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The White Girl's Fiesta

I've been to Mexico once or twice, but that doesn't mean I know a thing about Mexican cuisine. As a child and teenager staying in completely touristy Mexican resorts, I thought being adventurous meant switching between hard and soft tacos or stealing sips of someone's Corona. That whole story is an excuse for the "Mexican" dinner I made for some neighbors this evening.

It's not Mexican. It has salsa and cheese and tortillas, but it's not Mexican.

It was, however, pretty tasty. I started with a spicy tomato, cheese and spinach dip:

The dip was served with some garlic cilantro salsa and some fresh, homemade store-bought tortilla chips. I'm not kidding, that dip was incredible. I had to write the recipe down for someone and Tim requested I make it again soon. Like, tomorrow. The recipe I started with is HERE, but I made a lot of substitutions/changes to it so it looked more like this.

1 Jar of Salsa (16 ounces)
10 ounces of chopped frozen spinach
1 cup of milk
5 ounces of softened cream cheese
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
Splash of red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Just thaw out the spinach and drain it, and then toss everything into a dish and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Try not to exhaust yourselves with that extensive recipe, guys. Drink a beer while it bakes or something.

Everything else was make your own wraps. Whenever I cook for other people I like to make sure they can customize their meal the way they like it. Plus, now that I have some dietary restrictions I want to get to eat what I make without making everyone else suffer.

So tonight I baked up a big batch of spicy chicken and served that with bowls of lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, chicken, salsa, sour cream (just kidding! It was Greek yogurt, but don't tell anyone) and a mix of warm corn and flour tortillas.

I take this same idea and apply it to other gatherings for baked potato bars, ice cream sundae bars or dinners where you top your own pizza with fresh ingredients. I think guests like it, but maybe they are just upset because they have to make it themselves. Could go either way.

The only sad part about the evening was that while everyone was able to dig into drinks like this:

I was forced to abstain. I can technically booze it up again, but still not with anything gluten-y. Rude. I saw an ad for gluten-free beer but somehow that seems just wrong.

Are you adventurous when it comes to ethnic cuisine?
It depends. In a new country I like to try things because I may never have the opportunity again, but at home it's pretty boring. Plus, it can be hard to find a lot of authentic ingredients here in rural Georgia.

Has anyone ever tried any gluten-free beers or have any recommendations?
Until I hear about something amazing (or halfway decent) I guess I'll stick to my wine....



  1. I LOVE Mexican food!! It's one of the best cuisines where you can make vegetarian stuff and still have it be so tasty! I try to be adventurous. I never used to step out of white people food but after meeting Dean, we started going out to dinner to all these different places and I was hooked. I love Indian food too!!

    I don't drink beer...or anything booze-y for that matter. No help there! Sorry!

  2. I love trying new ethnic foods! :) I'm not a big drinker and enjoy my occasional fruity (sweet) drink that's about it.

  3. Love love love Mexican food!

    I totally agree with you- here in Hawaii I don't venture out too much from the norm but we are pretty diverse so I guess that doesn't count. But when traveling? I try to get as close to authentic as possible because I don't want to miss out on anything.

    Example? On our honeymoon to Greece I ate olives at every single freaking port. I HATE olives here in the US but forced myself to at least *taste* them abroad.

  4. I've heard some bad things about some gluten-free beers, but I think it's still worth a try, that way you know for sure. I try to be adventurous trying new foods but sometimes I get a little leery. Everything looks so yummy!

  5. I have always been very adventurous with food -- growing up on Maui I had the "no fear" attitude!! Now of course I question EVERYTHING!

    I've tried A LOT of gluten free beers, but can't remember names of ANY! I'm so sorry!! I haven't disliked any -- but then again, that was 2+ years ago & I was on a "see-food diet" at the time... LOL!

  6. I will try any non-dairy non-onion food once.

  7. I'm pretty sure hard ciders are gluten free. I had a friend who would always drink cider instead of beer & she had celiac disease. Hard ciders are pretty tasty! I like the pear flavor ;)

  8. The dip sounds great! I am going to try your recipe. I am not a big beer drinker so I am no help there :) Looks like your meal was a success!

