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Mexican appetizer or main dish for party?

I have to bring a Mexican appetizer or main dish to a party. Except for guacamole, I have never made anything Mexican. A dish that does not require equipment that I don't have, ingredients that are difficult to locate, is simple to make, easy to transport, and delicious would be ideal. Hope I am not asking for too much.

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  1. Molletes are the Mexican answer to garlic bread. Spread with rich refried beans, topped with gooey melted cheese and finished with pico de gallo, you can't go wrong. Meatballs in chipotle or empanadas with your choice of filling would be great, too. If you don't want to heat anything up on site, you could try coctel, a seafood salad not dissimilar from ceviche or Italian frutti di mare.

    1. Your request is kind of broad, like asking for a French dish with all your other specifications. Do you have access to Mexican ingredients that don't come out of a can? How much time are you willing to spend? Easy to transport on foot, by car or public transportation?

      1. I recently had to do the same thing. I wound up making Mexican deviled eggs that someone on this board suggested, basically just deviled eggs with Mexican like ingredients (cilantro, scallions, chili powder, cumin, lime, etc.). Some other ideas were albondingas with a dipping sauce, Mexican lasagna, and Mexican shrimp cocktail. All easy to make, easy to transport.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ludmilasdaughter

          Mexican deviled eggs sound perfect - do ahead and easy to transport. Your suggestion of a Mexican shrimp cocktail sent me on a search. I found a recipe on Chowhound for a Tequila Shrimp that sounds really good

          1. re: Bethcooks

            That's funny, when I thought of making a Mexican shrimp cocktail, I actually thought about adding Tequila!

        2. Another interesting food is a savory cheesecake... make like a regular cheesecake, but no sugar. Swirl in some pureed chipotle in adobo sauce. Top with mango/jalapeno jam: package of cubed, frozen mangoes, cooked with sugar, and sliced jalapenos. The sweet and spicy jam is brilliant with the creamy and smoky cheesecake. Make a crust with crumbled, savory crackers and butter..
          Serve it in thin slices (or made in a mini-muffin tin) with tortilla chips.

          2 Replies
          1. re: wyogal

            That sounds really GOOD wyogal! I served a savory cheesecake at my wedding, and most people had never seen one. Different flavor profile for that occasion, but a great way to make something filling, with good ingredients that goes along way.

            Would you serve this with fruit on the side? I would think some melon with salt, chili and lime would be a nice side...

            1. re: gingershelley

              nah, just the mango/jalapeno jam (or compote). With chips. Kind of a spread, think of using the chips instead of a fork. It's super easy and very different.
              I was inspired by seeing a bleu cheese one in one of the cookbooks from cooking school.
              About the same time we had to do galantines, so I made mine with a stuffing of forcemeat with cornmeal panade, pepitas, chopped dried apricots, and smoked chorizo, and used tequila instead of brandy.

          2. I love this Pineapple Jicama Salad. You could serve as shown or make a platter of skewers after it's marinated a bit.


            2 Replies
            1. re: MrsJonesey

              I printed this recipe and will make it even if I don't use it for this party as it looks delicious.

            2. If it's a casual party, 7 layer dip might fit the bill.

              2 Replies
              1. re: thymetobake

                Yes, easy, too. Stir in a bit of chipotle to the beans. Also, instead of lettuce, use chopped fresh pea pods.
                Also super easy is a block of cream cheese, simply unwrapped on a plate, and topped with an exotic jarred salsa. You could put 3 of them on a large platter, 3 different salsas (some with fruit), served with chips.

                1. re: wyogal

                  Great idea - I can use this for a party I am planning.

              2. Pans of enchiladas are an easy main. A pan of green chili chicken, one of beef with red sauce, cheese and spinach with suiza sauce. Something for everyone.

                1 Reply
                1. re: weezieduzzit

                  Enchiladas would be my suggestions as well

                  Mix some chicken or beef with either red or green salsa, add some cheese, roll into corn tortillas and line in a baking dish. More sauce over the top and more cheese over the top. Bake to melt the cheese. Bring with sides of guac and sour cream, top with olive slices, jalapeno slices, and/or cilantro if so desired.

                  Another simple option would be a fajita platter (Tex-Mex in reality, but who is counting?).
                  On a grill pan cook cubed skirt steak (I prefer a better cut, but you can really use anything, some markets will even ave it already marinated), onions, and red and green peppers. I like my fairly simple with a liberal squeeze of lime, but you can use other 'fajita' seasoning as well. After cooking, add cilantro over the top. Let people make into their own tacos with corn tortillas, some chunky salsa, and guac.

                2. No one has ever turned their nose up to a good cheso and chips! And Kevin at Closet Cooking has a lot of dips that might be easy to bring - just use his search function to find "dip," since scrolling through his recipes will make your head spin. There are a lot!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: katecm

                    That is my favorite food blog - I can't scroll through more than a page and a half of tastespotting.com w/out finding myself clicking on one of his pix!

                    1. re: shanagain

                      I like this blog also. Will take a look right now.

