Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Flame Tree Barbecue Sauce and Wild Animal Kingdom

I love to see animals Walt Disney style. You get a sense of action, adventure with a rainbow sprinkle of danger, with the added benefit of knowing that you are completely safe. I felt safer seeing lions and cheetas at Disneyworld than I did in the henhouse on my trip to the egg farm. I felt safer seeing hippos and rhinos at Disneyworld than I did on their Mount Everest roller coaster. (Backwards in the dark...bah!) Why do I keep going on roller coasters? I hate them. But I love to hate them. I asked my niece Bella if she liked riding on Mount Everest. She said, with all of her five year old wisdom, "I hate it and I love it." I couldn't have said it better myself. But let's get back to the animals, OK? This is a cool high school giraffe hanging out with a junior high buddy.Here's the jungle equivalent of a show off. We went on the safari expedition twice and he tried to race us both times.

Excuse me, ma'am. I believe you dropped something.

I was bemoaning the fact that we didn't get to see a rhino close up, when this guy showed up and wouldn't move and we had to watch him for twenty minutes. This baby gorilla is adorable. I wanted to put him in my pocket and take him home and feed him jars of banana baby food. I'm not sure how his mother would feel about it. Look at George and Martha in the bathtub.When you are done poking fun at animals, you head over here and eat a few. Doesn't that sound cruel? There's something disturbing about eating meat at a zoo, but don't let that stop you. Truth be told, I got a fruit plate and a half order of onion rings. I'm not man enough to eat meat in the zoo. The Quiet man wasn't as easily daunted and ordered the ribs and I stole a small bite. Deelish. I didn't take a picture, not because I forgot but because we were busy fending off a gang of scavenging birds while we gobbled down our lunch. I tell you, it's a jungle out there.

This picture is stolen shamelessly from a travel review site. I doubt they'll mind. Just wanted you to know that I wasn't posting my cleavage with the ribs.

I had to get the recipe for the barbecue sauce so that I could make it for the Quiet Man for Father's Day. Apparently they field daily requests for their sauce, so here it is. Give it a try on chicken, pork, or even dunk your onion rings in it. See you next time with some treats from Hollywood Studios.

Flame Tree Barbecue Sauce

Estimated Cost: $2.00 for 1 and 1/2 cups

Notes: Might as well double it and freeze some for next time.

1 cup ketchup

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cloves

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 35 minutes. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Up Next: Hollywood Studios

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dole Pineapple Whips from the Magic Kingdom

Disneyworld was so right this time, for so many reasons. First of all, the kids are finally old enough to go on the teacups alone. That saved the Quiet Man and I at least 72.3 arguments. No one had to make the supreme dizzy sacrifice of taking two wild and crazy kids on such spinning madness. They're also old enough to go on some roller coasters. I begged everyone to go on Space Mountain with me. Oh please oh please oh please it will be so much fun and you'll never regret it. Oh please oh please. They all loved it. Except me. (I did the same thing on Tower of Terror, Mount Everest, and Thunder Mountain. I just can't seem to accept the fact that I am not a teenaged roller coaster lovin' screamer anymore. Sigh.) It seems that Dumbo is just the right amount of thrill for me. And even that makes me a little dizzy, but don't tell. I don't want to ruin my reputation completely. I love it all. I'm happy just walking around and taking pictures and eating. Look at this shot the Quiet Man got. Just in case you think I post only good pictures of myself on my blog. Oh, I've got lots of doozies to share with you this week. But speaking of eating, while in line for the Magic Carpet ride, we heard someone singing the praises of Dole Pineapple Whips. Apparently, Dole Pineapple Whips are available in only four locations worldwide: Disneyland, Disneyworld, Disney's Polynesian Resort, and the Dole Plantation in Hawaii. After eavesdropping, we jumped out of line and made a beeline over to Pineapple Whip paradise. Have you had one yet? It's a slushy, refreshing sweet frozen pineapple treat. Once you have it, you know there are only four locations in the world where you can be completely happy. (See list above.) The minute I got home, I jumped online to find a copycat recipe. Yes-it's out there! So now you can add home to that list of locations where you can be completely happy. Home Sweet Pineapple Whips. Join me this week while I share my favorite recipes from all over Disneyworld. (I'm also trying to crack the Butterbeer recipe from Harry Potter world-more on that later.)
Dole Pineapple Whips

Estimated Cost: $6.00 for four servings.

