Monday, November 5, 2018

Pumpkin Tres Leches

I was very lucky to be joined by a group of fiends, mostly from work, to help me hand out candy this year. To add to our celebration I made Pumpkin Tres Leches which is a moist and creamy bread pudding type dessert. "Tres leches" means three milks in Spanish and it's the basis for a popular Mexican cake often served for the holidays and weddings. The cake is soaked with the milks and it essentially creates a rich, decadent bread pudding that I believe is best served cold. Warm bread pudding enthusiasts don't you give me that stink eye.


Pumpkin Tres Leches Bread Pudding

2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup apple cider
1- 17.5oz box of Trader Joes Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix (not cake mix)
1- 12oz can evaporated whole milk
1- 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup whole milk
whipped cream, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a ceramic or glass baking dish (not metal) with butter. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, oil and whisk until foamy. Slowly whisk in cider.  Add mix and slowly fold in then stir until batter is smooth.

3. Spread batter in dish and bake 45 to 55 minutes until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

4. Meanwhile combine evaporated, sweetened condensed milk and while milk in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined.

5. After baking, and while the bread is still piping hot, create several small but deep slits with a sharp knife all over. Immediately ladle the cold milk mixture over the hot bread. It will take a couple minutes to absorb the milk so ladle a little at a time until fully absorbed. Repeat until all the milk is used. The absorption will slow down but trust me, it will soak it all up in time.

6. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours minimum, or overnight. Using a spoon, scoop out some bread pudding and serve cold with whipped cream.

Tips: You can add rum to the milks to make it a tipsy bread pudding. Avoid using some of the flavored sweetened condensed milks now available. It might sound like a good idea to use pumpkin spice sweetened condensed milk but it is not. That stuff is terrible.


Friday, November 2, 2018

The Day After Halloween

Call me crazy, but I actually love the day after Halloween. First, there’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) to celebrate with a vibrant altar, Mexican food, and margaritas. Secondly, while it’s sad to bury another Halloween up in the attic, there’s a profound sense of relief. I'm not sure why I feel the need to be so secretive about this as if I'm betraying the spirit of Halloween. There's no more worrying about getting things done on time, writing posts, fixing props, dragging people to haunts, running around town like a madman attempting to find supplies, and spending all my money on just one more Halloween thing. Again, it’s sad to see it all go but the emotional and psychological break is a sweet release. Plus I can finally catch up on all the tv & movies I missed.

My ritual begins at 12:01 a.m. sharp on November 1. I start breaking down my front yard display with a goal of having it completely out of sight by sunset since technically, Samhain ends at sunset. I think the neighbors appreciate it and makes them do a double take: was it all a bad dream?

This year we had 346 trick ‘r treaters – and guesstimating about 900 more visitors (parents, families and friends) – which was quite a feat for a school night. The weather thoroughly cooperated although I was sad to hear that so many people across the country were experiencing rain and even snow storms.

I was very lucky to be joined by a group of fiends, mostly from work, to help me hand out candy and count the tots. In exchange, I made a giant pot of my once-a-year Texan Chili, buttery sweet corn bread, and a creamy pumpkin bread pudding, Pumpkin Tres Leches cake to be exact.







Feliz Dia de los Muertos

If you slept through November 1 like I did fret not. You can still celebrate the second day of Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday that celebrates loved ones who have moved on.

Start with a viewing of the best (only?) Day of the Dead-themed movies, Coco or The Book of Life. If I had to choose only one then definitely go for the Pixar pic.





If you love the vibrant colors of Dia de los Muertos, you'll love the vibrant prints from artist David Lozeau. I own one tiny original that I absolutely love, but luckily he offers more affordable prints in a variety



Finally, no Mexican celebration is complete without a margarita. But if you can barely move after a hectic Halloween season, who has time to make one from scratch. I've finally found the BEST margarita mix on shelves today. It's made by Tres Agaves who also makes tequila but I haven't tried it. The Margarita Mix is flavorful with a tangy but not to tart lime pucker and sweetened with agave instead of corn syrup which adds an earthy finish. I preferred a 3 parts mix to 1 part tequila with my preferred tequila, Don Julio Añejo (I know, I know you're supposed to used silver tequila in margaritas but it has no flavor).