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!

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.

31 People: My Dad

Dad

Today is my Dad’s birthday!

What better way to honor him, especially as I am so far away, than adding him to my 31 People who Inspire, Influence, Impress list!

I love this picture of me and my Dad. It was taken (by our amazing photographer, Shauna Castaner Photography) on my wedding day.

I love the joy and pride on his face. He had waited 32 years for that moment and as his only child, and only daughter I know that moment was magical for both of us.

Growing up I was never a Daddy’s girl – even though I look more like my Dad (I have his eyes), my personality is so much more like my Mum which is the opposite of Dad. Dad is a thinker, a melancholy, a processor. He hates conflict and is a peacemaker. This served him very well in his career as a social worker specializing in fostering, but as a Dad with an incredibly verbally expressive, often argumentative, and extremely passionate (some call it volatile!) daughter it lead to my teen years having their fair share of conflict and arguments. Oh the joys of teenage angst!

Meanwhile, my Dad never raised his voice to me (even though I gave him many opportunities) instead he was constant and consistent. I ALWAYS knew I was dearly loved no matter what. I always knew he was proud of me no matter what. Those things matter so much more to me now and the frustrations of my teenage years are but a comedic and distant memory.

I was blessed with a Dad who never left me in any doubt about how he felt about me. I have met many women who have struggled throughout their lives with their identity because they did not grow up with a secure father figure in their lives. I realize the value and security his love and consistency brought me.

My Dad is one of the funniest men I know, admittedly some of the time people are laughing at him – but Dad is very aware of his idiosyncrocies and regularly makes light of them and ‘plays to the crowd’. Friends still talk about my wedding speech, partly because it was very long (by American standards not not by British standards!), full of useless details, funny memories, heartfelt moments and hilarious laughter – including the moment Dad started laughing at his own stories!! He laughs until he cries often and when you are with him you can’t help but get swept up in the hilarity!

For the purposes of these posts I interviewed some of the people I am featuring in the 31 People series so you can get a little more of an idea of who they are and what their real lives are like.

Here is a smattering of my Dad’s answers:

Describe a typical day in your life: 

Now that I am retired there is no such thing as a typical day. One of the advantages when I was working was that every day was different and now that I am retired I don’t do routine.

Having said that as I am now a dog owner he expects a degree of routine, so unless the weather is very bad he is taken out for a walk every day. Even then I try to vary the route & the time of day when we go for a walk. I go to the gym twice a week & like to go early in the morning before breakfast. I help out at a local food bank one morning once every two weeks. With my wife I go t church on Sundays and we both run a housegroup for teenagers which meets once every two weeks. I am also a member of a housegroup that that also meets every two weeks.

Who or what is the greatest influence in your life? 

As a Christian the answer should be my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and on reflection that is true because my Christian faith does influence a lot of my thinking.

However, in practical day -to-day matters my wife and my daughter are the significant influences. Both are able to provide insight and sound advice. My wife and I spend more time together now that we are both retired and for the most part this works well, but we both recognize that we also like to pursue individual interests, so we try to make sure we set aside time for them.

What is your greatest quality and why?

I cannot stand arrogance and conceit so I do not think about my own qualities. People say I am dependable, reliable and can be trusted. I like to follow through with promises I make to people and don’t like to let people down.

Tell us about a defining moment in your life: 

There are three, all related and of equal importance: when I became a Christian, when I met my wife and when my daughter was born.

I hope this gives you a great taste of who my Dad is and how proud and grateful I am to have him as my Dad!

I Love you Dad – more than you will ever know!

Happy Birthday!

Why Disneyland Is The Happiest Place On Earth

Captain America & I just returned from an incredible trip to Disneyland!

I had the most incredible time and I want to tell you why Disneyland really is the happiest place on earth (or at least one of them!)

This was my very first visit to Disneyland, at the grand age of 34! Let me tell you, it was well worth the wait and I now fully understand why people rave about this place and return year after year. I was a little skeptical, although I did count this as one of the things on my bucket list.

I expected a theme park with way too much schmaltzy child-friendly antics mixed with a HUGE  helping of consumerism, aimed primarily at children who would then hold parents to ransom, tantrums, excessive heat, long lines and a huge let down to be honest! Don’t get me wrong I’m sure this is some people’s experience, but it was not mine.

 

What I actually found was a wonderful theme park, with rides suitable for all ages, lines that were short, slightly longer and manageable (especially if you take full advantage of the Fastpass system) and many rides with no line at all.

Yes there are definitely things to purchase, and the prices are high (although not as high as I expected or rumors lead you to believe), but it is all well masked behind beautifully themed shop fronts AND most of the stores stock the same items so when you have seen one of the larger stores you have seen most of what they have to offer.

The entrance fees are high, especially if like us you want a multiple-day park hopper ticket that allows you to come and go in both parks (2-day park hopper $218), however the cost is not too much higher than other similar theme parks.

Disneyland and California Adventure are both easy to navigate too, much simpler than many other theme parks I have visited both here and in the UK. There are maps and information points throughout both parks and lots of friendly staff to help you out.

I LOVED the themes in each ‘land’ and that most of the rides being so much more than ‘just a rollercoaster’. All of the rides in Disneyland do not even go upside down, which may be a let down for the daredevils out there but I liked that about them as they made the whole park much more suitable for all ages. Our group consisted of 8 people in total with the youngest being 11 and the oldest 75, we could go on most of the rides as a whole family and we all really enjoyed ourselves.

