Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pizza Experiments with Chebe

For months, I've been admiring a variety of pizzas made with Chebe on my Facebook home page.  After a shopping trip to Chamberlin's in Winter Park last night, I was finally in possession of the key ingredient I needed - Chebe Pizza Crust Mix!

After a trip to Publix for Boar's Head mozzarella and provolone, and San Marzano tomatoes, I was ready to get started.  
I preheated my oven to 450 degrees, and prepared the mix as directed.  I blended 2 T of extra virgin olive oil, 2 large eggs (beaten), and 1 cup of Organic Valley Mild Cheddar Cheese (packed well) with the Chebe mix.  

I then added 1/4 C of water.  After kneading the dough until smooth, I pressed it onto my 14" Williams-Sonoma cast iron pizza pan with my hands.  We like to rub a little olive oil onto our cast iron pan with a paper towel before we use it and after we clean it.  

Next, I par baked the crust for 12 minutes without toppings on the bottom shelf of my oven.  While the crust was cooking, I minced one large clove of garlic in my garlic press, then added it to a bowl containing 1 1/2 T of extra virgin olive oil.  

The par baked crust emerged from the oven with a big bubble in the middle!  I then spread the mix of oil and garlic on the pizza, before adding a generous sprinkle of Romano, followed by mozzarella and provolone.  Next up, San Marzano tomatoes I had cut into thirds and removed most of the seeds from.  Lastly, I added some chopped basil, another sprinkle of Romano cheese on each tomato, and kosher salt.   

I put the pizza with toppings on the bottom shelf of the oven to bake for 10 more minutes.  

I love a thin crust pizza, and this certainly fit the bill.  It was so good, my husband and I ate the whole thing for lunch!  This pizza was the best gluten free pizza that I've ever made, and it was so easy to make!  

Chebe pizza experiment #2 -- I will be using the Chebe Original Cheese Bread Mix instead of the Pizza Crust, because it doesn't have oregano, onion, and garlic in the mix.  We prefer our crust to be free of seasonings.  According to several blogs I've read, you can also make pizza crust with Chebe Focaccia Mix or Chebe All-Purpose Bread Mix.  

I will probably make some simple pesto out of basil, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and Romano for experiment #2.  I'll keep you posted!  

Chebe is free of gluten, soy, corn, rice, potato, yeast, peanuts/tree nuts, and sugar.  It is also non GMO.  The Pizza Crust Mix is lactose/casein free, but the Original Cheese Bread Mix contains dry milk.   "So what is in Chebe?" you might ask.  The main ingredient is tapioca flour.  

My cast iron pizza pan might play a role in the success I have making this pizza.  Pans do make a difference.  My husband's grandmother makes the most amazing pizza on pans a family member made for her in the steel mills of Pittsburgh decades ago.  My husband and I learned to make her pizza, but could never replicate her crispy crust on our aluminum pizza pans.  Amazon sells cast iron pizza pans at a very reasonable price and the reviews are great.  

We made pizza tonight with Chebe Original Cheese Bread Mix and added some feta, in addition to the other cheeses.  Because the feta is a bit salty, I did not sprinkle this pizza with kosher salt.   It was amazing!  

Ready to go in the oven for its final bake

The finished product!  

7/4/13 Update

Pizza Experiment #3 - I used oil/garlic, Romano, fresh mozzarella balls (sliced), San Marzano tomatoes, basil, and feta.  We had to put the pizza under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the top.  The crust was much soggier using fresh mozzarella balls.  My husband said it was his favorite pizza, but I still prefer #2.  

Our 4th of July pizza ready for its final bake.

It was good, but I think I will stick with my Boar's Head mozzarella/provolone combo instead of using fresh mozzarella balls.  They make the pizza a little too soggy for my taste.  

8/10/13 Update - I did some research on using fresh mozzarella on pizza.  It is important to slice it at least 15 minutes before adding it to the pizza.  Place the mozzarella slices between paper towels to remove moisture.  

We had some leftover homemade pesto that I added to the crust after I parbaked it for 12 minutes.

I then added San Marzano tomatoes that I cut the tops off, squeezed the seeds out of, and cut in thirds.  Finally, I added fresh mozzarella and a generous sprinkle of Romano.  

It doesn't look like much, but it was delicious! 

9/17/13 Update - Pesto Chicken Pizza

Tonight, we made a pesto chicken pizza using a rotisserie chicken from Costco.  

