Mexican cuisine is in my top 3 favorite types of food. I've only been to Mexico once, but it was glorious and I have a list of other cities I need to travel to next like Merida, Oaxaca, and of course - Mexico City. I could go on-and-on about why it's so great, but simply put - Mexican food is everything. It's sweet, it's savory, it's spicy, it's salty, it's comforting, it's hearty, it's light, and it's colorfully beautiful. Since we're still stuck at home, I decided to cook up a Mexican-American inspired dinner menu for a little party at our house. (Let's just pretend we're there now on the Caribbean beaches of Tulum...)
This menu is perfect for your Labor Day holiday! It just includes a little surprise... It's completely vegetarian!
That part was honestly unintentional when I first started thinking about what I was going to make. But if you dig into culturally authentic Mexican cuisine - yes, Mexico is obsessed with carne (meat) - but they are also infatuated with vegetables. Mexicans really understand that there are endless possibilities with vegetables and spices. Plus, I was vegetarian in college and that sometimes still finds it's way into our home for dinner. So I present to you a few of our favorite Mexican dishes with an US Americano twist.
There's nothing here that doesn't already resemble a traditional American meal. We have a salsa, (which just means "Sauce"), Slaw Salad, Mashed Potatoes, and Black Bean Burger Cakes. For dessert, what is more American than a popsicle? Well, here we have a popsicle with cream - a Paleta!
On the Mexi-Americano Menu is:
You only need a total of 4 hours to whip up this feast for 5. Though, this menu is also make-ahead friendly. You can definitely cook up the black bean cakes and sweet potato mash a day or two before if needed.
Salsa Escabeche is a flavorful & easy salsa to make, all with ingredients from your pantry.
Not only are there just 3 major ingredients, but this comes out satisfyingly fresh every time. Thank the vinegar and pickled jalapenos for that.
Speaking of, this is a spicy salsa. It packs a really good punch. It's one of those bites that tortures your taste buds in the best way. I literally can't stop eating it when I make this at home, so it's a good thing this recipe makes 4 cups.
But don't let that scare you. To sweeten this up, you'll just need a little tomato paste.
Open a bag of chips, or better yet - make your own - and you have a fiesta appetizer!
I personally believe that every great meal should include a vegetable, so here it is. But this is better than steamed green beans - this is Adilene's Mexican Slaw.
Like an smart woman my age, I make tacos all of the time. Hence, this recipe is made often to put on top of them. It's also great on a torta, as a side salad, and especially on top of Justin's Black Bean Cakes.
This recipe couldn't get simpler between the pre-cut cabbage, fresh lime juice, diced onion, tomato, and cilantro. Mix it all together and what'ya got? A beautiful Mexican slaw.
This Honey Chipotle Sweet Potato Mash recipe is another great side for those living on the edge. Chipotle has a distinctive, deeply smokey, rich chili flavor. Adding the honey will make your taste buds swoon in South West flavor heaven.
By prepping the sweet potatoes the night before, you cut out a good amount of prep time before your guests come over. These also easily reheat if you need to make the recipe fully the night before to cut down on your cook time the next day.
Black Bean Cakes easily can substitute any burger. I even dare you to try these and say you wouldn't have another!
Justin's recipe is so satisfying. These black bean cakes have a great crunchy crust on the outside, and a delicious and flavorful meaty inside.
Do you have friends that are vegan or vegetarian? This recipe will do the trick!
But I challenge you again - these are not just for the meatless-eaters. These black bean cakes will have everyone asking about this recipe.
We recommend making these into 'bugers' and serving them on toasted brioche buns, topped with Adilene's Mexican Slaw for the best bite.
You can also make these 1-2 days in advance and reheat them in the oven before serving.
As a sweet ending to all of that heat, make these simple Coffee & Cream Paleta Popsicles. With just 3 ingredients + water, you'll have a delicious summer dessert to savor.
