The Disney Chef

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Breakfast Potato Casserole

This is a recipe I would have never, ever normally tried, despite the fact that it did actually look pretty good.  However, two things caused me to rethink my continued ignoring of this beloved, popular, and by all accounts delicious dish.  The first is the fact that the readers of this website seem fairly obsessed with potato recipes.  Seriously, I hear requests for breakfast potato recipes all the time.  And the second is that with Maelstrom being retired forever, to be replaced with a "Frozen" attraction, I'm feeling a little nostalgic for all things that remind me of the Norway pavilion.  With all the attractions that have phased in and out over the years, Maelstrom is the one I think I'll most regret not being able to do one more time.

This breakfast potato recipe comes from Akershus, a restaurant that sometimes doesn't get the credit it deserves for the expansive and unique food options available there.  Every time I hear people talking about Akershus, it's always related to the fact that it's a Princess character breakfast.  Many times, I hear it mentioned as kind of the forgotten sister to the more popular Princess character breakfast at Cinderella's Castle...  Like "If you can't get into the Castle because it's booked, you can always try Akershus."  While it did for awhile have a great boost due to the fact that it was located across the pavilion from everybody's favorite Norwegian-inspired royalty meet-and-greet (Queen Elsa and Princess Anna), it seems to have again slipped to the status of consolation reservation for the people who can't get the other booking.

However, people should really give this restaurant another look.  In truth, it has one of the largest, most expansive buffets on Disney property, and it's got a huge range of approachable and exotic foods for people who want to try something different, but also the classics that are not only kid-friendly, but iconic Disney foods (and of course you know I mean Mickey waffles).  But if the food doesn't impress you, the ambiance certainly should...  Honestly, the inside of Akershus is one of the most amazing, detailed, and flat out gorgeously authentic I've seen.  It's simply stunning.  You'd never in a million years think a building with such a humble looking outside would be so gorgeous on the inside.

This potato casserole recipe is one of Akershus's unique but signature dishes.  Honestly, it's
super easy, but holy cow...  It makes enough to feed an army.  Our family of 5 didn't even make a dent on the amount that was prepared, despite the fact everybody had heaping servings.  If I were to make this again, I'd halve the recipe for sure.  And, if I were to make this again (which I probably will because the kids loved it...  Which is good, because they'll be having leftovers all week and then some), I'm going to spread it out more, using a large serving dish, or maybe even two casserole dishes.  When I did it in a big heap, it took forever for the middle to get warm and even by the time I served it, the potatoes were still a bit crunchy and raw.

Overall though, this was a great dish that was a real crowd pleaser.  A somewhat fancier take on breakfast potatoes for sure, but I loved how creamy and rich it was with the hint of cheese.  It was savory without being overly salty, so it's easy to pair with sweet breakfasts like Mickey waffles, while still working perfectly with the savory breakfasts like ham and eggs.  Anybody who's eaten a breakfast at Akershus will recognize this flavor and maybe even look around and wonder where the Princesses are!

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Breakfast Potato Casserole
As is served at Akershus, Norway Pavilion, EPCOT
°o°  1 1/2 pounds diced prepared potatoes  
°o°  1 1/2 pounds shredded prepared potatoes  
°o°  1 small white onion, diced  
°o°  8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, divided  
°o°  8 ounces shredded Jarlsberg cheese, divided  
°o°  8 ounces sour cream  
°o°  1/2 cup heavy cream  
°o°  salt and pepper to taste    
°o°  2 tablespoons butter  
°o°  2 tablespoons flour  
°o°  1 to 1 1/2 cups milk 

Preheat oven to 375.  

In an oversided mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, onion, 4 ounces of cheddar cheese, 7 ounces of the Jarlsberg cheese, the sour cream, heavy cream, and the salt and pepper.  Mix well.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour, whisking to form a roux.  Slowly add the milk and bring up to a light boil while whisking constantly to make a Bechamel sauce.  Once the sauce has thickened, allow to cool slightly, then pour over the potatoes.  Mix again so the entire mixture is moistened evenly.

