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  1. Thursday, April 23, 2015

    Candied Pistachios + My Visit to the Super Secret Club 33 in Disneyland

    You guys. Candied pistachios. How have I never eaten or contemplated their existence before? As much as I want to talk about these delectable little nuts, we first need to talk about where I discovered them.

    Recipe for candied pistachios, inspired by my visit to Club 33 in Disneyland

    A few days ago I received a text from my dear friend Mindy inviting me to be her date for dinner at Club 33 in Disneyland. I’ll admit, I had to Google it. I had never heard of Club 33 and, as I read about it, I found out why. It’s a “secret” restaurant in Disneyland located directly above the Blue Bayou restaurant and the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. As I kept reading I realized that I absolutely needed to accept Mindy’s invitation, drive to Anaheim, pay to get into Disneyland and join her for a 5-star dinner at this mysterious restaurant for fancy mice.

    Recipe for candied pistachios, inspired by my visit to Club 33 in Disneyland

    Walt Disney had Club 33 built so he could have a quiet and elegant place to host sponsors of the park. He took great care in planning the details, including replicating a Parisian elevator that he and his wife loved dearly. Sadly Walt passed away before the restaurant was completed, but it opened nonetheless. It has a “secret” entrance with a doorbell that you ring to announce yourself. And, if you ask Disneyland employees about Club 33 or where the entrance is, they’re supposed to act like it doesn’t exist. Kinda fun, huh? It’s also the only place at Disneyland that serves alcohol…very expensive alcohol, I imagine!

    Recipe for candied pistachios, inspired by my visit to Club 33 in DisneylandThe windows in the second story of that building in New Orleans Square are the Club 33 lounge. Now you’re in on the secret, too.

    Mindy’s parents are members of the club and they were kind enough to have me join them for dinner on Tuesday night. (I’m super glad Mindy’s husband had to work this week! Thanks, Tyler!). Club 33 was updated a few years ago so now it includes a lounge and bar area in addition to the restaurant. The lounge and bar are stunningly beautiful, with all kinds of fun details, like paintings that magically change over time.

    Recipe for candied pistachios, inspired by my visit to Club 33 in Disneyland

    When Mindy and I arrived, she let me ring the doorbell (hence, the “ooooo!” face I’m making). We were then escorted up a beautiful staircase to the lounge area. When it was time for dinner, we entered the dining room, where the tables were set with Club 33 china. Everything was beautiful (I know I already used that word a million times, sorry), with great art on the walls and “fanciness” abounding.

    The food was delectable. Truly. We had 6 courses and dinner was 3 1/2 hours long. Even after eating over that long time period we were still STUFFED. Everything we ate really was beyond delicious (hello, tender filet mignon, I am in love with you) and the waitstaff was lovely. My meal consisted of such goodness as cornbread coated fried portobello mushrooms, scallops on a bed of deliciousness that I have no idea what it was made out of, filet (I already professed my love), molten lava cake that was as good as what I make at home (that is the highest compliment I can give a lava cake) and more. It was a fantastic dinner!

    Side note: the bathroom wasn’t anything to sneeze at, either. In fact, I could live in it. Happily. Forever.

    Recipe for candied pistachios, inspired by my visit to Club 33 in Disneyland

    One of our favorite parts of the night was when it was time to leave. The park had been closed for almost 2 hours at that point, but we soon learned that all the lights stay on at Disneyland through the night (insert everyone making the same jokes about electricity bills and solar panels). One of the Club 33 employees had to escort us out of the park, I presume so we wouldn’t get into any mischief with Goofy or something. Walking through the streets of Disneyland with everything aglow and not a person to be seen was, well, magical! (Come on, I have to use the word magical at some point in this post, right?) When we walked by the Mary Poppins cafe, I half expected Julie Andrews and the penguins to come dancing by. And, no, we were not allowed to take photos, which was killer!

    Recipe for candied pistachios, inspired by my visit to Club 33 in Disneyland

    I owe Mindy and her lovely parents a huge THANK YOU for a wonderful evening I won’t soon forget! I even came away with a special treat for you, too – candied pistachios! My second course for the meal was frisée salad with avocaodos and strawberries, which was topped with a wonderful buttermilk dressing as well as candied pistachios. How have I never thought to candy pistachios before? They are, hands down, my favorite candied nut and should be served on all salads from now until the end of time.

    Recipe for candied pistachios, inspired by my visit to Club 33 in Disneyland

    Enjoy your candied pistachios and know that this is what the fancy mice eat.

