Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo is NEXT weekend! Are you ready for a fiesta?! We are! When it comes to Cinco de Mayo it is one of those slightly forgotten holidays that sneaks up on you but ends up packing a punch! Add beer and tequila and your guests are going to need some salty snacks, asap! Here are 4 of my favorites!


Queso Dip

Often during my boarding school days, the most exciting outing my friends and I made was to Chili’s. Four to six of us girls would get on the white school bus shuttle and head over to the mall to eat queso dip. It was always full of flavor (and grease) and served with a ton of chips. To this day, I’m nostalgic for that cheesy yellow dip, so here’s my best rendition of that fond dinner memory.

Ingredients

½ cup half-and-half

1 1/2 cups shredded Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese (see note)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon chopped canned jalapeño (see note)

1 teaspoon hot sauce

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to broil. In an 8-inch ovenproof skillet, bring the half-and-half to a very low boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the Oaxaca and cheddar until smooth. Add the canned jalapeño, hot sauce, oregano, cumin, and salt and continue to whisk until smooth.

Place the pan under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes, until the top just begins to brown and bubble. Garnish with tomatoes, cilantro, and jalapeños and serve immediately with chips for dipping. 

The recipe can be spiced up to your taste by adding more jalapeño or hot sauce or adding a pinch of red pepper flakes to the cheese mixture. 

Oaxaca cheese and canned jalapeños are available in most supermarkets or in Mexican markets; if you can’t find Oaxaca cheese, mozzarella makes a good substitute. Or you can substitute an equal amount of pepper Jack cheese and omit the canned jalapeños.


7-Layer Dip

One of the easiest appetizers you can make is a layered dip. Layer a few tasty ingredients, chill them, and then serve with chips. There are probably a million different versions of a seven-layer dip, but this one has a bit of a kick that keeps everyone coming back for more. Have plenty of tortilla chips on hand!

Ingredients

½ cup salsa

1 (16-ounce) can refried beans

1 cup sour cream

1 (15.25-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

3 banana peppers, sliced

1 (2.5-ounce) can black olives, drained well

1 avocado, sliced

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

Pour ¼ cup of the salsa into a 2-quart bowl and spread the refried beans on top. Gently spread the sour cream over the refried beans, then add the remaining salsa. Sprinkle the top evenly with the corn, then the peppers, black olives, and avocado slices. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and cilantro, chill for at least an hour, and serve.


Skirt Steak Tacos

Summertime demands quick and easy dinners—and these skirt steak tacos fit the bill perfectly. Everything is cooked on the grill for a quick dinner that everyone in the family will love! To help the veggies cook quickly, I preslice them and use a grill basket.

Ingredients

1½ pounds skirt steak

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 onion, roughly chopped

¼ cup olive oil

2 teaspoons ground cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 ear sweet corn

8 (6-inch) flour tortillas

2 limes, cut into wedges

Directions

Unwrap the steak and let it come to room temperature. Rub with half of the oil and season with the cumin, salt, and pepper. Toss the bell peppers and onion in a bowl with the remaining oil, salt, and pepper. Place in a grill basket. Rub the ear of corn with the remaining xx oil, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Preheat the grill to high heat (about 550°F).

Wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and place the packet on the top rack of the grill, if gas, or on top of the metal grate for charcoal. Place the ear of corn on the grill and cook, turning it occasionally to brown all sides, until lightly charred. Set aside. Place the grill basket on one side of the grill and cook, shaking the basket occasionally to toss the vegetables, until the vegetables are  softened and slightly browned.Place the steak on the other side of the grill and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare.

Remove the steak and vegetables from the heat and transfer the vegetables to a bowl. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes, then slice against the grain into ¼-inch-thick slices. Carefully cut the kernels from the ear of corn and combine with the vegetables.

Fill each warm tortilla with 3 or 4 slices of meat and a hearty pile of vegetables. Serve with lime wedges.


Taco Soup

I love making this taco soup because of its easy variations. The base of the soup opens itself up for many flavorful additions. In fact, every time I make this soup, I add a little something different, from various veggies to different bean options. And serving it provides just as many options. My husband pours it on top of rice, making a burrito-type bowl, while I just eat it as is and dip a few chips in!

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound lean ground beef

1 (1-ounce) packet low-sodium taco seasoning

1/2 (1-ounce) packet ranch dressing and seasoning mix

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 white onion, chopped

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (10-ounce) can tomatoes with green chiles

1 (4.5-ounce) can diced green chiles

1 cup frozen corn

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, plus extra for serving

Sour cream

Lime wedges

Tortilla chips

Directions

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until it begins to brown. Add the taco seasoning, ranch seasoning, and oregano and cook, stirring, until the meat is cooked through.

Add the bell pepper and onion and sauté for 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add the broth, beans, tomatoes with green chiles, diced green chiles, corn, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Turn the heat off and add the cheese 1/2 cup at a time, stirring with each addition. Serve with extra cheese, sour cream, lime wedges, and tortilla chips.