Disney’s Art of Animation Resort — Part 2

Let’s head inside Animation Hall and see what’s in there!

Entering Animation Hall

Colorful Check In
So pretty
Awesome Chandelier

Shopping and Eating. Yes, please.
Ink & Paint Shop

As you would expect, since the building already existed, the check in area, shop and food court are all laid out in a very similar fashion to Classic Hall over at POP Century.  Everything seemed just a little bit smaller to me – which could be an optical illusion, but I wonder if they have more going on backstage.  I’ll do more research on that…

AoA has a ton of themed merchandise – I’d love to see more of that at the resorts.

I’m sending this t-shirt to everyone in my family. If I can remember…

All that shopping can make you hungry.  Good thing the Landscape of Flavors food court is right through that arch…

The set up is similar to POP, but the menu is definitely different, featuring more international flair along with the usual pizza & burgers.  I only ate there once this trip and will post my review soon.

Tandoor Portuguese Sausage with acorn squash, spinach paneer, lentils, rice and naan

Wanna see the rest of the resort?  Coming right up…

Cauliflower & Brussel Sprout Gratin

This Cauliflower & Brussel Sprout Gratin is inspired by Bobby Flay and his Bar Americain recipes.  I was looking for a cheesy side dish to go with my pulled turkey sandwiches.  Something that wasn’t potato based (although I do LOVE potatoes).  When I was shopping for the ingredients, I came across some beautiful brussel sprouts and thought they would make a great addition.  I’m never quite sure if I like goat cheese, so I used cheddar jack as one of my cheeses, to counteract some of the sourness.

This is not a particularly quick or easy recipe, but it’s well worth it and the leftovers just keep getting better.

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Shred your cheeses and cut up the cauliflower and broccoli.

Flowers and Sprouts

Bring the milk to a simmer in a small pan.  In a larger saucepan, melt the butter and make a roux by whisking in the flour.  Whisk and cook for about a minute, but don’t let the roux get too dark.

This happens a lot in my kitchen
Roux, who?

Whisk in the milk bit by bit and bring up the heat.  Keep whisking until the mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and whisk in about half the cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste – if needed.  The cheese may be salty enough already.

Cheese rocks!

Add the cheese sauce to the cauliflower and brussel sprouts in a large bowl and mix to coat the veggies.  Spoon into a buttered baking dish and top with the rest of the cheese.

Look at the sunlight glinting off that cheese…

Bake for about an hour.  The cheese will be bubbly and gooey and the veggies will be tender.  If you are using a shallow pan, put it on a baking sheet to keep the oven clean.

Inspired by Bobby Flay

Cauliflower & Brussel Sprout Gratin

  • 3 cups whole milk (I do use the “real stuff” for this)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar/jack cheese
  • 4 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • medium head of cauliflower cut into bite sized pieces
  • dozen (or so) brussel sprouts

Preheat oven to 350º and butter a baking dish big enough for your veggies plus cheese.  Bring the milk to a simmer in a small pan.  Make a light roux by melting the butter in a larger sauce pan and whisking in the flour.  Whisk for about a minute until blended, but not dark.  Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously until thickened.  Remove from heat and whisk in half the cheese.  Add to the cauliflower and brussel sprouts and mix until veggies are well coated.  Scoop into the baking dish, top with the rest of the cheese and bake for about an hour.  Let it settle a bit before serving.

Worth all the whisking

I served this with pulled turkey sandwiches and it was even better when some of the gravy snuck over and mixed with the cheese.  So, soooooo good!  I can also see this going really well with a nice steak or other chunk of meat.

As I think about it, some crispy bacon or pancetta would be pretty awesome baked into this…

Pulled Turkey Sandwiches

I made this last weekend for Sunday dinner, and wow, was it good!  Comfort food with a little bit of modern flair.  The pulled turkey sandwich recipe is from Nadia G’s Bitchin Kitchen – she calls it pulled turkey sandwiches w/ bbq sauce.  Must be a Canadian thing, because it’s gravy on there — not what I think of as bbq sauce (the red, yummy stuff).  Nadia’s recipe calls for 4 cups of cooked turkey — I’ll show you how I made mine.  I’ve made a few of Nadia’s recipes, and they are all super yummy.  She’s also a lot of fun to watch – you should check her out.  The Cauliflower & Brussel Sprout Gratin is inspired by Bobby Flay and his Bar Americain cookbook.  I added the sprouts because I wanted them and changed up the cheese just a little…  (You can get that recipe here)

Let’s start with the turkey.

Best way to make pulled anything?  Slow cooker.  I put this on around noon, so we could eat at 6 or 7ish.  I think it turned out to be more like 8 – the cauliflower stuff took much longer than I expected.

Start with a couple plump turkey thighs, salt & peppered, and whatever veggies happen to be lying around.  I used onions, carrots & celery.  (That’s Hawaiian black salt – I love its flavor but really only use it in the black Crock Pot, because it does turn my other pans black – it washes off, but I don’t like to see it)

Turkey thighs and veggies

On top of that, pile on a turkey breast, more salt and pepper and a sprig of sage.  Add chicken stock or water and let it cook.  Slowly.