Notes: Plan on making this on a day when you will be around for a few hours. There's only a few minutes of active prep time, but you'll need to time it just right.

PS Sorry about the funny spacing. I've been working on it all morning. Grrrrr.

2 20 ounce cans Dole crushed pineapple with juice 2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/3 cup sugar

1 and 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped

Drain pineapple; reserve 2 tablespoons juice. Set aside. Place pineapple, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar and reserved pineapple juice in blender or food processor container; cover and blend until smooth. Pour into two 1-quart freezer zipped bags and store bags flat in freezer. Freeze 1-1/2 hours or until slushy. Stir pineapple slush gently into whipped cream until slightly blended, in large bowl. Return to freezer until completely frozen, about 1 hour and serve.

Next Up:

The Wild Animal Kingdom

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Forcing Around

These pictures are so terrible; I shouldn't even show you. Really I shouldn't. You want to see them anyway? I thought you'd never ask.
West had to bring a creative cake to his first pack meeting for cub scouts. Which means, or course, that I had to help him make this creative cake. Most weeks I'm barely surviving my own to-do list, so I wanted an easy way out. I begged him to choose an easy cake-a castle, a dragon, a clown, a puppy, a balloon. He thought my suggestions were about as cool as the Backstreet Boys in head to toe acid wash. He wanted something hip, sleek, and sure to impress. It had to be Star Wars light sabers. (He's been stuck on the idea since he saw his pictures of his friend Kimball's amazing cake in California.) I was still wondering how I was going to finish grading papers and scrub floors when a good idea took hold. Why not mold a light saber out of rice krispy treats? West could make a batch of rice krispy treats in the microwave with his eyes closed. (He just wrote a how-to essay on how to do just that. With his eyes open.) With very little work, we had two light sabers that could snap, crackle and pop the life out of any Sith Lord. A little canned frosting (yeah, you heard me, canned frosting-you wanna make somethin' of it?) food coloring, and candy melts made the light sabers convincing enough to impress the Jedi council. We traced the Star Wars logo onto waxed paper and filled it in with melted black candy melts, then propped it up on the front of the light sabers.The finishing touch came from a few of his Star Wars figurines.

Luckily, Sailor remembered to snap a few pictures of the wolfclub-pleasing treat on her budget camera. Thank goodness. If she didn't all this horsing around, ahem, I mean forcing around wouldn't have made it on record. And then where would I turn the next time I need an idea? I bet I'll be just as frazzled and busy the next time around. You better believe I'm making this for his next birthday. Oh and see that mess in the background? Just pretend like you didn't, OK? Thanks and May the Force Be With You. Up Next: The Magic of Healthy Living

Monday, March 21, 2011

Healthy Living Pays Off Bigtime

See this little girl right here? The one mixing up a batch of something yummy?
This little girl o' mine won an essay contest for Disney's Magical of Healthy Living. 50 lucky families converted for a very magical weekend as part of Disney's campaign to encourage a healthy lifestyle. You may have seen some of the promos on the Disney Channel with Michelle Obama. I thought I'd post about it while we were there, but instead of doing anything on the computer, we did Disney every available minute. The only time we went back to our hotel rooms was when we were tired to keep our eyes open any longer. I'm going to get my pictures together and I'll be back soon with a link to a post about our lucky Disney week!

PS You can read a little about it here.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cap'n Crunch Chicken

