Soak dry pinto beans covered in water the night before, and then drain (this reduces cooking time) and refrigerate until ready to use.
Cover the soaked beans with water and add the bay leaf. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat, and then reduce to a low simmer and cook for 1 and ½ to 3 hours. Be sure the beans are constantly covered in water.
Beans are ready when you can mash one with a fork. Drain beans, add salt to taste (~1 teaspoon) and freeze them in 1.5-2 cup portions (the equivalent of 1 15-ounce can), and set aside 1.5 cups of beans for the recipe.
Mexican Stuffed Butternut Squash
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut off the tops of the butternut squash and use a large knife to carefully slice the squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and create a cavity. Rub squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and set it face down on a lined baking sheet, using a knife to make some pin pricks in the skin for steam to escape.
Bake the squash for 25-30 minutes, until a knife easily penetrates through the flesh (this depends on squash size).
Dice the onion and begin to sauté it in a pan over medium heat with the remaining oil. When the onion begins to soften and become translucent, add in the spices (chili powder, cumin, and cayenne) and reduce the heat to medium-low.
Chop the Swiss chard into ribbons after removing any thick stems, and add them to the pan to begin to wilt.
Add in cooked beans and drained diced tomatoes and allow the mixture to cook together for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally on medium-low heat.
Once the squash is removed from the oven and cooled a bit, flip them over and scoop some of the flesh out of the neck of the squash and set aside for another purpose (or add to the filling for additional filling).
Spoon the filling into the squash, heaping it on top. Serve each ½ squash alongside toppings.
NOTES If you aren't cooking beans from scratch, you can use one 15-ounce can of pinto beans (drained and rinsed) and add them during step 6 as noted.