Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fiesta Carolina Style--Fiesta Cups

The sky is Carolina blue. The football stadium at UNC is a perfect setting for a graduation. We sit in acquiesced attendance. Speechified out. By the seventh oratory, the mind tends to sway, bewitched by warm sunshine and the sea of blue caps and gowns. It drifts to my daughter's graduation, at the same stadium two years ago under dreary skies and misty rain. Today is the antithesis of that day.  Last night's torrential rain has given way to Simpsons-blue skies. I think about last night's celebration for the grad-to-be. Wine, punch and enough beer for friends and family. A veritable feast of favorites. An arresting banquet and lots of leftovers. An evening celebrating  friendship, love and success.

I am in North Carolina to cheer on with my dear friend Vini. The second musketeer +Geeta Rodrigues , joins us as we indulge in one of our favorite pastimes, planning and cooking a festive meal.  Thirty years ago we arrived in the US as three newly married women. We began our friendships in the angst of familial separations. Leaving parental and sibling relationships behind to begin a new one in a distant land, is one of our most arduous of challenges. With that being one of the common factors, we have forged a friendship I know will continue with our next generation. We celebrate our children's lives, cry on each other's shoulders when life throws us a curve-ball and most importantly, work together seamlessly in each others kitchens when occasions call.

In Vini's sun-dappled kitchen, we laugh a lot. As always, we have plenty to reminisce about. I love my husband dearly, but I cherish my girlfriends too!! And it helps when we have so much history to laugh and talk about! Each of us unabashedly discusses our foibles as we go about our given tasks. The menu has been discussed and planned a week before. The planning has been the most fun. Lists are made and misplaced. Items on the list are constantly deleted and reinstated. The yin and yang of the table is a much debated affair. This time we plan to fill the table with finger food. Or shall we say, "fork-able" food.

So we brainstorm. Vini, the resident dessert queen, is in charge of her forte. She wants to make little Reese's Pieces chocolate caps with UNC colors. We work industriously at putting this confection together. Expletives fly unrestrained across the table as it takes dexterity and patience!

She also dips strawberries in chocolate. Baklava and a superb Tres Leches, compliments of friends, grace her table.

 Desserts galore!

Geets and I manage the savory part. She volunteers smoked salmon crostini. I make mini risotto cakes. She makes garlicky white beans crostini. I make kale pesto orzo salad. Geets makes herb-roasted purple and red potatoes. I make asparagus marinated in sesame seed and soy sauce dressing. Catered shwarma, falafel wraps, veggie puffs and chicken samosas round off the table. Vini insists on hot ham and cheese sliders. 

The three musketeers assemble a Mexican dip, miniature-style---- a Pinterest pin come to life. It is a fiesta in a diminutive cup!

Fiesta Cups
Makes 40 to 50 mini cups


1 14oz can Refried Beans
1/2 packet Taco mix ( McCormick brand)
1 14oz jar Salsa
1 to 2 packets pre-made Guacamole
1 cup Sour Cream
2 cups shredded Mexican Blend Cheese (cheddar & Monterey Jack )
Cilantro to garnish
Tortilla chips

50 miniature plastic cups
50 miniature plastic forks

Open the can of Refried beans and put the contents into a bowl.

Add the taco mix spices to refried beans and mix well. Keep aside .

Drain the salsa in a colander, discarding the juices. Keep the chunky pieces in a bowl as you prep.

Have all the items in place as you begin.

Start with a teaspoon of Refried beans at the bottom of the cup.

Top with a teaspoon of guacamole.

A teaspoon of salsa goes over the guacamole.

This is followed by a teaspoon of sour cream.

A generous sprinkle of Mexican cheeses top the sour cream.

Garnish with a cilantro leaf and a mini fork.

Arrange a tortilla chip as a dipper alongside the fork.

Chill to set or leave in a cool spot.

Serve at room temperature.


This sounds awfully easy and it is! Just give yourself time. It's goes faster if you have friends to form an assembly line as we did!!!!

I used store-bought salsa and guacamole. I'm sure homemade will taste wonderful too!

A bowl of chips on the side works well too.

The open house is over. There's still plenty of food left. Vini's boys and +Nikita Rodrigues  lay claim to most of the leftovers. We are delighted that Tupperware will be emptied. The grad-Ranjit, walks around with a huge smile, beaming from ear to ear. He looks like the cat that ate the cream, or at least the chocolate caps! He makes all of us really proud. The graduation ceremony ends with an acapella performance by the Clefhangers. Their version of James Taylor's Carolina On My Mind brings out mixed emotions for me. It couldn't have ended on a better note!

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