Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Wonderful World of Disney Waffles!

First I would like to disclaim that in no way am I affiliated with Disney Corp., I am just a huge fan and lover of Disney Culture. There are quite a few websites and blogs that have the "Official Mickey Waffle" recipe, listed below. Also I know there is a Disney World Cook Book I have yet to purchase (and will, believe me I will), that will have this recipe as well. Research sites I used for today's entry are:

At the risk of exposing how truly spoiled I am let me tell you that some of the greatest memories I have took place at Walt Disney World. My whole family adores WDW and most everything it has to offer; whether it's the great rides, shows, character experiences, made on site candy, unique and outstanding food offerings, or the great opportunities for family bonding, WDW has something for everyone all of the time.

If you're staying 'on campus' or just plain arrived early enough for breakfast, most Disneyphiles go ape over the waffles. But not just any waffles, they go ape over Mickey Waffles! People who haven't experienced these gems before most likely are saying "So what, they're waffles". I can say to the skeptics you won't feel that way after you've tried them.

Most waffles you will experience are pretty much glorified one note carbohydrate receptacles for butter, syrup, whipped cream, fruit, or whatever other topping you wish. Great waffles on the other hand should have flavor and texture that they bring to the party. Mickey Waffles are great waffles with the added benefit of being the shape of every Disney Nerd's favorite mascot.

For those who do not own, and/or do not plan on purchasing a Mickey Waffle Iron, this recipe will absolutely make outstanding waffles for you and yours. I will say though, Mickey Waffles really do bring an element of fun to the meal for the whole family. Yes I am 33, no I am not ashamed, yes I will always be excited to have Mickey Waffles whether I am at home or WDW. Deal with it.

For this recipe you will need:

4 Separated Eggs
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup, Or 1/2 Stick Of Butter Melted And Cooled
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract (Not Imitation)
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt

Two Mixer Safe Bowls
Electric Hand Mixer
Measuring Cups, And Spoons
Non Stick Spray
Waffle Iron (Mickey Shaped)

Begin by plugging in your waffle iron of choice, closing it, and letting it get nice and hot.

After you've started your waffle iron's preheat it's time to separate your eggs. For this recipe we will actually use both halves of the separated eggs, so it is important that you take your time and keep both halves as pristine as possible. Put the whites, and the yolks in to two separate mixer safe bowls. (If you don't know how to separate eggs here is an older tutorial of me separating eggs.)

Now we have cleanly separated eggs we are going to cream our yolks with the sugar. Add the sugar to the yolks and whisk vigorously (yes, really) until the yolks come to what is called the "ribbon stage". Their appearance will be a lighter color, and will drizzle off your whisk in thick 'ribbons' back to the bowl.

Now to the yolks add the cooled melted butter, milk, and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Once you've done this add your flour, baking powder, and salt. All websites note at this point not to over combine, which I believe I did while making this. The batter should look slightly lumpy, yet combined. It should not look too smooth. I will also say at this point this batter will appear waaaaaay thicker than you thought it would at this point, chillax it will loosen up before we bake.

Next grab your hand mixer, and egg whites because we need to whip them to what is referred to as 'stiff peaks'. When you begin mixing make sure you start at the lowest setting possible, otherwise you will end up wearing your egg whites. After some air has finally been whipped in the to the whites and it appears almost soda-ish, put the spurs to it a little more. After a minute or two go full bore and turn your mixer up to it's highest setting. When the eggs are done they will have a pearl sheen to them, and when you stop, turn off, and pull up your mixer two 'peaks' will stick straight up off your blades. It'll take between 3 to 5 minutes depending on your mixer, time, date, altitude, state, and attitude.

Now we have both parts of the waffle batter made, we are going to combine them using the 'folding' method. Folding is NOT stirring. To fold you must put about a third of the egg whites in to the yolk batter, cut through the middle with a spatula, stir around the bowl once, then repeat gently until the white is incorporated. Then take another third of the white and repeat, and finally the last third doing the same. You will notice the batter is now lighter in color, and has finally loosened up in to a recognizable 'waffle batter consistency'. It will still be more sticky than you expected.

Before you bake your waffles, make sure you spray some non-stick spray on both sides of your waffle iron.

In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger "NOW VE BAAAKE"!

