Fiesta forever with Tex-Mex dinner party tablescape décor ideas perfectamente for celebrating San Antonio’s Fiesta or Cinco de Mayo. Raise the roof and raise a glass in cheers for the celebratíon. Let the mariachi music play on in your heart as you feast. Throw your work aside and troubles away as you lose yourself in the rhythm of the beat. Come on and join our fiesta!
“Well, my friends, the time has come, To raise the roof and have some fun, Throw away the work to be done, Let the music play on…”
Mexican purple bubble glass goblets are playfully adorned with initialed wooden chalkboard signs serving as both place-card and drink minder as the party plays on. Casual yet elegant flatware are just some of the stainless steel elements bouncing around the tablescape.
“Everybody sing, everybody dance, Lose yourself in wild romance, We’re going to party, Karamu, fiesta, forever, Come on and sing along!…”
A colorful soutache decorated table-runner dances across the table. Coordinating striped cloth napkins are rolled into polychromatic jute bracelets masquerading as napkin rings. Vintage steel lanterns bedecked in purple beads light up the night as do upcycled luminarias.
“All night long! People dancing all in the street, See the rhythm all in their feet, Life is good wild and sweet. Let the music play on, Feel it in your heart, And feel it in your soul, Let the music take control, We’re going to party, Liming, fiesta, forever, Come on and sing my song!…”
Stacked upon a vintage purple basket-weave tablecloth are vintage purple glazed ceramic dishes sandwiching borrowed Mexican serape styled plates.
“All night long! Yeah, once you get started, You can’t sit down, Come join the fun, It’s a merry go round, Everyone’s dancing, Their troubles away, Come join our party, See how we play! Oh, yes, We’re going to have a party!…”
“All night long! Everyone you meet, They’re jamming in the street, All night long! Feel good!”
P.S. The party song quoted is “All Night Long (All Night)” by Lionel Richie.
P.P.S. Buy your own adjustable jute bracelets to double over as napkin rings inexpensively at Fire Mountain Gems, whose affiliate discount link is in the left side panel (or below on a tablet).
P.P.P.S. Find my healthy Tex-Mex trifle salad and dressing recipe by clicking HERE. Find a similar salad in a crunchy baked tortilla bowl HERE, and a Tex-Mex salad taco HERE. Learn how to easily upcycle your own DIY luminarias HERE!
This recipe for a gluten-free Tex-Mex trifle bowl layered dinner salad complete with creamy vegan cilantro citrus avocado dressing is perfect for your next dinner fiesta. It’s so easy to throw together without having to measure anything. It also saves time and expense because the beautifully layered trifle bowl pulls double duty as a colorful centerpiece. Plus, when everything is prepared ahead of time… the hostess can spend the evening in the dining room with her guests rather than in the kitchen. Most guests should be able to partake of this healthy gluten-free vegan meal, and dressing is served on the side so that everyone can control their own portions. Once everyone is taken care of… there is nothing left to do but ¡Fiesta Forever!
Layered Dinner Salad Ingredients:
1: torn romaine leaves (or any lettuce)
2: prepared black beans (rinsed canned or cooked dried)
3: chopped green onions (or leeks)
4: diced Roma tomatoes (or any variety)
5: diced black olives (or green)
6: fresh cilantro leaves (or a sprinkling of dried)
7: vegan cheese (Follow Your Heart brand vegan & soy free shredded cheddar or any variety)
8: sprouted pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)
Serve with gluten-free vegan Beanito brand chips (or any tortilla type chip), fresh salsa, and homemade creamy cilantro citrus avocado dressing (or sour cream, plain yogurt, store bought dressing, or guacamole) on the side.
Gather, wash, and chop enough ingredients to fill the trifle bowl you have.
Place a layer of each of the fresh ingredients in the order listed… so that you see them through the side like giant savory parfait.
I like to arrange the top in a bullseye pattern with the last ingredients… because a whole layer of cilantro would be demasiado (way too much)!
This is awesome when served with homemade creamy cilantro citrus avocado dressing on the side.
Cilantro Citrus Avocado Dressing Instructions:
Mix all the ingredients together and then blend. (I used an immersion blender.)
This is great to make a day ahead and refrigerate until serving.
