Fiesta Foods for Cinco de Mayo Article -
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Fiesta Foods for Cinco de Mayo

Pull out the barbeque, string up some lanterns, and throw a backyard Cinco de Mayo fiesta!

Pictured: Pollo Fajitas

Every 5th of May (el Cinco de Mayo), Mexico commemorates its 1862 victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla.

With so many people of Mexican descent living in the United States, Cinco de Mayo is as important an occasion in the U.S. as in Mexico. No matter what your ancestry, it's a great occasion to gather with friends and celebrate the flavors of Mexico!


Go all-out and make your own salsa. It's so easy and tasty, you might never want store-bought again! Basic fresh salsa has tomatoes, chiles, onions, garlic, cilantro, lime juice or vinegar, and salt. Video: see how to make a top-rated recipe for salsa >>

Save time by chopping the tomatoes in the food processor. Just core them and cut them into quarters, and pulse them in the food processor just until they've reached the consistency you want for. Tip: Use Roma tomatoes for a drier, chunkier salsa and round tomatoes for a juicier salsa.

  • Use white onions; they taste better than yellow ones for eating raw.
  • Try some variations: replace the tomatoes with diced mangoes, cucumbers, or tomatillos.
  • Try adding fresh, raw corn, or a can of drained and rinsed black beans to your salsa.
  • Use different peppers for different heat. Anaheims are mild; poblanos are a bit hotter, jalapenos a bit hotter still; serranos are even hotter, and habaneros will set your mouth on fire!

Get recipes for salsa.


There is no single recipe for the perfect margarita, but there are three main ingredients: tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice.

  • Tequila: No need to buy premium brands, as the flavor will be covered up by other ingredients.
  • Orange liqueur: This makes the margarita sweet. There are several different kinds you can use, from the more straightforward sweetness of triple sec or curacao to the rich complexity of Cointreau or Grand Marnier.
  • Lime juice: Squeeze your own limes and taste the difference!

Time saver: mix up your tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice in a big pitcher beforehand. When you're ready to make a batch of margaritas, just pour some of your magical mix over ice and blend or shake! Video: see how to make margaritas >>

Get recipes for margaritas.


Fajitas have a mixed Mexican-American heritage. They were first made by Mexican and Texan cowboys, who developed this signature method for grilling their rations of skirt steak.

These days, you can make fajitas with chicken, seafood, or even tofu.

Two things give fajitas their distinctive flavor: the marinade and the cooking method.

  • Fajita marinade always contains lime juice and garlic, and often onion, cilantro, oregano cumin, chiles, and sometimes tequila. Video: see how to make fajita marinade >>
  • When it comes to cooking fajita meat, you're going to want to grill. If you are using skirt steak, pound it thin, cook it no more than medium-rare and slice it across the grain for maximum tenderness.

And don't forget--no fajita feast is complete without sauteed onions and green peppers, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and a big pile of soft, warm flour tortillas.

Get recipes for fajitas.


This traditional Mexican dessert of creamy custard crowned with rich, toasty caramel looks complicated but is really very easy to make. Video: see how to make flan >>

Many recipes call for individual custard cups, but if you don't have any you can just as easily use a pie pan and slice the flan into wedges for serving.

Customize your flan recipe by replacing 1/4 cup of the milk with rum or your favorite liqueur, or try mixing in orange zest or shredded coconut.

To provide gentle, even heat, flan recipes will ask you to bake the custard in a water bath--a roasting pan full of water, in which you set the flan dishes. Bring the water to a boil before you pour it into the pan or it will take a very long time for the oven to heat it up. When it's done, the flan will be firm around the edges, but it will still be wobbly in the middle; the texture will even out as it cools.

Get more recipes for flan.

Ready to for fiesta fun? Get recipes, videos, and tips in our ultimate guide to Cinco de Mayo!

Mar. 10, 2013 10:15 pm
I'm a snowbird in Yuma, AZ right now. The other day I was in a grocery store which featured many items unfamiliar to me - I assumed they were for Mexican cuisine. I have since checked some of them out - corn husks for tamales. I purchased a package of steak but when I opened it the meat was very thinly sliced (1/4"). I don't know what todo with it. We usually like our steaks much thicker for grilling. Can anyone tell me how to cook these steaks?
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