After par baking the crust for 12 minutes, I brushed it with pesto before adding San Marzano tomatoes (sliced and seeds squeezed out), chicken (cut into small cubes or shredded), fresh mozzarella, feta, and Romano/Parmesan.  I baked it with the toppings for 11 minutes, then turned the oven on broil for another minute or two until the mozzarella started to brown.  Everyone loved it!  Pesto Chicken Pizza now has its own blog post.  You can view it here.  

Chebe pizza is great left over.  I like to eat it right out of the fridge, or if I have patience, I will let it sit out until it gets to room temperature.  

Pesto Recipe


1 C fresh basil - packed
2 T pine nuts
1 clove garlic - minced
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp coarse ground black pepper 
1/3 C extra-virgin olive oil 
1/4 C grated Romano or Parmesan cheese


Combine the first 5 ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until they are well combined.  Add the oil and cheese.  Pulse until smooth.  

This recipe makes enough pesto for 2 pizzas.  

October 20, 2013 Update

Yesterday, I purchased some jalapeno pork sausage from Whole Foods after sampling it at the meat counter.  My husband removed them from their casings and partially cooked the sausage before we put it on the pizza.  

Today, I decided to use BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella Pearls (8 ounces) on our pizza.  It saved me the trouble of slicing the mozzarella.  I did separate them and lay them between paper towels to remove any moisture before I made the pizza crust. 

This spinach sausage pizza was inspired by a pizza my husband's grandmother makes.  It was always a favorite of mine in my gluten-eating days. 

My husband declared this spinach & sausage pizza to be his favorite Chebe pizza to date.

I used Chebe Original Cheese Bread Mix for the crust, prepared according to package directions.  I par baked my crust for 12 minutes on the bottom shelf of my oven before brushing on an olive oil/garlic mixture (1 1/2 T olive oil, 1 large clove of minced garlic) and adding a single layer of fresh baby spinach.   Next, I sprinkled on a generous amount of jalapeno pork sausage, the mozzarella balls, Parmesan/Romano, and feta cheese.  I baked the pizza on the bottom shelf for 11 minutes before moving it to the upper shelf and putting it under the broiler for a minute or two, until the cheese browned.  You can view my post about our Chebe Sausage & Spinach Pizza here.  It has detailed instructions for how I made my Chebe pizza dough.

Here are some other Chebe pizzas we make with links to their blog posts:

Pesto Pizza with a Balsamic Glaze

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Friday, June 28, 2013

Dips, chips, salsa, and more!

We love Late July chips!  They are certified gluten free, vegan, non-GMO, and peanut/tree nut free.  
The chips are pictured with my adaptation of  Avocado Bean Dip from the Sugar-Free Mom.  I used my stick blender to combine 1 can of cannellini beans, 3 avocados, 3 T lemon juice, 3 T extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 C fresh basil, 1 large clove of minced garlic, 1 tsp kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp coarse ground black pepper. 

Black and Gold Salsa -- named in honor of the Pittsburgh Steelers

2 cans of black beans -- rinsed
3 ears of corn -- cooked and cut off the cob
2/3 container of grape tomatoes -- diced
1 large orange or red bell pepper -- diced
1 jalapeƱo pepper -- diced
1/2 sweet onion -- diced
1 T white balsamic vinegar
1 T extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 2 limes and 1 lemon
Kosher  salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
2 cloves of garlic -- minced
1 tsp of sugar 

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover, and let marinate for several hours in the refrigerator. 
This recipe was inspired by Black Maize Salsa, an amazing salsa I purchased from the Greenville farmers market in South Carolina.  It cannot be purchased in Florida.  

Bean Salad with Mango & Corn

 1 can each of pinto beans, chick peas or black beans, and white beans (3 cans of beans total) -- rinsed
 Handful of fresh basil -- chopped 
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
juice of 1 or 2 limes
1 orange or red bell pepper -- chopped
1/2 container of grape tomatoes -- rinsed and cut in half
2 mangoes -- chopped
2 ears of corn -- cook, then cut the corn off the cob 
Kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, and cumin to taste -- don't be bashful!  

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover, and let marinate for several hours in the refrigerator. 

Feel free to experiment -- this variation used white, pinto, and red kidney beans.  I didn't have tomatoes or corn the day I made this, so I used a bunch of red, yellow, and orange mini sweet peppers instead.  

White Bean Hummus

1 can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) -- rinsed
1 can of white beans -- rinsed
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic -- minced (I use my garlic press) 
2 T lemon juice 
2 T tahini
Enough olive oil to make it smooth (3-4 tablespoons)
Kosher salt to taste

We use our stick blender to puree  all the ingredients.  You could also use a food processor. 

