Chill Out This Summer With A Chili Party
It's been a long, hard winter for most of the USA, but never fear...Summer is coming! Memorial Day will be here before we know it and the fun will start again. Summer, glorious summer...the time for friends, parties and fun. Long lazy days at the pool or the beach followed by hot summer nights filled with friends and laughter. Whether we are meeting new friends and reconnecting with old, themed parties are a relaxingly entertaining way to put people at ease.
Themed parties do guarantee a fun-filled time, but what is left? You've done the pirate party, the Hawaiian party, even the toga party. They were all fun, but what should you do this year? What type of party will arouse luck and life, what will excite love and romance, how will you get that feel of richness and luxury? Hmmmm, the color red is said to do all of this...what is red and hot and exciting? I know, chili peppers!
Red Hot Lights-Set the Mood
Start off with some fun novelty lights to string around your deck or yard. These lights will ensure that people can see, while being soft enough to give that intimate feel. Admit it, no-one wants to stand in that bright light outside of your door. Hang some lighted chili ristras in locations where a bit more light is required. Softly glowing red chilies will bring your yard alive with a glowing passion. (Maybe more than just your yard will become alive with passion...if you know what I mean.) The color red is said to help overcome fear, inertia and depression...three visitors you do not want at your party!
Chili Pepper Décor
Don't forget to get a tablecloth! A hot chili tablecloth will have any and all tables looking nice. People appreciate the thoughtful hostess who spreads a tablecloth between the table her man rebuilt an engine on and the food they will soon eat. Placing festive tablecloths on the tables will set the backround of the evening.
Stategically placing some posters will allow guests something more interesting to look at than your dying roses. (Dang, I knew I should have cut those back!) Posters will add to the festive feel of your party. People will commend your attention to detail.
Sprinkle in some cute tableware. I love salt and pepper shakers. Almost everyone will use salt or pepper. Novel salt and pepper shakers spark conversation. People pick them up and can't help but comment.
A perky apron will protect your beautiful outfit while you cook or lay out the food. An apron is flattering to wear as well. I have seen some darling aprons! Don't forget that May 10th is National Wear Your Apron Day!
Red Hot Plates and Glasses
Next you will need some chili pepper plates and cups. There is a large variety of inexpensive party items, so have fun shopping! I really like the chili-shaped plates and serving dishes. You can also intersperse some red, green and yellow items to save money. Try to keep away from just red and green. Remember this is a summer party, not a Christmas party!
Yellow is well known for bringing out feelings of well-being in people. Yellow is perceived as being cheerful and uplifting. Adding yellow to your color scheme aids in setting a friendlier aura to your party. Green is the color of new beginnings. Calming to the nerves and psyche, green rounds out the color scheme to set the mood you want.
Red Hot Party Appetizers
If you really want to learn how to cook with chilies you need to go to New Mexico. They know all about these peppers! Red or green, New Mexicans know their chilies. Here are some of the best appetizers in the world, straight from New Mexico.
World's Best Queso Dip (AKA The World's Best Hot Cheese Dip)
I was working nights in an ICU the first time I ever had this dip. I thought it was delicious and asked for the recipe. The other nurses thought it was hilarious when I asked for the recipe. They had assumed everyone knew how to make it. When I found out how easy it was to make, I fell in love.
16 oz Valveeta Cheese
1 can (10 oz) Rotelle Diced Tomatoes with Green Chili
Make the Dip:
Dice the Valveeta Cheese into 1/2" to 1" cubes. Open the can of Rotelle and dump it over the cheese. Cover it and microwave for 2-3 minutes. Stir the dish. If the Valveeta is not all melted, put it back into the microwave for 1-2 minutes and stir again. Repeat this last step until the Valveeta is melted. Serve with tortilla chips and/or veggies.
Best Queso Con Carne Dip Recipe:
Queso (or cheese dip) can also be made with meat. The addition of meat makes this dip somewhat more filling than plain queso. The basic recipe is the same. Brown 1/2 to 1 pound of ground beef, bulk sausage or Mexican chorizo and stir it into the cheese dip. Ground beef will not add any extra spice to this dish. Bulk sausage will add a little spice, while chorizo will add a bit more.
(By the way, have you ever wondered what chorizo is? Chorizo is a type of sausage. Mexican chorizo is made of ground pork and chili and spices and resembles bulk sausage. It has a deep reddish color and crumbles like ground beef when fried. Mexican chorizo is wonderful fried with eggs or potatoes...or both!)
Green Chili Rolls:
These are best when made on the grill. I had these at a BBQ one 4th of July in New Mexico. I don't know if you have ever smelled green chilies roasting, but it is mouth-watering in my book. As I entered the BBQ, I could smell the chilies roasting. In New Mexico, they roast the green chilies on the grill. When the skin is uniformly burnt, they place the chilies under a piece of tinfoil for about 5 minutes.
