If it weren't for Cinco de Mayo, French might be Mexico's official language. Although sometimes mistaken for Mexico's National Independence Day — which is actually September 16 — the May 5th holiday commemorates the bravery of a ragtag group of Mexican militia in a battle against the invading French army. A proud celebration of Mexican heritage, Cinco de Mayo is marked by parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across both Mexico and its American neighbor to the north.
The perfect excuse for a Mexican-themed dinner, Cinco de Mayo is a fiesta just waiting to happen. These South of the Border flavors are guaranteed to get the party started.
For a crowd-pleasing starter, make this simply delicious Burrito Dip, a sauté of ground beef, salsa, refried beans and onions with Spice Islands® Chili Powder and Spice Islands® Oregano. Cooked on the stove top, this dip is topped with cheddar cheese and garnished with cilantro and sour cream. Serve warm alongside a bowl of tortilla chips, and this zippy appetizer will have your guests saying Ole! at first bite.
All-in-One SkilletWho doesn't love a one-dish supper? Saving on time and clean up, this Mexican Skillet with Quick Tamale Dumplings is perfect for a party, letting the host prep in advance and spend time with the guests instead of in the kitchen. A cast iron skillet sets a rustic tone, delivering a potent mix of chile-spiced ground beef, Spice Islands® Minced Onion and Mexican corn topped with spoons of corn bread “tamales."
Taco ManiaNothing feeds an army of hungry party-goers like tacos — tasty pick-up-and-eat bites that pair beautifully with freshly made margaritas. For a healthy spin on the usual version, try Chicken Tacos with Avocado Salsa, an easy fix that's on the table in 20 minutes. Not only are these tacos rich in lean protein from the chicken breast, but thanks to the avocado they are also loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids.
Mole-liciousMole may not be French, but on a global scale it's one of the "Mother" sauces, a customizable simmer that always includes chile peppers and some combination of chocolate, nuts and herbs. This version of Pasilla Chile Mole brings nuanced flavors to the table, a heady concoction of chile and spices, almonds and raisins powered by Spice Islands® Pasilla Chili Powder and Spice Islands® Ancho Chili Powder. This flavor-packed sauce is perfect with pulled pork or any Mexican entrée.
Sweet EndingsAdd a sweet finish to your Cinco de Mayo celebration with these impossible-to-resist Mexican Chocolate Almond Cookies. Made with a hint of Spice Islands® Ground Saigon Cinnamon, these decadent morsels are pure chocolate goodness, finished with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Beth D'Addono is a food and travel writer based in New Orleans. She regularly writes about flavors Creole and global for outlets from USAToday.com and 10Best.com to Country Roads and AAA World. Her latest book is The Hunt New Orleans, an authentically different guidebook to her city.