When we make grilled lamb, we serve this hummus on the side to dip the lamb in.  

I thought I would throw in this extra recipe for you!  Sometimes I miss having hummus and pita.  This is my gluten free version that I call flatbread.  


I defrost a frozen Udi's pizza crust in my microwave for a minute on defrost, lightly coat each side with olive oil, add some garlic salt and rosemary to one side, then cook it in a frying pan on medium heat until lightly browned on both sides.  Serve right away for best results.  

I love it with hummus, roasted red peppers, or a caprese salad on top. Thank you to the chefs at Tusker House at Disney's Animal Kingdom for giving me the idea!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Peach Crostata

Before we went to California, I made my first crostata, and was amazed at how well it turned out, and how easy it was to make. When I lived in Pittsburgh, pre-celiac, I used to enjoy the delicious crostatas at the Cafe at the Frick, and my mom and my aunt make wickedly good crostatas too, so there was no need for me to ever make one.  Until recently, I also shied away from recipes that involved a rolling pin.  I'm not sure why I've always had a rolling pin phobia, but thankfully my husband enjoys rolling out dough, when I actually make a recipe that calls for it.  In the past year, I have been baking more, because I discovered two high quality gluten free all-purpose flours (Cup4Cup and Better Batter) and Nicole Hunn's Gluten-Free on a Shoestring cookbooks.

A couple of weeks ago, we purchased some Florida peaches at the Winter Park Farmers' Market.  Right away, I began thinking about all the great crostatas I used to eat before I was diagnosed with celiac.  After  consulting my mom and aunt, and doing some research online, I decided to take the plunge and make a peach crostata.  My sous-chef (aka my husband) was not even around to help.  My crostata looked pretty good, and my whole family thought it was delicious.  

When my husband came home with these lovely peaches from the Winter Park Farmers' Market on Saturday, I knew a second peach crostata was in our future!  

I've had this Williams-Sonoma Gluten-Free Piecrust Mix sitting in my pantry since Thanksgiving.  It's pretty pricey at $19.95, but it contains 2 packages of piecrust mix and 2 packages of dusting flour, enough for 2 crostatas. 

I started with 4 cups of sliced peaches, but you can use up to to 4 1/2 cups.  If you don't have enough peaches, I suggest adding some raspberries.  The combination of the two is very good, though I eliminate the cinnamon when I use raspberries.

After adding some flour, sugar, and cinnamon, I gently stir the peaches, then make my crust.

Here's what my crostata looked like before I rolled up the edges.

It doesn't need to look perfect, which is what I love about making crostatas compared to baking a pie.

Final touches before it goes in the oven - butter and an egg wash.

Peach Crostata - serves 8

  • Uncooked pie dough (I use Williams-Sonoma Gluten-Free Piecrust Mix - only one packet needed)
  • 4  to 4 1/2 C sliced fresh peaches (6 to 8 peaches) - skin removed
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 T gluten free all-purpose flour (I use the dusting flour in the Williams-Sonoma Gluten-Free Piecrust Mix box)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 egg - beaten

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Combine peaches, cinnamon, sugar, and flour in a large bowl, and stir gently. 
  • Prepare one package of Williams-Sonoma Gluten-Free Piecrust Mix according to the directions on the package (you only need enough dough for a single-crust pie) - you will need a stand mixer fitted with a flat beater, 1 stick of cold unsalted butter, 3 tablespoons of ice water, and 1 large egg yolk.  
  • Place your dough ball on a piece of parchment paper that has been lightly dusted with the dusting flour included in the Piecrust Mix box.  Dust the top of your dough ball and your rolling pin with more flour, and roll out your pie crust until it's about 12-13 inches across.  
  • Pour your peach mixture into the center of the pie crust, leaving about 2 inches around the edge.  Fold the edges of your pie crust over the filling.
  • Place the butter in the middle of your crostata, and brush the pie crust with the beaten egg.  
  • Transfer your crostata, still on the parchment paper, to a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes in the lower third of your oven until the pie crust is golden brown.  
  • Serve warm, right out of the oven, or at room temperature, if you can wait.

Recipe Notes

If your peaches are not very sweet, increase the sugar to 2 1/2 tablespoons.

We usually cut our crostata in half, and have it for dessert two nights in a row.  I refrigerate the leftover crostata overnight, and reheat it in a 350 degree oven until it's a little bit warm.

