food

The 15 Can Challenge: How You Can Make a Difference With One Can Each Week

A few days ago I got an invitation to an event from a Facebook friend. I’m notorious for seeing it on my phone, then overlooking an event or forgetting to respond, but the name of this one stood out. The 15 Can Challenge. I like challenges. I mean, just recently I posted about why the Ice Bucket Challenge was important to me, and I think challenges are a good way to push ourselves.

I clicked over, and saw a description that made it clear I needed to participate in this, but it also tugged at my heart to the point that I felt a need to share it with my readers, as well.

If you have heard of it (and there’s a chance you already have– at the time I’m writing this, over 32,000 people have pledged to be a part of it, and 445,500 more have been invited to join in), this will be a refresher. If you haven’t, here’s what it’s all about:

Each week, when you purchase your groceries, buy one extra non-perishable item. Maybe it’s a can of beans or a can of soup or a jar of peanut butter. Just make sure it’s non-perishable and will last well past Christmastime.

Get one item per week for the next fifteen weeks. If you’re doing the math, starting this week would put you at 1 week before Christmas. If you’re starting later, just grab an extra can to make up for it.

After your 15 weeks of collection is finished (you’ll have 15 items for 15 weeks), deliver your items to the food pantry or charity of your choice.

Finally, the last instruction is to invite all of your friends to participate in this cause.

Basically, the impact could be enormous– all you’re doing is setting aside that one extra item per week. This is great for those of us who want to do service, and give, but don’t know how to get started. And now, I’m about to make it even easier for you– I’m going to give you some ideas of how you can use your 15 can challenge to feed families and give more.

Spaghetti Night Spaghetti is a great, affordable option that is shelf-stable. You’ll want to spend 5 of your weeks buying Spaghetti Sauce, 5 weeks buying Spaghetti, and 5 weeks buying canned fruits and vegetables that can pair with spaghetti. If each family were given a jar of sauce, a package of spaghetti, and a can of fruit or vegetables, you would have provided 5 meals to those in need by adding just one item to your cart each week.

Chili Night Growing up, my mom always made the best chili, and it turns out, it’s really easy. My mom’s chili consisted of a 2-3 cans of beans, a packet of chili seasoning, a can of diced tomatoes, and a can of corn. Obviously, your target items to buy here would be canned beans, diced tomatoes, and chili seasoning to provide families with the items for dinner. If you went this route and a family didn’t like chili, at least they’d have beans and tomatoes, which can be used in a multitude of other recipes.

Just for Kids In the past, when I’ve volunteered with food bank sort of programs, one big concern that always crops up is families who want to make sure their kids’ needs are met most of all. Who doesn’t want to keep their kids happy and healthy? One great way to handle this is to have your kids chip in on the planning of this one… some ideas of how to use your 15 weeks of gathering items? Pick up Juice Boxes (look for 100% juice!), granola bars, pudding and applesauce cups, mac and cheese, and graham crackers. These are items that have some nutrition (a lot of pudding now has more calcium than ever), but still make kids feel special.

The Most Important Meal of the Day A lot of times, kids will get their lunches provided at school, but many kids and adults go hungry when it comes to the most important meal of the day, Breakfast. Some options you can purchase here include just-add-water pancake mix, syrup, juice (again, 100% juice varieties are best), instant breakfast drinks, low-sugar cereals (like Chex or Cheerios), and oatmeal packets.

Protein Lovers It can be especially hard for food pantries to keep stock of protein items. While many people donate canned vegetables or fruits because it seems like a natural item to buy, products like beans, tuna, canned chicken, bean based soups, and canned nuts are often forgotten entirely. Almond butter and peanut butter are a good source of protein, also.

Tis the Season Many food pantries cannot accept perishable items, or they get those items from another source around the holidays (like cash donations or turkeys purchased by a corporate donor), but nearly all food pantries can accept donations of seasonal items like shelf-stable stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, and canned sweet potatoes. These seasonal items can help make the holidays a little brighter, even if your food pantry doesn’t accept other perishable donations.

