Sausage, Leek & Butternut Squash Bake

It’s firmly Winter here!

Yes, we may not have inches of snow but it has turned cold for California! Cold nights, make way for sunny, frosty mornings with a chill in the air!

What better way to celebrate the season change than with a hearty dinner of Sausage, Butternut Squash & Leek Bake to warm you and your loved ones!

This Sausage, Butternut Squash & Leek Bake is the perfect winter dish. It is very simple to make, healthy and wonderfully delicious!

As you know I am a girl who likes simple recipe – preferably using only one pan! This uses a couple of pans but is VERY simple!

Captain America and I were delighted with this recipe creation – we came up with the idea from a little recipe booklet attached to the jar of sun-dried tomatoes – usually I don’t give those recipe books a second glance but Captain America found a recipe that peaked his interest and I set to adapting it (obviously!) into this Sausage, Butternut Squash & Leek Bake.

We are both huge fans of squash – so any excuse to use it we are right there! The addition of sausage meat makes the dish a little more substantial, and more like a main dish. The sundried tomatoes and leeks cut the sweetness of the butternut squash to create a perfectly well-rounded meal.

It keeps well in the refrigerator too – and makes excellent leftovers in the days following!

Ingredients

8 mushrooms, diced
2 large leeks, sliced
1 C cooked rice (or quinoa, farro, bulgar, couscous etc)
2 medium sized butternut squash, peeled & diced (about 10 cups)
1 lb sausage meat
1 C sundried tomatoes
2 C Italian breadcrumbs
1 C parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 C pine nuts (optional)
1/4 C walnuts, chopped (optional)
Extra breadcrumbs and cheese

Instructions

  1. Peel and dice the butternut squash, removing all seeds. Place in a pot of water and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and drain the excess water. Allow to cool.
  2. In a separate pan cook the sausage meat until it begins to brown
  3. Add the leeks and mushrooms and cook until they are soft.
  4. Add the cooled butternut squash to a large mixing bowl, add the cooked rice, sundried tomatoes, breadcrumbs, cheese and nuts. Pour over the sausage meat, leeks and mushrooms. Mix together all the ingredients in the bowl.
  5. Transfer contents of the bowl to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle some extra breadcrumbs and cheese on top.
  6. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Serve immediately

 

Blueberry & Croissant Breakfast Puff

Blueberry & Croissant Breakfast Puff is my new favorite breakfast food!

I love breakfast, I love going out for breakfast – however, since finding this Blueberry & Croissant Breakfast Puff recipe I may never eat out for breakfast again!

I made this for a brunch with family and friends over the holidays! It was a HUGE success.

I was a little taken back by the cream cheese addition – but it absolutely makes the dish. It cuts the sweetness, adds a creaminess without dominating the palate.

The blueberries are the perfect fruit for this dish as they swell with cooking and then release all their juices and flavor in each bite.

I dislike bread pudding and equally ‘soggy’ foods – so I was slightly concerned that this would turn into one of those dishes………it didn’t! The croissant pieces on top stay flaky and buttery while the underneath becomes creamy, gooey and delicious!

Blueberry & Croissant Breakfast Puff is a firm favorite with Captain America & I and will be staying on our breakfast menu for a while to come.

If you are hosting a brunch with friends or family, or just want to try out a new breakfast recipe with your family then this is a must! Try it this weekend!

Ingredients

6 large croissants, cut up (about 10 cups)
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 packages (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cup milk (we used rice milk)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place croissant pieces in a 9 x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with blueberries.
  3. Beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla in medium bowl with electric mixer until well blended. Gradually add milk, beating well after each addition.
  4. Pour evenly over croissant pieces. Let stand 20 minutes.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 35 to 40 minutes or until set in center and golden brown. You may want to cover it with foil for the last 10 minutes if the tops are getting too browned.

Find the original recipe here

Stuffed Acorn Squash

I don’t know about you but for me the month of January spells eating lots of leftover Christmas candy while trying to keep warm and not gain any more weight! No simple feat!

This recipe for Stuffed Acorn Squash is a warm, winter dinner that’s low on calories and high on taste that hopefully helps you fulfill that goal!

I was a little dubious about stuffed acorn squash at first – it seems like quite a lot of effort for very little result and it all seems a little too healthy for me 😉 However, I was surprised by the delicious result and how simple it was to make!

You could probably use any large squash for this dish – but Captain America and I picked up this massive Acorn squash at Apple Hill and I decided to use it for a main dish rather than a smaller side dish. If you can only find smaller acorn squash at your grocery store or Farmer’s market then it would make a great side dish, or maybe use a whole squash per person for a main dish.