Using a ladle and spatula (because this is some sticky junk) gently ladle the the batter in to the center of the iron. If you are using a normal square or round waffle make just slightly swirl around a little to help with even spreading. If you are using a Mickey Waffle Iron do the same, and make sure you get a decent amount of batter in the ears. I wish I could give you some kind of exact measurement of batter to ladle, but it really does depend on your individual waffle iron. You'll have to experiment. As a hint though, it's always better to start with too little than too much.

For my Mickey Waffle Iron it take exactly four (4) minutes to get the perfect bake. Your waffle iron (regardless of shape) may differ, again you'll have to experiment. This batter does rise decently, so you will see a gap start to appear as the batter bakes, as pictured below.

Finally when your waffles are golden brown (and delicious) take a fork and nudge under a corner of your waffle so you can pick it up. On your plate now will be one of many fine Mickey Waffles you will make!

The batter we made will make 6.5 waffles using my Mickey Waffle Iron. These taste exactly like the Mickey Waffles you will get at WDW, and are sure to bring back memories of sunny days and great family adventures! Yes the iron is different, that's because currently Disney does not sell the 'official' Mickey Waffle Irons. If you like the looks of what you see, I bought my iron at Kohl's ( There are many Disney waffle irons you can get, so do your research and purchase what you wish!

I hope regardless of the shape I've brought you a great weekend waffle recipe you and your family will love for years to come! If you're a Disney Nerd or Junkie like I am, I hope this brings back all the wonderful memories you have and will have at WDW! Eat well everyone!

*Side Note:  Upon reflection I would recommend using a piping bag, or cut off ziplock bag to pipe in the batter instead of using a ladle. That should reduce some of the slop and trouble with the stickiness of the batter!


So my girlfriend and I are in the grocery store and notice that some seriously thick cut bacon is deeply discounted. Being bacon lovers OF COURSE we are going to purchase said lovely bacon, despite the encroaching expiration date (the reason for the sale presumably).

A week later she reminds me we need to hurry up and use the bacon. I was grilling that night, and knowing how thick cut it was I decided to try grilling it. The result was a HYSTERICAL grilling experience with a great finished product (seriously, it redefines bacon, sort of).

For this recipe you'll need:

1 Package of Premium Thick Cut Bacon

1 Grill (Gas or Charcoal)
1 Grill Pan
Grill Tongs
Water Hose, or Fire Extinguisher

At some point I will blog about grilling in depth, especially concerning charcoal, but not today. Right now you need to heat up your grill, and get it ready for normal use.

Not all bacon is equal. Regularly sliced mass produced bacon is too fragile, and doesn't bring enough flavor to stand up to the grill. You will end up with extremely salty carbon. The bacon you want to use is the absolute thickest cut you can find, and will have an apple wood, or pecan wood flavoring to it. That way the bacon will survive cooking, and the flavor will be able to survive the additional smoke flavor it's going to receive.

I didn't get to document my first crack at this, so I recreated it for your reading pleasure. I'll admit the original Hormel product show below turned out better, though the Wright certainly was tasty when finished.

If you've never used or even heard of a grill pan, it's pictured above. Basically it's a pan with a bunch of holes in it, to let the smoke get to your food. It's quite versatile, and if you don't own one, I'd recommend you get one. You can pick them up almost anywhere, and typically they're between $13-$30.

This by far is not the most complicated dish I've made, because basically you just make bacon. You put the pan on the grill, let it heat up, and carefully put the bacon on the pan. You'll hear the stereotypical crackling and popping, and the bacon will start to become translucent.

Where the entertainment comes in, is when the fat starts to drip through the pan.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dinner Quickie 1 - Bacon BBQ Chicken Breast

Traditionally I would credit a website, chef, or cookbook at the top of my blog. This time around this is an invention my better half and I came up with on the fly when we were sick of the 'same ole, same ole' and didn't have the cash to eat out. So great job Suzi!

As you probably guessed by the name of my blog, I'm a dad. I love being a dad, really it's one of the highlights of my life. BUT (as all parents reading this know) with being a dad comes all sorts of stresses, responsibilities, and tight schedules I would have never conceived of as a younger man.

