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 ūüėČ 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 ‚ÄĒ 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.

Strawberry Lemonade

Until very recently I had never had Homemade Lemonade! Yes I know! How is that even possible?

Ever since I had it – I can’t get enough of it!

We had some fresh strawberries and lemons and this wonderful Strawberry Lemonade was created!

 

I was amazed at how simple homemade lemonade is to make? It took about 10 minutes (including the squeezing time) and the large pitcher we made lasted about another 10 minutes! For some reason I believed it would involve a lengthy process and the results would not really be worth the effort! How wrong I was? 

Simple, quick recipe – amazing results!

The only thing you really have to watch out for is the lemons – as all lemons are different! Some are sweeter, some are tart, some are sour. You will have to taste the lemon and strawberry mixture (before adding the water) a few times to make sure you have the right balance of sweetness!

Here’s the recipe for Strawberry Lemonade:

Ingredients:

Makes 2 Quarts/64 oz

1 C fresh lemon juice (that took 3 lemons for this recipe)

1 C fresh strawberries, hulled

1 C sugar

Water

Directions:

Squeeze the juice out of the lemons over a large cup/pitcher

Add the lemon juice to a blender and add the hulled strawberries.

Blend the mixture until the strawberries are totally crushed.

Pour mixture into a 2-quart pitcher

Add the sugar and stir well

TASTE TEST – This is the stage you need to taste the mixture. Is it too sweet? If so, add a little more lemon juice. If it is too sour, add a little more sugar but continue to taste it!

Add cold water to fill the pitcher to the 2-quart mark

You are ready to serve!

Serve over ice and garnish with slices of lemon and strawberry!

Enjoy!

 

Celebrate 4th July Round-Up: Food

4th July is fast approaching and I wanted to celebrate one of my favorite holidays in style with a Celebrate 4th July Round-Up!

Yesterday I did a decor and crafts round up which you can find HERE

Today it is all about FOOD! You all know how much Captain America & I LOVE food, cooking and recipes so I am really excited by the ones featured here.

I also included a few of our personal favorites and for some more 4th July recipe inspiration check my Celebrate 4th July post from last year!

I am delighted to share these exceptional creations with you! They caught my eye from The Pretty Pintastic Party a link party I co-host every Friday 

Now onto the Round-Up:

Breakfast

 

Spirited Star Waffles by Kenarry

 

Burgers & Hot Dogs

 

1) Oven-Baked Chili Cheese Dogs by Foody Schmoody

2) Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers by My Family Mealtime

3) Turkey Burgers by Captain America & His English Rose

4)¬†Chipotle Burger by A Mother’s Shadow

 

Meat & Grilling

 

1) Mango BBQ Chicken Skewers by The Housewife In Training Files

2) 3 Ingredient Pulled Pork by Mommy On Demand

3) Fall-Off-The-Bone Ribs by Recipes For Your Daily Bread

4) Deviled Chicken Drumsticks by Living The Gourmet

 

Salads & Sides

 

1) Slow-Cooker Baked Beans

2) Italian Pasta Salad by Memories By The Mile

3) Tri-Color Pasta Salad by My Life Abundant

4) Best Ever Potato Salad by Delightful E Made

5) Red Cabbage & Broccoli Slaw by Captain America & His English Rose

6) Foil Roasted Potatoes by Captain America & His English Rose

7) Roasted Corn Salad by The Housewife In Training Files

 

Sweet Treats

 

1) Fruit Puree Shooters by Little Miss Celebration

2) Banana Cream Pie by Yesterfood

3) Red, White & Blue Cookie Stacks by Coffee With Us 3

4)¬†Banana Nut Butter Soft Serve by Raia’s Recipes

5) Apple & Ginger Pie by Living The Gourmet

6) Malted Banana Ice Cream with Peanut Butter & Chocolate Pretzels by Eat It & Say Yum

7) Red, White & Blueberry Bowl by Meatloaf & Melodrama

8)¬†Marshmallow Treat Fruit Skewers by Melissa’s Cuisine

9) Star Chocolate Cupcakes by Sizzling Eats

 

Drinks

 

Captain America’s Iced Tea by Captain America & His English Rose

Celebrate 4th July Round-Up: Decor & Crafts

 

4th July is fast approaching and I wanted to celebrate one of my favorite holidays in style with a Celebrate 4th July Round-Up!

