Ridiculously Easy Amazingly Yummy Rice Pudding

My warehouse shopping trip last week included buying a gallon of milk. What was I thinking??? I’m only one person, and I don’t drink milk by itself… not even with cookies. I decided I had better think of something to make with it before it soured.

Still on my kitchen table waiting to find a ‘home’ somewhere in my tiny bungalow was an oversized bag of rice. Hmmmm… milk, rice… RICE PUDDING!!! Perfect!

Two years ago I tried to make rice pudding the traditional way. It took F-O-R-E-V-E-R with hours of standing and stirring at the stove. The end result was undercooked rice in a thin milky sauce flavored with cinnamon. NOT what I was hoping for. So I was a little hesitant to try again. Not one to shy away from a challenge… I hit the Internet and searched the world wide web and found the BEST recipe… using… a crock pot!!

No more standing tirelessly at the stove. No undercooked rice. Just set it and forget it!

Ridiculously Easy Rice Pudding

Ridiculously Easy Rice Pudding

Are you ready for the recipe???

3/4 cups long grain rice (I used Jasmine)… rinsed

3 cups milk (I used 2%)

3/4 cups sugar

3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon Cardamom

Pinch of Salt

*I threw in a Cinnamon stick for good luck

Toss it all in the crock pot, cook on high for 1 1/2 hours. Open lid and stir, remove Cinnamon stick, unplug, close lid and let sit to thicken… about 15 minutes.

Serve warm for instant gratification… or chill in the refrigerator to eat for breakfast the next day. Sprinkle with more cinnamon or top with whipped cream. YUM!!!

How ridiculously easy is that???

You can thank me later.

*Tip: Drop sugar down to 1/2 cup without much difference to taste

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Single Girl Finds the Answer to Warehouse Shopping!

Loving Costco as much as I do, ( click HERE to read an older post about one of my shopping trips) I found I needed to figure out how to store produce without it going rotten before I could use it all… and I DID. Continue reading to find out how a Single Girl Finds the Answer to Warehouse Shopping!

Take a close look at the photos below. Both the raspberries and celery were purchased at Costco and have been stored in my refrigerator. They weren’t wrapped in anything special… just tossed in the refrigerator straight from the car.

Look how FRESH!!!

                            Look how FRESH!!!

Celery is still CRISP!

                            Celery is still CRISP!

How long do you think they have survived in my refrigerator? They weren’t purchased at the same time. The celery has been in there 3 times longer than the raspberries. I just finished eating the raspberries this afternoon and the last raspberry was as tasty and fresh as the first one.

The celery still was firm and crispy. I’ll be honest… I lost a few of the outer stalks due to age, but once I tell you how long they have been in the refrigerator I bet you will be AMAZED!!!

Are you ready? Are you sitting down? The raspberries were 3 weeks old!!! Yes, you read that right… 3 WEEKS!!! Not ONE had gone mushy or moldy. The actual photo was taken yesterday, right before I ate some.

The celery? Believe it or not, I purchased a cello bag containing 4 bunches of stalks on December 22, 2014. That’s 2 MONTHS ago!!! I’m not kidding!! The leaves are still fresh and ready to be tossed in to a pot of simmering soup and the stalks were tasty when spread with peanut butter as a snack the other day. Moist, crunchy, juicy celery goodness.

So how did a Single Girl Find the Answer to Warehouse Shopping???? I’ll tell you a secret… the answer has been on the sidebar for over a year on this very site. Go ahead, take a look, I’ll wait. Did you find it???Berry Breeze

For about 18 months I have been an affiliate of an item named BerryBreeze. No larger than a box of baking soda, you insert a battery and place it on a shelf in your refrigerator… then forget about it. Basically this little beauty sanitizes the air, but if you need more information than that please take the time to check out their FAQ page.

It really works!!! I have used it myself and am very happy. I feel comfortable purchasing mega-sized packages of fresh fruits and vegetables knowing I have prolonged their shelf life… without repackaging and freezing or canning them.

Where can YOU purchase one??? I’m glad you asked. Just click on the ad on my sidebar and it will take you directly to the BerryBreeze site… PLUS my affiliate code is built-in so I get credit for the sale! I have to warn you… it’s a tiny bit more expensive than I thought it would be, but considering how many hundreds of dollars of spoiled food I don’t have to throw out made me quickly realize it was a smart choice.

