Horchata Treats for Cinco De Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! This year I decided to make Horchata in honor of the day and then use some of that fresh Horchata to make Horchata Cupcakes topped with Cream Cheese Frosting and sprinkled with cinnamon.

After a few Google searches I decided to make my Horchata as close to “authentic” as possible. I found a recipe that used evaporated milk, one that used rice milk and another that suggested purchasing powdered Horchata mix and mixing it with milk. For authenticity I opted to go the traditional route of blending water with rice until the rice was broken down and then letting the mixture sit in the refrigerator overnight. The next day I strained the water to get all of the rice bits out and blended it with whole milk, vanilla extract, almond extract (okay, this was a bit of a shortcut since some Horchata recipes call for ground almonds), cinnamon and sugar. Yum!

And then the next day I used the fresh Horchata to make cupcakes that were super moist and had a hint of the Horchata in them. Delish!

Feliz Cinco De Mayo…  May your guacamole be spicy, your margaritas strong and your food delicioso!

 

Horchata

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked long grain white rice

1 quart warm water

1/2 cup whole milk

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup sugar

Cinnamon sticks for serving, optional

Directions:

In a blender combine the rice and water. Blend for about 1 to 2 minutes, until the rice has broken down but does not form a powder. Refrigerate the rice water mixture for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Strain the rice mixture into a container through a fine mesh sieve or several layers of cheesecloth to remove the rice solids.

Transfer the rice water to a blender and add in the milk, vanilla and almond extracts, cinnamon and sugar. Blend for a minute until all of the ingredients are well combines and smooth.

Refrigerate if not serving immediately. When serving, pour over ice with cinnamon sticks as stirrers.

Recipe from The Food Network

 

Horchata Cupcakes

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cups sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Horchata

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 large egg whites

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners.

Cream the butter on high speed and then add in the sugar, continue beating until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.

Mix the Horchata, vanilla and cinnamon together, set aside.

Add the flour mixture and the Horchata mixture to the butter mixture in 3 parts, alternating between the flour and Horchata mixture. Beginning and ending with the flour. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites in to the cupcake batter until incorporated.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from The Foodies Kitchen

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

1 8oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sifted Confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Beat the cream cheese and butter together until creamy.

Add in the vanilla extract and continue beating, then gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar.

If not using immediately, store in the refrigerator.

Indian Rice Pudding (Kheer)

There are just some things you can’t resist ordering when you go to certain restaurants; you know you should try something new and exciting but those familiar comforts just always call your name. One of those things for me is a dessert that I always must have when I go to an Indian restaurant: Kheer, i.e. Indian Rice Pudding. It’s more or less like your traditional rice pudding, but, what sets it apart is the addition of cardamom and pistachios. I finally made this delicious treat myself recently when I realized that I had these two key ingredients on hand.

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To begin, I combined a cup of cooked basmati rice with whole milk in a medium-sized saucepan and brought it to a boil. Following that I lowered the heat and simmered the rice and milk until the mixture began to thicken. Next I added in heavy cream, coconut milk, sugar and cardamom and cooked it on medium heat until the mixture began to thicken once again. I then removed the pan from the heat and stirred in pistachios.

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I then transferred the mixture to a dish and placed a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface. After letting it cool for a few minutes I then placed it in the refrigerator.

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Once it was cool I enjoyed a bowl of it and was in heaven. It tasted just like the Kheer I am used to having at my favorite Indian restaurants.

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Indian Rice Pudding

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked long grain or basmati rice

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/3 cup unsalted pistachios, chopped

Directions:

1. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, combined the cooked rice and milk. Heat until the mixture begins to boil. Decrease the heat to low and cook at a simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, stirring frequently, approximately 5 minutes.

2. Increase the heat to medium, add the heavy cream, coconut milk, sugar and cardamom and continue to cook until the mixture just begins to thicken again, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Use a whisk to help prevent the cardamom from clumping.

3. Once the mixture begins to thicken, remove from the heat and stir in the pistachios. Transfer the mixture to a glass dish and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

One Can of Crushed Tomatoes = Two Meals

One item in my kitchen that is completely underutilized is my slow cooker. It’s one of those kitchen items that doesn’t ever seem to make it on to a coveted kitchen counter spot so it’s usually in a cabinet somewhere behind other things, at least that’s where it lives in my kitchen. It’s not like I forget I have it, it’s just getting it out involves moving quite a few things. Nevertheless it’s always worth the effort.

While at my local Barnes & Noble recently I picked up a slow cooker recipe book and immediately went through it and flagged some recipes that I wanted to try. I’m a bit of an organized nerd when it comes to cookbooks… I go through them and flag the recipes I want to try with mini post-its and then write down the recipes on another post-it and stick it in the front of the book.

