Tag Archives: rice

Three Kings Day Menu

6 Jan

Today is 3 Kings Day… when we celebrate the arrival of the 3 Wise Men to visit Baby Jesus at the manger. It’s a great holiday in Puerto Rico. Back in the days of my grandma, kids only received presents on 3 Kings Day, never on December 25. That’s a new thing of the last 50 years…

Because of my yoga retreats, which start on Dec 25 until Jan 1, our plans usually are to spend 3 Kings Day as a family at my aunt’s farm in the country. We had agreed she would make for us the traditional menu she likes to prepare for us:

Rice and Pigeon Peas or Rice with Corn

Vegetarian Pasteles brought by my mom and me

and yes… that’s a pastel hiding underneath all that ketchup…

Boiled Green Bananas

Green Salad

And my Tití Carmín’s famous Potato Salad

My former grad school roommate, Michelle, was always baffled by my wanting to have Potato Salad on our holiday menus. When for her, potato salad is a summer salad only. Well, my dear friend Michelle, Puerto Rico has consistent 70F weather during Xmas time, which is pretty warm for most US standards.

This year, my aunt and her husband are “under the weather” with one of the worst flu ever. So we had to cancel our 3 Kings Day celebration. Later on, I will be trying to attempt her Potato Salad recipe and try to share it with you all. OK?

Happy Triking Day!!!!

Arroz con Dulce

13 Dec

This recipe is from Cielito Rosado, with whom I had the pleasure to work with when I managed the advertising of a very popular dish washing liquid. She’s one of the few well-known cooks in Puerto Rico… her recipes are simple and easy to follow.

Arroz con Dulce, loosely translated to Sweetened Rice, is a typical Xmas dessert. You really do not see it anywhere before Thanksgiving or after the Fiestas de San Sebastián. The key is to not have it be too sweet or too bland… and brown sugar is key.



1 ½ cups of rice, soaked in water
For the cooking liquid:
1 ½ cups water
20 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
A piece of fresh ginger
3 cans of coconut milk
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
2 tbs raisins
2 tbs butter
Ground cinnamon to garnish


  1. Add the cloves, cinnamon sticks and ginger to the water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat for about 5-8 minutes. Then, strain and discard the spices. Return the tea to the same saucepan.
  2. Drain the rice that has been soaking in water; add it to the strained tea and coconut milk. Cook over medium heat until the liquids boil. Cover and lower the heat until the liquids reduce and the rice is cooked.
  3. Add the brown sugar, shredded coconut, raisins, butter and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  4. Pour the cooked rice into a serving platter and garnish with sprinkled ground cinnamon.

Rice with Pigeon Peas – Arroz con Gandules

22 Dec

Rice with Pigeon Peas (Arroz con Gandules) is one of the quintessential Puerto Rican Xmas dishes.  Around this time, you can find fresh pigeon peas at the Farmer’s Markets or Plazas del Mercado.


2 cups of whole-grain rice
5 cups of water
2 tbs annatto oil
2 tbs sofrito
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups fresh pigeon peas – if they’re dry, you will need to soak them for about 2-3 hours before using them in the recipe
½ cup of stuffed Spanish olives
  1. Wash the rice well.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, add the annatto oil, vegetable cube, sofrito, olives and pigeon peas.  Sauté everything and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the washed rice to the pot.  Mix everything well to make sure the rice is coated with the oil and seasonings.
  4. Add the water and mix well.  Cook at medium heat for about 20-25 minutes until most of the water has evaporated.  Stir the rice and cover so the rice can finish cooking and all the water is absorbed.

Smoked Gouda and Spinach Risotto

22 Jan

I love this dish… to me, this dish is comfort food at its finest and easiest.

You know me, I make risotto from a box, but I never eat it straight as is… I always embellish the risotto from Archer Farms with lots of flavor and ingredients.  I actually started making this risotto a looooooooooong time ago, more or less 10 years.  But I used to make it with a Lipton’s Creamy Garlic and Parmesan Risotto mix.  Unfortunately, that product was discontinued… but now I can continue the legacy buying rice at Target every time I travel.

I first learned the basics of flavors for this recipe from something I had read in Cooking Light magazine…  I saw the recipe but I said to myself I would never stand in front of a stove stirring rice for 20-25 minutes.  I love how this tastes… and no one who has had it has ever asked or noticed that the base is from a box, because the flavors are so restaurant like.

I do have to warn you, this recipe is addictive… and with the amount of cheese, it is a bit fattening.  But for special occasions, to celebrate others or yourself, this recipe is easy, reliable and most importantly, delicious.



