Thursday, June 26, 2014

Quick Snaps from Storybook Circus

Hey there, princes and princesses!

So, a little while ago I did the unheard of and got three whole posts out in one week. Apparently that was exhausting because two weeks have gone by without a single shred of new content put up. Seriously, I think I saw a tumbleweed go across the page.

Okay, the real story is that some things came up and made me rather busy (I won't bore you with details) and I'll get back to blogging just as soon as I can. In the meantime, though, I thought I'd share some snapshots from my latest trip out to the Magic Kingdom!

This most recent trip was spent largely in the Storybook Circus area. It has honestly become my favorite little corner of the park, and there's just so much to explore! I adore the whimsy and bright colors of it all, especially on Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

Disclaimer: These were taken on my phone so the quality of the images isn't superb, but I just had to share!




Again, thanks for hanging in while things are slow here. I promise to start regular posting as soon as I possibly can!

What's your favorite part of Storybook Circus? As much as I love Dumbo, I think my top marks go to Big Top Souvenirs- I can (and do) spend hours wandering around in there! 

Love and Pixie Dust, 
Becca :)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Food Friday: Norwegian Delight (School Bread Recipe!)

Sweet, satisfying, creamy goodness…



… it is the Epcot delicacy that needs no introduction….


… one snack to rule them all:  Norway's School Bread.


If you've spent a little bit of time around the blog, you will have seen copious evidence of my obsession with intense love for School Bread. Since tasting it last August, hardly a day goes by that I don't dream of relaxing in Epcot's Kringla Bakeri with a knife, a fork, and this champion of all World Showcase snacks. Seriously- I would eat this stuff every day if I could.

Unfortunately, I do not live at Walt Disney World (though my friends and family might say otherwise!), and thus School Bread and I see each other far too little. So, in an attempt to remedy the lack of School Bread in my life, I tried my hand at a homemade rendition!

Around the internet, a Disney-loving baker will find no shortage of recipes for the beloved Norwegian treat. Walt Disney World's recipe can be found on allears.net as well as the Disney Food Blog, but I opted to go with this more traditional recipe that I found on allrecipes.com. (Side note: I have actually tried the Epcot recipe in the past, but my results were less than stellar.) I did make a few tweaks to the original recipe to more closely resemble Disney's version, like using half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose. I also substituted a cinnamon/nutmeg mixture for the traditional cardamom, not for any culinary reason, but because this lazy princess did not feel like tracking it down at a grocery store!

This "skolebrod"recipe isn't a carbon copy of what you'll find it Epcot's Norway pavilion; they're a good bit smaller, the custard filling is a tad thicker, and the spiced roll provides a heartier bite than the softer one found at Kringla. It does, however, produce one amazing, mouthwateringly delicious pastry that's perfect as a dessert, an afternoon snack, or even as a sweet breakfast treat!

(One note: I completely spaced on the egg wash for the rolls when I made them, but I definitely think it would make a difference in creating a more traditional appearance. Because of that, I've kept it in the recipe below!)



School Bread
(Adapted from Allrecipes user MARBALET)

Ingredients

For the Roll:- 1 (.25 oz) packet active dry yeast                               - 1 1/2 cups warm milk- 1/3 cup butter, melted                                                   - 2 cups whole wheat flour- 2 cups all-purpose flour                                               - 1/2 cup sugar- 1 tsp cinnamon                                                               - 1 tsp nutmeg- 1 egg, lightly beaten

For the Glaze and Topping: 
- milk                                                                                  - confectioner's sugar- sweetened shredded coconut

For the Filling:
- 3 egg yolks                                                                    - 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 T cornstarch                                                      - 1 cup milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract                                                   - 3 T butter

