Blueberry Lemon Hand Pies

July 31, 2016 § 10 Comments

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We’ve had a great spring and summer so far here in Vermont. Not too much rain but that doesn’t seem to bother the blueberries. I’ve been picking my weighted down bushes non stop for a few weeks now. Besides freezing them I’ve made lots of muffins and scones, but wanted to do something a little different with my latest score.

Food and Wine recently had this hand pie recipe and they looked so delicious I had to try them. The recipe is quite easy though I added a few tips as you’re assembling them. I also substituted half white spelt flour and half Einkorn flour for the all purpose. And I had to add some lemon zest because blueberries and lemon zest are a match made in heaven. Try a bowl of berries with sweetened whipped cream sprinkled with lemon zest for dessert one night. Sublime!

So if you find yourself with some blueberries on a rainy Sunday and get the urge to bake, try these.

Blueberry Hand Pies

Dough

2 cups all purpose flour or 1/2 white spelt, 1/2 Einkorn flour

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed

1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup ice water

Filling

2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup sugar ( I used a little less)

2 TBL flour

2 TBL fresh lemon juice

grated lemon zest

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 large egg beaten with 1 tsp water

Turbinado suger for sprinkling or vanilla sugar

Make the dough:

Whisk flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea sizes pieces of butter remaining.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in the egg yolk and water until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth. Cut the dough in half and shape into 2 disks and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate about an hour until chilled.

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Make filling:

In medium bowl, toss the blueberries with sugar, flour, lemon juice, zest, salt and cinnamon.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disk of dough to a 16 x 9 in rectangle. Approximately. I didn’t get it quite that size. Dough should be about 1/8” thick. Use a 4 in. floured cookie cutter, plate or even a glass to cut out 8 rounds from the dough. I didn’t get 8, only 7 so don’t worry about that either.

Spoon 2 TBL of the filling into the center of each round and fold the dough over.

Tip: After you fold the dough over, push the berries down a bit so they’re evenly spread out. Using the tines of a fork, seal the edges.

Tip: Each one takes a few minutes so while you fill them, put the other cut outs back in the fridge to keep cold. You want to keep the butter cold.

Transfer as you make them to a parchment lined baking sheet, about 1 in apart and put in fridge. Chill about 30 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush the hand pies with the beaten egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake about 15 to 18 minutes until nice and golden. Some of the juice will spill out.

Let cool a little, then dig in!

You can freeze these unbaked and pop in oven 25 minutes before serving.

Makes 14 to 16.

Farmhouse Apple Pie Cake

May 4, 2016 § 2 Comments

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Although I’ve tried, I just can’t garden when it’s been raining for 5 days. Even with rain gear on I turn into a cold, muddy mess. You gardeners out there know how hard it is to stay out of the garden once spring has arrived!

So it’s to the kitchen I go. There’s a big bag of apples in my fridge that need to be used so I decided on this great recipe that a friend had sent me. It’s become one of my favorites now. As usual I substituted some of the ingredients for healthier ones and cut down the sugar by half. That’s something I do automatically now, things are way too sweet these days don’t you think?

The original recipe calls for vegetable oil and I never use that now. Instead I used healthy coconut oil and butter and added some lemon zest too.

Farmhouse Apple Pie Cake

6 to 8 Granny Smith apples ( I used half Empire)

1 TBL sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon for topping

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar or 1/4 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup coconut oil, melted

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 tsp vanilla extract

zest from a large organic lemon

1 1/2 cup flour (I used Einkorn. White spelt or regular all purpose flour is fine too)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 or 10 in. springform pan.

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Layer apples neatly in pan until almost to the top. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture and lemon zest.

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Mix batter by beating eggs and sugar until thick and fluffy. Add the melted oil, butter and vanilla. Mix well then add flour and beat all together.

Pour over the apples, then tap the pan on the counter so the batter gets to the bottom.

Bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes, checking as you get to the end of the baking time by testing with skewer, it should be dry.

