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TEX-MEX Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with three recipes, ranging from comfort food to something a bit healthier. (Photo courtesy of The Junior League of Houston)

Cooking Buzz is produced in partnership with the Junior League of Houston, a women’s charitable and education organization founded in 1925.

Every Texan loves a designated day in which they are obliged to consume Mexican food or Tex-Mex. Cinco de Mayo certainly never passes without acknowledgment. The tacos, enchiladas, guacamole, cerveza, oh my!

Here are three delicious recipes to enable your desires. The Tamale Pie is the comfort food that your grandmother would serve you – seriously, it’s from a cookbook published in 1968. Pair it with your favorite salsa or hot sauce, and you can’t go wrong. If you’re looking for something healthier with fresh ingredients, the Chicken with Ancho Chile Sauce and Pico de Gallo is a winner. And if you don’t feel like making your own pico, you’re a Texan, and literally every grocery store will sell it to you pre-made. Lighter yet, the Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche works well as an appetizer or small meal. 

Tamale Pie

From Junior League of Houston Cookbook

¼ pound salt pork, or ¼ cup bacon drippings
1 cup chopped onion
¾ cup chopped green pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 pounds lean ground beef
3 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (1 lb., 12 oz.) tomatoes, drained
1 can (1 lb.) whole kernel corn, drained
1¼ cups milk
1½ cups yellow cornmeal
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon cooking oil
1 Tablespoon butter
Grated sharp cheddar

Dice salt pork and fry in large skillet or Dutch oven. Add onion, green pepper, and garlic; sauté. Add meat and lightly brown. Add chili powder, salt, tomato sauce, tomatoes, and corn. Remove from heat. Scald milk; mix with cornmeal to make mush. Add unbeaten eggs, one at a time. Stir in oil and butter into mash. Combine cornmeal and meat mixture. Pour into large baking dish; liberally sprinkle cheese over top. Bake slowly in a 325°F oven for one hour. Serves 10-12.

Chicken with Ancho Chile Sauce and Pico de Gallo

From Stop and Smell the Rosemary

Ancho Chili Sauce:
1½ cups water
2 ancho chile peppers (dried poblano peppers)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons minced fresh oregano
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon olive oil
Pico de Gallo:
1 cup chopped tomatoes
½ cup chopped onion
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ fresh jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (cutlets)
Olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1½ cups)
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced

Ancho Chili Sauce: Boil water, chiles, garlic, salt, and oregano in a small saucepan until chiles are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove chiles and garlic from cooking liquid. Reserve cooking liquid. Discard stems and seeds from chiles and coarsely chop. Transfer chiles and garlic to a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. With machine running, gradually add enough chile cooking liquid (about 1⁄3 cup) to form a thick sauce. Add sugar and olive oil. Blend until smooth. (Sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate.)

Pico de Gallo: Combine tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, lemon juice, and olive oil in a small bowl. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat broiler. Brush chicken lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Broil chicken until just cooked through, brushing occasionally with Ancho Chili Sauce, about 5 minutes per side.

Reduce heat to 400°F. Transfer chicken to baking dish. Brush with more sauce. Sprinkle cheese over chicken. Bake just until cheese melts, about 3 minutes. Serves 3-4.

To serve, arrange chicken on plates, top with Pico de Gallo, and garnish with avocado slices. Serve remaining Ancho Chile Sauce separately.

Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche

From The Star of Texas Cookbook

2 pounds shrimp, cooked, peeled, and cut in thirds
1 pound raw scallops, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh lime juice (about 6 limes)
6 Tablespoons finely chopped red onion
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons finely chopped green bell pepper
½ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon oregano
Dash of Tabasco
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 avocados

Combine shrimp and raw scallops in a large bowl. Add lime juice, cover, and let stand at room temperature for several hours. Drain and discard juice. Add all remaining ingredients except for avocados. Toss lightly and chill for 1 hour. Serve with avocado slices. Serves 6.

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