Today it is all about decor and crafts! I am not the most crafty person in the world so I love it when I find incredible, inspiring and yet simple crafts and decor ideas.

I am delighted to share these exceptional creations with you! They caught my eye from The Pretty Pintastic Party a link party I co-host every Friday 

Now onto the Round-Up:

Indoor Decor

 

1) No Sew Table Runner by The Checkered Apple

2)¬†Pottery Barn Knock-Off Pillow by For What It’s Worth

3) Pom Pom & Fireworks Centerpiece by Little Miss Celebration

4) Patriotic Stars by Julie Is Coco & Cocoa

5) Patriotic Holiday Shelf by The Road To Domestication

 

Outdoor Decor

 

1) Flag Pallet by Krafty Cards Etc

2) Door Flag by Fearlessly Creative Mammas

3) Paper Fireworks Wreath by Love Pasta & A Toolbelt

4) Patriotic Pom Pom Wreath by Krafty Cards Etc

 

Crafts with Kids

 

1) Wooden American Flag by Meatloaf & Melodrama

2)¬†Easy Patriotic Banner by For What It’s Worth

 

I hope you are getting in the festive mood ready to celebrate 4th July!

Greek Style Vinaigrette

Captain America recently made this INCREDIBLE Greek Style Vinaigrette!

It is very simple-so don’t be put off by the list of ingredients, and tastes delicious!

For those of you experiencing sunny, warm days like we are in California can put this to use immediately on a crisp salad…..the rest of you may want to make salad, whatever the weather is like, JUST so you can eat this dressing now!

We used it on the green salad we served at our Passover Meal and it went down a storm-resulting in many people wanting the recipe!

So here it is….as promised-Captain America’s Greek Style Vinaigrette!

For more salad dressing recipes, check out¬†Our Italian Balsamic Dressing¬†and our ‘no added ingredients’¬†Ranch Dressing Mix

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Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Seeing as the weather is warming up in California we are heading into salad season.

Those of you who follow the blog will know that Captain America LOVES salad and could eat it everyday, I on the other hand, am not a huge fan of salad! Growing up in England we didn’t really eat salad in the colder months, we stick to hearty, warming dishes. Salad was reserved for warmer days-of which we got very few-hence my dislike with salad!

However, Tabbouleh is one of my favorite salads! I fell in love with it while I was in Israel many years ago-there is nothing quite like proper Arabic Tabbouleh!

Unfortunately, I never got the recipe, as I was too young to care at the time, so I have to rely on others I find on the Internet!

Quinoa Tabbouleh

We made this as a starter dish for our recent Christ In The Passover Meal at church and it went down a storm. We made it with quinoa-so it was Kosher! Unlike the traditional Tabbouleh which is made with Bulgar Wheat.

You could make this recipe with bulgar wheat, couscous or quinoa-all of them would be fabulous I’m sure. The joy of making this recipe, with quinoa, is that you will get your fill of protein and it is perfect for those of you who are gluten-intolerant too!

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How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

 Wedding Season is fast approaching which means Bridal Shower season too!

We all know that throwing a Bridal Shower can be very expensive. I put together this guide to How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget sharing some ideas some friends and I used when we hosted a Bridal Shower recently.

When it comes to celebrating our friends up and coming nuptials we want to throw them an incredible party-but often that requires hefty budgets and hours of planning. Some friends and I recently threw a fabulous Bridal Shower for a dear friend on a very tight budget!

We all love parties and celebrating so we put our heads together, and our small budgets and came up with some great ideas of how to throw a Bridal Shower on a budget.

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

1) Plan in advance

The further in advance you plan the more likely you are to be able to reduce the overall cost of the shower. When we are planning in a time crunch, budgets tend to get throw out and we overspend. Careful advance planning allows you to search online (see #7), find discounts and spread out the costs. You also have the opportunity to find skilled people who are willing to help you.

2) Pick a Theme

Choose a theme that is quite general-this allows you a lot of fluidity when purchasing decorations, planning food and games. ¬†The more limited your theme, often the bigger your budget has to be. The color theme for the Bride’s wedding was red-so we chose that! We were then only limited by color but had lots of other things we could include to make the theme sing!

