We have had lots of struggles and challenges in our lives, but we've had even more blessings!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

" "Mexican Style" Bar"

    The other day I shared all of the 'details' for 'The Hot Dog Bar' we had done for our son Benson's high school graduation party.
    Seeings how we will soon be entering the season of such open houses, I figured now was a good time to share the other such 'bars' we had done for our son's graduation open houses as well.
    So today I am posting about the 'bar' we did for Brandon's. (Brandon is going to turn 24 this coming Sunday. Wow!  Brandon, I am ever so thankful God blessed us with you!!!)
    Mexican style food has become quite a booming business here in America. Notice that I said Mexican "style". Most of what we Americans consume under the title of 'Mexican', is far from authentic Mexican food. But consume it we do. In several popular ways.
    Lots of people had begun serving tacos for their open houses around the time Brandon graduated (2007). Us, being us, wanted to take it a step further. Seeings how we were still getting frequent ravings over our "Hot Dog Bar", we got to wondering if maybe we shouldn't come up with some sort of a " "Mexican Style" Bar".
    So we did. And it too got high reviews. People enjoyed the fact that they could create what they wanted out of the ingredients we had provided. Some, it turned out, knew that they liked certain dishes, but didn't have a clue as to what all of the ingredients in it actually were. Some even went so far as to write them down, so they could make it for themselves at home. ;-]

    We had typed the following out on our computer and then run off copies of it. Those we then inserted into page protectors, which we hung numerous copies of from twine over the buffet. We had also laid a protected page of it on each of the eating tables.
    You are more than welcome to do the same. For graduation open houses. Or parties. Or any other reason/occasion you come up with.

       First, I am going to give you a listing of what the page looked like. Then I will list out all of the various ingredients needed. Yup, the list is a rather long one. But when totaled up, it's not all that expensive after all {so many of the ingredients are used in multiple dishes). I will also list what else we offered to eat.

                "Build Your Own "Mexican Style" Entree' ":
                     (aka: "Mexican Style" Bar)

[we had listed the name of the dish on the left hand side of the page, then it's ingredients underneath. In a wider column on the right hand side of the page, we had written out instructions on how to assemble the ingredients. I don't know how to do that in a posting. So I'm listing the ingredients and then the paragraph underneath them is the assembly instructions.  Feel free to make your own pages which ever way you prefer.]

   Wet Burrito:
~ soft shell
~ refried beans
~ meat
~ chopped onions
~ shredded cheese
~ shredded lettuce
~ chopped tomatoes
~ enchilada sauce
~ cheese sauce
~ sour cream

    Take a soft shell and on one side of it, place a spoonful of the beans and the meat. Add smaller amounts of onions, shredded cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. Cover with small scoop of enchilada sauce. Roll tightly together, folding in sides. Place fold side down on your plate. Top with a large ladle of cheese sauce and a scoop of sour cream.

   Beef Enchilada:
~ soft shell
~ meat
~ chopped onion
~ shredded cheese
~ cheese sauce
~ enchilada sauce

~ top with black olives
~ top with sour cream

   In a soft shell, place a spoonful of meat, small spoonful of chopped onions and a spoonful of the shredded cheese. Tightly roll up shell and place seam side down on your plate. Top with scoop of cheese sauce and small scoop of enchilada sauce. On top of those toppings, pick one of the variations listed.

   Taco Salad:
~ meat
~ shredded cheese
~ tortilla cheese
~ shredded lettuce
~ chopped tomatoes
~ red salad dressing

   On your plate, place a spoonful of the meat and shredded cheese. Take a handful of the tortilla chips and lightly crush them on top (of the mixture, not just the top of the chips :-b). top with lettuce and tomatoes. Mix it all together and then top with a ladle of red salad dressing.

~ soft shell
~ meat
~ shredded cheese
~ chopped tomatoes
~ shredded lettuce
~ taco sauce

~ also add chopped onions
~ also top with sour cream

   Take your shell. Add a spoonful of the meat. Top with cheese, tomatoes and lettuce. (also add the onions if you want to). Top with sauce. (then add the sour cream is you'd like to).

   Deluxe Chips and Cheese:
~ nacho chips
~ meat
~ cheese sauce
~ chopped tomatoes
~ chopped onions
~ black olives
~ sour cream

   Place nacho (yes, your) chips (;-p) on your plate. Top with a spoonful of meat and then a ladle of the cheese sauce. Top that with tomatoes, onions, black olives and sour cream.

