Month: July 2017

A Ratatouille Remy Would Be Proud Of!

A Ratatouille Remy Would Be Proud Of!

Ever since I watched Ratatouille, I’ve been planning to try making my own Ratatouille. The movie version just looks so good, and so fancy, that I had to try it. Since we had eggplant ripening on the vine outside, I decided this week was going to be the time!

The important thing (in my opinion) to remember when you’re making this is that there appears to be no set recipe for this! Most recipes for traditional French dishes are very similar. However, this one seems to be more of a comfort food, and every Mom and Grandma has their own version. Some are very “organized” like this one, made with layers. Some are all cut up and mixed together. Some recipes I’ve seen have you roast the vegetables separately first, and then cook them together.

What does that mean? It means you can pretty much do whatever you want. 🙂 If you don’t like eggplant or squash – leave them out. Substitute them. Some recipes called for potatoes. Some didn’t. You can alter this to fit you and your family’s tastebuds. You can also alter the amounts. My recipe makes a small 8″ round dish. There are only two of us, and squash and zucchini aren’t our favorites. I didn’t want to make a huge amount and then end up not eating it. I chose to slice and arrange everything as well. You can just chop them up and dump them in – they’ll still taste good – maybe even better because it will all be mixed together!

Ingredients for Ratatouille

Overall, it’s a healthy, pretty easy dish, though it does require some time.

You need a lot of veggies for this. Again, feel free to swap or leave out things you want to change. You can also put more of the things you like most. But a couple cloves of garlic, an onion, red pepper, a couple of tomatoes, a couple zucchini, a yellow squash, an eggplant, bay leaves, thyme, basil, oregano, and olive oil are what I used in mine. I used fresh thyme because I had it – feel free to use dried instead.

The first thing I did was to slice my onion thinly. I wanted to caramelize them before putting them in, but it’s an optional step. You can just saute them until tender and it will work just fine. If you want to caramelize them, you’re going to put them in a non stick skillet with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and let them cook over low heat for about an hour. (See? This is why I say you may not want to do that.)

Once they are cooked, you’re going to seed and dice your tomatoes. I seeded them over a strainer so that I could add the juice to the skillet. I also diced my red pepper, and minced two cloves of garlic. All this went into the skillet, and I turned the heat up to medium and let it cook for about 5 minutes, until the peppers were starting to get tender.

You’re going to pour this into the bottom of your baking dish. If you decide to just chop things and bake them together, you’d mix in the other ingredients. But in this case, I wanted to use it as a base to help hold the slices of vegetables in place. Does that make sense?

This is probably the hardest step of the whole process. Seriously. The next hardest thing is slicing the squash, zucchini, and eggplant. Mainly because I used a mandolin. You don’t have to. I did it because I like that I put in minimal effort and they come out thin. But I also know that mandolins are sharp. Do not find this out first hand. Just trust me on this. I was at a bridal shower once helping to set up when one of the other bridesmaids was using a mandolin and chatting it up. She ended up in the bathroom holding her finger over her head while others applied pressure, and a few girls had to step out to get fresh air because there was blood.

Don’t worry – in the end, she was fine. It didn’t even require a trip to the urgent care.

But believe me when I say those things are sharp!

Anyhoo… once everything is sliced, the rest is pretty simple. Before you start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Make sure there are no cookie sheets stuffed inside to dry. (Yeah, yeah, I know I shouldn’t do that.) Layering everything takes a little time, but it looks pretty awesome. Having the onion mixture in the bottom helps keep everything in place as you layer them in. I alternated the types of vegetables so it would look pretty – zucchini, squash, and eggplant. In the dish I was using, I ended up only needing one of each vegetable (though I bought more). If you use a bigger dish, it may take longer and take more slices. I even had some left over.

Remy's Ratatouille

Drizzle another tablespoon or so of olive oil over the top of the vegetables, and then tuck your bay leaves in. You could put them in the onion mixture as well if you wanted. Sprinkle the top with thyme, basil, and oregano, and then place your parchment paper over the top. Put an oven safe plate or bowl to weigh it down, and pop it in the oven. I put it in for about 1 hour.

After the hour is up, carefully take the paper and bowl off, and bake another 30-45 minutes. The liquid should have reduced a little, and the top will be roasted and deliciously brown.

Once its done, take it out and enjoy! You could serve it with baked potato, rice, or just some nice French bread. Either way, it will be melt in your mouth delicious! The only thing I will say is that you HAVE to make sure that you get some of that onion mixture on the bottom. Don’t forget that part! That was my favorite part, and I thought it was crucial to have with the squash. If you were to just chop all this in similar size pieces and roast it, I think the flavors would mingle a bit more. Still, this was pretty delicious as is!

