Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Hola amigos. Happy Cinco de Mayo! Anyone else celebrating over a pitcher of margaritas or cerveza and a plate of chips and salsa tonight? If so, you won't be alone. In the United States, celebrants claim Cinco de Mayo (of "Fifth of May") is a way to honor Mexican culture and heritage, much as St. Patrick's Day, Oktoberfest, and the Chinese New Year are used to celebrate those of Irish, German, and Chinese ancestry respectively. Similar to those holidays, Cinco de Mayo is now observed by many Americans regardless of ethnic origin.
By the way, let's clear something up, as it seems to be a popular misconception here in the states. Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexico's Independence Day. Instead, it commemorates an initial victory of Mexican forces over French soldiers in the Battle of Puebla back in 1862. It is also not a federal holiday in Mexico - most banks, government buildings, offices, restaurants, etc. remain open. Moving on. If you're searching for some low-cal food and beverage recipes for the next Mexican-themed party or Cinco de Mayo celebration, look no further. Here are a few yummy, yet low-fat items sure to please all your friends and guests. Thanks to Hungry Girl for the recipes!

Freezy-Fresa Strawberry Margarita
3/4 cup Sprite Zero (or any diet lemon-lime soda)
One shot (1.5 oz.) tequila
One serving (half a packet or 1/8th of a tub) sugar-free strawberry powdered drink mix (any variety, like Crystal Light Strawberry-Kiwi or Energy Wild Strawberry)
4 frozen unsweetened strawberries
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 cup crushed ice or 5 - 8 ice cubes
Optional Garnish: lime wedge
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until uniform and slushy. Pour into a nice glass and, if you like, garnish with a wedge of lime.

Tropical Mango-rita Slushie
1/2 cup Diet V8 Splash in Tropical Blend
1/4 cup frozen unsweetened mango chunks
1 shot (1 1/2 oz.) blanco or silver tequila (the clear kind)
1/4 tsp. Crystal Light Lemonade powdered drink mix (1/4th of an On The Go packet or 1/16th of a tub)
1 cup crushed ice OR 5 - 8 ice cubes
Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Exploding Chicken Taquitos
8 small (6-inch) yellow corn tortillas
One 9.75-oz. (or 10-oz.) can 98% fat-free chunk white chicken breast in water, drained well
1/2 cup salsa
1/3 cup shredded fat-free cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp. dry taco seasoning mix
Optional: red enchilada sauce, additional salsa, fat-free sour cream, for dipping
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken and salsa, and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Remove chicken mixture from the fridge, and drain any excess liquid. Add cheese and taco seasoning, and mix to combine. This is your filling. Set aside. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with nonstick spray, and set it aside. Dampen two paper towels, and place tortillas between them. Microwave for about 1 minute, until tortillas are warm and pliable. Take one tortilla (keep the rest between the paper towels), spray both sides lightly with nonstick spray, and lay it flat on a clean dry surface. Spoon about 2 heaping tbsp. of filling onto the tortilla. Spread it evenly across the entire surface, and roll tortilla up tightly, so that you have a cigar-shaped tube. Secure with toothpicks and place seam-side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. Bake for 14 - 16 minutes, until crispy. Allow taquitos to cool for 5 minutes. If you like, dunk in enchilada sauce, salsa, or sour cream!

Cheesy Beefy Quesadilla
1 large La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious Low Carb/High Fiber tortilla
1/3 cup frozen ground-beef-style soy crumbles (like the ones by Boca and Morningstar Farms)
1/4 cup shredded fat-free cheddar cheese
One-half wedge The Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss cheese
1 tbsp. fat-free sour cream
1/2 tbsp. chopped scallions
1/4 tsp. dry taco seasoning mix
Optional: additional fat-free sour cream, for dipping
In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine soy crumbles, cheddar cheese, scallions, sour cream, and seasoning mix, stirring thoroughly. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir again, and set aside. Lay tortilla flat and spread cheese wedge evenly over one half.
Bring a medium-large pan sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat, and lay tortilla in it with the cheesy side up. Cook for about 30 seconds. Top the cheesy tortilla half with soy crumble mixture. Using a spatula, carefully fold the plain tortilla half over the other half, pressing down with the spatula to seal. Cook for about 1 minute, until slightly toasted on the bottom. Flip and continue to cook for about 1 minute, until both sides are toasted. Remove from heat and cut into four triangles. Serve with sour cream for dipping, if you like.

If you happen to be hosting a party tonight, here is a video clip packed with some really good Cinco de Mayo event tips.

As for me, I've been going out way too much lately. So I think I'll slip on some sweats, whip up a batch of sucralose-sweetened Horchata and honor Mexican heritage by watching "Como Agua Para Chocolate,"one of the best films (and novels!) ever. Hasta luego!

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