Disney World’s Hollywood Studios…Lights, Camera, Action!

By Jodee Weiland

When it comes to Disney World’s Hollywood Studios, you need only to stroll down Hollywood Boulevard to know you are about to be magically transported to the world of Hollywood and the movie magic created on the big screen every day.

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Remember Hollywood Studios is all about “lights, camera, action,” and you are the star in this adventure.  As you enter the park, you feel like you have just stepped back into the Hollywood of the 1940’s.  Stroll further down Hollywood Boulevard toward the gigantic Sorcerer Mickey’s Hat until you come to Hollywood Plaza.

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Behind the hat is the Studio’s Chinese Theater, a replica of Hollywood’s own famous Chinese Theater, and this is where you will find The Great Movie Ride.  This ride is a great way to start your visit to Hollywood Studios because it takes you on a ride that reviews some of the greatest movies ever made in Hollywood in a way only Disney could “imagineer” and stage.  Even as you stand in line waiting to get on the ride, you will watch film clips of great movies from the past to the present.

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Although this park is smaller than EPCOT, it is packed full with wonderful adventures into the world of movies and making movies.  One of our favorites includes the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular where audience members are chosen to participate in the film making process as extras.  As you watch this thirty minute live show featuring stunts that will amaze you and learn about the behind the scene techniques of creating the fantasy we see in the movies, you will find yourself so entertained, you will probably go back to see the show again.

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On the Backlot Studio Tour, a thirty-five minute walking/tram tour, you will again get a chance to experience and learn about the magic behind making movies.  Again some audience members will be asked to participate along the way, definitely fun for those who get to do so.  Along these same lines, stop by to see the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, a thirty-three minute show that entertains and demonstrates big-time vehicle stunts used in movie making.  Be sure to catch all the behind the scenes attractions.  They entertain you, while you learn about how the movies make everything look so real!

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As for fun-filled rides that put you in another place and another time, try Star Tours – The Adventure Continues, a 3-D adventure with Star Wars characters, R2-D2 and C-3PO.  Toy Story Midway Mania is definitely another one of our favorite rides.  With the characters of Toy Story, guests ride in pairs and compete with each other for the highest score in this 4-D midway-style game-playing adventure.  You’ll find yourself going back again and again.  For the more adventurous, there are rides like The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster Starring AerosmithThe American Idol Experience allows guests to audition and perform on stage and compete just like on TV, or you can watch and vote for your favorite performer.  For others, watch Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, a thirty minute live, musical Broadway style show.  There is all of this and more to do while visiting the Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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When visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we always make reservations to eat at The Hollywood Brown Derby, so we can have the famous Brown Derby Cobb salad, a favorite of ours.  But if that isn’t for you, there are plenty of great places to choose from to eat, everything from the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant to Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, and more.  Whatever you decide, be sure to plan on seeing Fantasmic, the spectacular nighttime show with lasers, lights, dancing fountains, and special effects.  It lasts twenty-five minutes and has limited space, so plan ahead.  Seating for the first show starts ninety minutes prior.  There is so much more to see and do at Hollywood Studios than I could possibly cover in this post, but if you go remember what I have said before.  Disney’s Hollywood Studios is all about “lights, camera, action,” and you are the star in this adventure.  Disney welcomes everyone, no matter who you are, and truly it is the place where “dreams come true,” so relax, have fun, and enjoy!

Destinations in Florida - Florida Travel Specialists

Kale Chips with Jalapeno Lime Seasoning…Spicy and Healthy

By Jodee Weiland

How healthy is kale for you? Exceptionally healthy!

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Kale chip recipes are all over the internet these days with everyone trying to eat healthier.  The funny thing is they really are good.  Most recipe versions of kale chips out there today start with torn kale leaves and olive oil.  From there seasonings are added and the leaves are usually baked until crisp.  Some people add lemon juice after the kale leaves are baked and some even have dips to go with them.  No matter what the recipe is, one thing is certain. They are actually very tasty aside from being healthy.

When I first heard about them, it was from my daughter who had tried a recipe she found, and everyone in her family, including my grandchildren, loved them.  They sounded great so my husband and I decided to give them a try.  We loved them as well, so we often buy kale and make kale chips as an afternoon treat now.  Since we first tried the recipe, I have been looking for a new way to make them for a little variation.  I think I found it on a trip to the Farmer’s Market last week.

