By Guest Blogger Amanda Smolko
What do you do when the world shuts down? How do you keep your kids entertained and engaged? How do you come up with new fun things to do, when everything is closed, or canceled?
That was something we struggled with this year. I have a very rambunctious 4 year old and an equally inquisitive 2 year old. So we started off by baking things together. I have such fond memories of baking with my mother when I was young, and I wanted to recreate that for my kids. But eventually we made our way through most easy recipes.
So after a night of watching Disney movies together I was struck with an idea! Why don’t I make a meal based around a specific Disney movie? I could simultaneously broaden my cooking and baking skills, introduce the kids to new foods and create a fun family night that everyone would look forward to each week. So we decided every Saturday night would be Disney movie and dinner night, and we would take turns choosing the movie. I then had the task of coming up with recipes that would fit that week’s movie.
Week 1 – Ratatouille
Since I would be the one doing the cooking, I got to choose the first movie. I went with something I thought was the most logical choice, a movie whose name is actually already a meal – Ratatouille. Ratatouille is a simple French dish, originally considered to be peasant food. There are a few different ways to make it, but they all have the same basic ingredients, zucchini, squash, eggplant and a tomato base. So we all got up early Saturday morning, went to the local farmers market and picked up all the ingredients we needed. Between helping collect the ingredients and watching the movie, my kids were actually excited to eat a meal entirely made of vegetables. Trust me, I was as surprised as you are.
Week 2 – Moana
This week it was my daughter’s choice and she knew instantly what movie she wanted, Moana. This one was only slightly more difficult as my husband absolutely hates pineapple, so any recipe including pineapple was out the door. After a few days of deliberation I came across a recipe for macadamia nut crusted mahi-mahi fillets on a bed of garlic and lime couscous and I was sold. But this week I decided to step up my game a little and also make a themed dessert. There was really only one choice for a Polynesian themed dessert, I just had to make the delicious bread pudding from Ohana at the Polynesian Resort in Disney World. Everything must have been incredible as there weren’t even any leftovers!
Week 3 – Hercules
Week 3 ended up being Hercules. This week I decided to test myself even further and include an appetizer in the mix. When I think of an appetizer and Greek food my first thought goes to spanakopita. Spanikopita is a small triangle of spinach, feta cheese, onion and some seasoning wrapped up in phyllo dough. For dinner I went with moussaka, a Greek version of lasagna. We used a layer of potato slices, a layer of roasted eggplant slices, all smothered in a meat sauce made from ground lamb meat, topped with a cheesy béchamel sauce, just for good measure. Then for dessert I went through the painstakingly long process of making homemade baklava. Holy moly that dish takes a lot of patience, but in the end it was totally worth it.
Week 4 – Zootopia
This week it was my husband’s choice, and he decided to really test me and go with Zootopia. I have to admit this one was a little difficult for me. There isn’t much food in this movie and it doesn’t have a solid ethnic background like previous movie nights. But in the end I had a solid meal plan. We started with some ridiculously delicious bruschetta. I chose this appetizer because I absolutely love the little mob boss mouse and wanted to pay a little homage to his Italian roots. For dinner we went with a simple cold veggie pizza. All the animals in Zootopia are vegetarians, which is why they can all coexist. During my research I came across a recipe for a “howler berry lemonade” and just had to mix that up to drink with dinner. Then we ended the night with a mouthwatering carrot cake, complete with cream cheese frosting. Judy Hopps grew up on a carrot farm, so we just had to have something carrot related in the menu, right?
Week 5 – Beauty and the Beast
Finally, my turn to pick the movie again, and I already knew exactly what movie I wanted. It’s a tale as old as time…Beauty and the Beast. This week was easy to come up with the menu, I simply did what the song told me to. However, don’t let that fool you, it was probably my most time consuming week. I made a few small cheese soufflés for an appetizer. I’ve never made a soufflé before and I’m honestly surprised they even turned out. For dinner we had beef ragout, which slow cooked in my crock pot for 10 hours. And while I didn’t have pies or puddings “en flambé”, I still made probably the most iconic food from the movie, the grey stuff, which I put on top of jumbo devil’s food cupcakes. It really was delicious!
My small dinner and a movie idea turned out to be such a hit that we have other family members asking if they can come over and join in the fun! I got my kids to eat all kinds of foods they never would have even touched previously. And the best part is we’ve created a special night to spend together as a family that everyone looks forward to all week long. If this activity seems like an intriguing idea, give it a go! Who couldn’t use more Disney and family time in their life?
** For more Disney fun, hop over to our Facebook page and follow our Story! We are voting on our favorite animated Disney movie. We will have polls in our FB Story each night and then will announce the final winner on Sunday.
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