9

Family Foodie Fun: Medieval Times

Medieval Times

Are you looking for something fun and different to do with your family?  If so, you might want to think about visiting Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament.  To celebrate my birthday, I like to find a fun experience that the family can enjoy together.  Last year, we surprised the kids with a trip to Medieval Times at the Lyndhurst, New Jersey location.  There are eight locations throughout the United States and one location in Canada.   We chose a 5 PM dining time, though on Saturdays they host a 2 PM and an 8 PM show as well.  They had no idea where we were going and were surprised when we arrived at the castle (yes, the building looks like a castle!).  The parking lot was large and parking is free.  

The castle opens 75 minutes prior to your show time.  We arrived about an hour before the show, as seats are assigned on a first come, first serve basis.  We waited on a short line upon entering the building.  They do try to have you upgrade your ticket, if you have a general admission ticket, like we did.  After checking your tickets, you are assigned to a knight and a horse and given a crown in the corresponding color.  There are six different colored knights that you can cheer on and we were assigned to the blue knight.  We then had our picture taken with the King and Princess before entering the Hall of Arms.  You can later purchase the photo for a hefty price.  

Hall of Arms

Depending on how early you arrive, you may be waiting in the Hall of Arms for awhile.  In this beautifully decorated hall there is a bar where you can purchase drinks (served in souvenir cups)and many different vendors where you can purchase all kinds of (expensive) Medieval-themed souvenirs.  We purchase a Christmas ornament on all of our family outings, but unfortunately they didn’t sell any.  So, we ended up buying a key chain that my husband turned into an ornament for our tree.

Intro before we enter the arenawas

After waiting a bit, we were then ushered into the Grand Ceremonial Arena.  Each colored section has several rows of seating.  Each row of tables faces the arena, with the first couple of rows reserved for the Royalty and other upgraded ticket packages.   After being seated, our server, dressed in Medieval attire, started serving the 4-course dinner.

Menu

The meal begins with tomato bisque, garlic bread, roasted chicken, a BBQ spare rib and an herbed-basted potato.  They served an apple turnover for dessert. Since this is Medieval Times, and silverware didn’t exist back then, you are required to drink your soup and eat the rest of your meal with your hands!

Tomato Bisque

Let me note that there is a ton of food.  The food is decent and better than expected.  There is no distinction between a child’s meal and an adult meal.  They do give take home containers, which we needed, to bring home any uneaten food.  And a wet napkin is provided after eating to clean your hands.  At the time of our visit, our waiter was friendly and polite, but definitely busy.

While you are eating the two hour show begins.  The six knights perform in different feats of showmanship and competition. As noted earlier, we were cheering on the blue knight.

Blue Knight

If your colored knight is successful during the showmanship games, he wins flowers to throw out to his colored section.  After the games a net goes up around the arena and the knights engage in jousting and weaponry battles.   There is a story line with an evil villain and one knight is declared the winner, which on our evening was sadly not the blue knight!  During the show you will also see falconry and a horsemanship, including a choreographed dance and performance.  I will note that the whole show is choreographed, including the jousting and weaponry battles.  Our son, six at the time, noted that the fighting looked fake, but enjoyed it nonetheless.

General admission tickets for Medieval Times at Lyndhurst Castle in New Jersey (where we went) currently cost $62.95 for adults and $36.95 for children under 12.  Royalty packages and above cost additional.  However, there are often specials through the site.  While the tickets are a bit pricey, dinner is included in the cost as well as the live show.  The family seated in front of us had purchased an upgraded package and received a Commemorative Program (featured below) and a small ribbon flag that you can wave during the show.  They kindly gave two of the programs and flags to our children, noting that their family did not need them all.

Medieval Times Program and Crown

The family had a great time visiting Medieval Times.  This was definitely something new and different for us to experience together as a family and something I recommend families try at least once, if given the opportunity!

5

Disney Snack Round-Up

As you know we recently returned from a week long trip to Disney World, which you can read about here.  While we enjoyed the rides and meeting the characters,  my husband and I were probably most excited about the food!  We purchased the basic Disney Dining Plan which includes one quick service meal, one sit-down restaurant meal and one snack per person, per day.  What counts as a “snack” credit differs by park and includes everything from bottled water, a bag of chips or all of the items featured below.  When looking at each kiosk’s menu, the items that can be used with a snack credit have a Disney Dining purple and white square symbol next to it.   Below is our Disney Snack Round-Up of the snacks and desserts that we ate on our trip!  Please note that the four of us SHARED all of these treats.  This sometimes meant just a bite or two of something.  I did not gorge on all of these snacks by myself (though sometimes, I really wanted to)!

Note:  *It is no secret that counter service restaurants and kiosks will provide you with a cup of ice water at no charge.  It was super hot while we were in Disney  and we took full advantage of this!  However, the water at Magic Kingdom had a funny taste to us and we did not like it at all!  I recommend bringing water with you to this particular park.  All of the other parks had water that tasted fine!

