One day life can seem so routine, and then you look back on particular moments and specific days, and see that a decision you made changed the course of your life. Was it wise to quit my job? I'm not sure yet. But I do know I wasn't fufilled in how I was spending most of my days, and making a decision to change that, be it risky, can't possibly be a bad one. I don't always follow rules, but I am cautious, and attempting a more entrepenurial career is not something I imagined I would do. I admire people who takes chances, and I can dream about what I'd 'rather be doing', but some personalities are comfortable in safe places. Most of us, I would guess. Which is why I am so grateful to have Hugh, whose encouragement in sincerely wanting me to do work that makes me happy, is what pushed me to give my notice. Some days I feel SO GOOD about this, but there are moments I panic and cry. I'm relieved but scared all at the same time. My emotions are incredibly confused and excited, motivated and stone cold frightened within the course of a day.

My plan is to be a renaissance woman; pursuing a number of small projects until I find a rhythm that works. I intend to expand my dinner delivery business, cook for small dinner parties, teach cooking classes, maybe get certified to teach pilates, start a cookbook, work at the local farm a few days a week and sell advertising on this lovely site, so I can spend more time here. I didn't want to keep waiting to be doing things I wanted to do. I wasn't sure what exactly I was waiting for, as there is resounding advice I get from older folk, "there will never be enough money for a house, for kids, for vacations... but you just do it". So thank you to Hugh, for pushing me and believing I have more potential than I think I do, and to my family and close friends who affirm that this is a promising decision. So until I panic and cry again, let's eat squash boats.
IMG_8781 copy

You could use any squash, they would just hold different amounts of quinoa filling. I think it would be a great side in acorn squash. You could serve this with a protein, or make it a meal of it's own by mixing your protein of choice into the quinoa. I think it would be nice with a little parmesan cheese to top it off as well.

1 Kabocha Squash
2 tbsp. Maple
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Pinch of Salt and Pepper

3/4 Cup Quinoa
1 tsp. Ground Cardamom
1 Shallot, Minced
1 Pear, diced (any type you prefer, but a firm one)
1/3 Cup Basil, Chopped
3 Tbsp. Meyer Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Agave Nectar/Honey
2 Cup Baby Spinach and or Mache Lettuce
Salt and Fresh Pepper to tasteSQUASHBOATS_03

Oven to 425'

1. Cut squash in half and seed it. Mix the maple and olive oil and rub generously onto the flesh of the squash. Roast cut side down, for about 20 minutes. Turn the squash cut side up and cook about another 15 - 20 minutes 'til finishes cooking and caramelizes on top. The cooking time will depend on the size and type of squash you use, continue to test it with a fork. It should be the firmness of a baked potato.
2. While squash is cooking, prepare the quinoa. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil and add the quinoa, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Remove and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the shallot, lemon juice, cardamom, olive oil, and stir. Allow to cool down about 8 minutes, add the basil, pear and greens to combine **Don't add them when the quinoa is pipping hot, otherwise it will wilt them into a brown mess.
3. Remove the squash boats and let them sit about 5 minutes to cool down. Fill each cavern with desired amount of quinoa mix. Sprinkle the top with fresh ground pepper and serve.SQUASHBOATS_04

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Reader Comments (78)

This presentation is just stunning! Looks absolutely delicious, as usual. :)

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessica @ How Sweet

I am so jealous! I have a long list of things that I want to do with my life, but right now I'm not in a position to do them. Maybe once I get more financial stability I can do all my creative adventures. But, for right now, I will live vicariously through you. It sounds like you've got a great support system and you definitely have eager fans here! I wish I lived closer to LA so we could plan a dinner party...

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Your courage is really inspiring, Sara. Wishing you all the best in these new endeavors ...

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

Hooray for taking the big step, but it's totally worth it. I started working for myself and creating the life I wanted about 7 years ago when I got laid off from a cushy design job. It's hard work but so is anything worth doing. You have to trust in yourself and it's so helpful to have someone by your side cheering you on.

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkickpleat

I like the rustic feel of the squash boats. This is a wonderfully delicious and tantalizing way to have fiber and grains.

Beautiful Sara, as always. I just want to sail off in one of those gorgeous boats! I had a moment when I was 28 when I could have gone down the food path. Worked in a bakery and really figured out that food was where my passion was. Instead, I kept on the corporate track and it's a choice I regret. Eventually, I got off that track and started teaching yoga, then had kids, then started my personal chef business, now am doing whatever it is that I am doing. I always say that I wish I had figured it all out sooner. That I hadn't wasted time doing jobs that I "should" have been doing.

I applaud you for jumping in with both feet. Yes, it is scary. But it's the scary things that make us stronger and if it wasn't scary, everyone would be doing it, right? :) Best to you always.

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Oh Sara, you are a woman after my own heart! Congrats to you for having the courage to make yourself happy. Seems so simple, but sometimes not so much… Much success to you!

