Magic Carpet Roll-Ups (Cooking Entry)

Today we will take a trip to the city of Agrabah. Never heard of it? Well that’s because it’s a fictional place located in the Middle East. Agrabah is the home of Aladdin, Jasmine and, of course, the Genie. 

I once touched on the topic of live-action remakes. I admit I have yet to see last year’s updated version but by all accounts it was quite the success. Many had doubts about Will Smith’s adaptation of the Genie. How does one actually fill the late Robin Williams’ shoes? Apparently by not only giving great homage to the man but also putting one’s own personal touches on the character. And from what I’ve heard and read, Will did just that…made the Genie his own. I do have this on my list of movies to see soon.

So in honor of Aladdin, I will dissect the recipe for Magic Carpet Roll-Ups

Before we begin, though, I will tell a short quick story. Because, as you know, I always have some sort of yarn to spin before I dive into the recipe. We were at Disney a few years ago. I recall it was early December, and my sisters and I attended Mickey’s Merry Christmas Party. This event is held after the park closes and is open only to guests who purchase a ticket. This special party boasts shows that are performed in front of the castle and provides treats that can be found throughout the park. There is an enormous parade with countless Disney characters, and it all culminates in a fireworks extravaganza. If you have not participated in this event, I highly recommend purchasing a ticket. I promise it will bring out the child in you. 

Where was I going with this? Oh yes; now I remember. We had returned to the park to attend the party. The night sky covered the Magic Kingdom so it was quite dark as we strolled the grounds into Adventureland. As we approached the Magic Carpets of Aladdin ride something hit me in the eye. I wasn’t sure what had happened. It felt as if someone shot me with a rubber band or something of that nature. As I rubbed my eye, I looked up and noticed the large camel that stands in front of the ride. Apparently it spits water at unsuspecting people passing by the ride. Sure enough, I felt water on my face. That lousy camel got me! Now whenever we pass that ride I make sure not to make eye contact with that camel.

So now back to the recipe. The roll-ups were very simple to make (the book gave it two crowns in the difficulty category). The ingredients are basic: carrot, red bell pepper, flatbread or flour tortilla (your preference) and cream-cheese spread.

To assemble you simply slice the carrot and the pepper into thin strips and trim the curved edges of the flatbread or tortilla to create a rectangular shape. Then you spread the cream cheese onto the bread. You insert several of the vegetable strips into the center coil at each end to create the appearance of tassels. 

Sounds simple and it truly was, but mine did not come out looking as nice as the picture in the book. I think should I make this again I would purchase carrot strips. My magic carpets would have appeared much more like carpets rather than this…

Another suggestion would be to use a veggie spread or try the tip in the book “You can make these roll-ups using hummus instead of cream cheese.” I felt it was highly lacking in the flavor department. 

Finally the recipe serves two, so I made a salad for the roll-up’s company. It was a nice little bite, but certainly not filling. Maybe I was supposed to eat two myself? Either way, this recipe gets two tiaras. I hate to do it but it was a bit blasé. 

Perhaps I will try it again and substitute hummus and buy pre-sliced carrots. However, I still have many more recipes to try in the book. Which brings us to next week’s adventure where we will go under the sea.

Until then, have a magical day! And always remember these wise words from Walt, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Go out and dream, my friends!

Southern Spoon Bread (Cooking Entry)

Let’s take a trip along the bayou. The setting is New Orleans in 1912. A young chef named Tiana dreams of one day opening her own restaurant.  She discovers Prince Naveen who has been turned into a frog by an evil voodoo witch doctor. He must kiss a princess to reverse the spell. Mistaking Tiana for a princess, he kisses her but the spell is not broken. Rather it becomes worse for Tiana is also turned into a frog because of a kiss. The two must go in search of a way to reverse the curse. 

And that, my friends, is a short synopsis of the Disney film The Princess and the Frog. Here are a few facts about this delightful animation. The movie appeared in theaters in 2009 and is Disney’s first fairy tale since Aladdin’s (the cartoon – not the live action) release in 1992. Tiana is the first (and I do hope not the last) African-American princess. And area local, Emeril Lagasse is the voice behind Marlon – an alligator. You will hear his famous “Bam!” in several of the lines. 