Forget Ramen Sodium-laden foods like ramen are often over-supplied at food pantries, and for the same price you can get a box of ramen, you could get a box or bag of rice, which has less sodium and will provide more meals. Consider donating rice, beans, and pasta instead.

Top It! Often, food pantries will be able to provide actual food, but have no condiments to go along with it. Sometimes, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, salt, pepper, honey, jelly, and salad dressing can make some ordinary cans and boxes into a much tastier meal. Consider using your 15 items to get condiments.

The Littlest Needs One of the most heartbreaking struggles is when a family with a young child worries about being able to meet their child’s needs. Food pantries are often short on formula, baby food, baby cereal, and special treats like teething biscuits. These are very important donations that can help provide both food and peace of mind for a worried mom.

Clean Up Your Act There is often an overlap between people who are getting food assistance and people who need additional assistance from local community resources in emergencies. But here’s the deal: their food needs may be met, but many of them are struggling to meet basic needs that food stamps don’t cover, like toiletries. Toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, and feminine hygiene products may be items that your local food pantry accepts (call in advance and ask), and, in a season of giving where many are buying canned goods, these items may be in shorter supply– donating them could make a huge difference to someone who doesn’t have them.

 

The bottom line is one product a week for 15 weeks, 15 non-perishable items total, can make a huge difference. But it makes an even bigger difference when thousands of us nationwide band together to donate and put our efforts together to get something big accomplished, like feeding a whole lot of people. Think outside of the basic canned veggies (not that these are not also important donations), but find the many exciting things that you can donate that will help someone have a better day, a better start.

Finally, please don’t forget that food pantries sometimes get a rush of help at Christmas, but then are left struggling to meet needs during other times of the year. I want to personally challenge my readers and myself to get into the habit of picking up canned goods and donating them year-round. My challenge to you is to do the 15 can challenge, buy one item a week for 15 weeks, donate it… and then do it again immediately after, go for 15 more weeks of buying one extra item, setting it aside, and donating it. Make it a habit that you do in your every day life, and I promise, you’ll be making more of a difference than you realize.

And also, if you absolutely can’t participate in the 15 can challenge because you don’t remember to pick up a canned good each week, consider your average grocery bill, and donate money to a local food pantry. Many food pantries can use cash donations to purchase perishable items for families, so cash donations are often equally necessary to operation.

 

 

Will you be participating in the 15 can challenge? What items do you think are important to donate? Let me know in the comment below, and RSVP to the Facebook event here.

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Crockpot Cashew Chicken

In our area, back to school is coming up fast. Today, we took our exchange student school supply shopping and just days ago, the last of Zach’s curriculum arrived for the year. There’s no shortage of planning and preparing for the school year, and that means a whole lot of busy days ahead, both as we soak up the last days of summer and prepare for the school year, and in the days ahead where we’re going to be teaching, working, and keeping the house clean.

Luckily, I have a crock pot. And trust me, I use it and use it often. I love being able to use my crock pot to keep meals easy, and starting a meal early means I get to work on other things and not worry about dinner.

I love this recipe that my grandmother gave me. She said she found it online, and, after doing a little searching, it looks like it is modified from Campbell’s themselves. Start with 5-6 chicken breasts, a can of Campbell’s cream of chicken soup, some onion, some green onion, a little soy sauce, and the cashews and chow mein noodles. Cook the chicken breasts first. Even better, you can pre-cook these another night and refrigerate. I try to make a chicken dish a day or two before this one, then refrigerate the cooked chicken until the day of this meal. Then, you have even less day-of prep!

Chop your chicken, onion, and green onion. You could also choose to do this before the day you’re cooking to eliminate your day-of prep.

Spray your crock pot with some non-stick cooking spray, then load in all of the ingredients except the rice and the chow mein noodles. I typically leave out one of the cans of cashews in order to reserve them for a topping at the end.

