Transform your home into Fiesta Central and yourself into the Mexican Fiesta host or hostess of your dreams!
Helpful hints to make your holiday party the most memorable ever!
MEXICAN HOLIDAY FIESTA APPETIZER BUFFET
If you love to "fiesta," and we know you do if you're here with us now, then let's get started.
1. Decide on your fiesta's date, time and guest list.
2. Now let's begin working on the DECORATIONS. Make a list! We want to set a properly festive mood, so you'll want to visit your local party store and pick out some invitations and decorations from south of the border. Pick up as many plastic tablecloths as you think you'll need. Choose bright colors, like purple, turquoise, hot pink and yellow. Get some paper napkins and small appetizer or dessert-sized paper plates to match. If you want to use plastic cups, stock up on them too. Look around. Many party stores stock Mexican wall decorations, colorful paper flowers, piñatas and centerpieces. Get about a dozen or two small votive candles and as many lunch sized brown paper sacks. On the day of the fiesta, you will fill each with some sand or soil, insert a candle and place two row of "luminaries" along the walkway to your front door.
NOTE: If you'd prefer a red and green holiday theme-then go for that instead! After all, the colors of the Mexican flag are red, green and white-so, they work beautifully this time of year.
3. For music, visit you local store and ask the sales clerk for some recommendations on toe-tapping, lively Latin music. Linda Ronstadt, Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, Julio or Enrique Iglesias-any of these will help get your guests in the right mood. You might also want to ask for Latin versions of your favorite Christmas carols.
4. A couple of days before the party, make your grocery list. Adjust each recipe according to the number of guests you're expecting. The day before the party, make the Zesty Relleno Bites and refrigerate them until an hour or so before fiesta time. Make the rest of the appetizers the "day of."
5. Before the party begins, set up your buffet and your bar. Serve each appetizer on your most festive, fun serving plates. Now, get dressed in a colorful outfit with some zany earrings (if you're a woman!), fluff up your hair, turn on the tunes and get ready to have a blast!
Remember, FIESTA spells good times for everyone.
Here are the recipes for your never-to-be-forgotten fiesta:
Sangría is a popular party drink that originated in Spain. It's fruity and tastes somewhat like a delicious wine punch. However, beware that the Mexican version has Controy and Brandy which give it an extra jolt.
This recipe makes a little over a gallon. Sangría may be served in tall glasses filled with crushed ice. It may also be served chilled in wine glasses without ice. Save the "drunk fruit" afterwards to use for a quick second batch if you run out, which you may-because it's a real winner!
1/2 gallon burgundy wine
1 medium Orange
4 cups Orange juice
2/3 cup Mexican Controy, Cointreau or Triple Sec
1/2 cup brandy
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin from the Orange so that it's very thin. Put the Orange peel in a small bowl. Using the back on a spoon, bruise the peel to extract the oil from the Orange.
In a large punch bowl, combine wine, Orange juice, Controy and brandy. Add Orange peel and sugar into wine mixture.
Separate Orange into sections and cut sections in half. Cut the apple and pear into small pieces, leaving the skin on. Half the limes and cut them into thin slices. Slice bananas. Add all fruits to wine mixture and chill at least four hours.
ZESTY RELLENO BITES
This is a fast and easy, indescribably delicious recipe that will disappear so fast you'll be amazed. One 9 x 14 pan will serve about 15 to 20 people.
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (set aside 1/2 cup for topping)
4 cups shredded Chihuahua or Jack cheese (set aside 1/2 cup for topping)
6 7 ounce cans diced green chiles (mild)
6 eggs, well beaten
6 tbsp flour
1 10 ounce can evaporated milk
2 7 1/2 ounce cans) Salsa Verde
Remove chiles from can, spread on a paper towel and pat dry.