If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend it. The story is very compelling and the animation is just beautiful.

This past week I went to New Orleans, figuratively of course. Though I am long overdue for a visit to Big Easy. Today I share with you my venture making Tiana’s Southern Spoon Bread.

I can sum this recipe in one word… WOW! 

According to the Disney Princess Cookbook, this bread “tastes a lot like cornbread, but it has a delicious gooey textures that’s fun to spoon up at mealtime.” I wanted to inform you of this notation up front because should you attempt to make this, you will notice it does not have a firm texture throughout. 

The recipe consists of eight ingredients most of which are staples in any baker’s kitchen: milk, butter, salt, eggs, honey, baking powder and cornmeal. You will also need water. 

While the directions are easy to follow, I will warn that the kitchen clean up took longer because of the number of bowls and utensils needed to create the bread. But, with that said, it was well worth the mess!

I did allow it took cook a little longer than the directions because I did not notice the “gooey” reference at the top of the page. This paired so nicely with a bowl of homemade chili. We just spooned the bread from the casserole dish and put it right on top. 

Doesn’t this just look delicious???

The bread also reheats very nicely and serves 8 just as the book states. 

On the tiara scale, this recipe receives a firm 5! This is one bake I will make again. And I highly recommend you try making this. Have any of you picked up the book yet?

Tune in next week when we go on a magic carpet ride. Now there’s an easy hint for you.

Until then, laissez les bons temps rouler!!!

Savory Shepherd's Pie (Cooking Entry)

This week’s Disney Princess recipe takes us to the land of forests, moors and lochs. Any guesses? It is home to Merida star of the movie Brave.

Personally, I feel she is one of the most overlooked of the princesses.

What is there not to like about this spunky Scottish princess? She’s funny, down to earth, has fabulous red hair, refuses to be betrothed and turns her mother into a bear. Wait. Did I spoil the movie for anyone? I won’t tell you what happens, but here’s a fun fact, Merida is the first and only princess created by Pixar. If you haven’t seen this Celtic gem, please do. I know you’ll enjoy it!

The recipe I randomly chose is Savory Shepherd’s Pie. I found this dish to be more complex then the previous ones. And here’s something I only just discovered in the cookbook. Beneath each recipe’s title there are crowns. These crowns rate the difficulty of the dish. How kind of the princesses to let us all know. With that said, Merida’s recipe had five crowns which, according to the book, has the most difficulty. Not this one in particular but any with five crowns is supposed to be the most complex.

Having made variations of shepherd’s pie over the years I felt I had an advantage. This recipe had the usual suspects of ingredients – ground beef (I substituted with ground chicken), onion, flour, broth and corn. But I’ve never used canned diced tomatoes, celery, thyme or rosemary. Rosemary? That should be interesting. All of these components are topped with mashed potatoes and paprika.

The directions consisted of six steps total. Not bad. As I read through them, I noticed they omitted the directions to prepare mashed potatoes. Since I’ve made them on numerous occasions that was not a set back. But what about the young princesses who have no clue how to make them? I guess a parent must have helped.

The total time to create the pie took about 50 minutes give or take. Not too bad for a weeknight dinner, right?

Now here are a few observations I will share with you. The “tip” in the book states “it takes about 6 medium-large potatoes to make 5 cups of mashed potatoes.” Well, we ended up with entirely too much. So I suggest maybe five potatoes. 

Secondly, I do not recommend using the entire can of the tomatoes or at least the liquid. As our pie baked in the oven, it began to boil over the sides a bit, and we used a pretty large baking dish. My tip, drain some of the liquid off the tomatoes first.

Lastly, while the overall flavor of the dish was lovely thanks to the Rosemary, (who knew?) you night want to season with some pepper. It seemed to lacking a bit in the flavor department.

Because of these three minor issues, I give this recipe four tiaras.  Oh, one last thing, the book states that it serves 6-8. Definitely go with eight unless you want very large portions.