Stir in the soup and soy sauce, coating the ingredients. It might look a little strange, but I promise, it’s so delicious! Turn your crock pot on low for 5-9 hours, or set it on high for 2-3 hours. It’s just long enough to get the kids through the day on low, or enough to take care of those “oh, shoot! I just got home and realized I forgot to turn on the crock pot!” moments on high.

Finish your meal with a little cooked rice and some crunchy chow mein noodles, along with the rest of the cashews.

 

Crock Pot Cashew Chicken

5-6 breasts cooked chicken, diced
1/2 Cup diced onion
1/2 Cup diced green onion
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 can cream of chicken soup
Cashews
Chow mein noodles
Rice
Non-stick cooking spray

Spray the inside of the crock pot with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine all ingredients except chow mein noodles in crock pot.
Cook 5-9 hours on low, or on high for 2-3 hours.
Serve over rice, with chow mein noodles and additional cashews for crunch.

In the mood for Asian food? Check out more dishes inspired by the far East by looking at my Ramen Slaw or my Dipped Almond Cookies.

 

Are you a crock pot fan? Do you use yours year-round or in winter? Let me know your crock pot habits in the comments below!

Enchilada-Style Ham and Cheese

Everyone loves comfort food, right? From dumplings to chicken and noodle soup, comfort foods keep us happy and make us feel… well, comforted. One of my favorite comfort foods growing up was grilled cheese with tomato soup for dipping. Who doesn’t love rich, hearty tomato soup with a hot, gooey, melty grilled cheese sandwich?

I remember the first time that it occurred to me in my first apartment that, while making a grilled cheese on my George Foreman, I could add ham to make it better. Obviously, that’s nothing new. Hot ham and cheese sandwiches are pretty standard, but it blew my mind at the time.

The other day, I picked up a can of tomato soup at the store and realized I could combine a few of my favorite things for something unique, and that’s how this recipe sort of came about… it’s the best of comfort foods with a special twist.

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Lemon Poppyseed Breakfast Rolls

Oh, honey. I don’t even know where to begin with these breakfast rolls. They’re so simple. They’re so versatile. They’re perfect for breakfast or brunch or after dinner or anytime, and they’re just so refreshing and really, really simple to make. If you’re like me, you open your pantry door and you have a variety of cake mixes for “just in case.” You know the story– just in case someone in the church has a baby and you need to whip up a quick cake, or just in case you forgot it was someone’s birthday and you need to make something quickly, or just in case you see a to-die-for recipe using a cake mix on Pinterest.

Well, darlings… these simple Lemon Poppyseed Breakfast Rolls are going to make use of that Lemon cake you have tucked in the back of your pantry, somewhere behind the Funfetti and Chocolate mixes. And trust me, you’ll be stocking up on Lemon cake mix after you try this, because it’s oh-so-yummy.

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Southwest Chicken and Rice Bake

I like easy dinners. I mean really easy dinners. With Jeffrey playing soccer non-stop, Zach having a great Music and Movement class, and all of the other day-to-day life, sometimes it is almost dinner time and I’ve forgotten to even think about dinner. It has nothing to do with me having trouble putting down the book I’m reading or anything. It’s totally everyone’s schedules. I swear.

Anyway, this dinner is so ridiculously easy that I can’t believe I didn’t make it sooner.

Start out with three-ish chicken breasts. It’s not an exact science. I used 3 because I had 3 thawed, but if they’re really big, use two. If they’re tiny, use more. You’ll also need 3 bags of Birds Eye Steamfresh Specially Seasoned Southwestern Style Rice. It is seasoned, and has bell peppers, onions, and corn already in it. You’ll also want to check into Campbell’s Great for Cooking Soups– a can of Cream of Chicken and a can of Cheddar Cheese soup are perfect. Add in a drained can of Rotel and you’re golden. I used Mild Rotel because my family just can’t take the spice, but if your family is able to handle it, by all means, load that puppy up with some Hot Rotel (or at least Original).

