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Fine Dining, Baltimore Style

So the host and hostess of the twin girls birthday party had a housewarming party yesterday. They just moved into the neighborhood a few months ago from New Jersey. Free at last! I decided to make some of my favorite and easy to make party foods – queso and salsa dip. So easy, even you can do it!

Queso

This is very easy, although time consuming. I made a party sized portion, so I used two big things of Velveeta, one can of Rotel, two chopped jalapenos, and a dash of milk. I used my crock pot but you can just do it in a big pot on very low heat. You just heat it all up together until the cheese is melted. Once melted, you can add a meat of your choice. I’ve done it before with plain ground beef that I cooked up and I’ve also done it with chorizo, which makes the whole thing a bit spicier. The party was dictated to be veggie only, so I put in some Morningstar Farms fake meat crumbles, and it worked out quite fine.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

This one is even easier than the queso, as no cooking is required. You take a jar of salsa (mine happened to be the chunky salsa from Trader Joe’s). You also take a can of black beans and a can of white shoepeg corn and then mix them all together. And voila! You have a deliciously easy salsa that will definitely be a hit at parties.

Another guest brought a chick pea curry. I didn’t try it, but it looked delicious and they brought it in a blue le creuset pot. Must be nice! The hostess made some cream of potato soup. It was great! But would have even been greater if there were big hunks of bacon in it! They also took the cuban black beans they had made for the other party, had frozen it, and this time they took some leftovers and heated them up and just blended it in a blender. It made one of the best black bean dips I’d ever had! The ziti also made a comeback and was excellent as usual.

I didn’t get to stay at the party very long as I went down to Baltimore to go to a concert. We got there fairly late and it was taking place in a rather sketchy neighborhood. We were hungry so we wanted to eat and asked a passerby where food was. He pointed us to two blocks away but warned us that it was “kinda wild” over there. OH BOY. So by “kinda wild” he meant that’s where all the strip clubs are. Eeg. But amongst the dozen strip clubs, sex shops, and adult video stores was a pizza shop, fried chicken place, and a Subway. We decided that the best bet would be Subway. I think the last time I ate at Subway was about 2 1/2 years ago! I went with the meatball sub which was actually good. But I did not take any pictures of it (I’m sure you guys can imagine it) as I did not want to get shanked! Food related highlight of the evening – having a drunkard spill Sparks in my eye. You know, Sparks, that malt beverage energy drink? Yeah, it stings in the oculars…

Cuban birthday bash

On Saturday I went to my first birthday party for 3 year old twin girls. I love party food because I love appetizer and hors d’oeuvre type of stuff. I never order that type of stuff when I go out to eat, but I love to eat it at parties. Half of the party is of Cuban descent, so there were lots of Cuban dishes. But there was certainly one of my favorite classic party foods – deviled eggs! I love me some deviled eggs. And these were delish.

We also had cheese and crackers, some fruit, some 7-layer dip (or 7-ish), guacamole from Whole Foods (surprisingly zesty and good), and a baked brie for the appetizer type stuff. For entrees, we had Cuban goodness – rice and black beans, tortilla (not Mexican tortilla), baked ziti, salad, and tamal en cazuela.

The rice and black beans were great. The hostess said she had messed up the beans, but then the host miraculously salvaged them. I wouldn’t have even noticed. The tortilla is not flat round flour or corn based coverings for tacos or burritos. It’s an egg dish, and this one had potatoes in it. Baked in a round dish, sort of like a fritatta. I didn’t eat it, but I heard it was a bit bland. The ziti were delish, but nothing even came close to the tamal en cazuela. Basically, the tamal is if you took tamale innards, and didn’t put them in the corn husks to physically make tamales. Instead, you cooked it in a pot. Normally, they make it with chunks of pork, but because the hosts were vegetarian, abuela made this version meat free. But it was still great. But I’m sure it would have been heavenly if it had big chunks of pork in it. As Anthony Bourdain says, everything tastes better with pork.

There was cake, of course, and crazy 3 year old girls putting out candles when they wish, not when we were done singing. They also do a great job of eating rice with their hands. I had no idea that this party would have so much food, and such excellent Cuban food. The best 3 year-old twin birthday party ever.
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