Tune in next week when we take a visit to NOLA. I can’t wait for this one.

Until then, never stop dreaming! 

Aurora's Homemade Jam (Cooking Entry)

Greetings! We just returned from a wonderful visit to the most magical place – Disney’s Magic Kingdom. And how fitting that we are now on the third princess recipe. 

Last time I provided a tiny hint to the identity of the princess. Did anyone guess? 

This week’s recipe is from Aurora, otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty. I had to laugh when my sister Judy had no clue her name is Aurora. But then I wonder if others felt the same. Sure enough, my other sister Margaret didn’t know as well. Shame on them! I feel they need to attend Disney Princess School. Wait, is that a thing? If not, perhaps the Disney corporation should develop one. I’ll be more than happy to teach. 

So without further ado I present Aurora’s Homemade Jam

Now before I dive into the recipe, let me state that I have only attempted to make jam once. It was a hot pepper recipe I had stumbled across. Since I am a connoisseur of all things spicy, I knew it was a must to try. What a disaster!! For starters I did not wear gloves as I diced the cayenne peppers. My fingers burned for days. And I coughed for what seemed an eternity. What made matters worse was the recipe was missing either components or a couple steps. The jam was a hot mess, literally and figuratively. 

Fast forward to when a jam recipe appeared as my next selection. I admit I was thrown back into the hot pepper nightmare and was apprehensive. But my fear dissolved as I read the very short list of ingredients and small number of steps. This is a young princess cookbook after all, so why be afraid?

This recipe calls for four ingredients: strawberries, cold water, cornstarch and sugar. And the directions contain only four steps. The most time consuming part was slicing the strawberries. The rest of the time was about 10 minutes tops. 

I admit I did double the recipe since it only yields ½ cup. That way I could have a nice jar of jam for my breakfast toast. After the jam cooled we performed a taste test and it was absolutely delicious! I might attempt this with a different fruit and see what happens. But it got me thinking that little jars of jam accompanied by home baked bread would make for very nice holiday gifts. 

This recipe garners a 5 tiara score. And is on my “must make again” list.

I have already selected next week’s recipe and I will need to be brave. Now there’s a hint for you!

Until then I hope your day is magical!

If you are looking for The Disney Princess Cookbook you can find it online here.

Cri-Kee's Lucky Cucumber Salad (Cooking Entry)

Here we are on recipe number two from my lovely Disney Princess Cookbook. If you recall I gave you the tiniest of hints on the theme of this dish. Mulan.

Before I dive in, allow me to say that I am excited to see the live action adaptation of this wonderful cartoon film. I saw the trailer recently when we were at another movie. The cinematography looks masterful. But there was no sign of Mushu. Upon further investigation at this point it appears Mulan’s dragon sidekick will not be appearing in this year’s film. Well that’s a disappointment because I, for one, was quite interested in seeing how he would come to life, in a manner of speaking.

Since we’re on the topic of live action Disney films, there seems to be extensive debate in the Disney fandom (and perhaps the general film audience) as to whether these new reworks are a good idea or just poor attempts to make more money for the Disney corporation. Most negative comments touch on why change something that isn’t broken or why ruin a good thing. While others feel remaking these films is a good way to reintroduce the classics. 

Do you want my opinion? I am all for these new versions. Personally, I think this offers a fresh approach to these beloved films that might entice the younger audiences. I mean have you seen the original Dumbo cartoon? Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the story, but the artistry is pretty sub par compared to the new animations such as Tangled or Frozen. I feel it is pure genius on the part of Disney to pull in audiences of all ages that may, perhaps, not wish to watch the relic films. 

I honestly have enjoyed these remakes from Cinderella (come on, you have to admit the way the pumpkin was transformed into the carriage was stellar), to Dumbo (yes, I cried like a baby thank you), to The Lion King (turned it off on the plane when Mufasa was meeting his fate) and my all-time favorite Beauty and the Beast (Dan Stevens made me love the beast even more). Even such films as Christopher Robin and the interesting Nutcracker and the Four Realms brought beloved characters to life in a way Walt never would have imagined, or would he?

