Forbidden Black Rice Pudding: Pressure Cooker Recipe


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Forbidden Black Rice Pudding

Happy Lunar New Year! This year’s celebratory dessert was the product of many firsts. First time cooking black forbidden rice, first dessert in the (new) pressure cooker and first batch of rice pudding. The result was a warm, comforting, lightly sweet, simple yet crowd pleasing dessert. This doubles easily, if your pot is big enough, and can be served in a large serving dish (warm or cold) or in mini – jars. Sky is the limit with topping options, I opted for mango and pomegranate (red and yellow colors) with toasted coconut and you could add spices to pudding like cardamom.  You could even just cook the rice and stop there as a uber fast route to a nutty side dish. Forbidden rice takes forever to make, as it needs 8-24 hours just to soak (hence why I had not previously done).

For Lunar New Year, I always bring dessert to ensure there is a perfect sweet treat to end the feast. If you know me, you have heard my rant about Asian desserts (beans. really?) Past Lunar dessert recipes include:

I pressure cook in a stovetop All American canner/cooker but this will work just fine in your electric pressure cooker as well. This recipe is based on Pressure Cooking Today’s version based on NY Times so it must be good. And it is.

Forbidden Black Rice Pudding


  • 1 cup black rice, rinsed, but no need to soak
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup light coconut milk (1 can 15 oz)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste


  1. Mix black rice, water, butter and salt in pressure cooker.
  2. Lock the lid per your pot specs and select 15/place weight or program pot to High Pressure.  IMG_8562
  3. Let pot reach goal pressure and then cook for 22 minutes. Set a timer!
  4. After the cook time, let the pot sit and use a natural pressure release method for 10 minutes (aka in stove top just let it sit and watch the gauge go down). After 10 minutes, safely release any remaining pressure by opening away from you.
  5. Open pressure cooker and ooh and ah at the miracle of pressure cooked black rice. Fluff it up with a fork.
  6. Pour in half of the coconut milk  (about 3/4 cups) and sugar and mix with cooked rice.IMG_8564
  7. For electric cookers, select  your version of ‘saute’ or for stovetop, turn stove to medium/medium low heat. Heat and stir occasionally until  sugar is dissolved. The milk with turn purple too.
  8. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, remaining 3/4 cup coconut milk with vanilla extract until well combined; Pour through a fine mesh strainer (or don’t, the world is still turning) into the pot. KEY! Stir constantly while pouring in and until mixture just starts to boil.  Otherwise you will have scrambled eggs with rice.
  9. Once boiling, reduce heat to barely a simmer if you would like to keep warm and thicken a little more. Just remember it will thicken as it cools.
  10. You can serve this straight from the warm pressure cooker or chill for later. Let it cool before putting in fridge though. If you like it more creamy but will need to cool, add more coconut milk to reach desired consistency then cool.
  11. If you want to serve in little jars, I use the the 1/2 pint Ball jars filled with about 1/2 to 3/4 headspace or just below the threads. This recipe will make 12 jars.
  12. Top as you see fit! And Enjoy!

Forbidden Black Rice Pudding Pressure Cooker Recipe


Thank you for the confidence!

Cold Smoked Maple Cajun Party Nuts


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The Smoking Gun rides again! This time to impart its delicate smoky wisdom upon some roasted maple syrup and Cajun spiced mixed nuts (walnuts and pecans to be exact).  Roasting nuts is easy and sky’s the limit for flavor. I happens to have ajar of organic Cajun spices and maple syrup asking to be used for a party; along with nuts (victims of the Costco effect).

cold smoke roasted nut maple cajun recipe party

The smoke is delicate and not chemically. The resulting flavor is balanced salty sweet. If you don’t have a cold smoker, never fear- they are just as tasty of a treat without it. Now make some, eat some and give some as a hostess or holiday gift.


