Arroz con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding)

Ever since I got back from Portugal I’ve been in an international state of mind. It’s still pretty cold in Philly and I wanted something hot and sweet. I decided to toy with the idea of making a rice pudding and found a Mexican recipe for arroz con leche. Luckily, I had most of the ingredients in my fridge and although it was a lengthy cooking time, it was very easy to make. Also its funny how many cultures eat similar variations of rice pudding – North Indians make a twist on this called Kheer with cardamom. (Had to toss that tip out there since Jess is obsessed with cardamom these days, did you try her cookies?)

  • 1 tsp almond extract (my 1st batch I definitely put too much-yikes!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white, long grain rice
  • so the recipe said 7 cups of water I did like 3 cups I don’t get why you need 7 but just letting you guys know.
  • 1 handful of raisins (optional)
  • 1 handful of slivered almonds (optional)
  • 1 14 oz can of sweet condensed milk
  • 1 12 oz can of evaporated milk
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Put the water, rice, and cinnamon in a medium-size heavy saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered, and cook until the rice is tender, about 18 minutes. Strain out the excess liquid and reserve the rice. Return the rice to the saucepan. Stir in the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and whole milk (Along with the extracts I added to the original recipe, this is also where you could add the cardamom seeds-remove from pods) . Continue cooking over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick, about 20 minutes. Add the raisins & almonds and stir well. Transfer the pudding to a serving bowl. Dust the top of the pudding with ground cinnamon to look pretty and serve!

FYI: this recipe is GLUTEN-free, Vegetarian, and serves 4-5 people.

Happy Eating, XO.

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Italian Love Cake: Happy Valentine’s Day

Not sure on the history of why this is called love cake, but I will tell you its two major components are items I love dearly: chocolate & cheese!! (It’s ricotta, chill) Anyway, it’s not super laborious, but it’s also not your traditional cake. Set aside a good amount of time to make this and it’s actually best if you make the night before serving. Also! there’s an element of magic involved. That’s right kids, magic.

  • 1 boxed chocolate cake mix AND the ingredients listed on the box (I know I’m a disappointment to Martha but whatever, I love me a solid shortcut)
  • 2 lbs. (32 ounces) ricotta cheese (seemed like an insane amount when I was buying it but is actually the right quantity)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar (my coworkers seemed to think 1 cup would’ve been better as that layer wasn’t quite as sweet, so use your judgment)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (5.1 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup cold milk (yes that seems like too little, but just trust the recipe please, also I may swap this for Kahlua next time and see if that improves/ruins this “frosting”)
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9×13 inch pan and set aside. In a large bowl, prepare your cake mix batter according to the directions on the box. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a super strong whisking arm like mine), beat together the ricotta cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking pan and use an off-set spatula to spread evenly in the pan. Next, carefully pour the ricotta mixture evenly over the top of the cake batter. Gently spread the ricotta mixture so it evenly covers the cake batter. (The layers will switch while baking so the ricotta moves to the bottom and cake to the top – like magic or the scientific reason that ricotta weighs more than cake batter, whatever I am sticking with MAGIC.)

Bake for 60 minutes or until cake is set. Let cake cool completely before “frosting.”

Once the cake is cool, whisk together the pudding mix and milk until combined. Gently fold the Cool Whip into the pudding until combined. Spread the pudding mixture over the top of the cooled cake. Cover the cake and refrigerate at least 6 hours, or overnight, before serving. You know what -this cake SHOULD be called Love Cake because if I have to wait overnight to dive into this puppy I must really love you/it.

Not a very “pretty” picture but this is all I could sneak in as my coworkers devoured the cake.

IMG_6405

We are sending you all loads of Italian love this valentine’s day: tanti baci!

Happy Eating, XO.

Cupcakes to Die For

Finally one of the best times of the year is here – Halloween! Who’s excited for it?! (Raises both hands high.) Every year we decorate the house with skeletons, lights, fog machines. That’s all good, but what about the food? When you think of Halloween you probably don’t think of food first (candy doesn’t count), but it’s one of the only times of the year you can get super creepy and creative with it. Take advantage!