Pour into a greased casserole dish (use two if necessary, the layer of potatoes should not be more than 1.5 inches or so) and sprinkle reserved cheese evenly over the casserole.  Cover with greased aluminum foil, being careful that the cheese doesn't come into contact with the foil, and bake for 35-45 minutes or until potatoes are softened and cooked through and casserole reaches internal temperature of 160 degrees.  After casserole has cooked completely, remove the foil and allow it to bake an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted and browned slightly.

Serve warm.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Pot Roast

When I was putting together my menu for this week, I had a definite plan in mind...  I wanted some stuff from Norway so I could do a proper Disney Chef sendoff of Maelstrom, I wanted a lot of dinner foods, some desserts, and I wanted a lot of hearty, fall food.  Around here, it's been dipping into the 30's at night, not getting above 55 or 60 during the day, so some heart warming food was a really good idea I thought.

And yesterday, when I made it...  The high unexpectedly reached 82.  So much for the warming soul food for a cold night...

Regardless, making this made me so happy.  This is the kind of meal that I love to make.  A little bit of prep then you stick it in the oven and you're done.  And 50's Prime Time Cafe is such a great restaurant that really does American-style home cooking in a funky and fun kind of way.  I haven't been there in a few years, but I remember the food was fantastic, so it was nice to get a taste of a meal from a place I don't generally get to see on our trips.  In fact, it made me go through and re-do my reservations for November and try to grab a
table...  As far as good food, themed dining, and crazy guest experiences, 50's Prime can't be beaten!

I don't say it often, but this recipe is literally foolproof.  Even people who're not so great at making meat dishes will find that this one is super easy and just about impossible to mess up.  Plus, the oven does 90% of the work!  No turning, basting, tweaking, or otherwise messing with it.  I'd even say if you don't feel like browning it, you could probably skip that step...  I don't generally brown pot roast, and it comes out fabulous...  Though I have to say I liked browned meat and that nice little crust it formed.

This is such a nice, homey recipe...  Perfect for a fall or winter day where all you want is warming comfort food with little hassle.  And, as it turns out, it's apparently great for a surprise summer day in the smack middle of fall...

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Pot Roast
As is served at 50's Prime Time Cafe, Disney's Hollywood Studios
°o°  5 pound top or bottom round roast  
°o°  salt to taste
°o°  olive oil
°o°  pepper to taste
°o°  1 medium onion, diced  
°o°  2 carrots, peeled and chopped  
°o°  2 stalks of celery, chopped  
°o°  3 cups beef broth  
°o°  4 tablespoons flour
Trim excess fat off of the roast and season with salt.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a heated pan with a liberal drizzling of olive oil, brown the roast on all sides until evenly browned and put in a large, deep roasting pan.  In the olive oil, saute the vegetables until the onion is translucent and the carrots are a vibrant orange, but beginning to brown.  Add beef broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to bring up the caramelized vegetables and beef bits (deglazing).  Pour over the roast.

Using aluminum foil, cover the entire roasting pan tightly.  Roast in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes a pound, 2.5-3.75 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 160.  When done, remove from the oven and allow to stand in juices 15 minutes before serving.

To make gravy (if desired), add 1/4 - 1/2 cup drippings to a shallow skillet, add flour and whisk over high heat vigorously until the flour has broken up and the liquid begins to thicken.  If the liquid is boiling but not thickening, add a tablespoon more of flour and whisk vigorously.  When liquid has thickened considerably, add additional drippings (1-2 cups) or until gravy is the desired thickness.  Serve warm over pot roast.  

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cotton Candy Lemonade

When they told me how to make this at Disney's Pop Century Resort, I figured this was the easiest recipe on earth.  Really, it's not even a recipe it's just so blasted easy.  Then, what I thought was an easy recipe turned out to be a learning experience.

I was told that this recipe was "as easy as" putting cotton candy on lemonade.  I was told under no uncertain terms, put the lemonade in the cup, put the ice in the lemonade, put the cotton candy on top and "it would be fine."  It'd melt, but it wouldn't melt quickly...  Because when I ordered this at Pop Century the day it hit the menu (nice to be on the ground floor of a food craze at Disney, I have to admit), my cotton candy floated there for a good several minutes.  So I took what they said at face value and figured it wouldn't melt.


