Cinco de Mayo Specials

In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, I thought I would share some of my favorite Mexican recipes with you. The best part – all of them are super healthy! So break out the Coronas, mix the margaritas, and get cooking. Let’s start with the basics first: guacamole.

My Los Gol Inspired Guacamole is the perfect start to any Mexican dish. Serve it with chips for an appetizer (or make it healthy by serving it with celery or carrots), use it to top tacos, burritos, or any other delicious dish you decide to make. In my opinion, it wouldn’t be Cinco de Mayo without it.

The trick is to get a nice, thick tortilla chip. Those flimsy, mass-produced chips just don't cut it. Get the real deal from the Mexican section of your market.

The trick is to get a nice, thick tortilla chip. Those flimsy, mass-produced chips just don’t cut it. Get the real deal from the Mexican section of your market.

Next up on the menu are my Southern California-Style Steak Tacos. Healthy, quick, and delicious, these are a great main dish. If the weather is nice, grill the flank steak! You can also swap out the steak for chicken if you’d prefer.

These fresh and light steak tacos take me back to the beaches of Southern California, even in the middle of blusterous Chicago.

These fresh and light steak tacos take me back to the beaches of Southern California, even in the middle of blusterous Chicago.

Or, check out just the pico de gallo and use it to top fish for an extremely healthy dish.

The cilantro is what makes this dish extra special. Not to mention, it's almost all veggies so this dish is super healthy!

The cilantro is what makes this dish extra special. Not to mention, it’s almost all veggies so this dish is super healthy!

For another fish alternative, try my Mango Salsa over Mahi Mahi.

It's spicy, sweet, fresh, and simply delicious. The fact that it's healthy is just an awesome afterthought.

It’s spicy, sweet, fresh, and simply delicious. The fact that it’s healthy is just an awesome afterthought.

Or, like the guacamole, the mango salsa can be eaten with just chips or veggies for a delicious appetizer. The mango salsa would also be delicious over chicken as a standalone or in chicken tacos, too.

This is delicious with fish, chicken, pork, or simply with tortilla chips as an appetizer. It's a fun twist on a favorite.

This is delicious with fish, chicken, pork, or simply with tortilla chips as an appetizer. It’s a fun twist on a favorite.

My Garlicky Shrimp Fajitas with Guacamole are another main dish favorite and are super easy to make.

This delicious dish only takes about 15 minutes to make!

This delicious dish only takes about 15 minutes to make!

Lastly, try my Skinny Spicy Buffalo Shrimp Dip for another dip with Mexican flavors. This dip has quick a kick from sriracha (though you can swap out sriracha for tapatio for extra Mexican flavors) and gets its gooey-ness from Mexican cheese. This dip is delicious with chips or veggies.

Cheesy, gooey goodness. You've never guess it is healthy!

Cheesy, gooey goodness. You’ve never guess it is healthy!

To make any of these dishes extremely healthy (one step past super healthy), use celery or carrots instead of tortilla chips for the dips, and swap out flour tortillas for wheat. These dishes will taste super delicious either way!

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Garlicky Shrimp Fajitas with Guacamole

I have recently become addicted to Pinterest. Along with my friends and Food Network, I’ve found that Pinterest is an awesome source of cooking inspiration. While browsing one day, I came across a recipe for garlicky shrimp fajitas with guacamole that sounded easy and delicious. So I took a little twist on the idea by adding some flavors, some veggies, and my homemade guacamole. And in 15 minutes, I had a flavorful, filling dinner.

This delicious dish only takes about 15 minutes to make!

What you’ll need (makes 2 servings):
2 cups shrimp
1 bell pepper
1 small onion
3 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sherry
6 tablespoons guacamole (store-bought is fine, or see my homemade recipe)
4 whole wheat tortillas

What you’ll need to do:

I usually like to buy the frozen, already cooked, peeled, deveined shrimp to make things easy. So start by defrosting your shrimp in water. It’s super easy. Just put the shrimp in a bowl and run cold water over it, changing out the water every couple minutes until the shrimp are defrosted.

While the shrimp is defrosting, chop your pepper and onion. Set aside.

Put a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat with the olive oil. Add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes until just slightly tender.

Since your shrimp are already cooked, they just need to be warmed with the pepper, onion, and garlic. Add them to the pan when the veggies are almost done. Then, add the sherry for taste.