3) Make your food, or find someone who can!

If you are not a budding chef, then look over your guest list and see who is. There is probably a very capable budding chef waiting in the wings to showcase their talents. Ask around as if they are a good enough friend to be invited to the shower then they probably want to bless the Bride in anyway they can.

I was in charge of food because I love it and can make many things from scratch on a budget.  I know how to cut corners, where to find bargains, what to buy and what to spend time making.

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

4) Choose appetizers or dessert only

Instead of hosting a full lunch, brunch or dinner for a shower-choose just appetizers and/or dessert.  This will drastically cut your costs but you can still provide enough food to satisfy everyone. This also cuts down on your labor time and means you can probably make most of the food in advance-allowing you to focus on other things right before the shower starts.

I made Hummus and Crab Dip and served them with chips and salsa and a veggie tray, a friend made her incredible Deviled Eggs, we bought party-sized meatballs and served them in a Marinara sauce. For dessert I made Red Velvet Cupcakes and decorated them with the shower colors. I bought some red candies to add to the red decor too

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

Warm Crab Dip

5) Don’t prepare more than you need

This is one of the biggest errors people make when hosting parties-buying, preparing and serving too much food! I fall into this trap all the time, as I am my Mother’s daughter, she taught me to make more “just in case”, and I have been over-catering ever since. ¬†I found this very helpful guide online to save you from overspending-How Much Food & Drinks To Serve At A Party

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

6) Co-ordinate who is in charge of each area

Ask someone to run games/activities during the shower. Have someone in charge of all the food. Ask someone to co-ordinate decor. Make sure someone liaises with the Bride so she arrives on time and not before!! Split activities with a team of friends and give them something in their area of expertise! More hands make lighter work!

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

7) Go online and search stores for discounts 

Try and plan as far in advance as you can. This helps find discounts, offers and spreads out the cost over a period of time rather than having to spend lots of money at the same time.

Here is a list of some great websites and stores I have used for events:

Partycheap.com

Koyal Wholesale

Oriental Trading

Party City– try in stores too

Dollar Tree– try in stores too (they even deliver for free to the stores)

Hobby Lobby

Michaels

Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts

8) Consider the Season

Try and pick a theme that fits the season we are in. For example, trying to find Fall decor and colors in March will be nearly impossible and will therefore limit your choices and boost your budget. Pick Spring colors in Spring, and Fall colors in Fall. We found some items for our shower in post Valentines Day sales as it was a few weeks after Valentines Day.

9) Don’t spend unnecessary funds on invitations

Create a Facebook event, use Evite or even send an email to your guests rather than wasting money on formal invitations. I know they are pretty and they make a great keepsake for the Bride but in this multimedia culture most people use social media and/or email to communicate now anyway so utilize that method of communication. If you have any elderly or non-social media using guests consider sending them a more formal invitation and maybe even one to the Bride so she has a keepsake!

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

10) Use a free venue

We hosted ours at our church, but you can host it at home, ask a local church or community center if they have a space you could use, if the weather allows have it in a local park, ask at your local coffee shop-they may let you use a back room or part of the shop in exchange for buying drinks. Ask around-someone will know a perfect, free space you can use….for free and at minimal cost.

And remember……Have Fun!

The most important thing is that the Bride has an incredible time, celebrating her upcoming wedding with the people that mean the most to her. Don’t get too wrapped up in the decor, food, invitations and games and lose sight of the most important part. Enjoy yourself! Celebrate! Have Fun!

How To Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget

My First Cheesecake

My First Cheesecake

I made my very first cheesecake a couple of weeks ago.

I have been wanting to do this for a while but to be honest I had read so many posts and recipes that made it sound VERY technical and a lot of work, often with poor results I had been putting it off.

However we had friends coming for dinner, left over pumpkin puree in the freezer and I was feeling brave!

I turned to a usually reliable ‘friend’,¬†Martha Stewart¬†for a recipe. I have my issues with the woman, and I was very irritated by what she said about bloggers¬†last year but I must admit I have found most of the recipes on her site to be a great starting point, especially when I haven’t cooked or baked something before. However, this particular recipe was a DISASTER! The directions were poorly written, the comments were all over the place with some people saying they made this exact recipe and it was perfect right through to total disaster cheesecakes….I was freaking out!