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfresh365

Good for you! Too many people wait too long to start pursuing happiness. :)

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKasey

Hi Sara,
Wonderful post. I also quit my job about 3 months ago so that I could "do more of what I wanted to be doing" like culinary school and food photography. Still figuring out exactly where I'm headed, but sure am having fun while doing it. I love your inspiring (and delicious) blog. Keep the courageous posts coming!
Thanks :)

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAdriana

i too recently quit my job and am dipping my toe into the uncertain waters of the entrepreneurial realm...and can completely sympathize with the roller coaster of emotions you are experiencing. however selfish it is, i'm very excited that you'll be spending more time here, because i am always inspired anew by your recipes / photography / this blog in general. congrats and good luck!

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranne

I think you are so brave, Sara! Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. I know that feeling of being in the hard part, the work of something that is worthwhile. You wonder if it wouldn't have been safer to stay where you were. But in the end, you will be the better, the happier for it! Good luck on this next stage of your journey! And I wish I liked squash b/c that recipe is intriguing!

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

These look absolutely spectacular! I'm tagging this recipe so I can make them ASAP. Thanks!! I am always tempted to buy squash when I'm at the veggie store, but never do because I'm too lazy to look for recipes.

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

Breathe and take some time. That's a hefty list, but all possible. Lucky that you have such an amazing supporter too. Squash looks excellent and comforting. Healthy and fulfilling. Keep up the great work!

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

seriously sara, it's a special gift to be able to make squash boats into something so absolutely gorgeous. really. i adore cardamom with squash, such a nice pairing.

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertara

Life is short and also worth living! Good on you and Hugh. You are living.

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

I have those feelings of excitement one moment and then obscene fear the next all the time. I think sometimes it's just a part of who I am to feel that way in whatever I'm doing with my life, you know?

This dish reminds me very much of a recipe I got from alton brown a few years ago for acorn squash with a stuffing of rice, pork and spinach, which I adapted into a casserole that I make for thanksgiving every year now. I like the idea of cardamom and quinoa, though, as quinoa is something that I want to try to like and incorporate into my diet more, and haven't yet been able to find enough motivation to love it. I will keep trying, though, with this dish.

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertracy

Hi Sara, I recently started following your blog and I think your images are amazing!

Quinoa is one of my favorite ingredients right now, so I really want to give this recipe a go. I just have a couple of questions. Honey is listed in the ingredient list twice. I am thinking the first one should be maple syrup? Where to add the 1 Tbsp. Agave Nectar/Honey? Thanks!

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon

Bravo to you! I am in the same situation...I left my unfulfilling (yet stable) job to pursue things that make me happy. I love that a bunch of little projects make up my work life now. Life is too short...and too be at a job you hate. So good for you for taking that leap! You're clearly very talented, and I wish you the best success in what lies ahead for you. :)

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkatie

Congratulations on having the courage to do what so many of us stuck starring at a computer 8 hours a day dream about. Truly, it's inspirational for me to know that someone out there is going for it! It gives me hope! And your squash looks wonderful. I have been looking for more creative ways to use quinoa, so this is great. Thanks!

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatie @ CozyDelicious

Healthy and delicious...yum!

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNutmeg Nanny

Best wishes, Sara - you will do well. Your recipes really are wonderful - I tried the parmesan parsnips tonight and enjoyed them very much.

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlaura

I know everyone's situation is different, but I quit my job to start my own venture almost 2 years ago and I couldn't be happier. But, I know exactly how you're feeling because I had such mixed emotions too. One minute everything was great, then I'd just want to cry. It's a big step, but the important thing is you're doing what you love and it sounds like you have plans and goals for the future, so you're off to a good start. Plus after seeing what you create on this beautiful blog I can't understand why anyone wouldn't want to be stuffing themselves with food you've made!

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJacqui

That's why you and Hugh are perfect for each other... just don't let him talk you into forgoing health insurance! :) PS love the boats, too.

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMollie

health insurance is for wimps.

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhugh

Squash and quinoa never looked so sexy!

March 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermolly

so good for you, sara! your future will be bright, exciting and fulfilling because you're following your heart! it will be worth every ounce of trepidation you may feel now, no doubt. one day i hope to muster up as much courage as you. you are are the gorgeous squash boats. they're so bright and cheery!

March 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercarolyn

this blog is always so inspirational, and these quinoa squash boats look AMAZING!!

March 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLadygrey

Surprisingly had all the ingredients in the house already, so I made this for supper tonight.. loved the presentation and the flavours, but the functional aspect of eating was a bit tricky. I think next time I will roast the squash in cubes and toss with the other ingredients. thanks for such an original recipe- love your site

March 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercatherine

these look gorgeous! i think it's great you took such a daring leap and set out to do exactly what you want. i'm sure it'll pay off - you're very talented!

Go Sara!!
Brave of you (and Hugh). I'm certain everything will turn out great for you guys.
Best of luck!