The sherry adds flavor, color, and texture. And fajitas just aren’t fajitas without peppers and onions!

**Tip: Sherry is in your kitchen staples. But if you don’t have it, tequila or white wine would also be tasty! The sherry is added to deglaze the pan and add a little extra flavor.

Let the sherry reduce for about 2 minutes, and then turn the heat down to low. Heat your tortillas over the stove or in a microwave.

**Tip: If you have a gas stove, throw your tortilla right over the flame. Start the flame and turn down to low, put the tortilla on the burner and turn the heat up to medium-high for about 10 seconds. Turn the heat back down to low so you can flip the tortilla, then repeat on the other side. If you don’t have a gas stove, warming your tortillas in the microwave is fine. Simply cover them with a damp paper towel and heat for 30 seconds on high.

I love a slight char on the tortilla – for whatever reason, it makes it taste homemade.

Smear about 1 1/2 tbsp of guacamole on each tortilla and add your shrimp and veggies. Crack open a nice cold beer and enjoy!

Southern California-Style Steak Tacos

I’m a Southern California girl at heart, through and through. I was born and raised in a small beach town and grew up with the best Mexican food in the country (no bias, really). So when Clinton and I moved to Chicago a couple years ago, aside from missing our families, we sorely missed the Mexican food (so much so that we have been known to smuggle back guacamole in our suitcases from time to time). But because we can only get back to SoCal a few times a year, I had to learn to cook some of our favorites Mexican dishes myself.

Now, there’s a difference between SoCal Mexican food and Mexican food found elsewhere. Tex-Mex is very different because of its heavy use of melted cheeses, beef, beans, and spices (particularly cumin). Southern Mexican cuisine also heavily uses cheese and spicy sauces in dishes such as in enchiladas (which is arguably the most prevalent Mexican cuisine in the U.S.), and these tend to be a little heavier. SoCal Mexican food is largely influenced by Baja California, and therefore uses more fresh or raw ingredients, such as chili peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, onion, and lime, also making these dishes fall on the healthier side. And while southern Mexican cuisine uses more chicken and pork, northern Mexican dishes use more grilled beef (carne asada) and fish. Although I truly love any kind of authentic Mexican food, the Baja California-style cuisine takes me home.

These fresh and light steak tacos take me back to the beaches of Southern California, even in the middle of blusterous Chicago.

What you’ll need (makes 4 servings):

  • 20 corn tortillas or 10 flour tortillas (you need to double up the corn tortillas; I prefer flour, Clinton prefers corn)
  • 1 pound flank steak or top sirloin roast
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Pico de gallo
    • 2 tomatoes
    • 1/2 medium yellow onion
    • 1 cup chopped cilantro (or 1 big giant handful)
    • 2 jalapeno peppers
    • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
    • 1 lime, juiced
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon salt

What you’ll need to do:

Start by getting your beef on the grill pan over medium heat. Cover with aluminum foil. If you’re making flank steak, cook for 3 minutes on one side and flip, cooking an additional 3 minutes on the other side. If you’re using a top sirloin roast (like I did in this recipe), cook for about 10 minutes on one side, flip, and cook for an additional 10 minutes on the other side. Whichever cut of beef you decide to use, let it rest for a few minutes after it’s done cooking.

These beautiful pieces of beef require no seasoning. Just spray your pan with a little cooking spray so they don't stick, and then let the beef flavor shine through.

While the beef cooks, make your pico de gallo. Chop your tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, and cilantro. Mix in a medium bowl, and add your garlic, lime juice, olive oil, and salt. Set aside.

The cilantro is what makes this dish extra special. Not to mention, it's almost all veggies so this dish is super healthy!

Slice your avocados and lettuce, set aside for assembly.While the beef rests, warm your tortillas directly on the stove. If you have a gas stove, put your tortilla directly on the burner and toast over medium heat, about 30 seconds on each side. If you don’t have a gas stove, warm your tortillas in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Side note: One of my favorite snacks is a toasted tortilla rolled up with a little butter. So amazingly good.

After your beef has rested for a few minutes, slice across the grain into long strips. If the strips are too long, cut into more bite-sized pieces.

All the ingredients are ready to go!

Assemble your tacos as follows: Beef first, then avocado, pico de gallo, and top with lettuce. Enjoy this one with a nice cold Pacifico or Corona, and picture yourself on a sunny beach in SoCal.