Sunday, December 11, 2011

Disneyland Dining (Day 2 Part 1)

Since we had a late night last night and it was our arrival day yesterday, we decided to sleep in this morning and hit California Adventure Park in the morning.  The park doesn't open until 10 am but it is best to start lining up around 9:15 am if you decide to enter from the front or the best secret out there is to enter through the Grand Californian Hotel.  They have their own entrance.   Anyways, for breakfast we decided to go the counter service at the Disneyland hotel called Tangaroa Terrace.  They had self-service ordering kiosks where you use a screen to place your order.  Then, you can grab things from the cold cases before going to the cashier to pay.  They give you a number for your table and your order is brought to you so, it is cooked to order.   They have the typical breakfast items like french toast, breakfast platter, breakfast wrap, an egg white and tofu bake.  They also had all kinds of drinks in the cold case plus assorted pasteries and cold cereal.  The place is very small and has limited indoor seating.  It was a bit chilly to eat outside.  We took the last indoor table.   The food was a bit pricey as expected.   We felt that the buffets for a few dollars more offered a better value.   Anyways, I thought the counter service was missing the Tonga Toast from the Polynesian at Walt Disney World.  It would have fit in perfectly with the theme.  Also, a dole whip stand would be great too.

Here are some pictures:

The counter service overlooks the pool area.  The pool slides were pretty cool.  There were 3 slides for 3 different abilities from a kiddy type slide to the big slide.

For breakfast my youngest & I ordered the french toast with banana slices that came with bacon (of course, I had to share the bacon with the oldest).  It was good.  My darling husband ordered the breakfast platter and my oldest order the cinnamon roll.  My husband did not love the platter.  He said that the potatoes were not very good.  My oldest claimed the cinnamon roll was just average.

Here's the french toast:

Here's the breakfast platter (and again the bacon was shared as well).

Here's the cinnamon roll:

Next, door was a bar that was basically attached to the counter service.  We never got a chance to eat and have a drink there but it looked yummy.   Maybe next time..

The menu:

Finally, I thought the counter service place was okay.  It definitely was quick so, we didn't waste a lot of time eating.  This was the only time we ate here.  I'm not sure we'd go back.   Maybe if I was hanging at the pool or if it was the only option left.

COMING UP NEXT:  A date with the princesses (and I thought we were done with character meals... oh, boy I'm so wrong)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Disneyland Dining Review (Nov 2011)

I love doing food reviews and I've done a few on the disboards.  Anyways, I thought I would do one here of our recent trip down to Disneyland.   First, I'd like to say we aren't normally hotel people as we usually stay in a timeshare.  However, I could not secure a timeshare stay for our trip.  So, the 4 of us were stuck in a hotel room.  We ended up staying at the Disneyland Hotel as they were running a special since they were in the middle of remodeling.  There was no guarantee that the pool would be open due to their recent renovations that they were working on.  Our room was cute.  The headboard lit up and played music when you turned it on:

It was very cute.  The room had 2 queen sized beds, a desk and dresser.  There were only 4 drawers in the entire room for clothes.  We were staying 5 nights so that was a bit tight.  We had to live out of our suitcases for a bit which isn't something I enjoy.  The room also had a small refrigerator that held our bottled water but not much else.  Plus, there was a coffee maker but we don't drink coffee.  The bathroom was nice as the sink was separate from the toilet and shower area.   I guess, you can say we are definitely spoiled with the timeshare part of life where you get a separate bedroom and a full kitchen.  Since, we weren't staying in a timeshare we pretty much ate every meal out.  By the last day we were ready to go home just to eat a home cooked meal. 

We arrived on Tuesday and left on Sunday.   For our first meal out was dinner at the Rainforest Cafe.   We arrived at the podium there was a 45 minute wait to eat inside so, we decided to eat outside.  They had tons of heating lamps to keep you warm.  However, this is LA and it really isn't that cold.  It was in the low 70s when we ate our dinner.

Now, Rainforest Cafe isn't always my first choice as I feel the menu is way too big.  However, all the other places at Downtown Disney had long table waits.  To my surprise the menu has been updated to a nice small compact menu.  Much better than before.  But first I rate the view.  Now, we weren't inside so we didn't have to listen to the obnoxious animal sounds so, I really enjoyed our meal here.   We did have a nice view of this tree from our table:

First up are the drinks.  I ordered the Panama Punch which was pretty good not as good as the drinks at ESPN.  It is made with Bacardi 151, Myers's Original Rum, Peach Schnapps and 99 bananas Liqueur. Accented with Creme de Cassis and orange and pineapple juices
John had a beer but it was a bigger can than usually.  My drink came with a souvenir cup.  Something I haven't collected in a long time.