Cool completely in the pan. This is important as the cake will fall apart if you try to remove it while it’s warm.

Serve with really good vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream. And it’s even better the next day after everything settles and melds together.

Happy spring!

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Here’s the original recipe:

Bees, Flowers, Berries and Cream.

August 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

 

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I was sitting outside on my patio and watching the bees furiously going from flower to flower. I noticed a pattern, they would alight on a flower and then leave immediately. Off to another flower, and then the same thing. The flowers didn’t seem to interest them. There was nothing there for them.

The flowers they spent a lot of time on were the old fashioned ones. Foxgloves, hollyhocks, old fashioned roses.

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As beautiful as the others were, the ones I bought at the nursery because they had the most beautiful cascade of blooms, the bees wanted nothing to do with them. Same with the hummingbirds. The blooms were beautiful but sterile. It disturbed me and I thought about that for awhile.

It’s the same with our food….beautiful specimens of peaches but with no taste. Red ripe tomatoes that taste like cardboard. And that means there’s nothing there for our nourishment…..like the canary in the coal mine, the bees are telling us to beware.

Luckily more and more people are realizing that eating healthy is really pretty simple. I just read that McDonald’s is closing a lot of it’s “restaurants”, a good sign for the organic and healthy food movement.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts for the day. Now on to dessert.

My currants, blueberries and raspberries are all ripening at the same time, at least enough to get a big bowlful for dessert tonight. You can make this with pretty much any fruit that’s really summer ripe, try the farm stands and farmers markets.

Take a handful of berries, I like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and add them to a sauté pan with a little butter and honey. Mash some of them, either with a fork or potato masher. Warm them just a little, you’re not cooking them, just melding the flavors together. Scoop onto individual plates and pour some really good cream over them. I grated a little lemon zest over them too. It’s delicious, gluten and sugar free and couldn’t be easier. And healthier!

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Edible Christmas Gifts

December 16, 2014 § 2 Comments

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Here it is Christmas time already, and if you’re thinking of giving edible gifts now would be a good time to start. Here are a few delicious and simple suggestions that will hold up until Christmas. Find yourself some pretty jars, boxes or tins, some ribbon and something to write your recipe’s name and ingredients on, put on some music, maybe have a glass of wine and start cooking!

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One of the things I like to make (and eat) are Biscotti. They keep really well and you can make a lot of variations. Homemade Granola, made with healthy coconut oil, is another favorite that you can improvise with endlessly. These Pistachio Date Bites don’t even require baking. For chocolate lovers, I make my flourless and gluten free Chocolate Torte and just bake it in a square or oblong pan, cut into squares then dust with confectioner’s sugar.

If you thought ahead and even if you didn’t,  Fruit Infused Vodka makes quite an impressive gift. If you’re starting it now, just jot down a reminder to let it sit for awhile on the gift tag.

I like to decorate my containers with greenery too, just cut a few sprigs off a pine tree, maybe some berries if you can find them, wrap it all up in ribbon and there you go!

Cranberry Nut Biscotti

1/2 cup dried cranberries

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

4 TBL soft unsalted butter

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla

zest from 1 orange

1/2 cup nuts of your choice, pecans, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or pistachios

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt.

Beat butter and sugar about 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy and creamy.

Add eggs, vanilla and zest. Mix well.

Add flour mixture, then stir in cranberries and nuts.

 

Form into a ball then divide in half. Shape into 2 logs, 16″ x 2″ then move to the cookie sheet. Space about 3″ apart. Flatten slightly.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer to rack to cool for 30 minutes. Turn down oven to 300 degrees.

On a cutting board, carefully cut the logs crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick pieces.

Place on a rack on a cookie sheet (so heat can get to the underside) cut side down.

Bake another 25 to 30 minutes until lightly brown.

Remove and let cool completely.

