Black Bean Butternut Squash Chili with Quinoa

Looking for an easy, healthy, and ghoulish stew? Give this recipe a try adapted from Epicurious. I made this for my company Halloween potluck. It was a hit! Fittingly themed as orange and black this is a low calorie dish that is great for a large crowd.

20131101-142118.jpgHalloween | Day of the Dead | All Saints Day| Chili

2 1/2 TB olive oil
2 sweet onion
8 garlic cloves
2 1/2 TB chili powder
1 TB ground coriander
1 Tsp dried oregano
2 14.5 oz cans crushed tomatoes with Italian seasonings
8 cups of water
1 8oz can diced mild green chili peppers
2 diced chipotle peppers
3 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
3 cups raw, cubed butternut squash
1 medium diced red apple
1/2 cup quinoa
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large stockpot and add diced onion.  Season with salt and pepper while cooking through to caramelize the onions.  Add garlic, chili powder and coriander, stirring for about one minute.  Stir in tomatoes, water, peppers, black beans and oregano.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for an hour.  If you’re making this ahead of time, let the soup cool after it’s simmer and refrigerate up to two days.

Add squash, apple and quinoa.  Intimidated by peeling and cubing the squash? Here is a nice tutorial via Simply Recipes.  Allow the additions to simmer for another 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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Happy Halloween!

Happy All Hallows Eve! Did you carve pumpkins? Are you dressing up or passing out candy? I decided to carve pumpkins for the sole purpose of roasting the seeds. Yum!

Jack-o'-lantern

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
Red pepper flakes
Chopped onion

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Rinse the pumpkin seeds separating as much of the pulp as possible. Spread out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place in the oven at 300* for about 10 minutes to dry out the seeds.

Remove from the oven, drizzle olive oil over the seeds and combine with seasonings to evenly coat. Increase temperature to 350*. Continue to roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the seeds have turned golden brown.

Trick-or-Treat! Happy Halloween

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Fall Baked Stuffed Squash

The grocery is full of beautiful pumpkins, squash and gourds. Aside from using them for decor, they’re wonderful to cook with and have so much flavor! One of my favorite fall time meals is this stuffed squash. Before hopping to it, I find that for this meal’s prep, Halloween pumpkin carving tools are essential. Usually during the post-Halloween sales, I (my bargain hunter Dad) search for kits that are on mark-down just for their extreme aid in hallowing out, cutting, splitting and cubing squash or gourds.

This is a great make ahead meal. I decided to prep everything the night before to bake off the next day for a gal pal lunch.

Give this recipe a whirl! It’s rather dietetic (a low carb yet robust meal) and for those looking for ideas, it’s also gluten-free. With very few ingredients, this is packed with flavor and great for a cool fall evening.

Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash

2-3 Acorn squash
1 Pound extra lean ground beef
1 Sweet onion
1 Red bell pepper
2 Cloves garlic
2 TB butter
2 TB brown sugar
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Red pepper flakes (if desired)

With carving tools and a good grip, half each acorn squash lengthwise. Lightly season the insides with salt and pepper. Place face down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350* for 20 minutes. Watch the squash closely. You’ll want them to be just fork tender. Set aside.

Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash

In a large skillet, heat just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Sauté diced onion and bell pepper with salt and pepper until translucent. Add the ground beef, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook thoroughly until meat is completely cooked through. If not using extra lean ground beef, drain any remaining grease.

Place a small pat of butter and 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar in the bottom of each squash. Fill the squash with the meat mixture baking at 350* for 30 minutes or until the tops have browned.

Let stand and serve. Be sure to enjoy all the squash and beef with forkful! Does this meal have the potential to make it on your table to fill up your trick-or-treaters before heading out?

Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash

Spooktacular Halloween Owl

Halloween season is upon us! What are you dressing up as this year? I usually tend to create my costumes rather than buy. I guess that’s just how I am with A/MY/ Crafting abilities. Inspiration for this year came from Martha Stewart’s Halloween edition magazine. I personally think I blew her rendition out of the water. Create your own spooktacular owl mask with the below.

