Tag: disney recipe

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

 

 

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

 

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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.

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

Chien-Po’s Tofu Bowl

Chien-Po’s Tofu Bowl

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We were watching Mulan the other night, and the scene at the beginning where Mulan is making her first appearance as Ping came onto the screen. Yao is calmed by Chien-Po, who picks him up and chants something that sounds like a string of nonsense, but a few words are recognizable. The only one I really heard, however, was “tofu.”

Did I mention I was hungry when I started watching this?

I lived for the first two years of college on tofu and bad cafeteria pizza. While I don’t eat pizza much anymore, tofu has stuck with me. Add to it that one of my roommates through college was Japanese-American and from Hawaii… we ate a lot of tofu. One of the things I liked was Ma Po Tofu. But I didn’t have any mix, and short of ordering it online, there’s nowhere here to buy it.

So I decided, as I watched Mulan, that I could take the same basic concept and create my own dish. Thus, Chien-Po’s Tofu Bowl was born!

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can easily substitute veggie meat in this rather than including the ground meat. Regardless of your food preferences, I would recommend two things for certain – serve this with plain white rice, and make sure you use extra stock. You can add cornstarch or arrowroot powder to the sauce to thicken it if you want, but if you let this reduce too much, it will be REALLY salty. The soy sauce and black bean sauce are pretty salty on their own – reduced down they can be too much.

First, chop all the veggies. Don’t be like me and pull things out and try to prep as you go. It usually slows things down and something might burn. I’m getting better about prepping first, and I have to tell you it really makes things easier. When you’re chopping your onions and peppers, I would recommend a pretty fine dice. Then again, I am one of those weird people who doesn’t like huge chunks of veg in my dish. If you don’t have a problem with that, you can just rough chop them. Whatever makes you happy. It may change how long they need to saute and soften a bit, but you can judge that. I trust you.

Once everything is prepped, heat your olive oil in a big non stick pan. It is better to have too big a pan than not big enough. After you get the tofu in and you try to stir it around, you don’t want to have to worry about flipping it all over the stove. Not that I’ve done that or anything.

Chien Po Tofu Bowl Onions and Peppers

Once you’ve got the oil heated, dump in your onions, peppers, and garlic. Continue to saute these for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and softened a bit. After it hits that point, add in your ground meat and brown it off. When it is cooked through, drain off any excess fat.

Next add your sauces, broth, and seasonings. Don’t add any extra salt! You don’t need it. Trust me. After you have everything in, make sure everything is well combined and the broth is simmering. Let it cook for a few minutes. While its doing its thing, drain your tofu and cut it into small cubes. You can do big ones if you like, but when I did it the first time, I found the big ones had a tendency to end up a little torn if you weren’t paying attention when stirring them in.

Put your tofu in the pan and gently stir it into the sauce. You want to make sure its coated in sauce. Let it simmer for a few more minutes. You don’t need to cook the tofu, but you want to give it a chance to absorb some of the sauce flavors and warm up.

Chien-Po's Tofu Bowl

Once its done turn off the heat, and get your bowls of white rice ready. Serve some of the tofu mixture right over top. If you don’t own a rice cooker, I highly recommend them. I always manage to screw up rice made in a regular saucepan. Its either not done all the way through, or its stuck to the bottom of the pan. With the rice cooker, I don’t have those issues, and its relatively inexpensive. As a bonus, the one I bought also comes with a steaming tray that fits over the top.

 

 

Chien Po's Tofu Bowl

 

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Chien-Po's Tofu Bowl
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground pork, turkey, or beef
  • 1 block firm or extra firm tofu (usually 12-16 oz), drained and cubed
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp black bean garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 c chicken or beef broth, or veg stock
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp sweet thai chili garlic sauce
Instructions
  1. Chop and mince all ingredients. Heat olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onions, peppers, and garlic.

  2. Saute until onions become soft and translucent, around 7-10 minutes. If it looks like it needs more liquid, add a few tablespoons of broth to the pan.

  3. Add your ground meat and brown off the meat. Drain off any excess fat.

  4. Add in all the spices and sauces, and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add in the tofu and gently stir into the mixture.