In the future, I plan on experimenting with different fruits.  I love the apple crostatas my family makes in the fall, and I've had great crostatas with plums and nectarines at The Cafe at the Frick.

When I use raspberries, I increase the amount of sugar I use to 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons total, because raspberries tend to be less sweet than peaches.
    This recipe was inspired by a Bobby Flay recipe for Fresh Peach Crostata.


    Since writing this post, I have posted recipes for apple and raspberry crostatas on my blog.

    Monday, June 24, 2013

    Banana Berry Mango Smoothie

    After our 12 day eating extravaganza in California, I decided that we were going to have a healthy eating week.  Well, as healthy as this family gets.  I still need my regular visits to Le Macaron in Winter Park, and I can't go long without chocolate. 

    I've had this flourless chocolate cake with toasted marshmallows on my mind since I had it last week in Temecula.  I am determined to recreate it.  I'll keep you posted!  

    OK.....refocus on healthy!  

    My daughters can be a bit fussy about breakfast. Their first reaction when I make something new is usually , "I don't like that," unless of course I'm making donuts or something with chocolate. Thankfully, they enthusiastically ate the scones I made yesterday.  

    This morning, I suggested a fruit smoothie, which they've had before, and they both said yes, a rare moment in my house.  

    When I was pregnant with my twins, I drank a full recipe of this fruit smoothie with whole milk yogurt every morning for at least the last 5 months. It was a great, healthy way to start my day.  

    Banana Berry Mango Smoothie


    1 banana -- preferably cold
    1 1/2 C frozen berries without sugar (I love the Costco frozen berry mix with raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
    3/4 C frozen mango
    3/4 C plain yogurt 
    16 ounces of orange juice
    2 tsp of sugar or 1 T honey


    I used my stick blender, but you can blend all the ingredients together in a regular blender.  

    I always use Stonyfield plain yogurt in my fruit smoothies because it's organic, certified gluten free, and full of healthy probiotics. 

    The frozen fruit I used this morning -- 3/4 C of each

    My preferred berry blend for smoothies.  I buy it at Costco.  

    My All-Clad cooking utensil holder has been repurposed!  

    I love my stick blender -- best kitchen appliance I've bought in years, though, the donut maker is kind of fun too!  I buy all my small appliances from

    This recipe will fill up a 16 ounce glass 2 1/2 times.  

    Happy Monday!  Enjoy!  

    Sunday, June 23, 2013

    Disney World vs Disneyland

    Even if you visit Walt Disney World on a weekly basis like I do, Disneyland is still definitely worth the trip.  My daughters have actually decided that they like Disneyland better, probably because everything was new to them, even rides they can go on in Orlando.  I recommend at least 3 days with a park hopper pass if you hope to see all the major attractions.  If you're from the east coast, also be prepared for some jet lag, which kept us from enjoying all the parks had to offer at night.  We spent our entire first day in Disneyland,  day two at Disney California Adventure, and visited both parks twice on day three.  Thankfully, the Fairfield Inn Anaheim was across the street from Disneyland, so we could easily walk back for a short afternoon break each day.  I would have liked to have used our DVC (Disney Vacation Club) points, but had no luck booking a stay at The Villas at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.  If your home resort is in Florida, make sure you call on the first day you can book if you hope to stay at this beautiful resort.  We never made it off the waiting list because I waited too long to make the request!  

    Disneyland Park is a lot like the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, but there are some notable differences.  Sleeping Beauty's Castle seemed smaller than Cinderella's Castle, but it has a cute little walk through that tells the story of Sleeping Beauty.

     In Fantasyland, you can still enjoy Snow White's Scary Adventures and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, two attractions that are no longer at the Magic Kingdom.  

    We all thought It's a Small World was significantly better in California.  It was fun to search for the Disney characters interspersed throughout the ride. 

    Fantasyland rides that are better in the Magic Kingdom include the new and improved Dumbo, Peter Pan, and the Mad Tea Party, because it's under cover.  Be prepared to stand outside in line for some rides in Disneyland.   I missed the shade, fans, and air conditioning of Florida as I waited for some of the rides.  Thankfully, Anaheim's weather is much cooler in the summer than Orlando's. Fantasyland in Disneyland included some rides that the Magic Kingdom has never had, like Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, and the Matterhorn Bobsleds.  Fastpasses are not available for any rides in Fantasyland in California, so get there when the park opens, or be prepared to wait in lines that usually averaged 30 minutes.  Sadly, we missed Mickey and the Magical Map, a new live musical show in Fantasyland.  

