Quick Dinner for a Crowd: Easy Mexican Fiesta
This month was my turn for Book Club, and I had grand plans for the lovely meal I was going to serve. I had browsed my recipe books, pinned a few recipes ideas (then pinned some more), consulted with my mum on what she thought would be delicious—I was set.
Or, so I thought. My week became incredibly busy and time ran away from me—suddenly it was Book Club Eve and I had nothing organized, I still had to go to the grocery store, and it was 7 PM. I knew it was time for plan B.
Thankfully (for my book clubbing friends and for my sanity) I have a go-to menu whenever I’m in a pinch—a Mexican fiesta. It’s so easy—99% of this meal can be made ahead of time. You can have your table set, clean-up done, and everything out and ready to go before everyone arrives. And, most of the prep work is chopping or decanting into small bowls, which you can do the night before or morning of your party. Here, I’ll show you:
Do Your Prep Work Beforehand
First, prepare your meats. I decided on a traditional style ground turkey (I sautéed one chopped yellow onion in a little bit of olive oil, then browned 2 lbs of ground turkey, added some taco seasoning, and cooked through) and then made a creamy chicken in my slow cooker, inspired by Eat. Live. Run’s Tex-Mex chicken but with the addition of some light cream cheese. You can make both of these the night before or the morning of your party, so all you have to do is reheat in the oven for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees before serving. Ground beef or ground chicken also work well, and sometimes I’ll pick up some pre-made carnitas from the Hot Bar at Whole Foods if I feel like I need more of a selection.
While your meats are cooking, put all your toppings into small bowls, place onto a tray, cover with Saran wrap and pop into the fridge until party time. Here are some of my favorite toppings to use:
Then, Do a Few Last Minute Items Before Your Guests Arrive
All that’s left for you to do on the day of your party is to make some easy-peasy guacamole to serve with chips and fresh salsa and to heat up some corn and flour tortillas. I’ll typically make the guacamole 30 minutes before my guests are set to arrive, and then microwave the tortillas when I’m about to serve everything.
(Feeds six hungry girls)
Remove the avocados from the skin, and use a fork to mash up in a medium sized bowl. Add the juice of one lime and a little bit of salt (to taste) then mash a little more. That’s it! So easy.
Your guests will be happy (I mean, who doesn’t like Mexican food?), you’ll be calm, cool, and collected, and you’re guaranteed to have a great night! If you’re serving dessert, keep it really simple and do an ice cream bar or pick up some local yummies at your favorite bakery on your way home from work.
And, want to know what the best part is? Mason Jar Salad Leftovers!
You’ll have lunch for the next day—just layer any leftover ingredients in a mason jar, starting with the salsa and meat and finishing with the lettuce. Olé!
Photos courtesy of Niki Lowry.
Niki comes to us from the financial world, but she’s an online girl at heart. After graduating from Cal, she spent a couple of years traveling and working (Ireland – NY – OC) before finally making it back to San Francisco to pursue a career in business and marketing. An avid fan of handwritten thank you notes, Niki also loves fresh flowers for any occasion, the sound of being underwater, and she firmly believes ketchup bottles do not belong on the breakfast table. When she’s not Musing, you can find her on her blog, wandering around the Ferry Building in San Francisco, or with her nose in a ridiculously addicting YA book.More from this Author