Butternut, Sausage, and Apple Bake


Butternut, Sausage & Apple Bake www.learning-grace.com

This squash represents the last of our CSA bounty. It’s always a sad day to say goodbye to our farm-fresh vegetables. I wanted these to go out with a bang. So, I tinkered around and thought of all the wonderful things that I love to eat with butternut squash and came up with this one-dish meal. It takes a while in the oven, but it is so well worth it.

Butternut, Sausage & Apple Bake www.learning-grace.com

First, caramelize two onions. I love caramelized onions, they’re so full of flavor. I use a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan. There is a method to cooking up the perfect onions, check this article from Bon Appetite to get the whole story.

Caramelized Onions www.learning-grace.com

Then I just mixed the cooked sausage, rice, apples, and squash along with the onions in a 9×13 baking pan. I added the sage and poured the chicken broth on top. Cook covered for one hour then take the foil off, sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top and bake a bit more. Enjoy!   

Butternut, Sausage & Apple Bake www.learning-grace.com

Butternut, Sausage, and Apple Bake
Serves 6
A one-dish meal full of fall flavors.
Write a review
Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
201 calories
31 g
15 g
5 g
11 g
2 g
295 g
404 g
7 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 201
Calories from Fat 42
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
Saturated Fat 2g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 15mg
Sodium 404mg
Total Carbohydrates 31g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 7g
Protein 11g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 1/2 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  2. 1/2 lb Italian sweet chicken sausage, casings removed and cooked
  3. 1 c cooked rice
  4. 2 onions, caramelized
  5. 1 medium-large granny smith apple, peeled and chopped
  6. salt and pepper to taste
  7. 1 tsp rubbed sage
  8. 1 cup chicken broth
  9. 3-5 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  10. Toasted pine nuts and cilantro for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Combine squash, cooked sausage, cooked rice, caramelized onions, and apples in a 9x13 baking dish.
  3. Sprinkle rubbed sage over the entire dish.
  4. Pour chicken broth over the dish.
  5. Cover with foil and bake 1 hour.
  6. Remove from oven, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake 20 more minutes.
  7. Garnish with chopped cilantro and pine nuts and serve.
Learning Grace http://www.learning-grace.com/
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Real Food for Real Families

Why we eat unprocessed food and why I became a Pampered Chef consultant. www.learning-grace.com

I became a Pampered Chef consultant this month. If someone told me I’d be doing this even six months ago, I’d probably tell my friend to shut up. All our journeys take surprising turns that make sense in retrospect. So, here’s the backstory:

Ken and I enjoy food and I’ve always enjoyed cooking. I’m also very interested in how what we eat affects us. In the fall of 2013, around the time J was diagnosed with autism, I began seriously looking into various diets and how they could help. I have seen how diets like Feingold can be game changers for some kids. So, after quite a bit of research we decided to cut as much processed food from our diet as we could. I started reading labels. I did a lot of research. I felt really overwhelmed, so I just took it one step at a time. The blog 100 Days of Real Food helped me a lot.

I started with our baked goods (stop right now and go read the side of your bread bag, that’s a long list, isn’t it?). I figured out how to make our own 100% whole wheat bread and tortillas, I’ve even made bagels. And then I moved on to change other things. Over time, we ditched just about everything that comes from a box. I admit—a few items have made tBagel-making is fun! If I can do it, you can do it, too. www.learning-grace.comheir way back into our lives lately. It’s a constant balancing act.

The differences we saw in J’s behavior and especially his eating habits amazed us. Before we eliminated processed foods, he would only eat about five or six foods. I hesitated to make the switch to whole, unprocessed foods because I didn’t know what he’d eat. But we tried it out, anyway. We were amazed to see how his palate changed in about a week. Suddenly he was eating a wider variety of healthier foods. Even today, if we go on vacation and the kids eat lot of processed foods, they’ll become super picky until I get us back on track.

It’s taken a lot of learning and kitchen experiments to find a liveable balance for us. I don’t want to spend all my time in the kitchen, and we don’t have a huge grocery budget. (We are also New Yorkers and don’t have a car, so our shopping choices are limited.) You will find some convenience foods in our kitchen, but I’d say our diet is probably 80–90% unprocessed foods.

During this time, I’ve found myself talking to others struggling with some of the same things: how to provide their families with whole healthful meals with limited time and money. And I’ve found that helping others make these same changes is a passion of mine. But, I’m not a nutritionist, dietician, or chef. I’m just someone who’s read and tried a lot of different approaches. I’ve thought about a bunch of different ways to incorporate food into the next iteration of my career, but all of them require a large up-front investment of time and money, both of which are in short supply these days.