  5. Cook for another couple of minutes, until the tofu is warm and well coated in the sauce. 

  6. Serve over rice. 

chien-po tofu bowl

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Dark Chocolate Amaretto Ganache Filling

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Dark Chocolate Amaretto Ganache Filling

This recipe can be a little involved, but these cookies are worth it. I’ve seen them at many places – one of which is the France pavilion at EPCOT. Since I’m not going to be there for awhile, I decided I couldn’t wait, and wanted to make them at home. They’re light, delicate, and packed full of flavor – an excellent dessert for a special occasion or any day of the week! As a bonus, they are also gluten free, so if you are GF, then these are a fabulous dessert option.

These cookies are not as hard as you’d think. However, if you did it like I did, you can make it more difficult than it needs to be.

The recipe has no flour – it uses almond flour instead. The best place I’ve found for this has been Trader Joe’s – they sell a bag (I think its a pound or half pound package) for the cheapest price I’ve found. That being said, I apparently used my bag of almond flour, because when I went to retrieve it from the pantry, all I found was the BJ’s bag of almonds.

You can see where this is going, right?

Almond flour, if you didn’t know, is just ground almonds. So, if I have a bag of almonds, I can make my own almond flour. Easy, right? Yeah. Except for the part where I decided to use the food processor to grind them, rather than my spice grinder. Don’t do that. If you have the spice grinder, even if it takes you longer, use it. I used the food processor, and after sifting in what I could, had to put it through the processor twice more before I broke down and used the spice grinder. And I made a ton of difference. I will say that no matter which one you use, pulse it, and don’t process it too long, or you’ll end up with almond butter. While tasty, you’ll have to scrape it out and start over with new almonds. And you don’t want that.

These were the chunks leftover after grinding the first time in the food processor!

Once you have your dry ingredients sifted together, use a whisk to combine them. You don’t have to do that, but because you’re folding this into egg whites later, I like to have it thoroughly mixed before I start folding it in.

You’re going to need to prep your pan now that you’ve got this part going. Use parchment paper and line a cookie sheet. You can free form your macarons, or you can draw 1″ circles on the back of the parchment (that way you don’t get ink or pencil on your cookies) to use as a guide.

Once your pan is ready, you need to beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. You’ll want to use room temperature eggs – if you use cold ones they’ll be harder to separate and they’ll be WAY harder to whip. I also always use a metal mixing bowl for eggs, and I usually dampen a paper towel with a little vinegar and wipe out the inside of the bowl before I put the eggs in. It is supposed to wipe away any leftover residue that might be clinging to a bowl (even a clean one). I don’t remember where I heard that tip, but it does seem to help.

I beat the eggs on a lower speed until they get a little frothy, then I crank it up and pour in the granulated sugar, slowly. Then beat the eggs until they form stiff, glossy peaks. The best way to tell if they are done? When you pull out the beater and the peak stands straight up without falling at all, OR you can hold the bowl upside down and nothing moves. I then cut my vanilla bean down the center and scrape out the seeds into the egg whites, and add the vanilla extract. You do not have to use vanilla beans! Just extract will still make a delicious macaron! Give it a couple more quick beats, and then get out a spatula and your dry ingredients.

You’re going to dump all the dry in there, and then fold them in. If it makes you feel better, you can do it in three parts. But I like just getting it over with. For this recipe, it worked. You don’t want to over mix, but you want to make sure its all incorporated. It takes about 20-30 strokes, and I usually end up doing a figure eight motion through the batter. When its all mixed, it will have the consistency of a very thick but still pourable milkshake. Other people often say it has the consistency of lava. I’ve never actually seen lava, so I’ll take their word for it.

macaron batter

Now we’re onto the fun part!

Pour your mixture into a large resealable bag or disposable piping bag. Snip off the corner (or end) and then use your parchment circles as a guide to pipe the macarons onto the pan. If you end up with a little “peak” on top of your cookie, don’t worry – it will even out. If you’re afraid it won’t, just wet your finger in a little water and tap them down. The water will keep the meringue mixture from sticking to you. Once  you’ve got the pan finished, give it a good tap on the counter. It will help get any air bubbles out.

piped macarons

Now, you need to let these sit for 30-60 minutes to dry out a bit. I leave mine for an hour. While they sit, you can get the filling made!

You can use any filling you like – jam would work just fine! For these, I’m making a dark chocolate amaretto ganache. Its harder to say and write than it is to make. Seriously.

