Cinco de Mayo Feast

Cinco de Mayo is one of my favorite pseudo-holidays. Although it has historical significance in certain regions of Mexico, it has become a day to embrace Mexican culture here in America….but for me (and plenty of others, I’m sure), it’s just a great excuse to eat fresh Mexican food and imbibe in some refreshing Mexican spirits. Skip the crowded Mexican restaurant this year, and fix a feast at home. Here are some of my favorite recipes to help you along your way!

Taco Seasoning

  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chipotle powder (or red pepper powder)
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika

Combine all ingredients. Use to season ground beef, chicken, or steak.

Cilantro & Garlic Chicken

Tender chicken that falls to shreds with the touch of a fork. This can be used as filling for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or quesadillas.

Shredded Chicken

For recipe, click HERE!

Mango Salsa

Super fresh and flavorful, use it as a chip dip or add a spoonful over your entree.

Mango Salsa

For recipe, click HERE!

Grilled Corn & Avocado Salsa

Super fresh and flavorful, use it as a chip dip or add a spoonful over your entree.

grilled corn & avocado salsa

For recipe, click HERE!

Jalapeno Poppers

A baked version of the appetizer favorite.

poppers

For recipe, click HERE!

Pork Taquitos

A great way to use up leftover pulled pork

Baked Pork Taquito

For  recipe, click HERE!

Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice

For  recipe, click HERE!

Guacamole

guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tap. pepper
  • Dash Tabasco sauce

Combine all ingredients, mash with a fork until desired consistency is reached.

For a zestier guacamole, add 2 tablespoons of salsa, 2 tablespoons of minced red onion, and a handful of chopped cilantro.

Margarita

Last, but certainly not least, the quintessential Mexican cocktail.

margarita

For the recipe, click HERE!

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Pork Taquitos

It’s the end of the week, and I need a dish to use up the rest of this pork butt. The ripe avocados on the kitchen sill are also screaming to be devoured. Not to mention it’s Thursday (the ultimate day to enjoy a margarita) – so something with a Mexican flare is definitely a must! Mexican Night is always a good way to use up leftover meat. Pot roast, grilled chicken, pork butt….all can be quickly and easily refabbed into an awesome weeknight meal.

Baked Pork Taquito

We tend to shy away from corn tortillas. Not because I don’t like them….but because the first time I made them for The Man, I made an awful dish. I had never bought soft corn tortillas before, and I pretty much just treated them like flour tortillas – big mistake. Soft corn tortillas have a nasty raw corn taste. They have to be cooked  fried for them to be palatable. Ever since that one snafu, The Man has vetoed the use of corn tortillas in his dinner plans. But today, I convinced him it was me – not them. We’ll see how round 2 goes!

Mexican Rice

Pork Taquitos

  • 2 C. cooked pork (substitute chicken or beef)
  • 6 Oz. beer (any lager, or light beer)
  • 1/2 C. water
  • 1/4 c. salsa
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 T. cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 8 Oz. shredded cheese
  • Canola oil

In a saute pan, combine meat, beer, salsa, and cumin. Bring to a simmer, reduce to low, and cook until meat is in small shreds. Remove from heat and drain any excess liquid. Fold in cilantro

For assembly : Heat tortillas in the microwave until pliable (about 30 seconds). Working one tortilla at a time, place 1 ounce of cheese and 1/8 of meat onto bottom half of tortilla. Roll taquito tightly. Place seam side down in a greased baking dish. Repeat until all 8 taquitos are rolled. If tortillas start to break, reheat them.

Lightly brush each taquito with canola oil. Bake in a 400F oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until crispy and starting to brown.

Serve Taquitos with Mexican Rice, Guacamole, salsa and sour cream.

Mexican Rice

  • 1 C. white rice
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1/4 C. salsa
  • 1 C. chicken stock
  • 3/4 C. water
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

In a medium pot, melt butter. Saute rice in butter over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add in all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Stir, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Remove rice from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Remove lid and fluff rice with a fork.

Guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Tabasco Sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

Slice avocados in half. Remove seed and scoop flesh out with a spoon. Add remaining ingredients, mash/mix avocado with a fork. Serve immediately.

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Cilantro & Garlic Tacos with Mango Salsa

When I met The Man, he claimed to not like Mexican food. But I love Mexican food! Ok, I thought, this is a small concession that I can live with. But a life without Mexican food means no fresh salsas, no garlic and cilantro marinated meats, no cheesy saucy baked tortilla dishes….no Margarita Thursdays!? Ok, this was a bigger problem than I first thought!

