We had a Mexican themed birthday party over the summer for Josh. Outside of all of the prep work and cooking needed for the day, it was fun, relaxing and totally tasty. I went with a Mexican theme because it was different. I was tired of the same old burger and dog parties. Don’t get me wrong, they’re okay and are an absolute staple of summer grilling. I just wanted to do something different and who doesn’t love all of the options Mexican food offers.

Most everything was a first for me to make, outside of the taco meat options. I know I said this already but it was fun. I like trying new recipes and couldn’t get over how easy each item was to make. It was a bit hectic the last hour before the party because I was running around fixing together several things. You can’t always prepare everything ahead. In the future I may try to whip things up earlier and then just pop them in the oven to reheat quickly. It’d be far easier and less stressful.

Everyone likes pre-meal munchies. I’m so use to salsa being the standard munchy food. It’s quick and easy and so far has always been from a jar. This time I wanted to try something different, so instead of the standard bottled salsa I made pico de gallo. As long as Josh was game, seeing as it was his party, then I was going to have fun and make something I hoped was a bit more authentic. It was seriously easy – a plus. And it was a hit – an even bigger plus!

Fot the main course items I made vegetarian burrito filling, vegetarian enchiladas, regular beef taco meat and spicy shredded taco meat. I like having options. We finished things off with Mexican hot chocolate cookies. I had high hopes they would be spicy. I was disappointed to find out they weren’t. Wouldn’t you expect something rolled in chili powder to have at least a little kick to it? Nope, not even a bit. It’s okay though, they were still really good. They have a different complexity than other cookies as you get various flavors hitting you than you might normally get. I had wanted to make some experimental cupcakes based on drinks but instead opted for an easier route buying a small cake at the bakery. There is plenty of time to try new cupcakes in the future.

My favorite item of the entire party, hands down the homemade blueberry pomegranate margaritas. I love them, they’re really fruity and hide all tastes of alcohol rather well which of course could be a dangerous thing. I made several batches and they all vanished really quick. I’d say that tells you something. Trust me when I say that the next time you are in the mood for homemade margaritas you absolutely have to try this recipe. Yum x1000! And this is coming from a person who is not really a fan of margaritas, at least the typical variety. The fruitiness is definitely what does it for me.

Bean Burritos
1 1/2 C water
1 1/2 C brown rice
1 green pepper
1/2 C onion
1 tsp garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 – 15oz can black beans – rinsed and drained
sour cream
shredded cheese

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add rice, return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Let sit for an additional 5 minutes or until the water has been absorbed fully. Alternately you can purchase quick rice, such as Uncle Ben’s, and follow the directions on the package. That is actually what I had done since finding a small package of brown rice in our local store was proving to be difficult.

Prepare your veggies: chop green pepper and onion into small pieces. Mince garlic. Heat oil in a skillet. When the skillet is warm toss in green pepper, onion and garlic. Cook until tender, aproximately 3-4 minutes. The onions will be a wonderful translucent color and no longer solid white. Stir in chili powder, cumin and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Add the rinsed and drained black beans to the skillet, followed by the rice. Cook and stir for 4-6 minutes.

Immediately spoon mixture onto the center of a warmed tortilla, fold in two sides and roll in the opposite direction. Or transfer mixture to a bowl for guests to serve themselves. Have sour cream, shredded cheese and salsa as optional filling or topping ingredients.

Filling may be stored for several days in an airtight container in the fridge.

1/2 C onion
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno
1 tbsp oliv oil
1 1/3 C sour cream, divided
1/4 C mole sauce
2 tbsp water
2 – 15oz can black beans
2 C monterey jack cheese or cheddar cheese
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C milk
1 1/2 C salsa (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large rectangular baking dish with your favorite baking spray, I prefer olive oil in my Misto sprayer for regular/non dessert items. Warm tortillas in the oven, wrapped in foil for 10 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Prepare veggies: chop onion and jalapeno. Mince garlic. Add onion, jalapeno and garlic to warmed skillet. Cook until tender, aproximately 4 minutes.

Mix 1/3 cup sour cream, mole sauce (look in the Hispanic aisle of your store) and water. Add to skillet. Rinse and drain beans, add to skillet. Top off with half of your cheese. Stir and cook until cheese is melted. Spoon 1/3 cup per tortilla, roll and place seam side down in baking dish. I used a large cookie scoop for for the spooning process. It made life easy. Repeat process until you have filled your baking dish. Squish the tortillas in tightly together.

In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup sour cream, flour, cumin, salt and milk. Mix well. Pour over tortillas in the baking dish. Bake covered for 25 minutes.

Top with remaining cheese, bake for an additional 5 minutes uncovered. Serve warm, topped with salsa if desired.