I also served the trifle salad with gluten-free vegan Beanito brand chips and fresh peach salsa… to be eaten along with the salad or as a side. (Any variety of tortilla type chip and salsa would be great.) See more of the Cinco de Mayo dinner fiesta featuring this Tex-Mex trifle salad as a centerpiece HERE.
Oh so delicioso y’all! (One simply must speak “Spanglish” at a Tex-Mex dinner fiesta.)
This double recipe for Tex-Mex taco salad in gluten-free baked tortilla bowls and salad tacos uses the same healthy fillings spiced up with creamy (yet dairy-free vegan) cilantro citrus avocado dressing. This is so that the salad eaters and the taco lovers can enjoy the same meal without creating extra work for the family chef. This is also why everything is gluten-free and dairy-free, and salad ingredients don’t require measuring. It’s also easy to please the vegans and the carnivores because the optional beef crumbles can be selectively applied… but know that meat isn’t necessary because beans with rice tortilla form a complete protein. So let the dinner fiesta begin!
prepared black beans (rinsed canned or cooked dried)
chopped green onions (or leeks)
diced Roma tomatoes (or any variety)
diced black olives (or green)
fresh cilantro leaves (or a sprinkling of dried)
shredded cheese (I used Follow Your Heart brand soy-free vegan shredded cheddar.)
sprouted pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)
diced ripe avocado (optional)
beef crumbles (optional)
brown rice tortillas (or any variety of wrap)
homemade creamy cilantro citrus avocado dressing (or sour cream, plain yogurt, store bought dressing, salsa, or guacamole)
for the crunchy bowls: grapeseed oil in spray pump (or any oil or cooking spray)
Cilantro Citrus Avocado Dressing Instructions:
Mix all the ingredients together and then blend. (I used an immersion blender.)
This is great to make ahead of time and refrigerate until using.
Taco Salad & Tortilla Bowl Instructions:
Gather, wash, and chop enough ingredients to fill up the crowd you’ll be serving. I haven’t included amounts because everyone has their own preferences regarding salad composition… I like ¾ toppings with a little lettuce! (Brown the beef crumbles in a pan now… if you aren’t vegan.)
Toss everything but the tortillas in a large mixing bowl with a portion of the prepared creamy cilantro citrus avocado dressing … or your dressing of choice. (Or serve it own the side.)
To make the baked tortilla bowl shells, spray each tortilla on both sides with oil… from a refillable mist pump or cooking spray. Press each into either an oven safe bowl or a metal tortilla baker. (Sorry about the lack of pictures for this step… oops!) Bake at 350ᵒ for about 15 minutes or so… really just watch them with the oven light on so that they can be removed when just beginning to brown, because everyone’s oven behaves a bit differently. (Note that overcooked broken shells make great tortilla chips.)
Fill these lovely creations with the tossed salad mixture, and garnish with extra cilantro and pepitas.
I serve these in rimmed salad bowls rather than on plates so that guests can break the shells to eat with the salad without making a mess.
Salad Taco Instructions:
For the non-salad eaters in the group who don’t care for salads, try making a salad taco instead.
Make this soft taco by filling a folded brown rice tortilla with the tossed salad mixture.
Now that’s something you can sink your teeth into!
♥ “Yo quiero taco salad!” said the imaginary Chihuahua spokesdog.
This allergy-friendly creamy salad dressing recipe is so tasty that no one will be able to tell that it’s vegan, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, pepper-free, and gluten-free. It’s the perfect touch for any combination of salad fixings, and a half-portion serves as the base for each of my broccoli salad and macaroni salad recipes. They are the perfect make-ahead and take dishes for everyone to enjoy at picnics or pot-lucks because they’re vegan, celiac and allergy-friendly, and have no egg or dairy to trigger food poisoning… because who would want to be responsible for that!
1½ cups soy-free vegan mayonnaise (try the Follow Your Heart brand, or any mayo)
½ cup unsweetened vegan coconut yogurt (or any plain or unsweetened yogurt)
2½ teaspoons sea salt (adjust for taste & sodium needs)
1 teaspoon celery seed (a great salad staple for a spice cabinet)
Gather the ingredients, and feel free to make any substitutions you need to. (I used a healthier mayo and combined it with yogurt to add good probiotics. It also cut out some calories without cutting any flavor at all… trust me, my grandmother would definitely let me know if it had.)
Mix the measured ingredients well, and feel free to add some of your favorite herbs to complement the salad fixings you’re pairing them with.
