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Welcome to June!
Wow, the months are flying by? Why does it seem that every year goes by quicker and quicker the older we get, not like childhood when a year felt like an eternity?
In my home, June’s arrival means that Bob is ready for grilling. He makes sure the grill is spotless, and his grilling baskets and barbecue tools are ready to go.
This must be a guy thing because I never have the desire to stand in front of the grill watching my meal cook. Even though I cook every night and stand in front of the stove, the grill does not interest me.
The temperature reached 80 degrees and Bob said he was in the mood to grill steak for tacos, so he went to purchase some skirt steak and other ingredients I needed to complete this meal while I stayed home and started a marinade with oranges, limes, cumin, garlic and olive oil.
My marinades are always different depending on what I have in the house but I always try to get a citrus in the marinade.
Since this was the FIRST OFFICIAL grilling moment of 2018…
I decided to make this taco dinner into a Fiesta Night.
I have great dishes for this meal that are a combination of perfect Fiesta colors – red, yellow, blue and lime. This is a 10.5 inch ceramic plate that is dishwasher & microwave safe- always a plus. I picked them up last year at Dollar Tree when I was hosting a taco bar luncheon.
I wanted to use all the colors from the dish for my tablescape, so I am starting out with one of the brightest tablecloths I own, a very bright lemon yellow.
Another color in the plate is red and that will be the color of the napkins along with brown wooden napkin rings because I want to use my brown rattan chargers and the wooden napkin ring will look best.
These rattan chargers are my absolute favorite because they go with so many dinnerware patterns.
The flatware I am using is a set I don’t get to use very often. They are what I call, my “Cinco de Mayo” flatware because they have all the colors of a Mexican Fiesta – lime, orange, navy, red and yellow.
The glassware brings me right back to Dollar Tree. I went back to the store to purchase additional plates for the luncheon and these glasses were on the shelf just calling my name. This was a great find because they had all the colors of the dinner plate.
I had an acrylic pitcher from back in the day, that I keep on the patio table to hold fresh basil & lavender to repel mosquitoes ( a little tip from my Mom) and it matched perfectly.
Since this tablescape was spur of the moment, I had to think of what I already had on hand that I could use for a centerpiece and table accents. I had a box in the basement of the “Mexican” decorations that I used for the taco bar luncheon, so it was time to see what I could use again.
I brought the box up and found a sombrero and maracas along with a bag of artificial red chili peppers.
My next great find, which I honestly forgot I had was a Mexican serape table runner. I love this. It brings all the colors I am looking for together and captures that authentic Mexican feel.
I normally don’t use a table runner but this bright yellow tablecloth needed something extra.
You know by now how much I love to add salt and pepper shakers to my tablescapes to carry out the theme, so I went to my collection and took out the cacti set.
I thought that the tablescape needed a little accent of green and nature, so these succulents wrapped in burlap were added. (Of course they are artificial because I can kill a succulent- I definitely have a brown thumb. I killed the bamboo).
My love of candles continues so I added a few to the table, Mason jar tea lights do the job.
Okay, we are on our way to a Mexican tablescape.
Now to continue planning the meal …
I plan on serving the skirt steak tacos with lots of standard taco toppings, red rice and something new for me, Mexican corn or Elote.
Taco Toppings… tomatoes, lettuce, corn salsa, cheese, hot sauce and sour cream.
Red Rice– Bob and I both love rice so I always include red rice when I make a taco meal. This time I added a can of pinto beans.
(This Red Rice recipe will be at the end of the post).
And now the Mexican Corn...I love to order this corn whenever I see it on a menu, so I had Bob buy some queso fresco cheese while he was shopping and I’ll give it a try.
The recipe doesn’t look difficult at all. The original recipe calls for cojita cheese but he couldn’t find that.
I topped it with a great seasoning blend that I bought in Trader Joe’s- Chili Lime.
(This Elote recipe will be at the end of the post).
When I was hosting the taco luncheon I decided to buy taco holders. All of the taco holders that I looked at in Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma were interlocking metal racks and I preferred individual holders.
I finally found some plastic taco holders that can be separated individually or clipped together and interlocked depending on how you were serving your meal. These holders are the best purchase for a taco night.
There is no mess with tacos falling over and contents of your tacos spilling out and it looks cute on the plate. Plus it makes it much easier for your guests to handle.