    Candied Pistachios
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
    Inspired by the candied pistachios served on my frisée salad at Club 33 in Disneyland.
    Serves: 1 cup
    • 1½ cups raw, shelled, unsalted pistachios
    • 6 tablespoons sugar
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    1. Mix together the sugar, water and salt. Set aside.
    2. Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
    3. When oven is heated, stir sugar mixture well then add pistachios. Stir to coat all the nuts very well. Spread pistachios evenly on the baking sheet, spooning them onto the tray rather than pouring straight from the bowl to minimize extra sugar mixture pooling on the tray.
    4. Bake for 8 minutes. The sugar should be bubbling on the tray.
    5. Remove from oven and immediately stir the nuts around on the tray with a rubber spatula, making sure all those nuts get a nice coating of bubbly sugar. Spread the nuts back out evenly so they are either not touching each other or just lightly touching. Let cool completely.
    6. Serve over salad or ice cream or cake or whatever suits your fancy! At Club 33 they served these nuts on a salad with avocado and strawberries and a buttermilk dressing I wish I could replicate.


  2. Thursday, April 17, 2014

    Spring Break Part 2: Anaheim!

    Time to share how we finished up our Spring Break last week! Once we were done having fun in Los Angeles, we hopped in the car and headed south 1 hour for a visit to Anaheim.

    I think in most people’s minds when you hear the word “Anaheim” you automatically think “Disneyland.” Disneyland is most certainly in Anaheim, but there is actually tons to do there in addition to visiting the Magical Kingdom. In the last few years the downtown area of Anaheim has been completely rebuilt, featuring local shops and restaurants. The Anaheim area has so much to offer (museums, sports, amusement parks, Medieval Times), you could easily spend a week staying in Anaheim and keeping incredibly busy! The other great thing is that there are so many hotels in town to choose from and many of them have shuttles that can take you to all the places you want to go. It’s basically a town built for vacation with the family and we have always had a blast when we visit. This time around we only had two days, so we visited Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland. We also had the chance to stay in two hotels.

    What We Did!

    visit to knott's berry farm by @janemaynard

    Knott’s Berry Farm: Here’s the thing about Knott’s Berry Farm – it is totally fun, less expensive than Disneyland, and NEVER as crowded. As much as we absolutely love Disneyland, it is almost always filled to the brim with people, which can be a little overwhelming. Even on a busy day at Knott’s there is room to breathe and the lines don’t take hours to get through. Plus, our family loves Peanuts, and Camp Snoopy is perfect for the little ones. We also had lunch at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant, where it all began. When you eat there, just eat a dozen biscuits and a few pieces of fried chicken and you should be all set. DELISH.

    visit to knott's berry farm by @janemaynard

    On our visit this time around we did a few things we had never done before, including the horse-drawn carriage ride and a ride on the narrow gauge steam engine. The carriage ride was actually really fun and the kids and I got to sit on top in front by the drivers. The steam engine was incredibly cool – it was the last working narrow-gauge engine in the U.S. when the Knott family purchased it for their park, and the cars you ride on are 130 years old. Owen is seriously obsessed with trains, so we chatted with the engineers for a bit and it was fascinating.

    visit to knott's berry farm by @janemaynardThis is the little train ride in Camp Snoopy, not the big steam engine. But the kids all look so happy here, I had to share. And, yes, this was the vacation of train rides. SO MANY TRAINS.

    Cate and I also did the Ghostrider roller coaster for the first time and, um, HOLY HEADACHE. Yes, that pile of wood you see below is a roller coaster. But Cate thought it was awesome, even “wilder than a buckin’ bronco!”

    the ghostrider at knott's berry farm by @janemaynard

    visit to knott's berry farm by @janemaynardWhen you’re 2 and you’re tired you just sit where you are.

    Disneyland: There is just something about Disneyland. Sure, it costs about a billion dollars to go. Sure, it’s almost always crowded. But it is also always magical. Everything there is just so well done and beautiful. We spent most of our day on this visit in California Adventure. Cate got to ride on Radiator Springs Racers THREE times (thanks to fast passes and the parent swap passes when you have a stroller). I think she also rode on California Screamin’ 4 times. Crazy girl!

    california screamin' at california adventure at disneyland by @janemaynard

    Cars Land will forever be my favorite part of visiting the Disney parks. It is just so BEAUTIFUL, both day and night. And the rides are all awesome.

    cars land at california adventure at disneyland by @janemaynard

    Oh, one more thing to mention! We have never ridden the entire train ride at Disneyland until this visit. The kids LOVED it. We had no idea there were dioramas at the end of the ride as you arrive back at Main Street. We actually circled the park twice before the kids would let us get off! Then we watched the parade from the train station above Main Street and it was perfect!

    visit to disneyland and california adventure by @janemaynard

    Where We Stayed!

