Disney Dinner & A Movie Night: Encanto

It has been quite a while since my family, and I had a Disney Dinner & A Movie Night (you can read some of my favorites here and here). Life suddenly got so busy, and it’s been hard to find the time to plan and execute a fun, Disney-movie-filled evening. This week I finally got my act together. But, rather than dinner and a movie, Brooklyn and I had a Disney Snack & A Movie Day and watched Disney’s newest (and possibly most magical) film, Encanto.

To go along with our movie, I wanted to make a special treat for Brooklyn and me to enjoy. Encanto takes place in Colombia, so I planned on making a Colombian snack that my picky three-year-old would also eat. After researching and digging through recipes, I decided to make arepas de queso (which are also featured in the movie, but we will get to that later). I learned that Colombian arepas de queso is like a fried corn cake filled with mozzarella cheese (or, as Brooklyn called them, “cheesy pancakes”).

If you want to make arepas de queso for yourself, here is the recipe that I used:

1 cup masarepa (pre-cooked cornmeal)

1 cup warm water

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons softened butter, divided

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. In a bowl, mix the masarepa, water, salt, and 1 tablespoon of butter. Knead with your hands for 2-3 minutes
  2. Form 4 small balls with the dough and place in between two pieces of parchment paper. Use a rolling pin, the bottom of a pan, or even your hands to flatten each ball into a small, round disk.
  3. Add your remaining butter to a small, nonstick pan and melt on medium heat. Add each arepa to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes on each side until they are golden brown.
  4. Once they are cooked, use a knife to split each arepa and fill them with mozzarella cheese. Put the arepas back in the skillet and cook until the cheese is melted.
  5. Enjoy!

Once our arepas were ready, we turned on the movie Encanto and began our journey into one of the most visually beautiful Disney movies I have ever seen. The animation reminds me of Tangled and Moana (yet more bright and colorful if that’s possible), but the story is unlike any other Disney animated movie.

Encanto is the 60th animated feature from Walt Disney Animation and tells the story of the marvelous Madigral family who lives in a magical home, or casita, in Colombia. Each member of the Madigral family has a special superhuman gift, everyone, that is, except for Mirabel. For example, Mirabel’s cousin has enhanced hearing, and Mirabel’s mother can heal people with her cooking (including her arepas de queso!). Without any of her own unique gifts, Mirabel is treated differently by the rest of her family. Mirabel soon realizes that the family’s home, and truly the family’s foundation, is cracking, and she wants to do everything she can to fix it. Mirabel sets out on a journey to figure out how to save her family, her home, and their future.

Many Disney movies have similar storylines of heroes and villains; Encanto is different. There isn’t a true “villain” in this movie, and there isn’t really a love story either. It is such a unique type of animated movie, and at its core, Encanto is genuinely all about family. Encanto will appeal to just about anyone who loves Disney magic as much as I do, especially kids.

Brooklyn is not great at sitting through movies, but she loved watching Encanto. I noticed that unlike some movies that sort of drag out the plot, Encanto gets to the point quickly and keeps your attention. Each scene is visually stunning, bright, and colorful, and the catchy music will make you want to get up and dance. One of our favorite scenes was when Mirabel and her sister Isabella sang the song “What Else Can I Do?”, we actually had to rewind and watch it again; we loved it so much.

Encanto is directed by Byron Howard and Jared Bush and features original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a musical score by Germaine Franco (who orchestrated the score for Coco). You can currently watch Encanto on major digital platforms (like Disney+), and it will be on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on February 8th.

Between our yummy arepas and this beautiful movie, Brooklyn and I both felt immersed in a magical world and culture we hadn’t experienced before. We thought Encanto was the perfect family movie, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Sending love and magic.

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