Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ratatouille, the Food AND the Disney Pixar Film

By Lisa Green

Ratatouille Movie

During the summer, my kitchen can get pretty crowded with fresh vegetables.  This means I sometimes have to be creative with new recipes so nothing goes to waste.  I haven’t yet resorted to squash-chip-cookies or eggplant-cupcakes, but someday it may come to that.


Last summer I made my own interpretation of Ratatouille so we could have an at-home dinner-and-a-movie  that both saved us some money for an upcoming Disney Cruise AND got us in the mood for one of the cruise’s ports – in France!

I browsed in all my cookbooks and surfed my usual recipe websites (plus a few unusual ones as well) and nothing sounded exactly right, so I used bits and pieces of several recipes, threw in my own version of “getting fancy with the spices” and the results were quite tasty.  While Raymond and I are highly gluten tolerant omnivores, we regularly enjoy meatless meals and this turned out to be a great one.  I served the leftovers with some baked mahi-mahi the next day!
The veggies in this meal make a lot of juice which combines with tomato paste in the bottom of the baking dish to make a perfect sauce.  Served over pasta, you’ve got a healthy, light, and satisfying meal.  Grab a TV tray and press play.  Enjoy Ratatouille and Ratatouille at the same time!

Ratatouille 2

Lisa’s Ratatouille

Ratatouille 4
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • Tomato Paste (use the 3 oz. or the 6 oz. can depending on how much sauce you like and how many veggies you use.)
  • 2T extra virgin olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 2t Herbs de Provence + salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 eggplant, sliced
  • 1-2 zucchini, sliced
  • sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • A couple of dashes of red wine vinegar (optional)
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Pasta of your choice, cooked al dente

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Trace the top of the casserole dish you intend to use onto a piece of parchment paper – cut slightly inside the line to make a paper lid for your dish that will lay on top of the vegetables.  Sauté the onion and green pepper in 2T olive oil until onion is translucent – add the garlic and cook for two minutes more.  Stir in the Herbs de Provence and red pepper flakes.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Spread tomato paste in the bottom of casserole dish.  This is when I add a couple of dashes of red wine vinegar to the tomato paste.  I like the tangy addition to the sweetness of the tomato paste – but this is totally up to you.  (I’m sure it’s still delicious without the vinegar.)  Spoon about 1/3 of onion/pepper mixture over tomato paste.  Then begin spiraling sliced vegetables in a single layer – drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper (to taste), top with parmesan cheese and 1/3 of the onion/pepper mixture.  Add one more spiral layer of veggies, drizzle with oil, top with the remaining onions and peppers, add more parmesan.  TAH-DA!

Ratatouille 5

Now add the little parchment-paper lid and tuck your masterpiece into the oven for 40-50 minutes depending on how well-done you like your vegetables.  Be sure you scoop down into the sauce at the bottom of the dish when serving.

Ratatouille 3

Final Ratatouille

What’s your favorite Disney dinner and a movie combo?

This article was originally posted on the Living a Disney Life Blog.

Friday, January 30, 2015

January 2015 Walt Disney World Trip Highlights : Part 1 of 4

By Nick

I thought rather than doing a daily trip report, I'd share highlights for each day of our most recent vacation.

We spent quite a bit of the trip with our friends Kandi and John, and their kids Jazzlyn and Grayson, and met several Disney friends throughout the week, which were certainly highlights, but I'm going to share daily high points as well.

Kandi, Grayson, John, Barbie, Jazzlyn, and me

Saturday - 1/10 

To start things off, we checked into the Boardwalk Villas, and within minutes, before even leaving the lobby, we were sent a text that our room was ready. And better yet, the room's view was fantastic!
I'm going to share the room number with you, but you have to promise not to tell anyone! 4007.

We could see Wishes, and we watched Illuminations each evening we were there, sometimes from bed!



At Disney's Hollywood Studios, we met Baymax and Hiro from Big Hero Six at The Magic of Disney Animation.

