May 5, 2014

Viva La Mexico: Cinco de Mayo on a Budget

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May 5th, or Cinco de Mayo as it’s known in Mexico and certain areas of the United States, is a grand celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. Not to be confused with Mexico’s Independence Day (September 16th)–the country’s most important national public holiday–Cinco de Mayo is the commemoration of the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War.

As with most holidays, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with parties, fun and of course food. Mexican food is arguably one of the most flavorful cuisines in the world and one of the simplest to execute. It only takes a few ingredients and spices to pull off an amazing and authentic Mexican meal. It is my absolute favorite cuisine and in my kitchen, there’s never a shortage of tortillas, jalapenos, cumin and cilantro. ShopRite offers a wide array of inexpensive international products–particularly Hispanic goods–that make whipping up a meal with global flair a breeze.

Normally, I don’t need to use a holiday as an excuse to make Mexican food but since Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner, it’s time for nachos and tacos! What makes these recipes special is the fact that there aren’t many ingredients involved, takes minimal effort to create and has universal appeal (read: even picky eaters will love this).













(For the chips)

3/4 to 1 cup canola, grapeseed, or corn oil (any oil with a high smoke point will do)

6-inch corn tortillas (As a general rule of thumb, use about 4 tortillas per person.)



1.  The tortilla chips will fry better if they are a bit dried out first. Place a stack of tortillas in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Remove to a cutting board and quarter them, making 4 triangle-shaped wedges.

2. Pour oil into a medium skillet to a depth of 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch. Heat the oil on medium high heat until a small piece of tortilla placed in the oil sizzles, about 350°F. Do not allow the oil to get so hot that it smokes.

3. Place a paper towel onto a large plate and have several other paper towels ready. Place a handful of tortilla triangles into the hot oil, in a single layer. Use metal tongs or a metal slotted spoon to distribute the tortilla triangles so that they aren’t overlapping and so that all sides get coated with oil. Fry for approximately 2 minutes until the chips just begin to color and they are firm, no longer pliable. Use tongs or a slotted spoon remove the chips from the oil to the paper-towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with salt. Place another paper towel over the top of the chips to be ready for the next batch.

4. Continue cooking the chips, working in batches, placing the freshly fried chips over a new layer of paper towel each time, and sprinkling with salt.

(For the guacamole)

Yields approximately 2 cups


3 avocados

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 ripe tomato, chopped

1 small lime, juiced

salt and pepper to taste


1. Peel and mash avocados in a medium serving bowl. Stir in onion, garlic, tomato, lime juice, salt and pepper. Season with remaining lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Chill for 30 minutes to blend flavors.











Yields 6 servings of 2 tacos per person

2 tablespoons cooking oil

12 6-inch corn tortillas

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 medium onion, chopped

16 ounces ground beef (an 80/20 blend is best)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup taco seasoning (recipe below)

2/3 cup ShopRite low-sodium beef broth

12 pickled jalapeno slices, optional

1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce

1 large tomato, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1/4 cup radishes, thinly sliced


Heat the oven to 250 degrees F. Place tortillas on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet to keep warm while you prepare the filling.

Heat the cooking oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, about 5 minutes. Adjust the heat to maintain the temperature.

Add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned around the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ground beef, 1 teaspoon salt, and garlic. Cook until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, to break up the meat. Add taco seasoning and beef broth. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until sauce is slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Assemble each taco with meat mixture, jalapeno slices (if using), lettuce, tomatoes, radishes and cilantro. Serve immediately.



2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1. Put all of the ingredients in a small jar and shake to combine.

Blog post by Iris McCarthy

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