I like using an elegant gravy boat to serve dressing on the side… it’s less likely to end up on your tablecloth!
This particular salad contains organic romaine lettuce, heirloom cherry tomatoes, prepared beets, artichoke hearts, sprouted pumpkin seeds, dried parsley… and of course my creamy salad dressing.
Skip the watercress and cucumber, and opt for heartier fare for your Mother’s Day Tea with this easy allergy-friendly recipe for Cherry Pecan Chicken Salad. Serve this delicious soy-free and egg-free delight with gluten-free bread or crackers for all your guests to enjoy worry-free. Or just make a nutritious lunch of adorably shaped finger sandwiches for the kiddos and a stuffed tomato for yourself. Either way, try some today!
Measure and mix all of the ingredients. Add sea salt and pepper according to your taste and sodium requirements.
Here I cut the top off of a large red and purple heirloom variety tomato, and then scooped out some of the center. Then I spooned a good portion of chicken salad into it and garnished the top with ground red peppercorns and green onion.
The green and purple artisan lettuce it’s resting on, also makes a wonderful carb-free wrap for the chicken salad. Those are gluten-free vegan Mary’s Gone Crackers in the Super Seed variety… yum!
To go beyond tea sandwich triangles, simply press a cookie cutter into the bread, and fill with chicken salad. (Tulip, daisy, and butterfly shapes were my choice for the tea, but you can see bunny bread here with my carrot crouton recipe.)
Thanks Mom, for all the chicken salad you’ve made me over the years!
Lay asunder mean-spirited pranks this April Fool’s Day, by celebrating with a merrymaking menu. Meatloaf “cupcakes” with mashed potato “frosting” are sure to bring smiles to the sourest of faces, but it can also be shaped into a traditional loaf… the way your grandma used to make it. This is the style that slices best into hearty meatloaf sandwiches, perfect for the next day’s lunch. And this allergy friendly recipe sticks together perfectly, without the need for egg, dairy, or gluten. Best of all, it’s sure to replace, “Are we really having meatloaf again?” with “When can we have meatloaf again?”
3 pounds ground beef (or ground turkey or chicken)
½ almond milk (or any variety of milk)
1½ cups brown rice breadcrumbs (or any variety crumbs)
2 six ounce cans tomato paste (preferably organic)
2 tablespoons golden flax meal (or ground seeds)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
1 teaspoon sea salt (or salt replacer)
◊ if making a traditional loaf… top with organic ketchup (which has sugar instead of corn syrup) before baking
◊ for meatloaf sandwiches… add gluten-free bread, lettuce, & veganaise to the ingredient list
Mix everything (except for the ground beef) together in a bowl well.
Add the ground beef, and mix it well with clean hands.
Fill a muffin tin with your meat mixture. I lined mine with naturally non-stick parchment baking cups, but use baking spray if placing directly in the tin. The easiest way to fill these is to make giant meat snowballs, and press them into each cup. This ensures no air pockets are included. Note that the meat will rise up and shrink in as it bakes.
If using traditional loaf pans, spray them with baking spray (like coconut oil spray) before filling with the meat mixture. Note that multiple small loaf pans cook more evenly than a single large loaf. Top the mounded mixture with a generous amount of ketchup. Bake in a 350ᵒ oven for about 30 minutes (depending on your oven’s temperament).
Remember to check the center of a large loaf, or the center of the innermost cupcake, for doneness. (I mention this because I’ve actually been served raw meatloaf at a dinner party… Yikes!)
Mashed Potato Ingredients:
2½ pound Yukon Gold Potatoes (preferable because of viscosity & natural butter flavor)
1 teaspoon sea salt (or salt replacer)
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
◊ if not making this as a “frosting”… add ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil & ½ cup almond milk for creaminess
◊ for garnish “sprinkles”… fresh ground pink peppercorns (which look red to me)
Mashed Potato Instructions:
Wash the potatoes with a veggie brush and quarter cut them for speedy cooking. Peel them if you’d like the “frosting” to look more like real frosting, but I chose to leave mine on in order to preserve vitamin and fiber content. Bring them to a boil in salted water, and then simmer. (My mother insists on boiling them the entire time, and it works, so anything you do to cook them is fine so long as they’re well cooked… because raw white potatoes are actually toxic.)
