Celebrate Cinco de Mayo: Food and Fun for the Kids!

As a Spanish teacher, I always find it quite humorous when I get new students and ask them their knowledge of Spanish vocabulary.  Cerveza, cinco de mayo, fiesta, tacos, enchiladas, guacamole.  My goal is always to expand this vocabulary, but for this upcoming weekend, I’m guessing you can get by with just this list!  In honor of Cinco de Mayo this weekend (May 5th, for those of you who aren’t aware), our team at the Iowa City Moms Blog has put together some of our favorite Mexican-inspired recipes and fun family activities to share with you!

But first, I feel it is my duty as an educator of the Spanish language and culture to share a little bit about what Cinco de Mayo actually is! If you learn anything from today’s post (besides what to make for dinner–yum!), please know that Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day. Although if you would like another reason to make tacos and drink margaritas, that holiday happens to fall on September 16th. 

Cinco de Mayo, believe it or not, is mainly an American holiday. It is only celebrated in a small area of Mexico known as Puebla, where a small Mexican army celebrated an unexpected victory when they defeated the French armed forces on May 5, 1862.  Although residents of Puebla consider this date a very important day on the calendar, the majority of celebrations on May 5th are found on the other side of the border: in the United States.  Over the years, Cinco de Mayo has become an American “holiday” on which we celebrate the Mexican (or Mexican-American) heritage. 

In the spirit of celebration, we at the Iowa City Moms Blog have put together some delicious Mexican recipes for you to enjoy with your families, either on Cinco de Mayo this weekend or anytime you’re in the mood for Mexican food!


Kelsey Cinco de MayoFresh Salsa and Guacamole 

1 can corn
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 jalapenos, diced & seeds removed
1/2 red onion, diced
handful of fresh cilantro
lime juice
salt (to taste)

1 avocado
1 tomato, diced
1 jalapeno, diced & seeds removed
1/2 red onion, diced
handful of fresh cilantro
lime juice
salt to taste

Directions: Combine and serve with chips!

lanasalsaAvocado Mango Salsa 

1 avocado, diced
1 mango, diced
1 small red onion, chopped
1 pepper (hot or sweet, up to you)
juice of 1 lime
salt and fresh cilantro to taste

Directions: Combine and serve with tortilla chips. It is fresh, healthy, and very simple!

Main Dishes:

Katie Taco BakeTaco Bake

one package of taco seasoning
one pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup water
one package of crescent rolls
two cups crushed tortilla chips
one cup sour cream
one cup shredded cheese
your favorite taco toppings

Directions: Brown meat and mix taco seasoning in according to the directions on the package. Preheat oven to 375. Spread the crescent rolls out in a 9×11 greased baking pan to form the crust. Pop the rolls into the oven for 10 minutes, just until the top starts to turn golden brown. Sprinkle half the crushed tortilla chips over the crust. Spoon meat over the chips. Spread sour cream over the meat and cover with cheese. Sprinkle remaining chips over the top. Bake 20 minutes. Let cool and top with your favorite taco toppings. Some toppings we like are lettuce, taco sauce, black olives, sour cream and tomatoes.

Sara EnchiladasChicken, Chile and Corn Enchiladas

4 or 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 (7 oz.) cans of green chiles
1 jar of salsa verde
2 cups (1 bag) shredded cheddar cheese; save a handful
for sprinkling the top
1-2 cups frozen corn (optional)
flour (or corn) tortillas; (amount depends on how full you fill your enchiladas)
red salsa (choose your favorite)

Directions: Cut chicken breasts into cubes (the smaller the pieces, the faster they cook all the way through).  Put the pieces into a large, microwave-safe bowl and cook on high in 1-2 minute increments until the chicken is all white (no pink).  Add the chiles, salsa verde, and frozen corn.  Return to microwave and cook on high another 2-3 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Add shredded cheese (do not microwave after you have added the cheese).  Stir well, and start filling your tortillas.  Roll them up and place them in a 9×13 baking pan (I use glass).  Because most of the “cooking” is done in the microwave, you only need to bake them (at 350 degrees) for about 15 minutes.  When they start to brown, pull them out and sprinkle with cheese, then bake for another 3-5 minutes until the cheese has melted.   Serve with salsa. 

I LOVE this recipe for so many reasons–very little cooking time, easy prep, they are spicy but not TOO spicy, and it’s easy to add/change ingredients. The original recipe did not call for corn; we added it one time, and have been doing it ever since!  It’s also super easy to make vegetarian by replacing the chicken with soy chicken products (can buy these in the frozen foods, already in pieces), or by just eliminating the chicken altogether.  This is my go-to recipe for parties, friends with new babies, etc.!


apple enchiladasBaked Apple Enchiladas

8 flour tortillas (8 inch)
2 cans apple pie filling
8 oz. whipped cream cheese
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar (for filling)
1/3 cup margarine
1/2 cup white sugar (for topping)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp.vanilla extract

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine pie fillings, cream cheese, and sugar. Spoon mixture evenly onto all tortillas, sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll up tortillas and place seam side down in lightly greased 9×13 baking pan. Bring margarine, sugars, water, cornstarch, and vanilla to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Pour sauce evenly over tortillas; sprinkle with extra cinnamon on top if desired. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Makes 8 LARGE enchiladas; may be cut in half to serve 16.

Kids Activities:

While you mamas are busy putting together all of the aforementioned recipes, your kids will need something to do!  So, here are a few Mexican-inspired activities to keep them busy!  The goal is to use whatever you have around the house for these crafts.  As you can tell, I have girls at home. So our crafts tend to be pink and purple, no matter what the occasion is! In addition, most of my crafting supplies are packed up in boxes, so we were literally using whatever we could find around the house!!

cinco de mayo maracas


2 16.9 oz water bottles (or use toilet paper rolls, pop bottles, etc.)
Various crafting supplies
Beans, Peas, Lentils…anything that is small and will make noise when you shake it!

Directions: Decorate your bottles, add your dry ingredient, and SHAKE!!



cinco de mayo sombrero


1 paper plate
1 paper cup
Various crafting supplies

Directions: Decorate your paper plate and cup. Tape the cup to the hat and VOILA…you have a sombrero!


cinco de mayo printouts

Cinco de Mayo Printables:

(Courtesy of apples4theteacher.com)  They have lots of great information, learning materials, and craft ideas for all occasions, including Cinco de Mayo.  




For more Cinco de Mayo food, drink, decorating, and craft ideas, check out Iowa City Moms Blog’s Pinterest board!

 {Former Giveaway to El Dorado is Closed.}

Sara and her husband Matt (sweethearts since they were just 16) got married in 2007, and since then have welcomed four beautiful children (Sam in 2008, Cooper in 2010, Nora in 2012, and Adam James in December 2015). A born-and-raised Iowan, Sara received both her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees (in Spanish Literature) from the University of Iowa. She's still teaching Spanish wherever and whenever she can, but her true passion is owning Iowa City Moms and building this community alongside her amazing team. Sara is also the Community Engagement Coordinator for City Mom Collective, and the owner of Cowork Collective downtown Iowa City. Common denominator in all of these jobs: community, community, community.


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