If you will notice, BerryBreeze is the ONLY item I promote. I’m obviously not doing this for the pennies I earn as an affiliate. No… I promote it because I know it works and want to spread the news. Hopefully it will be something you need too.

Bring on the Farmer’s Markets! I’m ready! Are you???

 

 

 

 

An Ode to Christmas Cookies

Christmas and Cookies go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly… you really can’t have one without the other.

It’s a week before Christmas and my house is filled with the spicy aroma of fresh-baked Ginger Cookies… a tradition in my family for many years. They are thin, crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and sparkle with granulated sugar they had been rolled in before being squished flat… and not TOO ‘gingery’. I posted about them 2 years ago… HERE.

Last week I spent a fun-filled day with my daughter rolling the dough for our traditional Sand Tart cookies. This recipe came down from my husband’s side of the family. It’s basically a sugar cookie that is rolled out really, really, really thin, cut in a diamond shape (OK not every one fits that description), washed in egg white, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and topped with chopped pecans before sliding into the oven. No matter where in the world our family is celebrating Christmas, they can expect a package in the mail with these delicious cookies. They are so thin and crisp that 9 times out of 10 they arrive as crumbs… but no matter, they taste just as good as an ice cream topping. If you are very lucky, you might find enough whole ones to actually bite in to. The recipe for Sand Tarts is HERE.

I know the true meaning of Christmas… and yet this holiday is oh so much more. It’s about family, near and far… it’s about loving your neighbor… helping the sick and less fortunate. It’s about kids being happy, it’s about hopes and it’s about dreams. And more importantly… it’s about COOKIES!

Think about it for a moment. Have you ever in your life seen someone eating a cookie who wasn’t happy??? So I urge you to stop staring at your computer screen, go to the kitchen, bake your favorite cookie, and share them with friends and family (oh, and don’t forget to drop some off at my house).

Spread the JOY (and the sugar and the calories)! * FYI… If you are counting calories then you need to know there are NO calories in cookies that are made from scratch and shared with someone. Hee, hee.

I wish you all a HAPPY HOLIDAY… no matter which you choose to celebrate. It’s all good!

I leave you with a photo of my morning’s daily doodles…

Daily Christmas Doodles www.debhathaway.com

Daily Christmas Doodles www.debhathaway.com

 

Turkey Soup – DP#126

Turkey Soup

 

WOW!!! Speak about an industrial size pot of soup!!! My house still smells like Thanksgiving as I boil down the turkey carcass for the annual pot of Turkey Soup. It looks like once I reduce it down, I’ll still have enough to last all year!!

A witch stirring her cauldron couldn’t be as happy as me when I’m sprinkling in herbs and tossing in vegetables. The steam fogs my glasses and give me a quick facial. My nostrils fill with the heavenly aroma of turkey, onions, celery, and carrots. Ahhhhh….

Last year I used barley as the starch… and the soup tasted *blah*. Kind of like boiled turkey in water with a bunch of barley thrown in. I began throwing all kinds of stuff into the base to jazz it up a bit and ended up with the best tasting soup I have ever made. Now… the Million Dollar Question is… can I repeat it??? Probably not… but I’m going to give it my best shot.

Any suggestions of what goes in YOUR leftover turkey soup??

 

Chef Ian – DP#21

Taco Night

 

 

Chef Ian

It was TACO NIGHT at the Hathaway Household this evening… and I put Ian in charge of cooking the meat.

In all my years of knowing Ian I have never seen him cook. Eat, yes… often… but never actually cook. So tonight was the night.

He did a wonderful job!! He kept on top of it and made sure it didn’t burn… or stick to the pan. He learned that metal spoons get hot… very, very hot… and perhaps a wooden spoon is a better choice.

The tacos tasted great! Clean up was a snap!

I think tomorrow I will ask him to help make Blueberry Muffins… YUM!

Look out world… Chef Ian is on the loose!

Corn Flower – DP#18

Corn

 

More summer vegetables!!! I stripped this corn, removed the silk and brought the husk back up over the corn. After soaking it in a tub of water for a bit, threw it on the grill. It was so sweet I didn’t even slather butter on it.