Remy's Ratatouille

 

 

table rating
This is a Table recipe – mainly because it requires a few more steps. It’s worth the extra effort!

 

Print
Remy's Ratatouille
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 15 mins
 

Inspired by the scene at the end of Ratatouille the movie!

Servings: 2 people
Ingredients
  • 1 medium zuchinni, sliced thin
  • 1 medium yellow squash, sliced thin
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil you can add more as you need
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Thinly slice a large sweet onion. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a nonstick skillet over low heat. Cook, stirring occaisionally, until onions are golden brown. (About one hour)

  2. As your onions are cooking, seed and dice two tomatoes, mince your garlic, and dice the red bell pepper. When the onions are nearly finished, add the rest of these ingredients and turn the heat up to medium. Saute for five minutes, or until the peppers and tomatoes begin to soften.

  3. Pour the onion mixture into the bottom of your pan, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


  4. Using a knife or mandolin, slice the zucchini, eggplant, and yellow squash into thin rounds. 

  5. Alternating the vegetables, layer them over the onion mixture. Drizzle with remaining olive oil, and sprinkle the herbs over the dish. Tuck the bay leaves between the vegetables, or add before layering squash.

  6. Place a piece of parchment cut to fit your dish over the vegetables, and weigh it down with an oven safe plate or bowl. 

  7. Bake for 1 hour, then remove the parchment and bake another 30-45 minutes, or until some of the liquid has reduced and the dish is brown and roasted.

Hitting the Road – Make a Disney Car Bag for under $20!

Hitting the Road – Make a Disney Car Bag for under $20!

Our trip is a little less than a month away! Since that is the case, I’m starting to prep for Disney. Setting things aside that I plan to take, and trying to be more organized and proactive. (it’s good to have goals, right?) We are going this year with my parents, and my in-laws. This means we’ll be taking two cars. Its a long ride down to Orlando, so I thought it would be nice to have a bag of goodies in each car to keep people occupied. Just because we’re all adults doesn’t mean we don’t get bored!

I think the total for everything in both bags was probably around $30-40 bucks. Mainly because I bought extras of a few things that are not strictly for the car, but for the trip in general. If you were only making one bag, you could easily get everything for under $20. Everything was from the Dollar Store, with a few items from Five and Below thrown in as well. I was super excited to find Disney bags at the Dollar Tree!

Disney Car Bag

 

What’s Inside?

Expanding Towels

First, we have the silly “Magic Towels” that they sell. There were tons of them – I ended up with 6. One for each of us. I picked all Disney characters, but they had tons of Marvel characters and others like Paw Patrol. These are actually pretty handy. They are tiny, so they pack well, they expand in water, so you could use them as a quick clean up in the parks or on the road with a little dribble of water from a water bottle, and they can be used and washed, or used and tossed. At one point our dollar store used to sell a version of towels like this that were a little smaller than a laundry tab and came multiple ones in a package. they were plain white, but they were excellent as disposable towels for a trip like this. Sadly, I haven’t been able to find them again.

 

 

 

Now we’ve got everyone’s favorite – travel tissues. These are always handy. ‘Nuff said.Travel Tissues

 

 

 

 

 

Disney Crayons

Disney Puzzle and Coloring BooksThe Dollar Tree near me always has a lot of Disney themed things – especially things like coloring books, activity books and the like. I picked up some puzzle books and coloring books (hey – grown ups like coloring too!) and a packet of pens, and a multi pack of these crayon sets. They’re cute, and I’ll use them even if no one else does!

 

 

 

Battery Powered Personal Fan

Okay, many, many years ago I splurged (or my dad did) and got a mister fan from Disney World. I still have it, and I’ll be bringing it with me again because it is WORTH IT to me. But I did find these handheld fans at the Dollar Tree, so I picked up about four. I figured that others on the trip may want them, and if they break, they were a dollar. I also bought a fold out fan at the same time, because it actually moves more air in the end, and I thought it might come in handy. You know, for when I run out the batteries and don’t want to pay the price in the gift shop for the ones at Disney.

I also picked up ponchos in the Dollar Tree. They are thin and flimsy, but I thought it would save us from paying so much for them in the parks. That being said, my husband has zero intention of wearing his (he was way more polite about saying it though), and I actually hate wearing them as well. Most times, I’d rather be a little damp, but you never know. Better to be prepared, right?

 

 

The License Plate Game Travel BingoOkay, I was SUPER excited when we came across these in the Dollar Tree. I don’t know about you, but when I was a  kid we had these heavy cardboard games with little pink plastic slide windows and you slid it over the little box every time you saw something on the trip. Did any of you have those?