You need to get 4 ounces of dark chocolate – whatever you have on hand will work. I used the remains of a Ghiradelli bar. Chop it up and put it in a heat safe bowl.

dark chocolate

Then pour your cream (you can also use half and half) into a sauce pan and heat until its simmering. Take it off the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let it stand for one minute, and then stir it together with a whisk.

making ganache
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The heat from the cream will melt the chocolate. Add in the tablespoon and a half of butter, and your amaretto and mix again. It will still be pretty warm. I poured mine into a disposable piping bag (you can use a resealable baggie) that was propped up in a cup. Then put it in the fridge to firm up.

Now go sit and have a drink and surf the internet while you finishing waiting for the macarons to dry out.

When the hour is nearly up, you want to move the oven rack to the bottom third of your oven and preheat it to 350. Be sure to only put one pan at a time in the oven, and rotate the pan halfway through baking so they’re all even. You’re going to bake the macarons for 11-13 minutes, until they have risen and set. They’re going to dry out, but you don’t want them to get any color.  After they’ve baked, take them out and let them cool on the baking sheet.

baked macarons

Once they’ve cooled, you can pull out your filling, snip off the corner of the bag, and pipe your ganache onto the flat side of a macaron. Top it with another cookie and viola – you’ve made a dessert that everyone will be drooling over! Next time, I may save back some cookies and try to fill them with ice cream like the ones I’ve seen people posting about from Les Artisans des Glaces in the France pavilion. 🙂

vanilla bean macarons

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This recipe will take some serious time, and does require some more advanced kitchen knowledge. I still think its well worth the effort though! Give it a try – but make sure you leave lots of time for yourself!
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Vanilla Bean Macarons with Dark Chocolate Amaretto Ganache
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
12 mins
Total Time
32 mins
 

These are a little time consuming, but totally worth it!

Course: Dessert
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
Macarons
  • 108 grams almond flour
  • 176 grams confectioner's sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 80 grams granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean
Filling
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp amaretto liqueur
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
Instructions
For the Macarons
  1. Move your oven rack to the lower third of the oven. Preheat it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, on the back of which you can draw one inch circles to help guide your piping.

  2. Sift the almond flour and confectioner's sugar together into a bowl through a fine sieve. You can put any large pieces of almond flour left behind through a spice grinder and sift again into the bowl.

  3. In a metal mixer bowl, beat 3 large egg whites with the granulated sugar until stiff, glossy peaks form.

  4. Add the vanilla extract, and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the beaten egg whites. beat for 5 seconds to incorporate.

  5. Dump all the dry ingredients into the bowl. Using a spatula, fold the mixture in, using 20-30 strokes. The mixture will be thick, with a consistency similar to a thick milkshake.

  6. Pour the macaron mixture into a piping bag with a large round tip, or snip off the end of a disposable piping bag. You could also use a resealable plastic bag with one corner snipped off.

  7. Pipe the meringue mixture onto your baking sheet, filling int he circles. Let these sit for 20-60 minutes until a skin forms on top. How long this takes depends on the heat and humidity of your kitchen.

  8. Put one pan in the oven at a time. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through, until the cookies have risen and set, but not browned. 

  9. Remove from oven and let cool on the pan.

For the Filling
  1. Chop your dark chocolate fine and place in a heat-safe bowl. 

  2. Heat the cream to a simmer on the stove. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for one minute.

  3. Stir the chocolate and cream, until it has melted together. Add the butter and amaretto and whisk together until all is incorporated. 

  4. Let the mixture cool until it is thick, but still pourable. Pour into a resealable bag or piping bag and continue to let it cool until it reaches a frosting consistency.

  5. Pipe onto the bottom of a macaron cookie, and then cover with a second cookie to make a sandwich.

  6. Wrap any leftover cookies tightly in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Vanilla Bean Macarons

‘Ohana Grilled Chicken

‘Ohana Grilled Chicken

This is the last of the recipes I’m posting from the Moana dinner and movie party – but don’t think its the “least” of them! This is a great recipe, and is one of the ones given to my mom when we asked on our first trip ever.

We’ve made this MANY times over the years since then, and I must admit that there is one drawback to this recipe – it really has to be grilled. I’ve tried to bake it, saute it and everything in between, and it just doesn’t taste as good unless you grill it. Somehow, it needs that extra boost to be all it can be.