  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (real as you can find)
  • 3 tsp cajun seasoning ( I used the Safeway organic a brand)
  • 1 T hot water
  • 5-6 cups raw nuts


  • Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a cookie sheet with foil and coat with oil.
  • Mix syrup,water and seasoning in a large glass bowl
  • Add the nuts, whatever kind you have: almonds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts or even pistachios
  • Toss to coat really well
  • Spread out in a single layer on a foil lined cookie sheet. Do not skip this step unless you want to toss your pan when done.
  • Roast for about 30 minutes.  Remove from pan pretty quick so they don’t get too stuck.
  • If cold smoking, place roasted nuts in a plastic bag, fire up the smoking gun with your favorite ‘fuel’, fill the bag with smoke, tie it shut and wait! 30 minutes or longer.
  • Enjoy!
cold smoked roasted maple cajun nut recipe

Note: bag full of smoke!

Other Nutty Ideas

Other Smoked items


Felt Christmas Tree DIY


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Sure these are all over Pinterest, but I still want to share my version of the felt Christmas Tree. Easy to make and the amount of time will really depend on how much detail you want to put into each ornament. I kept the ornaments simple but let the packages at the bottom be fun prints. Definitely use your craft store discount coupons to buy the big piece of felt. For this version I bought a yard of light blue for the background, a yard of the green tree and then smaller variety pack of sheets. Plenty to make a good size tree, as the felt on the bolt is really quite wide. I also picked up some half inch wood dowel for hanging, but you could also mount to the wall with velcro, tape, command strips etc.

Background and Tree: To make blue background: cut to size and then fold the top edge over about 1.5 inches and sew, creating a sleeve to slide the wooden dowel through. Just free hand draw your tree either on paper first or right onto the back side of the felt, doing the modern triangle or more classic tree outline with branches. Cut out the tree shape and position on the blue background. I put some tacky craft glue on the back of the tree to help hold it flat on background. Add a trunk if you want using brown felt. Then pin the edges of the  the the tree and trunk to hold in place and  sew  onto the blue background with matching thread and a zig zag stitch. For the hanger, I used a length of twine tied to each end of the dowel.

Ornaments: Have fun! I used some clip art images, traced some cookie cutters and freehand drew a few items. My favorite are the Washington and Montana state ornaments. Home is where the heart is…… Usually felt will just stick to felt but some of the thicker colored felt didn’t seem to stay quite right AND to make cutting out easier, I traced on to iron on interfacing, ironed to felt (with a piece of fabric in-between to avoid any melting) and then cut out. In hindsight I might have not ironed it on as permanent and then pealed off the interfacing when done cutting. BUT the interfacing gives the pieces a little more shape and I couldn’t peel it off without incident. For some of the easier shapes I just traced and cut or used my circle rotary cutter (‘lights’). The interfacing sticks alright to felt tree but I sprayed the backs lightly some repositionable craft adhesive (3M, Elmers or others) for some extra grabbiness. For the bows on the packages I hotglued on velcro, putting the soft side on the package and the hook side on the bow.

Hang up and enjoy! Now, we might still be a little young for unsupervised felt tree interactions, so I put some of the interfaced ornaments up out of reach (since things tend to go right in his mouth) and left the lower ornaments for his repositioning enjoyment. The circles for tree lights are my favorite and will be easy to make more of, should any end up with teeth marks.

Please share your tips and photos.


Christmas Book Countdown Calendar


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Hurry up! Christmas is coming! Yep, or Hanukkah or Kwanza or New Year or a birthday or …… Here is a simple idea to infuse the holiday spirit by slowing down and adding new story every night until the Big Day. Add in books about the story of Christmas, nativity to match Advent or have fun with the twelve days. But wait, it’s already December? No worries, you can make this countdown ‘calendar’ big or small.

FullSizeRender 11

The Idea: Wrap up 25 (or 24 or 12 or whatever) books individually, labeling each with corresponding number 1 through 25. Then open one package every night, reading a new story and re-reading past nights stories until you reach your goal. you can bet that the Night Before Christmas is wrapped up in package 24…. but other than that I don’t remember which book is wrapped up for what night and every year we can do it a little different.

