Monday, November 4, 2013

PUMPKIN ALL OF THE THINGS!

I am a lover of pumpkin year-round, and since it's seasonally appropriate, here is a link to all of my sweet and savory pumpkin recipes. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Crockpot Brown Rice Pudding

It's fall, so that means everyone is craving warm, comforting food, and everything is getting pumpkinified. Well, you should know by now that I don't wait until fall to break out the pumpkin--it's part of my everyday cooking repertoire. So I just happened to make Pumpkin Brown Rice Pudding today. Not because it's fall, because I wanted it, really, I promise! But I'll get to that in a minute.

Let me start at the beginning. I have a great recipe for Slow Cooker Brown Rice Pudding that I have been making for months, just changing up the ad-ins, and it's high time I posted it. As you may know, I have a strong moral code about using the slow cooker. I'll only use it if the dish will actually benefit from it. There are plenty of recipes that have no business being in the Crockpot, and are in fact a compromise if made that way. Rice pudding is one of those things that is actually best when made in a slow cooker. I'm talking about the creamy, stovetop version of rice pudding, not the oven-baked custardy, often dry and crunchy kind (that is a different animal altogether, which I don't happen to like.) The traditional way of making the creamy kind is on the stovetop and involves a lot of babysitting and the inevitable boil-over and burning on the bottom. Some recipes even call for cooking the rice first, then making it into pudding. Mine is so much simpler: throw some uncooked brown rice and a few other ingredients in the Crockpot and let it go for a few hours, and you will have perfectly creamy, evenly cooked rice pudding with no burning or sticking.

Not only is this a perfectly satisfying healthy dessert, but it makes a good snack or even breakfast (think oatmeal substitute). I like it hot or cold, and as you'll see, it's a very flexible recipe. I've listed three of my favorite version below: my classic recipe, an Indian kheer, and the pumpkin rice pudding that I just made on this fall day.


Crockpot Brown Rice Pudding (Basic Recipe)
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 cup sweetener of choice (I use Splenda)
1 quart milk of choice (I love coconut milk. Almond milk is also great)
1 cup water
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 t vanilla

Optional after cooking add-ins:
dried fruit
nuts

Dump all ingredients except vanilla into slow cooker. Stir, then cook on high 3-3.5 hours, until rice is tender. Stir in vanilla. Pudding may be runny at first, but trust me, it will thicken as it cools. You may need to add more water or milk after refrigerating, depending on your texture preferences.


The next is my favorite version: a Kheer, the traditional Indian rice pudding full of lots of my favorite spice, cardamom (also the world's second most expensive spice; what can I say, I have expensive taste!).


Brown Rice Kheer
Make as above, using coconut milk as your milk. Substitute 1/2 t cardamom instead of nutmeg. Once cooked, stir in a handful of golden raisins and chopped pistachios, and a drizzle of honey.


And finally, the pumpkinified version...

Pumpkin Brown Rice Pudding
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sweetener of choice (I use Splenda)
1 quart vanilla almond milk
pinch of salt
1 t pumpkin pie spice (or 3/4 t cinnamon and 1/2 t nutmeg)
1 t vanilla

Optional after cooking add-ins
dried cranberries
toasted pumpkin seeds
whipped cream

Follow instructions above.