Halloween Owl Mask

Large plastic frame glasses (remove the lenses if you prefer)
Feathers
Stiffened felt
Hot glue gun
Scissors
Bling

I started by popping the lenses out of the frames I’d purchased at Claire’s. (The owl costume isn’t quite complete without feathered eyelashes–they don’t mix with the lenses.)  Try to proportion the beak to the frames.  Create the cut so that its semi-rounded on the top and triangular at the bottom.  The stiffened felt works nicely because you’re able to get a good crease by just folding the beak in half.  Once folded, place hot glue around the inner nose of the frames.  Place and center the beak until it’s firmly affixed in place.

Halloween Owl Mask

From there, begin places feathers along the top corner of the glasses with hot glue.  The more feathers, the more fierce the mask.  Like the beak, hot glue the feathers on the inside of frames. Finish things off with rhinestones (i.e. bling from the product list) for extra flare. Halloween Owl Mask

Halloween Owl Mask

Idea soured from: “Owl Glasses.” Martha Stewart. http://www.marthastewart.com/853514/owl-glasses. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.

Happy Halloween! From one spooktacular owl to another! Cheers!

Owl Halloween Costume

Fall Book Club

The change in season brings some of my favorite things; fall colors, football, sweaters, tall socks, and holiday parties!  I had tried to organize a book club this time last year.  Our first (and turned out to be only) meeting went off fabulously!  The book, coming with very high ratings from myself, was A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

Hosting a large affair sometimes isn’t the easiest.  For this party, I had asked all guests to bring a dessert or appetizer to pass, while I would provide the cocktails.  A host has a lot going on.  The house has to be clean, the kitchen cannot be covered with dirty dishes from meal prep, and of course, there are all of the decor and favor details to attend to.

Any of /A/MY Parties have to be fairly stylized and themed.  Working with the framework of the novel and the changing season I came up with the below.  I’d recommend any of these ideas for fall season entertaining!

Witch Broom Favor Bags

1 package brown paper lunch bags

1 package black pipe cleaners

1 spool of orange ribbon

Candy

One favor bag will require 2 paper lunch bags.  Trim 1/3 off the top of the brown bags.  Cut the bottom off of half the bags.  You’ll have to stacks; those with bottoms and those without.  For the first  set of bags, fill with candy.  Attend to the second half of the bottomed out bags by shredding/cut up strips of the “broom’s bristles”.  Leave about 1/2″ around the top to maintain the shape.  Overlay the witch broom bag on the candy filled bag.

Take 2 pipe cleaners and twist together for the broom handle.  Insert into the center of the witch’s broom. Tie with a ribbon and display for your guests!

Witch Broom Favor Bag

Orange and Clove Potpourri

Oranges

Cloves

This is a such a simple way to freshen up the room and add to the party’s ambience.  Insert cloves artfully throughout a whole orange.  If you’d like you can add an artistic touch by carving designs out of a thin layer of the orange peel.  Use a small paring knife.  Display throughout your home to add fragrance and party swag.

Orange & Clove Potpourri

Witches Brew Martinis

Serves 8

24 oz Pomegranate juice

8 oz Citrus flavored vodka

4 oz Triple Sec

Lime cut into wedges for garnish

Black Sugar to rim glasses

Witch’s broom cocktail picks

Tall appetizer toothpicks (they measure longer than the average toothpicks)

Raffia

Ribbon

Hot glue/hot glue gun

Mixing the drink is self explanatory.  It’s the way in which this cocktail is served that makes it notable (or blogable in this sense).

To make the cocktail picks, trim raffia into 4 inch strips.  Bunch about 5 raffia strips together, fold over and around the top of the pick with hot glue.  You’ll need to prepare for hot fingers to get the raffia tightly adhered to the top of the stick.  Finish off with a small cutting of ribbon that’s wrapped around the base of the “broom” and add another small spot of hot glue.  Let dry and set.

Dip the glasses in lime juice and then in black sugar to rim the top. Serve the shaken and strained cocktail with a lime wedge.  A bartender adds a nice touch to an exclusively female club, although it’s not included. 🙂

Witches Brew Martini Fall Book Club