We were at the Farmer’s Market in our area, and we approached the stand with all kinds of fresh seasonings and seasoning blends.  As I looked over what they had, I found a Jalapeno Lime Seasoning Blend.  I took one look at the ingredients and thought this would be great for all kinds of dishes, but especially with kale chips.  I was right!  It’s great, and I know I’ll be using it with fish and chicken next.  It is a blend of granulated salt, garlic, onion, jalapeno pepper, and lime powder.  So here is how I used this blend to spice up kale chips in a new way!

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Kale Chips with Jalapeno Lime Seasoning

1 to 2 large bunches of fresh kale
About 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt lightly sprinkled (optional/keep this light if the blend you choose already has salt)
Jalapeno Lime Seasoning to taste (you’d be surprised how many stores have blends similar to this)
Juice from 1/2 to 1 freshly squeezed lemon (how much is a personal preference)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and cover baking sheets with parchment paper for easy clean-up when finished.

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Pull the kale away from the heavy stem on each kale leaf.  Try to keep the pieces a good size so they won’t burn when baking.  Wash each leaf as you do this and put it into a strainer to get off any excess water.  When done, pour the extra virgin olive oil over the kale pieces in a large bowl and toss the leaves until all are coated with the oil.  Then spread the leaves on to the baking sheets covered with parchment paper.  Lightly sprinkle with sea salt if desired and then sprinkle with the Jalapeno Lime Seasoning.  Put the baking sheets in the oven on a center rack when cooking and bake at 350 degrees for 9 to 12 minutes.  The time will vary depending on the size of your kale pieces.

http://learnfromyesterday.comOnce the kale chips look crisp, but still a dark green color, remove them from the oven.  Be careful because kale chips can go from crisp to burnt in less than a minute.  Plate your chips and sprinkle with the desired amount of lemon juice.  When done, you’re ready to sit back and eat!  We love this snack and the Jalapeno Lime Seasoning gave it just the right amount of spice and flavor.  I can’t wait to go back to the Farmer’s Market next week to see what other blends they have that might work.  I especially can’t wait to be able to use our home grown kale from our garden this year.  In my family, trying new ways of cooking things was always part of the fun.  I think if you try this, you will like it, but remember you can always find a blended seasoning you like and try that as well.  Whatever you decide to do, try kale chips for a healthy snack and enjoy!

Recipe Rock

Disney World’s EPCOT in Orlando, Florida…Make a Family Memory

By Jodee Weiland

Whenever I think about our trips to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, I can’t help smiling.  I can honestly say I have never visited Disney World and came back home disappointed, especially when I thought about Disney World’s EPCOT.

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I have always returned home with hundreds of new memories filled with shared laughter, fun, and delight.  No matter how many times we go back, there is always some new adventure we are able to share and old ones we can relive with enthusiastic expectation.  Disney World is truly a place where “dreams come true” and Disney’s EPCOT with the World Showcase is only the one part of that dream.

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Just in case you’re wondering, EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and every inch of it lives up to this title.  In EPCOT, the first thing you see as you walk into the park is an enormous geosphere, Spaceship EarthSpaceship Earth is a ride that explores man’s quest to discover more efficient ways to communicate as we travel into the future unlike anything you can imagine.  At the end of the ride, you exit into an area where you can find your picture taken during the ride on a world map and make selections on a computer to create a video postcard on your life in the future to e-mail home to family and friends. Continue through EPCOT to Universe of Energy, the ride that takes you on Ellen’s Energy Adventures.

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Ellen falls asleep while watching Jeopardy and dreams she’s on the show competing with Albert Einstein and her annoying college roommate, Judy.  Ellen and her neighbor Bill Nye, the Science Guy, step away from backstage Jeopardy during a commercial break to take a trip back in time to learn about energy sources and how they were developed.  At the end, will Ellen defeat her old college roommate, Judy, on Jeopardy with all her new knowledge?  What a great way to learn about energy sources!  Although they’re fun, the rides in EPCOT are truly learning experiences for the young and old as well.

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There are so many wonderful attractions throughout this park I can’t cover them all in one post, but I would like to highlight a few of our favorites here.  Some of them include riding in a “clamobile” on The Seas with Nemo and Friends, a boat voyage on Living with the Land, a simulated free-flying glider adventure on Soarin’, an interactive simulation into outer space on Mission: SPACE, a delightful ride through Journey into Imagination with Figment, and so much more.  Don’t forget to walk through Innoventions, where you can experience futuristic technologies as you go.  From here your journey through EPCOT continues onto other great attractions and more memories, eventually leading to the World Showcase.