The Set Up: I searched used book stores high and low for Christmas/Holiday books. I ended up with a mix of some wintery stories (think Polar Express, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening, If Its Snowy and You Know It Clap your Paws), board books (Five Busy Elves, Guinea Pig Nativity [contain your jealousy], 12 Dogs of Christmas), pop up Christmas stories and some classics (the Grinch, Bernstein Bears). However, what I am most excited about it that this countdown will continue when we get to Grandma’s House. Grandma found our childhood Christmas books (Yay! Pokey Puppy, Babar, Christmas Kitten!). I sent her the numbers for the days we will be home so she can wrap and attach, with the only set one being the Night Before Christmas.


The Vision: Almost all other books in our house will be put away for the holiday season (save for a few in the event of an ’emergency’) and the tot will open a package each night for a new story and fun re-reading the recent books.  As he gets older or new books come out, we can cycle them in and out. I am excited to connect this to his Grandparents and something from my childhood too.

The Supplies: Can you say brown paper packages tied up with string (and a number)? The number of books for the number of days you want to countdown towards, wrapping paper and some number tags. I made my tags out of last year’s Holiday cards and a piece or two of card stock. But you could just as easily use stickers or just a big marker or go all rogue and don’t have any numbers (but then its not really a countdown – its just fun).

What are some of your favorite Holiday Books? IMG_7946IMG_7948



Sweet Potato and Acorn Squash Pie – Unpumpkin Redux


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Remember the Acorn Squash and Apricot Pie from September? My taste buds sure do. I whipped up a new version of the unpumpkin pie, and it is a tie for which I like the best. This time around my apron squash was smaller than usual, about one and half pounds AND I had some sweet potato hanging out. Remember the sweet potato hand pie of a summer gone by – it is coming back too (but you wouldn’t know about it because it was a blog post that didn’t).  Well I put the two memories together and made another delicously fall pie, creamy, spiced and perfect with vanilla ice cream.

squash sweet potato pie ingredients


Follow the same recipe as the Acorn Squash and Apricot Pie; omitting apricots and using 1.5 pounds acorn squash and 1.5 pounds sweet potatoes, both baked before starting the pie.

sweet potato and acorn squash fall pie recipe

Fresh Nursery Wall Art Ideas: Decoupage, Glue, Sew and Staple


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A share of easy and sometimes quick wall art crafts ideas I made for the little tot’s room.

I shared a post where I made garland from greeting cards and gift bags [Here is that post!]. Well, I had quite a few left over…. so I cut more in coordinating colors, including gift bags, and then using a piece of scotch tab to line up and hold them, arranged them on a blank white canvas prepped with a fresh wet layer of modpodge and then applied a mod podge top coat. Hardest part? Letting it dry and not putting TOOOO much on as the paper will bubble. Another fun way to remember special events!

line up hexagons decoupage

card decoupage card decoupage top coat final card decoupage wall art baby card repurpose hexagon

Next is decoupaging fabric onto a canvas. The funky horned game bird (?) print, is part of the same series of gems I found years ago at a craft fair, but you could do this with any fabric or maybe a fun t-shirt, make your own prints using iron-on transfers or actual screen printing. I love how after modpodging the black canvas shows through, giving it a slight antiqued look.

abric decoupage alignment
fabric decoupage wet drying art wall

horned game bird fabric decoupage hexagons deer

From this same craft fair fabric treasure trove,  I had a piece printed with a butterfly winged clock.  I glued it to the back of a hexagon floating shelf, using blue tape to hold it tight, so the fabric is framed at the back of the shelf (below). These funky fabrics make appearances all around our house actually.

fabric floating shelf back

Another idea –  I sewed some solid fabrics together in a large geometric shape and then glued to the back of some wood framed vintage filters -basically sheet metal with holes punched in it.