   Chips and Dips:
~ Nacho chips with:
   ~ cheese sauce
   ~ Pico de Gallo' dip
   ~ Bean dip
   ~ Salsa
   ~ Build your own dip:
      ~ a spoon of refried beans
      ~ a spoon of sour cream
      ~ a spoon of meat
      ~ a spoon of cheese
      ~ top that with tomatoes, onions, olives, ...

    Now for the list of all of the various ingredients needed: 
~ soft shells. Yes, some people prefer hard shells. But you deal with breakage issues, etc. with those. So we stuck to only offering the soft shells. [To keep them somewhat warm and thus more pliable, we had 'stacked them out' in rows (laying them out one on top of the other, but leaving a 1/4 inch of each one showing) on pieces of parchment paper. We then stacked several of those on top of one another in one of the warmers we had borrowed from the caterer. It would also work just fine to layer them in a sprayed electric roaster, put about 1/2 inch of water in the roaster base before putting in the liner, and then only setting the roaster on the lowest temp. available.]
We recommend using the 8" shells, and planning on two (2) per expected person in attendance]
~ refried beans.
Your best bargain comes by buying the bags of dried ones at some place such as GFS, add the moisture to them according to package directions, and then heating and serving them in a SPRAYED crock-pot.
~ meat. The economical way we chose to make enough of this, was to buy up big packages of clearance sticker ground beef ahead of time and immediately upon arrival home, stick it in our freezer. Then the Wed. before the open house, I chopped up lots of onions, and browned up all of the meat and onions. (I did larger batches at a time by using my large electric skillet). Once the meat was done, I added the taco seasoning (which I had bought in the bulk size spice containers at GFS) and the directed amounts of water. You can store your somewhat cooled cooked meat, in large (sprayed) Tupperware (R) containers.
[we recommend planning on 1/2 cup of meat per expected person in attendance.]
~ chopped onions. If your not a fan of chopping large quantities of onions yourself, GFS does sell packages of already chopped ones in one of their coolers.
~ shredded cheese. We bought the 5 pound bags of shredded cheddar.
~ shredded lettuce. Unless lettuce is really on sale, buy the bags of shredded lettuce. HOWEVER, we recommend that you do not do so until the day before your going to use them! That's the best way to avoid having it go soggy on ya.
~ chopped tomatoes. GFS also carries containers of chopped tomatoes in their coolers, for those of you who don't want to spend time chopping lots of them yourself. We HIGHLY recommend that you do NOT try chopping them via your food processor. Talk about runny! A bonus tip here --> you can chop tomatoes a day or two ahead and still have them serve-able, via chopping them to your desired size, placing them in a PLASTIC (NOT metal !!!) strainer, placing the strainer some what in a large bowl, and then wrapping all of it tightly in plastic wrap before refrigerating.
~ enchilada sauce. (This is a much better bargain when bought in the larger sized jar at GFS, Sam's Club, or some such place!)
~ cheese sauce. (This is also easier on the budget when bought in the larger size can!) Or, you can make your own using one of the Velveeta (R) recipes out there.
~ sour cream. (Rule of thumb - often the larger the container, the less price per ounce.)
~ black olives. (ditto)
~ red salad dressing. Some say that the preferred bottled dressing for taco salad is Catalina (TM). However, if you can't find that in more of a bulk size container, then just go with a dark red dressing.
~ tortilla chips. Best price is found by the case at GFS.
~ taco sauce. remember the rule of thumb.
~ Pico de Gallo' dip. If you don't make your own, you can find this in most deli sections, as well as at GFS, Sam's Club, etc.. (Make sure you attach a note to your serving bowl of it, as to whether it is the mild or the extra spicy version).
~ Bean dip. Make it or buy it, your choice.
~ Salsa. MUCH more cost efficient in the large jugs!!! (Make sure you attach a note to your serving bowl of it, as to whether it is the mild or the extra spicy version).

    And now for the list of what else we offered:
~ Tang, Pink Lemonade and Water to drink (in the large orange colored Igloo(R) coolers) 
~ Brandon's favorite kind of cake.

   (go see the Bonus Tips listed at the bottom of 'The Hot Dog Bar' posting).

    Like I said, You are more than welcome to use this idea yourself. For graduation open houses. Or parties. Or any other reason/occasion you come up with. However, if you do, we'd really like to hear what you and others thought about yours!!!