 The beer:

My youngest daughter is at that stage where kid menu items don't always work and adult menu items are too adult like if you know what I mean.  Anyways, she ended up ordering two appetizers as her meal.  She ordered the clam chowder soup and chicken quesdilla made with pita bread.  The soup was great but the quesdillas were a bust.  She didn't like the sauce that was mixed in with the chicken.  She likes a plain quesdillas with just cheese and chicken (no extra flavorings).   I tried the quesdillas and they just didn't work well with the pita bread.  The bread was thick so it was like eating a lot of pita.

My oldest had nachos.  I'm not sure why she ordered such a safe item.  It doesn't look to appetizing to me.  I did not try them.

I ordered the Chinese chicken salad.  It was good but not the best I ever had.   It had more of an oily taste rather than a sesame taste.   But still good.  It was a very large portion.

My husband ordered  Filet of mahi mahi grilled and topped with mango salsa. Paired with Caribbean Coconut Shrimp and cream styled scallops.  He reported back to me that the meal was very good.  The scallops were cooked to perfection (I thought it was just his lucky day as you never know with scallops).

We were too full for dessert but we did window shop at Downtown Disney and came across these babies:

My oldest reminded me that they don't taste as good as they look.  Anything I make is way better.  Oh Boy, I sure created a monster.  So, we didn't buy a treat!

Coming up next:  Day 2

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Winter Vegetables (Blech...)

This is the time of year when vegetables lose their flavor and taste a little boring especially when you've been eating homegrown tomatoes from your garden all summer long.   I really don't like eating vegetables raw or plain by themselves in the winter so, I'm always looking for recipes that hide the vegetables in with the meal.  I sound like a toddler don't I!  Anyways, I came across this recipe last night and my girls loved it and so did my husband.  I did think it was an expensive meal as I didn't have chicken sausage on hand and it calls for light alfredo sauce which is very expensive at the grocery store.   In fact, I really don't like the taste of light alfredo sauce but since it was mixed with other things it tasted pretty good.  Too bad I didn't pick up chicken sausage at Costco when I was there the other day.

Chicken Sausage and Spinach Penne Alfredo

1 1/2 cups uncooked multigrain penne pasta (I didn't have on hand so I used regular white pasta)
6 oz package baby spinach
cooking spray
9 oz chicken sausage, sliced (I used chicken with gouda but you could use any variety you like)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
8 oz sliced cremini mushrooms
10 oz container of light Alfredo sauce
1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

I had to double the recipe as a serving size was about 1 cup and my husband and daughter eat more than that.  Plus, needed leftovers for both my lunch and my husband's lunch.  So, my pictures will show a double amount.

First, cook the pasta according to the directions.  It says to omit the salt but I never do that.  I always add salt to my pasta.  This part I forgot to do last night but you were suppose to add spinach to the pasta water during the last minute of cooking time.  Drain.  That is what happens when you are rushing to get to a 5:30 pm meeting and you don't read the directions.  Who does meetings at 5:30 pm.  CRAZY...

Coat a large non-stick pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.  Add sausage and cook about 5 minutes.

Add bell peppers and mushrooms and saute another 5 minutes.

Stir in Alfredo sauce and cook until thoroughly heated. 

Then, stir in pasta, spinach and cheese.  This is where I definitely messed up as the spinach was difficult to fold in but it did eventually but a bit messy.

Dish came together very quickly especially for that 5:30 pm meeting.  Enjoy...  BTW, if you are on Weight watchers this is 8 points for 1 cup serving size but since I used regular pasta I'm sure it is more like 10 points per serving.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Verdict

Sorry for the late posting.... I know I have such a fan club :-).  Anyways, I baked both pies.  Here are how the pies looked before going into the oven. 

As you can see it is getting more difficult to tell the pies apart.  The one in the clear glass pie plate is made with the homemade pumpkin puree.

This is how they looked after baking.

At this point you really cannot tell the difference.   We test tasted both pies and we could not tell them apart.   I think, once you add all the spices, sugar and dairy you mask any fresh taste.  I was a little bummed about that.  But still a great way to use up sugar pumpkins in the garden.  A great way to use more local produce that wasn't driven to the store on a truck and I didn't drive to the store to get it. 

Enjoy your pie this Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The GREAT Pumpkin Pie Debate!

Hello Everyone!  I've decided to write a different post today about pumpkins.   I grew some sugar pumpkins in our garden this summer.    So, I thought it would be fun to make homemade pumpkin pie with pumpkins from our garden.

It was fairly easy to make.  To make, preheat your oven to about 425 and then, cut the stems off.  Then, halve the pumpkins and scoop out the seeds and the stringy flesh.   Then, place pumpkins on a rimmed cookie sheet and add about 1 to 2 cups of water to the pan.  Bake for about 60 to 90 minutes until tender.  Finally, I would let the pumpkins cool a bit before you scoop out the pumpkin.  You don't use the skin just the inside part.  Sadly, I did not take picutres of this part.  Anyways, scoop out the flesh into a food processor and process for about 2 to 3 minutes until smooth.   The hard part was straining the pumpkin puree.  I just put the pumpkin in colander lined with paper towels over a bowl.  I strained about 4 cups of water out of the pumpkin puree in about 1 hour.  It is important that you do this otherwise your pumpkin will be too watery.   Viola, you have homemade pumpkin puree.  

