This year, our celebration is going to be a real family affair – my sister with her family of five, my Dad and his wife, and my son with his family of three. That means catering to the tastes of adults and children alike. We all know what that means.
Both the wee ones and elderly with delicate tummies to consider. Those who say bring on the heat while others are frantically searching for a tall glass of milk or some honey to extinguish the fire. When entertaining such a discriminating collection of taste buds, I knew my menu would need to include bold and mild dishes. Since kids aren’t really appetizer-eaters, I was comfortable offering a selection aimed at the adults. The main event needed to include a little something for everyone without compromising on flavor. As for the desserts, I elected to have a home-made dessert that was geared towards adults while still providing something sweet that was kid-friendly. A little thought, a little creativity, and I’ve crafted a menu I’m confident is sure to please.
Bacon Jalapeño Deviled Eggs
Beef Street Tacos
Pork Chile Verde
Beef and Chorizo Enchiladas
Spicy Pinto Beans
Mexican Taco Rice Cups
Frozen Margarita Pie (For the adults)
Bakery Mini Cupcakes (For the kids)
Margaritas (For the Adults)
Lemonade (For the kids)
What began as a Cinco de Mayo celebration has become a Seis de Mayo party instead. Due to conflicts in scheduling, Cinco wasn’t in the cards this year. It’s hard to get so many people to coordinate their schedules – especially when there are children involved. Let’s face it, kids today lead active lives with obligations of their own. Be it dance classes or ball games or an endless list of scheduled activities, kids are busy! Call it Cinco or Seis de Mayo, all that truly matters is spending time with family. Besides, now I’ve got all day Saturday to shop and prep for our celebration. The menu I have planned lends itself perfectly to an unhurried pace with plenty of time to prep, stage and serve up a yummy feast.
The appetizers can be fully prepared a day in advance. All that would be left to do on the big day is to arrange everything on platters just before my guests arrive. Both the beef taco filling and pork chili verde can be cooked up early in the day, then held in crock pots to keep warm until serving time. The pork verde can be eaten “as is” or used to fill tortilla shells, the choice is up to the diners. All the condiments for the tacos (lettuce, cilantro, cheeses, tomatoes and so forth) can be prepared earlier in the day, placed in nice bowls, then held in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Even the enchiladas can be assembled in advance, then popped in the oven just before serving. The sides are going to be a bit trickier. The beans can be started on the stove about an hour before guests are to arrive, then held in a small crock pot to keep warm until the main course is served. (Love anything that I can cook up in advance, then keep warm until ready to serve. This gives me time to clean up the kitchen before guests arrive. One thing that drives me crazy is a messy kitchen when I’m entertaining). The pretty rice cups are another story. I could skip the whole “cup” presentation, and opt for a big bowl of Taco Rice that could be served in a Chafing dish. Yet I really like the little molds of pretty rice. Besides, the rice itself will only take minutes to prepare. The real-time crunch would be to form all the little mounds, and garnish with sour cream, olives and cilantro leaves. That will require my factory assembly line better known as Hubby and Kiddo. I have a plan to tackle this – I’ll be in charge of the prep and mold – that’s a one person job. My guys will handle the garnish. Yeah, the rice cups will need to be made on the spot just before serving. That brings us to the desserts. The Margarita Pie can be made a day in advance. It can stay in the freezer until the appetizers are served, then transferred to the refrigerator. When dessert time rolls around, the pie can rest on the counter while the finishing touches are added. As for the cupcakes for the kiddies – check out your favorite local bakery. That’s one less dish to actually prepare. All you need do is arrange your cupcakes on a serving platter.
*** Appetizers ***
Bacon Jalapeño Deviled Eggs
12 large eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
1 cup mayonnaise
1½ teaspoons rice vinegar
¾ teaspoon ground mustard
½ teaspoon sugar
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
6 pieces bacon, cooked, crisp, and crumbled
Smoked Paprika for color
Slice the hard-boiled eggs in half, lengthwise. Remove the yolks and place them in the mixing bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Pulse egg yolks until finely chopped, almost smooth.
Add half the crumbled bacon, mayonnaise, rice vinegar, ground mustard, and sugar to the mashed egg yolks and pulse until well combined. Transfer yolk mixture to a mixing bowl.
In a small processor, finely chop jalapeño peppers. Add to the yolk mixture and stir to combine.