While researching “How to cook squash” I found this excellent post from one of my favorite cooking website The Kitchn – check this out for some basic tips on How to make stuffed roasted squash

Ingredients

1 acorn squash (or equivalent)
4 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1lb ground turkey
1 carrot, grated
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tsp onion salt
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 C breadcrumbs
1 C Grated Italian cheese
3/4 C pine nuts (optional)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cut the Acorn squash in half and remove the seeds and stringy bits. Place the squash halves cut-side-down in a baking dish and pour in enough hot water to fill the pan by about 1/4 inch. Cover the dish loosely with foil and place the dish in the oven.
  2. Roast the squash at 375F until very soft and tender when poked with a fork or paring knife, 30 to 50 minutes. Exact roasting time will depend on the size and variety of your squash.
  3. While the squash is roasting cook the ground turkey, onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrot and seasonings in a pan until the turkey is fully cooked. When it is cooked remove the filling from the heat until the squash has finished roasting
  4. Flip the cooked squash halves so they form bowls. Rub the inside with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the breadcrumbs, cheese and pine nuts to the filling.
  6. Divide the filling between the halves — it’s fine to really stuff the wells and also to mound the filling on top.
  7. Bake the stuffed squash halves until bubbly: Re-cover the pan with the foil and bake the halves for another 15 to 20 minutes until both are hot and bubbly. Top with extra cheese and serve immediately.

Cataldo Family Christmas Ravioli

The Cataldo Family has a wonderful family tradition at Christmas – homemade Ravioli!

They are so delicious and made from scratch!

A few months ago we all got together for a family gathering to make the ravioli ready for the holidays. I must admit that most of them did not make it to the holidays as we ate them all well before – but more will be made in time for Christmas Day where we serve them alongside Prime Rib and many other delights!

I will admit they are not a fast or simple dish to make – which is why we all made a HUGE batch of them to freeze and eat over time. The results are well worth the effort and time!

I have never made pasta or ravioli before – however the rest of the family had made it many times before! I am delighted to tell you that I passed the test, my Mother-in-Law said I did a great job and she should know she has been making them for decades!

Here’s me with my rolled out ravioli!!

I was very nervous to get started but I had excellent supervision and tutoring! Rolling out the dough is easier than it looks although I did have buff arms after a few batches!!

The family has a cool ravioli rolling pin that really makes the job easier! These gadgets come in all different sizes but we prefer the smaller ones.

After you roll out the dough you put filling in a very thin layer on one half of the dough and then fold the dough over the top and then roll it out using the fancy rolling pin!

Here’s the recipe: 

Ingredients

To make the dough:
28 C flour
6-8 eggs (depending on size and moisture)
a little oil
warm water
To make the stuffing:
3 medium onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3lbs ground beef
1lb ground pork, ground black forest ham or ground Italian sausage
4 bunches spinach or swiss chard (we prefer swiss chard)
3 carrots
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
4 C finely ground breadcrumbs
1 C grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
6 eggs
1 tbsp poultry seasoning
2 tbsp basil
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp allspice
salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. To make the dough: Mix together the ingredients, kneed well (use a machine to help with this stage!) Roll out thinly – so it looks like paper
  2. To make the filling: Chop onions and garlic very finely and saute in a large skillet. Add the ground beef and pork to to the onion mixture and brown. Set aside.
  3. Boil the carrots and and swiss chard/spinach in salted water. When tender, chop coarsely and add to the skillet mixture.
  4. Reserve spinach water in case you need to add any to alter the consistency of the filling.
  5. Add breadcrumbs. grated cheese and eggs to the skillet.
  6. Pour into the food processor and blend until mixed well.
  7. Add the spices and taste! Adjust seasonings to taste.
  8. To assemble the ravioli: Roll out dough very thinly on a well floured surface into a rectangle shape. Brush the entire top surface of the rolled dough with a lightly beaten egg.
  9. Spread ravioli stuffing very thinly onto one half of the rectangle. Fold the uncovered half of the dough on top of the filling and press down lightly.
  10. Using a ravioli rolling pin roll over the dough and PRESS DOWN HARD. Then cut between the ravioli using a ravioli cutter.
  11. If you are not cooking and eating the ravioli immediately:
  12. Place each ravioli on a baking tray covered in parchment paper and freeze. When fully frozen you can transfer them to a freezer proof bag and store until you are ready to eat them.

From our family to yours – we hope you have a fantastic time celebrating the birth of Jesus with your loved ones.

Merry Christmas from Captain America & His English Rose!

