I currently live in Charlotte, NC and after spending 7 years as a personal chef and caterer, I am now happy to share my love of cooking with friends and family. My heart is in the kitchen, but my soul is in the stars!

The House of Mouse

"I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse."
Walt Disney, 1954

My first visit to Disney World was in 1971 when I was a whopping 6 months old.  A few years later, my family bought a summer home in Florida and we visited the parks almost every summer.  Then adulthood and life kicked in and the little house was sold and it would be nearly 15 years before I visited the happiest place on Earth again. 

The Boy Toy, his two kids, his father and I were at Disney World in August and it occurred to me that the whole "happiest place on Earth" tag line may very well be just a marketing ploy.  While standing in lines for what seemed like eternity for a ride that lasts 4-1/2 minutes, I started observing people around me.  Adults were weary and hot.  They had that look in their eyes that said they were tired of keeping up with kids, tired of standing in line, and beyond tired to know they still had two of the six lands to visit in order to get their (lots of) money's worth out of the day.  Kids were hot, moody and in desperate need of a nap.  Their attention span rendered them incapable of understanding why they had to wait in a long line for instant gratification.  The most ironic thing I overheard was a pushed-to-the-limit parent telling their pouty kid, "It cost alot of money to come here.  You're going to have a good time and I. MEAN. IT!"

The happiest place on Earth?  It is questionable for some.

Like everyone else, we were tired, hot and sweaty.  The kids were impatient at times, but I'm pleased to report that we had a really great visit.  We came away with good memories of a nice family vacation and I scored some really sweet souvenirs!

Anyone have the time?

The Mickey watch was a splurge for me and I picked up a really nice Christmas ornament at the Christmas shop in Liberty Square but there was one more thing I wanted - a cookbook to add to my already overburdened cookbook shelf.  It wasn't until we wandered through the Emporium on Main Street on our way out of the park that I found the one that I wanted.  Chef Mickey Treasures from the Vault & Delicious New Favorites contains recipes from various restaurants and resorts from both Disneyland and Disney World as well as from their cruise line.  I liked that it contained recipes from places that no longer exist within the Disney empire. 

It was hard to choose which recipe I wanted to try first, but I settled on Grilled Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Polenta ('cause you know I love me some goat cheese) as featured at Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  I made it as written once (you can find that recipe here) but then changed it up by using shrimp and basil pesto from my freezer and decided it was one of the best meals I'd created in a long time. 

A great vacation, fun souvenirs and an awesome is the happiest place on Earth!

Sauteed Shrimp with Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Polenta
Inspired by Chef Mickey Treasures from the Vault & Delicious New Favorites
Serves 4

Printable Recipe

Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Polenta
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 small clove of garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup goat cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Shrimp and Asparagus
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
16 fresh asparagus spears
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 cup basil pesto, prepared or make your own

For Asparagus:

Preheat oven to 400.  Lay asparagus on baking sheet in a single layer.  Drizzle with olive oil (about a tablespoon or so) and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for approximately 15-20 minutes. 
For Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Polenta:

Combine chicken broth, heavy cream, and water in a large pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

Slowly whisk in cornmeal, stirring constantly until thickened.  Don't whisk too fast or lumps will form.

Stir in garlic, thyme and tomatoes; add goat cheese and butter, stirring until cheese and butter melt.

Add basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Continue to stir and cook until cornmeal is creamy.

For Shrimp:

Heat olive oil (about a tablespoon) in a saute pan over medium high heat.

Add shrimp, tomatoes and 2 -3 tablespoons basil pesto.  Cook, stirring occasionally, about 7-10 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and tomatoes have cooked down a bit.

Put 4 spears of asparagus on each plate and top with 1/2 cup polenta.  Place shrimp and tomatoes on top of polenta. 

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