The fifth day of May (Cinco de Mayo) brings with it a focus on Mexican-style food.  My family has always enjoyed this cuisine, so I have prepared several Mexican-type dishes over the years. Many of the dishes are spicy hot, but I tend to reduce the amount of hot peppers or omit them altogether, depending on the recipe.  My sons, however, tend to like things much hotter than I do.

Some years ago, my three children were in a college and career-age church group.  The members became good friends, and enjoyed a lot of activities together.  One summer, the girls in the group held a bachelorette party for a bride-to-be.  The boys decided to hang out together at one of their homes while the girls did their thing elsewhere.

The guys had a list of sauces that were supposed to be extremely hot, along with a bottle of each one.  They passed around a bag of tortilla chips and then a bottle of hot sauce, starting with the last one on the list and working toward the hottest.  According to my son Jonathan, they were a little disillusioned; the sauces were not nearly as strong as they expected.

Finally, they began to pass the chips and hot sauce for the last trial, only to find themselves disappointed again.  Or so they thought.  About the time the sauce reached the last person in line, the first guy ran to stick his mouth under the kitchen sink faucet.  Then it became a battle for all of them to do something to stop the burning.  One of the guys found ice cream sandwiches in the freezer and tossed them to anyone who thought it might help.  I can’t recall all the methods they came up with to get rid of the fire that consumed their taste buds, but it sure made for a funny story when Jonathan related it to me sometime later.

That group of young people was a blessing not only to my children, but also to me as a parent.   One lasting result is that I now have two special daughters-in-law who were a part of it as well.

You can safely bet that I am not going to be trying a bunch of hot sauces, yet I have enjoyed each of these Mexican-style dishes:

Beefy Corn and Chile Enchiladas

1 pound ground beef

1 jar (17-1/2 ounces) enchilada sauce, divided

2 cups shredded Mexican-blend cheese, divided

1 cup whole kernel corn

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (optional)

1 small can sliced black olives, drained (optional)

1 (4.5 ounce) can green chiles, drained

10 to 12 corn or flour tortillas (6 inches)

In skillet, cook beef until no longer pink; drain.  Stir in 1/2 cup sauce and 1 cup cheese.  Add corn, chiles, beans, and black olives.  Warm tortillas according to package directions.  Spread 1/2 cup sauce in a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish.  Spoon 2 tablespoons meat mixture down center of each tortilla.  Roll up; d place seam-side down in baking dish.  Top with remaining sauce and cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cheese melts.


Cheesy Mexican Chicken

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chilies

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Paprika (optional)

Combine first 4 ingredients; sprinkle evenly over chicken.  Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken; cook 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown.   Remove from heat; top with chilies and cheese.  Cover and let stand 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese melts.  Sprinkle with paprika, if desired.  Serves 4.