March 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

don't you hate money? hang in there, and know that you're not the only one...there's lots of us in the same boat...squash boat. glad you have a good support system :)
Cheers to life!

March 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersara

Beautiful photos and lovely recipe. Please do hurry up with that cookbook because if I posted on every recipe I wanted to make on your blog, you'd think I was a stalker. Seriously, I want to make every recipe on your blog. Kudos to risk taking!

March 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternakedbeet

Bravo Sara!! :) The first step is the scariest, not that the others that follow won't be (but hey there is much fun to be had in diving in!) but what is more scary is never trying at all! Your courage is very inspiring. Thank you for sharing. Now, on to try these delectable goodies you posted!!

March 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterYumi @ Natsukashii

Congrats to you, taking your future and happiness into your own hands. I'm a super firm believer that when you do what makes you happy, whatever that may be, success inevitably follows. And success can mean many different things. Taking a huge leap can be terrifying at first...but doesn't it feel right deep down?

Count me in for the dinner parties and cooking classes!

March 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteramanda

Oh Sara, I am SO happy for you!! I have full faith that you will be successful in whatever you do. I can truly say I know exactly how you feel right now. Quitting my desk job to open a restaurant was the scariest, craziest most exciting thing I have ever done, and like you, my mood switches often (I'm feeling kinda good about it right now.)

I wish you all the luck in the world!

March 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterallison lemons

Congrats! I have only been visiting for a few weeks but I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors! I know you were ready for a change and I am glad you were finally able to take the plunge. You should enjoy what you do and now you will be able to!

March 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrilledShane

I just found your blog today, but I really wanted to say well done for making such a huge decision and dreaming big dreams! Good luck with everything. And I'm going to try this recipe on my fussy vegetarian fiance :)

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

congratulations on the big move! you definitely have the talent, chase your dreams and don't let it go to waste. btw, thanks for the kinds words on my blog. had a lil look here and i'm an instant fan :)

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrick @ alamode

although they might seem like different projects and might give you a sense of being all over the place (happens to me too), they are all part of an overall vision you have and they all fit into it. Like you say, it's about finding your rhythm. It will all fall into place.

I mean, look at what you are cooking here. It's amazing!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCannelle Et Vanille

So inspiring that you've doing this! If you do what you love the rest will fall into place and I have no doubt you will be incredibly successful!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJan (Family Bites)

Sometimes you don't know all the good things that can come into your life until you make the space for them - which is exactly what you've done. Congrats.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterliz@zested

What a beautiful dish - so beautiful presented it makes my mouth water. This is going right onto this week's menu, cardamon being one of my most favorite spices.

And by the way - congratulations on having the courage to follow your muse. May you have much success and, especially, much joy!

Sara - Congrats on taking the step or shall I say leap! I am so excited for you and your journey. I know I did it too. (I was working as an attorney at a large law firm). Enjoy the ride. Sometimes it is a rollercoaster but it's thrilling because you own it. Holler if you ever need a cheerleader.

Your squash boats look lovely and fortifying. Best of luck with your endeavors. You are very talented. You will do well, indeed. :)

Hi Sara. We may not be on the same boat but I know exactly how you feel. I'm definitely finding my way in life and you've written it exactly how I'm feeling right now. This quinoa dish is fantastic. I love quinoa.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDivina

I don't know how I got here so late but I was so excited to read your new post! Sara, I couldn't be more proud of you! You are so talented and courageous! I left my job too in December to embark on my own business, even though we weren't sure if it was the responsible thing to do (financially) it has turned out to be such a huge blessing and I find I am so much happier doing something that I love and look forward to each morning. Like Dana said, stepping out in faith is scary but when you do it is so rewarding and you learn more about yourself and what you are capable of.

I applaud your courage and I thank you for sharing your new ventures with all of us. I can't wait to see where this road leads you (one day to Seattle I hope!) and I wish you all the luck in everything you do!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCoco @ Roost

Congratulations and best wishes! I too, am very unhappy in my job and it sucks the life out of me sometimes. Honestly, the highlight of my workday is reading inspiring blogs written by people like you that are actually living the life they want! I admire your courage and I know you will be fine, you two have something special here.

Can't wait to follow you on this journey :)

March 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSealicious

All the best for your journey, Sara. I understand your sentiment exactly. Recently, my husband decided to quit his job to follow an alternative path as well...

You have such a wonderful blog. And this recipe is such a winner!

March 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnh

Clever, Looks great, YUM!

March 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSam

Hi! I only just discovered your blog, but what serendipity! First, because I was trying to decide how to spice up some quinoa and squash I want to cook tonight, and second because the fears and decisions you're working through right now resonate so strongly with me. I'm considering taking some similar steps, but it's almost too scary to fully contemplate! I sure wish the world were an easier place in which to be a true Renaissance woman - but most people seem to see it as dabbling instead of being well rounded, boo. Anyhow, BEAUTIFUL recipe and, bravo!!! for being so brave and moving into living your life more fully.

March 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

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