Juicy, Herb Grilled Chicken

grilledchicken

Please excuse my alien looking lemon. Still working to master food photography with an iPhone. If there are any camera companies out there willing to sponsor my food blogging endeavor, email me. I’ll give you my home address and happily take any SLR off your hands. If there are any weird men (or women) out there who plan to pose as a camera company, I’ll still give you my address. Because, I won’t know otherwise.

I will let you know this right now though. I have been doing Jillian Michael’s Fast Fix Kickboxing for about 6 weeks now. So, yeah, you better think twice. I may not be a professional kickboxer yet, but don’t say you weren’t warned. Also, I’ve gone to four heated power yoga classes so far, so I’m totally fearless at this point. AND, I’m not afraid of not smelling good.

So crazy person, think twice.

Phew. Can’t be too careful, right?

I am really hoping that all these meat recipes aren’t driving away my vegetarian friends. I have lots of fun recipes in the works, most of them only deal with animal milk or eggs.

But today, we talk dead chicken.

Grilled chicken breasts are usually the worst. Dry, stringy and coated with barbecue sauce from the jar. Nothing to write home about.

I’m still cooking the hoodie-ha out of Adam Perry Lang’s Serious Barbecue book. This chicken however, came from one of Adam’s visits to Good Morning America. You’ll need to set aside at least an hour to let the chicken brine. If you skip this step, you should just sell your grill and start buying Marie Calendar’s frozen dinners, because your taste buds must not dormant.

Brining is where the magic happens. It’s Disneyland for meat. The husband is tired and our computer is in our bedroom. I’ve gotta let him hit the hay. Which, by the way, is so hard for me to not say like this…”Haaaay!” I’m off to catch up on my Once Upon a Time (Sundays, ABC, friends) and read Mindy Kaling’s tweets. Goodnight!

 

 

 

*First note, now that we are in full grilling mode, I’m going to create a BBQ section of Food It Forward to keep all the recipes together.

**Last note, we used rosemary instead of marjoram in our version.

Juicy Grilled Chicken
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: BBQ
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 6-8 9-oz. skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • For brine/marinade
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp grated or finely chopped red onion
  • ½ tbsp chopped scallions
  • 1 bunch fresh marjoram
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 cups of cold water
  • For baste/glaze
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp chopped scallions
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp grated or finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp grated or finely chopped shallots or sweet white onion
Instructions
  1. Combine all the brine/marinade ingredients in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag. Mix and crush the ingredients with your hands, directly or through then bag, squeezing them to release the maximum flavor.
  2. Put the chicken in the brine, transfer to the refrigerator, and brine for at least 1 hour, and up to 24 hours.
  3. Preheat the BBQ to medium-high. Drain the chicken and dry with paper towels.
  4. Glisten the breasts with canola oil.
  5. Put a griddle on the grill, add the 1 tbsp butter, and let it melt. Add the chicken to the griddle, smooth side down, and cook, turning once or twice, for about 6 minutes to set the protein.
  6. Meanwhile, combine the baste/glaze ingredients in a foil pan or heatproof pan, set it on the grill, and stir occasionally to melt the butter.
  7. Continue, to cook, moving the chicken back and forth between the grill and the baste/glaze pan, turning to coat it, until the chicken is cooked through. It should register 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
  8. Transfer to a platter or cutting board.
  9. Bring the remaining baste/glaze to a boil, and pour over the chicken.
 

OSCARS 2012: THE DESCENDANTS HAWAIIAN DIP

I’m in the middle of linking all my old posts with my new. (Sounds like a real party, eh?) I’m just posting this old recipe (with an old note underneath) to make sure it will still be found!

 

Snacks

This dip could NOT be easier to make!

Hawaiian Dip Recipe
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Dip
Serves: 8-12
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 2½ cups sweetened coconut (I prefer flaked over shredded)
  • 20 oz. can pineapple (chunks or crushed)
  • nuts or cherries to top dip with
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients together in food processor to crush up pineapple and coconut pieces. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. I think it tastes great with Trader Joe’s Pita Crackers, but I am sure there are plenty of dipping options you can find!
Quick and easy recipe for today, be sure to save this recipe for summer (which seems so far away right now)!

Jy and I are hoping to get out to see the Oscar nominated short films this Saturday. Cross your fingers we can get out to go, it is always such a fun tradition that has gotten harder to keep up with after having kids. Are you watching the awards this Sunday night? Are you going to be happy when I quit talking about the Oscars and movie themed food? Hope not!

See you tomorrow, Happy Tuesday friends!

