Here's an easy comfort food dessert that is easy to make on your stovetop, and is a Southern staple in many places like South Carolina, where rice was a staple crop. It's best served warm, with caramel sauce drizzled over it, or with dried fruit added in to the last minutes of cooking.
Rice Pudding with caramel sauce or dried fruit
1 cup of dry rice
1 quart of milk
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cherries, cranberries, or raisins (optional)
Caramel sauce (optional)
Combine all ingredients except vanilla extract, fruit or caramel sauce in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Stir well to dissolve the sugar, and bring to a boil while stirring.
Reduce heat to low-medium to maintain a low simmer, and cover, leaving a crack for steam to escape. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Simmer for about 15 minutes, then drop in the fruit, if using. Simmer for 5 minutes more, until the rice is soft and creamy. If all milk hasn't been absorbed, simmer for a minute or two longer. Take off heat, and add the vanilla extract, stirring in until well distributed.
Serve in individual dessert dishes, and top with caramel sauce, if using. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Reheats well in individual bowls in the microwave.