So we can agree to disagree on this topic, but I for one, love seeing new creative attempts at these films. And besides there are so many reboot movies and even television shows in the market so why not offer something heartwarming and wholesome as Lady and the Tramp (note to self…sign up for Disney+).

Well haven’t I gone on a tangent? Let me return to my princess way of cooking. This week I randomly selected Cri-Kee’s Lucky Cucumber Salad

This recipe was beyond easy. It had only three steps and five required ingredients with one that is optional, crushed red pepper flakes. The tip on the page stated “Red pepper flakes are really spicy, so don’t use too many – unless you want to breathe fire like Mushu!” I never consider these zesty, red bits as on option, rather a requirement. I guess I want to be like Mushu.

All you need is a cucumber, rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt and toasted sesame seeds. I just toasted the seeds in a skillet while I thinly sliced the cucumber. One piece of advice, this needs to chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. And if you allow it to marinade overnight, those spicy little flakes get hotter. 

This salad is very refreshing and would make an excellent side to a cookout or barbeque. We enjoyed it for lunch alongside a tuna salad. But it could pair well with just about anything. 

On the princess tiara scale I give a rating of 4 tiaras. It was hard to meet the excellence of the quiche from last week. But really that’s not fair to Cri-Kee’s salad. Nonetheless it is very good but not hearty. I probably could have eaten half the bowl. 

Next week is my bye week, so stay tuned for the third recipe. Here’s a tiny hint, it’s not an entrée nor a side and think of the princess who slept, a lot.

Have a magical day readers!

The Prince's Special One – Chapter 1 (Story)

Once upon a time is how most fairy tales begin. And since this story is a fairy tale, it shall begin as such.

Once upon a time there was a beautiful land. Each season as lovely as the next. 

And within this land were three kingdoms. Two were equal in size while the third was larger and more stunning than the others. But all three kingdoms were happy and got along well with each other. 

King Larion ruled Denu, known for its coastal villages. While Cothram, with its green farmlands was led by King Houlighe. And then there was Herrlich, the largest and most divine. King Stassler presided over the kingdom of beautiful forests, gardens, mountains and streams.

Herrlich was the most bountiful and thus King Stassler was seen as ruler over the entire land. 

King Stassler and his wife Vivia had three children, two of whom were girls and the youngest a son, heir to the throne. Derych had no desire to become king for with that title not only came duty but also betrothal to a girl who his parents deemed worthy of the family name.

Derych was very handsome with eyes bluer than the autumn sky and blonde hair as gorgeous as the wheat fields at harvest time. He was also very intelligent speaking many languages and educated at the highest level. And he was every girls’ dream and many vied for his parents’ attention in hope of landing on the list of possible suitors for the future king.

Derych returned home from the university for summer break. He’d wanted to stay in LaTrelle, but his father summoned him to come back to the kingdom. 

He dreaded the trip home for he knew what lie in store. It was the month before his 19th birthday. A lavish ball would be held to formally announce his place in the kingdom along with the presentation of princesses and eligible girls from noble homes. 

His stomach turned as the ship approached Herrlich’s harbor. How could he tell his parents he’d fallen in love with a girl he met at the university? They would never accept anyone but a princess or someone of high nobility. It was, after all, a rule of the monarchy handed down to each generation. But weren’t rules made to be broken? What harm could come from him asking his parents to allow him to choose whoever he wanted, no matter from where? Derych signed knowing full well the answer would be “no.”

The households throughout the lands were buzzing with excitement. The day had arrived for the delivery of the royal invitations.

All of the noble citizens were on the list, of course. But King Stassler, being a kind ruler, chose to send invitations to a handful of the villagers based upon the home’s stature in each kingdom. Biddings were also dispatched to the royal households of the neighboring lands. 

Queen Edina, wife of King Larion, gasped with joy when the royal courier handed her a regal envelope. She entered the castle and called her four daughters into attendance. She had important news.

Bethia, Frangeline and Lecia appeared together at once. But Aisling tarried far behind. At age 18, she was the youngest of the daughters and the most eligible for Derych.

