Happy May Day. It really is hard to believe it's already May and the year will soon be half gone. Looking ahead a few days, on Sunday, we get to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Like Ireland on St. Patrick's Day with no corned beef or green beer in sight, you won't find those living in Mexico eating tacos and drinking frozen margaritas on Cinco de Mayo. No nachos, refried beans or even jalapenos.

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily celebrated in the region of Puebla. According to smithsonianmag.com, there are some dishes authentic to Mexico that would be popular for Cinco de Mayo there.

First up is lamb barbacoa. Barbacoa is meat smoked underground in banana leaves, and you will find it along with carnitas topped with queso fresco, pickled onions and homemade salsa, then wrapped in a homemade corn tortilla. The word barbecue originates from the word barbacoa, so we can all relate to that.

Mole pablano is probably the most-consumed dish in Puebla on May 5. A mole, layered with flavor from its long list of ingredients, is usually labor intensive, taking several hours to prepare correctly and comes in a variety of colors and consistencies.

A mole will generally include five different ingredient categories which are chiles, sweet, sour, spice and thickening. Most, but not all, include chocolate, plus as many as 30 other ingredients. Add several hours prep and cooking time to that, and we should all appreciate a good mole when we are served one.

Chalapas are familiar to us and are iconic street food in Mexico. Resembling a tostada, it offers a thick fried tortilla topped with salsa, shredded meat, chopped onion and maybe queso fresco. There are two different ideas as to the origin of the word chalupas. One is from the name of baskets used in colonial times to carry everything to the river for doing laundry, and the other is from the name of Aztec boats used in the ancient city of Tenochtitlan. The origin of barbecue makes more sense.

There's a traditional dish put together to honor the red, white and green colors of the Mexican flag. Chiles en Nogada is topped with a white walnut sauce then sprinkled with red pomegranate seeds and green parsley. Very festive.

Whatever your Cinco de Mayo plans, enjoy your favorite food whether you cook at home or celebrate by eating out. A taco supreme is in my future.

In honor of my birthday Tuesday, let's celebrate Siete de Mayo. May 7 adds another year to my age, and I'm thankful for each and every day. For three weeks until her birthday, I will be two years older than my sister, Sue Joslen, and she loves that.

I am featuring two of my favorite foods — potatoes and chocolate — fixed in my favorite kitchen appliance, the slow cooker. The first recipe is for a nice side dish and the second one is for a tasty entree. Red potatoes and russets. Yum.

For dessert, we have a triple chocolate treat. Cake mix, pudding mix and chips. Serve with some vanilla ice cream for something close to perfection. These recipes are from "Taste of Home Slow Cooker Throughout the Year."

Happy first day of May, and happy eating.


Creamy red potatoes

2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 can cream of potato soup

1 envelope ranch dressing mix

Place potatoes in slow cooker. In a bowl, beat cream cheese, soup, and dressing mix until blended; stir into potatoes. Cover and cook on low 7 to 8 hours or until potatoes are tender. Top with green onions. Yields 6 servings.


Saucy scalloped potatoes

4 cups thinly sliced peeled potatoes

1 can cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 large onion, sliced

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 cup chopped cooked ham

Combine all ingredients except ham in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Stir in ham. Reduce heat to low and cook 6 to 8 hours longer or until potatoes are tender. Yields 6 to 8 servings.


Slow cooker chocolate lava cake

1 devil's food cake mix

1 2/3 cups water

3 eggs

1/2 cup canola oil

2 cups cold milk

1 (3.9-ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Grease or line slow cooker. In large bowl, combine cake mix, water, eggs and oil; beat on low 30 seconds, then on medium for 2 minutes. Pour into slow cooker.

In another bowl, whisk pudding mix and milk for 2 minutes; let stand for 2 minutes. Spoon over cake batter then sprinkle with chips.

Cover and cook on high 3 to 4 hours or until toothpick inserted into cake portion comes out with moist crumbs. Yields 12 servings.

Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.