Pumpkins are here! We picked up a bunch of them at my in-laws and I have been searching all week for the most perfect recipes because I am determined to use all but one to eat. The pumpkins really turned orange early this year and it is funny to drive along a variety of country roads and find lawns adorned with an assortment of them and a little table with a coffee can for donations for pumpkins and of course squash and baseball bat zucchinis. Even the pumpkin patches are ready for picking. I am almost wondering if there will even be any left for Thanksgiving or Halloween, but luckily Canadian Thanksgiving comes earlier than American turkey Day, October 11!
Now cooking with a real pumpkin is practically unheard of today since there are so many varieties that come in a can. But since I have a personal mission to only purchase canned veggies when absolutely necessary, I am going to make the following recipe with a real, live, orange jack-o-lantern that most people think are only for carving. So today’s quest was to make pumpkin stew inside the pumpkin and put all of the ingredients into the pumpkin and roast it in the oven. I prepared my ingredients: chicken breast, onion, garlic, red pepper, chicken broth, water, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt/ pepper. I cut the top off of the pumpkin and scooped out all of the seeds and set them aside. I then filled the pumpkin with all of my ingredients, put the top back on and set in a shallow roasting pan in case of spillage or worse case scenario…explosion! I put it into a 400°F oven for at least an hour. It wasn’t long before my house smelled like a holiday! I loved the idea of this stew because it meant no pot to clean. Now would it work? After about 45 minutes I pulled it out and checked on it. The broth inside was still cold and the chicken was still pink. I put it back in and thought maybe my pumpkin was much bigger than it was supposed to be for this mission. After another half hour, I checked on it and the whole top had caved into the stew and the broth was simmering and the chicken was almost cooked. The part had me a concerned was that the pumpkin itself was very soft and very brown. So since I didn’t want my house to burn down today from a pumpkin explosion, I decided to take the pumpkin out of the oven and transfer the insides to a pot and simmer it for a bit longer to make sure the chicken was cooked through.
I then proceeded to cut the pumpkin and chopped some of the inside to add to the stew. I even puréed about a cup of it and added that to the stew to make it thicker. I simmered it for about another 20 minutes before garnishing it with freshly chopped green onions and basil leaves. I was a little disappointed that the idea of the stew in the pumpkin didn’t work out for me, but I was happy that I played it safe because I was in no mood to clean up a huge mess!
Meanwhile while the soup was simmering, I rinsed and dried the seeds that I previously scooped out and tossed them with some olive oil and Old Bay seasoning and lined them on a cookie sheet. I roasted them for about 5 minutes or until they were golden brown. I love roasted pumpkin seeds! They are such a good snack or a substitute for croutons on a salad and are packed with so much goodness too.
Pumpkins all around are so good for you. They have a variety of health benefits including rich in beta carotene, anti-oxidants, zinc, fiber, and the list goes on. I am trying to convince Rob of all of these things as our stew is simmering and he is thinking of what he is going to make for his back up dinner in case he doesn’t like it. We haven’t even eaten our first pumpkin dish of the season and I am rattling off plans for the other orange beauties on our porch! I tasted the stew and I was impressed. The broth was very flavorful and the vegetables added a wonderful flavor. We enjoyed the stew with a side of whole wheat bread toasted with pesto. It made for a very lovely meal.
To top off dinner, I made a classic favorite, chocolate pudding and added a twist of dark chocolate to make it interesting. Now to many, pudding means a box of Jell-O brand powder in which one adds milk or water, stirs and voila, something edible is formed. But today I am talking about homemade, completely from scratch, pudding that it so easy and absolutely delicious. It takes 30 seconds longer to make than any kind from a box, so that is enough reason to convert right now! I made the pudding before I began my stew so it had ample time to chill and set. I topped it off with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprig of mint. Anything made with chocolate has a special place in my heart. Hope you enjoy as well!
Pumpkin Pot Stew
Recipe Modified From: Project Fidgety Fingers
1-2 chicken breasts, diced
1/2 red pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Green Onions, for garnish
1. Cut lid off of pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Put to the side.
2. Mix the chicken, onions, garlic, pepper, and spices together. Add to the pumpkin.
3. Add a splash of white wine. Fill two thirds of the pumpkin with chicken broth and the last third with water. Put the lid back on the pumpkin. Put the pumpkin into a shallow roasting pan in case of spillage.
4. Cook on 400°F for an hour or more depending on the size of your pumpkin.
5. Note: If your pumpkin is too big like mine was…cook until the pumpkin shell gets browned and very soft. Remove from the oven and pour into a large soup pot. Scoop out some of the pumpkin and add cubes of the pumpkin to the stew. Cook until chicken is cooked through.
6. Garnish with chopped green onions. Serve with frsh bread, over pasta, or mixed with rice.
Old Bay Pumpkin Seeds
Recipe From: Gretchen Brown
Old Bay seasoning or your favorite spice blend
1. After scooping the seeds out of the pumpkin, rinse them to remove the pulp. Lay them flat on a few sheets of paper towel to dry them.
2. Put them in a bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil on them and toss to coat. Add Old Bay seasoning to your liking.
3. Roast, in the oven with the stew, for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.
Double Chocolate Pudding
Recipe From: Likingpineapples.com
3 cups of milk (3.25%) (I used 1% and the pudding tasted great!)
4 tbsp corn starch
pinch of salt
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks (75%)
1. Put the cocoa, corn starch, sugar and salt in a pot. Add the milk, heat on medium-high heat and whisk to combine everything together.
2.Cook until it is thick (enough to cover the back of a spoon) whisking once in a while. Once you have the desired consistency, remove from the heat, add the butter, vanilla and dark chocolate and whisk well into the pudding.
3.Pour into small bowls and chill for a few hours before serving. Garnish with whipped cream and fresh mint sprig.