The potatoes are done when they’re fork tender. Drain out the cooking water.
Add in your spices… and mash away, mash away, mash away all. (Or use the easiest and quickest method invented… the immersion blender!) Add oil and milk only if you are eating this by itself as a side dish, because it will prevent it from being as sticky… which is a good thing when you’re using it as faux frosting on a meaty cupcake. (Eaten together, you really don’t miss the oil and milk, because you’re tasting it with the flavor of the meatloaf.)
Optional Serving Instructions:
Meatloaf will leach liquid with cooking, so drain your cupcakes before serving. I actually replaced the parchment cups on mine before topping them with mashed potatoes, but they look great without the paper for a non-April Fool’s meal. Top your cupcakes with potato frosting using a silicone spoonula if you have one. (It’s a spoon-like spatula… I nicknamed mine the “Count”.)
Cut a traditional loaf into servable slices for dinner and tomorrow’s tasty lunch.
Ketchup, veganaise, and lettuce on gluten-free bread make a hearty meatloaf sandwich that will clean you out of leftovers in a hurry!
Serve these meals with a healthy dose of super-greens. This salad has romaine lettuce, fresh parsley, cherry tomatoes, sprouted pumpkin seeds, and sprouted hemp seeds. It has a creamy ranch-style dressing made of unsweetened vegan coconut yogurt seasoned with chives, marjoram, coriander, pink peppercorns and sea salt.
Unfaithfully Yours (April Fool’s Y’all!),
P.S. For other healthy mashed tater recipes, check these out:
This easy recipe for colorful carrot croutons transforms any spring garden salad into a healthy gluten-free creation. Roasting carrot slices enhances their inherent sweetness while herbs and olive oil impart crouton flavor. Use baby carrot slices for healthy vegan “bacon” bit crunch with no cholesterol. This modern twist on old favorites is a continuation of the undercover veggie series, which makes it simple to get your little bunny to eat her carrots!
sliced carrots (large carrots make crouton chips, while baby carrots make bits)
extra virgin olive oil (to drizzle over carrot slices before roasting)
your favorite dried herbs & seasoning (to sprinkle before roasting, I used sea salt and dill, but try grilling spices for bits)
fresh garden salad (I used baby kale, baby chard, baby spinach, diced English cucumber, orange heirloom cherry tomatoes, sprouted pumpkin seeds, & chopped fresh parsley)
dressing of choice (try a lemon vinaigrette with a 3 to 1 ratio of extra virgin olive oil to lemon juice plus herbs like dill & parsley)
Wash the carrots, and peel the large varieties. These baby carrots are a peel-free shortcut to orange vegan “bacon” bits. Slice as many as you like, keeping in mind that they will shrink with roasting. (A cookie sheet full is enough to top 6 side salads.)
Disperse the sliced carrots over a parchment lined cookie sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil, or generously spray them with a Misto. Sprinkle dried herbs and seasoning over them. (I chose sea salt with dill for a light garden fresh taste, but grilling spices with black pepper would be more bacon bit like.)
Roast in a 350ᵒ oven for about half an hour… this will vary greatly depending on carrot size and oven temperament! Just keep an eye on them once the edges brown, with the oven light on. (If utilizing a dehydrator, cook them at 145ᵒ for 30 minutes, and then reduce heat to 115ᵒ for 24 hours until crunchy.)
Spoon the crunchy carrot bits over any variety of fresh garden salad.
This is the perfect Valentine savory snack for the picky eater who turns away from anything green or labeled as a healthy vegetable. Who can turn down trying an adorable hot pink heart chip, even if it is an undercover veggie! The avocado’s green is also disguised as pink and creamy yumminess thanks to a couple of healthy secrets, and the seasoning can be adjusted to any taste. It’s also easy to spoon out a bit of the dip into another bowl then turn up the flavor in the first one (hence the “let us turn up the beat” veggie pun in the title). Enjoy them as a healthy chip and dip combo, or make smaller “heartbeats” to use as croutons in a salad flavored by the dip as creamy dressing!
Heartbeat Chip Ingredients:
3 beet roots (or as many as you’d like to make)
olive oil (enough to drizzle, & try any oil you prefer)
salt & pepper to sprinkle atop (or garlic salt, lemon pepper, no-salt seasoning, cinnamon & sugar, etc.)