I made this and as soon as I put the cotton candy on top, it melted and was gone.  I did this about five times with the same result.  Melted and gone in less than a second.  The only reason I can think of why this happened is because I used commercially bought bagged cotton candy while they use spun fresh cotton candy, or maybe they do something to it that they just forgot to tell me, like freeze it or something.  Either way, I put this in the lemonade, it was gone in about half a second, totally melted.  

That said, it was still a big hit, and the kids loved watching the cotton candy melt and disappear.  Honestly, I think they liked it far more than if it had just floated on there.  I have
to admit, it is cool to watch it melt, leaving behind a little poof of rainbow color that tints the lemonade a cool electric blue. And really, while it doesn't look the same, it certainly does taste exactly the same.  It really did bring me back to cool nights on a lounge chair outside of the food court at Pop, watching people play in the pools or stream back into the hotel after a day at the parks.  It really was quite nice.

However, this brings me to the second thing I learned...

This relaxing effect does not occur when you give it to children.  I was hoping I'd be the cool mom who gave everybody the cool drink for a birthday party.  Well, I was, but I also became mom of three children who should have been winding down for bed but were actually bouncing off the ceilings.

So many lessons learned...  

~~~~  °o°  ~~~~
Cotton Candy Lemonade
In the style of what is served at Everything POP! Food Court, Disney's Pop Century Resort
°o°  Minute Maid Lemonade, chilled  
°o°  water, chilled  
°o°  crushed ice  
°o°  cotton candy, any flavor and color 
Mix three parts Minute Maid Lemonade to one part chilled water.  Add ice.  After serving, top with cotton candy and watch it melt! 

Suggested that each serving is made individually and not in a pitcher.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

This week kicks off EPCOT's International Food and Wine Festival, one of the largest and most popular events held every year at EPCOT.  A foodie's dream, this is your chance to experience the flavor of signature dishes from over 25 different kiosks and booths located all around the World Showcase.  From Africa to Australia, Hawaii to Ireland, there's something to excite everybody's palate  And running for a record 53 days, the longest span of the festival's 19 years, there's plenty of time to go back for seconds.

As somebody who's done the Food and Wine Festival for the last 4 years, and who's going back for more in November, I look forward to this event all year.  Not only EPCOT my favorite park, but Food and Wine is my favorite special event!  And after careful consideration, I've drawn up a quick list of my favorite parts of the Food and Wine Festival!

9.  The Food (and the Wine)

Ok, so this seems like the obvious choice, but really, it is kind of the cornerstone of the event.  Being able to sample a little bit of everything from various food-loving countries around the world is pretty awesome.  Not only are there kiosks from countries not normally featured in EPCOT, giving a breath of fresh life to what you come to expect from World Showcase, it's a safe way to try some food from the countries that are there.  For example, I'd heard the buzz on how great the food at the Moroccan restaurants are, but I couldn't bring myself to eat there...  I have so many favorite places to eat in Walt Disney World (especially EPCOT), the idea of wasting a dining credit on a new place that I may not like and sacrificing a meal somewhere I love...  Honestly, it stressed me out.  But after trying one of the sample-sized dishes (for a wallet-friendly price of less than $5) at the Morocco booths and falling in love with the flavors, I was inspired to try the Tangierine Cafe.  Now, Tangierine Cafe is one of my favorite quick service restaurants of all time.  Not that the visiting countries booths don't have incredible food too...  Two words: beef empanadas.  Those are worth the trip themselves.

Speaking of signature foods that are worth the trip:

8.  Limited Edition Dole Whips/Citrus Swirls (With Rum!)

Last year it was a Citrus Swirl with spiced rum.  This year, it's a Dole Whip with white creme de cacao.  The complete and total awesomeness of this sells itself.  What else is there even to say?

7.  The Ultimate Bang for Your Dining Plan Credit

