Quinoa and Cranberry Stuffed Delicata Squash

First and foremost- HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Now I'm sorry to say that I suck.  I'm going to be "one of those" people.  You know, the ones that don't wait for a holiday to finish it's glory before moving on to the next?  

Yeah.  Currently, that's me.

See I had some awesome food ideas for earlier this week- nice and Halloween themed too...and once again, they didn't quite work out as planned.

Sweet and Spicy Black Beans and Rice


They're so coy.  Deceivingly innocent with their adorable lantern shape; they don't even smell spicy!

We've had them at work for a while and I've been eying them.  They just look so...inviting.

I don't get a lot of spicy things out here.  It's definatley something I miss about the city because Southern Maryland certainly does not do spicy foods.  You go to any restaurant and try their "spicy" dish and well...it's not.  Like at all.

I can't even handle super spicy stuff (or at least I thought) but apparently I like my foods spicier than the average person these days.  Mr. C on the other hand..he's one of those guys who orders full Indian style spicy vindaloo...and he loves it.

Sweet and Spicy Black Beans and Rice

So, early last week I bought some of those habaneros, took them home and then watched them some more.  They've been sitting on my kitchen table next to the apples, staring at me every time I walk by, saying, "Look at me!  Look at me!  I am so pretty and delicious- I will fill your every need and desire- don't fear me!  Try me- try meeeee!"

You think I jest but I do not.  The habaneros talk to me.  (Just like the Thai Peppers that Fred the farmer gave me the other day...I have yet to play with them though.)

This weekend I started thinking about the habaneros.  When I use hot peppers, I like them to blend in and become "one" with the dish.  Taking a bite of a whole pepper?  Not my thing.

Going into this dish I worried about the habanero.  How much was too much?  If I put too much...we'll that just wouldn't be good and if I didn't put enough...well what was the point?

I was going to put a whole habanero in (after all, it was a decent amount of beans and those habaneros just look so cute and sweet!) but Mr. C advised me not to.  To quote him, he said that "If it's a real habanero it must be respected."

Sweet and Spicy Black Beans and Rice
Sweet and Spicy Black Beans and Rice

The super cute lantern-looking habanero must be respected.

I chose to only use half a habanero which, in the end, was just the right choice.  The beans have enough kick, heat and spice to pack a punch without being painful and overwhelming.  Now of course, spicy preferences differ from person to person so of course you should adjust based on your personal tolerance levels.  I was quite pleased with it but I know for Mr. C he could (and would) probably do with some more heat and my mom, well, could do with less (or none at all).  I even told her not to touch the black beans in the fridge because I knew she wouldn't like them.

Sweet and Spicy Black Beans and Rice
Sweet and Spicy Black Beans and Rice
Sweet and Spicy Black Beans and Rice

Sweet and Spicy Black Beans and Rice

Serves 3-4

1 Cup Dried Black Beans

2 TBSP Oil

1 Medium Onion, chopped

1 Garlic Clove, chopped

2 Carrots, chopped

1 Tomato, chopped (keep the juices!)

1/2 Habanero, minced

1 tsp Madras Curry

1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika

1 tsp Molasses

1 TBSP Maple Syrup

2 Cups Water

Salte, to taste


1 1/2 Cups Dry Rice

2 1/2 Cups Water

1/2 tsp Salt


Put the dried beans in a bowl and cover with about 2 inches of cold water and soak overnight.

In a large pot, heat the oil on medium before adding onion.  Cook for five minutes before adding garlic.  Toss for about a minute before adding carrots, tomato (with juices), habanero, madras curry and smoked paprika.  Cook for ten minutes, stirring frequently.

Add black beans, molasses, maple syrup and water.  Season with a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil and then let it simmer for 10 minutes before lowering heat and covering.  Cook for 40 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally until beans are cooked and water is absorbed.

While beans are cooking, in a separate pot cook the rice.  Add rice, water and salt.  Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes until rice is cooked and water absorbed.

Serve beans over the rice and enjoy that spicy goodness!

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An Update- Weekly Wishes

Last week was a whirlwind of excitement which I briefly discussed in my last post. Mr. C and I both decided to really crank it up a notch to make this blog a success. This is something I have wanted for a while but never really went "all in", if you will.