Make these the night before to ensure they'll have enough time to freeze before serving to your guests. But don't worry, these just take 20 minutes to prepare.
For tips in planning your own party menu, click here.
For other party planning resources & menu templates, visit our Etsy shop.
Servings: 5 Difficulty Level: 2
Prep Time in Advance: 1 hour
Cooking Time the Day of : 3 hours Total Time: 4 hours
For the Coffee & Cream Paleta Popsicles:
1/3 cup freshly ground coffee beans
1 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup oat milk creamer
Pinch of ground cinnamon
For the Honey Chipotle Sweet Potato Mash:
3 pounds of sweet potatoes
5 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup salted butter (1/2 stick)
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle pepper powder
1 tablespoon honey
For the Black Bean Cakes:
2 eight-ounce cans black beans, strained
1 tablespoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Masa flour
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
For the Salsa Escabeche:
16 ounces Jalapeños Curtidos with carrots and onion*
16 ounces diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 teaspoon Guajillo Chili Powder, or regular chili powder
Pinch of salt
(As needed, tomato paste)
For Adilene's Mexican Slaw:
10 ounces of finely shredded green cabbage*
3-4 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
2 cups cilantro chopped, loosely packed
The juice of 1 lime, (or 2 tablespoons)
Pinch of salt
Day 1: The night before - 1 hour
Go grocery shopping
Peel & cube the sweet potatoes. Store them in an airtight container overnight in the fridge.
Boil the coffee, water, and brown sugar in a pot and then remove from heat. Let steep for 5 additional minutes. Then strain the coffee mixture with a cheesecloth into a bowl. Let cool completely for 10 minutes. Then mix in cream.
Prep your paper cups if making a DIY popsicle mold by inserting popsicle sticks into 8 cups. Put another 8 cups in a freezer-safe container. Pour coffee mix into each cup evenly. Place the popsicle cups on top and put in the freezer overnight.
Day 2: The day of - 3 hours
To make the sweet potato mash, place cubed potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked soft enough to pierce with a fork. Strain and let cool.
Finely chop garlic cloves. Then melt butter in a cast iron skillet on Medium-Low. Once fully melted, add garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Then add chipotle powder and cook through for another 2 minutes.
Place potatoes in a mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium with butter sauce until smooth. (If a mixer is not available, mash in a large bowl with a fork.) Mix in honey, and add more to taste.
To make the black bean cakes, strain and rinse the black beans. Then let them dry for 15 minutes. In a large bowl, combine all spices, Masa flour and black beans. Mash with hands until consistency is like playdough and sticks together. Some whole beans may still be visible. Mold dough into 4-ounce patties, sized & shaped like a hamburger.
Heat oven to 350* F. Heat a cast iron skillet on the stovetop on Medium heat with oil for 3-4 minutes to let the oil heat through. Place black bean cakes in a skillet, careful not to over crowd the pan. Cook for 3 minutes on each side or until slightly browned.
Place cooked black bean cakes onto a baking sheet with a drying rack and bake for 30 minutes, or until slightly cracking on the sides. Let cakes cool for 5 minutes before serving. To serve, top on a burger buns or a bed of sweet potatoes.
To make the Salsa, drain the vinegar juices from the Jalapeños Curtidos into a blender or food processor. Carefully de-seed the jalapeños by cutting of the stems and then slicing them in half, lengthwise. Remove the seeds and put jalapeños into the blender. (If wary of the spiciness, withhold 3-4 jalapeños.) Pour the remainder of the jar (pickled onion and carrot) into the blender with diced tomatoes and chili powder.
Pulse salsa mix in a blender or food processor until chunky. Add a pinch of salt to taste as needed. To sweeten, add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste at a time.
To make Adilene's Mexican Slaw, in a medium bowl, add in the cabbage, diced tomato, diced onion, and cilantro. Pour lime juice overtop and season lightly with salt. Mix together with tongs to fully incorporate.