ANIMAL KINGDOM:

 

We got this Chocolate Chip Cookie Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich from Dino Bites at Dinoland in Animal Kingdom.  This cookie sandwich is gigantic!  A huge scoop of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two large, soft chocolate chip cookies = deliciousness!

EPCOT:

 

Now, we have not tried the famous Cronut from Dominique Ansel in NYC.  However, we picked up this Croissant Doughnut at the Refreshment Port near Canada in Epcot.  It’s covered with cinnamon sugar and was delicious!  Sweet on the outside and soft, pastry-like layers on the inside.

 

We had these Churros con Cajeta as the dessert selection for one of our quick service lunches at La Cantina de San Angel in the Mexico section of World Showcase at Epcot.  However, these can be purchased using a snack credit.  They were sprinkled with cinnamon and come with a caramel dipping sauce.  They are served hot, but by the time we got around to eating them they were warm and had lost their crispiness.

 

This Watermelon Paleta was our second quick service dessert selection from La Cantina de San Angel.  This also can be purchased using a snack credit.  These Mexican ice pops comes in other flavors including Mango, Lime and Coconut. This was a nice refreshing treat on a hot day!  It wasn’t super sweet and you can taste the watermelon.

 

We got this Berry Cream Puff at the Kringla Bakeri og Café in Norway at the World Showcase.   This was a giant cream puff with fresh berries (blackberries, raspberries and a strawberry).  The cream was not too sweet and we really enjoyed this.

 

We also got this Kringla Sweet Pretzel with Chocolate at the Kringla Bakeri og Café.  I have to say that this pretzel looks better than it tastes.  This pretzel is not a traditional tasting pretzel (like the Mickey pretzel), but is more pastry-like.  It’s a sweet raisin pretzel topped with icing and a chocolate drizzle.  I found this pretzel to be a bit dry and wasn’t the biggest fan.

 

We stopped at L’Artisan des Glaces in France at the World Showcase and the kids ended up choosing this Mixed Berries Sorbet Waffle Cone to share. This French ice cream shop sells 16 different flavors of ice cream/sorbet so there’s sure to be a flavor to please everyone!

My husband and I shared this Peaches & Cream Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich from L’Artisan des Glaces.  The macarons were larger than the typical size, but not huge and I found them to be a bit on the sweet side.  Not my favorite dessert, but it was cool and refreshing on a hot day!

 

We ate a quick dinner at the Electric Umbrella in Future World at Epcot and were able to choose two desserts as part of our quick service meals.  The first one we chose was this Strawberry Cheesecake.  There’s a thin graham cracker crust layer on the bottom.  This was a creamy cheesecake and the kids loved the strawberry gel swirls.

 

There were pretty slim pickings, dessert-wise to choose from at the Electric Umbrella.  The second dessert we chose was this Chocolate Cupcake topped with vanilla icing and sprinkles.  The icing was a bit on the sweet side but the cupcake itself was moist and chocolate-y.

*Not pictured:  We stopped by Karamell-Kuche in Germany at the World Showcase in Epcot.  There we bought a large bag of Caramel Popcorn as well as a Caramel and Peanut Covered Apple that we brought home with us.  The person helping us had cut the apple into four pieces for us.  When we got home, we realized that we shouldn’t have had her cut it, as the apple turned brown.  It still tasted really good though!  The popcorn was really tasty and addicting as well!

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS:

I had read about and was really looking forward to having a seasonal milkshake at Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner.  When I found out the seasonal milkshake flavor was blue raspberry, I opted to pass. A blue raspberry milkshake did not sound at all appetizing to me!

 

We had a late lunch at Pizza Planet and chose these two cupcakes as our dessert choices with our quick service meals.  The Olaf Cupcake was a carrot cake cupcake.  It had cream cheese icing and little white candy sugar crystals.  The Cappuccino Cupcake was a chocolate cupcake with a mocha chocolate icing.  We loved the toffee bits that decorated the outside of this cupcake.  These were both really good!

 

This Funnel Cake with Soft Serve Vanilla Ice Cream, Strawberry Topping and Chocolate Sauce was our “best-bang-for-your-snack-credit” find!  We found this gem at the Oasis Canteen located near the entrance to the Indiana Jones Stunt Show Spectacular.  Yes, this can be all yours for ONE snack credit!  Out-of-pocket this costs over $8!  Ice cream on funnel cake….the hot with the cold…. I cannot believe we had never seen or heard about this until now! This was so good!

MAGIC KINGDOM:

 

By far, one of our favorite Disney snacks is the Dole Whip Float.  This tasty treat is found at Aloha Isle in Adventureland.   Pineapple soft serve is swirled into cold pineapple juice for a cold, tasty and refreshing treat!  Dole Whip Floats can also be found at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.  The Pineapple Whip soft serve is also available at Tamu Tamu Refreshments in Animal Kingdom and can be ordered with Coconut or Dark Rum over it (but not available as a snack credit!).

