Jeweled Rice with cranberries and almonds

19 Days until Christmas and I find myself feeling unprepared.

I have partially decorated my house but I’m having difficulties with finding new ways of decorating the one place that remains bare–my foyer.  Last year I didn’t have this issue.  Since the beginning of November I knew exactly what I was going to do with the foyer.  I was going to create a display that mimiced a winter wonderland.  I imagined  a gilded tree branch adorned with crystal icicles that sat on a bed of “snow” illuminated by lights.

I searched the internet for weeks for the right branch and the right price but wasn’t satisfied.

One crisp morning as I walked my dog in the park that’s just beyond my home, I spotted the perfect branch.   I was too embarrassed to go rob this tree of it’s branch in broad daylight so I waited.  I waited until the night, when the park was pitch black and there was no chance of a nosy neighbor judging me from their back window.  Armed with my husband’s hacksaw I snuck into the dark, dark park and went right to work.    I hacked away at that branch and like a thief in the night I crept back home, undetected and smiling from ear to ear.

I went to work on my DIY project and the end result exceeded my expectations.   I was proud of my Christmas tree, but this display was my baby.  I was proud.    That was 2009.

It’s 2010 and my foyer is bare, deserted and void of Christmas.  I pray for inspiration.  Daily I stalk the Christmas aisle at every store I visit, hoping to find an answer or inspiration.

While my mind remains empty my stomach is full.   Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a downward spiral that I try to recover from no sooner than January.   Resistance is futile.   There are many cookies to be baked, cakes to be eaten and dishes to be tested before my Christmas dinner.    This weekend for my Sunday dinner I cooked a post-Thanksgiving dinner for the Hubs since I wasn’t here for thanksgiving and he had to “suffer the faith of eating food that wasn’t cook by me.”  Dinner consisted of Roasted Chicken Thighs, Chipotle mashed sweet potatoes,  Skillet Corn and Jeweled Rice with cranberries and almonds.  Dinner was awesome!

I leave you with the recipe for my Jeweled Rice, it is so full of flavor and always seems to find its way onto our holiday table.  If you’re not a fan of almonds or cranberries, this recipe is very flexible so feel free to add pistachios, walnuts, dried apricots or dried cherries.

Jeweled Rice with Almonds and Dried Cranberries

1/2 medium red onion chopped finely

1 tbsp canola oil

2 cups long grained white rice

1 tsp dried ginger

1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes

1 tbsp salt

zest of 1 orange

1 14.5 oz can of Chicken Broth

1 cup water

1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

1/3 cup sliver almonds, toastes

1 tbsp salt

scallion to garnish

In a pan large enough to hold the rice over a medium fire, heat  1 tbsp canola oil.  Add onion and sautee for 2 minutes, stirring once.  Add rice, ginger, orange zest and red pepper flakes.  Cook for 3 minutes stirring frequently.  Add chicken stock to rice and salt, stir to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom.  Cover pot and turn heat down to low.  (You can add both the water and chicken stock at once but I like to add liquid as I go, as needed) .

Cook until rice is tender but not mushy, for about 15-20 mins, adding water as needed if rice becomes dry.

Remove from heat and stir in chopped cranberries and almonds or your choice of dried fruit and nut combination.  Garnish with finely chopped scallion.



  1. Alicia
    December 6, 2010 / 3:49 pm

    That story is awesome!!!!’ Had me laughing & thinking of my lovely mom who is never afraid to take piece of a plant that she likes! Very funny! And that dinner looks deeeelish!

  2. December 6, 2010 / 5:08 pm

    I loved that branch.

  3. December 6, 2010 / 5:15 pm

    Nice! I love that snow…so jealous. And love this rice!

  4. December 6, 2010 / 6:58 pm

    Pretty, and so festive! It is a wonderful time of year~

  5. Terri
    December 7, 2010 / 8:34 am

    You are too funny!!! 🙂 I love to read your stories.

  6. December 8, 2010 / 5:17 pm

    The holidays never fail to sneak up. Always, always, always. It’s not their fault. The rest of us just wait until the last minute. It’s much more fun to make a great dinner anyways. 🙂

  7. December 10, 2010 / 12:52 pm

    That photo of the snow covered tree is beautiful, as is the photo of the delicious sounding rice!

  8. December 12, 2010 / 3:25 pm

    If you think you’re sneaky, I once sent the kids out in the dark to trim the pyracantha bushes by the road for Thanksgiving decorations. I figured they wouldn’t arrest 10 years olds for trimming shrubs on public property!

  9. JehanP
    December 13, 2010 / 7:44 am

    Judy, thank you for the laugh. That reminds me of when I was a child and my sister would send me to break off pieces of plants from our neighbors yards so that she can add them to her garden.

  10. Nerry
    January 27, 2012 / 6:02 pm

    You had me laughing so hard. That was something that I would do in a heart beat. I will try the rice recipe. It looks great. Thanks so much. You know, back in Guyana when I was a child, most people shared a “piece” of their plants with you- and that’s how most people got their flower gardens.