It’s fast approaching — May 5 is Cinco de Mayo, the day Mexico celebrates its independence. It’s also a day of celebration that is rapidly gaining popularity in the United States, as the local Hispanic population increases. This festive holiday gives us all a good excuse to celebrate with our neighbors and enjoy the food that many of us have come to love.
I enjoy preparing as well as devouring Mexican food, but rather than sticking to authentic dishes, I have learned to take many shortcuts to make them simpler and easier to prepare. I hope these work for you.
5 tsp. fajita seasoning, divided
¼ tsp. teaspoon oregano
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1½ lbs. shrimp, sirloin steak or boneless chicken breasts,
cut into thin strips
1 medium onion cut into thin strips
1 bell pepper cut into thin strips
8 (10-inch) flour tortillas
Optional toppings: salsa, guacamole, shredded cheese, sour cream
Combine 4 tsp. fajita seasoning with oregano, oil and vinegar in a glass dish. Add beef or chicken; turn to coat. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove meat from marinade and into heated skillet. Saute for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle remaining fajita seasoning over meat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook and stir 5 to 6 minutes longer or until meat is done and
Divide mixture into center of warm tortillas. Garnish as desired and fold. Great served with black beans and rice.
Simple Southwest Layered Salad
6 cups torn romaine lettuce
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed, drained
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
¾ cup salsa
½ cup Mexican style shredded Cheddar- Jack cheese
¼ cup ranch dressing
1 cup tortilla chips, broken
Arrange lettuce in bottom of glass serving bowl or on serving plate. Layer beans, corn, salsa and cheese evenly over top. Drizzle with dressing; sprinkle with chips.
Rachel Ray’s Cracked Corn and Cheese Squares
1 (8½ ounce) package corn muffin mix, mixed according
to package directions
Softened butter to grease baking dish
1/3 pound Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese diced
into ¼ -inch pieces
½ cup frozen corn kernels
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with butter. Stir cheese, corn, and scallions into packaged mixed corn muffin batter.
Pour batter into baking dish and bake at 400 degrees F until golden, 15 to 18 minutes.
24 round tortilla chips
1-cup refried beans
¼ cup salsa
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
24 slices ripe olives
Place chips on ungreased cookie sheet. Spread heaping teaspoon beans on each chip. Top each with ½ tsp. salsa, 1 tsp. cheese and 1 olive slice. Broil until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
¾ cup buttermilk
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 (8.5 oz.) can cream style corn
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
Heat oven to 375. Generously grease casserole dish. In large bowl, combine cheese, buttermilk, oil, eggs, corn and chilies; mix well. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup, level off. In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, mix well. Add to liquid ingredients; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake at 375 for 40-50 minutes or until deep golden brown and toothpick in center comes out clean. Serve warm.