Three Mexican Recipes for a Complete Evening of Entertainment!
We love to entertain, and actually have friends over for dinner quite often. Not fancy-schmancy entertaining. Just home cooking. However, I know that even casual entertaining can be nerve-racking for a lot of folks. There’s the whole “clean the house” thing coupled with the “what should I make” thing that leads a lot of people to the “let’s just go out” thing. Which is fine. Truly. But if you like the idea of entertaining and just are not sure what to serve, I thought I’d offer up a complete meal of recipes for your entertaining endeavor: entrée, side and dessert.
First up – a flavorful and beautiful “Chili Cornbread Salad.” Then, we’ll move on to a Mexican beef stew called “Carne Guisada.” Lastly, I’ll show you how to make a really simple Mexican ice cream sundae à la Martha Stewart with toasted coconut, peanuts, and semi-sweet cinnamon-laced chocolate sauce.
(No, we cannot start with the ice cream. Geez!)
Oh, and as for appetizers, I’m finding more and more that folks fill up on them and don’t leave room for the actual meal. If you really want to serve an appetizer, however, set out something easy like tortilla chips with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa. That will fit the theme and give your guest something to nosh on while sipping a margarita.
So, have you been adequately enticed? Are you ready to become the next Ina Garten, entertainer extraordinaire?
(If so, we just happen to be available every Saturday evening for the remainder of the month. Just saying.)
Chili Cornbread Salad
I’ve been making this dish for years. I got the recipe from a friend, and I have no idea where she got it from, so my only way to give credit is to say, “Hey, thanks, Janet!”
This is the perfect side for a Mexican entrée because it combines cornbread, beans, dressing, and a vast array of fresh veggies all in one delicious dish. It also improves as it sits, which is just what you want when you’re entertaining. You can make it a day or even two in advance, and then when you present it for your dinner, your guests will say it looks as if you’ve slaved away the whole day. Don’t let on. Just kind of smile in return.
This would also be an awesome stand-alone weeknight meal, especially if you layered in some grilled chicken strips.
Number of Servings: A Boatload (that’s about as scientific as I can get with this down home dish)
- 1 package (8.5 oz.) corn bread/muffin mix
- 1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies, undrained
- 1/8 t cumin
- 1/8 t oregano
- 1/8 t sage
- 1 cup mayo
- 1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
- 1 envelope Spicy Ranch Salad Dressing mix
- 2 cans (15 oz. each) pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cans (15.4 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
- 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup chopped green pepper
- 1 cup chopped green onion (I used white onion)
- 10 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (I used turkey bacon)
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- You’ll also most likely need an egg and some milk for the cornbread
Prepare the cornbread batter according to the directions on the package (e.g., add in egg and milk if called for) and then stir in: the chilies, cumin, oregano, and sage.
Spread the batter in a greased 8″ x 8″ square baking pan.
Bake at 400º for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool.
In a small bowl, combine mayo, sour cream, and dressing mix. Set aside.
Crumble half of cornbread into a 9″ x 13″ glass dish.
Layer with half of each: beans, then mayo mixture, corn, tomatoes, green pepper, onions, bacon, and finally the cheese.
Repeat layers. (Your dish will be brimming! This is a good thing.)
Cover and refrigerate for a day or two.
There’s nothing difficult about this beef stew, especially if you buy your meat pre-cut in bite-sized pieces like I did. You’ll chop a few vegetables, sear the flour-coated meat to lock in its juices, create a sauce, and then pop it in the oven for a couple of hours while you take a shower and set the table. Once again, serving a dish that doesn’t take a lot of fussing after your guests arrive is the way to go!
This is not your average beef stew. It’s rich and smokey and spicy. Serve it over rice to soak up the sauce, and along side the cornbread salad for a complete meal.
Also, crockpot fans, listen up! After you sear your beef in a pan on the stove, you can finish the rest of this dish in a crockpot on low for 6 – 8 hours.
- 2 1/2 lbs. chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut in bite-sized pieces
- 4 T flour
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
- 4 cups beef stock (unless you’re looking to decrease your sodium intake, use stock with sodium)
- 2 T tomato paste
- 4 t cumin
- 1 t chili powder
- 1/8 t cayenne
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/2 t pepper
Preheat oven to 350º.
Toss meat pieces with flour, then brown quickly in hot oil in ovenproof pot.
Add onion, garlic, jalapeño, beef stock, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, salt and peppa; bring to a simmer on the stove.
Cover pot and place in the preheated oven, baking for about 2 – 2 1/2 hours until the meat is extremely tender. Or, if you prefer, pour your stew into a crockpot at this point, and cook for 6 – 8 hours on low.
Serve as is, or over rice. I used brown rice to make it at least a little healthier.
Mexican Ice Cream Sundaes with Cinnamon-Chocolate Sauce
You’ve done it again.
This is a perfect ending to a delicious evening: a homemade Mexican fiesta of an evening.
Serve it with some Kahlua-laced coffee, and really wow your guests!
3/4 cup sweetened flake coconut
2/3 cup heavy cream
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1 t ground cinnamon
1 1/2 pints dulce de leche ice cream
1/4 cup salted peanuts
Preheat oven to 350º.
Spread coconut on a rimmed baking sheet: toast in oven, tossing occasionally until brown and fragrant (about 5 minutes).
In a medium saucepan over medium-high, bring cream to a boil; remove from heat. Add chocolate, cinnamon, and salt. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is shiny.
Remove ice cream from freezer 15 minutes before serving. Scoop into bowls; top with warm sauce, peanuts, and coconut.
(The sauce and the toasted coconut can be made a day or two ahead. Store the sauce in the fridge, and then just slowly heat it when you need it.)
Yum! It’s crunchy yet softly melting, sweet yet salty; it’s a combination of contrasting flavors and textures that can’t be beat!
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