With that being said, don’t skip the recipe! Just save it for a nice day and a hot grill. The chicken (or you could do pork) will need to marinate for two to three days, and I do strongly suggest you actually follow that for this one. It needs to soak in and really do its work. The chicken will be tender and moist if you give it time!

Ohana Grilled Chicken

The recipe itself is super simple. First, you need to use a blender or food processor. A whisk won’t cut it here, because you’d be whisking for days. So pull out the food processor and then gather your ingredients. You’re going to dump the garlic, malt vinegar, lemon juice, Tabasco, salt, pepper, and brown sugar all together. Put the lid on, and measure out your olive oil into a container with a pour spout. Then slowly drizzle it in as you run the food processor. You want the mixture to form an emulsification (hence the reason you need the food processor). Don’t panic when this comes out! It is not a thin marinade – it will come out pretty thick. This is good, because it really sticks to the chicken well.

Now, put your chicken in a bowl or a resealable bag (in a bowl), and pour about half the marinade in with it. Seal the bag, getting as much air as you can out without making a mess. Then leave it in the fridge for 2-3 days. The leftover marinade needs to go into a container and then into the fridge. You’re going to use this to baste the chicken as you grill it later.

Once your 2-3 days have passed, fire up the grill and get the chicken cooking. As it cooks, baste it liberally with the reserved marinade. Once it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees, pull it off the grill and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

In the restaurant, they serve the chicken with dipping sauce. I don’t have the copy of the peanut sauce – somewhere in the last move it was lost! But I’m going back to ‘Ohana in a few months.  While I’m there, I’ll get that recipe and post it! Until then, I’d suggest using the one found at AllEars.net. I’m pretty sure its the same one.

The pictures for this really don’t do it justice, but when the chicken was taken off the grill, I didn’t get to the camera before the guests got to the chicken…. so the photos were taken quickly with what I could rescue briefly!

Ohana Grilled Chicken

I hope you try this, and if you do, please let me know how it goes! Have you had this before? Been to Ohana? What did you think?

table rating
This is a Table recipe – mainly because it requires advance prepping and the grill. Its worth the wait though!
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'Ohana Grilled Chicken
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

Given to me over 10 years ago at Ohana, its as good now as it was then!

Servings: 8 people
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c malt vinegar
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 3 dashes Tabasco
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1 c olive oil
Instructions
  1. Put all of the ingredients, except the olive oil, into a food processor.

  2. Slowly pour the olive oil into the processor as it is running, forming a thick emulsification.

  3. Put the chicken into a resealable plastic bag or container. Pour half of the marinade over the chicken. Save the rest in a container.

  4. Let chicken marinate for 2 to 3 days. 

  5. When ready to cook, heat grill and grill chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the saved marinade and baste the chicken frequently while grilling.

  6. Remove chicken from heat when done and let rest for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Ohana Grilled Chicken

Bananas Foster Cookies

Bananas Foster Cookies

Remember how I told you we had a Moana dinner and movie party, and the food was themed around Polynesia? These cookies were our dessert. I came up with the recipe from the ground up, and I’ve been tweaking them for awhile. This recipe is easy, delicious, and you’ll never make enough! They are also great if you have someone who has an egg allergy, because there are no eggs in the cookies! I prefer these without nuts, because I’m weird and I have texture issues with food. I mean, I like nuts, and I like cookies, but they aren’t friends as far as I’m concerned. I feel the same way about chocolate and nuts, mostly, which makes some of my friends think I’m weird. If you don’t have such qualms, feel free to add nuts to these!

They taste like a sweeter version of banana bread, really. I made about three dozen, and when I came back after the party for clean up, there was only about 10 cookies left! I think they tasted okay!

They’re super simple to make. You don’t need to refrigerate them (though you could make the dough in advance and put it in the fridge overnight), and they make a ton. The biggest suggestion I can make is to make sure you set your butter out about 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to make them. You want it a little soft, or it will take forever to beat smooth. In the summer, it only takes about 30 minutes to accomplish that in my kitchen. You know how warm yours will get (or doesn’t.) so you can judge accordingly.

The cookies come together pretty quickly. First thing, heat the oven to 350 degrees, and then lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, or use parchment paper to line it. I’m all about not having to wash any more dishes than is necessary, so I opt for the parchment paper. Plus, you can use it multiple times. I use mine through a whole batch of cookies – sometimes more if I’m making several batches at a time (like at holidays).

