JESSICA KARLEY: Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with these recipesMay is here and that means it’s almost time for Cinco de Mayo! When I’m feeling particularly festive, I invite friends and family over to share a few margaritas with a table full of tacos or a build-your-own burrito bar.
By: Jessica Karley, Grand Forks Herald
May is here and that means it’s almost time for Cinco de Mayo!
May 5 is a day to celebrate the Mexican battle of Puebla. Although, it’s not celebrated in Mexico as much as it used to be, many Americans still observe the holiday. When I’m feeling particularly festive, I invite friends and family over to share a few margaritas with a table full of tacos or a build-your-own burrito bar.
Although, burritos are high on my list, one of my all-time favorite foods is the taco. A taco bar is a great way to feed a crowd without breaking the bank.
And as an added bonus, how many other meals can you get away with having guests make their own? You also don’t have to worry about remembering what each dinner guest or family member will or won’t eat.
A few great staples to include in your taco bar are hard or soft taco shells, one or two different kinds of meat, shredded lettuce or cabbage for extra crunch, sliced jalapenos, chopped onion, shredded or crumbled Mexican cheese, black olives and chopped tomatoes. Add sour cream, salsa and a few side dishes of Mexican rice and refried beans and no one will leave hungry.
When making your taco meat, you can keep it simple and use a taco seasoning packet of your choice or you can use your own aromatic blend of spices. This enables you to know the ingredients that are in what you eat and to control the amount of salt in your meal.
I like to double or triple this recipe for taco seasoning and store it in an air-tight container, so it’s always ready to use.
Another favorite Mexican-themed dish that will be on my table this year is tortilla soup. This dish varies from region to region, and it can be either wonderfully cheesy or broth based. I love both versions, but the recipe I’m going to share is for a tomato broth based Chicken and Shrimp Tortilla Soup.
This is seasoned with cumin — a popular Mexican spice — and pre-seasoned canned tomatoes and green chilies, rotisserie chicken and a premade chicken broth help keep this soup as easy to make as it is delicious.
Finally, a south of the border themed spread wouldn’t be complete without an icy cold beverage to chill your warm taste buds. This recipe comes from my sister, Nora, and it couldn’t be easier.
You can adjust the amounts of tequila and triple sec to suit your taste, or you can omit them all together, replace with water or fruit juice and have a lime slush. If frozen margaritas are not for you, try thawing the limeade in the refrigerator for a few hours, add the rest of the ingredients and enjoy it over ice or “on the rocks.”
Everyday Gourmet Taco Seasoning
3 tablespoons ground chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons red chili flakes
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons smoked paprika, sweet
1 teaspoons garlic powder
Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and stir until combined. Store in airtight container for up to 6 months.
Everyday Gourmet Taco Meat
1 pound ground or pulled beef, chicken or turkey
2 tablespoons Everyday Gourmet Taco Seasoning (more if desired)
¾ cup beer or water
½ teaspoon kosher salt (more or less to taste)
Brown meat in a frying pan over medium high heat, breaking apart with plastic spoon as needed. (Mixture should be finely crumbled). Reduce heat to low. Drain fat. Add taco seasoning and beer (or water). Stir until meat is evenly coated. Let simmer until all excess liquid is gone. Season with salt and more taco seasoning to taste.
Nora’s “Life is Good” Margaritas
1 12-ounce can frozen limeade concentrate
6 ounces tequila
2 ounces triple sec
Salt for rimming glasses if desired.
Combine limeade, tequila and triple sec in 10-cup or larger blender. Fill blender with ice, place lid on and blend until smooth. Serve in salt-rimmed glass.
Chicken and Shrimp Tortilla Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ cup onion
1 cup celery
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ tsp cracked black pepper
6 ounces tomato paste
1 tablespoon ground cumin
20 ounces Rotel tomatoes and green chilies, mild
1 15 ounce can black beans, southwest seasoned, undrained
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 pound shrimp, 21-25 peeled and deveined, tails on or off
½ pound shredded rotisserie chicken
¼ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup cilantro
½ cup fried corn tortilla strips of crushed corn tortilla chips
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering, about 1 minute. Add onions, celery, garlic and kosher salt and pepper. Let the vegetables cook until translucent and tender, not browned. (About 5 minutes.) Add tomato paste and cumin to vegetable mixture, stir until combined and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes with their liquid, beans, chicken broth and shredded chicken. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to low. Add shrimp. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the shrimp is cooked through. (Shrimp will turn pink and curl up). Garnish with chopped cilantro, sour cream and tortilla strips.
Karley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her food blog at EverydayGourmet.AreaVoices.com.