Also at DHS, we had lunch at Hollywood & Vine for the first time. This is character meal with Disney Junior pals. I'm not very familiar with the characters, but the food was terrific, and I'll feature a more in depth article in the future.

Me and Jake

To cap off the evening, I got to meet Dave Hodges one of my co-hosts on The Disney Exchange Podcast for the first time. We had a really good time hanging out, enjoying entertainment on the Boardwalk as well as grabbing a beer over in Epcot's France Pavilion.

Sunday - 1/11

I was awoken by the sound of loud music and fireworks (this isn't a highlight, just an observation) which was the start of the Walt Disney World Marathon, which our friend Kandi ran, and watching people run the marathon and cheering them on WAS a highlight! Congratulations to all our friends, and, well, everyone that participated.

Before our cheering our friend and other runners on, we had breakfast at the new Trattoria al Forno located on the Boardwalk, and it was really, really good. Barbie and I both had the same thing, the Waffle, with Espresso-Mascarpone Cream and Bacon.

And since I'm on the subject of food, (and, really, it isn't often that I'm NOT) I'm going to put dinner at Trail's End at Fort Wilderness on my highlights list as well. It's never disappointing!

Finally, we have Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Yes, I rode it for the first time back in October, but this was the first time I rode it at night, and it was so much more fun in the dark, when you don't see the twists and drops coming!

Oh, and my favorite seat is in the back!

Have you ridden Seven Dwarfs and what's your favorite seat?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mickey Mouse: On Top of the World

By Nick 

As I have talked about in past posts, I collect globes. I also, obviously, collect Disney. And my favorite Mickey Mouse era is from the early to mid 30′s. Put them all together, and you get this terrific piece from the Walt Disney Collectors Collection.

Now, obviously he isn’t on a full globe, but close enough.
This is Mickey from the classic 1936 cartoon, “Thru the Mirror”.

This sculpture measures 4.5″ high.

The tail is metal.

This was the Walt Disney Collectors Society member gift sculpture from 2000, and bears the Disney Millennium logo.

Make way for Mickey!

Cinderella: Extended Sneak Preview

By Nick

I admit, when I first saw the preview of the upcoming live action Cinderella, I was not overwhelmed. It looked fine. A faithful straight forward retelling of the 1950 animated classic.

When we heard they would be playing an extended preview at the ABC Sound Studio at Disney's Hollywood Studios (DHS), starting on January 17th and running through March 21st, which was on the last full day of our recent trip, I thought if we could work it in, why not?

I then promptly forgot all about it until a friend, and I apologize I don't remember exactly who (Laurie, Jennifer, Rene'? all of you?) told me they had attended the Disney Annual Pass sneak peak on the 16th, I said "Oh yea." And, since we were planning on going to DHS on the 17th, I put it on the must do list.

And you know what? I'm glad we did. It was really pretty great.

The 10 minute or so preview shows a large portion of the Fairy Godmother scene, featuring Helena Bonham Carter as the Godmother and Lily James as Cinderella, along with a bunch of really fun visual effects. They round it out with what I believe were scenes from the original trailer.

I've now gone from "meh" to I can't wait to see this!

Will you be seeing Cinderella when it opens in theaters March 13th?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I love a parade!

by Gaylin

Actually, the title should say, I love a Disney parade! I will sit on a curb for 45 minute to an hour to have a good view of a parade. I have had some great chats with people while waiting for a parade, met some great kids, had snacks and been entertained by the people walking by until the cast members clear the way for the parade floats.

