Cinco de Mayo is low-key one of my favorite holidays, and it’s coming up this Saturday! I know we’ve all Americanized it to no end, but any day dedicated to eating tacos, drinking margaritas and wearing festive clothing is just fine by me. We are actually taking a quick trip to Detroit with Dan’s family this weekend, so we don’t have any serious plans to celebrate. But, I thought it would be fun to share some food inspiration with those of you who are planning to fiesta like there’s no mañana.
I wanted to cover three of my all-time favorite classics: margaritas, guacamole, and homemade salsa. Head’s up – each recipe has a fun twist – let’s dive right in, shall we?
Blood Orange Margarita
I love a good margarita, but I’m not a fan of the pre-bottled mixes. I just find them to be way too sweet for my taste (hello, hangover!). If I make them at home, I tend to use a failproof ratio of a good tequila (silver is the best for margs!), triple sec, freshly squeezed lime juice and a splash of orange juice.
In this case, I consulted with my tequila aficionado friend from Houston, Milam. He loves tequila and was an excellent resource, considering how many brands there are to choose from, aging methods, etc. He recommended that I use Hornitos and I went with the Plata (or “silver”) because it has a very smooth, almost salty taste that pairs beautifully with the other ingredients. When choosing a tequila, you’ll want to make sure it says 100% de Agave on the bottle. This just means that it was made purely from the blue agave plant and was approved by a certified government inspector to ensure quality and purity. It will be much smoother and won’t have any “fillers” – hence why you always felt like a garbage can the morning after taking shots of a lesser quality tequila in college.
You may be wondering why I chose to make a blood orange margarita.. and there are are a few reasons. I’d be lying if I said aesthetics wasn’t top of the list… the juice is the most beautiful shade of deep pink! But also, I happen to love the taste of them – they’re not quite as sweet as say, a naval orange. They’re a little tangier. Blood oranges are also in season right now so I knew they’d be fresh and delicious. I love to get bags of them from Trader Joe’s and make everything from margarita mixes to vinaigrettes for salads.
The key to a good margarita – or any cocktail for that matter – is just to make sure you have really high-quality, fresh ingredients and let those flavors shine through.
Now, let’s get to the recipe:
Prep time: 15 minutes | Serves 4
1 cup silver tequila (I used Hornitos Plata)
½ cup triple sec
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice
1 tablespoon clover honey
Splash of orange juice (freshly squeezed is preferred!)
Coarse sea salt for rimming glasses
Add all ingredients in a tall pitcher and mix well with wooden spoon. Using a slice of lime (or water), rim each glass and then coat in coarse sea salt. Add ice cubes to each glass, then fill with the margarita mixture. Garnish with a lime slice and serve. Cheers!
**For those of you who enjoy a blended margarita more than on the rocks, just throw all ingredients into a blender with ice cubes and blend to your desired consistency!
Goat Cheese Guacamole
I promise I’m not crazy, and definitely don’t knock this combination until you’ve tried it! I actually stumbled upon this idea about a year ago when I was making guacamole at home. We were about to leave for a trip and I was trying to use up our produce and everything in the fridge (wasting food gives me serious anxiety). I’m sure you’ve been to a restaurant where they served fresh guac with queso fresco crumbled on top, and that was my inspiration for adding the goat cheese. Let me tell you, it. was. DELICIOUS. The creamy mild flavor of the avocado needs some tang to make it pop and adding the goat cheese crumbles did the trick.
I’ll preface the recipe by saying, if you’re not a fan of goat cheese then, by all means, don’t feel like you have to add it! This is still a solid, basic guacamole recipe that would be perfect for Cinco de Mayo (or every day.. I won’t judge).
Prep time: 20 minutes | Serves 4-6
4 large, ripe avocados
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
Using a Santuko or chef’s knife, half and remove pits from the avocados. Hold the half with the pit still in it in one hand (I recommend holding with a dish towel so you don’t cut yourself), and with a quick motion, tap the knife blade into the pit and twist to remove. Make criss-cross cuts into the meat of the avocado and use a spoon to remove (you can also get this handy dandy avocado tool to avoid any chance of injury!). In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, salt, pepper and ground cumin to the avocado and mash it all together with a fork. Once well-incorporated, use a rubber spatula to fold in the tomatoes and goat cheese. Garnish with more cilantro and goat cheese crumbles and serve with the dipping vessel of your choice. I love the black bean and quinoa tortilla chips from Trader Joe’s.
Roasted Red Salsa
In my honest opinion, no recipe box is complete without an easy, go-to salsa recipe. I could seriously eat chips and salsa for every meal, so I’ve spent a lot of time perfecting my recipe over the years. One thing I’ve found that I love in a good salsa would be a hint of smoky flavor. In my recipe, I like to include roasted red peppers to achieve this. Sure, roasting veggies can be time-consuming if you do it right – but if you’re in a pinch you can also use RRPs straight from the jar (I like the Mt. Olive brand, in the pickle aisle!).
Salsa is one of those amazing foods that comes together from just throwing a bunch of ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulsing to your heart’s content. We have this Ninja blender, which I LOVE and have used to make everything from salsas to smoothies to soups.
In what seems to be a common theme in my life, we’re going out of town this weekend and I just happened to have a rather large red bell pepper that needed to be used so I went the traditional route. Don’t let the prep time listed below intimidate you – keep in mind that you can get all the other ingredients ready AND enjoy a delicious blood orange margarita while you wait!
Here’s how I did it:
Prep time: 50 minutes | Serves 10
1 large roasted red pepper (or 2-3 segments if using the jarred variety)
5 large tomatoes, de-stemmed and quartered
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
Juice of half a large lime
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 500°F. Once ready, put the entire pepper (or peppers) on a baking sheet or in a cast iron skillet and roast for 40 minutes. To get an even char all over, I like to set timers in increments of 10 minutes, and then use tongs to rotate the pepper and restart the timer. Once the pepper is completely roasted, remove it from the oven and immediately wrap in aluminum foil. Let it sit untouched for about 10-12 minutes or until it’s cool enough to handle. This will allow the pepper to steam and will make removing the skin really easy!
Meanwhile, remove stems from the tomatoes and quarter them. If they’re particularly juicy, I like to half them and sprinkle with kosher salt, then place them cut-side down on paper towels. This allows any excess moisture to come out so you don’t end up with a really watery salsa. I can’t take credit for this geniusness – that was a pro tip from my boy, Alton Brown.
Once the pepper is cool enough to handle, unwrap and place on a cutting board. And now comes the fun part… if you’re a weirdo like me and enjoy the sensation of peeling things, you’re going to LOVE taking the skin off the pepper! After steaming in the aluminum foil, it should come right off. Use your fingers or a small spoon to scrape all the seeds out and remove the stem. Then, just do a rough chop on the meat of the pepper.
Add all ingredients to your blender or food processor and pulse until you achieve your desired consistency. If you like a chunkier salsa, it might help to first mix all ingredients in a large bowl to combine flavors, then transfer to your machine and pulse. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips and ice cold Dos Equis!
Well, there you have it! I hope this post has provided you with some serious food inspiration for the coming Cinco de Mayo festivities. Whether you’re having a full-blown fiesta or just hanging with a few friends, these recipes will serve you well!
I’d love to know what your plans are for the weekend – are you having a celebration? What are you going to wear? Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo at all? Let me know in the comments below and whatever you do, have lots of fun!