Pumpkin and Chickpea Stew

Pumpkin and Chickpea Stew

pumpkin and chickpea stew

A few weeks ago I picked a pumpkin.   It wasn’t a small pumpkin and it wasn’t a huge pumpkin, but it felt like it was by the end!  It was too big to fit in the fridge but I didn’t want to waste any of it.   I made pumpkin muffins, I roasted it in slices then ate it with a roast dinner, in soup and even as a snack cold from the fridge.  I needed to do something else with it.   Luckily it coincided with the new September Recipe Redux challenge – Fantastic Freezer Meals and so I really had no choice but to make freezer meals!

Unfortunately my husband and Little Miss Spice are not big fans of pumpkin but Master Spice and I love it so this meal is one that we can both eat together.   I decided to make a mildly spiced pumpkin and chickpea stew as pumpkin really benefits from a few spices.    By itself it can be a little bland but with a few warming spices and some fresh coriander, it really comes alive.

I used pumpkin that I’d already roasted but because the stew simmers for a while you could just use raw pumpkin and simmer it for a little longer if the pumpkin hasn’t cooked enough.   One thing I forgot to do when I was making this was to weigh the pumpkin and obviously pumpkins can be quite different sizes.   I used about a quarter of the one I had and it was probably about the size of 2 butternut squash.

This pumpkin and chickpea stew is essentially a dish made of leftovers so don’t feel the recipe is set in stone, feel free to adapt it and use whatever squash or root vegetables you have a glut of.   You can of course increase the spices to taste too.

We ate some of the stew when it was fresh, some went in the fridge for the next day and the rest was frozen in individual containers.   When you want to eat it you can either defrost it first or cook it from frozen in either the oven or the microwave.   It’s a great way of having your own healthy ready meals any time you want.

Pumpkin and Chickpea Stew


Pumpkin and Chickpea Stew

Yield: Serves 4


  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 1/4 pumpkin, cut into large cubes
  • 2 400g tins of chickpeas
  • 2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • Black pepper
  • Large handful of chopped coriander (cilantro)
  • 1 lemon (optional)


  1. Gently cook the onions in a large saucepan until they are soft, then stir in the garlic.
  2. Cook for another minute then add the cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper.
  3. Stir well then add the red pepper, pumpkin, chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and a little black pepper. Add a little water so the pan isn't too dry.
  4. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for half an hour.
  5. Stir in most of the fresh coriander at the end but reserve a little to put on top of each plate. Serve the stew with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over the top.
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As well as the Recipe Redux I am also linking these to Extra Veg, hosted by Feeding Boys this month and run by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy.  I am also linking to Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary’s No Waste Food Challenge, hosted this month by Foodie Quine.

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Beef and tomato bake

Cook Once Eat Twice: Beef and Tomato Bake

Beef and tomato bake

I’m trying really hard at the moment to plan meals that are suitable for the two children as well as for me and my husband to eat later.   This beef and tomato bake is one of the successes, which is  largely thanks to a generous amount of streaky bacon which just gives it so much flavour.

It’s a real comfort food meal.   The type of meal that warms you up and you just can’t help going back for seconds.  Luckily, it lasted a couple of days and was just as tasty reheated in the microwave as was  when it first came out of the oven.

In fact, this beef and tomato bake was an ideal meal for my Cook Once Eat Twice challenge.   I ate a little bit of it with the children when they had their tea, I had another helping with my husband later in the evening and there was even some left over to eat the next day.  Perfect.

Because I’d made dinner earlier in the day and didn’t need to do anything in the evening we had so much more time to relax and even though my husband is not a big fan of minced meat, he actually liked this too.   It must be the bacon!

I admit it’s not the prettiest of meals.   I took so many pictures but there were only a couple I was happy with.   It’s hard to make a one-pot dish look attractive sometimes.   Just trust me, it is far tastier than it looks.

This Beef and Tomato Bake is my entry for this month’s Cook Once Eat Twice challenge.   If you’d like to know more about the challenge and to link up then you can find out more here.

Cook Once Eat Twice: Beef and Tomato Bake

Yield: Serves 4


  • 8 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 500g beef mince
  • 200g basmati rice
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 beef stock cube, dissolved in 300ml water
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Pinch of black pepper


  1. Heat a little oil in an ovenproof casserole dish and fry the bacon, pepper, onion and garlic just until they begin to brown a little.
  2. Add the mince. Keep breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cook until is is browned.
  3. Stir in the rice and cook for just 30 seconds then add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to the boil.
  4. Put a lid on the casserole dish and put it in the oven at 180c for 20-25 minutes
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I am linking to Fiesta Friday and this is my Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.  I’m also linking to Tasty Tuesday at Honest Mum and Cook Blog Share at Hijacked by Twins.

