April is more than halfway over, and May will soon be upon us. That can only mean one thing: Cinco de Mayo! This holiday is a great opportunity to appreciate Mexican culture, whether it’s by studying history, attending music and dance recitals, viewing artwork, or—of course—eating traditional food! Many folks are content to just patronize Tex-Mex restaurants on May fifth, and that’s definitely a great way to celebrate. However, whether you’re planning to host a party or just hang out with your family, why not try your hand at making some Tex-Mex favorites? Here are some ideas (and recipes) to consider:
Homemade Refried Beans
Let’s be honest: it doesn’t take a whole lot of skill to open up a can of refried beans and heat it up on the stove. That’s how most of us experience refried beans at home, even if we take a moment to add a little bit of fresh garlic for extra flavor. But while they may be a bit time-consuming to prepare from scratch, (mostly because the beans need an hour or two to soften) cooking them actually isn’t extremely difficult. Plan ahead, and you can impress your friends and family with a restaurant-quality side dish.
Summer tends to come early in Texas, and watermelon is one fruit that absolutely screams “Summer.” If Cinco de Mayo comes on a warm day, then consider shaking things up with watermelon margaritas. A creative twist on an old favorite, watermelon margaritas are more sweet than tart—some folks go so far as to coat the rim of the glass with sugar instead of salt. Add a skewer of fresh fruit as a garnish, and you’ve got a unique drink that will get your guests excited for the warm weather. Just be sure to have traditional margaritas available, too, as some Tex-Mex “purists” are very serious about their alcoholic beverages!
Fajitas can be as simple or as elaborate as you want them to be. They can also be made with various kinds of meat and “fixings,” so they can easily be tailored to suit a wide variety of palettes. The key is to do them buffet-style: lay out the meat, tortillas and toppings onto separate plates, and invite your family members and/or guests to just go through the line and take what they want. This way, adults can load theirs up with peppers and onions, while kids can pile on the sour cream, guacamole and cheese. No fuss, no mess.
This is it, folks. Tamales are serious business, and attempting to make them at home is not for the faint of heart. Why? Because the whole process is pretty time-consuming, it often requires specialty ingredients, and most recipes yield a few dozen tamales. So unless you’re feeding a large crowd, plan to freeze some for later. But no guts, no glory; if you can successfully whip up a few plates of these beauties, then your Cinco de Mayo dinner may just become the stuff of legend. So if you’re confident in your culinary skills, then give it a shot!
If you’ve never before cooked Tex-Mex food, the idea of doing so may seem a bit intimidating. But try to relax! Tex-Mex food is supposed to be warm, welcoming and fun. You can even invite some friends or family members to join you in the kitchen; not only will this make the work go faster, (especially if you’re making tamales!) but it’ll give you an opportunity to socialize and keep your spirits up instead of worrying about producing something perfect. Remember: cooking is an art, not a science.
And, of course, if you think you’d rather leave the Tex-Mex cooking to the professionals, then you can come join us for dinner. No need to bring a side dish or an entrée; just bring your appetite…and a celebratory attitude!