Pear and Cranberry Rice Pudding with Chocolate Crunchies & Veggie Rice Lasagna Loaf {Minute Rice® Giveaway}

Pear and Cranberry Rice Pudding with Chocolate Crunchies
Recently I attended a cooking event at George Brown College hosted by Minute Rice®.  Our session was hosted by Chef John Higgins, Director of George Brown Chef School.  We had the opportunity to watch Chef Higgins prepare 2 dishes (Veggie Rice Lasagna Loaf and Pear and Cranberry Rice Pudding with Chocolate Crunchies).  We also had a chance to go in the kitchen and prepare the Rice Pudding.  It was a great experience on learning some tips for cooking rice and cooking in the George Brown Chef School is always lots of fun!

Photo courtesy of Minute Rice

During the demonstration, Chef John Higgins prepared a delicious Veggie Rice Lasagna Loaf.  We got to taste some at the end of the session and it was delicious.  I really wanted to see what my boys would think of it so I brought mine home and had them try it.  They both loved it!  It's a dish you can assemble ahead of time and bake later on.

Veggie Rice Lasagna Loaf (Photo courtesy of Minute Rice)

Minute Rice® 100% Natural Instant Rice is available in Premium Long Grain White Rice and Premium Whole Grain Brown Rice.  They are both very quick to cook making them perfect for busy weeknights.  

Photo courtesy of Minute Rice

This was my first time working with Minute Rice®.  We usually eat basmati rice which takes about 20 minutes to cook.  With Minute Rice®, you boil the water, add the rice and cover, turn off the heat and in 5 minutes (10 minutes if you are using brown rice) you have wonderful cooked rice!  Great for times when you realize last minute you need some rice.

In the Chef School, we prepared the Pear and Cranberry Rice Pudding.  I loved the orange flavour in the rice pudding.  The pudding thickens up as it sits so Chef Higgins suggested to use more milk than in the recipe below.  My husband and I preferred not to top with the Chocolate Crunchies as we found it took away from the fresh flavour of the Pear and Cranberry Rice Pudding.  But it is definitely something I would make again.

Besides the two recipes I am sharing with you today, there are so many ways to change up rice.  The following are some great tips Chef Higgins shared for cooking rice.

Top 10 Rice Cooking Tips from Chef John Higgins, Director, George Brown Chef School

Boil in broth: When boiling rice, substitute water for broth to add flavour to the rice itself and your dish. Chicken broth, beef broth or vegetable stock are excellent choices. Low-sodium broths add a punch of flavour without the added salt.

Try coconut: Cook rice in coconut milk for a mildly sweet flavoured rice which pairs well with curry dishes and other spicy recipes. Coconut flavoured rice with fresh slices of mango or your kids’ favourite fruit can make a fun, healthy dessert option.

Think flavour: Add spices to the rice’s cooking liquid for an aromatic and flavourful base to your dish. Star Anise, cilantro and turmeric are good choices, with bold, robust flavours.

Season early on: Don’t leave your seasoning until the end. Introduce the flavours of your dish early on. For maximum flavour, add the herbs or spices your recipe calls for into the rice’s cooking water.

Add veggies: Enhance your rice dish by adding frozen vegetables. Rather than cooking the vegetables separately, though, condense your cooking time by adding them to boiling water before you begin cooking the rice. Using pre-cut, frozen vegetables is more convenient than cutting fresh vegetables (while still being nutritious), especially when you are pressed for time.

Sweeten with fruit: Add dried fruit – such as craisins, raisins, dried blueberries and currents – to your cooking water to draw out the sweet fruit flavours which will infuse your rice with a savoury taste the whole family will enjoy.

Try rice for breakfast: Instant rice in particular is quick and easy, making it a convenient and nutritious family option. Add almond or soy milk, or your kids’ favourite flavoured milk, as well as dried fruits or nuts for a complete, oatmeal-like breakfast dish which can be served hot or cold. Prepare the rice the night before to save time in the morning.

Steep your rice: Infuse the rice with your favourite flavour of tea for a fragrant, subtle gourmet taste. Steep a pot of tea and use the liquid to cook your rice instead of using plain water. For those less adventurous, start with a more simple flavour such as Earl Grey, English Breakfast or Chamomile tea. For an economical option, use the tea bag left over from your morning cup of tea.

Add zing with zest: For a zesty citrus spin on your rice dish, grate lemon, lime or orange zest into the rice’s cooking water as it’s boiling. Be sure to thoroughly wash your fruit with warm, soapy water before grating the zest into the water. For a more gourmet taste sensation, try a combination of citrus fruits in one rice dish.

Cut cooking time: Risotto is a wonderful meal or side dish option enjoyed by all ages, but it takes time to make.  Using instant rice in a risotto dish can cut in half the time it takes to make traditional risotto.

To get started on the recipes below, you can get a coupon for a box of Minute Rice HERE.

Pear and Cranberry Rice Pudding with Chocolate Crunchies
Recipe courtesy of Minute Rice®

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Servings: 4


3/4 cup (175 ml)            uncooked Minute Rice® Instant Premium Long Grain White Rice
2 tbsp (30 ml)                dark or milk chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp (30 ml)                Rice Chex cereal
1                                    pear
2 tsp (10 ml)                 butter
1 tbsp (15 g)                 dried cranberries
4 tbsp (60 ml)               sugar
1 can (175 ml)              coconut milk
1 tbsp                            orange zest
 pinch of salt
1                                   egg
1 tsp (5 ml)                  vanilla
1                                  orange, diced


1.         Melt chocolate in the microwave, using a ceramic or glass bowl, for 20 seconds.  Mix in the Rice Chex cereal and stir to coat with chocolate. Transfer to a tray lined with wax paper, separating pieces to dry and cool down. (Place in refrigerator or freezer to cool quickly).