fabric behind vintage metal screen

Finally – Always an quick, easy and not necessarily permanent way to decorate a room: stretch a fun fabric tightly over a canvas or put it in a frame (see the funky antler bird below). I used a staple gun to attached the fabric to some canvas with prints on them that I had around. When the fabric is lighter, you can add a layer of muslin or interfacing to block the canvas design from showing through. Dress up the fabric covered frames with ribbon, buttons, pictures etc. the fabric for the most part isn’t ruined nor is the printed canvas. If you were to look at the back you would see all the extra fabric. If you want you can add a hanger using brads and brackets.

interfacing fabric on printed canvas

staple fabric canvas frame yellow greyclock with butterfly wings hexagon shelf deer

The scrappy fabric ‘orbs’ are from some holiday ornaments I made a few years ago. And the green deer letter press is a coaster I have been saving. What tips and ideas do you have?

Simple Stitched Paper Garland or Bunting Tutorial : Repurpose those Greeting Cards


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I have made this garland or bunting several times now but my favorite version so far is the one hanging in my little tot’s room. It is made out of all the wonderful cards welcoming him to the world. I am a sentimental person but I also try to not just store a bunch of stuff, so after snapping a photo of the cards for his book, I used three different paper punches, two different circles (1.5 inches and 2 inches) and a hexagon (because I love hexagons). In no way would I recommend cutting these by hand – I only did it for one or two cards (see fuzzy lamb photo). I then simply proceeded to punch out shapes using the paper cards, also adding in some shapes made out of some of the gift bags etc. You can do this with scrapbook paper, kraft paper, printed images, photos and mix them together or whatever you want.

Fussy cutting, fuzzy lambs…


Helping make the Halloween garland!

If you want to reduce the amount of white paper (aka the backside) you can make them by ( two circles together at a time). No wrong way to do this.

From here I turn on my sewing machine, use whatever needle is in there, or change it to a old one saved just for this and start sewing them in a random order, right down the middle.

Sew! Sew! Sew! When done you can cut it to the length you need.


Here is the finished garland. You can even see some of the handwritten notes. For his upcoming birthdays etc, i plan to punch out more shapes and keep adding on to this until the day I stop. I realize that soon enough the wee one will be standing up, eating, pulling the garland, So I can let him play and/or move them above a window, more like a swag. :)



Baby shower version: I used some stamps that went with the theme. Bee is for Baby - Paper Circle Garland, Bunting, Mobile, Decoration on Etsy!

For our Halloween party this year I used construction paper and scrapbook paper to make a ton of garland for the backdrop in the Photo Booth (and had about 75 feet extra left. oops.) For this version I used a a spooky round bat stamp on some circles.


The finished halloween garland backdrop. I added on some black paper bat sillouttes (the theme was Gone Batty after all).

Bee is for Baby - Paper Circle Garland, Bunting, Mobile, Decoration on Etsy!

Twine Art Orbs: Balloons, Twine, Glue, Go DIY!


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Twine or string balloon decorations are an easy and versatile craft. Make a lot in a many sizes, hang them offset above a table and you have a chandelier, make smaller versions add some glitter and you have a simple holiday ornament or stay more traditional and recreate the delicate Easter Egg baskets using embroidery floss and a lot more patience.

First find a place where the balloons wound up with wet twine can hang and drip dry. I tied them to my cupboard over the sink, but you could set up a yardstick between two chairs and put a tarp down or do outside on clothes line etc.

Inflate some balloons to the the size you want. If you inflate less they will be more round vs. eggy. I then tied a string to the balloon tie so that I had it ready to go when it was time to hang and dry.

Get ready to wrap! I used bakers twine and Stiffy Fabric Stiffener but you can use regular craft glue, modpodge etc. Using a foil disposable pie pan, I unwound long lengths of twine and saturated in the Stiffy by letting it sit in the pie pan for a few minutes.

Now start wrapping! I suggest winding the wet twine atorun the balloon the long way, slowly moving and criss-crossing etc. Do as much of this or as little but I found about a half to one inch average open space worked the best.

