Party Decorations- $6, Festive Taco Bar Party- Priceless
I’m still finding salt in every corner of our home. Thus is the result of our Make-Your-Own-Margarita and Taco Bar party over the weekend. It’s my new favorite party theme; talk about simple!
All I did was set out a little buffet of: 1) Taco meat- Sauté some hamburger with lots of cumin, chili powder, Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy and a little salt. 2) Black beans- My friend Rebekah gave me the following set-it-and-forget-it Slow Cooker Black Beans recipe. (I’ll be cooking garbanzo, pinto, and all my beans this way from now on.) 3)Condiments in festive little bowls: Chopped cilantro, sliced green onions, crumbled Queso Fresco cheese, a jar of nopalitos (spicy cactus pickles,) chopped lettuce and salsa from a can with the addition of fresh cilantro and tomatoes and frozen corn.
The margaritas were a breeze: Sauza makes a great pre-mixed variety that comes in an easy-pour box; we also put out a bottle of Sauza Tequila Silver (it has a clean, fresh, lovely fruit flavor/aroma), ice, lots of lime wedges and for dipping the rims of glasses, a wet paper towel on a plate with another plate of kosher salt. While this was probably not the most authentic Make-Your-Own-Margarita set-up, guests were happy to mix in tequila and limes to their liking. And most folks would rather chat than stand at the bar trying to remember the correct proportion of Triple Sec to tequila and lime juice.
But I was most happy with my $6.00 decorations. They were all edible! I filled an old straw hat (that looked rather sombrero-ish) with produce from our local Hispanic grocery store: Cactus paddles (nopales), prickly pears, chayote squash and peppers of every color and shape. (Emeril's Cactus Salad is delicious!)
Slow Cooker Black Beans (adapted from Rebekah)
3 c. dried black beans
1 red onion quartered
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cumin
¾ teaspoon black pepper
9 cups water
Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours.
While growing up on a ranch in Montana, I learned to appreciate food by watching my parents take it from the field to the plate. I helped my mother garden, preserve vegetables and milk the cow. Loving food led me to a career as a registered dietitian. And now as a mom, I enjoy teaching my children to cook and appreciate how food gets to their plate – here in a Chicago suburb. At the end of the day, it sometimes seems that all I've accomplished is to get dinner on the table. But if my kids helped, a lesson was learned and we most certainly had fun.