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In the World Showcase, you can experience the lifestyle, architecture, and food of many countries around the world as you walk around the World Showcase Lagoon.  You can also easily move across the lagoon by taking a water taxi to or from any one of three boarding docks available, but if you’re not in a hurry, walking is the best way to see and experience it all.  The main countries featured year round are Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

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For dining we love La Hacienda de San Angel on the lagoon in Mexico.  Having tried most, other favorites include Le Cellier Steakhouse, Biergarten Restaurant, and Nine Dragons Restaurant, but really food is a personal preference.  There are various attractions throughout the World Showcase with authentic dining experiences and at each country, you can walk through an area of buildings that allows you to feel as if you are actually there visiting and shopping for souvenirs.  There are street stands along the walkway with items for each country as well, and often you will be able to stop and watch a live entertainment in a specific country, like those you might see in the actual countries.

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From the International Gateway, located between France and the United Kingdom, you can exit the World Showcase and either walk to the Boardwalk and other various EPCOT Resorts nearby, or you can take a water taxi to the EPCOT Resorts and then to the Disney Hollywood Studios.  But before you leave the World Showcase, be sure to stay late enough at least on one evening while visiting to see the phenomenal IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth show.  This spectacular show illustrates the entire history of our planet in 13 minutes using a mixture of lasers, fireworks, music, and fountains.  It’s absolutely stunning!

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No post could be long enough to highlight all there is to do and see in Disney’s EPCOT and World Showcase, but I can tell you that it is a place where dreams truly do come true and wonderful memories of your visit will entertain you forever.  We love Disney World and have enjoyed spending time there with our family and friends or even just by ourselves.  It is truly a great place for anyone to visit, because at Disney everyone always makes you feel welcomed, no matter who you are.  If you get the chance to visit sometime in the future, be sure to plan ahead using all the books and media available, especially the ones through Disney, like their apps, which are great resources when planning your trip.  Be sure to learn about the Fast Pass for high volume rides and other tips available through books on Disney and information online.  Making dining reservations ahead for the World Showcase restaurants, either on an app or online, is a really good idea, especially at the more popular dining options.  Then once you arrive, make some new memories, relax, and enjoy!

Destinations in Florida - Florida Travel Specialists

General

Giverny, France…Inspiration for Claude Monet’s Beautiful Water Lilies

By Jodee Weiland

When we visited Paris, France, one of the tours we signed up for was a day trip to Giverny, France, and it was wonderful, as you can see from the photos I took while there.

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We love the paintings of the Impressionist artist Claude Monet.  Monet’s series of paintings of the beautiful Water Lilies is a favorite of ours, as it is for so many people, and it was at Monet’s home in the small village of Giverny where he was inspired to create these beautiful paintings and so many more.

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Claude Monet lived in a house in the small village of Giverny from 1883 to 1926.  A passionate gardener as well as an artist, he himself designed his flower and water gardens there, which are absolutely beautiful.  These gardens inspired many of his famous paintings. He lived in this home with his family, and it was here he worked on his art for forty-three years until his death at the age of 86.

Michel Monet, Monet’s son and heir, left this property and more to the Academy of Fine Arts Foundation.  It was through their support and others that it was restored to its original state. In 1980 the Claude Monet Foundation owned by the Academy of Fine Arts opened its doors to the public for the first time.  All of this was created for the purpose of maintaining Monet’s home and gardens year round through donations, so that visitors can view them daily from April 1st to November 1st each year exactly as they were when Monet lived here.

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The colors in Monet’s home are as vibrant and rich as the colors he chose for his flower and water gardens.  Today as tourists stand in his home, they can look out the windows and view his colorfully rich gardens just as Monet might have himself.  The vivid colors Monet so admired are evident throughout his flower and water gardens.  The same rich colors seen in the Water Lilies series are evident everywhere, but especially in his Water Garden.

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Standing on the green bridge in the Water Garden and looking out at the water lilies amidst various oriental plants and weeping willows is like stepping into one of Monet’s paintings. Just knowing you are walking where he walked and standing where he stood as he looked out on this beautiful view enriches the visual experience you have every time you view one of his paintings.  The memory of the reality only serves to enhance the enjoyment of viewing his paintings once you’ve visited his home in Giverny.

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When in Paris, France, I would like to recommend to any of you that you take a day tour to Giverny, France, to visit the home and gardens of Claude Monet, especially if you love his Water Lilies series.  It is definitely time well spent and forever enriches your personal enjoyment when viewing any paintings from this series and others as well.  As you can see, even the photos I was able to take are beautiful, so imagine what it would be like to actually be there and see it all in person. I hope you have the opportunity to visit Giverny, France, sometime in the future if this trip happens to be on your wish list.  If you do visit, enjoy!