We are taking a little blogging break over the holidays and we will be back in the New Year!

My Favorite Apple Recipes

What better way to celebrate Fall than with a Apple recipe round-up!

As you will have realized by now I am a HUGE fan of baking!

I also LOVE FALL! It’s my favorite season!

Today we are in Apple Hill in Northern California – one of my favorite places to visit during the Fall!

I really hoped we would be able to make the trip but the past few weeks have been so busy – Captain America decided to treat me, kind of like a belated Anniversary celebration day out and took me to Apple Hill!

While I am stuffing my face with all things apple – you get to delight in this wonderful round up of my favorite apple recipes that I have gathered for you to feast your eyes upon!

There were so many of my favorite apple recipes I decided to compile them into a Pinterest board which you can find here:

It has everything from apple pie to caramel apples, from apple cider to apple cider doughnuts. I was drooling just compiling the board, and probably by now I have just about had my fill of apples and all foods containing apples……wait….I’m not sure that would ever be possible!

I hope you enjoy my favorite apple recipes contributed to The Pretty Pintastic Party over the past few months!

Now get in that kitchen and staring baking!

My Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

I am a HUGE fan of pumpkin recipes! I cannot get enough!

 

Even after Halloween is over I still never get tired of Pumpkin recipes.

There are so many wonderful recipes out there to get you inspired and get your creative cooking juices flowing I wanted to find some of my favorite pumpkin recipes out there are compile them in one big round-up.

From Pumpkin Muffins, to Pumpkin Spice Latte’s, from Pumpkin Pie to Roast Pumpkin Risotto. I have brought together some of my favorite pumpkin recipes from The Pretty Pintastic Party and added them to one Pinterest board for you to savor over, get inspired and get cooking!

Many of the recipes are REALLY simple, and some take a little time and skill but hopefully there is something for everyone to enjoy, savor and have a go at!

You know you have leftover, half-carved pumpkins – don’t throw them away! Use them to create delicious recipes from the list of my favorite pumpkin recipes!

To make it easy for you and to make sure you don’t miss a single recipe I posted them all on this Pinterest board which you can view here and follow! Enjoy!

31 People: Jesus Christ

Jesus

Jesus Christ is #1 on my 31 People Who Inspire, Influence, Impress list.

I could have written about him first – but I wanted to save the best for last.

Jesus Christ is my biggest influence. He is a constant force in my life. My life would be but a fraction without Him in it.

I wouldn’t do life without Him.

He is my saving grace, my every breath, my driving force, the reason I wake up in the morning and the foundation of my very life is because of Him.

I am captivated by Him, drawn to Him, in love with Him and loved by Him.

Jesus Christ is my closest friend, my lover, my confidante. He likes me and loves me just as I am. No-one else in the world can say and mean that – not even Captain America, my Mum or my Dad.

Jesus Christ is my greatest inspiration. I want to and choose daily to be more like Him. I fail miserably most of the time but tomorrow is a new day and I get to try again, learning from my mistakes and continuing to be guided by His hand and Word.

I am more impressed by Jesus Christ than by anyone else. He is real, funny-hilarious, in fact, a man of great character who was tested beyond what He thought He could handle and yet He did what He came to do. He did it for me and He did it for you.

Do you know Jesus Christ the way I know Jesus Christ?

I pray that you will come to know Him and His great love and desire for a relationship with you.

31 People: Ruth

Ruth

The Bible character, Ruth is one of my favorite people from the Bible.

Namesake, I here you cry! However, there is way more to my love and admiration for her than just having a shared name.

Yes, I love my name and I am delighted to share it with a woman of such character, faithfulness and kindness. I remember asking my parents, when I was old enough to know about Ruth from the Bible if that is where they came up with the inspiration for my name. I was, at least in part. Ruth is also a favorite Biblical character for my parents, and in part she inspired my name.

A hard act to follow I felt when I came to understand a little more about her from her story. I also didn’t feel like I could identify with her very much. God had other plans as he usually does!

In recent years, I noticed some major similarities in my life and Ruth’s and I have been challenged and felt inclined to take a similar attitude to her in my response to life hence why she made my 31 People Who Inspire, Influence, Impress list.

One similarity is that I am a foreigner in the land. Yes, I am only from England, and you may think it is really not that different to America. You would be wrong. It is very different. More different that you would expect or prepare yourself for. In many ways I have had to start over again. All the things I thought I knew, and took for granted, are not the same. From how to apply for a job to laundry soap (and the fact that it is even called laundry soap is different, in the UK it is called washing powder!) it is different and I have had to start from scratch. Which believe me can lead to some pretty embarrassing conversations and feelings of insecurity and stupidity!

