Monday, December 28, 2015

DESSERT: ARROZ CON DULCE (Sweet Rice Pudding) Recipe

Hope everyone enjoyed the Christmas holiday.  I was grateful to have a week off of work to spend at home, as well as with family.  With my free time, I spent a great deal in the kitchen cooking.  Specifically, I decided to try my hand at preparing a traditional, Puerto Rican family dessert called arroz con dulce (translation: sweet rice pudding).

My mom prepared a batch the weekend before. But since she lives too far, I wasn't fortunate enough to get some (boo-hoo).  Seeing pictures, got me in the mood to have some!  So, I called her up to discuss the details of the recipe.  This family recipe was passed on from my great grandmother (my Abuelita).  I have wonderful memories of my Abuelita, growing up as a teen.  She was a kind soul with a sweet smile.  Anything she cooked or baked you could tell was made with love.  Nothing tastes like her dishes, no matter how many times you try to re-create it.

For those who have made this dessert before or want to try it for the first time, it is labor intensive and something you don't want to rush (i.e., cooking on high heat).

Here's what you'll need:
  • 4 cups of small grain rice (or medium)
  • Whole cloves (apprx. 20-25)
  • 2 pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and mashed
  • 6-7 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 can of coconut milk (Goya)
  • 1 can, Coco Lopez or Goya brand - cream of coconut 
  • 1 can, sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cans, carnation evaporated milk
  • 2 cups, raisins (a generous amount).  You can leave this out if you don't like raisins
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract (real vanilla extract; not imitation)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • ground cinnamon for garnishing

I had trouble finding small/short grain, white rice.  My supermarkets don't carry it for some reason.  I ended up using medium grain for this recipe.  I also soaked my raisins in rum (but you really couldn't taste it and you don't have to add this).

One thing to note, when adding sugar to the mixture, I started off with a cup and slowly added a little at a time.  The original recipe called for three cups of sugar, but that would have been too sweet for me.  My mom said she doesn't measure so taste as you go.

  1. Place 4 cups of uncooked short or medium grain rice in a large bowl, cover the rice with water. Let it soak overnight.  You want your rice to be extra soft, when cooking.
  2. The next day, drain the water and set aside.  Don't let it sit out for too long; it will dry out.
  3. Fill a large pot (I used a stock pot) with 8 cups of water and combine cinnamon sticks, cloves, and ginger; bring to boil.
  4. Once the water has turned brown in color, allowing the flavors of the spices to blend, you can now strain the spices in a large bowl or pot.  
  5. Place the pot of your spiced water on the stove and add the uncooked rice; bring to boil and add the raisins.
  6. Once the water starts to disintegrate, stir in coconut milk, cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla extract and sugar to taste; simmer on low heat.
  7. Frequently stir rice mixture and make sure to stir in a folding motion so that the rice won't stick to the bottom of the pot.  Keep doing this in 15 minute increments for a few hours.
  8. The mixture will be ready when it is has a creamy like pudding consistency, not soupy or liquidity.
  9. Divide rice mixture on dinner plates, pie plates or desert cups.
  10. Sprinkle ground cinnamon, while mixture is still hot. This will ensure the cinnamon sticks to the rice pudding.
  11. Let it cool to room temperature before covering with saran wrap; refrigerate for at least 2 hours before eating.
  12. To serve, cut into wedges or fill a dessert cup with a generous spoonful.

The spices have been boiling for 20 minutes and you can see the brown color
After straining all the spices, your spice water is now ready for the rice.
Adding the raisins 
This is pretty much the consistency you will see after adding all of the milk and creams, vanilla and sugar.  Keep stirring, checking every 15 minutes or so, keeping your flame on low. This process takes the longest (a few hours).  Have patience and don't put the flame on high or you will burn your rice.  Keep stirring!
After a few hours, on a low heat setting, you will start to see the rice thicken up
Thickening up to the consistency you want.
Poor in a dish and sprinkle with cinnamon 

Allow the arroz con dulce to cool down at room temperature before placing in the refrigerator.  You can cover with saran wrap after it has cooled and place in the fridge.

Once it's ready, display in your favorite dish or bowl and present to your dessert to family/friends.

I brought a plate over to my in-laws on Christmas Eve.  My stepmother-in-law's mother (who's in her 80's) tasted my arroz con dulce and said it tasted just like her mom used to make.  I was beyond excited and relieved she liked it.  Coming from a Latina woman (an elder at that), is saying A LOT!!!

Looking forward to the last few days of 2015 and looking forward to nothing but good things for 2016.  Thank you all for following along on my blog showing interest and support.  It means the world to me and it's what helps me keep going!

I'll be back a week from now (January 4).  For now, wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year!


Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas 2015: My Tablescape Design

Hello fellow readers!  Can you believe it is officially one week before Christmas!  Where has the time gone?  I'm not done with my Christmas shopping and will be hitting the stores next week, while on holiday.