The complaint I hear most often from people on the Dining Plan is their snack credits often get wasted or not used.  With so much great food available in the many quick service and table service locations around the parks and in Downtown Disney, people often just forget to cash in on the snack credits, or they think that the only thing they can get for them are
gummy bears and candy.  Wrong!  This is the best time of year to invest in a Dining Plan.  Why?  Because almost all the food offerings at the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival are only one snack credit!  Canada's famous Cheddar Cheese Soup, Belgian Waffles with Berry Compote, Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll, all of it is only one snack credit per item!  Any event that gets me Canada's soup for only a snack credit is a great event to me.  Yes, the portions are smaller than a full serving, but it's really not hard to make a mini-meal with only the small price of a snack credit or two.

Just be warned...  If it's an alcoholic drink, it's not covered.  And some of the countries are a better bang for your snack credit than others (don't ask me about the year I accidentally got 4 boxed chocolates on the snack credit that were available for .99 cents at the gift shop...  I'm still sore over that).  When in doubt, watch what people are walking away with or ask to see what you're getting before you commit.

6.  Special Events, Celebrity Sightings, and Character Surprises        

The EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival also brings with it several shows, seminars, and special events.  Some are included in your EPCOT ticket, some are separately ticketed events.  Guest speakers, even celebrity chefs, are often on hand for either demonstrations or as guests.  Many boards, blogs, and websites keep track of celebrities people have spotted in and around the festival.  Everybody from Guy Ferrari to "The Cake Boss," even Gordon Ramsay and his family have been spotted at various times in the festival.  Last year I spotted the lady who plays the Evil Queen in ABC's "Once Upon a Time" in the Magic Kingdom.  Of course, I can't guarantee that you'll see a particular celebrity just roaming the parks...  That's all luck.  But check out the speakers and special events schedule to see who's going to be around...  Getting a seat at their seminar or event is a surefire way to get a guaranteed celebrity sighting.  If doing a separate paid event isn't your thing (or they're all booked up), the easiest way to spot somebody famous is to keep your eye to the Eat to the Beat concert listings.  Sugar Ray, Smashmouth, even Hanson are all going to be playing during various days in a large, outdoor stage, and the concert is free with paid admission.  Some acts can be pretty popular, so check the showtimes and get there early.

It's also worth your while to keep an eye out for surprise character meet-and-greets.  I met Princess Aurora in a tucked-away place near The Land building.  The Country Bears were out in a space between Canada and England.  They randomly pop in and out and because they're unannounced and out-of-the-way, they're generally very short lines.

5.  The Crazy Weather

I always hear somebody make the mistake of saying "I bet Disney in the fall is so beautiful...  Nice and cool with lots of sun!". Well, Disney is a blast in the fall (it's a close second to the prettiest season at Walt Disney World, behind winter and the holiday decorations), but cool and predictable weather?  No way!  Heat can still be in the 90's, humidity could get high, and rain pops up from seemingly nowhere.  So why do I say I love the weather?  Because the milder evenings (which can still be hot) give you reasonable summer-like conditions in the beauty of fall.  And call me crazy, but I live for the thunderstorms that roll through Disney.  Usually they blow in, blow out, and make quite a show of it while they last.  Some of the most incredible weather events I've seen at Disney (hello rainbow over Spaceship Earth) happened during the surprisingly volatile fall days.  Added bonus?  The storms come in strong and furious and people tend to retreat back to their hotels or under shelter.  However, they tend to also pass pretty quickly meaning cooler temperatures and less people.  For the truly adventurous, there's a lot of fun to be had touring the park out in the rain!  Bring your ponchos!

4.  The Wine and Dine Half Marathon - 13.1 Miles of Fun!

For the last several years, the festivities at the EPCOT International Food and Wine are capped off with an event that draws between 12,000 and 15,000 runners from across the nation for the night race to end all night races...  The Wine and Dine Half Marathon!
