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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: for Cinco de Mayo Celebrations in the High Country

By Sherrie Norris

We’re just a few days away from a special observance that continues to gain popularity in the High Country and beyond. May 5 is a day commemorating Mexico’s victory over France at the Battle pf  Pueblo in 1862. It has often been confused with Mexico’s Independence Day, which is actually September 16.

Many of us have gotten into the festivities in recent years, likely without realizing the meaning behind the celebration. But, what we do realize is that we have many friends and neighbors from Mexico and other Hispanic countries who have found their way here and contribute   greatly to our area, especially in agriculture.

Before I even begin to share recipes, I will be first to admit that my suggestions pale in comparison to those foods I’ve tasted prepared by the ones who know them best. 

We are blessed at our church, Mount Vernon Baptist, to have a large Hispanic ministry, through which its members have often prepared and served their authentic and delicious specialties for us to enjoy. And the Boone area certainly has several eateries offering up the best in Mexican cuisine. Those restaurants and neighborhoods will come alive next week, especially, as we celebrate with our Hispanic neighbors while they honor their heritage and culture.

Hopefully, a few of the following recipes will pass the test for your in-home parties.

Fiesta Taco Soup

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 can pinto beans

1 can kidney beans

1 can black beans

2 cans kernel corn, drained

2 cans stewed tomatoes

1 can Rotel tomatoes

1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch Fiesta Dips

1 pkg. taco seasoning mix

2 cups water

Brown ground beef and drain. Combine all the ingredients together in a large pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for at least 1 hour.

Quick Spanish Rice

¾ cup uncooked regular rice

½ cup water

1 (14 ½ oz.) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 (11-oz.) can sweet corn (niblets)

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20-25 minutes or until rice is tender and water is absorbed, stirring frequently.

Garden Fresh Salsa

2 large tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 or 2 hot chili peppers, seeded and chopped

1/3 cup chopped green onions

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

2 Tbsp. lime juice

¼ tsp. salt

In medium bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. Cover and refrigerate until serving time. Can be stored in refrigerator up to a week.

Easy Guacamole

1 medium peeled, mashed avocado

¼ cup finely chopped onion

¼ cup chopped tomato

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. hot sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

Combine all ingredients, stirring until blended. Best served immediately.

Tex-Mex Nacho Bake

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 lb. ground beef

1 pkg. taco seasoning

12 oz. jar chunky mild salsa

1 can black beans, drained, rinsed

1 can corn, drained

½ cup water

Pkg. corn chips

Shredded Mexican cheese

Cherry tomatoes, quartered

2 avocados, coarsely chopped

Sour cream and lime wedges, to serve (optional)

 Grease and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper, or just spray the pan.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add ground beef. Cook, stirring to break up lumps for about 5 minutes, or until browned. Add taco seasoning and cook, stirring until blended.

Stir in salsa, beans, corn and water. Bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat.

Arrange corn chips over prepared cookie sheet/pan. Sprinkle with half the Mexican cheese. Top with beef mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and lightly brown. Remove from oven

Scatter tomatoes over nachos. Top with avocado and sour cream, or serve on the side.

Mexican Brunch Pie

5 beaten eggs

2 tsp. melted butter or margarine

¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ tsp. baking powder

1 (8-oz.) carton cream-style cottage cheese

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 small can drained, chopped green chilies

Combine eggs, butter, flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl; beat well at medium speed. Stir in remaining ingredients and pour into a well-greased 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 350 and bake about 20 minutes or until set. Cut into wedges and serve.