 

We got this Cinnamon Roll at Gaston’s Tavern, but it’s also available at the Main Street Bakery.  I had read about this snack before traveling to Disney and was excited to try it.  I found it to be a bit dry though and wasn’t very impressed.  My husband reminded me too late that the secret is to ask for extra icing!

 

We got our Mickey Pretzel at the Lunching Pad in Tomorrowland, but they are available throughout the park.  A Sweet Cream Cheese pretzel is also available.  This is your classic soft pretzel, an amusement park staple!

POP CENTURY RESORT:

 

We only had one quick service dinner at the Pop Century Resort where we stayed.  This was a late after 9 PM meal after a very long day at Hollywood Studios.  We weren’t impressed with the dessert selection but after seeing a picture of this Tie Dye Cheesecake on a poster every time we went in the elevator, we decided we had to try it.  This was a single serving, small, round container with a very thin cake layer bottom and a cheesecake top.  It tasted like regular cheesecake and wasn’t bad.  We’ve had better and worse, as far as cheesecake goes.

What are your favorite Disney snacks? 

3

Family Foodie Fun: Cupcake Wars

Cupcake Wars

I’ve mentioned that our family enjoys watching Cupcake Wars together on Netflix.  I rarely if ever make cupcakes because of the quantity a recipe makes.  We never end up eating them all and honestly, I don’t need a bunch of cupcakes sitting around the house or I WILL eat them! A couple of weekends ago my son requested that we make cupcakes together.  Somehow this suggestion evolved into a family version of cupcake wars.  I write this post today since today is my little guy’s birthday and not only was this his idea but it’s appropriately themed for his birthday!  He is now 7 years old and not-so-little anymore (insert sad face here).   We celebrated his birthday several days early while we were in Rhode Island since my parents and both my siblings were up for the holiday weekend.

IMG_1069

(This is what happens when I let my sister help “decorate” the birthday brownies for my son’s requested brownie ice cream sundaes!)

So, back to our cupcakes!  My son and I first thought we’d make a S’mores type cupcake.  However, the Weekend Chef and my daughter decided they were making a chocolate cherry cupcake.  Since we were going to end up with a gazillion cupcakes my son and I ended up changing our cupcake to a Pina Colada cupcake.  While I’m not the biggest coconut fan, we all love pineapple.  Between the shopping for ingredients, baking homemade cupcakes, letting the cupcakes cool and making and frosting icing, this was pretty close to an all-day affair.  We had lots of fun spending quality family-time together and eating tasty cupcakes!  My daughter now wants the family to have a Cookie War.  So, which cupcake won after all was said and done?  I thought the Pina Colada cupcake was better….but I’m not a huge chocolate lover.  If you so choose, you can make both cupcakes and let us know which one you prefer!

Pina Colada Cupcakes

Pina Colada Cupcakes
Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients:
1 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Coconut Frosting (slightly adapted):

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For garnish:
12 maraschino cherries
12 mini pineapple wedges

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. Make the cupcakes: In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Whisk in the brown sugar and granulated sugar.  Once combined, whisk in the egg, pineapple juice, coconut milk, and vanilla extract.

3. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients stirring until smooth. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

4. Make the frosting: In a medium bowl, beat the softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Turn mixer off and add confectioners’ sugar, cream and vanilla. Mix on low for 1 minute then increase to high speed and beat for 3-4 full minutes. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if frosting is too thick. Add salt if frosting is too sweet (I usually add 1/4 teaspoon). Frost cooled cupcakes. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake. Decorate cupcakes with coconut, pineapple slices, and/or a cherry.

*Leftover cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days and in the refrigerator up to 4.

Chocolate Cherry Ganache Cupcakes

Chocolate Cherry Ganache Cupcakes
Recipe slightly adapted from Life, Love, and Sugar

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup salted butter, softened but not fully melted
1 egg white
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
For the ganache:
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp salted butter
1/2 cup cherry pie filling cherries, rinsed and roughly chopped
For the icing:
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup salted butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa
5-6 tbsp water or milk
12 cherry pie filling cherries, rinsed, for the topping

Directions:

For the cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12-count muffin tin with cupcake liners.
2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add butter, egg white, egg, vanilla, sour cream and milk and mix on medium speed just until smooth. Do not over mix.
4. Fill cupcake liners a little more than half way.
5. Bake 18-20 minutes.
6. Allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to finish cooling.
For the ganache:
1. Put the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl.
2. Add heavy whipping cream and butter to bowl with chocolate chips. Heavy cream should mostly cover the chocolate chips.
3. Microwave mixture until cream begins to boil, about 1-2 minutes.
4. Whisk mixture until chocolate is completely melted. Set aside to cool for about 5 minutes, until the chocolate begins to thicken.
5. When thickened, cut out a hole in the center of the cupcakes. I used a melon baller. Pour ganache into hole, filling it.
For the icing:
1. Combine butter and shortening and mix until smooth.
2. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
3. Add cocoa and 3-4 tbsp of water or milk and mix until smooth.
4. Add remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
5. Add more water or milk until desired consistency is reached.
6. Top cupcakes with icing and one cherry.