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These were some of the appetizers I made for a friends office holiday party. A long time employee was leaving for a position in another town and her favorite food was Mexican, so I based my menu on a South of the Border theme, consciously keeping the food easy and elegant to eat, enabling people to easily mingle while enjoying the refreshments.

MEXICAN MARTINI

mexican martini

1/2 cup ice cubes

1.5 ounces tequila

1.5 ounces Cointreau

2 teaspoons Grand Marnier

3 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice

1.5 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice

1.5 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice

pimento stuffed green olives for garnish

Place the ice in a cocktail shaker, and pour in the tequila, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, lime juice, orange juice and lemon juice. Shake until cold and pour into a martini glass.

Garnish with pimento stuffed green olives.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from All Recipes

allrecipes.com › … › Tequila Drinks

STUFFED JALAPENO PEPPERS

stuffed jalapeno peppers

1 pound ground sausage

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

20 whole jalapeños

Heat oven to 350F. In a skillet, cook the sausage until done, and then drain excess oil. Mix cooked sausage, cream cheese and parmesan in a large bowl until combined. Slice each jalapeño lengthwise and remove seeds and ribs. Pack the sausage and cheese mixture into the jalapeños, then bake, uncovered, for 8 minutes.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Catering To You

www.cateringtoyouinlittlerock.com

BEEF FAJITA BITES

beef fajita bites

juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon lime zest

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

2/3 pound thinly sliced round steak cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons diced onion

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

30 mini phyllo shells, prepared according to package instructions

3 tablespoons guacamole for garnish

3 tablespoons sour cream

diced tomato for garnish

To make marinade: In a small bowl, combine lime juice, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder and lime zest. In a separate bowl, combine the steak with 1/4 cup of the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, add beef and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add remaining marinade, onion and bell pepper and cook 2 to 3 minutes more.

Fill each phyllo shell with beef mixture, then top with a small dollop of guacamole, sour cream and diced tomato.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, February 2011

www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/

CHIPOTLE BEAN DIP

chipotle bean dip

Blend 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of the adobo sauce, 1/4 cup peanut butter, and 1 can of chickpeas in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl. Top with 1 chopped tomato and 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh cilantro.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Family, 2013

www.kraftrecipes.com/foodfamilyarchive/foodandfamilyarc…

CHICKEN TACO CORNBREAD SQUARES WITH CILANTRO DRIZZLE

chicken taco cornbread squares

DRESSING

1/2 cup ranch dressing

1/2 cup salsa verde

1 cup cilantro leaves

FILLING

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeño pepper

2 cups chopped, cooked chicken

3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 (14.5 ounce)can diced tomatoes with green chilies

CRUST

1 egg

1 (7-ounce) package cornbread mix

1/2 cup milk

TOPPINGS

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

3 cups shredded romaine lettuce

1 cup chopped tomatoes

Heat oven to 400F. Combine ranch dressing, salsa and 1 cup cilantro leaves in a small food processor. Process until well blended. Cover and refrigerate. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper and jalapeño pepper, cook 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Stir in chicken, 3 tablespoons of cilantro, salt, cumin, pepper and tomatoes with green chilies, cook 5 minutes. In a large bowl, beat egg, add cornbread mix and milk, mix well. Pour cornbread mixture into a baking dish. Spoon chicken mixture over cornbread mixture, sprinkle with cheeses. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into squares. Top with romaine and tomatoes, drizzle with dressing.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Martha White

www.marthawhite.com/recipes

CHEESY CORN DIP

cheesy corn dip

In a baking dish, combine equal parts corn kernels and shredded cheddar, a spoonful of mayonnaise, some chopped green onions and sliced pickled jalapeños. Bake until bubbly, serve with chips.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray, September 2014

www.rachaelraymag.com/

MEXICAN SHRIMP COCKTAIL

mexican shrimp cocktail

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup Cholula hot sauce

1/4 cup olive oil

pinch of salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup Pico de Gallo (recipe to follow)

10 jumbo shrimp, steamed, shelled and deveined

2 cilantro sprigs

tortilla chips to serve

Combine the ketchup, lime juice, hot sauce and olive oil and stir. Add the salt, pepper, pico de gallo and the shrimp. Stir gently to combine.

Enjoy!

PICO DE GALLO

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 cup chopped sweet onion

2 cups chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeño peppers

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

dash of olive oil

Combine the lime mice and onions in a bowl and allow to marinate for 20 minutes, or up to an hour. Combine the tomatoes, onion mixture, chiles, salt, pepper, cilantro and olive oil in a mixing bowl, and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from USA Weekend, June 2013

www.usaweekend.com/section/FOOD04/Recipe-Archive

DARK CHOCOLATE CHERRY LIME SHORTBREADS 

dark chocolate cherry lime shortbreads

3/4 cup flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon unsweetened dark cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest

1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped

In a bowl, sift the flour with both cocoa powders and salt. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the 1/4 cup sugar at medium high speed until fluffy. Beat in the zest. Beat in the flour mixture at low speed until the dough comes together. Add the cherries, beat until incorporated.

Scrape the dough onto a work surface and pat it into a disk, roll it between 2 sheets of parchment paper to a 1/4 inch thickness and refrigerate on a baking sheet until firm, 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel off the top sheet of parchment from the dough. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, stamp out cookies. Arrange the cookies 1-inch apart on the baking sheet. Reroll the scraps between parchment paper and stamp out more cookies, arrange on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake the cooked in the middle of the oven for 13 minutes, until just set. Let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, May 2014

www.foodandwine.com/

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