I know other parents read the above paragraph and nod their head in agreement. Such is the life of the modern American. Like other Americans one of the casualties of the war that is parenting many times is dinner. Sometimes it seems like there is just not enough time to work, pick up the kids, and get a decent dinner on table. Fortunately there are some short cuts you can take that won't sacrifice budget, time, or flavor. I am constantly on the prowl for such short cuts. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!!

For this recipe you will need:

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast - Enough to feed your family
Thick Cut High Quality Bacon - Enough for two strips of bacon per chicken breast
Pre-made BBQ Sauce - Whatever is your favorite, I use Famous Dave's
Emeril's Original Essence Seasoning
Pre-Shredded Cheese - Whatever is your favorite, I used Sargento Mexican Shred

Tin Foil
9x13 Baking Pan
Non-Stick Frying Pan
Microwave (gasp!)
Plate Lined With Paper Towels

Before We Begin:
I love cooking. I love making things from scratch and learning new skills, I actually pride myself on that quality. I believe we as a society should get back in the kitchen more often and learn to make 'real food' the way our grandparents used to, because it's just that much better tasting, and better for you. BUT I work 50-60 hours a week. On average I don't get home until after a certain time of day. I help clean the house, I help with homework, blah blah blah. SO though this recipe may not require you to toast, grind, and mix spices or make home made BBQ sauce, it will taste pretty darn close. So don't "be hatin'".

Please pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

While the oven is heating up go ahead and get your tin foil and 'line' your baking pan with it. Basically just tear off a piece of foil longer than the pan, and push it down until it looks like the pan above.

Take your chicken and put it in the lined pan. Liberally sprinkle Emeril's Original Essence (or your favorite poultry seasoning or rub) on the chicken, and rub it in. Flip the chicken breasts, and repeat on the other side. I will note that I am not using any non-stick cooking spray, it's not necessary for oven baked chicken as it tends to be pretty juicy on it's own.

Once your oven hits 350 degrees put your chicken breasts in on the middle rack, for 30-45 minutes depending on your oven, barometric pressure, humidity, and the mood of the chicken. You are looking for the chicken to be cooked through, but not crispy crittered being as you're going to microwave this for a minute or two later on. Personally my oven usually takes 38 minutes for 6 chicken breasts.

While the chicken is in the oven let's turn our attention to the BACON.

I've always been a proponent of using higher quality bacon, which of course will hit you up for a higher price. BUT I have discovered recently at Kroger, Meijer, and a local grocer that the 'case bacon' (you know the bacon in the butcher's case you've been ignoring for years because "surely we can't afford that") IS ACTUALLY FREAKIN' CHEAPER THAN THE GOOD STUFF VACU-SEALED IN THE REFRIGERATED SECTION WITH THE REST OF THE BACON!!! BY UP TO A BUCK A POUND!!! So I've been using that lately.

Cooking bacon is not difficult though it can be rather harrowing on the pan with all the popping and splattering that can occur. To minimize smoking, splatter, and traumatizing experiences I recommend cooking with a flame no higher than the "medium" setting. Simply put the offending pig candy in the pan, brown one side until the bacon has reduced in size, flip, and repeat. When the bacon is done to your liking take it off and put it on a plate lined with paper towels. Now wait for your chicken to finish baking!

Tip: You can do this bacon a day or two before. Point of fact I've made this dish once using bacon I had made for a Sunday breakfast I cooked for the family and had left over.

Once the chicken is done take it out of the oven, and allow to rest for roughly five minutes.

Now all we left is assembly, which is a snap. Put the offending chicken on a plate, and cover with as much or as little BBQ sauce as your wish. Then put the bacon on top of the sauce, then cover with as much or little shredded cheese (mmm cheese) as you want. Microwave for 30-90 seconds, and you've completed this dish!

Other than the taste and ease of cooking, and assembly of this dish, the best part is this literally took 45 minutes from fridge to table. That's it. Even better the predominance of the time it takes to make this is oven time, so you have down time to clean or help with homework while it's doin' it's thang.

I will also say I've yet to see an unhappy face about this one. Picky eaters, not so picky eaters, and everything in between seem to love it.

I hope I've helped everyone reclaim dinner time for at least one night a week, and I hope everyone enjoys this easy and relatively cheap dish with their loved ones! Eat well everyone!