Instructions:
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in milk and allow to proof for 5 to 10 minutes. 
  2. Add melted butter, whole wheat flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir until incorporated. 
  3. Stir in all-purpose flour one 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. After the dough has come together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and pliable.  Lightly spray a medium-large bowl with cooking spray and transfer dough to bowl. Roll dough around to lightly coat with oil and cover the bowl with a damp towel. Place bowl in a warm place and allow dough to rise until doubled in volume (about 1 hour).
  4. After dough has risen, roll out into a log and divide into 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover rolls with a damp cloth and allow to rise until doubled in size (about 20 to 30 minutes). Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  5. Brush risen rolls with beaten egg and bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes (rolls will be lightly browned with pale sides). Place rolls on a wire rack and let cool completely. 
  6. For Glaze and Topping: Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Spread several handfuls of coconut onto a foiled baking sheet and toast in oven until golden brown. For the glaze, whisk together confectioner's sugar and milk to desired consistency. Transfer coconut and glaze into separate bowls. 
  7. For Filling: In a mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until combined. Whisk in two tablespoons of milk. Place remaining milk and vanilla into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and slowly add to egg mixture while whisking continuously. 
  8. Filling (cont.): Once combined, return mixture to saucepan and bring to boil on medium heat, whisking constantly. After mixture has boiled, remove it from the heat and whisk in the butter. Spread the mixture in a shallow baking pan and cover in plastic wrap, pressing wrap down on top of filling to prevent a skin forming. Place mixture in fridge to cool down.
  9. To assemble: Once rolls have cooled completely, burrow a hole in the top of each using your (clean!) finger. Dip the top of each roll first into the glaze, then into the toasted coconut, rolling around to coat. Fill a pastry bag (or ziploc bag with a snipped corner) with the cooled filling and pipe it into the rolls. 
  10. Close your eyes, take a bite, and pretend you're in Norway!
Have you ever tried to replicate a favorite Disney recipe? It's one of my favorite ways to bring a little Disney magic to my diet! :P
Love and Pixie Dust, 
Becca :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Road to runDisney: Back on the Horse

After my half marathon in May, I took a couple of weeks off from running. Between final exams, term papers, and plain old recovery, the break was more than necessary.

Two weeks turned into three, three turned into four… long story short, it's been nearly a month and a half since I laced up my sneakers. This happened for a couple of reasons:

1) Florida, as it turns out, is kind of hot in the summertime.
My planned return to a running regime was set to begin once I got back home for the summer. This plan was flawed for several reasons, the first being the fact that I don't have ready access to a treadmill and would be due for a face-off with my great enemy: outdoor running. Florida's climate tends to be on the toasty side regardless, but in these sunny summer months it just gets ridiculous. As I enjoy sleep too much to wake up before the sun and am inevitably exhausted by dark, the great outdoors were not the most ideal option.
2) Running alone.
This doesn't require much explanation. I am slightly paranoid, and the prospect of running outside by my lonesome is enough to keep me on the couch, safely indoors.

However, as of last night, my active running status has shifted. That's right, boys and girls- I am back in the game! 

Okay, so maybe it isn't quite that exciting. Last night, while on a walk with my wonderful mother, I made the impromptu decision to break into a trot. And it felt seriously awesome.

I ended up only running about a mile, but it's a mile more than I've gone in a month. I already can't wait to get back on the roads! What excited me even more than finally getting to run after so long, was that my mom actually joined me. Don't get me wrong- my mother is a pretty physically fit lady (in her younger days, she swam competitively and completed multiple triathlons), but a decades-old injury has prevented her from doing any sort of running or jogging. Seeing her running along with me (and having a grand old time doing it) was better than any "runner's high" I've ever had.

Do any of you have tips for dealing with the heat or running solo? I'd love some advice from this awesome community! 
Love and Pixie Dust, 
Becca :)


 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Take 5 Trip Report: Hooray for Hollywood? (5/30/14)

It finally happened.

After nine months of pass-holding and three failed attempts, I finally managed to get myself to Disney's Hollywood Studios. And man, oh man, it was…

kind of underwhelming?

I have never held a burning desire to visit the park, which-- let's face it-- has a bit of a reputation for needing a serious facelift. Honestly, the only attractions that ever grabbed my attention were Star Tours and Fantasmic!, and there have always seemed to be numerous more interesting things to do at Walt Disney World. Still, when my sister (who had also never been) suggested that we give it a shot, I couldn't refuse!