After making my pumpkin puree I thought it tasted really bitter and wasn't sure if I did this correctly.  I was about to throw my efforts away.   But then, I opened a can of canned pumpkin and decided that they both tasted about the same.  So, then, I decided why not bake two pies.  One using fresh pumpkin and the other using canned pumpkin so, we can debate on which one was the better pie.   Here's a picture of the pumpkin puree. 

See how much lighter the fresh pumpkin puree looks compared to the canned version.  I did check the can and there is nothing added just 100% pumpkin so they must use different pumpkins especially one with more orange in it. 

My goal is always to make things from scratch including pie crust.   I don't know what it is about store bought crust but it just has a funny taste to me.  Here are my ingredients for my pie dough and yes, I use vodka in my pie dough.

After making the pie dough and putting it in the refrigerator for 45 minutes, I made the pie filling.  I used one of my trusted Martha Stewart recipes.  She uses heavy cream (not that evaporated milk stuff) and honey and brown sugar in her pumpkin pie filling recipe.   It is my favorite pumpkin recipe.  Here's the pie filling after I mixed in all the ingredients:

As you can still see the blue bowl is obviously made with the fresh pumpkin as it is still lighter than the canned variety used in the green bowl.  

So, you'll have to wait and see what the verdict is!  Who will win the canned or fresh pumpkin?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Updated post about last week and start of next week's menu planning

Here's what I ended up planning for the rest of the week:

Meal #4:  Leftovers and/or my frozen fish stash from Costco.  I have salmon, shrimp, tilapia, beer batter hailbut in the freezer for a quick meal.

Meal #5: Quick Chicken tacos... this is a really easy meal.  I just take strips of cut chicken breast (raw) and sprinkle with the desired amount of taco season and pan fry in a non stick pan sprayed with oil.  Once cooked I add about half cup of water to meat and cook until the water is reduced.   We eat this as tacos or sometimes I make nachos with it. 

Meal #6: Pizza night is usually on Friday night.  We had caesar salad and homemade pizza.

Meal #7:  I made Roasted Red Bell Pepper soup with (red bell peppers from our garden) and I also made Cheeseburger Sliders from The Pioneer Woman on Hawaiian Sweet bread and also served carrots with hummus.

I also made Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Oatmeal from Weight Watchers  but I used sweet potato instead of pumpkin.  I also made Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins from Frugal Girl where I used mini chocolate chips instead of regular sized chips and I used only 1/4 oil and then, used 3/4 cup yogurt.

It was nice as we didn't eat out once this week.  All of our meals were made at home.


Meal #1:  Swedish Meatballs from Cooking Light Magazine with egg noodles and roasted zucchini

Still working on the rest of the week.   

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Menu Planning

Okay... I'm not doing to well in the planning department. 

So for this week so far I have:

Meal #1:  Tortellini-Sausage Soup from Our Best Bites with homemade honey rolls
Meal #2:  Ground Turkey Sheperd's Pie from Rachael Ray
Meal #3:  French Dip Sandwiches from Our Best Bites

I know we had the Tortellini Sausage Soup last time I posted but it is a favorite in our house.   I'm still working on the rest of the week but most weeks start out with at least 3 meals planned.

I also made some Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins to eat this week.

Let me know how your meal planning is going!

P.S.  These 3 meals cost $57 at Bel Air but includes 2 gallons of Milk, bananas, applesauce and buttermilk.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Menu Planning

This is my first attempted at menu you planning and I was going to wait until I had a more creative page but I figured my reason to menu plan is to be more organized.  School starts in two weeks and I need to be more organized.  So bare with me and hopefully the blog will improve.

This week's menu.  Now, I don't plan by day as things change based on the daily schedule.  I just plan for 7 meals during the week.   We have a couple take-out nights becasue we won't be home around dinner time.

Meal #1:  Swedish Meatballs Recipe with Asparagus
Meal #2: Tortellini-Sausage Soup with bread
Meal #3: Chicken Cordon bleu with Rice & steamed carrots
Meal #4: Chicken Tacos
Meal #5: Sub sandwiches
Meal #6: Eat out
Meal #7: Eat out

Breakfast this week includes:  Fruit Danish from Costco, french toast, pancakes, Eggs and bacon, cereal and bagels with cream cheese.

Lunch will mostly be sandwiches, quesidillas, yogurt, fruit and leftovers.

Now, I realize my menu isn't very gourmet yet but my goal is to get back to cooking healthy meals for my family at home.

Need some more inspiration check out this site:  Organized junkie Monday Menu planning