Cook Once Eat TwiceRecipe of the weekTasty Tuesdays







slow cooker chicken chilli (500x328)

Slow Cooker Chicken Chilli

There’s something about a chilli recipe that makes you know you’re going to love it before you’ve even tried it.   Meat, vegetables, spices – what could be more comforting on a cold winter’s evening after a long tiring day? And if you can just throw everything in the slowcooker in the morning so you feel you don’t even need to cook in the evening when you get home, that just makes it so much better.

When I was assigned my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month I was feeling that I hadn’t been using my slow cooker enough and that was one of the reasons I chose to make the slow cooker chicken chilli.   I loved the simplicity of it as well as the warming flavours. I was assigned to Maria from Staying Close to Home.   Maria has been blogging for a long time and in addition to lots of recipes, also blogs about craft ideas.  I didn’t have a go at any of the crafts but I did also have a go at her buttermilk cake with blueberries, which was lovely for an afternoon snack for a few days until it was soon all gone.

I had to make a few changes to the chilli as tinned tomatoes with lime are not available here, or at least I have never seen them.    I also had to miss out the sweetcorn or my husband would have refused to eat it. To serve alongside I baked some Tortillas drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with hot and spicy seasoning.   They were delicious with the chilli, along with some sour cream and grated cheese, but of course, you could just eat the chilli by itself.

As well as the SRC I am linking this to Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Challenge.  The theme this month is any slow cooker recipe.   As it is packed full of vegetables I am also linking it to Extra Veg, hosted this month by Michelle at Utterly Scrummy Food for Families and on alternate months by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.

slow cooker chicken chilli (500x328)

Ingredients – Serves 2-3

2 chicken breasts – cubed

400g tin of kidney beans

400g jar of chopped tomatoes

2 chillies, sliced

Zest of 1 lime

2 sticks of celery, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin

How to Make Slow Cooker Chicken Chilli

1. Put the chicken in the slow cooker with the spices and tinned tomatoes.   Stir.   Add the rest of the vegetables.

2. I cooked it for 6 hours but it may depend on your slow cooker and how long you normally cook chicken dishes for.

3. Serve with sour cream, grated cheese, extra lime wedges or other choice of toppings.

Baked tortillas (500x303)

To see what other Secret Recipe Club participants have made, click on the link below:

slow cooker challenge


Chicken in Red Wine Vinegar Sauce

I’m always looking out for new chicken dishes to make and the easier the better.   This recipe is based on one for Spicy Chicken Thighs, which I bookmarked a long time ago at Thyme for Cooking.   I changed the name as I felt the overwhelming taste was of fruity vinegar rather than spice.  If you’re not a vinegar fan then that might not sound appealing but red wine vinegar is not as strong as some other vinegars and doesn’t give an overly sharp taste.  I would describe the sauce as sweet and fruity tasting.  It is, however, not a mild tasting sauce, so if you think the amount of vinegar might be too much for you, you can always reduce it a little.  I used breasts rather than thighs as that is what I usually cook with, but I also feel this sauce would go well with pork or turkey.  So it could be a way of using up leftover turkey from Christmas dinner.

Chicken in Red wine vinegar sauce (500x408)

Ingredients – Serves 2

2 chicken breasts

1 tbsp plain flour

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp tomato puree

60ml chicken stock

30ml red wine vinegar

1 tsp cornflour

How to Make Chicken in Red Wine Vinegar Sauce

1. Combine the flour, paprika and cumin.  Press the chicken down onto the flour so it has a coating of flour all over.

2. Heat a little oil in a saucepan.   Cook the chicken briefly on all sides to seal the juices in.  Then, remove it from the pan.

3. Add the onions to the pan.  Cook until softened then add the garlic, tomato puree and the remainder of the flour that was used to coat the chicken.  Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring, then stir in the stock and vinegar.

4. Return the chicken to the pan.  Bring the sauce up to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes

5. If you feel the sauce is too runny, remove the chicken, mix the cornflour with a little water and stir it in to thicken.   Serve with rice or potatoes and vegetables.


Chicken and Bacon Chilli

There are some ingredient combinations which are always going to be good together.   One of these is chicken and bacon.  Add some tomato and some cheese and it is hard to beat for autumn comfort food.  This month I was paired with Jean at The Tasty Cheapskate for the Secret Recipe Club and I decided I wanted to make something tasty, warming and of course easy, not taking too much time to prepare.  I had so many recipes to choose from but I soon chose this chilli.  Not only did it contain ingredients I love, I already had everything I needed in the flat.   No shopping required.   Even better.

Jean actually created this dish to use up some leftovers and liked it so much she began making it regularly.   I can see why as it turned out just as nicely as I’d expected.   I used a bit more chicken than in the original recipe and more greens, but it was very similar.   One of the good things about this dish is that there are so many variations that could be made to it, just depending on what you have left in the fridge.