I also liked the attention to detail that Disneyland and California Adventure has created and maintained. Each ‘land’ has a well thought out and executed theme where EVERYTHING fits the theme, even the controversial addition of Starbucks to the parks is well masked so you have to look carefully for it.

The parks are exceptionally clean, the staff are in character, very helpful and everywhere. The food is excellent-ice-cream, turkey legs the size of your head, corn dogs, beignets (to die for!) and almost everything else you can think of – at all different prices!

The atmosphere is hard to beat and it ensures that people come happy and stay happy!

Overall, the parks are wonderful places to take the whole family. Yes, the costs are high especially when you add in all the other expenses (travel, lodging, food etc) but it really is the trip of a lifetime, a great place for families of all ages and so much fun it’s ridiculous!

If you haven’t been to Disneyland and California Adventure already then add it to your bucket list and start saving for the trip of a lifetime now – you won’t regret it!

Disneyland is the happiest place on earth!

We’re Going To Disneyland & I NEED Your Help!

Later this week I get to fulfil one of my bucket list items because We’re Going To Disneyland!

I am soooooo excited I can barely concentrate!

I have wanted to go for many years, but I have always missed the opportunity in the past but we are taking a trip with our family to celebrate the many birthday landmarks across the family this year!

My family could hardly believe it when they heard that I had never been to Disneyland before, and they are all very excited to be there when I get to experience it for the first time.

Most of you will know that I am a planner at heart, I love to know what I will be doing and when I will be doing it (and yes, this gets me into trouble all the time!). Disneyland however, stumps me! I don’t even know where to start! No don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to plan every moment we are at the park as I want to go with the flow and experience it as it happens when we are there – but I also don’t want to miss anything exceptional, and often if you go with the flow and don’t do just a little research
you can miss out on some of the best stuff!

 

I out two of my great friends to work recently and they compiled a list of the Top 10 Must See’s at Disneyland for me! They have been many, many times with their whole family and they love it!

I wanted to ask you too…….what are your recommendations?

What MUST I see and do before I leave the park?

What item must I take with me?

What top tip would you give me?

Where are the best places to eat?

What can wait until next time?

Here’s what I do know:

We have our flights and hotel booked! We are staying across the street from the parks.

We are there for 3 nights and 2 full days (a Thursday and Friday) in the parks.

We do intend to go to California Adventure too!

I like rollercoasters

I don’t like rides that spin round and round as they make me sick

I love water rides and don’t mind getting wet.

We love to eat great food

We love coffee.

We will need to rest a little as we are old 😉

The weather is due to be in the mid to high 80’s during the day and mid 50’s at night.

I want to meet a Disney Princess and have my picture taken with at least one!

I want to watch the Parade and fireworks at night 

I don’t want to spend much money!

 

Photos courtesy of: Michael Sult and Patrick Nijhuis at Freeimages.com

Father’s Day Gifts, Treats & Ideas

Father’s Day is just around the corner!

Do you have something special planned to celebrate your Dad/husband?

If not, then do not panic! Here is the best of the best from the Pretty Pintastic Party to get your creative (and not so creative!) juices flowing!

Over the past few weeks I have been noticing some incredible Father’s Day gifts, treats and ideas circulating around the internet and I am delighted to share some of the best of them with you that were linked up at our very own Pretty Pintastic Party!

Every Friday, myself and 4 other bloggers co-host a fabulous link party, The Pretty Pintastic Party

 

We have over 100 links every week and we are growing rapidly! Other bloggers, crafty types and foodies link up their best posts from the week and I get the privilege of highlighting the best of the best Father’s Day  gifts, treats and ideas here!

Want a weekly reminder when The Pretty Pintastic Party goes live? Subscribe to our mailing list here:

Without further ado let’s get on and show you so you can get creative and make your Dad/Husband feel extra special!

If you are very handy and crafty and have a little spare time this week check out these fabulous ideas for homemade, quality crafts, many of which are suitable for small kids too:

DIY World’s Greatest Dad Shadowbox by Little Miss Celebration

Drop It Paper Mache Bowl by Little Miss Celebration

Craft Round-up by Titicrafty

Button & Glue Craft by Laura Kelly Designs

And my personal favorite…………Druff Beard Oil by BumbleBree Blog

What Are You Doing For Dad? by The Mad Mommy

Gift Ideas by Fearlessly Creative Mammas

If you prefer to just buy something for your Dad – here are a couple of very helpful guides with some great suggestions for all price points:

Gift Guide by Logan Can

 

For a fast fix, check out the following printables, for cards, labels and messages:

Father’s Day Printables by Gloriously Made

 

Father’s Day Card Printables by Snapshots and Snippets

 

Want to cook up a storm in the kitchen to make your Dad feel extra special? Check out these recipes ideas:

26 Father’s Day BBQ Recipes by Old House to New Home

 

Father’s Day Recipes by Faithful Provisions

 

Saying Goodbye From Afar

Saying Goodbye From Afar

Saying Goodbye From Afar is never easy.

It’s even harder when you have known this day would come from many years-and now finally it is here.

Today I am saying goodbye to my Nana.

She died, quiet suddenly in the end, on March 30th, Mother’s Day in England, ironically. She died peacefully, after a short battle with pneumonia and years of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Today, the rest of my family are together in England at her funeral-they get to remember her life, to celebrate who she was, to rejoice at where she is now and to grieve.

I wanted to write about this on the blog-as a somewhat cathartic process of dealing with my loss but then I was asked to write something to be read at her funeral-so part of this post will be being read in England today. I get to ‘be there’ in one capacity or another.

I have many fond memories of life with Nana.

Saying Goodbye - Nana Continue reading