Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

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It’s that time of year again. Christmas is over. New Year’s is over. Most people are on some sort of weirdo diet right now that’s making them crazy. Or they got a gym membership and will not stop talking about their workouts. Yeah, yeah we get it – your muscles are sore because you’re normally a lazy couch potato like the rest of us but just shut up about it already. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, etc, are blowing up with all this crap. You know what I want to talk about? NOT THAT! I want to talk about pudding. Specifically rice pudding. Though I had never experienced this crazy-easy and delicious dessert until a few months ago, I now feel I couldn’t live without it. And you shouldn’t either. I’m guessing you had a green smoothie or some other such garbage for breakfast so there’s no need for the guilt. Let go of the guilt – healthy, right?

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Major players in tonight’s game are gathered on my cluttered counter getting warmed up (see, I’m trying to appeal to you with the sports & fitness references you crazy health nuts). I recently bought the Joy the Baker Cookbook and I noticed her recipe for Cinnamon Sugar Rice Pudding the other night. I was all set to just make that when I remembered the lonely bag of Meyer lemons in my fridge. Then things started to get real. I decided to do things a little bit Joy’s way, and a little bit my way and Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding was born. Meyer lemons are so cheap this time of year so if you haven’t bought any yet, please do. Make delicious things and say thanks when you’re done stuffing your faces.

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Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

2 cups water

zest of 1 Meyer lemon

1 vanilla bean

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup long-grain Jasmine rice

3 cups whole milk (or a mix of whole and other milks if you don’t have 3 cups. That’s what I did and it was still delicious)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. While that’s happening, slice the vanilla bean down the middle with a sharp paring knife. Once the water is boiling, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the water, then throw the pod in there too.

Add the rice. salt, and Meyer lemon zest and stir to combine. Bring everything back to a boil, then turn the heat down, cover the pan, and cook for 15 minutes to let the rice absorb the liquid.

Scrape the rice mixture into a bowl, then add the milk, sugar, and butter to the saucepan and warm it over medium heat. When the milk is warm, the butter has melted, and the sugar has dissolved, add the rice mixture back to the pot. Keep the heat at medium and stir frequently until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid – about 20 minutes. You want there to be a little bit of liquid left so your pudding isn’t too stiff (haha).

Pour the pudding into a bowl, fish out the vanilla bean (don’t throw it away dummy!) and press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the top of the pudding leaving no air pockets. This will stop the pudding from forming that gross skin on the top. Take a paper towel and dry off the vanilla bean as best you can, then leave it on the paper towel overnight to dry out.

Let the pudding cool until it is just barely warm, then eat as much of it as you can! You can refrigerate the pudding and serve it cold, but I prefer it slightly warm. This is good for breakfast, dessert, afternoon snacks, you name it! I topped my pudding with some vanilla sugar and that was mighty tasty

Vanilla Sugar

This is ridiculously easy to make so I’m not even going to put it in recipe form. You just take vanilla beans and put them in sugar. That’s it. They can be fresh beans that you’ve just sliced open or they can be gnarly beans that you used in other recipes and then dried out – it matters not. You just throw them in a container of sugar, put the top on it, shake it every few days, and in a week or so BOOM! it’s vanilla sugar. Do it, you won’t be sorry.

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Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice with Spinach and Magic Chicken

I was pretty late to the party joining French Fridays with Dorie and there are some completed recipes that I am really sorry I missed! This is one of the ones I thought looked especially good. You’d think I’d be tired of this magic chicken already but guess what, I’m not!

Tristan is not big on rice and he said he thought this was really good which is high praise from him. I’m thinking about looking up some recipes for fried or baked risotto balls or something to use up the leftovers – adding butter and breadcrumbs is pretty much always a good idea. Yum!