Place mixture into a zip-lock bag. Seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Snip a small corner of the bag just large enough to pipe out the mixture. Fill each egg white with the yolk mixture.
Sprinkle with paprika. Garnish with remaining crumbled bacon. Chill until ready to serve.
Mexican Bruschetta on Sourdough Baguette Rounds
3 medium Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 Lime, juiced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup crumbled Queso Fresco (Mexican Cheese)
1 Sourdough Baguette, sliced
In a medium bowl combine the tomatoes, onion, jalapeños, garlic, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
When ready to serve, top tomato mixture with Queso Fresco. Place Bruschetta in the center of a serving platter. Arrange sliced baguette around Bruschetta Serve and enjoy.
****** Main Entrée ******
Beef Street Tacos
1 1/2 tablespoons corn flour
4 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 pounds lean ground chuck
1 cup water
In a medium bowl, combine the corn flour, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and seasoned salt. Stir in the paprika, cumin, garlic salt, and sugar. Blend in the onion, bouillon, and ground red pepper, stirring until all spices are well blended. Set aside until ready to use
Crumble the ground chuck into a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until browned. Remove from heat, rinse meat with hot water, and drain water and grease from beef.
Return meat to skillet, and pour in seasoning. Stir in water. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until most of the liquid has cooked away, about 20 minutes.
Note: Once filling has cooked, it can be transferred to a crock pot set to warm until ready to serve.
2 Tomatoes, chopped
1/2 Head Lettuce, Shredded
2 Cups Longhorn Cheese, shredded
2 Cups Sour Cream
1/2 cup sliced Black Olives, optional
24 Corn Tortillas, Street Taco Size
While the beef taco filling simmers, prepare the finishing touches. Dice tomatoes into very small pieces (remember, these are street tacos, so the shell is going to be small). Place tomatoes in a small serving bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Stack lettuce leaves on top of one another. Roll leaves into a long cigar shape. Shred leaves by slicing through the cigar. Shake loose to separate shredded bits of lettuce. Place into a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Shred Longhorn Cheese into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Just before serving, warm tortillas on a griddle. Spray with a little cooking spray to help tortillas soften and become more pliable. Stack tortillas together once warmed and wrap tightly in foil until ready to use.
Place sour cream into a small serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
If desired, drain sliced black olives and place into a small serving bowl. Set aside until ready to serve.
Pork Chili Verde
3 lbs fresh tomatillos, husks removed
1 bunch cilantro leaf, chopped
2 large yellow onions, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
8 medium poblano chiles, seeded and chopped
4 large jalapeños, seeded and minced
2 large yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped
6 lbs pork loin
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil or 1⁄4 cup lard
1 tablespoon sea salt
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon cumin
4 cups chicken stock
Note: If the tomatillos have a leafy outer skin, remove skin and stem before processing.
Puree the tomatillos and cilantro in a blender. Set aside until ready to use.
Peel and chop onion. Set aside until ready to use.
Peel and mince garlic, set aside until ready to use.
Remove seeds from poblano chilies, jalapenos and bell peppers. Chop poblano chilies and bell peppers, set aside. Mince jalapeño pepper, set aside.
Trim off any excess fat from the pork and cut into 2 inch squares. In a large (6 to 8 quart) stock pot, over a high heat, sear the pork in the vegetable oil until golden brown. Remove the pork from the pot and pour off any oil or fat drippings, but leave 2 tablespoons of oil. In the same pot, over a medium heat, add the chopped onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until transparent. Add the cumin, pork, and chicken stock, and cook for 45 minutes.
Add the poblanos, jalapeños, and bell peppers. Stir to combine well, and continue to cook over medium heat for an additional 90 minutes or until meat is tender.
1 large white onion, finely diced
2 Cups Cotija Cheese, crumbled
12 Soft Flour tortillas, taco size
While the Pork Chile Verde filling simmers, prepare the finishing touches. Dice the onions and place in a bowl of cold water to soak. Soaking the onions in cold water will take some of the bite out of the raw onion, for a mild garnish. Drain the onions just before serving.
Crumble Cotija cheese into a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Cotija Cheese is a cow’s milk white cheese that is similar to Parmesan and often described as salty. While it will soften, this cheese will not melt.