Ruth too faced these issues, she was a foreigner in a new land with just one person she knew, her mother-in-law! She didn’t know the etiquette, she probably made a fool of herself and she probably had more than a few embarrassing moments. However, like me, she know that is where she was supposed to be. It was God’s plan and intention for her life.

Ruth was faithful and I live my life in such a way that tries to be faithful to God first and those around me second. The other characters in the Book of Ruth also display great faithfulness-Ruth to Naomi, Boaz to Ruth and everyone’s relationship with God is a reflection of his faithfulness.

When she was called, Ruth was indignant. I love that about her. She was tenacious!

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17

The Book of Ruth is a book of redemption. At the start of the book Ruth is a childless widow with no prospects and by the end she is the great-grandmother to David, Israel’s great king, happily married, settled. The love story of Ruth and Boaz is a reflection of God’s love for us in sending Jesus to die for us on the cross. Boaz was Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer, and Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer.

The character of Ruth is a huge inspiration in my life. She is faithful, kind, loving, selfless and a woman of honor. I am delighted to share a name with her and I only pray that I can be a fraction of the woman she was. I do hope I get to meet her in heaven – now she is someone I would love to have coffee with!

31 People: Todd Cataldo

Todd Cataldo

Today is our wedding anniversary so who better to feature in my 31 People Who Inspire, Influence, Impress list than Todd Cataldo (or Captain America as you know him!)

He would have always made the list to be fair, but I wanted to save him until today and this can be his anniversary gift…no pressure!

Captain America, or Todd as I will refer to him just for today, is #2 on my list! Jesus is #1 and ALWAYS will be and Todd would have it no other way!

Todd Cataldo is by far the person who impresses me the most out of all the people I have and will list in my 31 People.

He is an incredible man. He is a great leader. He is consistent, solid, reliable.

He is pretty much unshakable. This is both highly frustrating to me and one of the things I love most about him. I like that fact that when he sets his mind to something he gets it done, He is a finisher. He completes things. He gets things done. He is also a stickler for details. When he makes a decision it is nearly impossible to make him change his mind….trust me I have tried many, many times and failed. He defines the word stubborn…..but it takes one to know one so who I am I to talk!

He is strong yet gentle. He leads our marriage with great authority and character and brings a security every girl dreams of – even when everything around us seems insecure.

A few years before I met Todd, I was praying one day and God spoke to me very specifically about the character of my husband. It was very overwhelming and beautiful all at the same time. I knew then that I would read the words God had spoken to me on my wedding day to my husband. Crazy I know! Two years ago today, I spoke these very words to Todd in my wedding speech.

As I was writing this post, I was reminded of those words and as I looked at them I am now understanding that they are more true today than they were two years ago. God was right (now there’s a shock!).

I want to share those words with you:

“He is my son

He is the apple of my eye

He is so loved by me

His earthly family love him so much and are so proud of the man he has become

I have watched him come into his inheritance and walk it out with pride, care and attention

He is my delight

He is the fairest among men

He is after my heart above all things

He is accomplished in earthly things and eternal things

He values eternal things more than others

He is not easily distracted. He is very focussed

He is steady and thoughtful

Courageous and strong

A mighty warrior

A strong leader, someone to rely on

He is a man of great character and worth

He is the greatest among men

He has the heart of a father, a protector

His eyes do not stray

He loves me with a fiery love that will not go unsatisfied

He is dedicated, passionate and zealous after the things of my heart

He is virtuous, a man of character

He is captivated by me, and captivating – others are drawn to him

He is known for his graciousness

He is seeking after my heart and one day the three of us will run together in ministry

One Heart, One Mind, One Strength.”

I made Todd answer my questions for the post too – just like many other people did and here are his answers. I think it’s very interesting that he says many of the same things about himself that God spoke to me all those years ago!

Name: Todd Cataldo

Age: most people think I am in my mid-30s but I am 45; The Holy Spirit keeps me young!

Status: ….? awake? online? Oh, you mean MARITAL status, marrried to the rosiest of English Roses there is!

Occupation: Kept Man ; ) … Pastor & Apostle

Who or what inspires you?

God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Who or what is the greatest influence in your life?

Same as above

What is your greatest quality and why?

my butt, jk (I actually think it’s his broad shoulders!!) … mmm, well, I think my greatest quality may also be my greatest downfall … the good version of it is called tenacity, the bad version is called stubborness. I usually don’t have a problem letting my goals and dreams take a temporary rest, but once I have set my mind on accomplishing something I WILL find a way to accomplish it. I guess this goes along with what most people say is my best quality, which is reliability.