I'm a sucker for anything retro. I just bought a sack of Doritos just because they had a groovy 70's sombrero on the package. (Taco flavor and pretty darn delicioso, thank you very much.) Anyway, the sugar cereal companies must know this about me, because they keep reeling me in with quaint boxes of sweet cereal. I saw a circa 1975 box of old fashioned Lucky Charms and I felt like I'd found a pot of gold. Retro Trix turned me into a silly rabbit. Cap'n Crunch? I fought nine siblings every Sunday morning for a second bowl of Cap'n Crunch for a decade of my childhood. My mother bought ONE box of sugar cereal for Sunday breakfast for ten kids. ONE box. Only the early birds got the goods and some early birds were more like hogs than birds. I ought to know because I was one of them. Oh, don't worry. The late birds didn't starve; they got...Grape Nuts. So you can imagine how excited I was to bring home a whole box of Cap'n Crunch for my family of four. I would be the hero! Except that nobody understood how exciting it was to have a box of retro Cap'n Crunch in the house. My two sensible children exchanged bewildered expressions over their bowls of Grape Nuts. The Quiet Man would never deign to eat anything as nutritionally empty as sugar cereal for breakfast. So that left just me and my antiquated treasure. I had to get everybody as enthusiastic as I was about this cereal that caused greed, lust and sin all before Sunday school. I remembered hearing about Cap'n Crunch chicken from Planet Hollywood in the nineties, so I scoured the Internet, fiddled around a little bit and came up with this recipe. The chicken is delicious-slightly sweet and oh so crispy. Everybody perked up. Maybe I'll try and get everybody out of bed early on Sunday mornings with this Cap'n Crunch.
Cap'n Crunch Chicken
Estimated Cost: $6.00 for 4 servings
Notes: Serve your chicken with barbecue sauce, honey mustard, and ketchup-it's all good!
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons milk
1 cup Cap'n Crunch cereal smashed to crumbs
1 cup Panko bread crumbs, or other plain bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Cut chicken into strips. In a shallow bowl, combine cereal, crumbs, garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper. Dip chicken in egg, then in crumbs. Let dry for five minutes on rack. Heat oil in 12 inch skillet over medium high heat. Cook chicken for about 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Enjoy.
PS To make it a meal, try it with the salad from my last post. Just scroll right down.

Up Next: Overnight Yeast Risen Waffles

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Winter to Spring Spinach Salad

I wish I could put off spring just a little longer. If winter were one of my students, I'd make him repeat a grade, just to enjoy him a little longer. Maybe I should move to Alaska. It's a secret escapist fantasy of mine, anyway. You might think that I don't love spring, but you'd be wrong. I love the chirping birds, the bright blue skies, the colorful flowers, the urge to be outdoors tossing a frisbee. But I love winter, too. I love the coziness, the sparkly frost and snow, the shadowy silhouettes during the dinner hour, the pots simmering and the oven baking, and the solitude of shrinking in and away. If I were Mother Nature, you would be assured 6 months of ice and snow. I'd be about as popular as Obama.
But I'm not in charge. So here comes spring in just a couple of weeks, officially. In the meantime, I find myself craving leafy greens and tender berries, in spite of myself. I'm still hanging on to my zesty citrus and hearty apples, so I created this salad to represent the best of both winter and spring. I admit to eating it daily for lunch. The dressing is sweet with caramel undertones from the brown sugar, yet zesty from the apple cider vinegar and a hint of mustard. The dressing is also deceptively low in fat, but you'll never notice that. But it's spring and that means its almost almost almost swimsuit season. Groan. Just another reason to love winter.
Winter to Spring Salad
Estimated Cost: $5.00
Money Saving Tips: It's almost time to plant spinach! Plant a row of spinach a week to keep you saving all throughout the spring. Choose any apples or berries that you find on sale and vary the nuts according to what you have on hand. You'll have plenty of extra dressing for more salad later in the week.
1 (6 ounce) bag baby spinach
1 large orange, peeled and sectioned
1 sweet apple, sliced thin
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 cup paper thin slices of red onion
1/3 cup toasted pecans, broken into bits
For Dressing:
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
For Salad, layer spinach, orange, apple, strawberries, onions, and pecans on a platter. Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar with a screwtop lid. Shake until well combined. Just before serving, drizzle dressing all over salad.
Next Up:
Captain Crunch Chicken