At the Magic Kingdom this past May, I got to watch the new Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade. I loved it, the floats were so intricate and so many moving pieces! My favourite was the float for Tangled. Rapunzel right up front and with those huge axes swinging back and forth, I couldn't get a good photo of Flynn but he was there! From the top to bottom, this float represents so many parts of the movie, I think it is wonderful.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Stormalong Bay, Worth the Stay at the Yacht and Beach Club Resort

By Nick

My wife and I have been Disney Vacation Club members since 2007, when we bought a small resale contract, and have added on with small point purchases periodically since. We have a very small 30 point contract at the Beach Club Villas, which we acquired directly from Disney. I essentially added this small contract because of it's great pool, Stormalong Bay, which is only accessible for guests at the Yacht and Beach Club.

What makes Stormalong Bay such a great pool? Well, for one, it's more like a water park than just an ordinary pool. It's 3 acres consisting of 795,000 gallons of water and several different aquatic experiences which can be enjoyed by every member of the family.


The pools are sand bottomed, but, as the currents and people move the swirling silica around, it tends to bunch, so you may find clumps in one area, and none in others.
Speaking of swirling, one fun feature, located by the end of the massive water slide (more on that in a minute) is a whirlpool. Hop, well, float in, and throw your legs up, and jets will have you going in circles!

On to that slide. Climb to the top of the replica shipwreck, and take a ride down the 230 foot long slide, which is one of the highest on Walt Disney World property. Get there early, the lines get very long as the day wears on and the heat beats down!


My favorite part of Stormalong Bay is the lazy river. I can spend hours just floating around here, until my wife has to insist we leave due to excessive pruning! I've read that you can rent tubes. I'm not sure where from, as I have always just found tubes floating unattended at all hours of the day!

There are bridges that connect different areas of the complex, and it's a great place to view the surrounding area, offering great views of the entire Boardwalk area as well.


For kids, and kids of all ages, there are pool parties held each day. For young ones, there are sandy beaches for them to play on, with a gentle slope into a wading pool.


For grownups, looking for an adult beverage, Hurricane Hanna's Waterside Bar and Grill offers great views with your beer and signature cocktails and frozen beverages.

They also offer Bar Appetizers and Entress.

After a meal and drink or 3, you can soak in the quit and fairly hidden hot tub, or find a secluded spot under a waterfall.



As mentioned above, Stormalong Bay is accessible to Yacht and Beach Club guests only, and there is actually a Cast Member located at the entrance checking Magic Bands. Hours change depending on the season.

Also, as was the case on our recent trip, portions may be closed for refurbishment. Disney should notify you if this is the case.

Potions of this article was originally posted on the Tips From the Disney Diva and Devos Blog, where Nick is a contributing writer.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Disney Exchange -Episode 006 - Epcot's World Showcase

by Nick

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

-The Disney Exchange is Lisa Green, David Hodges, and me, Nicholas Maglio

-Main Topic- Epcot's World Showcase, country by country.

-Dave asks what direction we generally start in, as this is a personal preference for most, and I respond it doesn't really matter which way we go, but generally it's Mexico. Dave always goes towards Canada. Lisa once again agrees with me, stating that it changes for her and her family.

-We then start our tour in Mexico, since I am the one who made the list and not Dave, who would've started us off in Canada.

-Mexico : We all like the Gran Fiesta Tour, as well as the overall atmosphere of the pavilion.
I talk about my love of La Cava del Tequila and that my wife and I have eaten at all the restaurants, my favorite being La Hacienda de San Angel

Nick and Barbie

-Norway : Dave likes some of the offerings Kringla Bakeri og Kafe, particularly the School Bread, but is not a fan of the shop Puffin's Roost due to the overwhelming scent of the perfume, Laila. (Fans of Laila please direct all hate mail to David Hodges). I say how I enjoy the Bakeri, as well as walking through Puffin's Roost, and talk about the very good Princess Storybook Lunch we had at Akershus.

Lisa tells about her families Viking hat tradition.

Photo: courtesy of Lisa Green

-China : I confess I've never eaten at the restaurants here but like the Chinese BBQ Pork Buns from the Joy of Tea stand. Dave has eaten at The Lotus Blossom Cafe, and found it simply adequate. We all enjoy the acrobats. Lisa likes the shop.