Lettuce Turnip the Beet Dip Ingredients:
1 ripe avocado
8 ounces unsweetened vegan coconut yogurt (or any unflavored yogurt, but note that “unsweetened” is less sweet than “plain”)
1 ⅟₂ teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon beet juice (or pomegranate juice)
herbs & spices according to taste, on this particular day I chose…
♥ ⅟₂ teaspoon ground white pepper
♥ ⅓ ground ginger
♥ ⅓ teaspoon ground coriander
♥ ⅓ teaspoon ground thyme
♥ 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
♥ ⅓ teaspoon salt
♥ + lots of cracked red peppercorns & black carbon sea salt for fiery garnish
… but you might want to omit the ginger, coriander, & thyme for a more traditional taste experience J
“Heartbeats” Chip Instructions:
First wash the beets roots thoroughly, and cut off the plant tops.
Then remove the tough outer part with a veggie peeler.
The best way to prepare beet chips is to use a mandolin kitchen tool to cut really thin slices. I have a beautiful stainless steel one that can be cleaned in the dishwasher, but I wanted to make sure that you could make these at home using a knife, cutting board, and old fashioned elbow-grease! It does take a little longer, but as you can see they turned out beautifully. They also took longer to bake because the slices were thicker. If you’re trying it this way, try to cut them as thin and uniformly as possible. You can also try cutting them with a food processor.
Once you have those cut, you can use cookie cutters to press shapes into the slices. I wanted hearts for Valentine’s Day, but you can choose any shape that will fit. Tiny flowers would make delightful pink chips and look lovely atop a spring salad like healthy croutons!Take the leftover bits and dice them further to spike another meal with vitamins. You can bake these into croutons for soup or salad, or steam them with some olive oil and seasoning to add to a pilaf or veggie mix.
Toss your cut out shapes (or plain slices) with olive oil in a bowl. Then spread out your lovelies on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake these in a 375ᵒ oven, to preserve the vitamins in your veggies, for 45 minutes to an hour. If you’ve cut these thicker, by hand, add cooking time. Thinner mandolin cuts will of course finish faster. Either way, I would advise checking on them often (by turning on the oven light, not opening the door).
About halfway through the cooking time, when the top side looks fairly done like this picture, take out the tray and flip them over before returning it to continue baking. If utilizing a dehydrator, cook them at 145ᵒ for 45 minutes then reduce heat to 115ᵒ for 24 hours until crunchy.
They’re done when crispy but not brittle. Blot these with a paper towel and sprinkle with your preferred seasonings. I used the same ones (cracked red peppercorns in a mill and black carbon sea salt) that I garnished the dip with. These not only showed up beautifully on the chips but also gave them an amazing fiery zing. You can even make sweet chips by sprinkling with cinnamon and sugar like a pink veggie buñuelo!
Enjoy the heartbeat chips by themselves or prepare this Avocado yogurt dip while they’re baking…
“Lettuce Turnip the Beet” Dip Instructions:
Wash and cut open a lovely ripe avocado. They’re best when just slightly softened to the touch. The easiest way to get the seed out is to whack it with a knife, twist, and pull it out in one motion. Slice the flesh into tiny crosshatch squares right in the shell, and then squeeze it into the bowl. (I do this all the time when making my “minute guacamole”, because it can then be smashed with a spoon into the side of the bowl very easily and quickly.)
Add the lemon juice and plain yogurt into the bowl along with your favorite mix of spices… or try my crazy combination. I love to cook by adding different flavors until it just tastes right… just remember to use different spoons with each tasting. No double dipping people! J If making this into a salad dressing, just add more yogurt, lemon juice… or both.
I used an immersion blender to completely emulsify and thicken the dip, but any good blender should be fine. Of course the “smash-against-the-side-of-the-bowl-with-the-back-of-a-big-spoon” method also works… it just burns more calories.
Spoon into a pretty dish and refrigerate until ready to eat. Garnish with a contrasting seasoning like these (cracked red peppercorns in a mill and black carbon sea salt) that also serve to turn up the flavor.
I have to admit that I enjoyed this recipe so much that I would have eaten the whole thing by myself (guilt-free) had I been alone. Next time, I will be making so much more!
P.S. What are your favorite seasonings to add to dips & dressings? Tell me how you like to “turn up the flavor” in the comments section, and I may use them in a future recipe!