This is my rule: The summer can’t be over until I’ve thrown at least one big ol’ party. Over the years, the shape of this party has changed—it might have gone a little later and been a little louder a few years ago—but it’s always been about good friends, family and, of course, food with a little fiesta flair! This year, one of my oldest friends is flying in from across the country for the occasion. Like me, she loves to cook, so I’ll probably whip up a Strawberry-Watermelon Cooler for us to sip and then we’ll get down to business. I’m going for the quickest, easiest recipes so we can devote more of our attention to catching up and hatching our plans to spend our golden years living together with a couple other friends in a house in Florida.
Fiesta Beef & Black Bean Enchiladas: What dish could be more appropriate than one with “fiesta” in the title?! This cheesy, beefy dish is a favorite every time I serve it up. But the best part is that it only has 20 minutes of prep and can be made ahead of time. I’m going to have a big crowd, so I’ll probably make a couple pans of these and just pop them in the oven when it’s approaching dinnertime. For more ideas, check out these easy Mexican casseroles.
Fresh Tomato Salsa: Yes, you can make your own amazing salsa! It’s just a matter of a little chopping and the freshest, ripest tomatoes you can find. You can make this up to 8 hours ahead, which I highly recommend since it gives the flavors more time to meld. Everyone knows to expect my salsa HOT, but if you’re not so into that, you can decide just how much jalapeño to add. Not the biggest tomato fan? Try black bean salsa.
Mini Pork Empanadas: OK, so this isn’t the quickest, easiest recipe around, but it’s SO GOOD it’s totally worth it. And after you’ve made these little pockets of deliciousness two or three times, it becomes like muscle memory. Which is good, because everyone will have reasons to ask you to bring these mini empanadas to any old party, picnic, potluck or whatever. Be prepared.
Dulce de Leche Tres Leches Cake: I love to hack this traditional dessert by starting with yellow cake mix. Don’t worry—after you soak the cake in a combination of dulce de leche, evaporated milk and sour cream, no one will suspect it’s not entirely from scratch.