Thrifty Dishes

Easy Atole De Arroz (Mexican Rice Pudding)

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I am a first generation Mexican American– my parents emigrated from Mexico several decades ago, and my siblings and I were born here in Houston, Texas.  My mom embraced the American culture passionately– we only spoke English in the household, celebrated American holidays, and grew up on traditional American cuisine.  My mom rarely made Mexican dishes, but the ones she did make were family favorites.  One of those dishes was Atole de Arroz.

My first trip to Mexico to visit my grandmother (I’m the one in the pink, yellow, and black dress.  My grandmother, mom, and little brother are also pictured.)Screenshot_20171130-103739.jpg

My mom is the kind of cook that doesn’t need measuring cups– she’s very intuitive in the kitchen like that…she is also far more patient than I in the kitchen.  🙂  That said, I’ve not been able to replicate the flavors and texture of her Atole; however, through experimentation, I’ve managed to come up with a recipe that comes pretty close.

This is an easy recipe that takes me about half the time to make relative to my mom’s more traditional recipe.  That said, I like to prepare the rice and liquid ingredients separately but simultaneously, and mix together only after both are done.  The recipe below yields about 4-6 servings which is perfect for my bug and I and will last us a couple of days; however, since I plan to make this dish for my family’s Christmas dinner this year, I am going to quadruple the recipe.

What you’ll need

  • A medium-sized saucepan (for rice)
  • A small saucepan (for liquid ingredients)
  • Measuring Cups
  • Small whisk

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (cooked) white rice
  • 1 – 2 sticks of cinnamon (1 tsp of ground cinnamon will substitute just fine)
  • 1 tbs of vanilla (or vanilla substitute) (this ingredient is optional)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup of evaporated milk
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of regular milk (depending on your desired consistency)

Instructions:

  1. In the medium saucepan, prepare the white rice according to packaging instructions and set aside.  (When I’m running low on time, I just begin Step 2 on a different burner while I’m waiting for my rice to reach a boil). 
  2. In the small saucepan, add water and cinnamon (sticks or ground cinnamon) and set to medium/medium-high heat until the water begins to boil.
  3. When the water/cinnamon reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low/low-medium, and add condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla.  Whisk well, cover, and simmer for at least 10 minutes, continuing to whisk every few minutes to ensure consistency of the mixture.  The mixture will thicken slightly and will turn a light caramel color ready for the next step.
  4. Pour the water/cinnamon/milk mixture into the medium saucepan with the cooked rice and stir well.  Place on low heat for another 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  5. Add 1/2 – 1 cup of regular milk to mixture to reach desired consistency.  (I like a thicker Atole, so I usually add about 1/2 cup.)
  6. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve warm.  Alternatively, place the Atole into the fridge and serve chilled.  Enjoy!

The total cost for the ingredients is about $7; this is assuming that you have none of the ingredients on hand, and that you would purchase the smallest standard-sized packages typically sold in stores.  This is pretty good considering that you would still have enough ingredients left over for at least another batch– after that you would likely have to purchase another can of condensed milk to make additional batches with the remaining ingredients.

Atole de Arroz was one of my favorite treats as a child; I love that it is now one of my bug’s favorites.  I’d love to hear from you– let me know if you liked it as much as we do!

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Food

Easy Egg Bread

I come from a pretty large family– I have 4 siblings and we each have children/families of our own.  In addition to that, we have several lifelong family friends that are honorary siblings, so as you can imagine, we tend to have a pretty full house during the holidays with plenty of mouths to feed.  In order to make it easy on everyone, we typically have potluck-style meals where each family is in charge of bringing something– this year for Thanksgiving dinner, I volunteered to make bread and a few sides.

I baked several loaves, rings, and even an edible bread cornucopia:

Cornucopia fresh out of the oven!cornucopia

Braided Bread Ringsbread5

Braided Loavesbread6*Missing from above are about 6 additional loaves that I failed to get pictures of.

The bread was a hit– it was delicious, it looked amazing, and it was festive!  Best of all, I baked all of this bread using a simple recipe (only 7 ingredients!) and without the use of a bread machine!

I made 4 separate batches of dough– 1 batch to make the cornucopia, 1 batch to make several rings, and 2 batches to make 10 loaves of varying sizes.

What you’ll need:

  • Hand Mixer
  • Large Bowl
  • Small Bowl
  • Damp kitchen towel
  • Baking/Cooking Sheets
  • Parchment Paper (Recommended) or Baking Spray
  • Brush (for egg wash)
  • Oven

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Most importantly, you’ll need ingredients!  Note that the recipe below is for one batch of dough:

  • 1 1/3 cups of water (warm)
  • 1 packet of dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 3 eggs (1 of these eggs will be used for the egg wash)
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 cups of flour (have additional flour on hand for dusting when kneading)

Instructions:

  1. In the large bowl, mix the warm water with the yeast and let it sit for a few minutes.  *I typically use this time to prepare the other ingredients into ready-to-add portions.*
  2. Add the honey, 2 eggs, vegetable oil, and salt to the water/yeast mixture, and mix well on the lowest mixer setting.
  3. Begin mixing in 1 cup of flour at a time with your hand mixer.  By the third cup, the dough will begin to form and may begin to “climb” up the beaters; if this happens, mix in the rest of the flour into the mixture using a spatula or your hands.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a floured surface.  Knead and gradually dust with flour as you go until the dough loses most of its stickiness.
  5. Roll the dough into a large ball.  Set the dough aside on the counter and cover with the damp towel.  Leave it to rest/rise for about an hour.  *You can place the dough into a greased bowl to rest if preferred; I prefer the counter-top because it leaves one less dish for me to wash :-)*
  6.  After resting, shape the dough and cover/let it rest for another 30 – 60 minutes.  *If you don’t mind a slightly denser dough and/or are pressed for time, feel free to move onto the next step.*
  7. Place the dough onto a cookie/baking sheet lined with parchment paper. *If no parchment paper is available, greasing the sheet will work just as well.*
  8. In a small bowl, mix 1 egg and 1 tbs of water using a fork to create the egg wash.  Brush generously on the shaped dough.
  9. Place your bread into the preheated oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F.

You will know that your bread is done when it has a rich golden-brown color, and sounds hollow to the touch.  Place the bread on a cooling rack, let cool for about 20 minutes, and enjoy!

My bread tray!bread4

My mom was so impressed that she insisted I take a picture of her and the main tray.  I just love her!mom&tray

The total cost of ingredients for the 4 batches I made was about $15 dollars.  About half of that amount was for the honey alone, but I was still left with a surplus of flour for future batches; hence, the cost could be trimmed down even more depending on the type of honey used, or forgoing the honey altogether and using sugar as a substitute.

This is one of my favorite bread recipes– it is such an easy bread to make and it is very versatile.  It is light and chewy, but sturdy enough to make a fairly large and stable cornucopia.  I can’t wait to make this bread again for our Christmas dinner this year.

I’d love to hear from you– let me know how this recipe works out for you, and any variations you tried!