    Tomorrowland in Anaheim is where you can find the Disneyland Monorail, Autopia (known as Tomorrowland Speedway in the Magic Kingdom), Space Mountain, Captain EO, Star Tours, Astro Orbitor, Innoventions, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.  First, I have to talk about Space Mountain, because it was one of our favorite rides.  It is so much better in Disneyland!  Because my girls could sit next to my husband and I, they reluctantly went on the ride, which they have never been on in the Magic Kingdom because of the separate seating.  It was so much smoother than its counterpart in Florida.  No sore neck for me!  My twins loved it so much, that we decided to ride it a second time later in the trip.  We also loved the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, which is a cross between the old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea from the Magic Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot.  

    The Disneyland Monorail travels between Tomorrowland and Downtown Disney and shockingly seemed to have no air conditioning!  Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters was a lot of fun and I liked it better than Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin in the Magic Kingdom because you can pick up your blaster.  The ride itself was very different too, so make sure to ride it!  Star Tours had only minor differences -- the number of rows and seats in the vehicle, and the robots you encounter while you wait in line.  The Disneyland Railroad is worth a ride, especially between Tomorrowland and Main Steet because of the sites and displays you will ride past.  

    In Frontierland and Critter Country, you will find Splash Mountain, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia, Tom Sawyer Island, Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which sadly, was closed for refurbishment.  Winnie the Pooh shocked us with its 3 minute wait....yes, that's what the sign said.  This was the first time I've ever seen that in a Disney park!  We enjoyed the ride and its slight differences from the Magic Kingdom.   

    Our first day in the park, we had lunch at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante.  The grilled chicken was quite good and the chef brought out corn tortillas for me from the back.  

    The four Adventureland attractions in Disneyland are the Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, Tarzan's Treehouse, and the very cool Indiana Jones Adventure, which uses vehicles and technology similar to the Animal Kingdom's Countdown to Extinction. The Jungle Cruise was on par with the ride in Orlando, with only some small differences.  Indiana Jones was definitely my favorite ride in this part of the park, because it was something new and different, and I tend to like thrill rides.    The Tiki Juice Bar in Adventureland has one of my favorite Disney treats -- Dole Whip!     

    Mickey's Toontown is worth a visit because of Gadget's Go Coaster and Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin.  Other attractions include Goofy's Playhouse, Donald's Boat, Chip 'n Dale Treehouse, and Minnie and Mickey's houses. 

    Probably my favorite area of Disneyland was New Orleans Square, home to two of my favorite Disney rides -- Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.  The Haunted Mansion's exterior is very different in Orlando and the ride is better and longer in Disney World. Disneyland does not yet have the cool head swapping technology at the end, and the interactive line through the cemetery.  

    Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland is much longer and easily beats out its sister ride in Disney World. New Orleans Square is also home to two great Disneyland restaurants -- Cafe Orleans and the Blue Bayou.   At the Blue Bayou, I had a delicious piece of salmon on a bed of corn risotto.  The salad, gluten free bread, and pear sorbet were also very good.  

    At Cafe Orleans, I had a salad as my entree, and we shared an order of  their famous pommes frites with Parmesan and garlic.  Initially, the chef told me I could not eat them because of cross- contamination in the fryers, but I asked him if he could heat up some new oil, and he agreed as long as I was willing to wait.  

    The Pommes  Frites were amazing, and were worth the wait.  

    The “Crescent City” Salad at Cafe Orleans is described as  Pan-seared Atlantic Salmon on top of fresh Spinach and Mixed Baby Greens, tossed with Caramelized Pecans, Red Grapes, Navel Orange Segments, Caramelized Onions, Chopped Green Onions, Roasted Sweet Corn, and Orange-Cilantro Vinaigrette.  I loved everything about this salad, and would definitely order it again if I ever have a chance to go back to Cafe Orleans.  

    We thoroughly enjoyed our meals at both restaurants and would be regulars at these establishments if they were in Disney World.  The ambiance of both was also great.  The Blue Bayou overlooks Pirates of the Caribbean and reminds me of the atmosphere of San Angel Inn, the restaurant in the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot.  At Cafe Orleans, most seating is outside, where you have a great view of the Rivers of America.  

    Dining reservations are completely different in Disneyland. Currently, you cannot make reservations online and you can only call 60 days out.  Don't expect a confirmation number either!  Like Disney World, I found all the chefs to be extremely helpful, and knowledgeable about what dishes contained gluten.

