Tag: disney magic

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!

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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

Spreading a Little Magic at Walt Disney World

Spreading a Little Magic at Walt Disney World

I have to apologize for being a little late with this post. I’m a teacher, and this past week was the last week of school. It’s CRAZY. But I’m back now, and I have lots of great posts planned! Mexico Margarita Cupcakes are coming – and they are fantastic!

But I want to talk about something different today. About magic.

©VanessaEdwards Cinderella's Castle

If you’ve ever been to Walt Disney World or any Disney park before, I want to ask you to take a moment and close your eyes and remember walking into the park. Stroll through your memories. There were, I’m sure, a lot of fantastic images there. But I want you to see if you can remember something that most people overlook – the Cast Members (CM).

We talk all the time about magical moments and how to have a magical Disney vacation. Many times it’s a Cast Member who makes that magical moment or memory possible. Usually when you think about it, they blend into the scenery. They are there in the background taking care of serving customers, or picking up a piece of trash, or helping a family find something or do something. Many of the memories where something awesome happened, a cast member was involved in providing that boost of pixie dust for your family.

So today I’m going to suggest something – rather than just being a recipient of the magic, maybe we should help encourage it as well.

Cast Members deal with a LOT of guests every day. They do it with a smile, and in costumes and temperatures that would make lesser mortals melt into puddles of goo. Seriously. I’d die if I had to work outside in Florida in August in those costumes!

They help make all that magic possible, and I believe that you can’t do a job like that unless you have a real passion for it. And while going to Disney World is like nothing else, most people don’t think about making magic themselves. But there is no reason a guest can’t make a little pixie dust for a Cast Member.

Next time you’re there, take a moment to thank a CM. Maybe they helped make your day – maybe they are making magic for another guest and you saw it. But take a moment to acknowledge what they’ve done.

They do a hard job – Disney is supposed to be the Happiest Place on Earth, and working there means that even if you are having a terrible day, you are expected to act like everything is amazing. They work in a service position, and as someone who also works in a service position (sort of – all these things are true in education) where a lot is expected of you every day, often the most attention happens when you are doing something wrong, not when something is going right. It’s always a nice change to have someone tell you thank you for doing a great job. And in a CM’s position – where they deal with hundreds of guests a day, not all of them pleasant, I can see where a simple thank you and smile may go a long way.

In my experience, doing little random acts of kindness helps the giver just as much as the receiver.

So when you’re at Walt Disney World next, and you want to spread a little magic of your own, I’ve made up a couple of free printables that might work. I’d recommend printing them on cardstock or some kind of fancy paper (but that is just me). Have your kids hand them out. Carry one in your park bag and decide as a family that you’re going to give one away every day. These two designs are available to everyone. On June 12, I’ll have uploaded a few more designs that are for blog subscribers only. If you’d like access to those, just subscribe to the blog!Disney Cast Member Appreciation Certificates

Disney Cast Member Appreciation Certificates
Click on photo to download PDF.

 

If you aren’t comfortable walking up to a CM and handing them this and explaining, that’s okay! I’m not the most outgoing of people either. But if a CM or Mousekeeping or other person needs some recognition, maybe try social media. I’d suggest heading to Twitter. Send a shout out telling what the CM has done that was so awesome. Make sure you say where you are, and the CM’s name (if you can), and tagging the WDW twitter account. I’ve seen several times where WDW has seen those tweets and has gone back and recognized the CM for their work.

You can also take a moment to help make a little magic in another guest’s day. If you have an extra set of dollar store glow sticks you’ve brought in, share it with that family with small children next to you. If you’re playing a game in line while waiting for a ride, invite the family in front of you to join in. You never know – that may end up being the highlight of their trip.

Several years ago I went on a roadtrip with a friend. We met up with a group of her friends, and they were going to Harry Potter World at Universal, on opening weekend. I am not that big a Harry fan, so they dropped me off at EPCOT in the morning. I stood in line for Soarin’, and the wait was well over 45 minutes. A CM came by asking for “single flyers” and I got to jump to the front of the line.  I ended up at the end of a row with a large family. When we got off, they asked if I was alone. When I said yes, they were so concerned. “You can be part of our family for the day!” I declined, but it was one of the nicest things I’ve had someone do in a theme park. She genuinely wanted to make sure I had a great day in Disney World.

That kind of attitude is what helps spread a little kindness. Like Cinderella says, “Have courage and be kind.” In the world we live in, it never hurts to help spread a little pixie dust – whether in everyday life, or the Happiest Place on Earth.