Disneyland Tips Part Two

 

More Notes on Eating

  • Ruby’s Diner is one stop north on the I5 and has some amazing shakes and burgers. I ordered the skinny plate, which comes with a breast of chicken that tasted freshly plucked from the freezer and thrown into the microwave. Go for the burger instead. Sign up for their e-club and you’ll get a free shake. They have car hop service as well as a total space-case waitress on roller skates. They offer “fit” burgers and gluten-free choices as well.
  • IHOP is right across the street from the park and kids can eat free after 4 pm, with the purchase of an adult meal. You can find IHOP coupons in your Sunday paper too. Don’t expect this place to be super cheap.
  • A friend warned me to steer clear of Captain Kid’s Buffet and I did. I wouldn’t try it if I were you either.
  • Mimi’s Cafe is in between HoJo’s and the Fairfield Inn. Sign up for free meals on their site as well. Lots of food, pretty good service.
  • Eating in Downtown Disney will  be pricey, but there are lots of coupons and deals if you research online ahead of time.
  • Target is a couple of miles from the park and a great place to grab a case of water, Lara Bars or whatever you want to stock up on. Be sure to check where the new Target is located, it moved! It’s now on Euclid St.
  • Double check restaraunt.com for updates. They were selling gift certificates for House of Blues, I don’t think they still are, but it is worth checking out. There are always codes for Restaurant.com, just do a little googling. There are burger & Mexican eateries galore, just search 1 or 5 miles out of the zip code 92802.
  • The Golden Horseshoe Saloon has gigantic ice cream sundaes and root beer floats. Good place for parents to sit and laugh at the show, while kids get their sugar on.
  • California Adventures has a really good smoothie shop in the Hollywood Backlot section. They cost about $6 a drink, but they are perfect for getting some fruit down your kid’s throats There are also fatty mocha smoothies too. Dieters beware.
  • Across from the smoothie stand is a hot dog cart that offers tasty dogs.
We saw lots of characters around the smoothie shop, including Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. He told me he wouldn’t sign an autograph if I didn’t buy him a smoothie. Well, he mimed it.
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The full service restaurants are slow. They offer some tasty food, but don’t bring impatient kids there. Our mistake.
Cool Spots to Seek Out
Across from the smoothie (still in the backlot) is a theater which houses, Turtle Talk with Crush, Animation Academy, Sorcerer’s Workshop and Character Close-up. These four different attractions are all placed on the outskirts of a large (really large) open room that plays scenes from some of Disney’s best films. The open theater allows food and strollers and gives both parents a place to sit and relax and kids some room to dance and run around.
Older kids can learn to draw Disney style at the Animation Academy and little ones can be amazed by Crush, the interactive turtle. Check it out, dude.

Notes on Rides for Little Guys
  • I know that Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlasters and Toy Story Midway Mania are HUGE hits with the kids. I just wanted to throw in a couple warnings. If you have a toddler that has not ridden either of these, keep these notes in mind;
-AstroBlasters is loud and overwhelming. It can be fun if you can get your toddler into the whole shooting the bad guy aspect, otherwise it might be a recipe for tears.
-Toy Story spins quickly and requires 3D glasses. I put Max on my lap and still felt like he could have flown out of the car!
  • Remember your audience. If your kid hasn’t seen the movie and the ride isn’t super toddler friendly, it might end up as a lot of time wasted in line. Thinking mostly of Alice in Wonderland here.
  • Don’t forget to make time for attractions where kids can run and get energy out. Waiting in line all day can create one antsy kid. Think, Tarzan’s Treehouse (all those stairs to climb), Tom Sawyer’s Island or best of all, the Redwood Trail at California Adventure. The trail is now called Wilderness Camp and hinges itself on the movie, Up. I guess no one really cared about Brother Bear.
  • The Bug’s Life 3D show is loud and intense, be warned.
  • Bring pennies to toss into the wells while waiting for The Tikki Room. Bring money for some Dole Whips while you are at it!
  • Bring little things that light up, but don’t pull them out until it’s dark. Kids seem to be amazed by colored light. Ahh, 10 seconds of relaxation for you. The princesses were totally impressed with Dallas’ finger lights. The whole audience was wearing them on The Voice this week. Very cool.

Other Tips

Before you go, plan which parades and shows are must see events. It’s easy to say, “We’ll make sure to see that tomorrow.” We totally missed the Pixar parade, which I am sure my boys would have loved. We tried to do naps around 2, which meant we’d go from naps to dinner and then back to the park. Going to the park at 6 is late enough to miss the characters and put you back in line for a ride during the night time parades. Next time, I’ll do naps earlier. Most characters call it a night at 5 pm.

