Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Grown-Up Bacon Mac & Cheese Recipe!

  • ½ lb dried cavatappi pasta
  • 3 cups half & half
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups Cabot New York Sharp Cheddar, shredded (sold as an 8oz. block of cheese)
  • 1 cup whole milk mozzarella, shredded
  • ½ cup parmigiano-reggiano, finely grated
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1½ to 2 tbsp green onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced (not the stuff in the jar)
  • generous pinch of nutmeg (about 1/8 tsp or less)
  • generous pinch of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp or less)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 slices of semi-crisp hardwood smoked bacon, chopped (feel free to use more if you'd like)
  • ¼ cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs (optional)
  • *Salt to season the pasta water

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

Line a large baking sheet with foil and lay each slice of bacon down with at least an inch of space between each slice. Place the baking sheet full of bacon on the lowest rack of your oven and let it cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp but still pliable. It will crisp even further once it's baked, so don't crisp it too much at this stage. Drain on paper towels and chop into bite sized pieces. Set aside. 

In a large pot, boil water for your pasta. Once it starts to boil, season with about a tablespoon of salt and stir to dissolve. Add the pasta and boil for 5 minutes. Reserve one cup of the pasta water just in case. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Don't toss the pasta around, just let it sit while you rinse it -- this helps keep some of the starch in place. Drain the cold water and let the cooled off pasta hang out on the sidelines while you make the cheese sauce. 

Rinse the pot you boiled the pasta in with cold water to cool it off completely then place back on top of your stove over medium heat. Add the butter to melt -- once it starts to foam/sizzle, it's ready for the flour. Add the flour and whisk vigorously until smooth and lump-free. Let this cook for 1 minute to get that "raw flour" flavor out. Add 1 cup of the half & half, and continue to whisk vigorously until smooth, about 20 to 30 seconds. Add the remaining 2 cups of half & half and continue whisking. Add the rosemary, thyme, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and minced garlic -- mix well. Taste it! Adjust the seasoning as you need to. Increase the heat to medium-high and allow the mixture to come up to a simmer -- whisking the whole time. The mixture will thicken very quickly so don't walk away from it. It should take about 5 minutes to start simmering. Once the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove it from the heat completely. Add the parmigiano-reggiano and cheddar cheese and stir gently until it's melted and smooth, about a minute or two. Either in the same pot or in a separate large bowl, combine the cooked and cooled off pasta with the cheese sauce. Gently fold together until it's completely coated. Mixture should be slightly loose but very creamy and easy to work with, if it's too thick, thin it out with a little of the starchy pasta water. Fold in the basil and green onion at the last minute. 

Transfer half of the pasta and cheese mixture to a lightly greased baking dish (I used about 4 quick sprays of PAM cooking spray). Sprinkle ½ cup of the mozzarella cheese over the first half of the pasta/cheese mixture, then pour the remaining pasta/cheese mixture on top as a second layer -- add the remaining mozzarella cheese on top. Gently swirl a spoon or butterknife thru the mac and cheese mixture to ensure the mozzarella cheese is evenly combined throughout the dish. Sprinkle the top with the bacon and breadcrumbs. 

Bake in a 400 degree oven on the middle oven rack for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown on top and bubbly all over. 

Allow the dish to cool for about 10 minutes before you dive in (trust me, it's molten-lava hot!). 

Meet Lily, The Dog with the Mickey-Shaped Spot!

Meet Lily, a Labrador-Catahoula pup who lives in Central Florida.

 When husband-and-wife Disney cast members Francisco and Mejay Aguerre, and their daughter Nicole (also a cast member), lost their beloved Pekingese-poodle mix, Scooby, a few months ago, their house just didn’t feel like a home without a dog to love. Last month, when they began to look online for another pup, they came across a listing for a litter of Labrador-Catahoula mixes. When the listing noted that one of the female pups in the litter was born with “unusual” markings, the family couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the dog’s perfect Mickey Mouse-shaped spot on her lower back.

 The Aguerres adopted the pup and chose to name her Lily (after Lillian Disney, Walt Disney’s wife).