Dump your butter and sugar into the mixer and beat it until light and fluffy. You can use all butter or all margarine if you like, but I prefer a stick of each. A bonus tip – if you have the ability, it is totally worth it to get a special container and fill it with sugar, and then drop in a whole vanilla bean or two. It doesn’t take long for the sugar to pick up the vanilla flavor, and it really adds something to baked goods. Honest! Try it! Plus, you can cut the beans open, scrape out the seeds and use them in a recipe, and put the scraped pods back in the sugar. It will taste just as good.

Anyway, once your sugar and butter are beaten, add the bananas, which you can puree or mash. I only bananas when they are super ripe (like they’re pretty much on their way to overripe. They’re good. Don’t judge.), so mashing them pretty much turns them mushy enough. If you use greener bananas, I recommend blending them. Mix themin with the rum and spices. Once that is all incorporated, add the salt, flour, and baking powder. Mix this until everything is combined and well blended. Don’t overbeat it. If you want to add nuts, just mix them in here with a wooden spoon.

Then scoop out the dough with a small cookie scoop, or a teaspoon. I can’t tell you how handy the cookie scoop is, especially if you make cookies often. Its so much easier. Of course, I am also REALLY messy when trying to use a couple teaspoons to scoop the dough.

You’re going to bake them for 10 – 12 minutes until they are set and the bottoms are golden brown. Transfer them to a linen towel and let them cool. If you can wait that long.

They are very tender, moist cookies, so if you store them together, I’d recommend a tin with a layer of wax paper or parchment between each layer. Otherwise, they’ll stick to each other. Of course, if you want a good reason why you HAVE to eat three or four cookies at a time, sticking together is a bonus.

Either way, this will make about two or three dozen cookies, and they’ll get eaten fast!

If you try them, I’d love to know what you think!

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Bananas Foster Cookies - Cooking With Character
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/2 c margarine
  • 1 c dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 banana, mashed
  • 1 tbsp rum
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 c flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray (or line with parchment paper).

  2. In a mixing bowl, cream the margarine and sugar together until fluffy. 

  3. Add the vanilla, banana, rum, salt, and spices and mix until just combined.
  4. With the mixer on low at first, add flour and baking powder. Mix until combined.
  5. Drop the dough by spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet, and bake 10-12 minutes until set and slightly golden. Remove from oven and cool on a rack or linen towel.

 

‘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!

Louis’ Favorite Chicken Gumbo – Princess and the Frog Inspired Dinner!

Louis’ Favorite Chicken Gumbo – Princess and the Frog Inspired Dinner!

After watching The Princess and the Frog the other night, I had the urge to try to make something more like what Tiana would cook in her restaurant. I ruled out beignets (at least this time) because I didn’t have the time, and while I love a good pastry, I don’t need to eat a million of them. So instead, we decided on chicken and sausage gumbo.

This version I created from several recipes I’ve found online and in cookbooks. If I had to tell you one specific recipe it was adapted from, I’d say probably Emeril’s – but it was more than just one! I bought file powder months ago with the intention of making gumbo, so the research had already been in the works. This evening just seemed to be the ideal time to try it!

I went out with my list of ingredients and picked up the few things I needed. Mostly it was the andouille sausage and peppers. I like red bell peppers better than green, so I almost never have those on hand. But I was warned in the past by friends that red wouldn’t taste the same in the “trinity” of onions, celery, and peppers, so I wanted to make sure I bought the right thing!

Now, before we get into making this, I must give you one disclaimer – I have no connections to Louisiana (outside of a few friends) and I’ve never been there. So I fully admit that this may not be “true” Louisiana gumbo – its just my take on the dish. I’ve tried to do it justice.

Onto the process – the first thing you want to do is chop up all the vegetables and pull out all the spices. I had plans to take lovely pictures of all the ingredients all lined up, but I made this and had to empty the spice cabinet to find a couple things and it kind of looked like my kitchen exploded. So I didn’t. I’m sorry.

Once you have all of that together, you are going to pull out a big stock pot and put it over medium-high heat. I also like to put the chicken stock into another pot on the stove to heat – putting hot liquid in the pot really helps, rather than cold. It isn’t mandatory, but I would encourage you to try it!