 

Granola

4 cups rolled oats (gluten free preferably)

2 cups shredded coconut

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

3/4 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 cup chopped apricots

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup pepitas

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup unsalted cashews

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix oats, coconut, almonds, pecans or walnuts. Whisk the melted coconut oil with the maple syrup, then pour over the oat mixture. Mix until everything is well coated.

Put this mixture onto a large baking sheet, about 13 x 18 in. You don’t want to crowd things.

Bake about 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until nice and brown. Keep an eye on it towards the end, it can over-brown quickly. I hate over-browned granola!

Remove from oven, let cool, then stir in apricots, sunflower seeds, pepitas, cranberries and cashews.

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Pistachio Date Bites

2 cups pitted Medjool dates

1 cup unsalted pistachios

3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

cocoa powder and extra coconut for rolling

 

In your food processor, finely grind pistachios.

Remove 1/4 cup and set aside.

Add the dates and shredded coconut and blend until it sticks together.

Remove into a bowl, and with your hands form into 1 inch balls.

Roll in the reserved pistachios or cocoa powder.

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Best of stored in fridge and then take out a half hour before eating (or giving).

 

Some other ideas for you: ultra-rich walnut brownies, jars of homemade applesaucepoundcake and of course cookies of all kinds make delicious and thoughtful gifts. Happy baking!

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Biscotti recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

Maple Pumpkin Custard

November 23, 2014 § 4 Comments

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My favorite holiday is almost here. Thanksgiving, the holiday which is all about food! Cranberries and turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and squash, and of course, pumpkin.

I see a lot of pumpkin recipes out there now, and from signature cocktails to bread, there’s pumpkin in everything. For me, pumpkin pie is what Thanksgiving dessert is all about……except for this.

It’s a light dessert perfect to finish off your Turkey Day feasting. There’s no crust like in the traditional pie, just a light and creamy custard sweetened with maple syrup and infused with cinnamon, cardamon, ginger and vanilla bean.

It’s so light you could eat this for breakfast the next day, if you have any left!

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Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup whole milk

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp each allspice, cardamon, ginger

4 large egg yolks

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract (try to use the bean, the flavor is sublime)

heavy cream for topping, with extra maple syrup for sweetening

walnuts or pecans for topping

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, bring cream and milk to a simmer.

Remove from the heat, stir in the pumpkin and spices. Set aside.

Beat egg yolks in large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy, about a minute or two.

Add the maple syrup and combine well. Keep beating another minute or two until it doubles in volume.

Split the vanilla bean down the middle with a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds right into the bowl. Whisk until blended.

Very slowly add a little of the warm cream mixture into the egg mixture and whisking constantly, keep adding until it’s all blended.

Now I recommend pouring this into a Pyrex measuring cup with a spout for easier pouring.

Pour into 6 oven proof ramekins. You might need more depending on the size. If you don’t have ramekins, use coffee cups. Pretty much anything will work as long as it’s ovenproof.

Set them into a large baking dish and pour some hot water into it. You want the water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake about 40 minutes, until almost set, but this will depend on the size. It should jiggle a bit in the center and will firm up as it cools.

You can eat right away or put in fridge to chill. Before serving, whip up some heavy cream with a little more maple syrup, top the custards with this and some finely chopped walnuts or pecans.

 

 

Oh, and don’t throw away that vanilla pod! Add it to a small jar of sugar, let it infuse in your pantry, then use it on all sorts of things: sprinkled on cake or muffins right before they go into the oven, over pancakes and french toast, in your morning oatmeal, for sweetening whipped cream, in your coffee or tea…..

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Pear Cobbler

October 12, 2014 § 4 Comments

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As much as I hate to see summer go, part of me is glad. It’s the part that weeds and waters the gardens, deadheads the flowers, cans the fruit and picks the endless supply of blueberries.

I don’t want that to sound like a complaint, but those who have large gardens understand I’m sure. And there is also the part that likes the changes of the seasons, the soups and stews, and the smell of the wood stove.

