Cinco de Mayo is upon us and, hopefully, students across campus can take a break from studying for finals to have a night of food and fun on May 5. But, this year, maybe you won’t feel like breaking the bank for Qdoba, making the drive to the nearest Taco Bell or waiting for hours at an overly-crowded Mexican restaurant.
If you don’t feel like battling other St. Louis residents as they embark on a quest for Mexican food, try having your own fiesta in your dorm room. The following recipes are relatively cheap, easy to make and can serve a couple or a crowd.
—Chips and Salsa
Frying your chips in a dorm room isn’t recommended (or allowed) but making homemade salsa is easy if you have a blender. Start by adding two 14.4-ounce cans of diced tomatoes into a blender. Add one jalapeño with the seeds and ribs removed, half of an onion, as much fresh cilantro as you want, about one tablespoon of lemon juice, and salt, to taste. Blend all of these ingredients until the mixture is fairly smooth, then let the mixture sit for about a half hour before serving.
Guacamole is another great dip to serve with tortilla chips, or as a topping for nachos, a burrito or a quesadilla. For a recipe that makes about three cups of guacamole, start by mashing the flesh of four ripe avocados with a fork in a large bowl. Add the juice of one lemon, as much hot sauce as you want, a half cup of diced red onion, a minced garlic clove and one teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
Once those ingredients are mixed, add in a diced, medium-size tomato and stir gently. You can easily cut this recipe in half depending on how many people you are feeding, and you can also adjust the amounts of ingredients depending on your taste.
For some, it wouldn’t be Cinco de Mayo without a margarita. For a quick version, all you need is two ingredients: a bottle of Simply Limeade and your favorite tequila. For one margarita, mix five ounces of Simply Limeade with about two ounces of tequila. You can also add a splash of orange juice or orange liqueur, if you have it. Remember that you can’t serve alcohol if someone at your party is under 21 — if there is a minor present, just serve plain limeade for a drink reminiscent of a margarita.
Burritos can be thrown together in a matter of minutes and the variations are endless. Standard fillings include refried beans, cheese, tomatoes, green onions and black olives, but you can add anything you have on hand — try adding leftover meat or roasted vegetables. For a Mexican-themed party, set up an assembly line of all the ingredients you have on hand for an easy make-your-own burrito bar. You can also use the tortillas and different ingredients to make soft tacos.
All you need to make nachos is tortilla chips and cheese, but this is another easy recipe where you can add anything you have on hand. Start by placing a layer of tortilla chips on a microwave-safe plate. Add your desired amount of cheese and microwave until the cheese is melted, about 30-60 seconds. Then, add whatever toppings you want — this is another good idea for a party because everyone can easily make their own variations.
A Recipe for Quesadillas Planchadas
A couple handfuls of shredded cheese
Anything else you may like to add, like diced onions, tomoatoes, or peppers
1. Preheat your iron to the “cotton” setting, or to the highest temperature your iron will reach.
2. Place a tortilla in the center of a piece of aluminum foil that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray — make sure your piece of foil is large enough to fold over the top of the quesadilla.
3. Spread your desired toppings onto half of the tortilla. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the toppings, and fold the other half of the aluminum foil over the quesadilla.
4. Place the preheated iron on top of the foil packet. After about a minute and 30 seconds, flip the packet over to toast the other side of the quesadilla for another minute and 30 seconds.
5. Open the foil to see if the quesadilla is toasted to your liking. If not, toast each side in 30-second increments until it’s done.