The first part of this recipe is getting the roux made and to the proper color. A roux is simply a mixture of flour and fat that you whisk together and cook to get the flour taste out, and toasty flavor in. Depending on how long you cook it, and the color it turns, the flavor can be mild or seriously nutty. Its other purpose, and probably the biggest purpose, is to thicken whatever you’re putting it in.

For this recipe, I used bacon drippings that I had in the fridge. Not exactly low-cal, but its BACON. How can this possibly be wrong? Anyway, you’re going to put a whole cup of it (I didn’t have quite enough, so I added a little butter – bacon and butter. Yum.) in your pan and let it melt. When it is completely melted, you’re going to whisk in a cup of flour. You want it smooth, and you’re going to continue to whisk it until your roux turns a nice chocolate brown. At first you’ll think that it will NEVER change color. But once it starts, it goes fast! When you are doing this part, don’t answer the phone or wander away from the pot. The second you do it will turn black, and that’s not a good thing. If it gets black flakes in it, its burnt, and you’ll have to throw it all out and start over. No one wants that!

Once that’s done, you can ditch the whisk and use a wooden spoon. Grab your diced veggies, because now you need to add your “trinity” – the green pepper, onion, and celery. Let it cook for a few minutes (about 5) stirring it often. Then dump in the sliced andouille. At this point, it should smell pretty good. Next, add your spices.

I will caution you about one thing – I marked the cayenne pepper as optional. I am a total wuss when it comes to hot things. I’ve gotten better since I got married because my husband likes spicier dishes. But I haven’t got a lot of heat tolerance. I would recommend holding the cayenne until the end, when it has had a chance to cook and you can taste it. I forgot that creole seasoning has cayenne in it already. So when I added everything in mine, I realized it was a teeny bit more spicy than I intended. It was still good, and I could eat it, but I figured I’d warn you.

Either way, stir in the spices before you add the liquid, because it lets them get a little bit of heat on them and can toast a bit. Just stir them in for about a minute, and pour in 3 quarts of chicken broth, the sugar, and the Worcestershire sauce. Stir this until the mixture is smooth and there aren’t any lumps.

Add the chicken, which you’ve cut into 1-2 inch pieces, and stir. You can use breast or thighs. Many people recommend thighs, but to me it is a personal preference. I don’t really like dark meat, so I chose to use breasts. It worked just fine. Once you stir those in, put it on a low simmer and let it cook for about 45 minutes.

At the end, taste it, add your vinegar and a couple extra teaspoons of file powder, and the cayenne (if you want it), and let it cook a few minutes more.

Then just serve this over white rice, and enjoy! If you try the recipe, I’d love to hear what you think!

*Please be aware that this post contains affiliate links. By clicking on any of these links and purchasing the product, I receive a small commission from the company.

Louis' Favorite Chicken Gumbo

table rating
This is a Table recipe – mainly because it requires advance prepping and the grill. Its worth the wait though!
Louis' Favorite Chicken Gumbo
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Louis' Favorite Chicken Gumbo
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
2 hr 15 mins
 
This recipe is adapted from several I've seen, including Emeril's. It was inspired after watching Princess and the Frog!
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Movie Dishes
Servings: 6 people
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 1 c bacon fat/oil/butter
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1" chunks (you can use thighs if you like.)
  • 3 qt chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 heaping tsp creole seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp gumbo file powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp worchestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. Put your butter or bacon fat into a heavy stockpot. When it has melted, whisk in your flour until it is smooth. Over medium to medium high heat, continue to whisk this roux until it is a chocolate brown color.
  2. Add your onion, celery, and pepper to the mix and turn down the heat to medium low. Cook the mixture for around 5 minutes.
  3. Add your sliced sausage to the pot and cook for a few minutes. Next add all the spices (except the 1/2 tsp cayenne) and stir them for a minute or two to heat up and toast a bit.
  4. Add the chicken stock, stirring constantly until most of the lumps are gone.
  5. Let the mixture simmer on the stove for around 45 minutes. Near the end, add the vinegar, and the extra 1/2 tsp cayenne (if desired). At this point you will also add another 2 tsp of file powder, if you taste the gumbo and decide it needs a little more flavor.
  6. Pour over rice and enjoy!
Pepper Pot Pork Chops

Pepper Pot Pork Chops

This afternoon I decided it was time to try another grill recipe. Since I found two lovely butterfly pork chops at the store the other day, I went on the hunt for a recipe on my list of recipes to attempt – and came across Pepper Pot Pork from Boma! So far, all the things I’ve made from Animal Kingdom restaurant recipes have been awesome. Pepper Pot Pork was not a disappointment!

