Quick Recipes and Easy

Mix-and-Match Mexican Party Dishes

Cinco de Mayo is a fantastic excuse for a fun party. But, Mexican or Tex-Mex food is terrific for get-togethers year-round because lots of tasty dishes can be place together by using many of the same ingredients.

If you mix and match ingredients from among those listed below, the results are nearly guaranteed to be colorful and tasty. Use no- or low-stout sour cream and cheeses, and replace refried beans with plain rinsed, canned black beans or kidney beans, and your party menu can be healthier, too.
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Here’s a list of many well loved Mexican-recipe ingredients along with some simple ways to place them together. Flexibility only adds to the fun–use more spice, add sautéed onions to the cooked ground beef or chicken, shred some lettuce or chop fresh cilantro for garnish.

The only “must” here is that you delight in these customizable dishes. To make the meal complete, serve fresh fruit, including sliced mango, or pick up some buttery Mexican Wedding Cake cookies. And serve Mexican beer such as Dos Equis or Corona, or whip up a batch of margaritas or mojitos.

Finally, to enhance the party mood, you can buy all manner of decorations. But, if you wish to keep the décor simple and ensure that clean-up is a snap, buy solid red, white, and green mix-and-match plastic or heavy-duty paper goods and plastic utensils.

And there you have it–an simple, tasty, and festive evening to share with friends. Olé!
Mix-and-Match Cinco de Mayo ingredients

Here’s a guide to quantities that should serve 8 when combined. If you have leftover ingredients, simply use them in one of the other suggested dishes!

* 2 cans (16 oz.) refried beans or rinsed black or kidney beans

* 1 pkg. (1 1/2 oz.) taco seasoning mix

* 2 cups sour cream (regular, reduced-stout, or no-stout)

* 1 lb. cooked lean ground beef, seasoned with taco mix or chili powder, cumin, and salt, to taste

* 1 1/2 lbs. cooked, diced or shredded chicken

* 1 can (4 oz.) sliced jalapeños or chiles

* 2 cans (16 oz.) enchilada sauce

* 1 jar (12 oz.) prepared salsa

* 2 large or 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced

* 3 cups shredded cheese (regular or reduced-stout cheddar, Monterey Jack, or combination)

* 1/2 cup sliced green onions

* 1 can (7 oz.) sliced pitted ripe olives

* 3 bags (11.5 oz. each) tortilla chips (baked chips have less stout and fewer calories)

* 2 pkg. (10 to 12) eight-inch tortillas

* 3 cups guacamole (see recipe below)

GUACAMOLE

Serve guacamole with tortilla chips as an appetizer, use it as one of the layers in 7-layer dip, or serve it as one of the tasty accompaniments to chicken enchiladas.

Blend together and chill for several hours:

* 4 ripe avocados (flesh should yield to slight pressure), pitted and mashed to desired texture

* juice from one lime

* 4 small tomatoes, seeded and diced

* 1 fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced , or use sliced, canned jalapeños

* 1/2 small red onion, diced

* parsley or cilantro, salt and pepper to taste

To keep the guacamole from turning brown while it chills: Place an avocado pit in the prepared guacamole; also, gently press plastic wrap over the entire surface of the guacamole, to help keep air out.

7-LAYER DIP

Use a 9-inch glass pie plate or deep-sided glass bowl to make an appetizer that’s as pretty as it is tasty.

* Mix beans and taco seasoning mix, if desired.

* Place beans at the bottom of the serving plate or bowl. Layer any combination of mix-and-match ingredients, except chips, over the bean mixture; cover.

* Refrigerate several hours or until chilled. Serve with crisp tortilla chips.

NACHOS

Mexican-food purists simply pour hot cheese sauce over toasted tortilla wedges. But, you can pile whatever you like over packaged tortilla chips and pop them in the oven, for a fantastic appetizer or main course. Here’s the simplest way to assemble nachos:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

* Place a layer of tortilla chips on a baking sheet or large, ovenproof casserole or serving platter.

* Spoon beans over chips

* Spoon seasoned browned ground beef or shredded chicken over beans

* Spoon chopped tomatoes, sliced jalapeños or chiles, and green onions over meat

* Sprinkle generously with shredded cheese

* Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

* Microwave tortillas for 30 seconds, to soften.

* Dip tortillas in enchilada sauce poured into a shallow dish.

* Spoon about 1/4 cup shredded or diced chicken, salsa, sliced jalapeños or chiles to taste, and shredded cheese down center of each tortilla.

* Cover bottom of 13 x 9 baking dish with enchilada sauce. Fold tortillas over filling and place, seam side down, in baking dish. Cover with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.

* Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until cheese is melted.

* Serve with chopped tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole, sliced green onion, sliced ripe olives, and seasoned refried or black beans.

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Celebratewithstyle.com is the first “guide to making the celebrations that make life so much richer.” It features advice on plotting memorable parties for family members and friends, as well as holiday, business, social, and fundraising events. The site offers thoughts and advice from experts on festive foods, stylish décor, dress-up fashion, and beauty. It also provides party plotting tools for kids’ birthdays, coming-of-age celebrations, and wedding-related festivities.

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