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Cinco de Mayo

Here are some ideas for celebrating Cinco de Mayo, whether you're throwing a big fiesta or simply acknowledging the Mexican holiday with family at dinnertime.

Full of vibrant color, lively flavors, and spirited music — there's little wonder that more and more of us (no matter our heritage) are celebrating the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo! The day commemorates the 1862 victory of Mexican peasants over the French army. While you may not want to reenact the battle (as the people of Puebla, Mexico do), go ahead and celebrate Mexican culture with a party, big or small.

Here are some tips for sharing the excitement on May 5th:

Cooking articlesDecorate!

The colors of the Mexican flag make for lively décor. Choose green, red, and white flowers, streamers, napkins, etc. Take your color scheme to your platters, too, with a tray of tomatoes, red and green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and jicama. Cactus plants make great centerpieces, as do streams of dried chilies running down the center of the table.

Turn up the Music!

Find some Mariachi music or Mexican folk songs to play in the background today. Of course, traditional Mexican tunes (La Bamba, La Cucaracha, and the Mexican Hat Dance) are party naturals!

Cook with Mexican Flair!

Cooking articlesNo matter if you're an experienced chef or a novice cook, you can whip up Mexican fare in honor of the day. Sprinkle some chili powder or Mexican Seasoning on your deviled egg or quiche recipe. Or choose one new, authentic Mexican recipe to try for the occasion. Plan Mexican party snacks, an entire Mexican buffet, or a sit-down meal! Here are some Cinco de Mayo food ideas:

Beverages

Sangria and Mexican beers and wines suit the occasion. For non-alcoholic options, turn to fresh lemonade or chamomile tea. Or add cinnamon or cayenne as well as chocolate to cocoa for an authentic Cocoa con Chile treat.

Appetizers and Snacks

Easy — and successful — party fixings always include chips and/or veggies and dips. You might even want to try making your own Chili Cheese Chips. For dips, consider those that highlight Mexican seasonings, such as Avocado Salsa, Black Bean Dip, Guacamole Goddess Dressing (perfect for salads or chips), and Mexican Bean Dip. One nice thing about making your own dips is that you can make them as mild or as fiery as your prefer. This Mild Chunky Salsa is a case in point.

Choose a couple of special, Mexican-inspired appetizers for added punch. This Chili Cheese Log is easy to prepare, and these Adobo Stuffed Portabellas and Coctel de Camaron Con Chipotle Y Aguacate (shrimp cocktail with avocado and chipotle chiles) are sure to elicit an Ole!

Main and Side Dishes

Main and side dishes needn't be labor intensive. Top a baked potato or taco salad with a Chipotle Dressing. Use this Taco Burger recipe to transform your barbecue. Other good options include a Texmex Black Bean Dinner Salad and a Tortilla Tower.

It's always a relief when you can prep the food for a party ahead of time. Use this recipe for Spiced-Rubbed Chicken Thigh Taco to cook your chicken the day before your party, if you like. Or complete a casserole such as this one for Chile Relleno well in advance.

Of course, you may want to go all out and prepare a new, authentic Mexican dish from scratch.  This Pork Roast Marinated in Citrus Juice and Spices would be a great choice, as would this Homemade Chorizo or these Mini Mango and Black Bean Casseroles.

Find over 100 more tempting Mexican dishes.

Desserts

Fruit and cheese are often served for dessert after a Mexican dinner. Present yours on a colorful dish, or cut up the fruit and toss it into a salad. Be sure to include an array of choices, such as oranges, pineapple, papayas, strawberries, prickly pears, guava and manioc. Sprinkle everything with a little coconut and cinnamon, too. Or try this Candied Papaya and Cheese recipe, in which the fruit is cooked with sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and tossed with cubes of Edam cheese.

Flan is a delicious, custardy Mexican cake that you can make in individual ramekins for added fun.  And while this Mexican Chocolate-Almond Cake is vegan, there's likely not a person in the room who won't tip their sombrero to the cook.

At the end of the day, you may have a new Mexican recipe -- or spice -- or two to add to your everyday cooking repertoire. Good thing, too, because, most likely, you'll have enjoyed the celebration so much that you won't want to wait until next year to dip into Mexican fare again!

Learn more about Mexican Cuisine.

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