   While I was unable to find a good picture of our food buffet when looking through our saved pictures, I did find this picture of three of "our" daughters, which made me smile a-l-l the way through!!! :-> !!!
           Hey Jeannie, have you shared your thrilling news with these 'sisters' yet?  ;-]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
  I 'plan' on linking this particular posting up to:
~ "Foodie Wednesday('s)", hosted by Bibi, at 'Daily Organized Chaos' (there is nothing wrong with living with chaos as long as it's organized)  (http://www.dailyorganizedchaos.com) 
~ "Whatever Goes Wednesday('s), hosted by Michelle, at 'Someday Crafts' (http://somedaycrafts.blogspot.com/)
~ "Recipe Swap Thursday('s)", hosted by Alison, at 'Prairie Story' (http://www.prairiestory.com/) 
~ "Full Plate Thursday('s), hosted by Miz Helen, at 'Miz Helen's Country Cottage' (http://mizhelenscountrycottage.blogspot.com/)
~ "Sweet Tooth Friday('s)", hosted by Alli, at 'Alli 'n Son' (Parenting and Life with a side of Chocolate) (http://alli-n-son.com/) 
~ "Foodie Friday('s)", are hosted by "Gollum" (aka: Michael), at 'Designs by Gollum' (http://designsbygollum.blogspot.com/)

and then next week, linking up to:
~ "Melt in Your Mouth Monday('s)", hosted by Jane Doiron, at 'Make Ahead Meals For Busy Moms .. and other delicious recipes!' (http://www.makeaheadmealsforbusymoms.com)
"Making Your Home Sing Monday('s)", are hosted by Nan, at 'Mom's the Word (I love to hear)' (http://momstheword--livingforhim.blogspot.com/).
~ "Homemaker Mondays ... Yours, Mine & Ours", are hosted by Jen, at '11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven' (http://rtheyallyours.blogspot.com/).
~ "Market Yourself Monday", are hosted by Sumo, at 'Sumo's Sweet Stuff' (http://sumossweetstuff.blogspot.com/)
~ "Delectable Tuesday('s)", hosted by Stephani, at 'Home Sweet Farm' (http://www.ourjourneytoasimplerlife.blogspot.com/)
~ "Tuesday's Tasty Tidbits", hosted by Susan, at 'Permanent Posies - Creative Chaos' (http://permanentposies.com/)
~ "Tempt My Tummy Tuesday('s)", are hosted by Lisa, at 'Blessed with Grace' (http://blessedwithgrace.blogspot.com).
~ "Tuesdays at the Table", are hosted by Cole, at 'All The Small Stuff' (http://allthesmallstuff-cole.blogspot.com/).
~ "Kitchen Tip Tuesday('s)", are hosted by Tammy, at 'Tammy's Recipes' (http://www.tammysrecipes.com/).
~ "Tasty Tuesday('s)", are hosted by Jennifer, at "Balancing Beauty and Bedlam" (http://www.beautyandbedlam.com/)


  1. This is a fantastic idea. My oldest is turning 14 in two weeks and I am sure him and his always hungry friends would love to have Mexican Style bar.....and I can do it all on a budget...love it.

  2. This is a great post! I really enjoy coming to your Mexican Food Bar. You really had it all covered, awesome food and great fellowship what more is there...Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and please come back!

  3. How fun! I graduated in 2007 and we had a taco bar at my open house. It went over great!

    I've visiting from Alli 'n Son :)

  4. Um, now I'm hungry! Did I mention my favorite food is M - E - X - I - C - A - N !!

  5. Our family loves this too. We call it Mexican Pile-on and whoever is hosting the gathering, assigns each person some of the ingredients. Then we just lay it all out and if you want tacos...go for it..taco salad...go for it etc. I have never done a hot dog bar though and I bet my grandkids would like that even better. Thanks for linking up and sharing your great ideas.

  6. thanks for sharing I found your post very useful

  7. Great post! You covered it all, sounds fantastic!

  8. Great idea and now I'm craving tacos! For awhile one of my sons really liked the hard shell tacos so I bought them just for him, as the rest of us liked the soft.

    Thanks for linking up to Making Your Home Sing Monday!

  9. Ummm, YUM?! Can I come live at your house?! :)

  10. came from Jill Roed. via email - "We had a baked/mashed potatoe bar for Lyndsee's graduation! Was good!"


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