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This time around I decided to try out the slow cooker version of Country Captain Chicken. In all honesty prior to writing this post I wasn’t aware that it was a traditional recipe found in the Southern part of the United States. I thought it was just something that was created for the cook book. Oops! To start I sautéed a green bell pepper, onion, celery and garlic with olive oil over medium-high heat until the vegetables were tender. I then placed that in the bottom of my slow cooker.

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I then browned chicken thighs, which I coated with flour, and placed them on top of the vegetables inside of the slow cooker.

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I then poured water into the skillet where I cooked the vegetables and chicken and scraped up any brown bits that were left in the pan. While the recipe called for chicken broth I didn’t want to open up a whole can of broth when I just needed a 1/4 cup of it. I poured this over the chicken and then added in the rest of my ingredients: crushed tomatoes, raisins, curry powder, salt, paprika and black pepper. The recipe only called for 2 cups of crushed tomatoes and unfortunately crushed tomatoes only come in 28 oz. cans (Does anyone know where I can find them smaller?) so I had about 2 cups of tomatoes leftover which I refrigerated for a later day.

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I covered this up and let it cook on low for 3 hours and one of the perks of cooking with a slow cooker is the wonderful aroma that fills your house from it. The final product was delicious and went perfectly with just some plain white rice.

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Country Captain Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 large onion, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup chicken broth

2 cups canned crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup golden raisins

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1. Coat chicken with flour; set aside. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add bell pepper, onion, celery and garlic. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Place vegetables in slow cooker.

2. Heat remaining 1 tbsp. oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes per side or until browned. Place chicken in slow cooker.

3. Pour broth into skillet Cook and stir over medium-high heat, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of skillet. Pour broth mixture into slow cooker. Add tomatoes, raisins, curry powder, salt, paprika and black pepper. Cover; cook on LOW 3 hours.

I wasn’t too sure what I was going to make with the leftover crushed tomatoes, but, after a day or two it finally came to me… Pizza. I attempted to make pizza before but it wasn’t all that successful. Mainly because I didn’t properly cook the pizza dough, or I should say I overcooked the pizza dough so that the crust of the pizza was a little too crispy bordering on hard. I had pretty much given up on trying to make it again until I came across Pillsbury’s Thin Crust Pizza dough in the refrigerated section of my local supermarket. I know some may be shaking their heads at this point by my super short-cut in making pizza, but, I figured it was worth the try. I did have my doubts though… Would my pizza just taste like a jazzed up crescent roll?

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To start I rolled out the dough onto a lightly greased 15 x 10 inch cookie sheet.

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I then spread my sauce on to the dough making sure to leave a small border. To make the sauce I mixed together about 2 cups of crushed tomatoes, 1 tbsp. of tomato paste, 2 garlic cloves finely chopped, 1 tsp. of dried basil, 1 tbsp. of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

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And finally I thinly sliced some fresh mozzarella for my one and only topping.

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I then baked it in a 425 degree preheated oven for about 12 minutes and it was perfect. I definitely will be taking this short-cut again when I make pizza in the future.

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Comfort Desserts

It’s been about a month since I last posted and it’s not for the lack of baking, beading or knitting. I did a bunch of baking for a friend’s birthday earlier this month but stuck to treats that were among his favorite and ones that I have blogged about before- my newly discovered pumpkin doughnuts, mini chocolate-chip cheesecakes and a strawberry shortcake birthday cake. As for knitting, I recently completed two scarves which I plan to post about soon – a ruffle scarf for a friend and a cowl neck for myself. I liked the ruffle scarf so much I am planning on making one for myself. And finally beading, after about a four month hiatus I finally picked up some beading needles and started making jewelry again. But in between all of that I did try out two recipes for what I like to call comfort desserts – a pound cake and a rice pudding. I know rice pudding is not most people’s cup of tea when it comes to desserts, but it has been a favorite of mine for quite some time. Both of these recipes are super easy to follow and turn out some delicious treats.

Grandma’s Pound Cake

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 Minutes

Servings: 12

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

6 eggs

Directions:

Heat oven to 350ºF.

Mix flour and baking powder; set aside. Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each until blended. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until blended.

Pour into 12-cup fluted tube or 10-inch tube pan sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 min. Loosen cake from sides of pan with knife. Invert cake onto wire rack; gently remove pan. Cool cake completely.

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Arborio Rice Pudding

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Total Time: 40 Minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 cup water

pinch of salt

1/2 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup Arborio rice

2 cups whole milk

4 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Few dashes ground cinnamon

Whipped cream, for serving

Directions:

Bring water, salt, and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the rice, return to a boil, and then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Shake the pan occasionally and cook until rice has absorbed the water but it still al dente, about 15 minutes.

Bring milk, sugar, vanilla, and a few dashes of cinnamon to a simmer in a separate saucepan. Add the cooked rice and cook at a simmer over medium-low heat until rice absorbs most of the milk and mixture starts to get thick and silky, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer pudding to a large bowl and cool to room temperature. Place in refrigerator until cool and set. Serve with whipped cream and a dash more cinnamon.

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Enjoy!