Cinco De Mayo: Entertaining on a Budget

Cinco De Mayo, meaning the fifth of May, celebrates a key victory by the Mexican forces on May 5, 1862, over the French in the fight to expel the French from Mexico.

Over the years, this holiday has evolved to celebrate the culture and experiences of Mexican Americans. On Cinco De Mayo, everyone is a little Mexican. So even if your Spanish consists of one word—fiesta—you can still whip up some carnitas, ask your friends to bring the margaritas, and celebrate. ¡Viva Cinco de Mayo!

The Menu
Main Course: Carnitas
Drink: Margaritas
Appetizers: Guacamole and Sausage Con Queso
Desert: Margarita Popsicles

Ask your guests to bring…
Tequila and Triple Sec (for the Margaritas)

The Cheaper Menu
If you want a cheaper menu, just have your friends over for drinks and appetizers. Buy a box of taquitos from Sam’s Club and make the guacamole recipe below. Sam’s Club taquitos are fabulous, when baked crispy in the oven. Dip them in guacamole, sour crea and salsa for added flavor.
To cut down on the costs ask your guests to bring chips salsa, sour cream, and swap out margaritas for some Mexican beer. There is a lot more out there than Corona. Our favorites are Negra Modelo, a dark chocolaty beer and Carta Blanca, a traditional pale lager.

Here is a simple and traditional no-fail margarita recipe that serves 6.

  • 6 oz of frozen limeade
  • 6 oz of Tequila
  • 3 oz of triple sec
  • 8 cups of crushed ice
  • Lime juice and coarse salt (use Morton’s Kosher Salt)
  • 1 thinly sliced lime
  • Mix limeaid, tequila and triple sec in a blender with the ice. Pulse until smooth. Put your lime juice and coarse salt in separate bowls. Turn your cups upside down and dip them lightly in the juice to wet the rims, then dip in the salt. Fill with margaritas and garnish with the limes.

    beef carnitas
    Carnitas can be made with the cheapest cut of beef and still taste completely delicious. Make them in your crock pot instead of the oven for an easy way to make this delicious Mexican treat. When finished, put the meat in tortillas or taco shells for a cheap, easy and delicious way to serve a crowd. This recipe is from


  • 4 pounds chuck roast
  • 1 (4 ounce) can green chile peppers, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt to taste
  • Directions
    Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
    Place roast on heavy foil large enough to enclose the meat. In a small bowl, combine the green chile peppers, chili powder, oregano, cumin, garlic and salt to taste. Mix well and rub over the meat.
    Totally wrap the meat in the foil and place in a roasting pan.
    Bake at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, or until the roast just falls apart with a fork. Remove from oven and shred using two forks.

    Guacamole and Sausage Con Queso
    Everybody has their favorite guacamole recipe. But we swear by the Barefoot Contessa version. It requires minimal ingredients, which saves you money, but provides maximum flavor. We’ve never had any complaints.

    Barefoot Contesssa Guacamole

  • 4 ripe Haas avocados
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 8 dashes hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded, and small-diced
  • Cut the avocados in 1/2, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh out of their shells into a large bowl. (I use my hands.) Immediately add the lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and toss well. Using a sharp knife, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced. Add the tomatoes. Mix well and taste for salt and pepper.

    sausage con queso
    For sausage con queso, we use this quick and easy recipe from It uses sausage, salsa, Velveeta, and a can of tomatoes and chilies. It is cheap, fast and delicious.

    margarita Popsicles
    Margarita Popsicles
    We love this simple refreshing desert. It is easy and cheap to make. So have fun! Recipe from

  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup coarse kosher salt
  • 6 frozen lime-flavored ice pops or fruit bars, unwrapped
  • Directions
    Mix tequila and lime juice in 1-cup measuring cup. Place coarse salt in small bowl. Place all ice pops, sticks up, in deep bowl, or place 1 pop in each of 6 glasses. Pour tequila mixture over ice pops. Lightly dip 1 edge of each ice pop into coarse salt and serve

    Black Beans
    We found this fabulous recipe for black beans with Mexican beer from Try it out. It’s delicious. Don’t be fooled by the long list of ingredients. You may already have many of these items in your own cupboards. If you don’t like your food too spicy, omit the Serrano peppers.

  • 2 cups dried black beans
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 2 dried ancho chiles
  • 1 small celery stalk, halved
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and halved
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon whole dried cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole dried coriander seed
  • 1 serrano pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle of Mexican beer, such as Dos Equis
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Instructions
    1. Pour dried beans onto a rimmed baking sheet and quickly pick through them, removing and discarding any broken beans or stones. Place beans in a large nonreactive bowl and cover them with at least 3 inches of cold water. Allow to soak overnight or at least 8 hours.
    2. After beans have soaked, drain in a colander. Place in a large saucepan and cover with at least 2 inches of cold water.
    3. Heat oven to 400°F. Peel the onion and halve it lengthwise. Leave one half whole; coarsely chop the other half and set it aside for the seasoning paste.
    4. Remove stems from chiles and slit them open to dump out the seeds. Place chiles on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they are crisp and fragrant. Place them in a small bowl and cover with very hot water; allow to soak for at least 15 minutes, or until they are soft and pliable.
    5. Place the onion half, celery, carrot, garlic cloves, and bay leaves into the pot containing the beans. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and gently simmer the beans until they are almost completely tender but still a little starchy in the center, about 30 minutes. (Beans should not be completely done, as they will cook for another 20 minutes with the spice blend and beer.) Season the beans well with salt and remove the pot from heat.
    6. Heat a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add cumin and coriander seed, and lightly toast them until fragrant. Remove from the pan and set aside.
    7. Remove ancho chiles from the soaking water, and coarsely chop them. Combine chiles, reserved chopped onion, serrano pepper, tomato, oregano, 1/4 cup of the beer, salt, and toasted cumin and coriander seed in a blender, and process until smooth.
    8. Strain the beans, and discard the onion half, celery, carrot, garlic cloves, and bay leaves. Place about 1 cup of cooked beans in a small mixing bowl. Use a potato masher or the back of a fork to coarsely crush them.
    9. Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. When it is smoking hot, add puréed mixture and fry it for 3 minutes or until fragrant, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Mix in crushed and whole beans and the rest of the beer.
    10. Simmer beans uncovered for 20 minutes. Stir in chopped cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt.

    What is your favorite Cinco De Mayo treat? Let us know!

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