Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Penny Pinching Party: Fiesta

Challenge: Plan a party for 10-15 under $20.

Theme: Mexican

  • Guacamole with Tortilla Chips
  • Papaya
  • Mexican Cheese Dip with crackers
  • Water with lime
  • Churros with Chocolate

Guacamole and Tortilla Chips

Guacamole Recipe

2 medium very ripe avocados, seeded, peeled, and cut up (3 for $1.00 @ Sprouts)

1/2 of a small onion, cut up

1/2 of a 4-oz can diced green chiles or several dashes bottled hot pepper sauce

1 T snipped cilantro or parsley

1 T lemon or lime juice1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 t salt

1 medium tomato, peeled, seeled, and finely chopped (optional)

In a blender container or food processor bowl combine avocados, onion, chili peppers (or hot sauce), cilantro, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Cover and blend or process till mixture is smooth, scraping sides as necessary. Stir in tomato, if desired. Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and chill up to 24 hours. Serve with chips. Makes about 2 cups (16 servings).

1/2 papaya with lime

Water with lime slices (Limes 5 for $1.00 @ Sprouts)

Mexican Cheese Ball (Dip)

Mexican Cheese Ball Recipe
2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 (8 ounce) blocks cream cheese, softened ($1 ea @ grocery store)
4 green onions, chopped ($0.50 @ grocery store)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese ($2/lb @ sprouts)
1/4 cup taco seasoning (I have it in my pantry; a large container @ Costco costs $4)
1/4 cup picante sauce

  1. Toast the pecans at 275 degrees for 20-30 min - do not burn. Stir together nuts with butter and salt and set aside to cool.
  2. In a food processor, blend remaining ingredients until thoroughly combined. Shape into a ball and roll in the cooled pecans.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Serve with the tortilla or corn chips.

(The picante sauce didn't want to pour out of the container into the blender, so I tried to tip it up a little higher to coax it out. I guess my coaxing persuaded the sauce so well, it decided to gush out. Therefore, my cheese ball ended up as dip instead. But it received high accolades from the tasters!)

Churros drizzled in chocolate

I N G R E D I E N T S (all of them in my pantry)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
6 egg yolks
oil for deep frying
powdered sugar for dusting

  1. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside. Bring the measured water to a boil in a saucepan, add the salt and brown sugar, stirring constantly, until both have dissolved. Remove from heat, add all the flour and baking powder and beat the mixture continuously until smooth.
  2. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Set the batter aside to cool. Have ready a churro maker or a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle, which will give the churros their traditional shape.
  3. Pour oil into a deep-fryer or-suitable saucepan to a depth of about 2 inches. Heat to 375"F, or until a cube of dried bread, added to the oil, floats and turns golden after I minute.
    Spoon the batter into a churros maker or a piping bag. Pipe five or six 4-inch lengths of the mixture into the hot oil, using a knife to slice off each length as it emerges from the nozzle.
    Fry for 3-4 minutes or until they are golden brown. Drain the churros on paper towels while cooking successive batches, then arrange on a plate with the lime wedges, dust them with sugar and serve warm.
Chocolate Churro Dipping Sauce ($3 for chocolate)
This is thickened chocolate sauce used to "dip" (or dunk) your churros.
4 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 tbsp sugar
Place the chocolate and half the milk in a pan and heat, stirring, until the chocolate has melted. Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining milk and whisk into the chocolate with the sugar. Cook on low heat, whisking constantly, until the chocolate is thickened, about five minutes. Add extra cornstarch if it doesn't start to thicken after 5 minutes. Remove and whisk smooth. Pour into individual cups or bowls to allow each person a cup for "dipping". Do not pour the chocolate over churros because it will just make them soggy.
  • Choose a theme. Themes are fun, and they provide direction to the planning.
  • Prepare dishes from scratch. It takes a little more effort, but it's a money-saver, and it shows your guests that you like them enough to spend extra time on them.
  • Choose recipes that use items you already have. It's helpful to take a quick inventory of items in your kitchen.


  1. I am so excited to try making my own churros now! You made it look/sound so easy . . . I'm gonna have to see if I can do it without making a fool of myself or starting an oil fire!

  2. Before you try the churros, check the recipe again. I had to change the original one I had posted to get good results (notice: 3 C water instead of 2 1/2 and 6 egg yolks instead of 2).

  3. I am so very impressed you fixed your washing machine!

    Will you move in with me?