 

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Today started off a beautiful warm, sunny day. Then the clouds rolled in, and it got a bit chilly! I grabbed a sweater and decided a cobbler would be perfect for the afternoon’s coffee break. I had some pears that I meant to use in a salad and were calling to me, “use us now or else!”

The recipe uses fresh mint, which I love to use in baking. It’s from a recipe I’ve had for many, many years, from Lee Bailey’s cookbook Country Weekends. I usually change things a bit when following a recipe, always cutting down the amount of sugar, or using maple syrup instead, adding a spice or two, and substituting spelt or Einkorn flour for the all purpose flour most recipes use.

You can also make this with apples and add a handful of raisins and some cinnamon. So now that cobbler weather is here, bake yourself one, and serve with sweetened whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or just grab a spoon and have it for breakfast.

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Fruit Part:

6 large pears, I used Bartlett

juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

2 TBL maple syrup

1/4 tsp powdered ginger

grating of fresh nutmeg

1 tsp chopped fresh mint

Batter:

1 cup all purpose flour, I use organic white spelt

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 egg yolks

1/4 cup milk or almond milk

2 TBL unsalted butter, melted

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a 9″ovenproof pie dish.

Peel and core the pears, then cut into medium size chunks.

Pour lemon juice over the pears, then add the zest. Mix.

Combine spices, maple syrup and mint, add to the pears and put in pie dish.

 

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Make batter by mixing flour, baking powder and salt.

In separate bowl beat egg yolks with milk and maple syrup, then add to flour mixture.

Mix in the butter then drop onto the fruit. Bake about 30 to 35 minutes, making sure the middle is done by lifting a piece of pear and checking.

 

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Honey Florentines …

February 19, 2014 § 12 Comments

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…drizzled with chocolate. Perfect afternoon snack with a cup of coffee or tea. Crispy and light. A cinch to make and they bake in about 12 minutes. If you keep some sliced almonds on hand you can make these at a moment’s notice, say you have unexpected company or need a quick dessert for whatever reason.

And they’re healthy as well. Just 3 ingredients in the florentines, the almonds, 1 egg white and a little bit of honey. You can add some orange zest as David Lebovitz suggests on his blog. The only thing I changed in this wonderful cookie recipe was substituting honey for the confectioners sugar. If you’d like to make it that way, you can find it here.

The recipe for the chocolate drizzle makes quite a bit, so just use as much as you like and any left over pop into the freezer for the next batch.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup sliced almonds

1 large egg white

2 1/2 to 3 TBL mild honey

pinch salt

zest of 1/2 orange, optional

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease. If you don’t have parchment, it’s fine, I did it once without any problem.

Heat the honey over very low heat until it becomes liquid-y. Whisk with the egg white, then add the almonds and orange zest, if using, and mix well.

Have a small bowl of cold water nearby, dip your hand into it before picking up the almond mixture.

Place heaping tablespoons of the almond mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet, spacing about an inch apart.

Now dip the fork into the water and gently flatten the cookies, making sure the almonds are not separated from each other. They tend to want to do this!

Bake about 10 to 15 minutes, checking after 10. They should be a nice golden brown and on the bottom as well.

Let cool a few minutes then move to a wire rack with a spatula to cool completely.

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These are great as is, but even better with this drizzled over them:

Chocolate Sauce:

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

4 TBL honey or maple syrup or sugar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Use a spoon and drizzle over the cooled florentines.

 

Try them crumbled over vanilla ice cream!

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Walnut Date Bars

January 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

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I woke up today to a gray sky and saw the white branches. Oh-oh…snow. Luckily not too much.

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I know many say why live in Vermont if you don’t like snow? Well I used to like snow, but this year for some reason I want to fast forward to spring. And I know I shouldn’t wish the time away, it was my New Year’s resolution after all. Maybe I just need some extra Vitamin D, or a SAD lamp, or a vacation in the islands. Yes, I think that would do it. Anyone?