 Entering it's commemorative 5th year this year, runners start at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, run through Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and finish at EPCOT for 13.1 miles punctuated with special character appearances, live music, and of course, a Disco Tunnel.  After the race, runners stream into EPCOT for an after-hours VIP party featuring, what else?  The Food and Wine Festival!  The party lasts until 3am where exhausted but celebratory runners take a free glass of wine or beer and a $10 gift card (part of the free commemorative items awarded for finishing the race) can indulge in all the best EPCOT has to offer.  Last year I even heard a rumor that a group of runners walked onto Soarin and rode-through (that means they rode multiple times without having to get up) 4 times while catching a quick snooze!  The party continues the next day with special events in Downtown Disney and the influx of tired and sore runners coming back for more on the final official day of the Festival.  See somebody wearing a medal in the park?  Yell congrats to them!  They sure earned it!

While the half marathon is already long sold out by the time the Food and Wine Festival starts, the race for 2015 (which falls during the 20th anniversary of the Food and Wine Festival) will open for registration sometime in March of 2015.  This sells out in a matter of hours, so it's never too early to start planning for next year!  Want to get your feet wet with another run that also occurs during the International Food and Wine Festival that has slightly shorter distance and slightly lower demand than the Wine and Dine Half?  Try the Tower of Terror 10 Miler.  It's hotter and it doesn't take you through as many parks, but you're still doing an event during the Food and Wine Festival.

3.  Doing ___________ Around the World

Every year various families, friends, tour groups, frat boys, bloggers, and foodies throw down a gauntlet.  Sample one of every type of a particular food around the World
Showcase.  A lot of the times it's drinking-related (a beer at every kiosk around the world?  Yikes.), but I've seen everything from cupcake crawls to creme brulee challenges.  A challenge that has me sampling desserts from every country around the World Showcase?  Now that's something I can get behind!  I promise you, your stomach will give up before your mouth does.  To help you complete your challenge, make sure you grab one of the (free) Food and Wine Festival Passports.  It has each and every offering from every booth laid out clearly, along for a little space to check off each food you've tried.  If you want to go hardcore, go online and pull up this year's menu and have it printed on the back of a shirt and have your buddies check it off for you as you eat.  Hurrah for cheap souvenirs!

2.  Decorations Galore!

I love seeing Walt Disney World dressed up for the various holidays and I think everybody would agree the two best seasons for Disney decorations are Fall and Winter.  With Fall, you get this amazing layout of Halloween decorations, fall garlands, scarecrows, and
colorful, bright banners.  With Winter, you get the Christmas lights, garland, and Christmas music.  With the Food and Wine Festival starting at the beginning of the Fall decorations and ending after the parks have transitioned to Christmas, you are guaranteed to be able to enjoy Walt Disney World in some sort of spirited decoration.  And, if you time it right, you can actually start your trip with one holiday and end with the next!  Guests lucky enough to go from just before Halloween and staying into early November get the best of both worlds.  For example, if you go in 2014 and arrive the day before Halloween and depart November 6th, you can enjoy the end of the Halloween and the start of the Christmas celebrations.  If you stretch your trip out 10 days, you could, on the same trip, attend Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (my favorite separate-ticketed event at the Magic Kingdom) and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!  How crazy is that?

1.  The People-Watching

