Summertime Birthday Fiesta Bursting with Mexican Heat

For those of you that have been following along for a while, you already know Hubby’s all-time favorite cuisine is Mexican. He loves just about anything south of the border. For Hubby’s birthday a few years back, I wanted to transport him to Cozumel where he could sip Patron Margaritas and sample the local flavors.

Just because traveling might not be in the cards as we would like, it doesn’t mean that you can’t create a Cozumel Street Side Cafe atmosphere at home. Lord knows, the weather is hot enough in California’s valleys to feel like Mexico’s interior. All you need is the right music, a few pitchers of Margaritas, and a well planned meal to be transported to a Caribbean island just east of Yucatan Peninsula. With a little imagination, some patio misters and a wading pool mixed with water and sand, and you are suddenly there. It’s your own private paradise, where you’ll spend a lovely evening in good company while leisurely enjoying a sumptuous assortment of Mexican foods with a tropical island flare. And just think, you don’t need to pack a passport to come along!

Bacon Jalapeno Deviled Eggs
Mexican Bruschetta on Sourdough Baguette Rounds

Main Entrées
Chorizo Street Tacos
Steak and Chicken Fajita Platter
Tequila Marinated Shrimp

Side Dishes
Easy Mexican Fried Refried Beans
Taco-Seasoned Rice

Guacamole Salad with Jalapeno Lime Dressing
Mango and Jicama Salad

Birthday Dessert
Tres Leches Two-Layer Cake With Fresh Berries

Tres Leches with barries

*** Appetizers ***

Bacon Jalapeno 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 jalapeno 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 jalapeno 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, jalapeno, 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 Entrées ***

Chorizo Street Tacos
Home-Made Chorizo
3 large dried Chile Negro Pods
4 smaller dried Pasilla-Ancho Chile Pods
1/2 Cup Boiling Water
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dried oregano leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons tequila
3 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 lbs lean ground pork

Heat a large dry cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add chilies; toast, turning often, until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from pan and let cool.

Using kitchen scissors and working over a medium bowl, cut chilies into 1″ rings, reserving seeds and discarding stems. Cover with 1/2 cup hot water; let soak, stirring occasionally, until chilies are soft and pliable, about 10 minutes.

Place the re-hydrated chilies together with the liquid and seeds into a food processor fitted with a blade. Give chilies a few quick pulses to begin the “liquidation” process. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, black pepper, brown sugar, vinegar, tequila, and salt, and process until the mixture is smooth.

Place ground pork in the bowl of a sturdy stand-up mixer fitted with a dough hook. Pour chili mixture over pork and gently mix into the meat. When almost mixed, remove from mixture and finish “kneading” by hand. (Gloves would not be a bad idea as the mixture may tint your hands orange – the voice of experience speaking!) DO NOT overwork the meat.

Place chorizo into an airtight container. Let mature in refrigerator 48-72 hours before using.

To Cook Chorizo for Tacos: Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook chorizo until cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Let chorizo begin to brown before breaking apart with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula. Continue to break apart as the sausage cooks. Drain and keep warm until tortillas are ready to fill.

Street Tacos
1/2 Head Iceberg Lettuce, finely shredded
12 Red Grape Tomatoes, finely chopped
12 Yellow Grape Tomatoes, finely chopped
20 Small Corn Tortillas, white or yellow
Cooking Spray
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1 Cup Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend

While the chorizo browns, shred lettuce and chop tomatoes, set aside until ready to use. (Mix tomatoes together for a colorful presentation).

Warm a flat skillet or griddle. Spray with cooking spray. Place tortillas on griddle, spray top side with cooking spray. Warm tortillas, about 3 minutes, flip and warm other side. Remove tortillas from griddle and keep warm until ready to use. Repeat until all the tortillas are warm.

Once the sausage is browned, lay warm tortillas on a work surface. Spread a little sour cream over tortillas, line center with cheese and top with about a tablespoon or so of the meat filling. Fold tortilla over filling and place in a casserole dish for serving. Keep warm.