Ummmm… ummm… roasted corn on the grill. There is nothing better… well, except the perfectly cooked steak that was on the grill too!!!. Great cooking Master Chef Curt!

While husking the ears I stopped for a bit and admired the fresh corn with it’s husk half down. The sight gave the word ‘cornflower’ a whole new meaning.

Photo credit : Stephanie Hunter Kleier 🙂

Double Stuffed or Regular?

Years ago while working in a warehouse, a regular customer, a cute married couple from Holland were stopping in on a buying trip. When they arrived I made a mental note to remember they kiss three times… right, left, then right again. I always forgot and the guy made sure to hold my shoulders firmly and direct me to the last kiss on the cheek.

Since they stay all day, I would be in charge of taking their lunch order. I learned quickly that we American’s eat way too much! This couple made a habit of sharing one dish… always! When the question of, “What would you like to drink?” came up I was in for an challenging task.

“Milk.” was their simple request.

“What type?” I countered.

“Pardon me?” they asked with a furrowed brow.

“You know… 1%, Fat Free, 2%, Chocolate, Strawberry…”

“Ummm… milk. Regular milk.”

I smiled and headed out the door secure in the knowledge they requested Whole Milk. Got it… no problem. I could handle this.

Do you know how hard it is to find an individual sized container of regular whole milk at the local WaWa? They didn’t carry it. I could purchase a half gallon, but not individual containers. So… of course I grabbed the half gallon… and plastic cups. See… that’s why I got paid the big bucks… I can think on my feet and make executive decisions 🙂 From then on, whenever I knew they were coming on a buying trip, I made sure the refrigerator in the warehouse had containers of whole milk. That’s called customer service.

Anyway… One afternoon I was standing in the food store’s refrigerated section staring at the confusing selection of orange juice choices. No pulp, Some pulp, Grovestand, Homestyle, Extra Pulp, Calcium added, Vitamin C enhanced, Low Acid… and more. Really? Do we really need THAT many choices of orange juice? I simply want juice… from an orange. That’s it. In my home I have two kinds of OJ drinkers… With and Without. Once, just to stay within budget, I purchased ‘with’ and strained it. Poured the remaining juice into two separate containers and scraped all of the pulp into one. Ta-da! One ‘with’ and one ‘without’. Problem solved.

Back at the food store, contemplating my choices, a decent looking guy excused himself, pulled the door open in front of me and easily grabbed his preferred OJ. Noticing me in deep thought… he commented, “This should be a compatibility question on Match.com.” Too funny.

You know… he wasn’t too far off. Small details like that come up all the time when you are just starting to date someone. It can make or break a relationship. Little did I know a guy I was dating proclaimed that me liking Double Stuffed Oreos instead of the Original Oreos was a ‘deal breaker’. I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t.

So in honor of all of us who can’t get enough of the ‘white stuff’… here’s a recipe from one of my favorite blogs Cookiesandcups.com…

Oreo Cookie Filling Dip

Oreo Cookie Filling Dip

Click CookiesandCups

for the story and recipe.

Enjoy!

A New Valentine Tradition…

Valentine’s Day… BAH! It’s really not one of my favorite holidays. Even when I was married it wasn’t a huge hit. If Valentine’s Day could be wiped off the face of the calendar I would be ecstatic!

One year my heart pitter pattered by the surprise of a chocolate “speed cake” made from a box mix… giving me the glimmer of what Valentine’s Day is all about. A gift so simple and sweet given with pride… be still my heart. So THIS year I decided the best way to celebrate and bring happiness to my little world would be to make Valentine’s Day a special baking day… every year.

Not just any cake will do, Oh no. My Valentine’s Cake will have to be decadent and require more skills than it takes to whip up a box mix. Oh… and it MUST include CHOCOLATE. If I’m going to declare Valentine’s Day my special baking day… then the cake has got to be special too.

Flipping through the current Martha Stewart Living magazine I spied the perfect cake… Chocolate-Flecked Layer Cake with Milk Chocolate Icing. OMG!! It’s a sour cream based vanilla cake with flecks of bittersweet chocolate split into 4 layers then iced inside and out in a Milk Chocolate Icing made with FOUR sticks of BUTTER!!!! BINGO! It satisfied all of my requirements.