The International Food & Wine Festival brings an eclectic group of people.  Families with kids, adults flying solo, honeymooners, couples without their kids, and plenty of locals.  So many people makes the sport of people-watching one of the most fun parts of touring the parks.  You see some people (sometimes with the help of that second mentioned item of the festival) do some amazing, crazy things.  We've seen proposals, break-ups, flash mobs, and everything in between.  Be prepared for spontaneous cheers (not always from visiting cheerleaders), random outbursts of singing, and people from across the world expressing joy and excitement to simply be at Disney.  Halloween Parties at Disney and other area parks mean you may catch people in their costumed-finest on the way to various events.  There are some insanely creative people out there!

There's so much to enjoy around the Walt Disney World Parks during EPCOT's International Food and Wine Festival, it's hard to come up with only eight and I know I missed something in my countdown...  So what's your favorite part of this special event?  Share below!

Regret you haven't made plans to travel down here for the festival?  It's not too late, and with all the deals and promotions running right now, it's surprisingly affordable!  And did you know that The Disney Chef will act as your own personal concierge for the trip, saving you time, money and stress?  As an experienced Disney explorer and foodie, I know just how to help families get the most out of their trip.  For more information on how to enjoy the vacation of your dreams, for either your whole family or just the adults looking to get away, email me at or submit a request for a vacation quote here.

Can't make it this year?  Don't worry, I have you covered there as well!  Here are some of my favorite dishes featured in past year's International Food and Wine Festival:

Beef Bourguignon (France)
Nudel Gratin (Germany)
Spicy Sausage with Sweet Corn Polenta (Canada)
Dan Dan Noodles (China)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chicken Asiago Pasta

When I get random requests for recipes from food at the All-Star Resorts, I won't lie, I always think it's kind of a joke.  When I think about the All-Star Resorts, I don't exactly think of "fine dining."  Having stayed at Disney's All-Star Music once, the food court just never hit me with exciting food in the way Disney's Pop Century Resort did.  Truth be told, I'm not alone.  The All-Star Resorts aren't just on anybody's dining map.  You never hear anybody say "make sure you grab dinner at the All-Stars!" especially to those not staying at an All-Star.  That's not to say it's gross, just that people expect hot dogs, hamburgers, and similar food and when so much great food is at your doorstep (the All-Stars are an incredibly short bus ride to Animal Kingdom), why would you waste valuable stomach space on a hamburger?

I finally gave in and made something from the All-Star Resorts.  I have to say, I'm pretty surprised...  It actually is way different than what I thought the All-Star Resorts serve.  It's surprisingly hearty, different, and extremely delicious!  Now I'm rethinking the whole "you can skip the All-Stars" thing.

I made this recipe exactly as shown, but I noticed there was a lot of oil in the bottom of the dish...  Way too much.  If I were to make this again, I'd definitely use only about 1/4 of a cup of oil (keep this in mind as the recipe I share below is the "official" recipe with the higher oil amount).  Also, the recipe doesn't call for slicing or chopping the sun-dried tomatoes, so I'd probably do that too.  While gorgeous as big chunks of tomato, they're really unwieldy to eat.  While the spinach can easily replaced by basil for
those who don't like it, honestly you can't really taste anything distinctly spinichy.  It passed the kid taste, so that means it must have been pretty mild!

Overall, this dish was surprisingly good, certainly of the quality of our local Italian restaurant.  My other half said he thought it was one of the best pasta dishes I'd made from Disney so far which was a huge surprise.  It's definitely super cheesy without being gooey and very flavorful with a nice undertone of garlic that's not overpowering.  I said I'd maybe use less cheese next time, but my husband said that the over-cheesyness of it was the best part.  Personally, I loved the contrast the breaded chicken gave to the dish.  It made it super hearty and really filling.  When it comes to pasta, I usually hate chicken anywhere in it, but with this pasta, I was actually trying to pick out the chunks of chicken to eat first.  And the kids, other than the issues with the sun-dried tomatoes being too chewy, even our pickiest eater demolished the whole plate.      

Plus, look how pretty this is!  Great for impressing company who happen to arrive at dinner, right?