Cook the chicken fully, then shred it into bite-sized pieces.

Pour the still-frozen rice in and break it up. Yes, it will be a little bit icy– that’s part of how it steams. This will cook into the food when you bake the dish. Now, mix in your chicken.

You’re on the home stretch now with this dish… stir in the two great for cooking soups and the drained Rotel, then pop the casserole in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes, until the casserole is hot and bubbly.

It serves 6-8 people, and it’s so quick and easy to make that you’ll be out of the kitchen and back to reading… I mean, uh, driving the kids around to all of their stuff… in a heartbeat.

Love easy recipes? Try my Tuscan Sausage and Bean Soup, Pollo Magnifico Freezer Meal, or Hearty Cheeseburger Soup!

What’s your go-to “I forgot to cook dinner!” recipe? Share it in the comments below!

Kids in the Kitchen: Cooking Delicious, Healthy Recipes With Little Helpers

From the earliest age Zach was able to hold a spoon, he has wanted to help in the kitchen. Obviously, I wanted to be sure that he wasn’t going to get hurt doing these tasks. Of course, no one was going to go handing my one year old a knife, but encouraging his natural interest in cooking was a must for me. So, I spent many long, hard hours researching how kids could have their kitchen interest engaged… safely.

Armed with suggestions from around the web, and a few realizations of my own, I started giving Zach ways to help in the kitchen, and he started showing me new ways he could succeed, also. So, below is my list of great ways that kids can help out in the kitchen, safely and in age-appropriate manners.

Two year olds can…

-Wipe a table. (Fun tip! Spray shaving cream on the table, then allow your child to draw pictures in the shaving cream with their finger and rub it around on the table. It’s a great sensory experience! Wipe the table, and their hands, thoroughly, and enjoy your clean table!)
-Tear lettuce for a big salad
-Stir a mix or batter with supervision
-Rinse food, like vegetables and fruits
-Add ingredients to a bowl, with guidance

Three year olds can do all of the above and…

-Squeeze citrus fruits for fruit juice or lemonade
-Assemble a pizza by spreading sauce, adding toppings and cheese
-Knead dough
-Peel fruits like oranges and bananas (sometimes needing help to start the orange peeling)
-Count food items
-Crack eggs with help
-Scoop food from one bowl to another

Four year olds can do everything above and also…

-Set the table
-Measure dry ingredients
-Make sandwiches (with guidance)
-Cut soft foods like bananas with a butter knife and a LOT of supervision

Five year olds, finally, can do everything above and…

-Measure liquids
-Separate eggs with an egg separator
-Zest fruits with supervision

But the really important thing to remember is that while kids help in the kitchen, they need guidance and help staying safe. For optimal child safety, give your child their own workspace! If they have a workspace of their own that’s away from knives, other sharp objects, hot stoves, and hot pans, they’re able to stay safe from harm while they cook and learn!

Always supervise children in the kitchen. Be sure to tell them all of the safety rules so they know that only grown-ups should use the stove, small appliances like toasters and blenders, and sharp items like knives.

Be sure everyone washes their hands and that you wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly to prevent the spread of disease!

Don’t mind the mess! Start out with a clean kitchen, but realize that if you’re cooking with a child, it’s going to take a little longer than doing it yourself, and there will probably be a larger cleanup. Invite your child to help you clean up any areas that are safe to help in, so they learn that cleanup is part of the cooking process. But don’t cry over spilled milk… recognize that the mess and longer time is just part of the learning process and part of the memories that you and your child will hold dear for years to come.

Want to keep your kids extra safe? I’ve designed a fun 8×10 printable safety tips poster. You can check out the preview below, then download it here.

If you’d like to test out these great safety tips by cooking with your little helper, you’re in luck, because today, my son Zach and I are sharing two favorite recipes from our kitchen that I know will be a hit in your kitchen, as well. First up, a delicious smoothie.

