Monday, May 5, 2008

Our Cinco de Mayo Festivities

Cinco de Mayo is another one of those slightly, but not entirely, random holidays that Jeff and I like to celebrate with an all-out meal. I started planning tonight's meal around lunchtime today, and started preparing right away. Now, hours later, we've eaten and enjoyed our meal, and I can say that all my work (though it wasn't really hard) has definitely paid off!

Our Cinco de Mayo Menu:
  • Appetizer: Chile Onion Polenta
  • Main Course: Soft Tacos with corn tortillas, taco meat, homemade salsa, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, cheese, and Creamy French Italian Dressing
  • Side: Spanish Rice
  • Dessert: Leche Quemada
The recipes:

Chile Onion Polenta
3 cups cold water
1 cup cornmeal
1 envelope onion soup mix
4 oz. can green chilies, drained
1/2 cup whole kernel corn
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Bring the water to a boil in a 3 qt. saucepan. With wire whisk, stir in the cornmeal and onion soup mix. Simmer uncovered, stirring constantly for 25 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the chilies and corn.

Spread the mixture in a lightly greased 9" baking pan and sprinkle with cheese. Let stand for 20 minutes or until firm. Cut and serve.

Taco Meat
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. onion powder

Combine meat and seasonings. Cook until meat is browned. Drain off fat.

Simple Salsa
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 4-oz. can green chilies, drained
2 tbsp. dried minced onions
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried parsley

Combine all ingredients in food processor. Process for a few seconds until mixture is blended but still chunky. Let mixture stand at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 1 cup.

Creamy French Italian Dressing
3 tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1 1/2 tsp. dried minced onion
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp. white vinegar
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup

In a blender, process all ingredients until completely incorporated. Pour into 2-cup container with tight-fitting lid. Let stand at room temperature several hours. Refrigerate 30 minutes before serving. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Spanish Rice
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup salsa

Combine rice, water, and salsa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the water reaches the level of the rice. Shut off heat, cover pan, and let sit for 20-30 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed and rice is done. Fluff with fork and serve.

Leche Quemada (Burnt Milk)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Whipped topping

Divide milk between 3 4-oz. ramekins. Cover each ramekin with foil. Place in shallow baking dish, and add water 1 inch deep. Bake at 425 for 1 hour. Serve warm or cold with whipped topping.

Another recipe for this is as follows: Place unopened can of milk on a rack in a large pot. Cover with water. Boil for 4 hours. Carefully remove can from pot and chill in refrigerator. When cold, open top of can and invert onto serving plate. Open bottom of can and push out the milk, now a firm custardlike burnt milk dessert.

Buen provecho!

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