Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cinco de Mayo Menu!

¡Buenos Dias! ¡Y Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

As I write this post "Oye Como Va" by Santana plays through my headphones. I never get tired of this song.

I've been wanting to host a Cinco de Mayo party for years. There are just so many fun ways to spend a day celebrating Mexican pride. I'm pretty sure I have zero Mexican in me, but I do speak conversational Spanish, I've been to Mexico three times with Family to Family Humanitarian Expeditions, and I like tacos...? Oo! And paletas! Yum! Aaaand, I LOVE Latin dancing! See? Not too bad! I do hate chili powder on my fruit, though. -1 Mexicana point for me there. -10 Janna points for them.
Anyway, Cinco de Mayo came a bit early for us this year. It was more like a Cinco de Marcho. We had a lovely dinner party with some friends of ours and this killer, (if I do say so myself) Mexican-inspired menu is what we spent the night gobbling up. Make this meal! You will not regret it.

The Menu:
Appetizer: Julie's Chunky Salsa & Tortilla Chips
Main Course: Shredded Chicken Tacos with Homemade Flour Tortillas and Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
Side Dish: Fresh Pineapple
Beverages: Brazilian Limeade and Horchata
Dessert: Brownie-bottom Coconut Chocolate Cream Pie over Dulce de Leche a la Mode

There's a lot going on with this menu, about 11 total recipes when you account for the 5 recipes that make up the dessert (don't be scared),  but it's all easy peasy... besides the Horchata.That one's a bit of an adventure, but SO WORTH IT both for the sake of the adventure and for the outcome. Anyway, the menu is totally, totally doable, but let me tell you this is the perfect meal to do cooperatively with your guests. The ones that aren't into cooking can bring the taco fillings (lettuce, cilantro, tomatoes, etc.) and the pineapple, while your food-savvy friends can bring the appetizer and tomatillo sauce, and your most die-hard foodie guests can do things like the Horchata and Brazilian Limeade. That leaves you with the chicken (crockpot!), tortillas, and dessert (day before!).

Normally when I introduce a menu, I give the first recipe, but this time I'm going to give you the list of taco fillings.

Cinco de Mayo Taco Fillings

Cafe Rio Style Shredded Chicken
Shredded Lettuce-
Romaine or even simple iceberg works well.
Shredded Queso Fresco-
Such a great flavor and so much more special than cheddar. Cheese goes fast. Have plenty on hand.
Lime Wedges-
I like for each guest to have two substantial wedges on their plate. Topping the tacos off with lime juice will brighten up all of the other flavors.
Fresh Cilantro-
Later I'll show you my idea for how to turn cilantro plants into a triple threat: place card holder, taco topping, and party favor.
Diced Vine Tomatoes-
My rule of thumb is 1 medium tomato per guest
Sliced Avocado-
There may be a temptation here to do guacamole instead, but with all the flavors of guac already accounted for in the other ingredients, I like the avocado to stand in its natural form. I'd be prepared with 1/2 an avocado per person.
Sliced Red Onion-
Many types of onion could work, but I like the color of the red. I choose to slice instead of dice because the slices are less likely to fall out of the taco while eating. 1/8 of a medium onion per person will be plenty.
Sour Cream-
Personally, I never put it on my tacos, but for so many people it's a must. Get the good stuff and whip it with a whisk before serving so it's light and easier to manage.
Sliced Mango-
Besides the gorgeous color, the stand-out flavor, and the tender texture, the mango is such an unexpected topping. It's one of the "wow" elements that makes the taco guest-worthy. Half a mango per person should do it.
Creamy Tomatillo Dressing-
Trust me on this one.
Stay tuned for the first recipe!


  1. These tacos look healthy and delicious! My husband's new little twin cousins were born on Cinco de Mayo and these would be such a treat to make for their birthday this year!

    1. My two-yr-old loved them, so I'm guessing they would too! Let me know if you end up making them, k? I usually like to cook with all whole ingredients, and I have to confess that this menu has a few "shortcuts" I'm probably going to adjust in the future. It really is a YUM YUM YUM menu, though... if I do say so myself. :)
      So wonderful to have a fellow Northeastern girl visiting! I miss it up there so much. Your blog is seriously stylin' and your husband does great photography. I'll be popping over there from now on for sure. Thanks for stopping by!