Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Mexico's "Fifth of May" festivities are a perfect excuse to entertain friends. Hosting a Cinco de Mayo party to celebrate Mexican culture doesn't have to be overwhelming. You can turn up the heat with outstanding party decor and a menu to match.

Decorate the tabletop using bright colors and natural elements that complement the Mexican fare. Use a festive striped tablecloth, bold color plates and bowls and big margarita glasses. Then arrange fresh produce, such as mini sweet peppers, long red peppers, bell peppers, avocados and jalapeños around a vase of sunflowers.

Line the table with platters of south-of-the boarder favorites. For starters, try Queso Fundido and Chorizo Taquitos. Serve Queso Blanco with Skirt Steak for the main course, and allow guests to indulge in a Mexican Chocolate Trifle for dessert. To keep the party going, serve a frosty blended Meringue Margarita cocktail to the adults. And to strike up a chord, play Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gypsy Kings, or Texas Tornados.

Queso Fundido with Chile Rajas

  • 1 package (24-ounce) shredded Mexican cheese blend, Kraft®
  • 1 can (7-ounce) whole green chiles, Ortega®
  • 1 jar (12-ounce) roasted red peppers, Mancini®
  • 12 green onions, sliced
  • 12 corn tortillas, Mission®
  1. Preheat broiler. Place cheese in large shallow, oiled earthenware casserole or cast iron skillet. Slice chiles and peppers lengthwise. Sprinkle over cheese. Place under broiler just until cheese begins to melt. Scatter onions over peppers and continue to broil just until onions begin to color and cheese begins to bubble.
  2. To heat tortillas, wrap tortillas in wet paper towels and heat in microwave on medium-high (75% power) about 15 seconds. To serve, scoop melted cheese mixture into tortillas.
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes
  • Yields: 12 servings

Chorizo Taquitos

  • 1 package (16-ounce, bulk) beef chorizo sausage, casing removed
  • 1 cup medium chunky salsa, drained, Pace®
  • 1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese, Kraft®
  • 6 fajita-size (8-inch) flour tortillas, Mission®
  • 1 cup prepared guacamole
  • 1⁄4 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large skillet, sauté sausage over medium heat until brown, about 6 minutes. Drain fat from cooked sausage; discard. Set sausage aside to cool. Stir salsa and cheese into sausage in skillet.
  2. Place 1 tortilla onto a clean work surface. Spoon 1⁄4 cup of the sausage mixture down tortilla center. Fold tortilla in half, then roll up. Secure with toothpicks. Place on a foil-covered cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.
  3. Bake until filling is hot and tortillas are crisp and golden brown, about 18 minutes. Cut taquitos in half crosswise. Serve hot with guacamole and sour cream.
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes
  • Yields: 12 pieces

Queso Blanco Skirt Steak

  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, Sargento®
  • 2 tablespoons chopped jalapeños, Ortega®
  • 6 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 1⁄4 cup diced onion, Ready Pac®
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin, McCormick®
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon ground coriander, McCormick®
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 pounds skirt steak
  • 2 teaspoons Montreal steak seasoning, McCormick® Grill Mates
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican seasoning, The Spice Hunter®
  • Vegetable oil
  1. For the Queso Blanco, in a medium double boiler, over medium high heat, cook and stir cheese, jalapeños, half-and-half, onion, cumin, coriander, salt, and cilantro for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from heat; keep warm.
  2. For the skirt steak, set up grill for direct cooking over high heat. Oil grate when ready to start cooking. Remove steak from the refrigerator and let stand for 20 minutes. Season both sides of steak with steak seasoning and Mexican seasoning. Place skirt steak on hot oiled grill and cook 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove steak from grill and let rest 5 minutes. To serve, thinly slice skirt steak against the grain and top with warm Queso Blanco.
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour
  • Yields: 6 servings

Mexican Chocolate Trifle

  • 1 1⁄3 cups milk
  • 2 packages (2.8 ounces each) chocolate mousse mix, Nestlé® European Style
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, McCormick®
  • 4 teaspoons almond extract, McCormick®
  • 2 containers (8 ounces each) frozen chocolate whipped topping, thawed, Cool Whip®
  • 2 packages (11 ounces each) chocolate-coated chocolate cakes, cut into 1⁄2-inch-wide slices, Little Debbie® Devil Squares
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks, Nestlé®
  • 1⁄4 cup slivered almonds, Planters®
  1. In a large bowl, combine milk, mousse mix, and cinnamon; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down sides of the bowl and beat on high speed about 2 minutes more or until thickened. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  2. Stir 2 teaspoons of the almond extract into each container of chocolate whipped topping and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Arrange half of the chocolate cake slices in a trifle dish. Spoon half of the mousse mixture on top of the cake slices. Spoon half of the whipped topping mixture on top of the mousse mixture. Sprinkle all of the chocolate chunks on top. Repeat layers with the remaining cake slices, mousse mixture, and whipped topping mixture. Sprinkle almonds on top.
  4. Refrigerate trifle until ready to serve (up to 8 hours).
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling
  • Yields: 16 servings

Meringue Margarita

  • 1½ ounces Jose Cuervo® Light Margarita
  • 4 ounces crushed ice
  • 1 teaspoon meringue cookie crumbs
  • 1 fresh lime wedge
  1. Mix Jose Cuervo and ice in a blender. Rub the rim of a chilled margarita glass with lime and then dip into crushed meringues. Pour into the glass and garnish with lime wedge.
  • Yields: 1 cocktail

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