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Pumpkin Vanilla Custard

I call myself a runner. In fact, I’m going to run a 5k race this upcoming Sunday. Pretty impressive, huh?? More accurately, I will partially run, partially walk, and partially crawl a 5k on Sunday.

I am, in fact, a terrible runner. I can’t breathe. My muscles ache. I’m slower than a crippled snail. It’s not in my genes to be a runner. And yet I run. Diehard runners would probably call what I do “casual jogging”. But when I’ve got my running sneaks on, I feel like a runner. And so that is what I consider myself.

I started running sometime after having my second son. I was looking for a quick calorie burn to get rid of some of the extra weight I was hanging onto, without giving up my favorite foods. But what started as a means for losing the baby weight quickly became a treasured part of my day. The solitude. A chance to be alone inside my head for a few minutes. It made me feel strong and capable. It gave me peace and helped me recover a bit of the sanity that small children seem determined to abolish. And in that way, it made me a better, calmer mom.

I’d hoped to continue running throughout my third pregnancy, but fatigue and the waning evening light had other plans. Now, after months of not running (and some extra lingering baby weight), it’s been an uphill battle (both literally and figuratively) to regain my running ability.

This Sunday will be my first race since having my baby. I’m not ready. Not even a little bit. But I’m going to tie on some bells and run the jingle out of that Jingle Bell race.

I can run for 10 minutes (most of a mile) before I feel like I’m going to die. During the 5 minutes which follow, I start talking a variety of nonsense to myself. You’re a superstar. You’re strong. You can do anything! By the time I get to 15 minutes, I’m desperate and fully out of my mind. I’m screaming the lyrics to Pink’s Perfect in my pitchy off-key voice. They don’t like my jeans! They don’t get my hair! Which makes no sense since I almost exclusively wear sweatpants and keep my hair in an incredibly non-controversial pony tail. I’m quite a sight. Panting, crazy eyes, accusatory lyric shouting. Not exactly sure how I’m going to complete this race on Sunday… Ay! What was I thinking??

Run, Amy! Run!

The run will be good for me though, no matter how long it takes me, because I’ve been enjoying more pumpkin treats and apple pie (post coming soon) than any person should. Including this delectable pumpkin vanilla custard. It’s like a pumpkin pie without the crust. And it’s really good. Good enough to add a few more calorie-burning minutes to that run!

Pumpkin Vanilla Custard

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk*
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of ginger
  • 4 egg yolks
*Skim milk would work fine if you’d like to reduce the fat and calories.

Directions

Combine the milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking continuously so that the sugar and cornstarch dissolve. Once the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, reduce the heat. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks. Gradually whisk about 1/2 of the hot mixture into the egg yolks, starting with a slow drizzle. (Gradually incorporating the hot milk into the egg yolks tempers the eggs, allowing them to slowly rise in temperature without scrambling.) Gradually whisk the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture in the pot. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, whisking constantly for about 3 minutes, until thickened and smooth. Pour the custard into individual serving dishes and refrigerate until set. Garnish with whipped cream and crushed vanilla wafers.

We all enjoy an occasional pat on the back for a job well done! And as a stay-at-home mom there are no pleased supervisors or satisfied co-workers passing out the pats..only little people who need more apple juice. Urgently. So, it was such a delight to be informed that The Gourmand Mom has been awarded the Editors’ Pick Best Food Blog award by the editors of Parents Magazine. What a fabulous recognition! Thank you, Parents Magazine!

You can check out the complete list of blog award winners here.

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Chocolate Covered Pretzel Pudding Pie

By measure of my sweat clothing collection, one may assume I was some sort of elite athlete. For why would anyone require so many pairs of sweat pants and sweat shorts in so many different colors?

Alas, I will never be considered an elite athlete. Unless finishing an entire Chipotle burrito is considered sport. I am, in fact, purely obsessed with soft, stretchy comfort. Having spent the past five years in a near constant state of pregnancy or postpartum recovery has certainly increased my longing for clothing with elastic waistbands. Jeans are like a prison on my skin. Give me soft fleece. Give me stretchy cotton. Give me pants I can wear during the day and keep on as I slip into bed at night.

It’s true. My daywear collection is nearly indistinguishable from my pajama collection.

I find myself assuming that everyone must share the same disdain for buttoned pants as I do. I admit to dressing the baby in soft, one-piece pajamas almost everyday; the ones with cute little animal faces on the soft attached feet. And I fill the older boys’ drawers with stretchy fleece pants we refer to as the “cozy pants”. I’m envious of the cozy pants.

But, my four year old loves his jeans. Loves them. I can’t wash his jeans fast enough for him to wear again. (The painter’s jeans are his favorite.) The kid’s got more fashion sense than all the rest of us combined. It’s the little special touches he adds which really make his outfits so unique. Like when he comes running into our room in the morning wearing jeans, a long sleeve tee, and a tweed suit vest. Or the way he’ll clip a red necktie onto his rock and roll tee-shirt. Or casually pop a newsboy cap onto his head, turning a typical kid outfit into something which is dripping in effortless fashion.

He’s so much cooler than we are.

But, get your cozy-pants out for this one, because you’re going to want that elastic waistband. It’s a chocolate pudding pie with a irresistible twist. We’ll start with a pretzel crust, lined in rich chocolate ganache. Then we’ll fill the chocolate-covered pretzel crust with smooth chocolate pudding and fresh whipped cream.

Go ahead, treat yourself.

Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Pudding Pie

Ingredients

For the Pretzel Crust

  • 2 cups pretzel crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 12 tablespoons butter, melted

For the Ganache

  • 4 ounces semisweet baking chocolate (4 squares), chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

For the Pudding

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Directions

For the Pretzel Crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine the pretzel crumbs and sugar.  Pour melted butter over the crumbs and mix to combine.  Press the mixture into the bottom and along the sides of a pie plate. It will be quite crumbly, but should stay in place. Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

For the Ganache:

While the pretzel crust is cooling, heat cream in the microwave until it just begins to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate completely melts and the mixture is smooth.  Pour over the pretzel crust. Gently swirl the pie plate so that the ganache coats the bottom and sides of the pretzel crust. The ganache will act like a glue to help the crust stick together. Refrigerate to set.

For the Pudding:

In a saucepan, mix together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt. Whisk in 1 cup of milk, stirring until combined. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup of milk and the 3/4 cup of cream. Continue whisking over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes. Whisking constantly, continue cooking for another minute or two. Be careful to whisk into the corners and along the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Whisk in the chopped chocolate and vanilla, stirring until fully melted. Allow the pudding to cool at room temperature, stirring frequently to prevent a skin from forming. Once pudding is no longer hot, pour it on top of the cooled ganache (which should be firm by this time) and spread into an even layer. Refrigerate for a few hours until pudding is completely cool and set.

For the Whipped Cream: 

Beat together the cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the pudding layer.

Garnish with a few crushed pretzels.

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