  9. i LUV mexican food!!! but no, i'm not very adventurous at all...i also am a total wimp when it comes to my dad makes fun of me. :)

  10. My favorite drink is hard apple cider (made by woodchuck or hornsby's). You can typically find it at the grocery store, and it is delicious, but still provides that carbonated beer texture. The only other gluten free beer that I have tried and liked has been red bridge. It tastes like a light beer. It's nothing amazing, but it is a good substitution.

  11. I love ethnic food so much. Sometimes I dream of being able to cook real Indian food. It'll never happen.

    Mike and I make taco bars at least once a month. So much fun!

  12. My sister loves "New Grist" gluten free beer. I had a sip of it and it tasted pretty good. She's also had a GF beer made by Estrella Dam (from Spain) and liked it a lot. (I have no idea if they are available in your area) And if you like cider - that's also a great option. Even as a beer lover, I go for the ciders sometimes.

    As for food - I'm definitely adventurous. I will try almost anything and in general just love food. When it comes to cooking though - I generally don't venture into cooking ethnic foods because I always feel like I'll screw it up. (though it is hard to mess up tacos so I do make them)

  13. If I tried to slip greek yogurt to my husband and called it sour cream, he would probably never eat my cooking again.

    I'll eat almost anything, but I have to draw the line at certain ethnic specialties, like the whole roasted baby bird thing that Middle easterns love.

  14. I never developed the taste for beer, so I am not missing anything. My siblings who drink Redbridge GF Beer say it's good. . . I'll stick with my tequila drinks or my jack/coke. . . even though hard liquors are often made with gluten grains, they are allegedly GF due to how it's processed. Since I only drink about five times a year I'm not going to worry too much. Pass me that bourbon now. :)

    Love mexican food. Every region has a different quality. it's evident when we go to authentic mexican restaurants on vacation. Some places everything is pretty mild without a lot of heat and other places it's like a fireplace in the mouth!

  15. I feel you on watching people drink their gluten-y beverages. I've tried ALL of the gluten free ones and I loved beers like it seems you did before the stupid wheat/dairy restrictions. (So sorry, it sucks no matter how you spin it but hopefully you feel better!) Anything sorghum based is fine enough for a couple sips but the after taste just doesn't leave me wanting anything more than that.. There is a Spanish beer called Estrella Damm Daura (they make a gluten free and non gluten free version) that is made like regular beer and then has some patented process to get the gluten out. It is DELICIOUS and the only thing that resembles the real stuff. You might want to try all the crappy ones first so that when you get this one you realize just how much of a savior it is, haha.

    Your neighbors are lucky, that all looks awesome! I am definitely going to try that dip. I hope you keep posting stuff you make/entertain with for people with Celiac/gluten intolerance/wheat allergy nonsense. I know I appreciate it!

    1. Ps. I also really like the Angry Orchard dry cider. Some of them are really sweet but that one is almost champagne-ish.

  16. cucumbers on tacos?!?! my favorite! glad to see i'm not the only one. last week I added feta to the mix ... my taco started to look very greek!

  17. Ethiopian food is my favorite! I love most ethnic foods though, at least the kind that have restaurants in my area. Mexican food - salsa, chips, guacamole - what else is there to know?

    I get massively paranoid about cooking for people and like to make it so they can customize too. That's why I'm making Ashley top her own pizza tonight.

  18. Looks delicious. I will be making that dip this weekend - looks soooo yummy!!!!

    Not very adventurous with food though I have learned to like some Indian food, love Chinese and Mexican.

  19. I am so glad you asked for GF beer ideas...I had just been wondering about this myself!

  20. I love mexican food! I just recently read about vegan wine. I'm off to a wine shop this weekend to find out more about what makes a wine non-vegan. Now I wonder if beer is vegan?

  21. I needed a recipe for an appetizer to take to a party tonight. Score! Thanks!

  22. This dip looks amazzzzing....I'm book marking this!

  23. That dip looks good! We have a lot of different kinds of foods at our place -- Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Indian. I have fun trying to make the dishes and they usually turn out pretty good! What you said is true too -- it's fun to do make your own bars when people come over!


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