Cooking Mexican food!

Published 12:05 pm Friday, April 12, 2024

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“April is the gateway to the joys of summer.” ― Fennel Hudson


Dogwoods are blooming, azaleas will be showing their colors and spring is breaking out all over. Soon the calendar will read “May 5” and Cinco De Mayo will be celebrated with parties, dancing and spicy Mexican dishes.

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Linda: I know it’s only April, but the weeks seem to fly by. Cinco De Mayo has become one of the first summer holidays and food is a big part of the celebration. I enjoy spicy foods, but they can always be tamed down a bit using mild-flavored ingredients.


Lucy: Since it arrives early May, now is the time to think about a Mexican menu. When I lived in Scottsdale, Arizona, I became acquainted with Mexican flavors and recipes. Since we grew up near the Canadian border, we had no idea what a taco or a tamale tasted like. I have a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from the early 1960s. There is a recipe that I’ve made for years called Tamale Pie.


Linda: I have the same cookbook and it does seem like an unusual recipe for that meat and potatoes era. I remember when you came back to New York one summer and made tacos and chili rellenos for us. I knew this was food I wanted to learn more about. You had to bring some of the ingredients with you since they weren’t available in our north country stores.


Lucy: And let’s mention that we cook our corn tacos in a pan with a thin layer of oil, adding salt to the taco and bending it in shape. Several toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, cooked ground beef with salsa can be added by the individual before eating. Served warm, these tacos are the best.


Linda: When I moved to Colorado I learned more Mexican recipes and developed a taste for spice. If invited to a Cinco De Mayo celebration, I always took two of my favorite dips along with a mix of yellow and blue corn chips. My stepdaughter, Leslie, included her mother’s guacamole recipe in her family cookbook. My husband, a long-time Texas resident, introduced me to Con Queso dip easily made with Velveeta Cheese and Rotel tomatoes.


Lucy: A sopapilla is a kind of puffed, fried pastry, drizzled with honey. It’s a delicious Mexican dessert, not often served here in the South. I discovered a recipe for Sopapilla Cheesecake.


Linda: I would love to taste that. My introduction to sopapillas came while dining at a favorite Denver Mexican restaurant. A flag that could go up or down sat on every table. When the flag was up it meant you were ready for more sopapillas. I do occasionally find them on menus in Mexican restaurants in Spartanburg.


Lucy: I’m ready to start cooking these delicious recipes. I know our readers will enjoy venturing into some tasty Mexican dishes.


Tamale Pie



1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 Lb ground beef or lean ground turkey

1 cup chopped green pepper

1 16 oz can tomato sauce

12 oz can whole kernel corn

1 cup pitted ripe olives (chopped)

1 clove garlic (minced)

1 Tbs sugar

1 tsp salt (omit, if desired)

2 to 3 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp pepper

1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese


One box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix



Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to preheated skillet and soften the onion for about 3 minutes. Add meat and green pepper and cook until meat is lightly browned and vegetables are tender. Stir in tomato sauce, corn, olives, garlic, sugar, the 1 tsp salt, chili powder, and pepper. Simmer 20 to 25 minutes, or until thick.

Turn off the heat and add the cheese stirring until melted. Turn into a 9x9x2-inch baking dish.


Use the recipe on the Jiffy Cornbread box. Mix egg and milk together with the mix and then spread that over the casserole. Don’t cook it before putting it on the meat mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes.


Con Queso Dip


1/2 cup Chicken broth more if needed

10 oz Rotel tomatoes (mild or spicy)

1 lb Velveeta cheese cubed

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

cilantro chopped, optional



Add chicken broth, Rotel tomatoes to a pot. Bring to a boil. Then add cubed Velveeta cheese, garlic powder, chili powder, and smoked paprika. Lower to medium low heat and stir continuously.

Add more chicken broth at anytime to dilute it if it becomes too thick. Once queso is smooth, cheese is dissolved, and queso reaches desired consistency, remove from heat. Serve immediately with chips. Optional: Garnish with cilantro. Enjoy!


Leslie’s Guacamole


3 Ripe avocados

2 Tbs Lemon juice

2 medium tomatoes, chopped and peeled

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 small can chopped green chilis

1 Tbs ground coriander

1 Tbs Olive oil

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper



Mash avocados and add other ingredients. Mix well and serve with tortilla chips


Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie

Yield: 12 cheesecake squares


Cooking spray

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 ¾ cups white sugar, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 (8 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent rolls

½ cup butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ cup honey



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. 
Beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth. Unroll crescent roll dough, and use a rolling pin to shape each sheet into a 9×13-inch rectangle. Press one piece into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Evenly spread cream cheese mixture on top, then cover with remaining piece of crescent dough. Mash remaining 3/4 cup sugar, butter, and cinnamon with a fork until combined. Dot mixture over top of dough. Bake in the preheated oven until crescent dough has puffed and turned golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey. Cool completely in the pan for about 2 hours before cutting into 12 squares. Let cool and cut into squares. 

Note: How to Store Sopapilla Cheesecake:  Cover the cooled sopapilla cheesecake bars tightly and store in the fridge for up to three days. Never let it sit at room temperature for more than two hours at a time. 


Tamale Pie          

Leslie’s Guacamole and Chips

Sopapilla Cheesecake