Sunday, May 5, 2013

On the Homefront: Cinco de Mayo Table

Two Dalmatians, Cinco and Mayo, with their pal,
Piñata the burro!

In sombreros and serapes two Dals,
With a burro (he's one of their pals!),
Go south of the border
For the weekend in order
To find Cinco de Mayo festivals!

We don't usually celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but since it falls on a Sunday this year I decided I would have plenty of time to set a colorful table and put together an easy Mexican dinner.  Besides, I love vibrant color and this holiday is the perfect opportunity to go all out on my table (please forgive the variable photo quality -- the weather turned very rainy and the light conditions kept changing).

Red serving bowls in the foreground will hold chips and dip.  They and the red platter are by Waechtersbach; cactus candleholders from Target many years ago; can't remember where I got the colorful Gibson burro cookie jar.

Natural basketweave place mat under dark brown wooden bead place mat; red dinner plate (Waechtersbach); yellow quesadilla plate (Block Basics by Cerind of Portugal); green dessert bowl from Target; striped flatware from Brylane Home Santa Fe Collection; cactus goblet from Dollar Tree; can't remember the sources for striped napkin, table runner, or water glass.

The burro and Dalmatians preside over the platter
destined to hold quesadillas!

While my husband prefers Mexican beer, my Mexican dinner menus always include sangria, even though it is commonly considered more of a Spanish beverage.  Back when I lived and worked in the Virgin Islands (studying feral donkeys on St. John!), I would sometimes join a dear friend and coworker on St. Thomas to enjoy a meal with a group of buddies at El Papagayo Restaurant.  "Papagayo" is Spanish for parrot, and there really was a parrot at the restaurant!  I'm not sure if the restaurant is still in business or if the parrot is even still living, although they do tend to be long-lived birds.  Anyway, we always ordered the same thing when we were there -- cheese nachos with lots of guacamole and salsa for dipping, and several pitchers of their special sangria, full of fruit juices and red wine.  To this day, a Mexican fiesta for me is not complete without this fruity concoction. You can make your own (click here for a good recipe to try), but there are also some good bottled sangrias available -- one of my favorites is Reál Sangria.

Since hubby is a fan of chicken with mole sauce, the menu includes my quick and easy recipe (the authentic version is complex and time-consuming).  He also enjoys caramel flan, so we will have that for dessert.  There are numerous recipes available for flan (click here for an easy Mexican version that sounds delicious!), and there are some good store-bought ones as well, usually shelved with the refrigerated puddings and jellos.  One of my favorite but seldom used gadgets is a colorful quesadilla maker, so I will put it to use for this dinner, adding calabacitas (a zucchini and corn mixture) to simple cheese quesadillas.  My guacamole is embarrassingly easy -- all I do is mash up some perfectly ripe avocados!  I will add some salt and lime juice if I am sharing with guests, but I really do prefer just plain avocados myself.  Store-bought tortilla chips and salsa round out the appetizers.  I am making my own version of Mexican rice, since all of the mixes available in the supermarket have too many undesirable ingredients.  I have to admit, though, that the refried beans are actually one of my latest addictions -- Tostito's Zesty Bean and Cheese Dip!

Cinco de Mayo Menu:

Tortilla Chips/Guacamole and Salsa
Sangria or Beer
Calabacitas Quesadillas
Mexican Rice*
Refried Beans and Cheese
Caramel Flan

*Mexican Rice

1 C. white rice
1 1/2 C. chicken stock (I use unsalted)
1/2 C. salsa (use the freshest you can get)
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil and stir once.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for at least 10 minutes longer.  Makes 3 cups of cooked rice.

Note: My mother never added salt to rice, and neither do I.  That is the way I am used to eating it, but most people would probably find it too bland, so add salt to taste if you prefer.

By now you are probably aware that candies always show up on my table, and this time I have colorful peanut M&Ms plus Skittles.  The Skittles were a last-minute addition.  I was going to use the M&Ms to surround the red candle in the center of the table, but when I opened the bag my old Dalmatian went absolutely bonkers as soon as she smelled them!  I was afraid she might do something desperate, like attempt to climb onto the dining room table to reach the M&Ms, so I decided to put them in a safer location and use Skittles instead (she does not seem to care for the latter).  So help yourself to both, but be aware that the M&Ms will not stay on the table for long because I will have to put them away for safekeeping from an obsessed dog!

The table is set and the menu is chosen, so let the fiesta begin!

Yet another party animal!

No comments:

Post a Comment