Unfortunately, we found out the hard way that the park's "half day" status is sort of deserved. After running through our three Fastpasses (The Great Movie Ride, Star Tours, and Toy Story Midway Mania… thanks, tier system), we grabbed a bite at the ABC Commissary, then took advantage of the park hopping option my sister thankfully added to her ticket. After arriving at Epcot, the two of us knew we had made the right decision. Bonus: Somebody got herself some delicious school bread! (Spoiler Alert: "Someone" was me.)

The Great Movie Ride was a fun Fastpass pick. We got the Western scene!

I think my main beef with Hollywood Studios was its (in my opinion) senseless layout. For someone who is so accustomed to the "hub-and-spoke" system, I was utterly baffled by the park's cluster-y setup.  My sister and I found ourselves constantly wandering in circles and never ending up where we wanted to be. For instance,we were considering making our way over to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, but we quickly abandoned the thought when we discovered that it was as far from us as anything could possibly be. Yes, the difficult navigation definitely occurred in part to it being my first visit, but there was little to differentiate one section from the other and nondescript buildings do not lend themselves to successful navigation. Of course, I'm not ruined for visiting Hollywood Studios ever again-- I mean, there's literally an entire side of the park I've yet to see! I may not be in love, but we can still be friends, right?

Lest we forget that this is a "Take 5" report, here are my top picks from the day!

1) Toy Story Midway Mania

I am the sharp-shooting loser on the red side!

Everyone knows of the hype that surrounds this arcade-style attraction, and I have always wondered if the cult-like devotion it commands is truly warranted. Now that I've actually experienced the ride, I can say that it totally is

For someone who is across-the-board awful at shooting games (seriously, no aim whatsoever), I had a blast competing in the toy-box carnival in spite of my less-than-impressive score.

2) Park Hopping
Judging by the crowd on the tram, our sentiments weren't necessarily shared!

Like I said, the general consensus re: Hollywood Studios could be summed up in one word: "meh." Luckily, we prepared for this situation by opening the option to switch parks midday. 

To say that park hopping saved the day would be a massive understatement. While the two of us had fun at the Studios, the day really took off when we crossed the Epcot entry gate. What ensued was a lovely, leisurely afternoon of strolling through the World Showcase and enjoying its many spoils. Which brings me to...

3) Tasty Treats on the Promenade

I think I speak for most everyone when I say that the World Showcase is the most amazing spot for snacks. Naturally, I couldn't pass by my beloved Norway for a date with this deliciousness...

One does not simply "stop to take a picture" when this kind of scrumptiousness is involved.

We also stopped by Les Artisans des Glaces in the France pavilion, where my sister picked up a couple scoops of mint chocolate chip. Oh my goodness, this stuff was by far the best ice cream to ever pass my lips. I was too full to grab a cone for myself, but I was more than happy to polish off the last of my companion's!


I am still kicking myself for not snapping a photo of the glorious nachos we feasted upon at dinnertime, but a visual aid is still necessary to convey this monstrous mountain of tastiness. Get these. They are massive and probably awful for you, but they are so yummy.

4) Sister Time

Sissy selfies all around!

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it (or really had occasion to), but I have two sisters! Yippee! Since the three of us have grown up and begun to go our separate ways, the times that we're able to spend together are all the more precious. I so treasured the hours I spent with my big sissy on our Disney day, especially since we were able to share experiences at my favorite place in the world. As much as I love touring the parks by myself, it was awesome to have someone to chat with, ride with, and (most importantly) share the aforementioned snacks with!


5) This guy:

Didn't you hear? Dumbo pillow pets make the best blogging assistants!

Best belated birthday gift? I think so.

How do you guys feel about Hollywood Studios? I feel like I should give it another shot… but there are so many other things to do!

Love and Pixie Dust,
Becca :)

P.S.- If you'd like to come along on my in-park adventures, hop on over to Twitter and check out @PixieDustBecca!