I love to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with an array of great Mexican food. Whether you want to go with a full spread or just a bunch of smaller appetizers there are several varieties of food you can make. I’ve come up with several easy suggestions for foods to serve on this celebratory day.
Guacamole Dip – Choose nice ripe avocados to make your dip. I prefer the Haas avocados the most, but you can use whatever type you can find. The Haas avocados are smaller and are incased in a dark bumpy skin. The ripe ones will be fairly soft when you squeeze them and those are the perfect ones for a great dip. The skin is usually darker on the more ripe avocados. Wash off the outside of the avocado to avoid spreading any bacteria that may be on the skin and slice the avocado all the way around and right through to the pit. It should then be easy to pull the halves apart and scoop out the meat. If you can find it, then my first choice for a mix is Lawry’s Guacamole Mix as I think it has the best flavor. The mix comes in a packet and you will probably find it with the mexican food at you local grocer or possibly with the vegetables. If you cannot find Lawry’s then my second choice would be McCormick’s Guacamole Mix. Once you’ve mixed your guacamole you want to set it in the fridge for a while so the flavors have a chance to come out. I then love to add small chopped tomato and a dash of Tabasco. It’s now ready to serve.
Finger Quesadillas – It is really easy to make Quesadillas and you can make a variety of them to serve your guests very easily. You’ll want to buy some type of cooked chicken which you can get at the market. There are a few brands that offer pre-cooked chicken strips in a vacuum-sealed package. You can even use something like Swanson’s canned chicken chunks that they sell near the tuna products. If you prefer beef than buy a package of beef strips from the butcher. You will also need a package of taco size tortillas and some shredded cheese, either cheddar or a Mexican cheese mix and some ground cumin. You also want to get if using beef, then heat some oil in a pan sear the strips making sure to not over cook them. If using chicken then you can always just spread the pre-cooked chicken on a plate and microwave them for a minute or two. To make the Quesadillas get a pan large enough to hold the tortilla shell you choose and spray the pan with cooking spray. Place one tortilla in the pan and top with beef, chicken and sprinkle with cheese or you can even make just cheese ones and then sprinkle a little of the ground cumin over it for an authentic Mexican flavor. Cover the pan long enough to get the cheese melted and then top with another tortilla and carefully flip the whole thing over in the pan to heat the other side. Once both sides are toasty and slightly browned and the cheese in the middle is melted, remove to a plate and cut into eight or more pieces with a pizza cutter. Arrange these on a platter with a scoop of guacamole, sour cream and some lettuce, tomato and scallions for garnish. You may also want to read my article on salsa here and make some for your gathering.
Chicken Enchiladas – Slice boneless chicken into strips and marinate at least an hour in lime juice and garlic. While the chicken is marinating, slice red and green pepper into thin pieces and also onion. Cook sliced vegetables in a skillet until browned and remove to a bowl. You then want to drain the chicken and add to the skillet cooking until browned. Return the vegetables to the skillet and heat the whole thing through and sprinkle cumin all over it. I like it a little spicier so I always sprinkle it with some hot pepper too. Fill tortillas with the mixture and roll them up and place them in a baking pan. Cover these with some Enchilada sauce and I usually use the Old El Paso Enchilada sauce in a can. There are several others you can buy or even packets to make your own. Add extra shredded cheese to cover the top of all of them and back in a 325 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is all melted and bubbly. Serve with a garnish of lettuce and tomatoes.
Beef Burritos – Brown a pound of ground chuck in a pan and mix in a packet of taco seasoning mix. Since ground chuck will produce more fat than other ground meats, I usually drain only half of the grease and mix in half the water the taco mix calls for. This way you get a real tasty meat mix for your burritos. If you happen to like refried beans you can spread your tortillas with them first before adding the meat and rolling into a pan. If you like to have plain burritos then cover the burritos with a slightly wet paper towel and microwave before serving. If you like wet burritos, then cover them with your favorite salsa and heat in the microwave or an over at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Mini Tostadas – Spread whole round chips on a plate such as Tostito’s and top with beef mix with taco seasoning or shredded chicken (I boil chicken until cooked through and then chopped in a mini electric chopper tossing in some ground cumin and chopped green chilies) that has already been cooked and/or heated. Sprinkle with lettuce, tomato and scallion and a dab of sour cream and guacamole to hold the toppings on each round tortilla chip. Serve with a side of salsa and lots of napkins.