Just before serving, warm tortillas on a griddle. Spray with a little cooking spray to help tortillas soften and become more pliable. Stack tortillas together once warmed and wrap tightly in foil until ready to use. Tortillas can be used to wrap the pork verde or as a means of lapping up the sauce from the plate.
Easy Beef and Chorizo Enchiladas
1 Tablespoon Bacon Drippings
¼ Cup Onion, finely chopped
1-2 Stocks of Celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1/2 cup water
1 lb Ground Beef
1 lb Ground Chorizo
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
2 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Chipotle Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Tomato Paste
1/2 Cup Shredded Cheese (Monterey Jack or Quesco Fresco or both)
1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar or Colby Cheese
1 1/2 Cups Red Enchilada Sauce
16 Corn Tortillas
½ Cup Sour Cream
2-3 Green Onions, chopped
Mix dried onion with water in a small bowl and let stand for five minutes.
Combine meat, flour, and salt. Mix well. Add onions and water. Mix again. Set aside.
In a large cast iron skillet, saute celery and onions with a little bacon dripping until tender. Remove and set aside.
In the now-empty cast iron skillet, cook meat mixture until browned, about 15 minutes. Stir often while cooking so no large chunks form; it should be more like a lumpy paste. Add onions, celery and tomato paste, stirring to combine. Add Monterey Jack cheese, stirring to blend completely. Cover and keep warm until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour enough Enchilada sauce into the bottom of the casserole dish to coat nicely. Set aside until ready to fill.
Heat a griddle sprayed with cooking spray over medium heat. Place tortillas on griddle, brush lightly with enchilada sauce and light fry until soft. Turn, brush with sauce and continue to warm about 1 minute longer.
Transfer tortilla to a large plate, spoon meat mixture on one end of tortilla and fold/roll tortilla around filling. Place, seam-side down, in casserole dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas until all the tortillas and meat have been used.
Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas, sprinkle with Cheddar Cheese. Place casserole dish in the oven and bake until cheese has melted and sauce is bubbly, about 10 minutes.
Remove from oven, garnish with some sour cream and green onions, if desired.
****** Sides ******
Spicy Pinto Beans
3 Can Mexican Pinto Beans
6 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning
2 Jalapeño Pepper, chopped, if desired
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper, if desired
Pour Mexican Pinto Beans into a saucepan. Add seasonings and Jalapeño Pepper. Heat over low heat until hot, stirring occasionally. Taste and add Cayenne pepper as needed for additional heat.
Taco Seasoned Mexican Rice Cups
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 1/2 cups uncooked instant rice
1 cup Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 (6 ounce) can sliced black olives for garnish
Cilantro leaves for garnish
In a large pot, bring chicken broth, tomato sauce and taco seasoning to a boil.
Stir rice into the pot, cover and remove from heat. Let the pot stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
Stir in cheese and mix well.
Using a small bowl or cup, mold rice into individual servings. Invert bowl or cup on a platter to form attractive individual servings.
Just before serving garnish rice “cups” with a dollop of sour cream and a few sliced olives. Tuck a few cilantro leaves around platter for a splash of contrasting color.
****** Dessert ******
Frozen Margarita Pie
1 cup Pretzels, crushed
1/4 cup Sugar
1/3 cup margarine, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix pretzels and sugar together in a bowl; stir in margarine until evenly incorporated. Spoon mixture into a 9-inch pie plate; press into bottom and up sides of plate to form a firm, even crust.
Bake crust in the preheated oven until edges are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons tequila
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
3 drops green food coloring, or as needed
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Mix sweetened condensed milk, limeade concentrate, tequila, orange liqueur, and green food coloring in a large bowl.
Beat cream in a glass or metal bowl until soft peaks form. Lift your beater or whisk straight up: the whipped cream will form soft mounds rather than a sharp peak. Fold whipped cream into sweetened condensed milk mixture. Spoon filling into cooled crust.
Cover pie with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 4 hours. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Add garnish just before serving.
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 lime, sliced
Chill mixing bowl and whip attachment for mixer in freezer for at least 1 hour.
Remove bowl from freezer. Pour heavy cream into chilled bowl. Attach whip and begin whipping cream on medium speed until soft peaks form.
While cream whips, sift powdered sugar and set aside until ready to use. When soft peaks form, slowly add sugar and continue to whip on medium-high until stiff peaks form.
Transfer whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a star. Pipe decorative stars around margarita pie. Add sliced limes and serve.