The original recipe calls for a pork roast and its cooked differently. There are also some differences in the seasonings. But this recipe was really delicious and perfect for the grill on a warm spring evening. (Though it was pretty hot today – we’re quickly working at skipping spring and heading straight for summer!)

The first thing you need to do is pull out a bowl or (my preference) a resealable gallon baggie, and mix up the marinade. This part is easy. Just dump all the ingredients into the bag and then add the pork chops. You can mix it separately in a bowl and pour it in, but this works just fine. I made sure I massaged the pork chops a bit to distribute all the spices and make sure they were covered, but that’s as much fussing as you need to to.

Once its in the marinade, put it in the fridge and leave it for anywhere from 2-4 hours. I recommend putting that baggie down in a bowl, just in case, but its up to you. I only needed the bag to leak once to make me err on the side of caution. No one wants to clean marinade and meat juice from the fridge. Seriously.

So you’ve got a couple hours to kill. Read a book, watch a movie, do something productive. Take a nap. Whatever. When the time’s up, you’ll need to prep your grill, as well as your sauce.

The sauce is also pretty easy – don’t let me list of ingredients throw you off. Just dice your onions and peppers, put your olive oil in the pan and saute them until they begin to get a little tender – anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Once that’s done, you just add all the rest of the ingredients. Make sure all the spices are well mixed in, and let it come to the boil. Once it does, turn the temperature down to medium low and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes. Don’t let this reduce too much – you’ll run out of sauce!

Once its has simmered, you’re going to make a cornstarch slurry – a tablespoon of cornstarch in a couple tablespoons of water or cold stock. Mix it until its smooth, and then pour in about half. Make sure you mix it as you pour it into the pan. At this point, you can add more cornstarch for a thicker sauce, or leave it as is. The thickness is all personal preference! Once you have your cornstarch mixed in, cook about two more minutes and then remove from the heat.

While your sauce is cooking, you’re going to grill the pork chops. I made this with butterflied pork chops and they worked beautifully. There are only two in this recipe, but if you need more, just adjust the amounts as you need to. Its pretty easy to double or even triple it, and it should work out just fine.

I serve this with rice made with vegetable stock, because if I can use flavor instead of water, why not? There is a lot of flavor going on here, so you don’t need seasoned rice. (Though if you want to, do what makes you happy!)

I’m enjoying the grilling part of these recipes because my husband is the grill master (so he’s in charge of cooking that part) and because there is one less dish for me to wash when its all over. Priorities, right? 😉 But whether it is grilled or cooked on the stove top, the flavors are fantastic!

This recipe does differ from the original, which you can see at AllEars.Net if you like. All the same, its a really tasty recipe. I hope you try it, and if you do, I’d love to hear what you think!

Disney Pepper Pot Pork Chops

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Pepper Pot Pork Chop
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
4 hr 50 mins
 
Adapted from the Pepper Pot Pork recipe from Disney's Boma.
Course: Main Dish
Servings: 2 people
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
Marinade
  • 1.5 pound butterfly pork chops
  • 1/2 c soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
Sauce
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 1 c vegetable stock (you can just substitute 2 c chicken stock)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 diced bell pepper (I prefer yellow or red, but any color is fine)
  • 1/2 diced sweet onion
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch (Hold until the end, then mix with 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp water)
Instructions
Pork Chops
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a gallon resealable baggie. Add pork chops and massage marinade in, making sure that spices and sugar are well mixed.
  2. Place in refrigerator for 2-4 hours. When the time is up, you'll cook the pork chops on a grill, or saute in a pan. Either way, you'll want to cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
  3. Take off heat and allow the pork chops to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Sauce
  1. Dice onions and peppers together, and saute in a non stick skillet in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook these for around 5-10 minutes, until they begin to soften.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients for the sauce, except the cornstarch slurry. Allow to come to a boil, turn the heat down to medium low, and simmer 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add the cornstarch slurry, stirring in until you reach the consistency you like. Start with half the mixture, and add more as you need.
  4. Cook 1-2 minutes longer, then remove from heat. Serve with pork and enjoy.