While I am currently working towards finishing my credits so that I can apply to grad school to be a RD, I have wanted very much to be able to have the freedom to travel and make my own schedule while (gasp) still making money.  I get tired of working small jobs with inconsistent, yet rigid weekend and night schedules.  Don't get me wrong- I want to work and keep busy but I want to do it on my own schedule- not someone else's.  Seeing as I'll be moving back to NYC before the end of the year I'm putting my best foot forward so that I can hopefully avoid working a lot of extra jobs to make ends meet.

The Nectar Collective
That's why this week's goals will be as follows:

1. Keep consistent.  Last week my goal was to break my habit of being lazy and going back to bed to nap after being awake (and to take the dogs for a walk each morning).  Now I'd like to take that up a notch and organize my schedule a little further with specifying time for my blog work etc so that I get everything done onetime before going to the gym and then work.

2. Study food photography.  I want to keep learning how to take better photographs of my food so I want to look more into online tips and tutorials on how to take better pictures.

3. And on a totally unrelated note: Squat 205lbs.  Ok so this isn't a goal for this week but it's a goal I'd like to reach by the end of the year.  Last Tuesday I was up to 175lbs for 6-8reps (once I post this I'll be heading to the gym to do 3-5 reps so I'm excited to see what I get up to) and I'd like to get over 200lbs.

Mac and Cheese Squash-aroni

So this week has been a very exciting week for me (or us- Cesar has been excited too)!  We've hit several record views on the page beating out all previous ones by far.  Since Monday I've gotten 5 images accepted onto Food Gawker (woop woop!) and been working hard to spread my page and recipes around other places and so far it's really been working out well!  I wanted to go with the flow of all the excitement and make another recipe for you all before the end of the week. 

Seeing as the Lentil Stew with Delicata Squash recipe has been such a hit and I'm in love with anything and everything fall squash related, I wanted to continue along those lines...you know- the lines of savory carb-y goodness and delicious sweet squash.
Mac and Cheese Squash-aroni

I've had notions for a while now of making a mac and cheese but with some sort of fall squash.

I mean, what could be better?  Squash is creamy and delicious and often used in lasagna so why not use it to coat some macaroni?  Is it too fancy for greasing those elbows?  I think not!

Mac and Cheese Squash-aroni

So low and behold, squash and macaroni was born!

Mac and Cheese Squash-aroni
Mac and Cheese Squash-aroni

I've been craving pasta and more savory things lately so for me this really hit the spot.  I didn't use as many cashews as I normally would for a cream base just because I didn't want it to be super sweet (which I totally love too...just not right now).


Mac and Cheese Squash-aroni

Severs 4-6

3 Cups of Macaroni

3/4 Cup Raw Cashews

3 Cups Water, Separated

2 TBSP Oil

1 Medium Red Onion

2 Cloves of Garlic

1 TBSP White Miso

3 TBSP Nutritional Yeast

1/2 tsp Chili Powder

1 1/2 Cups Cooked and Mashed Red Kuri Squash*

* I like a lot of different varieties of squash and have the luxury of being able to get ahold of them regularly, but if you are unable to find Red Kuri, Butternut Squash will also work just fine.

**I haven't called for the addition of salt in this recipe because miso is inherently very high in sodium so I felt that the recipe didn't need any extra. You should test it as you go though and adjust for taste if you want to season with salt.

Soak the cashews in a medium sized bowl with cool water for 30 minutes up until overnight.

Prepare pasta according to box directions.

When you are ready, chop the onion and garlic cloves.  Heat oil in a medium sized pot on medium high heat and add onions.  Stir to coat and cook for 5 minutes before adding garlic.  Cook for several minutes longer.

Meanwhile, put drained cashews, miso, nutritional yeast, chili powder and 2 cups of water into a blender and blend until smooth.

Add to pot with onions and garlic.  Reduct heat to medium and stir in squash.  Add remaining water 1/2 cup at a time- you may need more or less depending on thickness.

Cook for several minutes longer before removing from heat and tossing mixture into blender once again and blend until smooth.