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pasta Amatriciana

We hit an eight year old benchmark this weekend. This little boy of mine was baptized. See that giant cookie shield with the CTR? CTR stands for "Choose the Right." Unless you ask my pesty brother, Roy. He'll tell you that it means "Cook the Rice." "Choose the Right" or "Cook the Rice." You can't lose. We took exactly 793.26 pictures. West with a cookie. West on the piano. West eating breakfast. West brushing his teeth. West taking out the trash. We couldn't help ourselves. I promise not to show you all of them. But, here are a few of my favorites. This is West with soon-to-be-eight years old cousin, Reeve. They look solemn, sane, and very holy in this picture. This is how they looked a few hours later. Wild, wacky, and totally normal. For eight year old, boys that is. Here's West with his Dad and my Dad. All in navy blue sportscoats. My handsome boys.Here is the Bishop with West and his neighborhood buddy, Aidan, who also got baptized that day. The Bishop is the one that made that giant cookie shield above. Needless to say, he's enormously popular with the recently-baptized crowd.
Here is one last shot of West, with those who know him best. He drives us crazy. He makes us laugh. He suprises us with his little acts of kindness. He stays up too late. He's impossible to wake up. He has a noisy voice. He goes crazy for his baby cousins. He wants to be a Jedi and a doctor when he grows up. We love him.
Now this past busy week was a true test of my fast dinner repertoire. I wanted to pick up quesadillas at Del Taco, I really did. But I also knew that next week, while we're on vacation, we'll be eating out nightly. I didn't think I could handle that for two weeks in a row, so I kicked it into gear and made dinner, chop-chop. I'm compiling a list of my favorite 30 minute dinners that don't require a trip to the grocery store. This baby is one of them. "Amatriciana" is a rich, smoky bacon and tomato sauce that is simply luscious over pasta. It's even better the next day, so plan on having leftovers for lunch. You've got time to make it for dinner tonight. Put your water on to boil before you start the sauce and you'll be eating dinner faster than you can say "Choose the Right." Or "Cook the Rice." Either way, you can' t lose.
Pasta Amatriciana
Estimated Cost: $7.00 for 6 large servings
Money Saving Tips: Check the price of bacon at the butcher counter; it might even be cheaper than bacon on sale. If you can't find a good price on bacon, the sauce is just as delicious-albeit not smoky-without it. When you do find a good price on bacon, buy a few pounds and pop them into the freezer.
1 lb. pasta (I used farfalle)
6-8 slices of bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 (14 ounce) cans of petite diced tomatoes, with juices
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
pinch of brown sugar
Optional for serving: grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley or basil
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta. Cook according to package directions and keep warm. In a large skillet, cook diced bacon until cooked and crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel with a slotted spoon. To same skillet with bacon fat, add onion and cook until softened. Stir in garlic and cook for thirty seconds. Add diced tomatoes with juices, pepper flakes, vinegar, and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss pasta with sauce and sprinkle the bacon over the top. Serve with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley, if desired.
Next Up:
Where Winter and Spring Merge Spinach Salad

Friday, March 4, 2011

Everybody's got a Laughin' Place

My laughing place is Youtube.
Watch Tom Hanks help his daughter accomplish "her" dreams in the Sexy Baby Nevada Pageant.
Humor makes the world a saner place.
Happy weekend. Hope it's full of lots of laughs.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mom's Overnight Wheat Rolls

One of the best things about having your mom for a neighbor is fresh, warm, and straight from the oven. My mother is a fellow recipe-tinkerer and her process is as enlightening as it is delicious. If Mom makes something pretty good, she'll call and tell me to come have a taste. If she makes something really good, she'll tell me to come have a taste and bring my camera. When she hits the magic note just right, she'll walk down to my house. These rolls, at some point during the process, have merited all of the above, including the triumphal victory march to my home. The recipe for Mom's Overnight Wheat Rolls is now pitch perfect. With a pat of sweet butter, warm and melting, you'll be singing their praises. But don't eat them all; a midnight snack with a slice of ham and a dab of honey butter will put you to bed better than a baby's lullaby. If these rolls were music, then they just won a grammy. For my mammy.
Mom's Overnight Wheat Rolls
Estimated Cost: $1.00
Money Saving Tips: Make up a double or a triple batch and freeze them after baking. It saves oven energy and money.
1 and 1/2 cups room temperature water
1 and 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 and 1/2 cups wheat flour
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for shaping
Mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. An hour before ready to bake, take dough out of the refrigerator. Let rest for one hour. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a floured surface, pat dough into rectangle. Roll into cylinder. Cut into 9 rolls. Place in greased nine inch baking dish. Let rise, covered for twenty minutes. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until tops and bottoms are golden brown. Let rest for one minute and remove from pan.
Next Up:
Pasta Amatriciana