Cinco De Mayo and Kentucky Derby

Why did I pick this date to start my blog?  The answer is simple – I had images of colorful cupcakes that are full of lime and tequila.  I also love to make the freshest salsa possible to eat with tortilla chips or serve on the side with grilled chicken.  The time just seems right to jump into this blogger world and share.  At my age, I no longer question things too much – I just do it.  I like to cook, I like to bake, I like to eat, I like to experiment with food, I like to share, and I respect food and everything around it and about it.

Even though Cinco de Mayo is not an official holiday for the United States, it is observed as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride and to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.  I bet you don’t really think about that as you drink your Margarita at Happy Hour or go out to your favorite Mexican restaurant around this date.  It is not Mexico’s Independence Day, which is observed later in the year.  You will see as you read my blog, my goal is to pay respect to my family and the foods I prepare.  This includes my extended family from Mexico and my family and friends from all over the globe.

I used tequila in my cupcakes and lots of fresh lime juice and zest.

For my salsa – it is so simple, quick and fresh.  I experienced this fresh red salsa while visiting family in Mexico City a few years ago.  There is a major difference in the salsa served in the U.S. and that served in restaurants or homes in Mexico.  Once you have tasted a very fresh red salsa, you will find the thick red salsa purchased in jars from our stores just not quite as appealing.  Also, I found that green salsa, salsa verde-made with tomatillo, is more prevalent in Mexico.  In several restaurants I went to with family while in Mexico, you had to ask for the red salsa, but the green salsa was always on the table.  I also experienced the best tequila money could buy served on a sunny Christmas Eve morning sitting on the patio, with a chaser of Sangrita. That was a Christmas to remember.

When you experiment with food and recipes from around the world, you are paying respect to those living in that culture.  When a family member or good friend gives you a special recipe, that recipe is to be cherished.  It honors the kinship or friendship you share.  When you have family from different countries, it is respectful to try and speak their language and eat their food.

I will pay my respect to you all and the ingredients I am working with as I test and prepare my recipes, or any recipe request that is sent my way.

Today, I pay respect to those in my extended family from Mexico.  Here are the recipes for my cupcakes and salsa.

Cinco de Mayo Cupcakes with Tequila Glaze      

¼ cup lime juice (3-4 limes freshly squeezed)

Zest of 1 lime

1 cup milk (or add a little less and bump up tequila)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp tequila (I like more)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour

¼ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

Confectioners sugar (for glaze)

Preheat oven to 350°.  Prep a 12-cup muffin tin by spraying with oil.  Do not use cupcake liners as the batter does not rise much and are sticky to handle when you put the tequila glaze on top.  This will make 12 cupcakes.

In a large bowl, mix together the lime juice, lime zest, milk, oil, tequila, vanilla and sugar.

In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add to lime mixture and stir until just combined.  Divide evenly in pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Place on rack to cool and then remove from pan.

Tequila Glaze – Use a little lime juice, tequila and ¼ cup 1 Confectioners sugar.  Poke holes in top of cooled cupcakes and brush on the glaze.

Then place cupcakes in the decorative cupcake paper liners.

Frosting – Make your basic fluffy white frosting, or buy the pre-made if pinched for time.  Generously coat the cupcakes.  Just before serving, add lime zest on top for color and enhanced flavor.  For adults, serve with a shot of tequila and sliver of lime.

Fresh Red Salsa

Ripe red tomatoes – 3 or 4

Red Onion – 1 slice chopped finely – or to taste

Limes 2-3  (need for juice & drinks)

Cilantro – 1 fresh bunch

Drop of oil – vegetable not olive

Pinch of sugar (if desired)

Dash of Salt & Pepper

Optional – Avocado

This is so fresh that keeping it overnight just does not work.  This is best to make an hour or so before you are going to use it.

De-skin and de-seed tomatoes – or just cut up in chunks

Onion – de-skin and chop finely- amount used depends on your taste buds

Limes – roll on counter, cut, and squeeze juice on tomatoes & onion mix

Cilantro – Chop up and try not to get too many stems in the mix

Drop of oil, salt & pepper

Pinch of sugar – if taste needs some sweetening

Mix, set aside, keep chilled until ready to use

Squeeze on more lime juice

Great for dipping or use with pork, chicken or fish- grilled or in tacos.  For the avocado, chop up some fresh and throw in at the last minute.  Or, slice and place on plate with salsa on top.