To serve,  place shredded lettuce and tomato mixture in small bowls. Allow diners to garnish street tacos as desired.

Steak and Chicken Fajita Platter
Steak Fajitas
1 1/2 lb top sirloin steak

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon lime juice
2 garlic clove, finely minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon salt

In bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, lime juice, garlic, chili powder, cumin, hot pepper flakes, black pepper & salt.

Add beef strips and stir to coat, set aside. Let steak strips soak in the flavoring, about 20 minutes. (Now would be a good time to make the chicken strips).

In large non stick skillet over medium high heat, heat remaining tablespoons of olive oil. Add beef to skillet, cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes or until the strips lose their red color.

Remove steak strips and keep warm until ready to serve.

Chicken Fajitas
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded thin
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Taco Seasonings
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Chipotle Seasoning

Cut meat into strips 2-inch wide strips. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, stir-fry chicken until nicely browned on all sides.

Mix 1/2 cup chicken broth with taco seasoning and chipotle seasoning. Pour over chicken, cover and simmer until tender and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Once chicken is tender and cooked through, transfer to a serving platter or casserole dish and keep warm until ready to serve.

Grilled Vegetables
3 Orange bell peppers, cut into strips
3 red bell peppers, cut into strips
3 large Spanish Onions, halved vertically, then cut into slivers
3 Tomatoes, cut into wedges.
2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Chipotle Seasoning

Core and slice bell peppers into long, thin strips. Peel onions, slice in half lengthwise. Slice each onion half into slivers. Cut tomatoes into wedges. Set prepared vegetables aside until ready to use.

Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a large cast iron skillet, add onions and peppers. Stir-fry until crisp-tender. Add tomato wedges and fry for about 1-2 minutes longer.

Remove from heat, sprinkle with chipotle season and gently toss to blend.

Plate grilled vegetables and keep warm until ready to serve.

Fajita Wrap and Toppings
6 Roasted Jalapeño Peppers (Optional)
24 Fajita Size Flour Tortillas
Cooking Spray
1 1/2 Cups Grated Cheese – Mild Cheddar, Mexican Crumble Cheese or Feta
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 Cup Guacamole

If using, core  Jalapeño Peppers to remove membrane and seeds. Cut into thin strips.

Roast  Jalapeño Peppers in a small, dry cast-iron skilled until blistered and soft. Place peppers in a small bowl and keep warm until ready to serve.

Heat a flat skillet over medium-high heat. Spray tortilla with cooking spray, place sprayed side down on hot griddle surface. Spray top with cooking spray. Cook until just beginning to brown, about 2 or 3 minutes. Turn and brown other side.

Repeat with remaining tortillas. Keep warm until ready to serve. A nice way to keep tortillas warm and create a nice presentation for serving is to fold tortillas in half, then half again, creating a rounded top and pointed bottom. Fold tortilla as it is finished warming/browning and place in a tortilla server. Repeat with the next tortilla, overlapping the first in the dish. Continue to fold until tortillas are warmed and ready to serve.

Place Cheese, Sour Cream and Guacamole into small serving bowls. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

To Serve: Place chicken and steak strips on a large platter side by side. Place tortillas, grilled vegetables and other toppings in close proximity to the meats. Invite diners to create their own personal take on a Fajita.

Tequila Shrimp
1 lb Shrimp, cleaned (21-25 count)
2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons Butter
4 Tablespoons of Tequila
2 Tablespoons of lime juice
1 Pinch Sea Salt
1/8 Teaspoon White Pepper
1 teaspoon of red crushed pepper
¼ cup Cilantro, chopped
2 Limes, cut into wedges to serve

Rinse, clean and remove tails from shrimp. Set aside until ready to use.

Finely chop garlic and set aside. (If you have a small food processor, you can make quick work of finely chopping garlic, and that is always nice).

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it melts and begins to foam.

Add chopped garlic to the butter and saute just until garlic begins to release its aroma (about 30 seconds)

Add the shrimp and cook for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until shrimp reach a nice opaque pink with a little “white” in color. If the shrimp are all white, the shrimp has been overcooked. DO NOT over cook the shrimp.