~~~~  °o°  ~~~~
Chicken Asiago Pasta
As is served at The All-Star Resorts
°o°  3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes  
°o°  3/4 cup olive oil  
°o°  1 tablespoon minced garlic  
°o°  1 3/4 cup fresh spinach  
°o°  1 cup flour  
°o°  1/2 teaspoon salt  
°o°  1/8 teaspoon pepper  
°o°  1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast     
°o°  2 tablespoons olive oil  
°o°  1 tablespoon butter 
°o°  1 12-ounce box of penne pasta  
°o°  1 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
°o°  1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and spinach in a large bowl; set aside.  Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, set aside.

Pound chicken breast to about 1/2 inch thickness and cut into strips horizontally, about 2 inches wide and 2 inches long.  In the meantime, add olive oil and butter to a large skillet over medium heat.  Dredge chicken strips in the flour mixture and then add to the skillet (make sure the butter is melted and the oil is to temperature).  Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown, then flip and cook the other side an additional 3-5 minutes or until cooked through.  Remove from oil and keep warm.

While the chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.  When cooked, drain (do not rinse pasta) and return to the large pot, add the tomato and olive oil mixture and toss to coat.  Add chicken and toss, then add the two cheeses and toss to coat.  Serve immediately.  Dish should be warm.  
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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sci-Fi Bacon Mac-and-Cheese

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant is one of the most popular restaurants in Disney's Hollywood Studios.  It's an immersive experience where guests sit in 50's style "cars" while watching trailers and segments from old monster and sci-fi movies from the 40's, 50's, and 60's.  "The Blob," "The Attack of the 50 Foot Woman." It's all there!  For themeing alone, Sci-Fi is one of my favorite places to eat.

Over the years, it's gone through quite an extensive menu overhaul, shifting from burger joint style food to TV dinner style meals of meatloaf and mac-and-cheese, back to burger joint...  And after it's recent menu overhaul, it's a modern mix of American style classics with sandwiches, popcorn chicken, and of course...  Hamburgers.

The bacon mac-and-cheese used to be a fixture at Sci-Fi Dine-In, surviving all but the latest menu overhaul, and it was a definite fan favorite.  Featured in numerous older Disney cookbooks, thankfully this recipe isn't lost to the ages...  Though honestly, the recipe is surprisingly easy and pretty much the standard way to make mac-and-cheese from scratch.
The original recipe calls for a brand name processed cheese (starts with Vel...), but this recipe can be easily dressed up by replacing it with a fancier cheese that melts well, such as smoked cheddar or three and four cheese mixes.  When switching out the processed cheese for something else, make sure to shred it first for faster melting.

