I love the “day after” feeling of a dinner party. I always feel so relaxed and satisfied. It turned out to be a really great night. The three days of cooking and preparing paid off. And even though we were missing a few guests that couldn’t make it, we all managed to put a very large dent in all of the dishes I prepared. Everyone left stuffed and happy, just the way I like it!
So, here’s the menu I posted yesterday, with as many pictures and instructions as possible. Some of the dishes I had to prepare right before the dinner party so trying to remember to take food pictures while visiting and cooking was a little hairy. Under each recipe header I’ll let you know if it was something I made ahead of time or if it had to made right before the party.
Halloween – Mexican Style Menu
Tortilla Chips with Homemade Pico & Guacamole
Steak, Chicken, and Shrimp Fajitas
Chicken Tamales with Pablano Peppers & Sun Dried Tomatoes
Mexican Sweet Potato Hash
Lime Margaritas On The Rocks
Mexican Wedding Cookies
This recipe was adapted from The Complete Mexican, South American & Caribbean Cookbook. No pictures of these, sorry! I prepared the dredging ingredients and put the shrimp in the marinade about an hour prior to the party, put the oil in the pan, and set aside a plate covered with paper towels for draining. Began dredging and frying about 10 minutes prior to the time I wanted to set out the rest of the food.
About 20 Jumbo Shrimp (make sure you use jumbo, I could only find the medium so had to settle with that, and make your life easier by either having them cleaned and deveined at the seafood counter or buying them that way.)
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed and diced (I use organic jarred garlic that is already minced…so easy!)
2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
About 1 1/2 Cups Dry Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
1 Cup Fresh Chives, minced
About 1/2 Cup Almond Milk
2 Eggs, lightly beaten with fork
Sea Salt & Freshly ground pepper (which I forgot, but they tasted great anyway!)
Oil for “Deep Frying” (I used canola in a large skillet, about an inch and a half of oil)
Lemon wedges and Italian parsley for garnish.
Mix garlic and lemon juice with a little sea salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the shrimp, toss to coat, and marinate for about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, place the coconut on a plate, dice the chives and mix them with coconut. Crack the eggs into a cereal sized bowl and whisk with a fork, set aside. Pour the milk into another cereal sized bowl, set aside.
When shrimp has marinated for 1 hour, heat the oil. I didn’t test the temperature, I heated it on medium-high. When the oil is ready, dip the shrimp in the milk, then the egg, then the coconut and chives. I dipped several and set them aside before putting them into the oil, so I could do several at a time and they would cook evenly. Don’t crowd the pan though, it will lower the oil temp and they won’t cook well and will absorb too much oil.
Flip when they are golden on one side, then remove when they are evenly golden. This only takes a couple of minutes. Don’t overcook them! Overcooked shrimp is rubbery and very unappetizing. Remove to paper towels to drain and then place on platter with lemon wedges and garnish with Italian parsley.
Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos
I made two versions of these. One dairy free and one with dairy. I had never made a dairy-free version and I have to admit, I was shocked at how delicious they were! So good. So good in fact that I can’t wait to make them again for the next gathering we have. For this dish, I made the cheese stuffing and cleaned the peppers two days ahead. One day ahead I stuffed all of the peppers, and then about a half hour prior to the beginning of the party I put them on the grill. I covered half of the grill with tin foil so as they were done I slid them over to the foil to stay warm. Then, turned the grill off, allowed them to sit while I did the shrimp, then removed them to a platter to serve.
About 30 Large Jalapenos
1 Cube of Goat’s Milk Cheese (7 oz.)
1 Small Tub of Dairy Free Cream Cheese
1/2 Cup of Dairy Free Cheddar Cheese (Daiya), heaping
About 2 Heaping Tablespoons of Fresh Cilantro, chopped
About 3 Green Onions, diced
1 Heaping teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
A Couple Grinds of Sea Salt & A Few Grinds of Pepper
Rinse and dry the peppers. Slice just the top quarter off of the pepper with a sharp knife and set aside. I used the tops in some of the other recipes I made. If you have leftovers, which I did, you can freeze them fresh or even grill them and freeze them for future recipes.
A lot of people wear gloves when dealing with hot peppers. I didn’t, and I was fine. But…you’re taking a chance of having burning hands even if you wash them repeatedly and if you forget and touch your eyes, you won’t be a happy camper…for hours. It kind of depends on how sensitive you are to the oil. I was also careful to let the knife and spoon do the work and avoided the urge to grab anything with my fingers.
Using a small spoon (I used an iced tea spoon) and paring knife, cut out the membrane and scoop out the seeds.
In a medium bowl, combine the goat’s cheese, dairy free cream cheese, dairy free cheddar, cilantro, green onions, garlic, and salt and pepper.
Stuff each pepper generously and refrigerate for at least an hour. Because I stuffed mine a day ahead, I removed them and allowed them to come to room temperature (about an hour) before grilling.
When you’re ready to grill them, set the grill to medium high. Place peppers carefully on grill and cook until they are sizzling, slightly charred on the bottom and the cheese is melted.
Incredibly good and had I not said anything, no one would have ever known they were dairy free!