If you do this, please comment and tell me how it went – or even send a photo! I’d love to post it on the blog. And if you’ve had a magical experience at Disney World, I’d love to hear about that too!

‘Ohana Grilled Shrimp

‘Ohana Grilled Shrimp

This past weekend, we had friends over for a Moana dinner and a movie party. Like any good party (or at least the ones at our house) there was a lot of fabulous food! We tried to keep with a Polynesian theme for all the dishes, and it was a hit!

We started with an easy salad – my garden isn’t producing lettuce, so we had an easy bagged salad, with homemade croutons and Honey Lime Dressing. The recipe for the dressing actually came from the Polynesian Resort’s ‘Ohana restaurant on my first trip to Disney World with my parents back in high school! When we ate there, we all LOVED the food. My mom took a chance and asked our server for the recipe. We were all thrilled and surprised when the server came back with printouts of all the ones we asked for!

Back to the party – we made the dressing, and we made rice, and we made three different main courses. There was ‘Ohana Shrimp, ‘Ohana Chicken, and Boma Marinated Flank Steak. I will be the first to point out that the steak is not even close to the Polynesian theme. But its DELICIOUS, so we made it anyway. It was the last thing off the grill, after we’d eaten most of the chicken and shrimp, and people said they would just try a bite, but they were stuffed. We also made the Maui Wayfinder Sunrise, which is quite a tasty way to start off the evening, and Bananas Foster Cookies for dessert!

There was only a quarter of it left when I turned around later.

But we aren’t talking about beef. In this blog post, you’re going to find the recipes for the ‘Ohana shrimp. We made this for three reasons: it fit the theme, one of our friends is a vegetarian (pescatarian, I suppose, if you want to get technical), and because it’s just YUMMY.

Ohana Grilled Shrimp

The recipe says to marinate the shrimp for two days. We have made this and barely marinated it, marinated it for a couple hours, and for this particular meal, for the full two days. The taste is awesome, no matter which way you do it. If you want them really spicy, then marinate them for two days. That was the biggest difference I noted. The longer it sits, the more spice it picks up. And for the record, I don’t really eat spicy, but I can handle this, so it’s not going to leave tears running down your face and smoke rolling out your ears.

I recommend putting this in a plastic resealable bag (and then in a bowl. I’ll say it every time.) for easy clean up. You can also pour off a cup or so before you put the shrimp in and save it to baste them with. I frequently make this in a skillet rather than the grill and just pour a little of the marinade in to help make a sauce.

You will need to either make this in a food processor or a bowl and then pour it into the bag. The directions from the original recipe say to whisk it together in a bowl. But I already had the food processor out for the Ohana chicken, so I just pulsed it a few times in that. I’d probably do it again that way, just because it was so easy.

Gather your ingredients. I chose not to use hot garlic chili sauce and regular garlic chili sauce both. Instead, I just used the regular garlic chili sauce and used a little more than originally called for. I have significantly scaled back the amounts of ingredients, because it made a TON of marinade, and unless you’re making several pounds of shrimp, you just don’t need that much.

Anyway, put your garlic chili paste, finely minced ginger, garlic, honey, salt, and pepper in your bowl or food processor. Add the oil in a thin stream, whisking well or keeping the food processor going until all the oil has been blended in.

Then put your shrimp in the bag and pour over the marinade. I used 25-30 size shrimp, and got them peeled and deveined. You could get shrimp still in the shells, but I wanted to keep the mess to a minimum. That is up to you! I try to seal it with as little air as possible (without making a huge mess), and then put it in the fridge. As I said, the recipe says two days. I say anywhere from 2-4 hours to 2 days, depending on what you want. It’s really convenient to be able to start it the day before a party, because it cooks quickly and you can get things made in advance to alleviate some stress the day of.

Ohana Grilled Shrimp

Then you can either sauté the shrimp in a skillet, or put the shrimp on the grill. I’d recommend a grill basket or skewers if you go the grill route, as it will make life a lot easier.

Either way, the hardest part about this dish is keeping it on the table longer than a few minutes! The pictures I got of these were snapped quick, because they were gone almost as soon as the platter hit the table!

Ohana Shrimp

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'Ohana Grilled Shrimp
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

This is slightly altered from the print out our server gave us in the Polynesian resort's 'Ohana Restaurant years ago. 