I think they are still available on Amazon.
I prefer using them separately but you can interlock as many as you want together.
If you don’t want to purchase taco holders, you could also use an inverted muffin tin. Place the taco shells between the cups and they will stand up.
OR an inverted cardboard egg carton.
Not as decorative for a party as the store bought taco holder, but it will work.
Along with the tacos, you need taco toppings. And to serve your toppings, you need lots of bowls. I had previously purchased plastic molcajete serving bowls to hold the tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and salsa.
I served the toppings on a mango wood wine barrel tray. I like having the toppings all on one tray instead of scattered around the table. I think it looks much nicer.
Bob and I both don’t care for avocados, so you will never find guacamole as a topping for us.
You will never see cilantro as part of our topping choices either.
We are part of the population that for us, cilantro tastes like soap. Since this is hereditary and we both carry the gene, our son doesn’t care for cilantro either.
Whenever we go out to a Mexican restaurant we can never eat the salsa and have to be very specific with the server to have cilantro omitted from our meal and substituted with parsley.
So, don’t get upset with cilantro haters, we’re not being fussy, it’s just in our DNA.
I love using cast iron fajita skillets to serve steak. It keeps the meat warm and I love to hear the sizzle. I am ready to purchase an additional skillet just for grilled vegetables.
This particular skillet comes with a wood underliner hot plate and pot holder for the handle. You have to be very careful with cast iron because it gets so hot. I suggest you buy the pot holder.
And now I have saved the best for last!
Individual servings of “Mexican Layered Dip” served in a mini margarita glass. It is the cutest appetizer.
I brought out a platter of these for my luncheon and they were a big hit. Served with tortilla chips and vegetable spears.
I am sure you have all seen a version of 7-layer dip, now you can customize your dip in a single serving.
Just layer your dip ingredients in the glass and add your toppings. I used “guacamole”, refried beans, sour cream, salsa and topped it with cheese, tomato, scallions, olives and a lime wedge.
Ingredients are up to you.
Yes, I did say guacamole and I only used a little just for color and to give you a better idea of what the traditional finished product should look like- I didn’t eat it.
I wish you could have all seen the surprised look on Bob’s face when one of the shopping list items was the “smallest container of guacamole he could find”.
He is so used to my recipes and food experiments all these years, that he just goes along with everything and questions nothing –that man is an angel.
Diane’s note, if you use guacamole, layer it on the bottom of the glass so it has the least exposure to air. Exposure to the air will make it turn brown.
I was looking at the cacti salt and pepper shakers and had a great idea.
I decided to make some candy covered cactus pretzel rods for the table. I had pretzel rods in the house and some leftover green candy melts from St Patrick’s Day and I have a basket of sprinkles in every color so this could come together quickly.
Just a little something extra for the table, served in a ceramic flower pot.
So that is our Mexican Fiesta
to welcome in the month of June and the grilling season.
I think we need a margarita and some churros and we will be all set.
I hope you can use some of the ideas that I shared today for your very own Mexican Fiesta.
Until my next post, “make every day a celebration!”
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Mexican Red Rice
(recipe courtesy of GeniusKitchen.com)
- 1 cup uncooked rice (not instant rice)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- 2 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 cup chicken broth or 1 cup beef broth
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
- Heat the oil in a heavy skillet. Add the rice and stir over medium-high heat until rice is golden brown.
- Add the garlic and chopped onion, and sauté until the onion just begins to brown.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, chili powder and salt, lower heat and cover.
- Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
Elotes (or Mexican Grilled Corn)
adapted from Serious Eats
- 4-6 ears of corn
- 1/4 cup mayo
- 1/4 cup Mexican crema*
- 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese*
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 lime
*Author’s Note: If Mexican ingredients are hard to come by where you live, you can substitute sour cream for the Mexican crema. You can also substitute parmesan cheese for the cotija cheese in a pinch!
Grill the corn to your liking. I personally find it crunchier and more flavorful to take it off earlier, rather than later.
In a 9×13” baking dish, combine the mayo, Mexican cream, cotija cheese, chopped cilantro, minced garlic, and chili powder. Mix well.
Roll the grilled ears of corn in the creamy mixture, ensuring they are evenly coated on all sides.
Serve with lime wedges
Cooks Note: (optional) I dusted the corn at the end with the Chili Lime Seasoning Blend from Trader Joe’s.