Bring more wet wipes than you think you’ll need.

Be prepared for your kids to want to wear costumes. Bring fun stuff if you don’t plan to buy it at Disney. Also, pack another outfit and pair of shoes to keep in your stroller or locker. No one wants to be the mom with a daughter shuffling with blistered, princess high heeled feet.

If You are Driving from the Bay Area

You have more stopping options than you think! Get going onto I5 before you make any stops, you’ll want some road under your belt. Here are kid friendly stops we have found useful.

1. Split Pea Anderson’s has really large bathrooms that are fairly nice. (At least the women’s). There is also a penny crushing machine!

2. If you can’t wait that long, Patterson has a Starbucks on the way down.

3. The next most logical stop is Harris Ranch in Coalinga. Hopefully you have remembered to hit the button on your a/c that uses the air that’s already inside the car. This is a little further than stinky cow land. They have nice restrooms and a gift shop complete with good coffee, homemade beef jerky, chocolate and magazines.

4. Other than gas stations, you’ll want to push on until the foot of the Grapevine. If you park in the lot between the Mexican restaurant and hotel, you’ll find a large(ish), shaded strip of grass. Best place to kick a ball around and have a quick picnic.

5. Once you see Magic Mountain, you can exit if you need to find another restroom. We snuck into the potties at the Embassy Suites, right off of Newell. Super nice. (They have a Starbucks there too).

6. If you are headed down when traffic may be an issue, you may want to exit in Santa Clarita and hit up Ralph’s. Grab a sandwich, if you hit LA traffic, the last leg of your trip won’t be super fun. Chances are, you are gonna hit traffic. Next time, we will leave super early on a Sunday. We left Danville at 7:10 and hit plenty, plenty, plenty of traffic in LA.

That’s all I can think of for now. Happy travels!

Disneyland Tips Part One

There are lots of tips out there for enjoying Disneyland to its fullest, I’m going to try and mention only those I haven’t seen all over the internet!
What to do ahead of time (if you have a good week or so before your trip).

Order trading pins from ebay or amazon! Do a search for “Disney trading pins” or “Disney pins lot” and don’t be afraid to spend $16 on 25 pins. At the park, pins go from $9 to $13+. They are EVERYWHERE in the park. Your kid (or you) will want one. It’s easy to get the pins you want by trading for them and going in the park with a cheap “starter” set will totally help you out. While we were at the park, there was a deal on a starter pack of 8 pins (I think) that only cost $18, once you have already spent $40! Almost all Disneyland employees wear pins and they will happily trade if asked.

Upon entering the park (especially if you are there for a magic morning), many employees line Main Street wearing a white Mickey glove. They are literally waiting to trade pins!

I wish I learned this before we went. Once we bought Dallas pins, he didn’t want to trade them away.

Notice the Costco Travel lanyard around his neck? He didn’t seem to care about having a Disney lanyard, but your child may, so shop around ahead of time if you wish to save a few bucks.

Speaking of lanyards, a friend had told me that many people lose their park/hotel tickets by keeping them in the cheap plastic holders that come with most lanyards. Instead of the plastic variety, secure on a fabric, zipper pouch. Kind of like a really thin wallet. Maybe like this one.

The other money-sucker we discovered at the park were the penny crushers. While crushed pennies and pins may sound dull, keep in mind that these souvenirs are more of a way to keep kids distracted in line or busy while waiting for food, than anything else. They are also great time passers for little guys who may have to wait while their older sibling rides a “big” ride.

Come loaded with pennies, but even more loaded with quarters. A few of the really cooler crushers cost $1.26. Most are 51 cents. Seriously? Where is the symbol for cents on the keyboard?

Anyway, one great way of toting all those coins around is with a decorated M&M’s mini or Airborne tube.  We bought a penny book at the park for around $8, which provided much entertainment on the way home.

What to Pack

  • My friend Mary warned me about packing rain gear and I’m so glad I listened. Southern California weather is about as stable as the celebrities it houses. It was humid, rainy, windy, sunny and hot…all within one morning. Unless major rain is forecasted, skip the rainboots. Just shove mini umbrellas and light rain coats in your suitcase.
  • If you are driving, buy a big, fat case of water. If you aren’t driving, buy a case when you get there. This was what we used most. Water sells for $2.79 a bottle in the park and you’ll be so happy you aren’t forking that cash over!
  • All sizes of sunscreen. Pack one big bottle for the hotel, and have a few travel sized bottles for your backpack, as well as a face stick. No matter how light I tried to keep my backpack, it always felt too heavy. A small bottle of sunscreen would have helped. I’m totally freaky about sunscreening my family and we still all ended up with burns. Again, coo-coo SoCal weather.
  • Via! If you are at all picky about your coffee, pack some regular or iced via. I don’t drink hotel coffee. Blech.
  • Plenty of fruit and healthy snacks. Hotel apples tend to have that mushy, meaty taste and there will be no shortage of junk food. Having healthy choices on hand helped out.
  • Dum Dums and other small, non-choking type candy. This will save you in lines. Disregard last line about healthy food when it comes to impatient kids.
  • Hotel room games & dvds. There will always be some waiting time in the hotel room and if you don’t want your kids to spend the whole time playing with the a/c or the safe, pack some stuff to do.
  • Stamps for postcards.
  • Bring baseball caps & sunglasses.

