We’ve waited years for Cinco de Mayo to fall on a Tuesday, and this year, it does. But hello, coronavirus! Therefore, most of us will be enjoying the ultimate in Taco Tuesdays safe at home.

If, like me, you stocked up on rice in preparation for quarantine, take this opportunity to use it up by making a meal or two, as well as dessert and a fruity beverage, with whatever rice you purchased.

Paired with to-go tacos and margaritas from your favorite Mexican joint, this Cinco de Mayo will prove to be festive and delicious.

Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup

Serves 4 to 6

This soup comes together in minutes, with a great assortment of pantry ingredients. To save a step and a bit of time, use leftover rotisserie chicken.

8 cups chicken broth

1 cup red or green salsa

1 pound boneless,

skinless chicken thighs or breasts

1 cup white or brown rice

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 can corn, drained (or a cup or so of frozen corn, thawed)

1 can black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Shredded Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, sliced avocado and chopped cilantro, for serving

1. In medium pot, bring broth, salsa, chicken, rice, tomatoes, corn, beans, cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder and onion powder to a boil.

2. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook until chicken and rice are cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove chicken from the pot, shred and return to the soup.

3. Stir in lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve, topped with cheese, sour cream, avocado and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Tex-Mex Fried Rice

Serves 4

You must use cold, leftover rice for this dish. A fresh batch of warm (or even lukewarm) rice will not fry well when it hits the hot pan and will result in soggy clumps. Make a double batch of rice for dinner and save half for a day or two to make this. Gather and prep all ingredients before you start cooking, for this recipe progresses rather quickly.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

4 large eggs, beaten

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ medium yellow onion, diced

1 poblano or green bell pepper, seeded and diced

½–1 pound ground chorizo, beef, chicken or turkey

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chili powder

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

3 cups cooked rice (brown or white)

3 green onions, thinly sliced

Chopped cilantro, shredded cheese, diced avocado, sour cream and/or crushed tortilla chips, for serving

1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet to medium-low heat. Season eggs with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Add the eggs to the pan and cook, stirring constantly with a spatula, until scrambled. Transfer the eggs to a plate and set aside.

2. Heat another 1 tablespoon butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and cook until starting to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chorizo and cook, breaking up the sausage into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin and smoked paprika and season well with salt and pepper.

3. Add the remaining tablespoon butter, tossing to coat the mixture. Stir in the cooked rice and cook, stirring often, until heated through and slightly crisp in spots. Stir in scrambled eggs and green onion and season with salt and black pepper. Serve, with toppings as desired.

Cinnamon Rice Pudding (Arroz con leche)

Serves 6 to 8

There’s nothing like the creamy, sweet comfort of homemade rice pudding. The brown sugar in this recipe lends a caramel-like sweetness, while cinnamon and rum-soaked raisins add warmth and depth.

½ cup raisins

1 tablespoon dark rum, or hot water

½ cup long-grain rice

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup water

2½ cups half-and-half, divided

½ cup packed light brown sugar

2 4-inch sticks cinnamon

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

Ground cinnamon or raw sugar, for garnish

1. In a bowl, combine raisins and rum (or hot water); let soak for 30 minutes.

2. Combine rice, salt and ¾ cup water in a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; stir, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, partially covered, until the water is absorbed, 6 to 8 minutes.

3. Stir in 2 cups half-and-half, brown sugar and cinnamon sticks and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring often, until rice is tender, 20–25 minutes. Slowly stir in egg yolk; cook for 1 minute.

4. Remove pan from heat; add raisins with rum, remaining half-and-half and vanilla; let sit for 10 minutes. Spoon pudding into serving glasses; sprinkle with ground cinnamon or raw sugar.

— Adapted from Saveur.com

Strawberry Horchata

Makes 3 quarts

Horchata (pronounced or-CHAH-tah) is a popular Mexican drink that is often described as a sweet rice milk beverage. Horchata is made out of rice, milk, vanilla and cinnamon and is served in many Mexican restaurants. This version makes good use of in-season strawberries, but use whatever fruit you love, such as mango or watermelon.

1½ cups white rice, uncooked

5 cups water, divided

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pound strawberries, fresh or frozen

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1½ cups milk or nondairy milk

Fresh strawberries, for garnish

1. In a large bowl, combine the rice, 3 cups of water and cinnamon. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, but preferably overnight, to hydrate and soften.

2. Add the rice, along with the soaking water, to a blender. Blend on high speed until completely pulverized and mixture is smooth. This may take several minutes depending on the strength of your blender.

3. Using a strainer, pour the rice water into a 3-quart pitcher and discard any pulp in the strainer.

4. Rinse the blender and add the strawberries, sweetened condensed milk, milk and 2 cups of water. Blend until smooth. Pour strawberry puree into the rice water and stir to combine.

5. Garnish with fresh sliced strawberries and pour into glasses filled with ice.


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