Lucky Dog! Mickey Meets Lily, His Biggest Four-Legged Fan

Published on Jul 31, 2012 by
The Disney Parks Blog team are huge dog lovers, which is why we couldn't wait to introduce you to Lily, a Labrador-Catahoula pup who lives here in Central Florida. The Aguerre family couldn't believe their eyes when they saw a dog up for adoption with a perfect Mickey Mouse-shaped spot on her lower back. The Aguerres adopted the pup and chose to name her Lily (after Lillian Disney, Walt Disney's wife). They recently brought Lily by our photo studio for a rare (and unforgettable) meet-and-greet with the Mouse himself. Read more at the Disney Parks Blog:

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New Disney Dream Portraits by Annie Leibovitz to Debut Wednesday

Tomorrow we will unveil two spectacular new images from Annie Leibovitz for Disney Parks. Until then, the only clue I can offer is from the cover of the special magazine insert to feature the images in select magazines this fall: “Where wickedly good times await.”

Discovery Science Center and El Capitan Theatre Partner to Host
“Frankenweenie” Science Fair: Sparking an Interest in Science
The Adventure Comes to Life October 5, 2012!

SANTA ANA, CA – July 31, 2012 – Calling all aspiring scientists! It’s time to put on your lab coat and let your imagination go wild. Discovery Science Center (DSC) is proud to partner with the famous El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood to host a Frankenweenie Science Fair in conjunction with the October 5th release of the movie Frankenweenie by acclaimed director Tim Burton.
In Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences. Participating students will conduct and submit their own inventive science experiment! This unique science fair will gather the best and brightest students to compete for three grand prizes.

The first 50 participating students will receive a ticket to see Frankenweenie at the historic El Capitan Theatre, and a pair of tickets to visit Discovery Science Center. The exciting first round of judging to determine the finalists will happen the week of September 10, 2012, and then finalists will be judged by VIP judges the week of September 27. Of all participating students, six finalists will be selected to have their projects on display at El Capitan Theatre from October 5 to November 1, 2012. In addition, the six finalists will each receive Disneyland tickets for them and three guests for reaching this distinguished level.

The Science Fair competition concludes at the El Capitan Theatre on October 5th when three Grand Prize winners will accept their awards at a special ceremony, on the El Capitan stage prior to the showing of Frankenweenie. Grand Prize winners will receive all prizes listed previously plus a behind-the-scenes tour of Walt Disney Studios.

Interested participants must be entering the 2012-2013 school year as a 5th – 12th grade student. All projects must present an experimentally based research design; illustrating scientific methodology or a demonstration/exhibition of a science or engineering concept based on themes from the movie Frankenweenie.  To become inspired, please visit
For more information and registration, please visit

From creative genius Tim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland,” The Nightmare Before Christmas”) comes “Frankenweenie,” a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.
A stop-motion animated film, “Frankenweenie” was filmed in black and white and rendered in 3D. The talented voice cast includes: Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Robert Capron, Conchata Ferrell and Winona Ryder.
Presented by Disney, “Frankenweenie” is directed by Tim Burton, produced by Tim Burton and Allison Abbate, from a screenplay by John August, based on an original idea by Tim Burton. “Frankenweenie” releases in U.S. theaters on October 5, 2012.

About El Capitan Theatre
Step into Hollywood’s  glittering past at the  legendary El Capitan Theatre, which made its debut on May 3, 1926 as Hollywood’s first home of Spoken Drama.  This grand theatre has been restored to its original elegance of Spanish Colonial exterior and boasts a colorful and lavish East Indian interior designed by renowned San Francisco architect G. Albert Lansburgh.  In 1941, Orsen Welles’ Academy Award® winning CITIZEN KANE made its World Premiere at the El Capitan.  As an exclusive first run theatre for Walt Disney Studios, today the El Capitan Theatre sets a new standard for World Premieres, live stage shows, Disney attractions, and other special events that have helped restore showmanship to Hollywood Boulevard.  For more information, visit or call 1-800-DISNEY6

About Walt Disney Studios
For more than 85 years, The Walt Disney Studios has been the foundation on which The Walt Disney Company was built. Today, the Studio brings quality movies, music and stage plays to consumers throughout the world. Feature films are released under the following banners: Disney, including Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios; Disneynature; Marvel Studios; and Touchstone Pictures, the banner under which live‐action films from DreamWorks Studios are distributed. The Disney Music Group encompasses the Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records labels, as well as Disney Music Publishing. The Disney Theatrical Group produces and licenses live events, including Disney on Broadway, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!

