TASTE: Spiced Pumpkin Coconut Custard

Pumpkin Time.

It's officially pumpkin season, right? I think I've gone a little pumpkin crazy in the past few days. My kitchen has been an auburn haven of earthy spices, creamy coconut and warm pumpkin puree. I've been whipping up all kinds of fun fall-themed treats and this one is extra special, because it's my first attempt at custard. And it's reeeaaaally yummy. Prepare yourself for fun, creamy clouds of autumnal joy. This recipe was inspired and adapted from this trio of recipes: spiced pumpkin ice cream, vanilla ice cream and coconut milk custard. Now brace yourself, custard requires really following the recipe, but in the end, all that meticulousness is totally worth it!

Spiced Pumpkin Coconut Custard

Ingredients:

- 15 oz. can coconut milk

- 12 oz. can evaporated milk

- 1 level cup canned pumpkin

- 1/2 cup brown sugar

- 3 large egg yolks

- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

*The egg yolks give the custard that creamy effect. All you "egg-whites-only" gals, don't shy away!

Method:

1. Combine the coconut milk, evaporated milk and pumpkin in a saucepan on low heat. Add in brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

2. Set up an ice bath. If you've never done this before, it sounds more complicated than it is.  Fill a large bowl (or pan, I used a pyrex baking dish) with ice and water. Place an empty 2-quart bowl in the ice-water bath. Pour hot mixture into the empty 2-quart bowl, let sit for approx. 5 minutes. *The ice bath helps the mixture cool more quickly.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 egg yolks. You can save the egg whites for an omelet!

4. Slowly add the whisked eggs to the hot mixture, taking time to combine. Whisk the mixture for about 2 minutes.

5. Pour entire mixture back into the saucepan, heat pan over low, constantly whisking for about 2-3 minutes. Bring to a boil.

6. Pour mixture into an 8x8 glass pyrex baking dish. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes.

7. Put dish in the freezer and let sit for an hour. The edges of the mixture will begin to freeze, so you will want to stir up the mixture. Let it freeze for another hour, then stir the mixture again.

8. Let sit over night and then devour!

Let me know what you think about this tasty treat. Enjoy the whole autumn season in every spiced, creamy bite.

Bon Appetit!

Lufthansa: It's A Love Affair, People.

The One.

I'd like to take a moment to introduce you to my new girlfriend, Lufthansa.

She's hot, she's classy, she's unexpected. God, she's good. Holy cow. I had no idea flying could be like this. I am holding a coach ticket, nothing out of the ordinary, and yet... Lufthansa has treated me so incredibly well. So well, in fact, that I'm not totally sure how to describe it. But I shall try. Because this trip is already epic. And I'm only in the air so far.

// There she is, landing like a pro in Munich // Clutching my passport for the first time in YEARS // Stevie sporting good ol' Elliot Hunt's gear - thank you so much! // Plane planning with the travel gospels. Rick Steves preaches the good news, on travel, that is. // Wine, Pellagrino and movies. What more is possibly needed? //

Talk to Me.

First of all, everything on this darling airline is in German. How grand. I've seen enough of Delta's safety videos, so it was a nice break to not understand a THING on this flight. Gee golly, thanks so much for not speaking English. Seriously. I am happily ensconced in my RS travel books and this throaty, exotic language is just icing on the Euro cake. The flight attendants just smile at me and all I see is blonde. Girls who speak foreign languages are hot. And Lufthansa is no exception.

She Feeds Me.

Second of all, Lufthansa fed me like a queen. We are talking big time. After 2 glasses of wine, dinner, dessert, tea AND a digestive in the form of Baileys (all complimentary!), I was about ready for bed. In my sweet bulkhead chair. With my chic Euro yellow and gray blanket. Let's be honest, that's all anyone really wants in this world. A warm blanket, a hot and tasty meal, a sufficient buzz and falling asleep to a good ol' Hollywood entertainment (over 64 movies available for my viewing pleasure!) And now I've fallen in love. Oh Lufthansa.

PS - The video below looks a little trippy, but it should straighten out once you hit play. Hee hee hee.

Lufthansa, How I love thee. from Kristen Hale on Vimeo.

She Leaves Me Be.

It's time. I'm off to sleep. The soft Lufthansa lights have dimmed and I'm feeling warm and tucked into airborne Heaven. Stevie is already snoring next to me. His movie finished a good thirty minutes before mine (Let's be honest, Melissa McCarthy, I love you, but Identity Thief was far too long, k?) and now its my turn to, well, turn in. I shall probably dream in German. How enlightening. First stop, Munich! Only a few hours to go...

TASTE: Coconut Mango Baked Oatmeal

Happy Monday, friends! It's about time for a new recipe. This one came to me, sort of in a dream, and the dream spectacularly came to life. Mad props to my Dream Project partner-in-crime Carrie, who first introduced me to the notion of baked oatmeal. It's a great go-to recipe I often make when guests come to town or for a weekend brunch with friends. It's also great to make on a Sunday night to have throughout the week for a nutritious snack. P.S. I get a little carried away with the toppings (but you can, too!)

Ingredients:

- 3 cups Rolled Oats

- 2 Eggs

- 1/4 cup Agave

- 1/2 cup shredded Coconut

- 1/4 cup Butter, melted

- 1 Mango, pitted and chopped*

- 1 cup Almond Milk

- 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

- 1/2 tsp. Salt

Method:

1) Pit and chop an entire mango. Combine in a bowl with the coconut. Set aside.

2) In a large bowl, combine the oats, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and combine with the almond milk, agave and melted butter. Stir into oat mixture until blended.

3) Spoon into a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until set. Yields 9 servings.

Note *

You can add (almost) any kind of fruit into this baked oatmeal treat. Apples and blueberries are lovely for a fall-theme main dish. Strawberries and oranges are a summery way to celebrate the oatmeal indulgence. Most recently, I added a mix of chopped mango and papaya (with a smattering of nutmeg) and I think it was the most delicious ever. So get creative! Fruit are your friends.

Brunch it up! And maybe add a mimosa.