's theme was Snow White - what better way to start than with the movie that started it all (yes Mickey'd been around for a while, but we're going for feature length). I worked for a week finding the perfect menu (thank you, Pinterest) and decided on Pork for the main dish, and of course apples for dessert.

Pie ala Apple pre-baked.
Lookin' good "raw"!
I started cooking on Wednesday, baking (my first) apple pie while handing out candy to Trick or Treaters. A process that should've been an hour, or at the most two, turned into four due to all the starting and stopping. Still I got that and extra pie dough done to finish the baking and cooking for Thursday.

Today I came home from working at the office to bake my second dessert - "Pie ala Apple". I only had a couple of hours before I needed to head over to the courthouse to watch a long time friend get sworn in as someone able to actually "practice" law. So very excited for him! Congratulations Paul!

Once that was over and we were back home I started work on our main dish. I chose the "Cranberry Apple Glazed Pork Loin" mainly because it tied into the movie and it sounded amazing. (Wondering why I chose Pork for Snow White? How about the whole part of the huntsman using a pig heart to trick the queen into believing that he'd killed the princess. "...Snow White still lives, fairest in the land. 'Tis the heart of a pig you hold in your hand.")

The finished pork loin. So good!
I'm not a big fan of cranberry (I hate it) but when it's paired with apple it's edible. It took an hour and a half for it to cook (with me basting every 10-15 minutes) and the whole house smelled divine! Our sides were wild rice and almonds, and buttered carrots. Perfectly woodsy and in tune with the movie. The whole family scarfed it down, and we enjoyed watching the original Disney Classic.

For being the first time for making apple pie, that, too, came out well... and we all ate way more than we should have of the sweet treats! But it was totally worth it! Next week is Pinocchio and I'm actually excited to tackle the recipes I've chosen! But you'll have to wait and see what that is!

Stay tuned each week for the latest edition of our cooking adventure!
Countdown with us by following me on Pinterest!