Mango Pineapple Fruit Smoothies

Zach is a huge fan of smoothies, so we always love finding a new smoothie recipe to try. We’ve bought bagged smoothie kits, shaker smoothies, and made a variety of fresh and frozen fruit and veggie smoothies, but this one hits the spot every time, especially during the summer.

You’ll need 1/2 a cup diced mango (about one large mango), 1/2 cup diced pineapple (about 1/4 a whole pineapple), 1 Tablespoon honey, 1 container of vanilla yogurt (6-8 ounces), and 1/2 cup orange or mango juice. We had mango on hand, so that’s what we used.

Parents, go ahead and pre-slice the mango chunks into small bite-sized pieces. If you have an older child, they may be able to help with this part with supervision, but you’ll still likely want to cut the meat off of the harder pit so they don’t slip and cut themselves.

Pre-slice the pineapple, as well, also into bite sized pieces. Again, an older child may be able to help with this step with supervision, but use your best judgement about what your child can handle, and make sure they’re experienced in handling a knife.

You may also want to take this time to pre-measure the juice and honey, depending on your child’s age. Because Zach will only be 3 in July and is still learning in the kitchen, I chose to measure them in advance.

Invite your little chef to pour the ingredients into the blender. Make sure you remind your child to be mindful of the sharp parts inside the blender, and remind them to never stick their hands inside.

Blend until smooth, then enjoy!

This makes approximately 6 (1/2 cup) smoothie servings!

While sipping your smoothie, talk to your child about their favorite part of making this recipe, and ask them what sort of fruit they think might go well in a future smoothie! You may be starting a delicious and healthy smoothie addiction in your child!

Tangy Fruit Dip

My son is a huge fan of fruit. He also loves yogurt. So what’s the best way to pair the two? With a delicious yogurt-based fruit dip, of course! Because trust me, my son can’t eat any food from fish sticks to fries, without wanting to “dip it!” and I wanted to re-create that same experience with a healthier, lighter fare that makes a great afternoon snack or a delicious side dish or party food.

You’ll need a container of vanilla yogurt (6-8 ounces), two teaspoons of honey, and 3-4 key limes (or 1 lime*), and the fruit your child likes best to dip. We personally chose watermelon, but this fruit dip is great with strawberries, plums, pineapple, and more!

I started by slicing my watermelon so it would be ready to eat as soon as Zach finished making the dip. To easily slice a melon into fry-like sticks, cut off each end of the melon, then shave the sides off using the knife. Finish by cutting the watermelon into slices, and those slices into sticks. Quick and easy!

Next, juice 3-4 key limes (or 1 lime*). Make sure you strain out the seeds! An older child could help you with this task, but since Zach is a bit younger, I went ahead and did it myself. You can also zest the limes or key limes to use as a garnish, if you’d like.

Have your child combine a container of yogurt and two teaspoons of honey.

Then, stir in the lime juice.

Remember, like Chef Gordon Ramsay says, all good chefs taste as they cook! As long as there are no raw eggs or raw meat, foods are generally safe to taste, and this is a great learning opportunity.

Finally, serve! If you’re photographing your food first, like I did to share with you guys, be careful that a sneaky little chef doesn’t come in and steal the food props! You might have a cheeky grin in store for you if that happens.

But in the end, it’s a delicious way to add a little protein from the yogurt into a great snack for fruit-loving kids!

*As you might have noticed at your local grocery store, typical lime prices have skyrocketed! Limes that usually cost around $0.39 cents are priced at $1.99 currently. Why? Well, a lot of reasons… first, there was a drought that reduced the lime quantities this year during the growing season. Then, heavy rains knocked blossoms off of the trees which meant even fewer limes grew. Because they became more rare, the Mexican Drug Cartels started seizing lime shipments and making farmers pay large sums. The farmers had no choice, and ended up having to pass these higher costs onto their distributors and customers. Some lime growers even stopped growing the plants out of fear of the cartels. So that’s why there are fewer limes and they’re a higher price. You can definitely use key limes in the recipe, which are grown in the USA and a bit cheaper at the moment. You could also wait a few weeks until the limes grown in California are ripe and ready to be shipped across the county, lowering prices. Or, you can use an artificial lime juice if you prefer. In fact, even lemons would work in the recipe.