Servings: 4 people
Ingredients
  • 3/4 tbsp Minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup Minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/4 cup chili garlic sauce (use regular, not hot)
  • 1 cups Honey
  • 1 cups Lemon juice
  • 1/2 quart Canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 lbs Peeled and de-veined shrimp 25-30 count really, use whatever size works for you
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients except for the oil well. While whisking, pour in the oil slowly. You can also use a food processor.

  2. Place the shrimp in a resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the shrimp, reserving about 3/4 cup for basting, if you like. Marinate the shrimp for 2-4 hours to 2 days, depending on your time.

  3. Once you're shrimp are done marinating, skewer the shrimp. You can cook them loose, but if you are grilling them, skewers will make the process easier.

  4. Heat the grill, and place your shrimp on there, basting as occasionally. Alternately, you can saute them in a non-stick skillet. 

  5. Cook shrimp to an internal temperature of 145ºF, and enjoy!

Boma Marinated Flank Steak

Boma Marinated Flank Steak

This recipe is AWESOME. It is the Durbin Marinated Flank Steak from Walt Disney World’s Boma restaurant, though I’ve adapted the recipe found on AllEars.net and in my Disney cookbooks. If you can, I definitely would try it! And I must apologize, because this recipe was previously posted on my website, but after updating earlier this week, I realized that I lost three recipes! So this is actually a repost, and I am sorry for the inconvenience! Either way, it is still delicious, and you should still try it!

I mean, my husband ate three plates full, and it totally sold him on my new blogging endeavor. Seriously. If that isn’t a pretty good endorsement, I don’t know what else might be!

The prep work for this is pretty easy. You don’t have to measure everything out into bowls or on a plate like I did here. I just though it looked prettier than the disaster that it would be to take a photo of my spice cabinet.  Someday I’ll get around to fixing that.

Most of these spices aren’t too strange. But if you’re like me, cardamom isn’t something you always keep in the cabinet. I’ve only recently decided I like this spice (after years of professing to hate it), at least when mixed with other things, and I nearly left it out when I saw the price tag at the store. But its worth it. Really. Just go buy the bottle, and I promise I’ve got more recipes that call for cardamom, so you won’t feel like you’ve paid so much for just this one thing.

Though once you taste it, you’ll make it again. We’re already planning to have it at our Moana dinner and movie night, even though its not strictly matching the theme. Its just too tasty to not have!

Anyway, start out by prepping things. Pull out a bowl and a gallon sized resealable baggie. You can just put this in the bowl if you want, but I have a tendency to make big messes, so I like to put it in the baggie. Then the bowl. Because sometimes baggies leak. Ask me how I know.

I chopped the garlic and ginger and got those ready because that’s really the only thing that takes any time. And a tip – use a spoon to peel the ginger. Just scrape the skin off – its so thin it doesn’t take much effort.

Once you have that chopped up, put it in a small mixing bowl. Measure in all the dry spices, and then your liquids. Mix it up well with a whisk. Normally I’d tell you to dump it all in the bag and mush it around. But this does have quite a lot of spices in it, so I find that whisking does seem to help distribute everything.

Put your flank steak in the baggie and then pour the liquid over it. Massage things in a bit, and get as much air as you can out (without spilling!) and seal the bag. Stick it in the bowl, and put everything in the fridge. I left mine for only about 4 hours. I’d recommend overnight. It was AWESOME at 4 hours. But I think that it would be even better and a little more tender if it was left longer.

Once you’re ready to cook, go out and start the grill. Or have the designated grill master do it. In my house, that’s my husband’s domain, so he was in charge. It only takes about 10 ish minutes on each side, depending on how done you want the flank steak to be.

Once you bring it in off the grill, let it sit for 10 minutes (really it should be like 15 , but who can wait that long?). Don’t do anything with it until that time is up. It makes a difference in how juicy it is. Honest. Then, slice it thinly across the grain and try not to eat the whole thing alone.

If you try this, and I think you should, please let me know what you think!

