They say if you have more than one of something, you’re a collector. If that’s true, then I’m a Disney cookbook collector and space has become limited on my Kitchen shelf, so I have to be pretty selective. That’s why I firmly believe each time I receive a new cookbook to review, it’s important to put it through its paces by trying at least one recipe from each category before I say “Yay” or “Nay.” With that level of enthusiasm, I dove into Disney Eats by Joy Howard, which features over “150 recipes for everyday cooking and inspired fun.”
Paging through Disney Eats, it was clear to me that the book puts a lot of emphasis on how things look. Flavor and taste is what matters most to me and especially on weeknights, I didn’t feel like I would have time to make my meals cute enough to appropriately review this. But I gave it my best and was surprised in some cases how well things looked without having to spend a lot of time. But in general, you’ll notice that I didn’t go for recipes that required a lot of work to make them cute, like the Toy Story alien avocado toast or the Eeyore pancakes featured on the cover.
The book is divided into eight sections, but I ended up only covering seven in this review because I otherwise would’ve been making more desserts than entrees. The chapters are as follows:
- Breakfast & Brunch
- Sips and Snacks
- Salads, Lunch and Light Fare
- Playful Dinners
- Inspired Feasts
- Everything for the Holidays
- Easy Treats
- Birthdays and Sweet Occasions
Here are the recipes I made and what I thought of each.
Breakfast & Brunch: Cinderella’s Dreamy Pumpkin Waffles
I’m a sucker for anything pumpkin flavored, which is why this recipe stood out to me. It’s a cute concept with a wedge of Granny Smith apple cut for the stem. But the waffle itself was a big letdown in its efforts to make a traditional recipe healthier. It uses an equal amount of wheat flour to all-purpose and replaces milk with coconut milk. Pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg give it a nice pumpkin flavor, but the waffle itself was too chewy and gooey, nowhere near fluffy enough to be satisfying.
Sips and Snacks: Frozen Banana Dalmatian Pops
Inspired by 101 Dalmatians, these frozen banana treats were pretty yummy. I’m not a big fan of white chocolate, but it’s the least dominant flavor in each treat, which is covered in dark chocolate spots. A little coconut oil also gets folded into the white chocolate, which makes it feel more tropical than your typical chocolate covered banana.
Salads, Lunch and Light Fare: Aladdin’s Fattoush Salad
I was excited by the description of this salad and it did not disappoint. I would say that the only connection to Aladdin is the Middle Eastern influence of the ingredients, but it was yummy all the same. I had a hard time getting all of the ingredients at my local grocery store and had to substitute sumac with lemon zest. It uses a lemony olive oil dressing and mint leaves go into the lettuce mix, which gave this salad a very unique flavor. Instead of croutons, you bake your own pita chips to give it a nice crunch.
Playful Dinners: Punk Rock Pink Animal Pasta
As a huge Muppets fan, I couldn’t pass this one up without giving it a try, even though I’m not the biggest fan of beets. That’s right, what looks like pink pasta above is actually your regular store-bought spaghetti tossed in a homemade sauce, the primary ingredient of which is beets mixed with ricotta cheese and minced onion. It has a wonderful, creamy, borderline sweet taste to it and I would make this again in a heartbeat. It actually became my favorite recipe I made from the book and I didn’t find the Animal face challenging to make either. It’s just slices of mozzarella with olives in the center, cut more into triangles for his teeth with a strip of yellow bell pepper for lips and a little parsley for his eyebrows. Like the title of this section, it really was a playful dinner.
Inspired Feasts: Konk’s Spinach Puffs
I couldn’t get the scene from The Emperor’s New Groove out of my head where Kronk is trying to serve his hot-from-the-oven spinach puffs to Yzma, so I decided to make these. It’s a simple recipe and overall, I would say these weren’t flavorful enough to make again. It needed more spices in the spinach mix to make you crave more.
Easy Treats: Mickey Cookie Pretzel Bark
I love chocolate covered pretzels, so while I’m not the biggest white chocolate fan, I was excited by the prospect of these candy treats. As you can see, in addition to pretzels and white chocolate, it celebrates Mickey Mouse with mini Oreo cookies and brown M&Ms, plus red, yellow and black sprinkles. These were yummy and a fun way to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 92nd birthday this year. Each bite looks like a Mickey Mouse party.
Birthdays and Sweet Occasions: Crispy Ice Cream Sandwiches
People are always surprised when I tell them one of my favorite snacks at Disney Parks are the Mickey-shaped crispy treats made by Selma’s. I know crispy treats are easy to make at home, but something about the ones sold at Disney taste magical. When I saw this recipe that combines my love of crispy treats and ice cream, I had to try it. One good thing to come from it is the recipe puts cinnamon in the crispy treats, which was really good. But I quickly realized why you don’t see these for sale in the parks or at grocery stores, which is that the crispy treat becomes too hard in the freezer that it makes the entire experience too crunchy to enjoy. A better idea would be to take a hot crispy treat and make an ice cream sundae out of it instead.
While I can’t profess to have made every recipe in this book, I can say that of my selection process, I would make four out of the seven again. Disney Eats is probably best for parents looking for ways to make foods their kids will love that have healthier ingredients and look cute, too. As in the case with the Animal pastad, it tricked me into eating beets and it could work on kids, too. This is not your weeknight 30-minutes-or-less cookbook, but it could offer fun for families stuck inside on weekends.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.