FYI – Some traditional Mexican restaurants offer only green salsa – you have to ask for the red salsa.  The green salsa – salsa verde – is made with the tomatillo.

Image used with permission of StockFood.

Rights Managed image #00687942 © StockFood/Valerie Janssen.

I hope you enjoy the recipes and stories I tell.  You can let me know by emailing me

Kentucky Derby Day

This year Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby fall on the same day, May 5th.  In my mind, that is a clash of cultures, but it gives me another opportunity to try a recipe.

The Kentucky Derby is about fashionable hats, good Kentucky bourbon, Mint Juleps, socializing with friends, and a small bet on a horse chosen by name or color, and an attempt at trying a new recipe that I can take to my friend’s Derby party.  I am making a Kentucky Derby Walnut Chocolate Pie.  Of course this pie has some nice Kentucky bourbon in it, because I love to cook with booze.

I also love hats.  My Mom would dress me up for church with a hat and gloves.  Here is a picture of us ready for Easter church service 1958.


I had to wear hat and gloves to secretarial school in Washington D.C. in 1969.  I believe that was around the time of the mini-skirt.  Hat and gloves were required along with a dress that was 2” below the knee.

I wanted to make a statement at my son’s wedding last August and wear the biggest hat I could find that went with my dress.  I went all the way to Charleston SC to get my big polka dot hat.  I bought three hats on that trip.  I had purchased two to ship home and on my last day in Charleston, found the third hat – the perfect hat.  I love it.


Deborah Zoe Photography

Happy Derby Day and I hope your horse wins!  The pie turned out great…a little bourbon for the pie and a little shot of bourbon for me.

Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie

Adapted from American Food, New York Times

½ cup flour – sifted

1 cup sugar

2 eggs – beaten

½ cup melted butter

2 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon

1 cup chopped walnuts (approx. 6 oz package of walnut halves & pieces)

1 ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt (I forgot)

1 ready-made piecrust

Preheat oven to 350°

Sift flour into bowl and add sugar.  Add the beaten eggs and melted butter and mix together.  Stir in the bourbon, walnuts, chocolate chips, vanilla and pinch of salt.  Add mixture to the unbaked pie crust.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Let cool before slicing.

Note:  I forgot the salt.  I sifted the flour because I used regular all purpose flour which seems heavy sometimes and another recipe I saw suggested sifting.  I also initially did a cup of flour, but caught my mistake before mixing things up.  I’m not a walnut person, but this pie tasted great – says husband and office friends.  You get just a hint of bourbon along with gooey chocolate.



17 thoughts on “Cinco De Mayo and Kentucky Derby

  1. I can’t wait to try out both recipes Susan! And I have to say I LOVED the photo with your Mom dressed for Easter services…reminds me of similar times shared with my Mom- thank you for putting a smile on face and getting my stomach growling!

  2. The pie was amazing- just like eating a wonderfully soft chocolate chip cookie. I will attempt this one for my Mother-in-Law to be! Thanks for the great ideas!

  3. I was a lucky office friend who tried the Kentucky Derby pie. Just delicious. Rich and gooey – hit all the right spots. Thank you, Susan! I’d be thrilled to sample your fare ANYTIME!

  4. Hi Susan– What fun your blog is! The photo of you and your mom all dressed up in your finery is wonderful!
    How could a tequila cupcake be a bad thing? I can’t wait to try one (or a dozen). WIll be watching for new blog posts–congrats on the new venture!

  5. This is a great blog Susan, entertaining and educational. I look forward to more. I may be even get daring enough to try one of the recipes. Thank you for sharing. Stacy

  6. Susan,
    Thanks for sharing your blog – I’ve added it to my favorites. I love reading about your family and especially loved the pictures. Your sense your humor made me laugh out loud. One of my favorite things about the blog is the attention to detail in your recipes – I appreciate that! Can’t wait to make the Kentucky Derby pie – I will follow the step by step instruction and also try the bourbon myself.


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