IMG_0493Shopping for the chocolate was the most fun. Not only did I learn about the different percentages of cocoa in the bittersweet chocolate… but searching out a good quality milk chocolate was an experience in itself. Chopping and melting the different chocolates took a skill I usually avoid. In past efforts I have grated chocolate, but that produced too fine an end product which would melt and make the vanilla cake a chocolate one. No… the idea here was to have FLECKS of chocolate. I grabbed my big ol’ chef knife and finely chopped the chocolate as if it were parsley. Perfect!

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Next came preparing the pans. Using the cake pans as a pattern I cut 2 circles of parchment. Each pan needed to be buttered, the parchment placed in the bottom, then butter the parchment and flour the pans. Phew! I feel like a real baker!!

 

I assembled the rest of the ingredients and pre-heated the oven… I am off and running. Measuring, creaming, cracking and separating eggs, alternating ingredients, and finally folding in the chocolate. Yum… don’t forget to taste the batter. Pour the batter into the pans, level them off and bake. It looks like melted Cookies and Cream Ice Cream… but tastes so much better. The bittersweet chocolate playing tag with your tongue. Yes… I am a  proud beater/batter licker… always have been and always will be. IMG_0500

After cleaning up the mess I made in round one… it’s time to continue on to the icing. FOUR STICKS OF BUTTER!!! I know I mentioned this earlier… but I just can’t get over it so I had to mention it again. Four sticks of butter and a POUND of MILK CHOCOLATE… and if this isn’t enough to make your arteries clog just thinking about it, then you add a cup of sour cream. At this point I saw no need to use LIGHT sour cream… kind of like drinking a diet coke while eating french fries. This cake is so decadent that only a small slice will suffice, so I guess I shouldn’t worry too much about how unhealthy this cake is. After all… It’s Valentine’s Day and I deserve it.

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The pressure was on as family and friends stood around the kitchen waiting for me to split the layers and ice the cake so they could eat it. The cake wasn’t fully cool so the final presentation wasn’t as pretty as the one in the magazine… however no one complained. Everyone was too busy licking every crumb and speck of chocolate from their plate, forks, and lips to be concerned with how it looked.

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If you live nearby, stop on by for a ‘cuppa’ and cake. All of my special Valentine’s cakes are meant to be shared with friends and family on a FIRST COME-FIRST SERVED basis.

Next year??? By special request I’m repeating a favorite… Rick Baylis’ Heaven and Hell cake. The bottom layer is DEVIL’S FOOD cake, the top layer is ANGEL FOOD cake, with a PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE filling, covered in CHOCOLATE GANACHE. Mark your calendar!

You can find the recipe for the Chocolate-Flecked Layer Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting HERE.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!! XOXO

Deb

 

Retro Recipe…

It’s rainy, windy, cold, and on the verge of snow here in the Northeast. The perfect day for comfort food!! While the electricity is still on and the ovens working I decided to bake something. But what? Cookies, cake, bread, brownies?

Original recipe quickly scratched on scrap paper

Original recipe quickly scratched on scrap paper

Last week I was cleaning out some old paper work and stumbled across a few of my old recipes. My mouth began to water at the thought of my most favorite Pound Cake Recipe. This cake is so delicious my mother requested one for her birthday, not as dessert, but as a present… AND she refused to share a slice… not even a CRUMB would she allow. I’m serious! I was flabbergasted! An entire 10” tube cake, and she wouldn’t share!!!

This cake is made from all high fat, full cholesterol, sugary goodness. You won’t find any substitutions like yogurt instead of the sour cream, or applesauce instead of the butter. Nope. This 40 year old recipe was written when men were men, and cake was cake. It’s the perfect sweet for those times you let your hair down and indulge in decadence… just this once. You can eat low cal and heart healthy the rest of the time.

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It isn’t as heavy as a regular pound cake… and not too sweet, it’s just right with a hint of almond and egg. Tasty all by itself, or enhanced with ice cream (or homemade yogurt) and berries. So comforting!!
Another reason to bake this cake was to use my favorite tube pan. I purchased it at an estate sale 35 years ago for a dollar. It’s not so much the pan that is dear to my heart, but the stories the gentleman shared with me about his dearly departed wife and the many cakes she made with it. It was battered, rusted, well used… and now I get to add to the legacy of that pan.