Ingredients – serves 2

1-2 chicken breasts, sliced into strips

3 rashers bacon

300g tin cannelini beans

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 onion, chopped

1 chilli pepper, finely sliced

Handful of chopped spring greens (or other green vegetable)

Handful coriander leaf (cilantro)

Grated cheese (optional)

Sour cream (optional)

How to Make Chicken and Bacon Chilli

1. Chop the bacon and fry in the bottom of a saucepan in a little oil.  When it is cooked, remove from the pan.

2. Add the onion and chilli pepper to the pan and cook until it is soft.   Add the chicken and cook, stirring occassionally, for a few minutes until it is white on the outside.

3. Add the beans, greens and chopped tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Stir in the coriander, season with salt and pepper.  Optionally serve with grated cheese and sour cream.

To see what other Secret Recipe Club participants have made, click on the link below.

Beery Barley Beef

Once again it’s been a few months since I took part in Random Recipes, organised by Dom at Belleau Kitchen, so this month I decided I would make a start early.  Usually the rules involve picking a recipe from a book at random.  This month the rules were slightly different   We had to pick an item at random from the place at the back of the store cupboard where half-used long-forgotten items end up.  I delved in and the first item I came up with was an opened pack of cashew nuts, expiry date October 2010.  I threw them away, but it left me with a dilemma, should I pick again, or should I use the more recently opened, within date cashew nuts at the front of the cupboard?  I decided to pick again. This time, I came out with a small pack of dried figs with just 2 left in that seemed to have seen much better days.   They also had to be thrown away.  Third time lucky, I picked a bag of pearl barley.  However, I don’t have many cookbooks with recipes in for pearl barley.  After a few unlucky attempts I found 200 Slow Cooker Recipes with a recipe for beery pearl barley, perfect for slightly chilly autumn weather.  I was delighted that it allowed me to prepare the whole recipe in advance and as it was a one pot meal I didn’t even need to prepare any side dishes in the evening.  It’s a bit ugly to look at but it tasted delicious, although my husband has asked me not to add the pearl barley next time!

Ingredients – Serves 3

400g braising steak, cubed

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, diced

1 potato, diced

1 tbsp plain flour

55g pearl barley

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

300ml light beer

300ml beef stock
How to make Beery Barley Beef

  1. Put a little oil in a saucepan.  Seal the beef and then tip into the slow cooker.

  2. Add a little more oil if necessary.   Cook the onion until soft.   Add the flour and stir.   Add the potatoes, carrots, herbs and beer.  Bring to the boil, stirring, then pour into the slow cooker. Add the pearl barley.

  3. Put the beef stock into the pan.   Bring to the boil and then pour into the slow cooker.

  4. Cook on a low heat for 9 hours.


Finnish Salmon Soup

I have never been to Finland and don’t know much about Finnish food, except that it is probably quite similar to other Scandinavian food, which I also know very little about.    Actually, when I think about it, the first thing that springs to mind is Jacques Chirac’s 2005 comment about British food, “After Finland, it is the country with the worst food.”  Understandably, this comment did not go down well in the UK, but at least we are aware of the stereotype of plain British food, whereas it was probably more of a shock to the Finns.   So, I set about researching Finnish food, and came across some wonderful ideas for cooking with reindeer and elk – but possibly not so easy to get hold of here.  Luckily, salmon is very popular in Finland and I soon decided to make a salmon soup which I found on Scandi Foodie.

I changed the recipe only slightly.   I couldn’t find any celeriac so had to miss it out.    I had ground all spice berries, not whole berries.   I used vegetable stock instead of water.   I could possibly have used fish stock but I didn’t want it to be too fishy, I just wanted to add a little extra flavour.  I also used milk instead of cream as I was making this for lunch and tend to avoid cream except for desserts or sauces that really need it.   I am ashamed to admit that I did worry slightly that it might be a little plain, with just the all spice berries really for flavouring.    In fact, the potato, parsnip and salmon soaked up the flavour of the all spice and were delicious.   I don’t often use all spice but it was a flavour I could happily enjoy without needing other herbs or spices.   So, it was definitely a success, and a recipe I wouldn’t hesitate to make again.   Unlike some soups which are not filling enough for a whole meal, it makes a great one-pot meal, not needing any bread to go with it, although of course you could have some if you wanted.

I am linking this to My Kitchen My World.   The March destination is of course Finland.   I am also sending it to Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays.

Ingredients – serves 2

About 5 new potatoes, diced

1/2 tsp ground all spice berries

1/2 onion, finely diced

1/2 a parsnip, diced

300g piece of salmon

Vegetable stock or water

200ml Milk (or a little cream and a bit more stock)

How to Make Finnish Salmon Soup

1. Add the potatoes, parsnip, onion and all spice to enough hot stock to just cover the vegetables.   Simmer for about 10 minutes.

2. Add the milk or cream along with the salmon.    Simmer for another 5 minutes.   Taste and add salt and black pepper to taste.