I will never turn down Mexican food. Never! It’s always been one of my favorite cuisines and I love going out for the whole Mexican meal night experience.
My daughter Kylie and I just went out to dinner the other night and ordered a giant plate of nachos. I’m not talking about the kind you can get at baseball or football games, I’m talking about crisp tortilla chips covered in gooey cheese, ground meat and a whole bunch of vegetables.
The reason I’m bringing this up now is because it’s National Margarita Day. And while I don’t always reach for a refreshing marg, I know how well they pair with Mexican dishes. So if you’re looking to throw a little fiesta at home, you can check out some of my favorite appetizers, meals and drinks below.
Best Mexican Meal Night Appetizers and Sides
Sometimes, I get full on chips and dip before my meal comes to the table! But those crunchy tortilla chips paired with refreshing salsa are hard to resist… Here are a few more appetizers you can whip up for your Mexican Meal Night.
Alton Brown’s guacamole recipe is one of those recipes you can’t go wrong with. It has a great texture and thanks to the spices, it bursts with flavor.
- 3 Haas avocados (halved, seeded and peeled)
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
Add the avocado halves to a large bowl with lime juice and toss the bowl to coat. Then, drain and reserve the lime juice after the avocado is coated. Use a potato masher to mash in the salt, cumin and cayenne. Then, fold in the onions, tomatoes, cilantro and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the leftover lime juice to the mix and let it sit at room temperature for around an hour.
Fresh and Easy Zesty Shrimp Salsa
My shrimp salsa is packed with so many layers of flavor and perfect for a Mexican meal night. In the past, I’ve served it with chips, baguette slices and sturdy pita chips, but it’s also great wrapped in a tortilla or on top of salad!
If you’d like to give it a try, you can follow the full recipe HERE.
Wonton Taco Cups
In my opinion, tacos are great in any form which is why I’m sharing these Wonton Taco Cups from Confetti and Bliss. They’re like little tacos in a bite-sized form… how cute! And while the cuteness is one of the reason’s they’re in this lineup, they’re also pretty healthy.
Don’t believe me? Check out all of the ingredients below.
- 1 pound extra-lean ground beef
- 2 Tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 envelope taco seasoning
- 1 10-ounce can of diced tomatoes and green chilies
- Cooking spray
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup fresh tomatoes
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 18 medium-sized black olives
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Brown the ground beef in a cast-iron pan over medium heat with avocado oil and taco seasoning (while breaking it up as it cooks). When the meat is no longer pink, remove the pan from the heat and add the drained tomatoes to the mix.
After, spray two cupcake pans with cooking spray and place a wonton wrapper in each of the wells of the pans (18 total). Add a tablespoon of meat to each wonton wrapper and add two teaspoons of cheese over the meat. Place another wonton wrapper over the top of each taco cup, making sure that the edges of the wrapper are slightly off-set from the bottom one. Repeat with another meat and cheese layer.
Bake the wonton taco cups for about 8 minutes in the oven but make sure to keep an eye on them! They brown quickly. And when they’re cooked, remove them from the pans and garnish each with freshly-diced tomatoes, a dollop of sour cream, sliced green onions and an olive.
A perfect finger food for your Mexican Meal Night!
Main Courses To Prepare For Your Fiesta
Tacos are a go-to when it comes to Mexican food. But the truth is that there are so many options to choose from! So I did some browsing and found a few delicious dishes you’ll have to try — from rice bakes to carnitas.
Rachel Ray’s Mexican Lasagna is unique and fairly simple to prep. Between gathering ingredients and baking, it only takes 30 minutes! Here’s what you’ll need to make it at home:
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds grilled chicken breast
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1 pack medium-heat taco sauce
- 2 Tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 can black beans, drained
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- 8 8-inch spinach flour tortillas
- 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
Start by preheating the oven to 425-degrees F. In the meantime, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil to the pan. Next, add chicken and season with the chili powder, red onion and cumin. Brown the meat approximately 5 minutes.
Now, add taco sauce, black beans and corn. Heat the mixture through (2-3 minutes) and season with salt to taste.