Now dry! Hang the balloons wrapped in soggy twine up to dry. Maybe a few hours or longer. Just test it out.

balloon string ornament decoration dryingWhen all dry, pop the balloon. Be sure to watch as ours deflated in a pretty funny way and make a crinkly sound as the balloon separate from dried twine. Remove the balloon bits and you are ready to adorn al the things with them. popped sting balloon IMG_5199

Enjoy! Mine are hanging along side a window and one that was a bit wonkey I trimmed and it now sits proudly on a shelf. Window ornaments string ornament sitting on shelfAlways more than one way. Here are some other helpful links –

Three Little Piggy Meatball Recipe


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This little piggy was pork sausage, the second little piggy was bacon and the third little piggy was spiiiccceyyy prosciutto spread. Bacon.


Apologies up front – It is hard to get a glamorous meat ball shot, even more so when you forget to take one. Sigh, you just get the less than perfect weeknight dinner shot (see below).  Neverfear though, lots of pictures for the tutorial. This recipe is based on straightforward meat ball basics, forgiving and can be made gluten-free. The prosecution spread might not be readily available in your neck of the words but you could sub in plain proscuitto plus spicy pepper flakes, chorizo etc. Big shout out to my MIL for showing me how to mass produce balls withOUT rolling. Scoop, squeeze, spoon scoop and flip the wrist. Repeat….

Scale up and down as you need to – this is for a large batch, that freezes well. This made 70-80 ~ 1 to 1.5 inch meat balls. Perfect Party Size.


  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic, if jarred version a generous measure
  • 3 pounds ground pork/sausage
  • 2 – 3 eggs (3 if on smaller side)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated parmasean
  • 3/4 cup GF flour OR panko (not GF), 1/2 cup per pound of pork
  • ~2 ounces of spicy prosciutto spread (I used La Quercia brand)
  • 6 strips of cooked bacon, chopped

Note: no salt, there is plenty of salt in the bacon, parmesan and spread. You could add herbs etc  but honestly there was a lot of flavor, and some sausage may already have some.

pork ingredients


In large bowl, mix together the parmesan, garlic, chopped bacon and prosciutto spread. Just put some gloves on and use your hands!


Begin to mix in the raw ground pork in smaller portions. Keep adding and mixing. When well combined, add flour or panko, mix, and then add the raw eggs.


Mix until combined.

meatball mixture

Now – shape them into balls, cook and enjoy. Make them big for dinner or small for appetizers, whatever you want. You will bake in the oven at 375F for 10-20 minutes until cooked through. You could also cook in a fry pan on the stove or freeze and cook later. I cooked some and then reheated in the crockpot.

Here is the MIL’s Scoop and Flip Meatball method. You could also scoop with a melon baller or ice cream scoop and roll around in your hands. But THIS is faster. We raced.

meatball pork how to DIY

Note these meatballs were so big they cast a shadow. Hehe – bad lighting. #sorrynotsorry

meatball dinner

Best Irish Soda Bread: Beer Me the Recipe!


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I made my first loaves of Irish soda beer bread in college in the tiny dorm kitchen of the hallowed Knowles Hall (Go Griz!), Pretty sure that was with a can a PBR too.

To this day I still enjoy fresh warm beer bread but now I love it even more (and so does the reluctant hubs), with this updated recipe. Sadly,I don’t have info to tip my hat too the original author, but they are probably numerous and in several family trees from days gone by. If you have a family variation, please share! We are Scottish-Asian.

Preheat the oven 375 F. Prep your bread pans by greasing and I like to add a sheet of parchment paper.

Sift together the dry ingredients, in a large mixing bowl.

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Make a well in the middle and pour in your 12 ounces of beer. Whatever kind you want – this is a great way to experiment. Chai beer anyone?  Mix this up good by not too much.

Melt somewhere between a 1/4 and 1/2 cup of butter.

Scoop your batter into the prepared pan. Pour the melted butter on top and bake away for about an hour. Putting the butter on top makes a delightfully crusty crusty. You can pour in pan first for a softer crust, but why…. :)

Let is cook for 10 minutes or so (if you can). Best served warm, with butter, jam, honey or just plan.

irish soda beer bread recipe


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