Pour the Tequila and lime juice into the pan with the shrimp. Continue to cook another minute. Remove from heat, season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir to blend seasonings with shrimp.

Transfer shrimp to a nice serving platter. Garnish with cilantro. Place lime wedges around shrimp and serve.

Shrimp can be enjoyed alone or used as a seafood filling for Fajitas or street tacos.

*** Side Dishes ***

Easy Mexican Fried Refried Beans
3 Cans Refried Beans
3 Tablespoon Bacon Drippings
3 Tablespoon Taco Seasoning, if desired

This is my usual Fried Refried Beans, with one obvious exception – the ingredients have been increased to feed a crowd.

Heat a small amount of bacon dripping in a skillet over medium heat.

Spread refried beans out in the skillet, reduce heat to low heat.  Season and stir, cook until hot.

Transfer to a large bowl and keep warm until ready to serve.

  • Note: When making a large batch of fried refried beans, once warmed through, beans can be held in a crock pot. The pot will keep the beans warm while acting as the perfect serving bowl.

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.

*** Salads ***

Guacamole Salad with Jalapeño Lime Dressing
Jalapeño Lime Dressing
2 limes, zested and juiced (about 1/4 cup)
1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil
Sea Salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine all dressing ingredients in a small measuring cup or wide mouth mason jar and puree with an immersion blender until creamy and smooth.

If you don’t have an immersion blender you can use a regular blender or food processor.

Set dressing aside until ready to serve. The dressing can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to use. Be sure to blend again before adding to the salad.

Guacamole Salad
3 to 4 generous cups arugula
2 ripe avocados, cut into large chunks
1 cup halved grape tomatoes, about 1/2 a pint
1/2 a small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 torn cilantro leaves, stems removed
1 cup tortilla chips, crunched
1/2 a can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Layer salad ingredients in a large bowl. Once ready to toss, pour dressing over the top and toss to distribute all ingredients and evenly coat with dressing.

Serve immediately.

  • Note: If you want to assemble the salad ahead be sure to wait until the last-minute to cut open the avocados or to add the tortilla chips or dressing.

This wonderful recipe came to us from my friend Tux over at Brooklyn Homemaker

Mango and Jicama Salad
¾ Cup Jicama, peeled & Julianne cut
½ Cup Ripe Mango, peeled and cut into chunks
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
½ Teaspoon Sugar
1 ½ Teaspoons Chopped Cilantro (or Flat Leaf Parsley)
¼ Teaspoon Salt
Dash of Pepper

Peel Jicama. Cut Julianne style. Place in a large bowl.

Peel Mango. Cut into chunks. Place in bowl with Jicama.

In a small bowl, combine lime juice, sugar and chopped Cilantro. Toss to coat. Season juice with salt and pepper. Pour lime juice mixture over Mango & Jicama salad.

Toss to mix well.

Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. This salad is best and most refreshing if served well-chilled.

*** Birthday Dessert ***

Tres Leches Two-Layer Cake With Fresh Berries
Tres Leches Cake
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large Eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and a two 8-inch round cake pan; set aside.

Combine sugar, butter and 2 teaspoons vanilla in bowl; beat at medium speed until combined. Add eggs; continue beating until light and fluffy.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl; mix well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed until well mixed. Add 1/2 cup milk; continue beating until well mixed.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely.

Cream Frosting
2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine whipping cream, powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in bowl; beat at high speed until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Milk Mixture
1 cup Half and Half
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine half and half, sweetened condensed milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in bowl; mix well.

Slice cake in half horizontally. Place one cake layer, cut-side up, onto serving plate. Carefully pour half of milk mixture over top, a little at a time, allowing it to soak in before adding more.

Spread 1/2-inch layer of frosting onto soaked cake. Top with second cake layer, cut-side up. Pour remaining milk mixture over cake. Frost with remaining frosting. Refrigerate until serving time.

Fresh Berry Topping
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh blueberries

Rinse berries well, pat dry. Keep chilled until ready to use.

Top cake with berries just before serving.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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