What is a struggle for you and what are you doing to overcome it?

Well, I have extremely high standards and expectations of myself and others. I don’t know that I necessarily want to overcome this, but I do want to use this trait of mine in a positive way. I think the best approach is a balance between grace, honesty and encouragement and equipping.

When people look at your life, what do you hope they will see?

I hope that people will see a man who glorifies and magnifies God.

I am overwhelmed that God saved this man for me.

He is exactly who I needed in my life. He makes my life richer – everyday!

There is no-one I would rather wake up next to.

His steadfastness has kept me sane through an incredibly challenging, stressful and faith-driven year and I am grateful more than words could ever express for who he is and how he loves me.

Happy Anniversary, Todd.

I love you, forever!

31 People: My Mum

Mum

My Mum made my 31 People Who Inspire, Influence, Impress list because she’s my Mum!

She is inspiring, influential and impressive! In fact, she has probably had the most influence on my life than anyone else!

Ironically, this is one of the most difficult posts to write…..because it’s my Mum!

I don’t have a very dramatic story about my relationship with my Mum, no years of angst or separation followed by some remarkable reunion – just a lifetime of solid, dependability, a consistent, loving Mum who taught and raised me well. I am kind of like her mini-me. I usually tell people that when they meet my Mum I make more sense! After they meet her, they agree-I suddenly make sense.

We are very similar in many ways, we are both stubborn, bossy and we like to be in charge – which usually means we clash when given a task to do together as we both believe that “my way is better” – so we do what every Mum and daughter do, ‘nuke it out until one gives up or we find common ground, and then laugh about how ridiculous we were later (while the men around us take cover!!) If you here us arguing you would think we hate each other – but it’s because we love each other and are so close that we can yell like that and nothing changes or effects our relationship!

No, you get to find out a little more about my Mum….in her own words:

Name: Alison Kelly

Age: 63

Status: Happily married to Paul for 37 years

Occupation: Retired Teacher

Describe a typical day in your life:

After a lifetime of being controlled by a timetable and bells I decided, that on retirement, my greatest pleasure would be to having a varied routine or even no routine at all. So there is no such thing as a typical day any more. Some form of housework gets done most days – washing, ironing, cleaning etc. Then there’s walking our Westie, Jack; reading – a passion; crafting – a revived passion; some form of christian activity – ladies housegroup, teen housegroup, pastoral work and “mooching” – visiting a place and just spending time exploring.

Tell us about a defining moment in your life:

I was born with a hole in the heart and a blocked mitral valve and at the age of 11 these were repaired at the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital. It was 1963 and the operation was relatively new. A couple of years later I had what I can only describe as a ‘light bulb’ moment – I could have died during the operation yet God kept me alive for a purpose and I owed him my life. This was odd as I wasn’t really a Christian more a God-fearer. A further defining moment occurred while walking to the local shops with my daughter in her pram. It was a lovely spring day, I had a beautiful baby, a loving, caring husband and a nice home. Yet I felt so empty and I remember thinking, “Is this all there is?” Then feeling very guilty. God answered that question a few years later when I did become a Christian.

Who or what inspires you?

I feel inspired by beauty in nature – a hillside of different types of tree clothed in their autumn colours, a glorious sunset, tiny snowdrops or a bluebell wood. Anything like that swells my heart and makes it sing.

Who or what is the greatest influence in your life?

My husband and daughter and now my son-in-law. They are such godly people who display so many of the qualities I lack or struggle with. Paul is so loyal and trustworthy and steadfast. Ruth is so honest in her relationships and taught me how to deal with conflict in a none aggressive way (I’m still learning). Todd mirrors Paul in so many ways.

What is your greatest quality and why?

I think it’s being a homemaker – I want my family and friends to feel safe, comfortable and loved whenever they enter the house so a lot of my time revolves around creating the right environment.

What is a struggle for you and what are you doing to overcome it?

Being critical of people who don’t match up to my expectations, including myself. I have renounced certain generational curses which reflect my critical attitude – my mum was the same with anything I did. Paul monitors what I say and challenges me when I fall back into critical mode.

When people look at your life, what do you hope they will see?

A woman who demonstrated the life of Jesus in her own life. A woman who was passionate about her faith and her family. A woman who impacted people’s lives in some positive way.

Thank you Mum, for who you are, all you have done to make me the woman I am today and all you continue to do in loving and supporting me and Captain America!

I am delighted you are my Mum and I love doing life with you – even at a distance!

I love you and am more grateful than words could ever express.