Today I wanted to share with you my Christmas tablescape design for 2015.  I kept this year's design simple with modern elements in white and gold with a hint of mint.  The inspiration for this year's design were the mint linen napkins from CB2.  I loved it paired with crisp white and gold metal.

Adding to this design, are a pair of small and medium sized Wadsworth candle holders, a clean and modern snowman and white tree (no longer available), all from CB2.

I created my own flower arrangements, incorporating those same colors of whites, different shades of green with a hint of pale pink roses.

Since I didn't have a white vases in a large enough size, I decided to wrap my clear vases in this white and gold speckled tissue paper, purchased at The Container Store.

Using the same white and gold tissue paper, I cut strips and wrapped them around my napkins and plates for added interest.

The gold and white wood grain effect on the table is not a table cloth but wrapping paper, purchased at The Container Store.   I was looking for an organic type of fabric and couldn't find anything that caught my eye.  The minute I saw this wrapping paper, I knew it would be perfect for my table design.  Since the paper is not the size of a table cloth, it did make a perfect table runner.  I paired it with a white tablecloth.

I hope you enjoyed this year's tablescape design.  It was the simplest design I've put together.  Thanks for stopping by.  I'm looking forward to some much needed rest from my commute, as I am on holiday vacation next week.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday and a Merry Christmas.  May you be surrounded by loved ones and embrace those who are near and dear to you.  Many blessing to those who are no longer with us but are never forgotten.  Sending my love to my family and friends whom I won't see but am thinking of, always.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS 2015: For the Gentleman

Here are some gift ideas for the well-dressed gentleman, who takes pleasure in looking and smelling good!  It's all in the details. . .

1.  David Donahue Regular Fit Windowpane Plaid Dress Shirt (Nordstrom)
2.  Cufflinks Inc. Reversible Enamel Cuff Links (Neiman Marcus);
3.  Flannel Pajama Set in Fine Stripe (J. Crew)
4.  Prada Perforated Aviator Sunglasses, Matte Gunmetal (Neiman Marcus)
5.  Burberry Manston Textured Check Silk Tie, Pale Blue (Neiman Marcus)
7.  Allen Edmonds 'Park Avenue' Oxford (Nordstrom)
8.  CREED Aventus (Neiman Marcus)
9.  The Art of Shaving 'Lexington Collection (Neiman Marcus)


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

COOKIES AND COCO: Creating a Holiday Dessert Table

While my sister was in town over the weekend, we collaborated for the holidays; bringing you a special treat of hot cocoa and cookies.

Whether you're baking or buying cookies from your favorite bakery, setting up an area at home with hot coco in hand is perfect for gatherings with friends, family or the kiddies.   We decided to create a cookie and coco station using my foyer table as the go to spot.

My sister, Rose Angel, from Design by Occasion, whipped up some hot coco with lavender milk.  This was my first time trying this duo and I'm hooked!!

Using different platters and trays gives the table depth and height for displaying your favorite treats.

Have fun with your table, displaying holiday plates, like these cute reindeer appetizer plates.

The kids will love the animated designs, like the ones displayed here, which were purchased from my local bakery.  This is a great time saver for those who are unable to bake (or don't know how to).

Create your own display sign for your guests to enjoy.

How fun are these marshmallow snowmen?!

Hot coco with lavender milk; topped with marshmallows and candy cane sticks.

Create a winter floral arrangement for your table, similar to the one I created here.  Another option can be a miniature christmas tree or poinsettia.

Enjoy the holidays!


Monday, December 14, 2015


Hi!  Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend.  The weather this weekend was simply gorgeous with springtime temperatures.  I welcomed it with open arms and the more we can delay winter temperatures, the better I'll feel.

I took a couple of days off of work to spend with my sister, who was staying with me while getting her treatment in NYC.

Some exciting news to share about my sister's cancer treatment.  It's working!  While there is some growth in two areas (too small to be concerned), the other tumors have shrunk.  This definitely was great news to hear.  Thanks to everyone for their well wishes and prayers.

To celebrate and unwind, we headed to a tea room in my neighborhood.  I made reservations at Harmony Tea Room in Westwood, NJ.  I also wanted to experience afternoon tea at a tea room (London was too far - lol).  I thought it would be nice to spend it with my sister.  I also invited my mother-in-law - who was a trooper because she's a coffee drinker (lol).

How darling are the tea pot covers.

I love the mixed arrangement of plates on this three tier tray stand.

A Tea Story and tea options available.

My choice of tea was the Icewine (heavenly)
How adorable is this light fixture?  A tea pot, tea cups and plates sitting on a table
My sister's pick was one of the specials of the day, "Coconut"
One of the best pumpkin and apple soups I've ever tasted.

We had such a nice afternoon at Harmony Tea Room.  They did not rush you out and it felt so calming and relaxing.   The food was amazing!!!  It was the perfect little escape from all the hustle and bustle.  I look forward to visiting again.