 

Italian Braciole…Italian Beef Rolls with Imported Parmesan Reggiano Cheese

By Jodee Weiland

When I was a little girl, I watched my mother make Italian Braciole in our kitchen.

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She would take the thinly sliced beef, lay it out and then spread a mixture across it made of grated Italian cheese, seasonings, and Italian bread crumbs. She would then roll the beef up with the mixture inside just like a jelly roll. She used toothpicks or sometimes string to hold them together while she cooked them in a wonderful Italian tomato sauce. The smells in the kitchen while they were cooking invited everyone in the house to imagine what a delicious dinner we would all share that evening. And without fail, dinner was absolutely delicious and appreciated by all.

 

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When I grew up I decided to make some minor adaptations to this dish that I felt would only improve the taste and enrich the eater’s experience overall.  In my family, changing recipes here and there was encouraged, and even became a sort of challenge between me and my dad, who was also a fabulous cook. My adaptation was really very simple. I chose to leave out the Italian breadcrumbs. To me, breadcrumbs were for the most part a filler that could be substituted in this recipe. Instead, I used more cheese giving my Italian Braciole a rich flavor from the imported Parmesan Reggiano cheese that I use.

 

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Some people use imported Pecorino Romano, another good choice, but a slightly different taste than imported Parmesan Reggiano cheese. Try both and then decide for yourself which you prefer. Whichever you choose, buying a good quality cheese is key to this recipe’s taste. A number of other things can and have been added to Italian Braciole recipes, such as provolone, prosciutto, spinach, and more. In Italian Braciole you can use many things, but sometimes the simplest way is the best. So I am going to share with you my recipe for Italian Braciole, simple but definitely a family favorite in my home.

 

Italian Braciole…Italian Beef Rolls with Imported Parmesan Reggiano Cheese

2 pounds thinly sliced lean top round steak or flank steak
1 to 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

 

For tomato sauce:

28 to 29 ounce can of tomato puree
6 ounce can of tomato paste
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 teaspoon basil or use 1 tablespoon fresh basil cut up
1/2 teaspoon dried or ground oregano
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper (optional for those who want spicy)
1 tablespoon sugar (some people prefer to use 2 carrots finely shredded or chopped for sweetness)
Water about 1/2 cup or to desired consistency (1/2 cup red wine is optional)

 

For beef roll filling:

1 cup grated imported Parmesan Reggiano cheese
3/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 teaspoon basil or use 1 tablespoon fresh basil cut up

 

Round toothpicks

Pasta of your choice (12 ounce packages work well if you like a thick sauce)

Freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Take olive oil and spread over rectangular deep baking dish.
In a medium size bowl, mix together the tomato puree, the tomato paste, garlic, minced onion, basil, oregano, ground red pepper (optional), and water as needed, usually about I/2 cup of water, depending on desired consistency.  Add in the sugar if you do not use carrots. Set aside.

 

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In a small bowl, mix together, grated imported Parmesan Reggiano cheese, ground black pepper, minced onion, chopped garlic, and parsley.  Set aside.

 

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Lay out the thinly sliced strips of beef.  Spoon onto the beef a good layer of the cheese mixture. Once done, begin rolling gently starting from the narrowest end.  Once rolled, like a jelly roll, put two toothpicks in each roll to hold together the beef roll.  Place rolls parallel to each other in the olive oil prepared baking dish, one next to the other. When all rolls are done, take any leftover cheese mixture and sprinkle over the rolls. Then pour tomato sauce mixture over the top of the rolls covering all of them and filling the deep dish with the remaining tomato sauce mixture. Top it off with some freshly grated imported Parmesan Reggiano cheese.
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Bake uncovered for one hour at 350 degrees in the oven.  I have a Teflon sheet on the rack below my baking dish for any tomato sauce splatter while cooking. Cook pasta al dente during the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking time for the Italian Braciole.  Timed right, the pasta should be ready to drain just prior to taking out the Italian Braciole. Put the beef rolls in a serving dish and mix the remaining sauce into the cooked pasta.

 

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When the Italian Braciole is plated, serve it with the pasta and Braciole sauce.  Top it off with some freshly grated imported Parmesan Reggiano cheese to taste.  Add a loaf of good bread or focaccia and a side salad for a truly delicious meal.  We enjoy having a nice glass of Toscana or Chianti wine with our meal.  However, you decide to serve this dish, you will never be disappointed in the meal itself.  You can have the Italian Braciole with a vegetable, like Italian green beans or spinach cooked in garlic and olive oil, or the pasta of your choice.  You decide.  Hopefully, you will be able to have this wonderful dish soon and see for yourself why it is a family favorite in my house.  Enjoy!

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