Because the recipe for the mac-and-cheese featured in the now-famous Fantasmic Bread Cones is not available, this was a wonderful and delicious substitute.  I'm not sure how close it tastes to the original as I never tried it, but I can't imagine how it's possible this combination could have tasted any better.  This was a huge, huge hit in our house...  And I've got kids who are very picky mac-and-cheese eaters...  Salty without being too salty, gooey, creamy, and extremely hearty...  And the mustard added a nice kick to it.  Plus...  Bacon.  I mean...  What else is there to say?

~~~~  °o°  ~~~~

Sci-Fi Bacon Mac-and-Cheese
As was served at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, Disney's Hollywood Studios
°o°  1 pound of bacon, diced  
°o°  3 cups macaroni elbow noodles
°o°  3 tablespoons bacon fat  
°o°  4 tablespoons all purpose flour  
°o°  1 1/2 cup milk  
°o°  8 ounces processed cheese (or 12 slices American Cheese)  
°o°  1 cup shredded cheddar cheese  
°o°  1 teaspoon yellow mustard  
°o°  Salt and pepper to taste  
Cook bacon in a shallow frying pan until crispy.  Drain bacon fat, reserving 3 tablespoons.  Set bacon aside on paper towels to drain.  While bacon is cooking, boil water for and cook macaroni elbow noodles according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan, add the bacon fat and flour and whisk until it becomes a roux.  Slowly add milk and mix until incorporated, it begins a low simmer, and is slightly thickened.  Add processed cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, yellow mustard, and bacon.  Stir until cheese is mixed; do not let it boil!  Toss in pasta and stir until pasta is coated in cheese and bacon mixture.  Season to taste and serve warm.  

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bread Cones

I'm sure everybody has seen the picture of the mac-and-cheese and bacon topped cones that were posted on The Disney Food Blog last week.  They went viral on Pinterest, Walt Disney World food sites, even mainstream media (People Magazine had an article about them!).  The indulgent decadence of these cones fascinated everybody and people were scrambling to figure out how to get them in the parks.

Served only at the food kiosk within Hollywood Studio's "Fantasmic!," apparently these cones were a feature all summer at only that one location.  Despite having choice between bacon topped mac-and-cheese and "Fiesta Chili Cheese," these flew under everybody's radar for almost three months before they were discovered.  And, in a cruel twist of fate, only days after they were featured at The Disney Food Blog, they were quietly removed from the menu...  Meaning just as the cone was going viral and their demand was about to skyrocket, they were retired.  According to one cast member it was simply due to the lack of demand.  It wasn't until after their photo went viral that people started clamoring for them.  Oh macaroni and cheese cone, you were gone too soon!

I've been flooded with requests on how to make these cones in the last few weeks, from people who aren't getting to Disney in the near future, to people who went and sadly found they had just missed their chance to order it.  Believe it or not, I actually got a Tweet from somebody sitting in Fantasmic! saying "At Fantasmic now. They're not here anymore! Help @orangebirdswirl! Tell me you have the recipe! I NEED THIS!!!!!!!!!"

Well, first the bad news.  These cones?  They're not made on property.  That's right...  They're this company.  The good news?  I've got a relatively easy way to do a version of it at home.  While not officially what they serve at Walt Disney World or Disneyland (where you can still find versions these cones), it's pretty close.  To say they were a huge smash hit in my house is an understatement.
ordered in from, as best as I can tell,

Today I'll share a "how to" for the cones, then Wednesday I'll share the recipe for the bacon mac-and-cheese (using a version that was once on the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater) and chili on Thursday.

My only tip is to make sure you allow enough time for it to rise while it's sitting on the cones.  If you don't, it will be a bit chewy.  Secondly, these are best warm.  Serve them fresh out of the oven or re-warm them in the oven or toaster oven.  Otherwise they're a bit chewy regardless of how long they were rising for.

So, no need to mourn the loss of the mac-and-cheese cone...  Ok, that's not true.  Mourn away.  I know I am.

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Bread Cones
In the style of what's served at the Cozy Cone Motel, Disneyland, and the Fantasmic! Concession Stand, Disney's Hollywood Studios
°o°  2 bags of premade pizza dough, thawed  
°o°  1 egg, beaten  
°o°  Salt, to taste  
Remove dough from freezer bags and allow dough to rise about 45 minutes to an hour.  

While the dough is rising, using stiff cardstock, roll cardstock into a large cone.  Use a staple to secure the top of the cone (don't staple the bottom, it'll crush the cone) and trim excess paper.  Wrap with aluminum foil, folding the ends of the aluminum foil over the edge of the cone (to prevent the scorching of the paper).   Repeat with 5 additional pieces of paper, making a total of 6 cones, covering all with foil.  Spray liberally with non-stick spray.

After dough has risen, punch down and cut each dough ball into three equal pieces (you will have 6 pieces of dough all together after cutting both balls of dough).  Working with one piece at a time on a very lightly floured surface, roll dough into a long, even, dough rope.  Lightly press the dough rope so it is slightly flattened.  Beginning at the pointed end of the foil cone, wrap up the cone, making sure that the dough touches or very lightly overlaps over each coil.  Tuck the end in on itself after coiling up the cone.  Pinch the pointy end of the roll to seal shut.  If desired, press and smooth the dough so that is thin and even up the cone.

Stand the cones, point side up, on two foil lined baking sheets.  Repeat with the remaining portions of dough.  Cover and allow dough to rise again about 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

After dough has risen again slightly, brush each with the beaten egg wash and dust with a pinch
of salt.  Lay them on their sides of greased baking sheets for baking.  Bake in a 350 degree oven until done and the cone is a golden brown color, about 25-30 minutes (but start checking at about 15-20 minutes...  It browns quickly!).  Remove from oven and allow to cool on the cones for about 2 minutes.  Carefully remove and serve immediately.

Stuffing ideas include mac-and-cheese, chili, scrambled eggs, salad, cheesesteak, shrimp, or seasoned ground beef.

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Copyright The Disney Chef 2014|Disclosure: The Disney Chef website is not owned or operated by the Walt Disney Company or any of the companies divisions, aquisitions, or representives. The Disney Chef is not an employee, current or former, of Walt Disney World or any Disney-related companies. All views are that of the author and are not meant to represent the views of the Disney company, this includes editiorials in blog postings as well as reviews. All pictures of food, vacations, or Disney property are the property of The Disney Chef unless otherwise stated and are not for reproduction or distribution, online or elsewhere. Please contact for media or recipe requests. No part of this website has been paid for or sponsored by Walt Disney World, the Disney Company, or any of its divisions. Posts, vacations, or media events sponsored by Disney or any other company will be acknowled in the topics related to them. For official Disney news, announcements, please visit