    Ayres Hotel in Anaheim: Our first hotel was the Ayres Hotel in Anaheim. The hotel is located across the street from the Honda Center where the Ducks play, and just a block away from where the Angels play. It’s just a few minutes’ drive to Disneyland and all the other attractions, and the ART shuttle runs by the hotel if you don’t want to drive to those places. The rooms were very nice and sort of “fancy” – when Anna stepped off the elevator and looked down the hallway for the first time she exclaimed, “This hotel is BEAUTIFUL!” We stayed in a King VIP room, which had a king-sized bed and a pull-out couch, as well as plenty of room for the kids and all of our luggage. The pool was small but perfect for kids and they had a great time swimming. Plus, we got to see Owen’s true colors at the hot tub.

    owen wooing the ladies at the ayres hotel in anaheim by @janemaynardDon’t hate the playa, hate the game.

    The Ayres also had a fabulous full breakfast, with the busiest yet friendliest chef I’ve ever met! The kids were in heaven at the breakfast and I think it might have been their favorite part of the trip. (Kids are so funny!) The staff was incredibly helpful and friendly at every turn.

    The Anabella Hotel: For our last two nights we stayed at the Anabella, sister hotel to the Carousel (where we originally thought we would be staying). The Anabella is across the street from Disneyland and was just a short 10-minute walk to the park gate. The walk was also really lovely and un-crowded, running along the backside of California Adventure (rather than Harbor Blvd). We’ve gone to Disneyland both ways – staying in a hotel across the street and having to drive or shuttle ourselves in. If you’re going to Disneyland and can swing a hotel within walking distance of the park, DO IT. Parking at Disney is such a pain. Being able to just walk to the park is HEAVEN. They’re building even more hotels across the street from Disneyland, so there will be even more options in coming years.

    the anabella hotel in anaheim by @janemaynard

    The Anabella Hotel was a beautiful property, with a great pool and restaurant. We stayed in a Concierge room, which is an L-shaped room with a king bed, double bed and a pull-out couch. Our room had its own patio area, which was really lovely, too. After we put the kids to bed, Nate went outside to read on the patio in the perfect southern California air! The rooms were pretty, although we could hear our {noisy} neighbors pretty well and the bathroom wasn’t super easy to use, with practically no counter space or storage areas. There is a very long vanity area outside of the bathroom, however, which is nice for getting ready while someone else is actually using the bathroom. We had that counter covered with all of our stuff from the road trip – basically we are really good at using up all available storage space! (Note: The noisy neighbors arrived on our last night. The front desk quickly shut down the craziness at night and were very attentive to the situation. The neighbors were noisy again the next morning, but we were leaving so we didn’t request a new room or anything, but I’m certain the staff would have worked with us on that as well if we had asked.) Like the Ayres, the staff were very nice and friendly everywhere we went on the property.

    So, there you have it! A Spring Break packed with FUN. (And Nate and I even survived!)

    Knott’s Berry Farm provided us with tickets and lunch. Disney and the Anaheim Visitor and Convention Bureau provided us with media passes for Disneyland and California Adventure. We received discounted rates for our hotel stays at the Ayres and The Anabella. All opinions are my own! Anaheim is fun, fun, fun!

  3. Sunday, November 24, 2013

    Week 357 Menu

    Hello from Disneyland! We are so excited for the next two days – it’s going to be a blast! We are currently taking bets on whether the holiday fireworks music show will make me cry.

    No picture today because, well, I’m at Disneyland!

    – California Adventure Park food

    White Chicken Chili

    – Pizza Port

    – HAPPY THANKSGIVING! (Be sure to click here to share your Thanksgiving menu!)

    – Leftovers

    – Leftovers

    – Hopefully we’ll still have leftovers…if not, breakfast for dinner!

    I am thankful that so many of you post menus – it makes me happy week after week! Thank you for helping make the blog what it is! Looking forward to seeing your menus for the week. And, don’t forget to click here to share your Thanksgiving menu!