We all have them.

Currently I'm obsessed with anything Leopard print. I just found some fabulous leopard print cupcake papers at Sur La Table, oh do I have plans for you! But back to the task at hand...

A staple food obsession of mine is pumpkin. It all started my senior year of college. I'm not sure what brought it on but oh man am I happy it did. I'll never forget the day I fell in love with pumpkin. It was the middle of fall and I went to Noahs for my usual egg bagel toasted with schmear for breakfast. To my surprise, they were out. How could they be out of such a staple bagel flavor at the early hour of 12?! Oh, that's not what you consider an early hour? FINE! With my heart set on a bagel for breakfast I got the pumpkin bagel with pumpkin schmear. If I can't have my staple, I'm gonna go wild! Boy was I glad I did, HEAVEN! Coming home I decided I needed more pumpkin. I had a pumpkin scone for lunch but I still couldn't satisfy my need for pumpkin. I decided to make pumpkin pancakes for dinner and pumpkin cookies for dessert. I was obsessed.

I know to most people "pumpkin season" is over. For me, it never is! I made this Pumpkin Curry soup for my boyfriend about a month ago. It pairs perfectly with my Coconut Chicken Fingers. The first time I made the soup I did it with a fresh sugar pumpkin. The second time I used canned pumpkin, both turned out great! I give you Pumpkin Curry Soup and Coconut Chicken Fingers:

Pumpkin Curry Soup

1 small onion
2 tbsp curry powder
1 large clove of garlic
1 can pumpkin puree (or a small fresh pumpkin that's been roasted)
1 1/2 c. chicken stock
1 c. coconut milk (I used light, for a richer soup use regular)
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 pinch salt to taste
1/2 c. heavy cream (optional)

In a medium sized sauce pan saute your onion until transparent. Add curry powder and smashed clove of garlic (keep it whole) and let cook for 1 minute. Add roasted pumpkin or can of pumpkin, coconut milk, chicken stock and fresh ginger. Simmer soup for at least 20 minutes to let the flavors build. Transfer soup mixture to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Place soup back in saucepan and add salt to taste. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Turn heat down and finish with a 1/2 c. heavy cream just before serving.

I've made it with and without the cream. Both are very tasty. Who am I kidding, everything is better with cream. If you're not trying to be good, go for it!

Garnish with dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt and some pomegranate or pumpkin seeds. I used greek yogurt and pomegranate seeds. The pomegranate ads a burst of freshness, I highly recommend!

improv style:
Don't have fresh ginger? Use a 1/2 tsp of powdered ginger instead. Like it a little spicy? add 1/4 - 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper. Like your soup chunky? Don't puree it. Vegetarian? Use veggie broth instead of chicken broth.

Coconut Chicken Fingers

for the marinade:
6-8 chicken breast tenders
1/2 c. coconut milk (again, I used light)
1/2 c. greek yogurt
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp chile powder
1 pinch cayenne
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp salt

for the breading:
1 1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
3/4 c. shredded coconut (make sure it isn't sweetened)
salt and pepper to taste

dipping sauce:
1/2 c. greek yogurt
2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat your oven to 375º. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and coat the chicken. Let marinade for at least 20 minutes. You can let it marinade over night if its easier. The yogurt makes the chicken really tender. This is some of the juiciest chicken I've ever had!

On a breading plate (just what I call the plate I put the crumbs on) mix all the dry ingredients together. Take the marinaded chicken and scrape off any excess yogurt. You don't need the chicken to be dry, a little yogurt is good to make the coating stick to the chicken strips, you just don't want it dripping with yogurt. Dredge the chicken into the panko/coconut mixture and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil before baking. Bake about 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and golden brown. Half way through baking, flip the chicken so it browns on both sides.

Mix together the dipping sauce and serve! Matt (my boyfriend) likes to dip the chicken in the soup. You can serve it with your favorite dipping sauces or try the one I suggested!

improv style:
Love extra crunchy and golden chicken fingers? ME TOO! Fry the chicken strips instead of baking. If I wasn't trying to be "good" I would too! Don't like spicy? Leave the cayenne out. Try a sweet and sour or hoisin dipping sauce with it instead of the yogurt dip.