1 box of Archer Farms 4-Cheese Risotto mix
1 ¼ cup cut-leaf spinach, defrosted and squeezed, but not too much
8-10 button mushrooms, cleaned well and sliced
½ a round of smoked Gouda cheese
3 oz of cream cheese
1/2 cup Fontina cheese, grated
½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, sliced (optional, but highly recommended)


  1. In a large pot, bring 2 ½ cup of water to a boil… we’re basically preparing the risotto according to packaging directions… when the water boils, dump in the rice packet and the seasonings packet.  It might seem the pot is too large, but the mixture will bulk up with the cheeses and mushrooms, specially.
  2. While that cooks a bit, you have some time to slice mushrooms, slice the sun-dried tomatoes and grate the cheeses.  Even though the spinach I buy is cut-leaf spinach, I usually run my kitchen scissors through it to make sure the pieces of spinach are manageable when eating.
  3. When the rice is partly done, add the spinach to the pot.  Mix well and cover partially so the rice comes again to temperature quickly.  After the rice has come to temperature, add the cheeses one by one… I usually start with the cream cheese, then the Gouda, then the Fontina and then the Pecorino.  Mix well to help the cheeses melt into the rice/spinach mixture.
  4. When the cheeses have melted well, but the sauce is still runny, add the mushroom slices and the sun-dried tomatoes, if using.  Mix everything well and let the mushrooms cook a bit.  
  5. When you feel the rice is done, cover the pot and let it stand there for about 10-15 minutes. 


While you’re waiting, you can make a side salad or some baked plantains…  the sauce will thicken a bit after waiting a little while and it will be at a nicer temperature where you can really enjoy the cheese and spinach flavors.  If it’s too hot, you won’t taste anything…

This recipe reheats very well.  All I do for the sauce to return to its creamy consistency is to heat it any leftovers up with a bit of cream, half and half or even milk.  I reheat it on the stove top and in a few minutes it’s creamy as it was the night before.

Pumpkin Risotto

21 Nov

Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year.  It’s special to me because it marks the official start of the Holiday and Xmas season and because I was actually born on a Thanksgiving Day a few years ago. 

To me the rituals of Thanksgiving are most precious – the sharing with family, the cooking and wanting to please your loved ones and the action of giving thanks for all that we have today.  To give thanks without asking anything in return is one of the principles of YOGA and maybe, my connection to Thanksgiving and how much I enjoy this holiday are signs of me possibly practicing yoga before this life.

I always give thanks to the Supreme Being for everything I do have – my life, my family, my health, my ability to see, hear, speak, walk, communicate, my roof, my family, those who love me and those who I love.  But I also give thanks for all those things I do not have…  those things we might think we need in our lives, and the very fact we do not have them might very well be a blessing.  I always thank God for keeping those wishes away from me… because I must learn to appreciate that life is perfect just as it is and that we do not need anything else but the moment we are living.  The present is the only thing we need to continue evolving and growing as spiritual beings in this physical existence.

Ever since I became vegetarian, Thanksgiving has been a challenge in the sense that I was truly attached to the flavors and smells of the traditional omnivore menu.  But in recent years I’ve taken it upon myself to search and create recipes that are in tune with the season, but completely vegetarian and satisfying at the same time.  And when I say in tune with the season, I mean the seasons in the US, because in Puerto Rico, it’s hot and humid on Thanksgiving, just like any other summer day.

This year I decided to try a Pumpkin Risotto.  Something easy, yet delicious that I could make at my grandma’s house.  This year Thanksgiving will be only her, my mom and I, and I don’t want to carry stuff from my home to hers.   I did a test run of  this recipe first and here are the results…  Something you can make any time of the year, but resonates really well in Fall and Winter.  Here’s how I did it…




1 box of Archer Farms’ 4 cheese risotto mix
1 cup pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
½ tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 ounces Fontina cheese, cubed small
1 ounce Blue cheese, I use Danish blue, grated or in crumbles
¼ cup Pecorino Romano, grated
¼ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)


  1. First, we need to roast the pumpkin.  Place the cleaned pumpkin on a baking sheet, drizzle the olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper and roast in a 350 F oven for about 20-30 minutes.  I do this in my toaster oven.
  2. When the pumpkin is about to be done, start preparing the risotto mixture according to the directions on the package.   I place 2 ½ cups of water to boil.  When the water starts to boil, mix contents of rice and season packets.  Mix together well and leave uncovered. 
  3. After the pumpkin is done, place in the pumpkin seeds another baking sheet and roast dry for about 10-12 minutes.  Watch them closely so they do not burn.  They’ll change color from green to brownish.
  4. When the rice is halfway done, add the pumpkin pieces, the Fontina cheese and the Blue cheese.  Mix well so the cheese pieces melt well.  If the pumpkin stays in big pieces, kind of crush them against the side of the saucepan.  The idea is for the pumpkin pieces to mix well with the rice sauce and make it kind of orangey.
  5. When the rice is done, about 17-20 minutes, turn off the stove, add the Pecorino Romano cheese and cover.  The sauce will thicken upon standing.  Leave it covered for about 15-20 minutes so the sauce thickens and the temperature lowers so you won’t burn the roof of your mouth and can taste the cheeses and pumpkin.  Do not skip the waiting step, no matter how hungry you might be… I speak from experience, and burning the roof of your mouth is not fun.
  6. When serving, sprinkle some roasted pumpkin seeds on top for a nice look and great crunchy bite.


I enjoyed this risotto with my sweet plantains and a side salad.

It’s super easy to make.  It’s great if you’re only cooking for a small group, but if you want to feed more than 2-3 with this, just double the recipe – no problem.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  I hope my mom and grandma like it too.


Thanks to you for always touching base with me here at KarmaFree Cooking.  I definitely count you as part of my blessings.

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