                  2. this is it!

                    Easy Creamy Mexican Dip

                    1 tube regular (or hot) sausage
                    1 8 oz cream cheese
                    1 8 oz sour cream
                    1 16 oz jar Medium chunky salsa
                    1 lb. shredded cheddar cheese

                    Brown the sausage in a skillet, break down into smaller pieces while frying. Pour off as much of the grease as possible. Lower the heat and put the cream cheese in with the sausage until it breaks down and becomes creamy. Turn off heat and add sour cream and jar of salsa. It will look pink.

                    Put in a 8 x 11 ovenproof pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until almost bubbly. Take out and top with shredded Cheddar and return to oven for 5 minutes. I like to serve it with Fritos Scoops but it is your choice...

                    Trust me, your friends will be asking for the recipe...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: laliz

                      Wow - great ideas and all within my Mexican cooking skills. I am going to phone the hostess and offer some of your suggestions as she will know what others are bringing.

                    2. This is dead easy, but will require an oven wherever the party is to heat through.

                      1 round of cotija cheese, about 1 lb. +/- (can't find cotija, subsititue ricotta salata, or a fresh mozz)
                      6 cloves of garlic peeled and minced
                      2 Tbls. Mexican oregano (easily found in the latin/mexican section of the grocery store, if not use regular oregano, or a combination of regular oregano and margerum)
                      1/3 Cup corn oil
                      1/2 Cup olive oil

                      Poke holes in the cheese round with a knife or skewer and place in a zip lock bag
                      Add all the ingredients, seal that bag, massage a bit to distribute all the herbs
                      Refrigerate for 24 hours.
                      Bake at 375* for about 15-18 minutes until the cheese is hot (cotija is not a melting cheese)
                      Serve with crackers.

                      Depending upon how good the fruit is where you live right now, you can always slice up fresh fruit such as cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelo, pineapple, Mexican papaya, mangos, arrange on a serving platter, add in some sliced jicama and cucumber. Serve lime wedges on the side and offer a "fruit chile" on the side. Fruit chile is a sprinkle of dried ground chile, salt and dehydrated lime juice (Tajin is in wide distribution in the U.S.), it adds a little bite and interest to ripe fruit.

                      Chipotle Meatballs are always a good idea and party pleaser, plus you can take it to the party in a crock pot. You can use the premade meatballs from Costco or Trader Joes and any jarred chipotle salsa. Couldn't be easier, heat up the meatballs, mix in the jarred sauce, take to the party.

                      You can also do cheaters esquites, which is the cup version of Mexican corn on the cob. All you need are a few packages of frozen corn. Cook off and drain most of the water off. Transport to the party, along with Mexican crema (or use sour cream that has been thinned out a bit with lime juice), mayonnaise (also thinned with lime juice), lime wedges, crumbled cotija cheese (or sub in feta or ricotta salata), ground cayenne pepper and some 4 or 6 oz clear plastic glasses. To serve, each guest can laddle some corn into the glass, then top with crema, mayo or both, some cheese, a squeeze of lime and a dusting of grd. cayenne.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        Thanks DiningDiva - meatballs sound easest and I do have a crockpot. Would solve the problem of keeping the food warm.

                      2. For a fast, easy, and delicious appetizer take salsa (homemade, or your favorite bottled), and add bay shrimp, a squeeze of lime, and minced cilantro. Serve with chips.

                        1. This is a great appetizer. More like american mex. super easy and healthy!

                          Baked Jalapeno Cheese poppers
                          8-10 JalapeƱo peppers - sliced in 1/2 (seeded if you hate spice in your life... haha kidding)
                          4 oz cream cheese (feel free to use fat free)
                          3 stalks scallions (chives, parsley, cilantro all work)
                          1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar
                          2 tsp Red Chili flakes (optional)

                          1 egg
                          1/2 cup Panko crumbs
                          1/2 tbsp Chili powder
                          1/2 tbsp Cayenne

                          Start washing your peppers and slice them in half lengthwise. Cut off the tops and deseed them.
                          Preheat the oven to 350F

                          In a small bowl, mix cream cheese, cheddar, chili flakes and a pinch of salt and lots of pepper.
                          Chop up your green onions finely and using mostly the green parts, mix it into your cream cheese mix. You can taste it and adjust it when you want it saltier or spicier

                          Stuff your deseeded peppers with the cream cheese mix.
                          In another small bowl, scramble an egg. This will be your binder for your breadcrumbs/ panko.

                          On a plate, lay out your panko crumb mix (with chili powder, cayenne). Adding paprika is nice too.
                          I used a seasoned breadcrumb mix of rosemary and lots of pepper. I think the panko would give it more crunch though.
                          Roll your stuffed pepper in the egg and then roll it around in the crumb mix. Coat it nicely.

                          Lay them out on a baking tray. You can sprinkle some olive oil over the poppers. But that can be skipped for lighter fare.

                          Let it bake for 25-30 mins or until you see that cheese oozing out!

                          Check out instructions with photos on my blog!