    On Main Street, U.S.A, the Holly Jolly Bakery Cafe has Udi's Blueberry Muffins, and OMG....It's Gluten Free brownies and chocolate chip cookies.  I enjoyed all 3 on this trip!  

    I also read that Village Haus Restaurant, River Belle Terrace, and the Hungry Bear Restaurant are good quick service restaurants for people with allergies at Disneyland Park.  

    About a two minute stroll from Disneyland, is Disney California Adventure, which contains the newly opened Cars Land.  Make sure you are in the park when it opens and go straight to Radiator Springs Racers or get in the long line for a fastpass.  They go quickly!  We went straight to the ride and had to wait about an hour, but it was worth it.  The ride is similar to Test Track at Epcot, but it has a Cars theme.  

    We also loved Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, but I would skip Luigi's Flying Tires unless you have little kids.  It was pretty unexciting!  

    I loved Paradise Pier, which reminded me of old-school amusement parks.  The centerpiece is Mickey's Fun Wheel, a Ferris wheel on which you can choose rocking or non-rocking cars.

    I also enjoyed the Silly Symphony Swings, the Golden Zephyr, Jumpin' Jellyfish, and a great little coaster called Goofy's Sky School, which reminded me of Primeval Whirl in the Animal Kingdom.  I didn't go on California Screamin', the big coaster with the loop, because I don't like huge hills or crazy fast take-offs anymore, but some of my in-laws tried it and loved it.  Sadly, we didn't have time to go on Toy Story Midway Mania because it had a long wait and we had to get in line for World of Color, California Adventure's nighttime water spectacular.  My advice -- get a fastpass for World of Color, get in line early, and don't stand near the water unless you want to get really wet.  We stood on an upper tier against a railing so no one could block our view.  It was a great show, but we were standing for 2 hours altogether, which was not fun.  The Little Mermaid -- Ariel's Undersea Adventure, is almost exactly like the new ride in the Magic Kingdom, but there was no line in California!  I had lunch at Paradise Garden Grill twice. I loved the grilled steak on a skewer with rice, chimichurri sauce, and cucumbers.  Let them know you have a special diet request so they can give you GF rice.  Boardwalk Pizza, right next door, also told me that they could make me a cheese or pepperoni pizza.  

    We passed on the Grizzly River Run (didn't want to get wet) and Redwood Creek Challenge Trail attractions in Grizzly Peak, but we did ride Soarin' in neighboring Condor Flats.  The ride seemed to have fewer seats than its counterpart in Epcot and it lacked the wonderful scents that the ride in Orlando has, which was a big disappointment.  I love the smell of oranges on Soarin' in Florida!  

    On Buena Vista Street, we caught the Red Car Trolley and enjoyed a short ride to Hollywood Land to the attraction I will never, ever get on again for the rest of my life.....The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror!!!!  Have I mentioned I don't like big drops?  I rode it once when it first opened in Hollywood Studios.  Been there, done that, been scared half to death....I'm good!  

    We skipped Muppet Vision 3D, Animation Academy, Turtle Talk with Crush, and Disney Junior Live on Stage in favor of two attractions that Disney World does not have.  Disney's Aaladdin -- A Musical Spectacular was a lot of fun and worth the wait.  We also enjoyed Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue, a ride that follows the storyline of the original movie.  

    In Bug's Land, a great area for little kids, the girls and I rode Flik's Flyers, a cute little ride in which you soar through the sky in a hot air balloon made of leaves. 

    We skipped  It's Tough to be a Bug, because we can see it at Animal Kingdom, and ran out of time for Francis' Ladybug Boogie and Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies.  Pacific Wharf only has 2 attractions -- The Bakery Tour, where you watch bakers create sourdough bread, and Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar, which had this description -- "See the exciting changes in store"". We didn't get to see either one because we left California Adventure early on day 2 to spend a great afternoon with friends at Huntington Beach. 

    Yes, Disney World has four parks, and Disneyland only has two, but it's worth the trip for several reasons.  For starters, I really wanted to see the place where all the magic began. Plus, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure both have many attractions that don't exist at Disney World.  Even the rides that can be found in both Orlando and Anaheim are worth riding because they are never 100% the same.  We enjoyed looking for and talking about the differences.  We were heading to Temecula for a wedding, so there was no way I was passing up a chance to go to Disneyland while we were in California.  I'm so glad we went!