-Germany : Lisa confesses she has never eaten at Biergarten, but has enjoyed Sommerfest, their quick service eatery, as well as the occasional adult beverage, particularly the Schofferhoffer Grapefruit beer. Dave has an even more shocking confession; he has only ever gone into Karamel Kuche, and isn't a German food fan. (German food fans address all hate mail to David Hodges).

I profess my love of Biergarten, and the entire pavilion in general.

-Italy : Dave doesn't want to pay $90 for a pizza, but does like to walk through. It should come as no surprise that I love all the restaurants in the pavilion. Lisa really enjoys it as she has visited Italy, and tells of a favorite New Years Eve memory at Tutto Italia, and how this pavilion will always have a special place in her heart.

-American Adventure : USA, what's not to love? The show gets me every time. Lisa loves Voices of Liberty and feels this is the best thing of the pavilion, and fears losing it in this era of changes in entertainment in World Showcase. Dave says that the burger at Liberty Inn was very good.

-Japan : One of Lisa's favorite places is the Mitsukoshi Department Store, and especially likes seeing her son in the snack area. I mention I have never eaten at Teppan Edo, but thought Tokyo Dining was just okay. (Fans of Tokyo Dining direct hate mail to Lisa Green). Dave talks of spending time in Japan in the military and how his wife has retained her knowledge of the language and he also spends considerable time in Mitsukoshi, and has a good warning pertaining to candy purchases. He also tells of eating at the Katsura Grill, their quick service. He also gives discount tips on the eateries and stores.

 Photo: Lisa Green

-Morocco : Dave and Lisa tell of the only things they have had in the pavilion. Dave gets the Sultan's Colada, while Lisa warns us to NOT order the Casa Blanca beer. Lisa's husband Raymond gets coffee each trip, while Lisa and the kids peruse the shops. I tell of eating at all the restaurants, and that I was not a fan of Spice Road Table

-France : I have gotten Dave hooked on 1664 Blanc, which I introduced him to when my wife and I met him last month.

 me and Dave

I proceed to thoroughly murder the French language, and walk through the places and foods I've enjoyed. Dave, wisely, doesn't even try to pronounce Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie, and describes his meal there. Lisa tells about her food and wine pairing at Monsieur Paul's and free flowing wine. We all agree it's a lovely pavilion, and that if you can score a seat it is a lovely place to relax. 

-The United Kingdom : Lisa shares her love of the Single Malt Scotch Flight at the Rose and Crown Pub, and Lisa and I agree we love the Fish and Chips at the Yorkshire County Fish and Chips shop. 

I tell why I've never eaten at Rose and Crown, and my love of Shandys from the Pub.

I also mention the great shops and wonderful Cast Members we've met there.
Dave stops in The Tea Caddy each visit and of a free tour which I had not heard of previously. He also brings up the British Revolutionm, which we all agree is a very good band, and that he had a very good meal at Rose and Crown.

-Canada : Dave talks about motion sickness issues with the film O Canada, as well as a certain Lumberjack show I'm not even going to mention, as well as the fact he has not ever eaten at Le Cellier! Lisa goes to Canada for the film, Le Cellier, the general surroundings, and their Food and Wine offerings. I mention I felt our last Le Cellier visit was mediocre. (Okay Le Cellier fans send all hate mail to me.)

-This weeks Wheel of Distany topic is our Favorite Places to Watch Illuminations. 
(Please note, I get insulted as I am a Diva, and throw down my headset and storm off, and my headset has issues after I eventually return. I apologize for the noises, but shall never apologize for being a Diva!) Lisa's favorite spot is from the FastPass viewing area. Dave sees it as he's leaving Epcot and that he is not a huge fan of Illuminations-hatemail to Dave, etc. etc. My favorite spot, if not from a room at the Boardwalk, is from La Hacienda de San Angel.

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Twitter:  @DisneyExchange