About Discovery Science Center
Imaginations run wild with over 120 hands-on exhibits at Discovery Science Center (DSC), Orange County’s leading destination for hands-on science entertainment. Take the Eco Challenge and become a green superhero, feel the power of a real rocket engine launch and explore the inner workings of a two-story tall dinosaur! Plus, the Science Center’s signature events don’t just foster science education, but also provide entertainment for the whole family. From our annual Bubblefest and Rocket Launch to blockbuster traveling exhibits such as Star Wars™: Where Science Meets Imagination, there is always something new to experience.  DSC is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating young minds, assisting teachers and increasing public understanding of science, math and technology through interactive exhibits and programs. It is a community-wide resource where families come together to learn and have fun and school districts can use as an educational resource. For further information, visit or call (714) 542-2823.

First Look: Maurice's Cottage in the New Fantasyland in The Magic Kingdom!

It feels like it was lifted directly out of Beauty and The Beast! I can't wait to visit the new Fantasyland and see Maurice's Cottage for myself!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Lemon Glazed Blueberry Cinnamon Roll Recipe!

    For the dough:
  • ¾ cup whole milk, heated to 110 degrees
  • 1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 4¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
  • For the filling:
  • ¾ cups packed light brown sugar (don't use dark, it will be too heavy a molasses flavor)
  • 2½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh lemon zest (from one lemon)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • For the glaze:
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from one lemon)
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons half & half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • pinch of salt

1. To prep:
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, shut off. Line the bottom of a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper. Grease foil or parchment paper and sides of the pan. You can also use a round 9" cake pan like I did, but you'll need at least two of those if you go that route. Also, grease a medium bowl to hold the dough when it's completed. 

2. For the dough:
Whisk heated 110 degree milk and yeast in liquid measuring cup until yeast dissolves, then whisk in eggs and vanilla extract. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt until combined. With mixer on low, add warm milk mixture in steady stream and mix until dough comes together, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and add butter, one piece at a time, until incorporated. I added my butter in 4 second intervals. Continue to mix until dough is smooth and comes away from sides of bowl, about 10 minutes. if after mixing for 10 minutes the dough is still too wet and sticky, add up to ¼ cup flour (one tablespoon at a time) until the dough releases from the bowl. Turn dough out onto clean surface and knead to form a smooth, round ball. Transfer dough to prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in warm turned off oven. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. I usually turn my 200 degree oven off as soon as I put the dough in to rise to jumpstart the yeast. 

3. For the filling:
Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in small bowl using a fork or your fingers to break up any large lumps. Turn dough out onto very lightly floured surface (I never sprinkle flour down before rolling because there's so much butter in this dough it never sticks, but everyone's work surface is different). Roll dough into 16-inch square, spread with 5 tbsp of softened butter, and sprinkle evenly with filling. Lightly press the filling into the dough. Evenly sprinkle the blueberries and lemon zest over the filling. Starting with the edge nearest you, roll dough into tight cylinder, pinch lightly to seal seam, and cut into 8 pieces using either a serrated knife or bench scraper. It's easier to cut the dough in half, then cut each side in half until you have 8 large rolls. For smaller cinnamon buns, cut the dough into 12 pieces. Transfer pieces, cut-side up, to prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

4. For the glaze and to bake:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk softened butter, lemon juice, half & half, lemon zest, vanilla, salt and confectioners’ sugar in medium bowl until smooth. The mixture should be thin but not watery, and you should be able to create "ribbons" when you drag the mixture back and forth with a spoon or fork. You can completely adjust this until you achieve the right consistency and flavor. Discard plastic wrap and bake buns until deep golden brown and filling is melted, about 25 to 35 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes then pour over the glaze. Serve immediately. 

*Make Ahead: After transferring pieces to prepared pan in step 3, buns can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 24 hours. When ready to bake, let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Remove plastic wrap and continue with step 4 as directed. 

*Reheat any leftover rolls in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds. 

Luigi's Tire Tower Game Giveaway!

The giveaway starts on Monday July 30th, 2012 at 7am PST! The giveaway ends on August 3rd, 2012 at 5pm PST! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Next Giveaway (7/30/12) is for...

The Luigi's Tire Tower Game! The Giveaway begins tomorrow Monday July 30th at 7am my time on the west coast! It will end on Friday August 3rd at 5pm! Good luck!

Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream Recipe!

    For the Mocha cupcakes:
  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1½ teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • For the Espresso Buttercream:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp half & half or heavy cream
  • pinch of salt

For the Mocha cupcakes: 
1. Mix the espresso powder into the brewed coffee until dissolved; set aside to cool to room temperature. 