Get a shallow baking dish and coat it with the remaining olive oil (about 1 tablespoon). Cut the tortillas in half or quarters to make them easy to layer. Then, build the lasagna in layers of meat and beans, then tortillas, then cheese. Repeat this pattern again. Finally, bake the dish for 12-15 minutes until the top layer of cheese is brown and bubbly. Top it with scallions and enjoy!
Southwestern Rice Bake
Here’s another unique recipe that I make pretty often in my own home. I call it my Southwestern Rice Bake and it incorporates all of the flavors of a Mexican meal in an entirely new way.
I actually came up with this one when I was bored with making plain tacos. So, I took out all of the basic ingredients I use to make tacos and threw them together in a casserole. The best part about the recipe is that it’s extremely versatile. In the recipe HERE, I stuff the mix into peppers. But you can also use it as a taco filling or as a dip with tortilla chips!
Instant Pot Carnitas
Do I have any Instant Pot fans here? If so, you’ll enjoy this pork carnitas tacos recipe from OMG! Yummy. This dish takes a little longer to make but the result is super delicious and tender. You can find everything you need to make them below.
- 8 pounds bone-in pork butt
- 8 oz can tomato sauce
- Juice of 2 limes
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 6 oz beer
- 1/2 cup salsa (any type of red will work)
- 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
- 8 whole cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 chipotle peppers, roughly chopped
Begin by trimming excess fat off of the pork butt and cut it into smaller pieces. Place the meat in the Instant Pot. Next, grab a medium bowl and mix the next 13 ingredients together, pouring the mixture over the pork butt in the Instant Pot after. Set the pot on high pressure for 75 minutes, making sure the vent is in a sealing position.
Let the pressure release for about 20 minutes naturally, and release any more pressure before opening the lid. Remove the pork and place it on a large cutting board to cool. Once cool, shred it with a couple of forks and remove any large chunks of fat you find.
On a foil covered sheet pan, place a single layer of the shredded pork and drizzle it with some of the cooking juice. Then turn on the broiler and place the pork in the oven for about 5 minutes to crisp up (set at 450-degrees).
Finished! Serve it with corn or flour tortillas and whatever taco toppings you’d like.
Don’t Forget The Drinks!
They’re for some people and not for others… but margaritas are a popular drink and you can find them at almost any restaurant. Want to make some at home? I found a couple of recipes you can follow that will give you that little buzz with a bunch of flavor. After all, it is National Margarita Day!
We’re going to start off with a simple margarita recipe from Berly’s Kitchen. That way you’re sure to please everyone in attendance. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 ounce Lime Juice, (fresh squeezed)
- 1/2 ounce triple sec
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 1 cup ice
- 1 1/2 ounces tequila, (gold or silver)
- Coarse salt (for the rim of the glass)
- Lime wedge for garnish
Run a lime wedge around the rim of a cocktail glass and dip the rim in coarse salt. Next, fill the glass with ice and set aside. In a drink shaker, combine the tequila, lime juice, triple sec and simple syrup. Shake to combine.
Pour the mix into the cocktail glass over ice and garnish it with extra lime wedges. Cheers!
If you’re looking for a refreshing twist on the original, this strawberry marg from Miss In The Kitchen could be a good choice.
- 1 cup sliced strawberries (frozen or fresh)
- 1/2 cup tequila
- 1/4 cup triple sec
- 1/4 cup simple syrup cup ice
- 1 Tablespoon coarse salt for rim
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- Fresh lime slices and strawberries for garnish
For this recipe, you’ll need a blender. Add strawberries, triple sec, simple syrup, tequila and lime juice to the blender and blend until smooth. On the side, mix salt and lime zest together in a shallow dish. With a lime, wet the rim of two glasses and dip both glasses in the lime salt.
Fill the glasses with ice and pour the margarita mix inside. Next, finish the drinks with fresh lime slices and strawberries!
Oh, and I also found some festive dishes and table accessories you can use for your Mexican Meal Night. Just click on the images below to find my favorites. Enjoy!
From my home to yours,