Then, a couple of months ago I was invited to a Pampered Chef party, and it clicked. I love Pampered Chef products—they are truly innovative and help make cooking easier. The quality is also great—I have some Pampered Chef stoneware that’s old enough to vote, and I use it every week. Being a Pampered Chef consultant would also provide a way for me to talk about eating real whole foods and how to make it possible for everyday families, while getting some good tools in their hands to make this leap feasible.

So, here I am a new Pampered Chef consultant, having parties and learning the ropes! I started a Facebook Page, if you want to follow this particular journey of mine.

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Being Present

There are a lot of times when I should let go and enjoy the moment. I get too caught up on the end result or what’s next, to remember where I am.

After an exciting weekend of breaking in a new scooter, waffles from his favorite restaurant, a kid’s play, the farmer’s market, and a trip to a really cool playground, I asked J what was his favorite thing from the weekend. He replied, “cutting carrots with mommy.”

We had made applesauce carrot muffins together in what I thought was a near disaster (as cooking with toddlers always is). I was impatient and losing my cool as S and J threw flour and fought about who could stir. They took turns putting carrots into the food processor (in the chute, while it was off). J ran away every time I pushed the button to shred them because he didn’t like the sound. That 20 minutes with a half-crazy mommy somehow trumped all the wonderful stuff we did that weekend.

It was humbling, to say the least.

I should have relaxed a bit and enjoyed that moment. There are a lot of times when I should just let go, enjoy, and be present. I get too caught up on the end result or what’s next, to remember where I am. I miss out on the magnificent cherry blossom display overhead because I’m staring at my phone. I’m rushing the kids while they stop to inspect an ant on the way to the grocery store. I’m sitting on the couch, holding hands with my husband after the kids have gone to bed thinking about the dishes in sink. I rush through so many experiences that could have been so much more meaningful because I am too focused on something other than the present moment.

 If I had known that this was going to be the highlight of J’s weekend, I would have found a few more carrots (and maybe some zucchini) to toss into the food processor.

Thinking back, I remember S and J having fun while throwing carrots down the food processor chute, but I didn’t really stop to enjoy it with them. I was concentrating on getting to the end of the muffin making so I could move on to something else. I can’t even remember what it was right now—that’s how important it was.
Maybe we’ll cut some more this afternoon.

Our constant connectivity to people and events that are elsewhere takes us away from what’s right in front of us. I know saying this is nothing new, it’s just something I need to be reminded of on a regular basis. I think I’m going to make “cutting carrots” my new mantra to help me remember to stop thinking about where I’m not and just be where I’m at.

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Pizza, Love, and Marriage

 Making Pizza is our thing.

Pizza helps keep us together. Seriously. We both love it. We started making it for ourselves at some point in our dating relationship. It soon became a Sunday night ritual that we keep to this day. If we miss our pizza night, we feel “off” as a couple. Making pizza is our thing. Certainly, more than pizza holds us together. (One would hope!) Cooking together helps us reconnect and remember ourselves in the midst of the madness that is life.

Our study of pizza has been quite extensive. We’ve eaten everything from dollar slices to historic pies to gourmet.

We’ve taken Scott’s Pizza Tours, which is still one of the best tours I’ve taken since living in New York. If you ever get the opportunity to take one of his tours . . . do it. Scott the only person I’ve met who loves pizza more than we do. 

We’ve watched YouTube videos and read cookbooks and even taken a class from The Brooklyn Kitchen, which gave us some mad pizza skillz.

Around 4:00 on Sunday I make the dough and then the kids’ dinner. Right before bedtime, I fire up the oven. While I’m singing good night songs to the kids, Ken makes the sauce and preps the toppings. Then, once the kids are snug in their beds, we get to work.

I’m not very good at using the peel to slide the pizza onto our little circular stone (which is how you’re supposed to do it), so we’ve come up with a compromise. We preheat the stone for about 30 minutes and then we get everything ready. I pull out the hot stone and we assemble the pizza as fast as possible before putting it back in the oven to cook. Our fastest assembly time is just under three minutes.

Pizza making is a dance and we each know our parts:

  1. I pull the stone out of the oven.
  2. Ken scatters cornmeal.
  3. I put down the dough.
  4. Ken spreads the sauce.
  5. We add the toppings (about three), taking turns.
  6. Ken adds the cheese.
  7. I put it in the oven.
  8. Ken sets the timer.
  9. We set the table and pour the wine.
  10. I pull the pizza out of the oven.
  11. Ken cuts it and serves.

We’re a pizza making team, and we work together effortlessly. I can’t explain it, but somehow this weekly ritual grounds us and helps us to reconnect, even in some of the most stressful times. Maybe it’s the reminder that even when we feel like we’re stepping on each other’s toes at every turn, we’ve still got it.

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