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard-size muffin tin with paper liners. 

3. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 

4. Beat the butter and both sugars together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. In a measuring cup, combine the milk, brewed coffee mixture and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the coffee mixture, ending with the flour mixture. 

5. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 liners. Baking for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting cupcakes. 

For the Espresso Buttercream: 
1. Mix the espresso powder into the vanilla until dissolved; set aside. 

2. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping once to scrape the sides of the bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar a little at a time, waiting until it is mostly incorporated before adding more. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium-high and whip until fluffy, about a minute or two. Add the espresso, salt, half & half or heavy cream, and the vanilla mixture and continue to mix at medium-high until it is completely incorporated, scraping the sides as necessary.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bay Area and LA Only: Jamba Juice printable coupon: Buy 1 smoothie, get 2nd for free

At participating Jamba Juice locations in the Bay Area or the Los Angeles area, buy one smoothie or menu drink and get a second drink for free via this printable coupon. Deal ends July 31.

Cloud Atlas Extended Trailer #1 (2012) - Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Wachowski Movie HD

Cloud Atlas Extended Trailer #1 (2012) - Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Wachowski Movie HD

An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

Life Of Pi - Official Trailer

Based upon the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, 'Life Of Pi' tells the story of a young man's incredible survival at sea against impossible odds. A remarkable technological breakthrough in 3D epic adventure, Pi is an emotionally captivating experience that will inspire, touch and transport audiences to a place of discovery that they will never forget.

From Academy Award Winning Director Ang Lee, comes 'Life Of Pi', starring Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan and Tobey Maguire, this December in theatres near you.

The Walt Disney Studios: Summer Celebration Day!

Arriving at The Walt Disney Studios on Tuesday July 24, 2012! Ready to head to the Studio Celebration Day! It is their second annual event but the first time I have been able to attend!
We got there early as they were still setting up the booths!
Legends Plaza filled with seats for dining!
 Miniature Golf in front of The Partners Statue? Yes please!
Corn on the Cob! One of my favorite summer time foods! Extra butter on mine please!
Grilling chicken and hamburgers over here! One of each please!
Hot Dogs and Chili Dogs? And nachos? Yes please!
All the fixin's you could want!
I tried pretty much one of each! It was all amazing!
Don't forget about dessert! Ice cream and just about every topping imaginable was there! Plus there bite size were brownies!
Kettle corn!
Rides too? I didn't have the stomach to try this one!
It looked too high for me!
Yes! Time to launch water balloons at one another!
The ferris wheel didn't seem too high!
Free games of skill!
After playing a few games I went on the ferris wheel! This isn't so high!
Still not too bad but man was it fast!
After the Summer Celebration it was off to Walt Disney Imagineering! Such a pretty campus!
Mickey looked daper as usual!
Even the flag in front of the main Imagineering building had its flag lowered for the event in Colorado.

I hope you enjoyed this photo tour of The Walt Disney Studios Summer Celebration! I hope they do this again next year!

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Ronald Reagan Library and The Walt Disney archives Exhibit Tour Part Three

Part Three continues with more live action movies and theme parks! Here is the set from the live action 101 Dalmations!

Great costumes!
From the Annie Leibovitz ads that she shot for Disney!

The Princess Diaries!

From Enchanted!
Alice in Wonderland!
Flynn's Arcade and the games that made Kevin Flynn famous!

We are in The Grid!

Captain America!
Stark Industries!
Brakes! Where are the brakes! Oh it's only Rex from Star Tours!
The Malificent dragon head from Fantasmic!
Thank God I'm a Country Bear! I miss this attraction here in California!
Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts!
Arrr there be pirates!
Costumes from The Pirates of The Caribbean movies!

Props from the Pirates movies!
Props from the National Treasure movies! I think they need to make a third one!

The busts of all the Presidents of The United States of America! If you have never seen the Hall of Presidents attraction at The Magic Kingdom in Florida, what are you waiting for?
Some of Ronald Reagan's own Disney memorabilia!
I love this name badge!

And of coure the tour ends in the gift shop!

I hope you enjoyed this photo tour of the The Ronald Reagan Library and The Walt Disney Archives Exhibit! The Walt Disney Archives Exhibit will be on display until April of 2013!

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum
40 Presidential Dr
Simi Valley, CA 93065
(805) 522-2977