Grease a 9 x 14 inch pan. Layer 1/3 of chiles and 1/3 of remaining cheese. Repeat twice, for a total of three layers. Add flour and milk to eggs. Blend well. Pour over chiles and cheese. At this point, the dish can be refrigerated up to 24 hours. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, top with Salsa Verde and remaining cheese and bake an additional 15 minutes. Cool until warm, cut into one inch squares, serve and watch them vanish!
GUACAMOLE & CHIPS
Guacamole (we call it "guac") is a staple in California, the Southwest and throughout Mexico. If fresh ingredients aren't available, you can often find prepared guacamole in the deli section of your supermarket. This recipe will serve 6 to 8.
3 - 4 ripe avocados
2 tsp lemon juice
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder or 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 - 4 tbsp Salsa Verde (to desired spiciness)
1/4 cup grated Mexican queso cacique or feta cheese
1 large black olive
1 dozen corn tortillas
1/2 cup corn or canola oil
salt to taste
To make the guac: Slice avocados in half and remove seed. Scoop avocado pulp out of the skin using a spoon. Mash avocados in a medium-sized bowl. Add lemon juice, diced tomatoes, green onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Add Salsa Verde to taste. Stir well, but stop while it's still slightly lumpy. Refrigerate, covered until ready to use. Can be made up to three hours in advance.
To make chips: Slice tortillas into eight pie-shaped wedges. Heat oil in frying pan until a drop of water sizzles when dropped into the oil. Cook tortilla wedges about one to two minutes, browning on both sides. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Lightly salt. These can be made up to three hours in advance.
To serve, place guacamole in a bowl in the center of a round serving dish. Garnish with shredded cheese and olive. Surround with chips. Feel free to substitute packaged tortilla chips, made from either yellow or blue corn.
CONFETTI DIP CARNAVALThis tasty, tangy salsa-like dip was named in honor of Carnaval-the Mexican version of Mardi Gras. Its wonderful array of flavors and colors truly will remind you of confetti. You can make it spicy or mild, depending on whether you include or omit the jalapeños. At parties, I make a bowl of each and put a little red flag on the "hot" bowl to scare off those people who can't take the jalapeños' fire. It's festive and it's an original too.
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 3 1/2 ounce can sliced black olives
1 3 1/2 ounce can diced green chiles, rinsed
1/4 to 1/2 cup sliced jalapeños (optional)
6 green onions, chopped with tops
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Mix all ingredients in medium sized bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour. This can be made ahead and chilled for up to eight hours. Place in serving bowl on large round platter surrounded by tortilla chips. Then sit back and wait. The compliments will astound you.
SHRIMP IN AVOCADO BOATS
My family was first served this appetizer over 25 years ago at the old Hotel Oceano on the malecón (ocean-front board walk) in Puerto Vallarta. This recipe serves 6 to 8-and trust me-it's to die for!
4 avocados, cut in half and seeded (do not remove skin)
1 cup red seafood cocktail sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp American chili powder
1 cup small shrimp, cooked and deveined
Place avocado halves on small plates. In small bowl mix cocktail sauce, lime juice and chili powder. Fill the hollow left by the seed with cocktail sauce. Heap shrimp over the top and serve.
Ceviche originated in places where seafood was plentiful but refrigeration rare. This appetizer is light, low in calories and has become popular all over California, Baja and mainland Mexico because of its subtle but spicy taste. Serves 6 to 8, depending on their appetites.
2 pounds cubed white fish or bay scallops, raw
5 - 10 fresh serrano or jalapeño chiles (very hot), diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
3 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch cilantro, with stems removed and diced
1 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups lime juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
tortilla chips or saltine crackers
In a large bowl combine all ingredients except l/2 the cilantro. Toss gently but thoroughly, making sure all fish is coated with lemon-lime mixture.
Cover and refrigerate for one to three hours, stirring occasionally. Fish should become quite white and scallops will lose translucent appearance. (Once this happens, you will know that the lemon juice has "cooked" them and they are quite okay to eat.) Just prior to serving, top with remaining cilantro. Serve in a bowl surrounded with chips or saltine crackers.
Recipe and tips provided by Ann Hazard.