Homemade Pico De Gallo & Guacamole
I didn’t get a picture of the guacamole but I’ve made it before, you can see what it looks like here. I made the pico the night before the dinner party and the guacamole the morning of. It’s fine to make it ahead of time, but when you cover it to refrigerate, make sure you put the plastic wrap on it so it is touching and covering the entire top surface of the guacamole. This keeps the air out and stops it from browning.
The amounts very for this recipe depending on how many people will be eating it and whether its a snack party or you’re using it for an hors d’ oeuvre. This recipe made about two full cups.
4 Ripe Avocados
About 1/4 Cup White Onion, diced
About 1/2 Cup Cilantro, roughly chopped
About 5 Sun Dried Tomatoes, diced
2 Jalapenos, diced
1 Heaping teaspoon Minced Garlic
Juice of 2 Large Limes
Sea Salt & Pepper To Taste
Slice avocados in half, remove pits, and place flesh in a large bowl. Smash the avocados with a potato masher until smooth. I like mine smooth with small chunks. Add the onion, sun dried tomatoes, jalapeno, and lime juice. Stir to combine. Season to taste, and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Pico De Gallo:
The amounts in this recipe vary as well. Make it to suit your needs. This recipe made about 4 full cups.
About 4-5 Medium Vine Tomatoes
About 1 Medium Onion
About 3/4 Cup Cilantro, roughly chopped
About 1 teaspoon Garlic, minced
About 2 Jalapenos, minced
Juice of 3 Limes
Sea Salt & Pepper To Taste
Stir to combine and refrigerate.
Steak, Chicken, & Shrimp Fajitas
This picture doesn’t really do them justice. Trying to take pictures during a party is crazy and then figuring out the lighting and the settings on my camera…well, you get the gist anyway. The night before the party I sauteed the chicken, steak, peppers, and onions until the meat was cooked but rare. I refrigerated it over night and then right before the party started, I placed them back in the frying pan on medium high heat to heat through and then added the shrimp to cook.
1 Medium Steak (use a really good cut of meat), sliced thinly
2 Chicken Breasts, sliced thinly
About 20 shrimp, peeled and deveined
(The steak and chicken are much easier to slice thinly if they are partially frozen.)
1 Medium Onion, sliced
3 Bell Peppers, sliced (I used orange and yellow)
Drizzle olive oil in large skillet. Add the chicken and steak slices, season with garlic and cumin. Saute. When the meat is rare, add the onions and peppers. When the onions are beginning to turn translucent add the shrimp and toss until done. Don’t overcook the shrimp, they become rubbery.
Serve with tortillas, shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. I served mine with flour tortillas for the gluten eaters and teff tortillas for the gluten free eaters.
Chicken Tamales with Pablano Peppers & Sun Dried Tomatoes
You can make these at any time and freeze them until you need them. They freezer very well and only need to be thawed and then steamed to serve. I did mine about three days prior to the party. Making tamales is kind of a laborious process so you certainly don’t want to wait until the day you need them. I ran across a recipe on the internet for chicken tamales where the woman used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Ingenious! It saved me about an hour and a half and a lot of work and mess.
This recipe makes about 25 medium sized tamales.
1 Bag Dried Corn Husks (find them in the Mexican food isle in the grocery store)
1 Rotisserie Chicken, skinned, meat removed and shredded
3 Pablano Peppers, grilled until lightly charred and sliced thinly
1 Small Jar Sun Dried Tomatoes, chopped (I used the Mezzetta 8oz. jar)
4 Cups Masa Mix (find it in the Mexican food isle in the grocery store)
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Sea Salt
About 4 Cups Chicken Broth, warmed
1 Cup Vegetable Shortening (or lard, if you want to get really traditional)
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Cumin
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
Seperate the corn husks carefully and place them in a big roasting or stock pot. Cover with boiling water and allow to sit while you’re getting all of the other ingredients ready. Place a plate or dish on top of them if they keep floating to the top.
Rinse and dry the pablano peppers and place them on a grill at medium-high heat until blistered and slightly charred. You can also place them on a baking sheet and put them under a broiler. When they are blistered and slightly charred, remove them from the oven and place them in a zip lock bag. Usually, this helps to steam them so you can remove the skin, but I like to keep it on and the steaming keeps them moist and supple while they’re cooling.
Meanwhile, shred the chicken and chop the sun dried tomatoes. Place each on a large cutting board or on separate plates creating an assembly line.
Next, make the masa mix using the directions on the bag. I also added the chili powder, cumin, and garlic. Place all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk.
Stir the shortening with a whisk or wooden spoon to fluff.
Using one hand to mix, slowly add the warmed chicken broth a little at a time until the masa is a smooth, but thick consistency.
Add the shortening and stir until thoroughly combined.
Lay a couple of paper towels out on the counter. Spread a corn husk out with the rough ridged side on the outside. Follow the picture steps below. Place a heaping Tablespoon of masa on the husk and spread.
Place a steamer in the bottom of a large stock pot, fill with water but just to below the rim of the steamer. Fill the pot with the tamales open side up, cover and steam on medium low for an hour and a half. You will need to keep an eye on the water in the pot and refill as necessary. Be careful not to get the water into the top of the tamales.