2.         Dice pear into even pieces. 

3.         In a hot non-stick pan, cook the butter and diced pear for 5 minutes.  Add 1 tbsp of sugar, followed by cranberries. Set aside and allow to cool.

4.         In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, combine the coconut milk and rice, then add the 3 tbsp sugar and salt; bring to a boil. Add the orange zest, stirring constantly.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook, stirring often for 10 minutes.

5.         In a bowl, beat the egg with the vanilla.  Stir some of the hot rice mixture into the egg; then beat the warmed egg mixture back into the remaining rice mixture.  Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

6.         Place equal amounts of the pear mixture in the bottom of each serving dish, top with rice pudding, and then with mini marshmallows, chocolate-coated cereal, followed with the diced orange.

Tip: For a more gourmet presentation, top with additional pear cut into strips and fresh sprigs of mint.

Per serving (1/4 of recipe): 320 calories, 14g fat, 55mg cholesterol, 120mg sodium, 44g carbohydrate,
3g fibre, 24g sugars, 5g protein

Veggie Rice Lasagna Loaf
Recipe courtesy of Minute Rice® 

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Servings: 6


2 cups (500 ml)           Minute Rice® Instant Premium Long Grain White Rice
1/4 cup (60 ml)           grated Parmesan cheese, good quality, if possible
2 tbsp (30 ml)             olive oil
2 bunches                   green onions, chopped
1 pkg (10 oz/300 g)    frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed well to remove liquid
2 cloves (5 g)              garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups (375 ml)    light ricotta or cottage cheese
1 cup (200 g)              zucchini, sliced
1 jar (24 oz/700 ml)   prepared marinara or home-made pasta sauce
2 cups (500 ml)          shredded low fat Mozzarella cheese
2 (145g)                     tomatoes, sliced


1.         Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).  Prepare rice according to package directions.  Stir in the parmesan cheese and reserve. 

2.         Place 15 ml of the olive oil in a warm pan, then add the chopped green onions, followed by the spinach, and season with garlic.  Cook for one minute.  Add salt and pepper, then allow to cool.  Mix with ricotta cheese until combined.

3.         Place the rest of the olive oil in a non-stick pan.  Add the sliced zucchini.  Cook for 10 seconds on each side.  Season to taste.  Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel to absorb the oil and allow to cool.

4.         Spoon ¼ cup (60 ml) of the marinara sauce into a greased 8-inch (2L) square baking dish.  Gently press half of the rice into the baking dish in an even layer; sprinkle with ½ cup (125 ml) mozzarella cheese.  Spread half of the spinach mixture over the cheese. 

5.         Top with half of the tomato and zucchini slices, overlapping as needed.  Spoon half of the remaining marinara sauce over the slices.  Repeat the layers, ending with the sauce.

6.         Sprinkle evenly with the remaining cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.  Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

Per serving (1/6 of recipe): 430 calories, 18g fat, 40mg cholesterol, 770mg sodium, 45g carbohydrate, 5g fibre, 9g sugars, 23g protein
Now for the giveaway!  Minute Rice® is giving one Chocolate & Chillies reader a case of 12 boxes of Minute Rice® 100% Natural Instant Rice ($60 value).  This giveaway is open to Canadian residents only.  Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter.

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  1. My favourite rice dish is Coconut Rice Pudding

  2. Veggie Rice Lasagna Loaf - I would love this with salmon!

  3. Risotto is my favourite rice dish

  4. my favourite rice dish at the moment is vegetable fried rice which we serve with a potato curry and nan bread

  5. not sure if my comment went through,,I love stirfry over rice :)

  6. I love cabbage rolls as well as rice pudding.

  7. My favourite rice dish is chicken fried rice.

  8. Stuffed peppers with rice or stir fry

  9. I love a good stir fry!! Thanks!

  10. I like a chicken stir fry with rice and veggies.

  11. I love a good homemade fried rice!

  12. I love rice with black beans, corn, salsa, cheese and cilantro.

  13. I like fried rice with bacon and vegetables.

  14. my favorite is chicken fried rice

  15. Bailey Dexter Our family loves cabbage rolls, we have them all the time. Another is rice pudding!

  16. My favourite rice dish is risotto.

  17. Stuffed Peppers or Cabbage Rolls

  18. Believe it or not, I love plain rice

  19. Lazy Cabbage Roll Casserole is a favourite dish that I use Minute Rice in.

  20. My favorite dishes are sushi and fried rice.

  21. I love chicken fried rice for dinner followed by rice pudding for dessert.

  22. My cabbage rools ands stuffed peppers are loaded with rice and they rock!

    Lori R Jackson

  23. I love coconut curry chicken on a bed of rice.

  24. My favourite rice dish is chicken fried rice.

  25. My fave rice dish is seafood paella.

  26. My favourite rice dish is stuffed peppers :) Thank you for the chance. (Andrea Amy)

  27. Cabbage rolls is my favorite rice dish.

  28. My favourite is chicken fried rice

  29. I like Vegetable or Chicken Fried Rice.

  30. Biryani is my favorite.

  31. It looks and sounds like you had an awesome time at this demo! I personally have never attended anything of the sort, but it sounds like a fun event :)

  32. Hard to choose one favourite rice dish since I have so many but do enjoy coconut rice quite a bit :)


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