Chicken Taco

His former experience with Mexican cuisine involved greasy, bland concoctions that contained suspect meat products and void of all vegetables. Yea, I would hate that too. When I think Mexican, I think fresh, full of complex flavors, and tons of color. Well it turns out that he doesn’t hate Mexican food – he just hates bad Mexican food! Phew! We dodged a bullet there…

Garlic & Cilantro Garlic & Cilantro Marinade

Let’s start with the meat. Whether I’m making chicken or steak tacos, I like to start with the same marinade – a cilantro and lime vinaigrette with a hint of spice and lots of citrus. After a few hours in the acidic and flavor punching bath, meat has no choice but to be tender and juicy. A few minutes on a hot grill, and you’ve got a fab foundation for a great taco.

Shredded Chicken

The choice of taco toppings is endless – sliced avocado, salsa, shredded lettuce, cilantro, cheese, corn salsa, guacamole, chipotle sour cream, diced tomatoes, sauteed onions and peppers….in fact, if you’re hosting a casual party, a taco bar is a great buffet idea! Tonight I’m gonna go with fresh mango salsa and sliced avocado (and probably a little cheese and sour cream too…). If you can’t find good fresh mango, frozen works alright too. It’s not quite as good – but it’s better than no mango salsa.

Mangoes Mango Salsa

Cilantro & Garlic Tacos

  • 1 1/2 Lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 C. cilantro and garlic marinade
  • Flour tortillas
  • Mango salsa
  • Sliced avocado
  • Shredded cheddar
  • Sour cream

Marinate chicken breasts in marinade for at least 6 hours. Remove from marinade and grill on medium for 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Allow meat to rest for 10 minutes, then shred with 2 forks.

Warm tortillas on the grill for about 1 minute per side. Alternately, heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds.

To assemble, place a scoopful of chicken on to warm taco shell. Top with mango salsa, 2 slices of avocado, a Tablespoon of cheese, and a small spoonful of sour cream.

Cilantro & Garlic Marinade

  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 jalapeno, halved
  • Lime zest and juice, from 1 lime
  • Handful fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 C. orange juice
  • 1/3 C. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until everything is smooth and combined. Marinate chicken for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Makes enough marinade for 6 chicken breasts.

Mango Salsa

  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1/4 C. red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • Handful cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • Pinch of salt, pepper, and cumin

Combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

When Life Hands You Limes, Make Margaritas!

Is it the weekend yet? Oh yes, it IS! It also happens to be 70F and sunny. I’m not sure about you, but I think a fresh cocktail is in order :)

Limes and Tequila

I still have  a few Meyer lemons (which happen to yield a TON of juice) and my grocery store had a good price on limes – so margaritas it is! If you are sitting there thinking “I hate margaritas”, give this recipe a chance. I have heard “I hate margaritas” and then spent all night squeezing limes and shaking cocktails for such naysayers. It seems the typical margarita experience involves bad tequila and high-fructose-corn-syrup (and green food coloring) laden mixes. That is NOT a margarita – that is just gross! A great margarita has simple, fresh ingredients – and good tequila!

When I say “good” tequila, do not confuse this with “expensive” tequila. You want something that tastes good. My favorite brand is Camarena – 100% blue agave, smooth taste, and it’ll run you about $25 for a liter. Not too bad, considering the prices of some top shelf brands! While you are at the liquor store, pick up some orange liqueur too – it goes great in a margarita.

Pick your citrus fruit – my norm is lime and orange. But since I have these Meyer lemons, today I’m using them instead of the orange. Grapefruit would be delicious too. I’ve also seen alot of watermelon margarita recipes on Pinterest….have at it – but this is not my cup of tea-quila.

The final addition is a sweetener. Just a touch, to really smooth out all the flavors. My choice is Agave nectar because it’s made from the same plant as tequila. The flavors compliment each other so well. I have had no trouble finding this in my local grocery store – they even carry multiple brands now! But in case you can’t find it, or you prefer not to go out and buy something you think you will only use once (trust me, once you have it you will use it. This stuff is good!) you can just use honey, or a little sugar.

Ok, now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to get out your cocktail shaker, glasses, and ice. Add your fresh juice, liquor, agave and a pinch of salt to an ice filled shaker. Shake until it’s so cold, you can barely stand it (about 2 minutes). Pour into glasses over fresh ice. Relax, and enjoy a great drink.

margarita

For 2 Drinks

  • 1/2 C. Tequila
  • 1/4 C. orange liqueur
  • 1/2 C. lime juice
  • 1/4 C. orange juice
  • 2 tsp. agave
  • pinch of salt

This is a 50/50 ratio of liquor to juice. Use the ingredients of your choice, and modify the ratio to your liking (although the 50/50 is pretty darn good!)