I originally found this creepy cupcake post years ago from Martha Stewart. Looks like Martha’s dark side came out to play!

Below is our “easy” version of the cupcakes, but if you’re feeling daring, her full post is here.

Cupcakes

  • 1 box of devils food cake

Caramel Glass

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water

Frosting (Usually I’d say just use the canned stuff, but this is too good to pass up.)

  • 1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cherry preserves, strained, for garnish

Line the cupcake tin and bake according to box instructions. While they’re baking you can begin on the glass, you’ll need to let it to sit for a while. Pour the sugar and water in to a small sauce pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. When the mixture starts turning brown, remove from heat and pour on to a small cookie sheet. Let cool completely. For the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract until fully blended.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, apply the frosting. Break up the glass, and place a shard or two in the middle. Drizzle the preserves where the glass meets the frosting. Prepare evil laugh.

Broken Glass Cupcake

 

Happy Eating, XO.

Peaches and Cream

One of my favorite memories growing up is the dessert my sister and I used to get just before bed. Most of the time I would choose vanilla ice cream…and not much has changed since then. I may not eat dessert right before bed anymore, but I still looove vanilla ice cream. I wanted to put a fresh twist on my fav dessert by adding some hot cooked peaches. It makes this cool dish, cozy. Who knew a summer dish could actually be cozy?!

  • 3-4 fresh peaches, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp of water
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • A dash of salt
  • 1 sprig of mint leaves
  • 1 pint of vanilla bean ice cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cover a cookie sheet in foil with enough slack on the sides to form a packet. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, cinnamon, vanilla extract, water, sugar, and salt. Slowly add in the sliced peaches and mix until fully coated. Lay the peaches flat on the cookie sheet and close the foil over top. Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly soft and they have a glaze on them.

Place two scoops of ice cream in a small bowl for serving, and top with the hot peaches, garnishing with a mint leaf.

Peaches and cream.JPG

 

Happy Eating, XO

 

Muffin Mania Part II

My ex bf used to call me the “muffin man”, I know, how sexy! LOL but seriously, I just love making muffins. I think they are so easy and filling. They can be used as breakfast, a snack, or dessert (dollop anything with whipped cream child and its a dessert!) Anyway, to impress him early on when we were dating I made my scrumptious pumpkin muffins, and you know I just tossed my leftover veggies in some muffins just last week. So clearly, there is no stopping me on my muffin mania rampage. I realized I needed to do something more traditional and since its still summer and the berries are in abundance, I wanted to do a mixed berry muffin. Watch out Dunkin Donuts low fat blueberry, you may now be my 2nd favorite. Hope you love these as much as I did!

  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (honey works as well)
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature (original recipe calls for buttermilk, but I don’t have that stuff on hand so I just used the 1% I had in my fridge for cereal).
  • ½ cup canola oil (don’t skip the oil, this will make the muffins moist, you could use melted butter, but this muffin is better w the oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (340g) mixed berries**
  • coarse sugar for sprinkling on top if you wanna really be like Dunkin Donuts.

In a large bowl, gently toss together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix until all dry ingredients are combined – a 20 second toss to disburse everything together. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined. Whisk in milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Mixture will be pale and yellow. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix everything together by hand. Avoid over-mixing which will make for tough, dense muffins. Gently mix until all the flour is off the bottom of the bowl and no big pockets of flour remain. The batter will be extremely thick and somewhat lumpy. Very gently to avoid them from leaking their color, fold in 1 and 3/4 cups mixed berries. ** For a little culinary twist I like to add some citrus zest or peel to the muffins. Lemon tends to be a good tart compliment to blueberries and orange works well with the raspberries and strawberries. You pick which one or both you want and throw in a tsp. if you feel so bold.** Then, spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling all the way to the top. Using 1/4 cup of the berries you have leftover, press a few into the tops of each muffin. Sprinkle with coarse sugar if you fancy. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes and let cool before serving.

Happy Eating, XO.