This post is part of Virtual Potluck!  Please click the tab above or follow the link to learn more about us and explore the rest of our group. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter now too, so make sure to join there so you won’t miss anything! It is our second potluck and we are again being hosted by Donna of Cookistry. Make sure to head on over to her site and browse all the goodies that have been brought to this potluck, sponsored by Marx Foods.

Marx Foods was kind enough to send us samples of mushrooms, vanilla beans, rice, and peppers. Our challenge was to create a festive dish to bring to a Thanksgiving potluck. Turkey was provided, but side dishes were left up to us. We could use all the ingredients (one Virtual Potluck member took on that challenge) or just one or two. Let me tell you–you really should check out every recipe in this potluck–we cooked up some really delicious stuff this time! It’s easy when you’re starting with quality ingredients.

I used the vanilla beans and the “Italian Vialone Nano Rice.” Rice pudding may not be “traditionally” a Thanksgiving recipe, but I tried to make it more festive by adding tart, fresh cranberries and fragrant vanilla.

This turned into a creamy, delicious dessert perfect for any occasion, including breakfast! Oh yeah…and Thanksgiving. Something for people who might not love pie. Or for people who DO love pie, but are still hungry.

Cranberry Vanilla Rice Pudding
adapted from Joy the Baker

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup short grain Italian rice
1 heaping cup of fresh cranberries
4 cups 2% milk
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
seeds scraped from one vanilla bean

1. In a small saucepan, over low heat, warm the milk. Don’t boil it–bring it to almost boiling and then turn off the heat.
2. In a large pan (I used my dutch oven) over low heat, melt your butter. Once it is melted add the rice and cranberries and stir to coat and slightly toast the rice, or about 1-2 minutes.
3. Ladle in about 3/4 cup of the warm milk and continue to stir. Once the rice is absorbed, add another ladle of milk. Continue this process–stirring nearly continuously until the rice is tender (taste it!) and your milk is almost gone. Mine took about 25 minutes. Make sure to watch out for the cranberries–they like to pop! Be careful.
4. Add the final bit of milk, the sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla bean. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated.
5. Enjoy! I prefer it warm.

Verdict: Perfect comfort food. You get a little tartness from the cranberries but then the luxiorious sweetness for the dark brown sugar and vanilla beans.
Husband’s take: He never tried any of this. Whoops!
Changes I would make: None!
Difficulty: Easy! Just make sure you have 25 to 30 minutes to devote to it so you can constantly stir it. It’s what makes it delicious!

Before I announce the giveaway, have you heard of Marx foods? I’ve spent so much time on their site browsing the delicious ingredients and foods they feature. Some things you’ll find there are:

  • truffles (buy me these for Christmas: Let me know if you need my shipping address.)
  • pumpkin and sage ravioli and other amazing looking pastas
  • dried peppers
  • kangaroo, turtle, alligator, ostrich, llama, and frog (yeah, you heard right–tell me you haven’t been dying to try a kangaroo rump?!)
  • edible flowers (make your plates beautiful!)
  • exotic fruits
  • grains, lentils, honey, sugars, salts, seeds, coffees, oils, spices (what more do you need?)
  • ice cream molded in the shape of corn on the cob, footballs, and Santa. Santa!
  • Cheese. I’d like to try this one, please.

Guess what? If you want to buy me those truffles or cheese? Marx foods will give you a discount! Okay, so they’ll give you the discount even if you’re shopping for someone other than me. Just enter “POTLUCK” into the “Coupon Code” field at checkout for 10% of everything in the store.  Valid 11/21 – 11/27.

UPDATE: Winner has been chosen and contacted via email. Congrats to Alexis who said, “Yum, this looks super comforting for a cold, rainy night.” Enjoy your samples!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS: One winner with receive samples of vanilla beans, dried Habanero chilies, and dried aji Amarillo chilies.

To Enter:


Comment on this post. Tell me which Marx food product you would most like to try.

For Extra Entries (MAKE SURE to leave an extra comment for each or they won’t count!):

1. Follow @virtualpotluck on Twitter
2. “Like” Virtual Potluck on Facebook 
3. Subscribe to my RSS feed or add your name to my email list (please confirm when you get the email asking you to do so).
4. Tweet about this giveaway! You can use this if you want: “Enter to win @marxfoods samples from @not_rachaelray! #virtualpotluck #giveaway”
5. Share this giveaway on your Facebook page.
6. Visit any other Virtual Potluck blogger (see all the posts here) and enter at least one other giveaway. Come back and let me know which one you entered.


That’s up to seven chances to win! Enter by Sunday night and I’ll choose a random winner on Monday morning. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email before I choose another winner. Prize will be shipped by me. Good luck!

Disclosure: I was sent free products to use and review. However, all opinions expressed in this post are, as always, 100% my own. I was not compensated for this post other than the free products.