Once cooled, they can be frozen and then re-heated after thawing.
Beef Enchilada Casserole
This was assembled about an hour and a half before I wanted to serve it. It needs to bake for about 45 minutes or so, depending on what else is sharing the oven. Then, allow to rest and set up for 10 minutes before cutting. You can find the recipe here.
I removed this souffle from the oven about 1/2 hour before I put the enchiladas in. But I roasted the squash and sweet potatoes the day before and then set aside in the refrigerator. This is another adapted recipe from The Complete Mexican, South American, and Carribbean Cookbook. It is an impressive dish, light and delicious! Mexican souffles don’t puff way up like most but it is still light and airy. Think I’ll make it again for Thanksgiving or Christmas!
About 8 Tablespoons Dairy Free Butter
About 2 Cups Cubed Sweet Potato, peeled & roasted
About 2 Cups Blue Hubbard Squash, peeled & roasted
4 Cups Corn Kernals, fresh or frozen (if you use frozen, thaw)
6 Green Onions, chopped
About 10 ounces Dairy Free Cheese
Sea Salt & Pepper
Preheat Oven to 350°
Peel and cube the sweet potato and squash, and roast until tender. Using 1 Tablespoon of the butter, grease a 9 1/2 x 11 baking dish. Put 3 Cups of the corn into a food processor, add the green onions and process until mostly smooth.
Put the remaining butter in a large pan, add the corn and onion mixture and cook on medium low until heated through. Add the sweet potato and squash, cook until heated through, stir in remaining corn.
Add the cheese, stirring until it melts almost all the way. Season generously with sea salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Separate 5 eggs. Then add the 3 remaining whole eggs to the egg yolk bow. Stir the egg yolk bowl with a fork until the eggs are combined and fold into the warm corn mixture.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to stiff peak. Fold into the souffle mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and place the dish in a large roasting pan. Place the pan into the oven and fill the roasting pan with boiling water to come halfway up the souffle dish.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the souffle no longer jiggles when shaken gently. A little jiggle is OK. I think I had to cook mine for about 4o to 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Sweet Potato Hash with Kale & Chorizo
The original recipe for Sweet Potato Hash comes from EatandRelish.com with her help and advice, I adapted it to fit a Mexican dinner theme. I roasted the sweet potatoes and jalapenos the day before and then refrigerated until I was ready to saute everything.
8 Cups Sweet Potato, peeled & roasted
2 1/2 Tablespoons Jalapeno, diced and roasted with the sweet potato
2 Cups Spanish Chorizo, chopped
About 2 Cups Lacinato Kale, roughly chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
Sea Salt & Pepper To Taste
Peel and cube the sweet potato. Dice the jalapeno, drizzle the sweet potato and jalapeno with olive oil and roast both in a 425 degree oven until the sweet potato is tender. In a large saute pan add the chopped chorizo and garlic. Saute until the chorizo starts to release its oil and the garlic is cooked. Do not drain the oil. Add the sweet potato and jalapeno mixture. Toss until heated through and combined. Add the kale and toss until wilted. Serve warm.
Coconut Cake with Raspberry Filling
This cake is gorgeous and delicious and VERY easy. I made it the day before the party. Forgot to get a picture of an actual slice, it was very pretty with the raspberry in the middle.
2 Boxes Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix
Dairy Free Butter
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Coconut Extract
Shredded Sweetened Coconut
Prepare and bake the cake mix according to the directions and add 1 teaspoon each vanilla and coconut extract. Set aside to cool. Spread a thin layer of raspberry jelly between on the bottom cake layer. Pour about 4 1/2 Cups Powdered sugar into an electric mixer. Add about 1/2 cup butter, 3 teaspoons coconut extract, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix until thoroughly combined, adding almond milk a small amount at at a time until the frosting resembles a smooth and fluffy consistency.
Frost the cake and press the coconut over the frosting. Cover and place somewhere cool until ready to serve.
This is very similar to the lemon tart I made a month or so ago. You can find the recipe here. I used limes instead of lemons, of course and didn’t add the figs. It’s very “tart” and limey, an absolutely perfect ending to a spicy Mexican meal. I made it the day before the party and refrigerated it.
Mexican Wedding Cookies
Otherwise known as Pecan Sandies, these cookies are light and go well with a variety of meals. Instead of forming them into traditional balls, I rolled the dough and used a leaf cookie cutter, then sprinkled with powdered sugar. I made these two days prior to the party and stored in a tupperware container. This recipe is adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook 1989.
1 1/2 Cups Dairy Free Butter
4 1/2 Cups Mama’s Almond All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
2/3 Cups Sugar
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Cups Pecans, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
Preheat oven to 325°. In an electric mixer add the dairy free butter and sugar. Beat until thoroughly combined and fluffy, scraping down once. Add about half of the flour and the vanilla, beat until thoroughly combined. Add the remaining flour, xanthan gum, and pecans. Mix until thoroughly combined. Split dough into three discs. Using a little extra flour, roll dough out and cut with leaf shaped cutter. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove to wire cooling rack and using a small mesh strainer, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container.