For Starkville Daily News
Over the years, Cinco de Mayo has become a great way to celebrate the fantastic flavors of Mexico. This year, why not host your own Cinco celebration? With easy recipes and fun tips like these from Ortega and Sandra Lee, you can say sí with style.
Here’s how you can set the stage for the perfect fiesta with some creative tips from Sandra Lee:
u Centerpiece: Fill a tall can with sunflowers and center it on a large platter. Arrange produce, such as fresh mini sweet peppers, long red peppers, bell peppers, avocados and jalapeÒos around the can. Once your party is over, you will have fresh ingredients for other meals.
u Favors: Tie a length of raffia around small terra-cotta pots, then place a mini cactus into each one. These plants are a nice gift for your guests.
u Place cards: Turn extra votive candles into mood-enhancing place cards. Use a cookie cutter to cut colored paper into ovals. Write the guests’ names on the front and punch holes on both sides. Thread a ribbon through the holes and around the votive, tying in the back.
And here are some delicious ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo from Ortega. Visit http://www.facebook.com/ortegaTacos  or http://www.ortega.com  for more great recipes.
Chicken Tacos with
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 packet (1.25 ounces) Ortega Reduced Sodium
In skillet over medium heat, add oil. Sauté half the onion, red pepper flakes and reduced sodium chili seasoning mix until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes.
Chili Seasoning Mix
2 store-bought cooked chicken thighs (about 1/2 pound), shredded
1 cucumber, chopped
1/2 can (15 ounces) chopped tomatoes, drained
3 tablespoons Ortega Thick and Smooth Taco Sauce (mild, medium or hot), divided
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
8 Ortega Yellow Corn or Whole Grain Taco Shells
1 cup shredded cabbage
2 tablespoons sour cream
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
In bowl, mix together cucumber, tomatoes, 2 tablespoons taco sauce, remaining onion, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon chicken mixture into taco shells, top with salsa and cabbage.
Mix remaining tablespoon of taco sauce into sour cream and top.
1 package (18 ounces) prepared polenta
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 can (15 ounces) Ortega Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon Ortega Thick and Chunky Medium Salsa
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Ortega Thick and Smooth Taco Sauce (mild, medium or hot)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup shredded lettuce
Slice polenta in half. Slice each half into six rounds, about 1/2 inch thick, so you have 12 rounds total.
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Gently slide each polenta round into hot oil using spatula. Fry for 5 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel-lined sheet tray.
In medium bowl, combine beans, salsa and 2 teaspoons taco sauce. Mash beans with fork.
In small bowl, combine sour cream, remaining taco sauce and lime juice, and mix until well blended.
Spread 2 tablespoons mashed black beans on top of a fried polenta round. Top with a pinch of shredded lettuce and about 1 tablespoon salsa, and drizzle with some sour cream mixture.
Crunchy Salsa Chicken Bake
1 12-count box Ortega Yellow Corn Taco Shells or Whole Grain Taco Shells, each shell broken into pieces
1 bag (20 ounces) cubed, cooked chicken
1 packet (1.25 ounces) Ortega Taco Seasoning (or 40 percent Less Sodium Taco Seasoning)
1 jar (16 ounces) Ortega Thick and Chunky Medium Salsa
1/4 cup Ortega Thick and Smooth Taco Sauce (mild, medium or hot)
1 cup light sour cream
1 can (4 ounces) Ortega Fire Roasted Diced Green Chiles
1 cup pimiento stuffed olives, rinsed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese, divided use
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Pour broken chips into baking dish and set aside.
In large bowl, toss chicken with taco seasoning. Rub chicken cubes with your fingers to thoroughly distribute seasoning.
In medium bowl, combine salsa, taco sauce and sour cream. Stir in chiles, olives and cilantro. Pour over chicken and combine thoroughly. Stir in 3 cups of cheese and chicken broth.
Pour chicken mixture into baking pan over broken taco shells.
Sprinkle on remaining cup of cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.