Now, if you’d like to remember these delicious and easy recipes, don’t forget to download my printable recipe cards here. They’ll print on an 8.5×11 sheet and can be cut into 4×6 cards to fit into your recipe card box!

 

Make sure you come back next Monday through Friday, as every day I’ll be sharing more tips, recipes, and printables to make summer meals easier, more affordable, and more fun for your family. There may even be a giveaway in store, so stay tuned!

Happy Cooking!

 

Salsa De Mayo Easy Fruit Salsa

Holy cow. It’s almost May. Seriously? How did it become May already? Just yesterday I was singing Christmas carols, it seemed like.

No. Wait. I literally WAS singing Christmas carols yesterday because I had Spotify on shuffle and couldn’t resist. But maybe it’s the April snowshowers or the Spotify confusion, or maybe it’s just my unwillingness to admit that summer is right around the corner and I still don’t have a bikini body, but it really is May and I’m really, really unprepared.

So, I decided I needed a festive treat for Cinco de Mayo to help get me in the mood for May.

I started by going to the store and buying any fresh fruit that was on sale and could add some color and texture to my special Cinco de Mayo fruit salsa. My picks were strawberries, plums, kiwifruit, and mangoes, but you pick whatever your family likes. Personally, I thought these tasted really great together and looked a lot like ACTUAL pico de gallo when chopped up.

So growing up, we were always pretty convinced that Cinco de Mayo was the Mexican Independence Day (or if you’re my dad, it’s the day the Titanic sank carrying a big load of Mayonnaise meant for the Mexicans, and they were so upset over the loss, that they mourned with a holiday– the Sink-o de Mayo).  However, it’s not either of those things. Cinco de Mayo, which is actually more of an American holiday than a Mexican one, is the commemoration of the cause of freedom during the early years of the Civil War in America for Mexican-American communities in the West, a way of celebrating Mexican heritage and pride, and a way to celebrate Mexico beating the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862, on, you guessed it…. May 5.

To start a good fruit salsa, just peel and dice your first fruit really finely. I decided to start with a mango. I used 1, but you just add as many of them as you want for the amount of fruit salsa you plan on eating. You’ll know a mango is ripe when it gets that pretty red color on the outside, and when it’s firm, but not squishy (overripe). You’ll want to make the dices very small– the same way you would want your pieces if you were eating a regular salsa, so you can fit a lot onto a chip. Unless you’re a dipper and not a scooper, in which case, you are salsa-ing all wrong.

While making the salsa, I got curious. What was the Battle of Puebla? I mean, Cinco de Mayo NOT being Mexican Independence Day (which is actually on September 16) kind of blew my mind, and I wanted to find out more info. Basically, after the Mexican-American war in 1846-48… AND the MExican Civil War of 1858… AND the 1860 Reform Wars… the Mexican Treasury was super broke. Like bankrupt broke. The president of Mexico at the time decided to just suspend all of the payments on debt that was owed to other countries. Because hey, no money. So France, Britain, and Spain were VERY much not cool with getting no money. I mean, it’s the equivalent of loaning your kid brother lunch money day after day after day, and him giving it away, and then when it’s time for him to pay you back, he says “Uh… yeah, maybe in 2 years, bro.” You’d totally want to beat him up, right? Well, Britain and Spain talked to Mexico, negotiated, and left, figuring things out. But Napoleon III of France was like, “No way, dude.” He wanted a Mexico that would be favorable to France, and moved his troops right in, storming Veracruz.

