Mexican food has been a constant in my life. When I was growing up in Southern California, there were groves of avocado trees nearby. My mom makes a simple, delicious guacamole, and you’d always find chips and salsa on our snack tables. We had a freezer filled with homemade tamales, thanks to our beloved nanny, Maria. And my dad’s go-to cocktail for summertime gatherings is still a margarita. I love the flavors and heat of Mexican dishes, and this week, Cinco de Mayo inspired a scrumptious menu.
I started by getting some chicken going in the crockpot with onions, jalapeno, garlic, salt, and a little bit of water. Four hours later, I had tender, flavorful chicken that I shredded for tacos. (Get the recipe here!) I’ve been on a pineapple kick lately, so I also made fresh pineapple pico de gallo. I love the vibrant colors!
Before dinner came together, we needed a festive drink for happy hour. I took notes from my dear friend Ame, who loves to get creative with cocktails. She recently told me about a jalapeno-cucumber-cilantro number that seemed perfect for the occasion. I call it The Cinco, because it involves the juice of five fruits, five slices of cucumber, and five slices of jalapeno. Add in some fresh cilantro, simple syrup, and vodka- the result is a fresh, tart-sweet cocktail with a bit of lingering heat. Delish! Juan serenaded me while I played bartender.
The last thing I needed to make for dinner was cilantro-lime rice. I make this rice often; it goes well with Mexican and Asian dishes, and it’s super simple to make. I cook basmati rice in chicken stock according to the package directions. I add in the juice of two limes as well as the lime zest, then stir in a nice, big pile of chopped cilantro. Let’s eat!
What a spread! Our taco nights are DIY, with lots of topping options. I made mine with shredded chicken, a little bit of cheese, plenty of pineapple salsa, and fresh cilantro, with a squeeze of lime and a couple dashes of Cholula. Ole!
Later that night, we rescued a lost neighborhood dog. John slept with the sweet boy down in the music room until we could locate his family in the morning. We learned that his name was actually Bruno, but he’ll always be Cinco to us.
How did you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Share with me!
The Cinco (thanks, Ame!)
For two cocktails, you’ll need:
- Juice from one lemon, two limes, two oranges (about 1 cup of juice)
- Five slices of jalapeno
- Five slices of cucumber
- Fresh cilantro
- 3 ounces of vodka or tequila
- Simple syrup to taste, maybe 1 ½ ounces
Make simple syrup by heating equal parts sugar and water on the stove, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Allow the syrup to cool before using.
In your shaker, muddle the jalapeno, cilantro, and cucumber. Add the juices, vodka or tequila, and simple syrup to the shaker and shake well with a few ice cubes. Pour over ice and garnish with a slice of jalapeno and a slice of cucumber. Tastes better with a bearded man in a sombrero serenading you on the guitar. Yum!
Still thirsty? Check out this list of yummy drink recipes!
One year ago: Happy accidents.