Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Cinco de Mayo Celebration

by Wen Zientek-Sico
Cinco de MayoCinco de Mayo is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Mexican and Mexican-American culture and heritage, even if your background is non-Hispanic. Cinco de Mayo parties and celebrations can be a whole lot of fun, but with the high prevalence of alcohol at these events, they aren't very family friendly. Here is a simple menu of Mexican inspired dishes that the whole family will enjoy that offers a taste of Mexico, without difficult to find ingredients. Best of all, it is kid friendly and many of the recipes are actually easy enough for your children to help prepare.

Kid Friendly Margarita Punch

Don't leave the kids out of the Fiesta! Make this fun and festive punch for them and other teetotalers. It is a great all-purpose punch that works perfectly with Mexican menus, grilled food, and any outdoor gathering. This is a modernized version of a recipe we have used for years. It used to call for egg whites, but now we use meringue powder or just whites to make sure the punch is safe from any possible contamination with salmonella.

3 ounces frozen lemonade concentrate

3 ounces frozen limeade concentrate
1/4 cup powdered sugar
equivalent of 1 egg white
1 1/2 cups crushed ice
1/2 liter lemon lime soda
1 thinly sliced lime

Combine the concentrates, powdered sugar, egg white, and crushed ice in a large freezer proof container. Cover tightly and freeze for at least one hour and up to a month. Place the frozen mixture into a large punch bowl. Slowly pour in the soda and add the lime and lemon slices. Serve in chilled salt rimmed glasses.

Makes 4 servings.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Favorite Chicken Quesadillas

Quesadillas are quick and easy to make and fun to eat. Adults and children love them (although sometimes with different ingredients!) and they make great party fare. Serve them as a main dish or as a great appetizer. They also make wonderful snacks or light lunches.

2 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 small minced garlic clove
1/4 cup chopped bell peppers
2 minced chile peppers (to taste)
3 chopped plum tomatoes
oil for frying
8 flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
11/2 cups cooked chicken
Sour cream

In a medium heavy skillet sauté the onions, garlic, and peppers in the 2 tablespoons oil until soft. Add the chile peppers and tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes more. Add the chicken and stir well to combine. Heat a thin layer of oil in a heavy medium sized pan over medium low heat, Place a tortilla in the pan and sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Add about a quarter of the chicken mixture and top with another 1/4 cup cheese. Cover with another tortilla and cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip the quesadilla over and cook for an additional two minutes. Remove from the heat and cut into wedges. Keep warm while frying the remaining quesadillas. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Makes 4 Servings.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Fiesta Chicken

This is truly a "no-brainer" meal. This is a favorite dish to make in just minutes, especially if you already have chopped green peppers, onions, and chicken pieces on hand. Many grocery stores sell fresh or frozen chopped onions and green peppers in the produce section, freezer section, or even salad bar. In addition, if time is really short, you can buy chopped chicken to save time. The only thing to watch out for when using these convenience food is the typically higher prices.

1 tablespoon canola oil
4 chicken breast halves, cubed
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cups chunky salsa
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup quick cooking rice
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and chicken and sauté until the chicken is lightly browned. Add the green pepper and onion and sauté until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Add the salsa and broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice and mix well. Toss the cheese on top of the dish, cover, and remove from the heat. Let rest for five minutes to cook the rice and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Corn with Chiles

This is a very easy side dish with a great color that is more savory than hot. Commercial canned green chiles are not hot at all. For those of you that like your dishes with a bit of zing, substitute hot pepper oil for the olive oil. If you cannot find hot pepper oil, use a dash or two of hot pepper sauce.

20 ounces frozen corn
1 bunch sliced scallions
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces canned green chiles
Salt and pepper to taste

Defrost the frozen corn and drain. Sauté the onion in the oil for 2 minutes, then add the corn and peppers. Cook until the corn and onions are tender and hot. Add salt and pepper and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Mexican Sundaes

When I was little I only ate two types of ice cream, chocolate vanilla twist and Mexican sundaes. While my appreciation of ice cream has expanded to many other flavors and dishes, this recipe is still a very sentimental favorite. They are always a favorite with guests young and old and make a great summer treat. The chocolate-cinnamon sauce can be made in advance and just gently reheated before serving if desired.

3 ounces semisweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
Dash cinnamon
1 pint vanilla ice cream
2 small sliced bananas
1/3 cup Spanish peanuts
Whipped cream (optional)

Place the chocolate, heavy cream, and cinnamon in a medium heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate melts and the sauce is smooth. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes. Distribute the ice cream and banana slices among four dishes. Top with the cooled sauce and sprinkle the peanuts overtop. Add whipped cream if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Cooling Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

About the author

Wen Zientek-Sico is a freelance writer and recipe developer specializing in family friendly recipes. She also manages the Perfect Entertaining website which offers great ideas for family friendly parties, dinners, recipes, menus, decorating ideas, and much more.

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