We did end up with the most delicious pumpkin cheesecake I have ever eaten….and I am not even exaggerating!

It was rich, yet light, creamy, very pumpkin-y, not too sweet, a hint of pumpkin spice (it’s a shame it was February – it was the perfect Fall dessert!) It was so so good…and I actually made it!

Here it is in all it’s glory……….

My First Cheesecake

That however, is not the end of the story! Let me tell you all about it so you can learn from my mistakes!

Note that I said it TASTED good! It did! It really did!

Unfortunately, it looked like this……………….¬†

Cheesecake Grand Canyon

Which gained it the nickname “The Grand Canyon Dessert”

Well I still had to serve it to my friends not knowing how it actually tasted so I needed a good comedy spin when I placed this in the table after our wonderful main course!

Yes it did what I feared most…..split, well more like created a cavern, right in the middle of the cheesecake! Like many of the comments and recipes I had read and feared, it happened to me! Why? I have no idea. ¬†Will it happen next time? Probably! Could I serve this to anyone other than close friends….yes because I am not that proud and taste is way more important than the final look, right?

So the reasons this recipe made it to the blog are varied:

1) This proves I fail in the kitchen (just in case you thought I was a genius who always got it right LOL!)

2) So you can learn from my mistakes

3) You can comment below and help me figure out what I did wrong?? HELP ME!!

4) So I have a record of this recipe because I WILL be making it again because it was that delicious! Hopefully next time without the ‘Grand Canyon effects”

So tell me recipe, cooking, dessert, cheesecake genius friends out there….what did I do wrong and how can I make it better next time??

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Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I have a confession to make….I have never made Red Velvet Cake until now!

We just don’t have them in the UK….they are starting to become more popular but only in the last few years, so I grew up without ever eating one….my first time was in 2007 when ¬†I first moved here, a friend made them for christmas and I got to taste them. ¬†I was converted! So delicious!

I decided to make some for our recent bake sale as I know that this flavor and color is popular at Christmas….so I went searching for a recipe. ¬†Like many cupcake recipes here the Red Velvet ones are quite complicated…it seems that it actually matters with Red Velvet cake the order in which you add and mix the ingredients…..something to do with chemistry that’s way beyond me!

I found this recipe from¬†Martha Stewart, that I adapted slightly and made…and it was a huge success!

I used my favorite Cream Cheese Frosting recipe (omitting the cinnamon of course!), and added christmas colored sprinkles for added festiveness!

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Celebrate this Resurrection Sunday!

princeofpeace1 Akiane main

Celebrate! We have much to celebrate on this Resurrection Sunday!

Jesus Christ came to earth as a man, a human, fully God and fully human!  He came to make a way for us to have a personal relationship with God, His father.

God created us all to be in relationship with Him.  He wants a personal relationship with you today!

God is perfect, He has no sin. ¬†We sin all the time, we make the wrong choice, we damage ourselves and others, intentionally and unintentionally…it doesn’t matter, it’s all sin! Sin separates us from God.

Jesus came to earth, and was crucified as a sacrifice on our behalf.  He died to take away our sin.  He was our living sacrifice.

We now have an open door, an opportunity of a lifetime, a place of perfect peace and joy.

Today we celebrate Jesus! We celebrate what He did and what that means for us today. His death over 2000 years ago has a daily, real, active impact on our lives right here, right now.

Do you know Him? Do you know that God loves you?

He loves you enough to sacrifice His own Son, to make a way for a personal relationship with you today.

I know Him. I love Him. He loves me unconditionally, He is the only One who does and the only One who ever will.

He is always there for me, whenever, no questions asked. He has a plan for my life which is better than my wildest imaginings. He leads me daily.  I hear His voice.  I talk to Him and he listens and answers.

He is a living and active God waiting to hear you say “yes’ to Him.

Whatever challenges you are facing, He is there.

Whatever breaks your heart, breaks His.

Whatever life throws at you, He is right there by you side, steadying you.

That’s what it means, “I have conquered the world!”.

 

Take a moment.  Think about this. This is real.

 

Happy Resurrection Day!

I hope and pray it is a blessed one!

 

Painting by Akiane Kramarik, for more information about this talented child artist visit: artakiane.com