This turkey breast was labeled as a London Broil. Is that weird?

At this point, I took the dog for a walk on the beach and then took a nice long nap.  I like waking up to the smell of cooking turkey.  So does the dog.

I rotated the thighs and breast about halfway through.  I like to mix things up like that.

Getting a nice color

About 4 hours into the cooking, I started on the gravy and the cauliflower.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan and whisk in the flour to make a roux.  It will turn a beautiful caramel color.  Set aside and get ready to cry (onions!)

I love butter.

Time to saute the onions.  Let them get a little crispy around the edges.

They smell so good

Deglaze the pan with the turkey stock and whisk in the roux.  Add the spices, brown sugar and balsamic.

That should give it a kick

Let it bubble up for a second then turn the heat down and simmer until it thickens up.  Mine took quite a while, but I think it’s because I used a Le Creuset rather than a regular frying pan.  Keep an eye on it and whisk occasionally.

Thicken up! I’m hungry!

While that thickens up, pull the turkey.  After 6 or 7 hours in the slow cooker, that turkey is falling off the bone.  I take the meat out of the broth and shred with 2 forks.  The broth and veggies left behind can be saved for soup or something, if you want.

Shred it

At this point, I put a little aside for the dog – once the gravy goes on, it’ll be too spicy for him.

Add gravy to the turkey to soak it, but make sure to leave enough behind for smothering the sandwiches.   When you’re ready to eat, toast up some bread, prep some peas (I boiled frozen for about 30 seconds or so) and wipe the drool from the corner of your mouth…

Warm, juicy, lovely turkey sandwich                                                                     inspired by Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen


Pulled Turkey Sandwiches

  • 2 turkey thighs and a turkey breast (or your choice of white and dark meat)
  • onions, celery, carrots to flavor meat
  • 3 cups stock (chicken, turkey – even water will work in the slow cooker)
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh sage – 1 sprig for cooking, 2 leaves minced for gravy
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 flour
  • olive oil 
  • medium onion, diced
  • 4 cups turkey or chicken stock (for gravy)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup green peas 
  • sliced bread of your choice (I used “everything” Italian)

Season turkey meat with salt and pepper and cook in slow cooker with your choice of vegetables and broth or water.  High for 6-8 hours until turkey falls from bone and is easily shredded.  To make the gravy, start by melting the butter.  Whisk in the flour gradually and continue whisking for a few minutes until the roux is a light caramel color.  Be careful not to burn the roux.  Set aside.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the diced onion until it’s a bit crispy.  The pan will have some brown crispy onion stuff stuck to it – deglaze with the stock and whisk in the roux.  Add the sugar, spices and balsamic.  Bring to a slight boil and then reduce heat to simmer until the gravy thickens.  This may take up to half an hour, depending on your pan and desired thickness.  Don’t rush it, stir occasionally and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Shred the turkey meat with 2 forks and add about half the gravy.  Blanch the peas in salted water – only about 30 seconds for frozen (add another minute or so for fresh).  Toast the bread, if desired.  Pile the turkey on the bread, pour on more gravy and top with a handful of peas.

Hopefully you’ll have some leftovers, because this is even better the next day!

Cauliflower and Brussel Sprout Gratin makes a great side dish for the turkey sandwiches, but you can’t go wrong with mashed potatoes or french fries, either…

Pulled Turkey Sandwich with Cauliflower & Brussel Sprout Gratin

Great Value?

I was at Walmart the other day and I came across this bag of chicken things.  I was hungry, and they have no carbs, so I picked up a bag.  I didn’t have very high hopes, but I brought them home, microwaved a couple, and… they were good!

I made a “sandwich” using 2 patties, with shredded lettuce, chipotle ranch dressing, cheese and ketchup


And a salad with guacamole and a kumato…

They have a little bit of a rubbery texture that I really like, and they are surprisingly tasty.  Score one for Walmart’s Great Value!

Team Bacon – Week 1

Taken with my iPhone4

2, 4, 6, 8 – who do we appreciate? I-iiiit’s Bacon!  Go Team Bacon!

So I’m off carbs for a little while.  I gained some weight over the holidays (more on that later), and I need to get my cravings under control.  I’m not sure how healthy it would be long term, but since there’s no way I’m giving up pasta forever, I’m not too worried about that.   I do plan on throwing in a cheat day here and there.

I’ve done both Atkins and South Beach in the past.  They both worked wonders the first time and a little less every time after that.  Yes, I’ve been on a diet most of my adult life.  I am seriously fighting genetics here.  I know that I feel so much better when I restrict the carbs.  My mood is more even, my skin glows and my nails grow like crazy.  But not the first week.  It takes a little while for my body to settle in, and that first week can be nasty.  I get very crabby.  My digestive system rebels in every way it can.  I’m tired.  The upside?  I’ve lost 4 pounds!  Yay!