Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cinco de Mayo Celebration!

Cinco de Mayo is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate -- and not just because of my love of tequila.  Ok, the tequila is mainly it.... BUT this girl loves her Mexican food!  Beans, rice, salsa, guacamole -- I can’t get enough.  I created a menu that would be easy to throw together so you can enjoy your own party, have a margarita (or 5) and even if the tequila makes you a tad fuzzy, you can’t mess up dinner!  The decorations were fun to DIY and very inexpensive.  So let’s get this party started!!

The Decor

I thought it would be fun to have a party favor so of course mustaches on a stick were appropriate.  Not only are they cute but they made for some fabulous pictures throughout the night -- most inappropriate for this blog.  I used the template from here.  All you need to do is trace and cut the mustaches out of black poster board and tape them to a long wooden skewer.  Done!
The main decor were the flag banners -- scrapbook paper mixed with tissue paper and simply stapled onto ribbon.  The fun part about the banners is that the colors and shapes are completely up to the creator so use your imagination to create something you love that fits your theme.  

The place mats are all paper as well.  I used craft paper as a base then glued ripped pieces of scrapbook paper on the base to create a sturdy and colorful mat.  The menus were printed at home and I created a smaller version of the flag banners and glued them on top.  Those little details really make your party special!

Lastly, I made a bunch of tissue paper flowers and made a backdrop wall for photos.  For an easy DIY tutorial on these flowers, click here.

Now on to the food!  The menu is a mix of SkinnyChow and heartier dishes so we could please the men in our group. 
SkinnyChow Sparkling Margarita
“I Hate Tequila” Margarita
Black Bean Fresh Dip
Grilled Pineapple Guacamole
Crispy Pork Carnitas
Tres Leches Cake 

SkinnyChow Sparkling Margarita (makes 1 pitcher)

2 c. tequila
1/2 c. triple sec
2 packets Crystal Light lemonade, limeade or if you're lucky -- Margarita flavor if you can find it
juice from 2 limes
Club Soda (to fill up pitcher)

In a pitcher, combine tequila, triple sec, Crystal Light and lime juice.  Add club soda to fill up pitcher.  Serve over ice.  Garnish with lime and a salted rim if desired.

"I Hate Tequila" Margarita (makes 1 drink)
My brother-in-law, Brian, came up with this delicious concoction.  It has that margarita feel to it, without the tequila!

1 1/2 oz gin
3 oz pink grapefruit juice
lime wedge

Shake ingredients over ice.  Garnish with a lime wedge and serve with a salted rim if desired.

Black Bean Fresh Dip
This is a spin-off of a dip that I had in a restaurant years ago.  It's a big hit every time it's made!

2 cans black beans, one drained, one undrained
2 tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped
1/2 c. crumbled queso fresco 
juice from 1/2 lime

Combine black beans, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper, spread mixture on platter.  Top with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and queso fresco.  Squeeze lime juice on top and serve with tortilla chips.
I couldn't even get a picture before people were digging in!

Grilled Pineapple Guacamole

Three 1/2-in slices fresh pineapple
3 medium ripe avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
1/2 c. finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp pineapple juice
1 tbsp snipped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste

Grill pineapple slices on greased rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until browned, turning once.  Core and chop pineapple.
Place avocados in medium bowl and mash.  Stir in pineapple, red onion, pineapple juice, cilantro, salt and cayenne pepper.

Crispy Pork Carnitas

2 lbs pork shoulder
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 c. cilantro leaves, plus 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp orange zest
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 can (15oz) low sodium chicken broth
zest and juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 package soft corn tortillas
sour cream, cheese, lettuce, salsa for serving

1. Combine pork, garlic, 1/3 c. cilantro leaves, onion, oregano, orange zest, salt and red pepper flakes in slow cooker and pour broth over top so pork is mostly submerged.  Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours, until pork is tender.
2. Remove pork from slow cooker and cool slightly.  Shed pork with 2 forks and stir together with 1/4 c. cilantro, lime zest and juice 1/2 c. cooking liquid (from slow cooker) .  In a large pan, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  Add meat and press into bottom of pan.  Let bottom layer of meat develop a crisp crust, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and serve in warm tortillas with lettuce, salsa, sour cream and cheese if desired.

Coconut Tres Leches Cake
I liked this recipe because it allowed you to use a boxed cake mix, cutting down on your hands on time!

1 box yellow cake mix

Milk Syrup:
1 can (15oz) cream of coconut
1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 medium ripe bananas, sliced
1 tub whipped topping
1 c. sweetened coconut, toasted (bake coconut at 350 until golden brown, about 7 minutes)

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly spray a 13 by 9 in baking dish with cooking spray.  
2. Prepare cake mix according to instructions and bake.  Cool cake.
3. Combine milk syrup ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Poke holes all over cake and pour milk syrup over cake.  The milk will not soak in immediately -- no worries!  Just pop that baby in the fridge for 2 hours until the cake soaks up all the milk.  
4. Top cake with whipped topping and garnish with bananas and toasted coconut.

Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone!  If you have any questions about anything you see, let me know!  And don't forget to tell me how your parties went this year!!!  

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