Rice Pudding Rescue

How often do you throw food out? Weekly? Daily? For me, I just can’t do it if at all possible. In fact, when I made some horchata recently, I was left with a few cups of processed rice. To prevent throwing it out, I decided to make rice pudding. Initially I was hoping to find a unique recipe to liven up the usual rice pudding recipes. One I contemplated was a pina colada rice pudding, however I got a bit lazy and resorted to a simple recipe. In fact, I used Ina’s recipe below, from the Food Network. I ended up doubling the recipe since I had so much rice to work with. It was good for some simple but I think I’ll try playing with it by incorporating some additional flavors for next time.

Here’s Ina Garten’s recipe for Rum Raisin Rice Pudding:

3/4 cup raisins (I omitted)
2 tablespoons dark rum
3/4 cup white basmati rice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 cups half-and-half, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 extra-large egg, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine the raisins and rum. Set aside.

Combine the rice and salt with 1 1/2 cups water in a medium heavy-bottomed stainless steel saucepan. Bring it to a boil, stir once, and simmer, covered, on the lowest heat for 8 to 9 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed. (If your stove is very hot, pull the pan halfway off the burner.)

Stir in 4 cups of half-and-half and sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 25 minutes, until the rice is very soft. Stir often, particularly toward the end. Slowly stir in the beaten egg and continue to cook for 1 minute. Off the heat, add the remaining cup of half-and-half, the vanilla, and the raisins with any remaining rum. Stir well. Pour into a bowl, and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Serve warm or chilled.

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Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

This recipe was featured in my Springtime Cupcake swap event, which you can read about HERE.

Lara’s Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes


2 cps. all purpose flour
2 cps. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
4 eggs
1 can (15 oz) solid-pack pumpkin
1 cp. vegetable oil
1 cp. raisins

Frosting Ingredients
1/3 cp. butter softened
1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cps. confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cp. chopped walnuts (optional)

1. In a large bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients.

2. In another bowl, beat the eggs, pumpkin, and oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in raisins. Fill paper-lined muffin cups 3/4’s full.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. For frosting, in a small mixing bowl, beat butter and cream cheese. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar. Frost cupcakes; sprinkle with walnuts. Store in refrigerator. Yield: 20 cupcakes.

Karl’s Ginger Pear Crisp

I made the following dessert during my Crisps & Cobblers cooking class, which you can read about HERE.

Karl’s Ginger Pear Crisp

6 pears, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits
Topping:
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Toss first six ingredients together in a bowl.
Pour into a buttered baking dish.
Using a fork combine the remaining six ingredients.
Spoon topping across pears.
Bake for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly.

Moroccan Morsels

One of my favorite cuisines is Moroccan. There’s something about the combination of commonly used spices that not only delivers amazing taste but comforting aromas. I was in need of comfort food and my Moroccan beef over couscous hit the spot.
Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food. While spices have been imported to Morocco for thousands of years, many ingredients, like saffron from Tiliouine, mint and olives from Meknes, and oranges and lemons from Fez, are home-grown. Common spices include karfa (cinnamon), kamoun ( cumin), kharkoum (tumeric), skingbir ( ginger), libzar (pepper) , tahmira (paprika), anis seed, sesame seed, kasbour (coriander), maadnous ( parsley), zaafrane beldi (saffron) and mint.
In Morocco, stews are often made in a shallow earthenware cooking pots called tagines. Since I don’t have a tangine, I used my crockpot as an alternative with great results!
Here’s my recipe for Moroccan Beef Stew:

2-3 lbs of beef chuck steak, cubed
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 can chickpeas

In a pan, add some oil and brown beef.
Combine the rest of the ingredients except chickpeas.
Place mixture in a crockpot.
Add browned beef.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours.
In the last 30 minutes, add chickpeas and cook until warmed through.

I served this over couscous cooked in beef broth
and garnished the dish with chopped parsley.