The giddy feeling of the first real warmth of spring is perfectly complemented by the bright, bold colors and flavors of Mexico. With its combination of spicy and herbal notes, Mexican cuisine always sparkles and has become the ethnic favorite in the U.S., according to a number of surveys.

The recipes are from “200 Easy Mexican Recipes: Authentic Recipes from Burritos or Enchiladas” by Kelley Cleary Coffeen.

This makes a wonderful a vegetarian meal but also can be topped with chicken or steak for those who prefer.

Chopped Mexican Salad

Makes 4 to 6 servings


1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon minced cilantro

1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons liquid honey


6 cups chopped romaine lettuce

1 can (14-19 ounces) black or pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup chopped peeled jicama

1 can (14-15 ounces) corn kernels, drained*

1 yellow or red bell pepper, seeded, cored and diced

2 ripe avocados, peeled and diced

1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese*

— For dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, hot pepper flakes, garlic and honey.

Spread lettuce evenly across a large serving platter. Arrange beans, jicama, corn, bell pepper and avocado side by side on top of lettuce. Garnish with cheese. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, for at least 1 hour before serving.

Drizzle with dressing before serving.

*Tips: Instead of canned corn, you can use 1 1/2 cups thawed frozen corn kernels or cooked fresh corn in this recipe. Grilled or fire-roasted corn will add additional flavor.

Cotija is a crumbly, sharp Mexican cheese. You could substitute feta or goat cheese.

Dressing is best served at room temperature.

Can’t wait to grill?

Grilled Shrimp with Avocado Butter

Makes 4 servings

Equipment needed:

Barbecue grill

Food processor

Four 10- to 12-inch flat metal skewers

Avocado Butter:

3 avocados, cut in quarters or into chunks

2 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher or sea salt

Juice of 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning*

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

16 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

— For Avocado Butter: In a food processor, combine avocados, garlic, lime juice and olive oil and process until smooth. Add salt to taste. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or for up to 2 hours.

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In a medium bowl, whisk lime juice, garlic, Creole seasoning, cayenne and oil until well blended. Add shrimp and toss gently. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 2 hours.

Meanwhile, preheat barbecue grill to medium-high.

Remove shrimp from marinade and discard marinade. Thread 4 shrimp on each skewer.

Grill shrimp, turning once, until shrimp are pink and opaque, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter. Gently remove from skewers and serve with Avocado Butter.

*Creole seasoning is a combination of onion, garlic, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt and pepper.

Tangy lime and creamy condensed milk, a topping of real whipped cream, all in a vanilla-flavored crumb crust, is pretty enough for a party.

Margarita Pie

Makes 6 servings

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1/3 cup liquid margarita mix*

3 drops green food coloring

1 (9-inch) store-bought vanilla-flavored cookie crumb crust

1 cup heavy or whipping (35 percent) cream

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 lime, thinly sliced

— Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs and egg yolks until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Continue mixing and add lime juice, condensed milk, margarita mix and food coloring and beat for 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour into pie shell and bake in preheated oven until center is firm, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until chilled for at least 1 hour or for up to 4 hours.

Just before serving, in a medium chilled bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat whipping cream and sugar until soft peaks form, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve slices of pie on individual plates topped with whipped cream and garnished with lime slices.

*Tip: Use a high-quality prepared liquid margarita mix with a medium sweet-sour balance.

(Excerpted from “200 Easy Mexican Recipes” by Kelley Cleary Coffeen [© 2013 Robert Rose Inc.].)

Reach Karen Herzog at 701-250-8267 or