Taking a break from the very intense history lesson I was getting, I started dicing my plum. To add a little color and texture, I left the skin on this one… you do what you like, and remove that skin if you’d prefer. To me, it was easier, and looked way prettier in the finished product.

Again, you want really small dices!

After the plum dicing, I realized I wanted to know more. I mean, they stormed Veracruz… but then what? Turns out that the French force was so intense that the president of Mexico, and his government, took off and retreated, basically letting the French gain a lot of ground. However, the Mexicans near Puebla were not cool with this, and said “No! You’re not getting in here, dudes.” The French army was big, strong, and had 8,000 people. It was literally considered THE best army. In the world. Anywhere. The Mexicans really didn’t stand a chance… there were 4,500 of them, and they were poorly equipped. No way they’d be able to beat France’s best army ever… things just didn’t look good for the Mexicans.

I was plagued with the feeling of impeding doom for the Mexican army… or, as impending as something that happened like 150 years ago could be… so I decided to take another break from my history lesson to dice up the kiwifruit. Tossing it into the fruit salad, it was almost done… but it looks like it needs something else, yeah? This isn’t quite enough like pico de gallo in looks to me…

Then, I just had to keep reading to see what happened next for the Mexicans vs. the French.

Somehow, against all odds, the Mexicans CRUSHED the French in the battle on May 5, 1862! It was a great morale boost, and the Mexicans celebrated! Call it stereotypical of me, but I get mental images of that taco shell commercial where they’re all lifting the girl on their shoulders and cheering. The Puebla victory was a huge deal! Not only was the battle the first time that the French army had been defeated in more than 50 years, but it was also the last time that a country in the Americas was invaded by European military force.

I cheered for the Mexican Army as I sliced strawberries to add to my festive fruit salsa. It would add the perfect red color to it as a finishing touch!

However, I was pretty dismayed to find out that not long after the great victory, the French defeated the Mexicans, winning the war, and establishing Emperor Maximilian I as the ruler in Mexico. Luckily for my love of underdog stories, that was a short-lived victory. The French were in power only 3 years before the US started giving more help politically and militarily so Mexico could get rid of the French. When the United States finished their own Civil War, they had the opportunity to give that money to Mexico, and it scared the French, who decided to give up and let the Mexican president return and re-organize his government once again.

My fruit salsa was finally complete, and the Mexicans were back in power after the French invasion. Thank goodness.

But then I started finding out that, had the Civil War not ended, or had the French gotten the chance, they would have pushed farther into the States, backing the Confederacy, and quite possibly changing the United States as we know it! Can you imagine what might have happened had France won the battle, defeating Mexico at Puebla, and then marching their way into the South? The United States may have stayed divided! That’s what makes Cinco de Mayo such an important holiday in the United States, as well. In fact, the Mexicans barely even celebrate it, with it being an official holiday in Puebla and Veracruz, but not in the rest of Mexico! Today, though, Cinco de Mayo celebrations can be found around the world, in Canada, the Caribbean, Australia, Japan, and ironically, even France.

When looking for the perfect vessel to get the yummy fruit salsa into my tummy, I knew that these Taco Bell Cinnamon Nacho chips from the Cinnamon Nacho Dessert kit would be perfect! Intended to be served with ice cream, I decided to shake it up, set the included caramel aside to enjoy at a later date, and just enjoy the chips with my fruit salsa. I even sprinkled the included toffee bits over the top as I indulged in the delicious Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips.

It is the PERFECT snack for Cinco de Mayo, no matter what country you’re celebrating from!

 

Do you want some helpful tips on easy cleanup from all your peels and pits while making the fruit salsa, and a fun way to use up and leftover fruit salsa? Don’t forget to follow @jengerbread88 on Instagram to find these two great tips appearing later today! Not an Instagram user? That’s okay, they’ll be on the DigitalEraMom facebook page, too, which you can access by “liking” it in the sidebar!

 

Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Let me know how you celebrate in the comments below!