“We have received some very exciting news,” Edina announced. She held up the beautifully ornate invitation. The raised golden borders on the paper reflected the light and the calligraphy was stunning.

“Our family has been invited to Prince Derych’s birthday celebration.” Edina beamed as she studied each of her daughter’s faces. She sighed when she looked at her youngest daughter.

“Aisling, you do not look pleased.”

“Do I have to go?”

“Of course! You must be presented with the court of princesses.”

Aisling crossed her arms in defeat. 

“What about Lecia?”

“You know my betrothal to Renard is close to being announced. Besides, Derych is too young for me.”

Aisling snorted. “What? One year older makes a difference?” She looked back at her mother, her dark brown eyes begging.

Edina approached her daughter and gently brushed her shiny, chestnut colored hair back behind her shoulder. She stared at her child.

All of their daughters were beautiful. But Aisling was the most stunning. She was petite with delicate features, much like her sisters. But she had a free-spirited nature that made her more fetching. Or perhaps it was her sense of independence and curiosity that got attention from everyone she met.

“Derych is a fine young man,” Edina stated. “He will make a wonderful husband.”

“Not to me,” Aisling whispered as her mother turned and walked away.

Edina paused and placed her hand on the doorframe. Without so much as turning around she commanded, “You will be joining us. That is an order.”

Aisling stood in the great hallway alone, abandoned by her sisters who had run off busy planning their gowns for the ball. She signed and looked down at the university acceptance letter she had hidden behind her skirt.

The Beast's Quiche (Cooking Entry)

I may have mentioned before but I am a diehard Disney fan, so much so that a blog entry dedicated to this topic is in the works. Stay tuned…

In the meantime, my sister Judy gave me a wonderful present this Christmas. The gift was a book of which I’d never seen, The Disney Princess Cookbook. What? Are you kidding me? Judy managed to find a present that combined tow of my biggest loves…Disney + cooking.

The cookbook contains “50 delicious recipes,” according to the cover. A grand idea sprouted in my mind as I perused the table of contents. What if I made one recipe a week from the book and wrote about it here?

Of course there are 52 weeks in a year, so that provides me ample time to complete the book by the end of 2020. And it even gives me a two-week buffer, just in case. You know, life does happen every now and again.

Does anyone recall my mentioning this crazy custom of mine where I close my eyes and randomly open a new cookbooks to a recipe? That recipe is tagged to be the first for me to try. This cookbook was no exception to this tradition. 

Closing my eyes, I took my thumb and allowed the pages to fan back and forth and landed on my first endeavor. Drum roll please….The Beast’s Quiche.

Fabulous! I adore the story of Beauty and the Beast (shameless plug here but I am working on a new sequel to the fairy tale), and I really enjoy quiche. This was a match made in culinary heaven.

The list of ingredients was quite short calling for a premade frozen pie shell, along with grated cheddar cheese, broccoli florets, eggs, milk, pepper and cooked bacon. Since I don’t consume bacon, I substituted for turkey bacon.

The directions consisted of six steps. This should be easy, I thought. When I arrived at step 5 I discovered why the recipe was so simple. It stated, “Ask an adult to help you with the oven.” All right, the book is geared toward younger princesses but that does not matter one bit.

The illustrations are adorable and the little quips of information are endearing. Just wait until you read the name of some of the recipes.

Now back to my cooking. As I said, we did use turkey bacon, and I also chose not too cook the broccoli beforehand which provided a really good texture.

The results were nothing but excellent. The quiche wore a golden hue, and the aroma was comforting. What about the taste? Scrumptious! Yes, I said scrumptious.

Paired with a side salad, the Beast’s Quiche was a delightful meal. The only thing that may have improved it was if Dan Stevens (aka The Beast in the live action film) joined us for dinner. 

I give this recipe a rating of 5 princess tiaras. Oh yes, I should have mentioned that I will be scoring these recipes with tiaras rather than stars.

Tune in next week for my next Disney recipe. I won’t spoil it, but I will mention the name Mulan.

Until then, have a magical day!