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Without further adieu.. I bring you my tried and true and not good for you… but totally awesome:

Sour Cream Pound Cake

Ingredients:

2 sticks of butter, softened

3 cups sugar

½ tsp almond extract

5 eggs

1 cup sour cream

3 cups flour

¼ tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 10” tube pan.

In mixer cream butter and sugar until pale. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add extract and sour cream, combine. Beat in flour one cup at a time adding baking soda with last cup. DO NOT OVER MIX.

Scrape into prepared pan. Bake approximately 1½ hours. Test for doneness with toothpick. Cool in pan 10 to 15 minutes then turn out onto rack to continue cooling.

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RECIPES! Yogurt AND 5-Minute Bread…

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a good day! My day started out really well! I made yogurt in my crock-pot last night and when I woke up and checked it out… It was PERFECT! Here’s how I did it:

Fruit on the bottom Homemade Crock-Pot Yogurt

Fruit on the bottom Homemade Crock-Pot Yogurt

PERFECT CROCK POT YOGURT…

First off… let me mention you should own a food thermometer. If you don’t… go buy one. I got mine at Wal-Mart, but they can be found everywhere. It takes all the guesswork out of making the yogurt

The only ingredients you need are 1 gallon of milk (whole milk preferred and makes a thicker finished product, but 2% works well too I have read), and ½ cup of store bought plain yogurt… make sure the label reads LIVE ACTIVE CULTURES.

*Some recipes call for only ½ gallon of milk. I didn’t read these until later so I used a whole gallon. Use whichever you prefer.

Step 1… Pour milk into crock-pot and turn on low. Cook for 3 hours. Check temperature… it should read around 180 degrees.

Step 2… Let sit for about 3 hours and cool to 120 degrees. I had to prop the lid open for cooling.

Step 3… If a skin formed on top… scoop out and toss. Take a cup or two of the warm milk out of the crock-pot and mix with the ½ cup yogurt. Use a whisk and stir until smooth. Stir all into crock-pot.

Step 4… Wrap entire crock-pot in a blanket or 2 beach towels to keep temperature constant and let sit for 8 hours or more. * I actually placed the entire crock-pot in my gas oven and left the light on overnight.

That’s it!!! In the morning you should have PERFECT yogurt!!! Ladle into clean jars and chill in refrigerator. Yogurt will firm up a bit. If you like a firmer texture, you can strain the yogurt using a colander lined with dampened cheesecloth. Place over a bowl to collect the Whey. You can drink the whey… or use it in the bread recipe I will also post.

*Save ½ cup of this yogurt to use in your next batch. Yogurt stays fresh for a week to 10 days.

Next up is to play around with flavorings.

Now for the easiest bread recipe you will ever see…

Yummy!

Yummy!

5-MINUTE BREAD…

 

Place 1 ½ cups lukewarm water (use up the whey from above recipe if you have any) in a bowl you can store in the refrigerator. Add 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt. Sprinkle 1 packet Granulated Yeast on top.

Stir in 3 ½ cups unsifted, unbleached, all purpose flour with a wooden spoon. Stir until a soft dough forms. *You can also use a stand mixer with dough hook.

Cover (NOT air tight) and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours. If you have to run an errand (or forget) it can sit for 5 hours and it won’t matter.

You can use the dough at this point, however it is easier to work with if chilled… so for the first time refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours before shaping.

 

To bake: Sprinkle a pizza peel (in my case I flipped a jelly roll pan over and used the bottom) with corn meal. Sprinkle the dough with some flour and pull out about half of the dough. With both hands stretch it in the air just a little. Now… fold the sides under, now the top and bottom to make a ball. All of the ends will be squished on the underside, the top should be smooth. Place on prepared peel (jelly roll pan). This should take no more than 30 seconds.

Let sit uncovered at room temperature for 40 minutes.

20 minutes before dough is ready to bake… Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Place a pizza stone on middle rack; place an empty roasting pan on lowest rack.

When dough has rested 40 minutes sprinkle with flour and make 3 to 5 slashes on top about ¼ inch deep.

Here is when the magic happens! Slide the dough onto the pizza stone; pour 1 cup tap water into roasting pan and close the oven door FAST!

Bake 30 minutes. Cool on rack for as long as you can before slicing it up and eating! I only lasted 5 minutes!

 

Enjoy!

Let me know how you made out.