Disney Boma Marinated Flank Steak

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Boma's Durbin Marinated Flank Steak
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

This recipe is adapted from the Durbin Marinated Flank Steak recipe found online at All Ears.net, and the recipe found in _____________.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: African, Disney Dishes
Servings: 2 people
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 1 -1.5 pound flank steak
  • 1/4 c neutral oil (canola, safflower, vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 c malt vinegar
  • 1/4 balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 2 T teriyaki sauce
  • 2 T ground cardamom
  • 2 T crushed red pepper
  • 1.5 T dried thyme
  • 1.5 T turmeric
  • 1.5 T ground coriander
  • 1/4 c minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 c minced fresh garlic
Instructions
  1. Whisk all the wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and whisk until combined.
  2. Put the flank steak into a large gallon baggie, and pour in the marinade. Get as much air out of the bag as possible and massage it a little.
  3. Put the marinating steak into a shallow dish where it can lie flat, and marinade for at least 5 hours, up to 24 hours.
  4. Heat a grill to around 375 degrees. Put the steak on and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side for medium well. Adjust your time to suit the desired level of doneness.
  5. Let rest 10 minutes, and then slice thinly, being sure to go against the grain.
  6. Devour!

 

Top 5 Reasons to Love Disney as an Adult

Top 5 Reasons to Love Disney as an Adult

 

Disney World is an amazing place. But there are some people who will look at you and wonder, “Why bother going to Disney as an adult? Isn’t it just an overpriced place for the kids, with no real thrills?”

Clearly, they’ve never looked at it the right way.

There are lots of reasons a Disney fan can give as to why they love the parks. As this is one of my first blog posts, I thought it would only be appropriate to mention a few of the reasons why I love it so much.

At Disney, it’s okay to release your inner child.

Do you remember the excitement you felt as a kid when the newest Disney movie came out? Or when you got to go to a theme park for the day? Or come home after school and watch cartoons? Of course! Being a kid, you were allowed to geek out over a cartoon character, or play with stuffed animals, and daydream about how the movie would have been if you were the princess (or prince!). At Disney World, you can let go of all the adulating for a while and just let yourself enjoy being a kid again. You can get your picture taken with Mickey, you can laugh at the jokes in the Enchanted Tiki Room, and you can generally let yourself believe in a little magic again. Or just ride Space Mountain for the nth time. There’s plenty of time for the real world. But at least for a little while, you can let it go (pun intended) and just soak up the magic.

There is more to see and do than standing in line for Mickey and buying a stuffed animal.

Spend real time walking through the World Showcase areas. Morocco has some really amazing views and things to look at and enjoy!

Disney World was built as a place for families to be entertained, and kids were the biggest portion of that vision. But don’t let think the adults have been left out! There are lots of opportunities for adults to enjoy themselves. For me, EPCOT is the most “adult” of all the park. I can see where a kid might think the countries of World Showcase boring. But as an adult, they are pretty awesome to wander through, look around, and enjoy the taste of another culture and country. Beyond that, there are lots of things sprinkled in the park that you will appreciate as an adult that may go over the kids heads, and there are many things that only an adult who has seen some of the older movies and Disney shows will appreciate.

The Food.

This blog is food-centered. So it’s no surprise that the food makes an appearance on here. In my experience, most kids are pretty mundane eaters. Don’t get me wrong – some are adventurous, but as a rule, kids just want food so they can get back to the park. Adults, on the other hand, more often can appreciate the joys of a great meal in an awesome setting. No matter what restaurant you pick, the worst meal at Disney is still likely to be miles better than the normal chain restaurants from home. The themes are amazing, and the food is made with great attention and care. It tastes good, looks good, and there are so many restaurants to choose from, you should be able to find something you like!

As an adult, you can appreciate the detail.

Come on, not too many kids would find this as entertaining as I did.

This kind of goes with #2, but adults can appreciate some of the inside jokes in things (Jungle Cruise, anyone?). The Imagineers dropped little things all over the park. Some of the labels on boxes in the Agrabah area of Magic Kingdom, for instance, may seem familiar to an adult. And only someone who isn’t on overload with sugar and Mickey and OMG another ride, will be able to see it. As an adult, you can take your time, breath, and enjoy yourself. No one will mind if you buy a dole whip, take a seat on a bench next to the castle and people watch for awhile. (And you totally should!)

There is always something new.

This one goes for everyone – not just adults. Unless you’re going to Disney World every day (and even then you may argue that it still applies) there is always something new to see. It may not be new to the park, but it may be a feature you missed, a show you haven’t seen, or a new world added since the last time you visited (Anyone else excited to see Pandora?). As adults, sometimes we have a tendency to check off a place we’ve visited on our mental list, crossing it off as being “done.” But I’ve never had a trip to Disney where it became boring because I knew what to expect. There are always hidden secrets, an inside joke, or a new attraction to pique my interest. And on the subject of food, there are so many great restaurants with so many dishes, I’ll never be able to get through them all!

 

What do you like best as an adult at Disney?