Today is the holiday Dia de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”), celebrated in Mexico and by many Mexican Americans.  It is similar to the Catholic holiday of All Saints Day, celebrated on November 1st and/or All Souls Day, celebrated on November 2nd. On this day, Mexican families traditionally gather together to pray for the souls of family and friends who have passed away. It is a celebration of the lives of those who are no longer with us and the traditions to mark the occasion vary by region.  Typically, Mexican people build private altars to the deceased or visit the graves, adorning them with flowers such as marigolds, photos and other memorabilia. Some people dress up on costumes and the skull and bones are very popular symbols of the day. Many families clean their homes and make the favorite food and drinks of the deceased.
In honor of the occasion, here is a new Mexican recipe that I adopted from Cooking Light magazine. It’s a great recipe to feed a crowd. You can make it ahead and it feeds alot of people! 

Fairytale Green-Chili Chicken Tortilla Pie

1 1/3  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1  cup canned chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1  cup fat-free sour cream
3/4  teaspoon salt
1/2  teaspoon ground cumin
1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2  (10 1/2-ounce) cans condensed 98% fat-free cream of chicken soup, undiluted (such as Campbell’s)
1  garlic clove, minced
Cooking spray
24  (6-inch) flour tortillas (Authentic Mexican work best because they are thicker)
5  cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 1.5 pounds)
1 1/2  cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups of shredded low fat mexican cheese mix (such as Sargento)

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine the first 9 ingredients in a large saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.  Spread 1 cup soup mixture in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 6 tortillas over the soup mixture, and top with 1 cup chicken and 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat layers, ending with the cheese.  Spread remaining soup mixture over cheese. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly.  Let sit for about 30 minutes after removing from the oven so it has time to set.

Shred the chicken with a fork.
Cream base for pie layers.
The chicken tortilla pie before baking.

Here are a two more recipes to get your Cinco de Mayo celebration started this week! I love these recipes because they are healthful and delicious and not your typical taco feast! I hope you like them too!

Serves 4

4 8-inch whole wheat or multigrain tortillas
1 can black beans, washed and drained
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of orange juice
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 clove of garlic
Handfull of chopped cilantro plus more leaves for garnish
2 limes
4 oz of cotija cheese
1 rotissieri chicken breasts, shredded
1 can of salsa verde (green salsa)

1/2 avocado
Dollup of sour cream

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

To make the black bean dip: Combine black beans, red onion, orange juice, olive oil, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper, and the juice of one lime in a bowl. Puree in a blender until smooth. Put to the side.

In a separate bowl, place the shredded chicken and sprinkle with some of Emeril’s Southwestern Essence. Mix the shredded chicken with enough salsa verde to coat.

To assemble the tortilla pie: Coat a 9 inch round baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/4 of the black bean mixture onto a tortilla. Top with 1/4 of the chicken mixture. Sprinkle some of the cotija cheese on top. Repeat 3 more times. Squirt some lime juice on top.

Bake in oven about 20 minutes, until top is nice and brown and crunchy. Remove from oven and garnish with cilantro. Optional: Place some diced avocado slices on top and a slice of lime on the side. Serve immediately.

Mexican Watermelon Salad
Serves 4

1 small seedless watermelon
4 oz of cotija cheese
1 cup of cilantro leaves
4 tablespoons of lavendar honey
1 tablespoon of orange juice
1 lime

Use a melon baller to scoop out balls of the watermelon. Place in decorative glass salad bowl. Crumble cheese on top of watermelon. Add cilantro.  In small bowl, mix lavendar honey, orange juice and lime juice.  Add to Salad. Mix well. Serve immediately.

Have a  Happy Cinco de Mayo! Enjoy! 🙂