Eating

  • California Adventures has healthier food, except for Ariel’s Grotto, which is totally delicious but also responsible for my vacation weight gain.
  • The best coffee is not at the coffee shop on Main Street. It’s definitely at the Jolly Holiday restaurant in between the entrances to Adventureland and Frontierland.
  • Jolly Holiday has a roast beef salad with red onions and feta. Sub out the creamy dressing for balsamic, it’s totally yummy.
  • Skip Rainforest Cafe. Way overpriced. If your kids insist, ask your hotel for a coupon. Ours had coupons for a free kids meal with priority seating.
  • You can find beer at California Adventures over by the pier. You can also find a small smoking section if you need one.
  • We have eaten at The Storyteller’s Cafe, Goofy’s Kitchen and the Plaza Inn for character meals. Goofy’s had the best characters, Storytellers had the best food and Plaza Inn was just convenient.
  • Tomorrowland and areas of California Adventures have some good breakfast options. $5.99+ will get you either a chorizo burrito, french toast or a platter of fruit.

Attractions

  • Get to the stupid princess hangout early. Like, earlier than you think you should. You’ll wait 30-45 minutes for a few autographs and photos.
  • If you are in the park on the weekend for part of your trip, be sure to hit the princess storytelling time, we missed it.
  • Same goes for visiting Tink in Pixie Hollow.
  • If you have a little one who won’t wait the long wait for the princesses in the morning, throw them in the stroller and jog (seriously honey, jog) over to Tomorrowland for the breakfast I mentioned above. It will help keep them busy while you have another family member hold the line.

Getting Around

My friend Jen said something like, “I will put my kids in strollers at Disneyland until 16.” You’ll want to as well. As much exercise as you want your kid to have, they are going to get tired. And so are you. You’ll end up carrying them. Bring some sort of wheels, you won’t be sorry.

If you are the type of person to say, “I would never put my kid on a leash,” then you have never had the kind of kid that needs one. No, seriously, you haven’t. The rest of us with kids that will absolutely, under no circumstances walk in the same direction as their mothers (like, ever)…we deal with the pain of the harness. Yes, we know it looks like a dog. No, we are not cruel parents. Our kid is not safe in public without it.

Max isn’t one of those kids. Dallas was. Dallas was a walking nightmare. Holding his hand? Ha! Hilarious! Max is a great little walker. However, all bets are off at Disneyland. Parents there are totally overwhelmed with their own kids, so kidnapping isn’t a big worry. It’s more about losing your kids. We’ve all “lost” our kid for even a couple seconds, it sucks.

So don’t roll your eyes at those of us who use these. If you want to, just make sure we can’t see.

World of Color

I know almost everyone loves this show. We bought the special dinner at Ariel’s Grotto to get ourselves special reserved seating at the show. My kids HATED it. Maybe they have sensitive ears, but they both were totally bothered by how loud the music was. They couldn’t see most of the show (we weren’t early enough to be at the rails/ropes) and there was only one row of people ahead of us.

The show is 30 minutes and intense. They didn’t get it. We left early and saw others running for the hills. I can only imagine the mass exodus after the show lets out. There are a.lot.of.people.

There was a little boy wearing large headphones at the Disney Jr. show. It could be that he has noise sensitivity or some type of issue with sounds. However, I thought it was a pretty darn smart idea of his dad to throw those babies on. I’m not an audiologist (but I’m friends with one, if that counts), but the volume of the parades and shows can seriously not be good for little ears.

Until Part II

One quick note for part one. Be prepared for California Adventures if you are going with little ones. There are two water features that require your child to be fully clothed, with shoes on. There are no lockers inside the park until it is finished with the remodel, so you’ll need to carry around clothes and towels. (Remember that stroller I suggested?) Oh, speaking of…we used a Sit & Stand stroller (along with most guests), which helped give Dallas some down time. He woke up on day three with a cold and really needed that rest.