Short of that, I decided to bake. Something quick and healthy to eat while looking out at the tundra. So I made these date bars. They’re cooling right now so I’ll put the coffee on while I write this.

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Ingredients:

2 cups chopped and pitted dates, I used Medjool

1/4 cup water

2 TBL maple syrup

1/3 cup sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 cup flour, I use white spelt

1 cup oats

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8″ baking dish.

Combine dates, water and maple syrup in saucepan. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Beat butter and sugar with a mixer about 2 to 3 minutes until well combined.

Add flour, oats, baking soda and salt to the butter mixture and stir well to combine. It will be crumbly.

Take 2 cups of the oat mixture and press into the baking dish.

Top with the date mixturecs and spread evenly over all. It will seem thin but its very sweet.

Add the chopped walnuts to the remaining oat mixture, then sprinkle this over the dates.

Bake about 20 to 30 minutes until brown.

Let cool a bit before cutting in if you can help it. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted slightly from Cooking Light.

Baked Lady Apples with Honey, Butter and Walnuts

December 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

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These cute little apples were brought to our Thanksgiving dinner by my sister Sheila, and everyone was asking, what do you do with them? I’ve seen them in the markets and always wondered that myself. They’re a bit too small for regular eating, unless, like Sheila says, you just take a few dainty, lady-like bites!

We didn’t end up using them that day, and I’ve been looking at them sitting on my counter since then. Finally today they went into the oven. No recipe really, no measurements for these, they’re so easy, and I know you have all the ingredients already. Put them into the oven as you’re serving dinner and they’ll be ready when you’re done. Delicious with a roast pork! If you have any left over, have them for breakfast with a little yogurt.

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Take the apples, hollow them out, being careful not to poke through. If you use a melon scooper it works pretty well. Fill with some unsalted butter, a bit of honey, a few chopped walnuts. Bake in a preheated oven, 350 degrees, covered with foil, for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until soft. Remove foil for the last 10 minutes or so.

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You can change the ingredients of course, use maple syrup instead of honey, or even brown sugar. You can fill them with some jam, like apricot or red currant.   Add cinnamon, or nutmeg, or change the nuts. You can top with ice cream, whipped cream or make them extra special with a custard sauce.

You’ll want about 2 or 3 per person.

Creamy Rice Pudding with Cranberry Orange Puree

November 25, 2013 § 6 Comments

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Rice pudding is the ultimate comfort food, don’t you think? Creamy and rich, with a hint of cinnamon and honey, it’s perfect for a night like tonight. Although It’s not officially winter yet, the wind is howling, the temp is in the single digits and we even lost power…ugh.

And with Thanksgiving on my mind for awhile now, naturally cranberries have been popping up also. So add all those things up and you have dessert!

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This cranberry puree is also a perfect accompaniment to your Thanksgiving table. Serve it on the side with the turkey. It’s delicious on those leftover turkey sandwiches too. Spoon it on pie, just a dollop on the pumpkin or pecan, or on top of ice cream.

Make some Honey Roasted Pears and serve on the side. Spread a little on top of a plain poundcake. Makes a great appetizer with some melted Cheddar on a baguette. Or make a batch for holiday gifts.

Here’s the recipe:

Rice Pudding:

  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  •  cinnamon
  • honey for top
  •  Bring rice, honey, salt and milk to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 25 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is tender and pudding is creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla.
  •  When ready to serve, stir in heavy cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Serve warm.
 Cranberry Puree:
1  12 oz pkg fresh cranberries, about 3 1/2 cups
1 cup organic sugar
juice and zest from 1 large orange
Put all in saucepan, bring to boil, then simmer about 5 to 6 minutes, until berries burst.
Put through food mill to remove skins, or puree in blender. It won’t be as smooth but still ok if you don’t have one.
Makes about 2 cups.
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Put the pudding into individual bowls, drizzle with honey and a spoonful or two of the cranberry puree.

Rice Pudding recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

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