I can’t tell you what was on there anymore, but I know my brother and I spent a  lot of time playing with those. I wish we still had them! We also spent a lot of time playing the license plate game and the alphabet game. So these were a no brainer when I saw them. I mean, for a buck, why not?

 

 

 

I didn’t photograph everything, but I did include a few more. I found a couple travel versions of games at Five and Below, so I bought the Chomp game with the Alligator, where you push a tooth down and try not to get your finger chomped, as well as a deck of Old Maid cards. They had lots of other options,  but I figured two was enough. We can always switch games at a rest stop if needed. I also put snacks, water bottles, pens, pencils, and a small USB port that plugs into the cigarette lighter in the car. In my own bag I included a $5 quick charger pack from Target, and a popup laundry basket. These aren’t really car items, but they are great in the hotel room. I thought the laundry hamper especially would be useful. We can keep all the dirty things in one place until we are ready to pack up.

Anyway, I hope that these ideas will help you create a bag of fun for your gang in the car during your next road trip, whether it be to Disney or to the mountains or across town! For under $20 you can put something together that will suit your family’s tastes and help keep everyone occupied while on the road.

What things would you change or include that I didn’t? I ‘d love to hear!

Create a Car Activity Bag

 

 

Belle’s Beef Ragout – Disney Inspired Recipe

Belle’s Beef Ragout – Disney Inspired Recipe

For the next recipe on the blog, I thought I’d go with one straight from “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast – Beef Ragout! My version is an easy, slow cooker recipe that provides a hearty, tasty meal at the end of the day. You could easily put all the ingredients for this in a gallon freezer bag and then dump it in the crock pot in the morning before work as well.

The first thing you’ll need is a beef roast. You can use any kind you like – I used a london broil because I already had one in the freezer. I’m all about using what I’ve got before I go out and buy more things. You’ll also need tomato paste, garlic, oregano, basil, diced tomatoes, beef broth, safe, thyme, celery, carrots, onion, bay leaves, a bell pepper, red wine, rosemary, and beef.

Ingredients for Belle's Beef Ragout

Here’s where this recipe gets to be great – you have some prep work ahead of you. But don’t let the ingredient list or the chopping needed throw you off. Once you do that, you just have to dump everything together in your slow cooker, and then walk away. It makes this super easy!

Pull out your onion and dice it, then put it in the slow cooker. Mince your garlic, add it in. Peel and chop the carrot. You can dice it fine, but I did pretty good sized slices. It’s going to be in the slow cooker all day, so bigger chunks will hold up a bit better. Then, you guessed it, throw it in. Dice up your pepper and celery and put those in as well. I prefer red because I like the taste better, but you can use any color of bell pepper you like. For that matter, you could use any type of sweet pepper you wanted. Whatever makes you happy will work. We’ve got Jimmy Nardello peppers growing in the garden right now. If I make this again when they are ripe, I’d just use those.

Once everything is diced and in the slow cooker, add the other ingredients. I had rosemary and sage in the garden, so I used fresh and chopped it up fine. If you don’t, just use about half as much dried. Any herb dried has a more intense flavor, so you won’t need as much. I also used homemade beef broth, but you could easily use canned/boxed stock, or you can add bouillon cubes with the appropriate amount of water. If you’re going that route, just check the bouillon cubes to see what it says about how much water and cube to use. Also, and you probably know this by now, make sure you use a wine you’d drink. If you don’t like it to drink, you probably won’t like it to eat either. If you don’t want to use wine, just leave it out. It isn’t a problem. (though I do think it tastes a little better)

I like to give it a good stir once everything is in, and then add the beef. Make sure you get it down so as much of it is in the mixture as possible. I tend to flip the beef over in the pot to make sure it’s coated in the rest of the ingredients.

Put it on low and let it cook for 8 hours. When you come back at the end of the day, the beef should be falling apart and there should be a thick, lovely sauce made for you! Then, cook up some egg noodles to use as the vehicle for this ragout! If you remember, you can try to fish out the thyme stem and bay leaves. I never do. I always warn people they might get it in their bowl, and move on. No one has complained yet!

Belle's Beef Ragout

I’m pretty sure Belle couldn’t have resisted this if they’d put a bowl in front of her!

quick rating

Print
Belle's Beef Ragout
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
8 hr
Total Time
8 hr 10 mins
 

A delicious, easy slow cooker meal inspired by the song "Be Our Guest" from Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Servings: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 1-2 lb beef roast (london broil, round, etc)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cup carrot, sliced
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1/3 cup beef broth
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • 2-3 leaves fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 rib celery, diced
Instructions
  1. Chop all vegetables and place in slow cooker. 

  2. Add in all other ingredients except beef and stir to combine.

  3. Add beef, and cover. Cook for 8-10 hours on low.

  4. Serve over pasta and enjoy!

Belle's Beef Ragout