The skin of the chilies peels right off if you are patient. After they skin the chili, they slice it in half, some may scrape out the seeds (but many say that's the best part), stuff it with cream cheese, roll it up and encase it in bacon. Secured with a toothpick, back on the grill the chili goes. Once the bacon is nicely done, it's time to eat!
I have since found that Ortega makes canned whole green chilies. A seven ounce can has 5 chilis (usually). I generally get 3 cans for this recipe. You will never had any left-overs when you make this appetizer, so...better a little more than less!
For those inclement to grilling outdoors days, you can also broil this tasty creation. Preheat the broiler and place the prepared chilies on a tin-foil covered baking sheet. (Cover the baking sheet with tinfoil for an easy clean-up.) Put the chili's in the preheated oven about 5 inches from the top burner. Use the highest or second highest rack setting depending on the size of the chilies. Ensure you have at least 5 inches between the chilies and the heat source. They will still cook further away, they will just take a little longer...while, on the other hand, they won't catch on fire either...always a good thing! When the bacon seems crispy, the rolls are done. I usually cut them into bite size pieces to serve.
These appetizers are delicious hot and room temperature. You can make them up to 3 days before you need them and refrigerate them after they are cooled. To serve them remove them from the refrigerator at least 1 hour prior to serving. The cooled chili rolls are easier to cut and when I make them ahead of time, I cut them when I remove them from the refrigerator. Arrange them on a platter and serve when ready.
12 Roasted New Mexican Green Chili
8oz to 16oz Cream Cheese
1 pound bacon
Make the Rolls:
Cut the chilies in half if they are large, or cut them open if they are not large. Spread cream cheese over one side of the chili. Spread the cream cheese at least 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep, but you can use more if you like. Roll the chili up starting on the long side (roll side to side, not top to bottom).
Wrap bacon around the chili, trying to cover most of the chili. Secure with wooden toothpicks or metal skewers. Grill or broil, turning as needed, until the bacon seems cooked and slightly crispy. Slice into bite-sized pinwheels and serve. These are very chic when you spear them with a chili toothpick. (Yes, you can buy those, and yes, they are very cute!)
Be adventurous and try roasting the chilies yourself! (As described above) It is very easy and the smells will put your guests into an eating mood. The sultry and invigorating smell is relaxing and inviting.
Green Chili and Ham Quiche:
Chili and cheese...is there any better mix?! This recipe may sound strange, but the cheese and sour cream help to cure the burn and the mix gives this dish an alluring taste. A taste that gets better and better each time you have it. You will fall in love with this recipe, and (as with any great love in our lives) you will fall deeper and deeper in love over time.
1-4oz can of Diced GreenChili
1 cup of Diced Smoked Ham
2 cups of Monetery Jack Cheese
1/4 cup Minced Scallion
1 1/2 cups Sour Cream
Pastry for double-crust pie (I buy frozen pie crust for this)
Make the Quiche:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Roll the pie crust thin (about 1/16th of an inch). Cut into 40-45 rounds using a coffee mug (or a 3 inch cutter, if you have one). Re-roll the dough as needed. Lightly grease your tart tins or muffin pans and line the bottoms with the crust, pushing the crust slightly up on the sides.
Mix the eggs and sour cream in a bowl until well blended. Set aside. Mix the chilies, ham, cheese, and scallions together in a bowl. Place mixture in your tins or pans (about 1/2 inch deep), dividing amongst the containers. Pour in the egg/sour cream mixture until it just covers the chile/ham/cheese mix. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Cool slightly and serve. These are excellent hot or cold.
If you have any leftover mix, these also make great omlets! Mix all together and cook as you would an omlet. Place 2 tablespoons of cream cheese over 1/2 of the omlet. Fold the omlet over, cover and cook slowly for 1-2 minutes. Flip over, cover and cook another 1-2 minutes. Serve, eat and give your taste-buds a treat!
Red Hot Cold Drinks
Like a little spice in your life? How about in your drinks? And no, I am not talking about the same old Bloody Mary with Tabasco sauce dashed in. I am talking about some refreshingly delicious drinks that fit in with this red hot chili theme.
Chili may not seem like the ingredient of choice for a mixed drink, but those of us who have tried it know the truth. Just remember that the heat will vary greatly depending on the method used and the type of chili. The heat of a chili is measured in Scoville units. Dr. Wilbur Scoville developed this method in the early 1900s. This measurement ranges from '0' units (bell pepper) to over 1 million units (ghost pepper).
Here are some common chili peppers and how they measure on the Scoville scale:
Anaheim Chili Pepper
Serrano Chili Pepper
Habanero Chili Pepper
Chili Infused Liquor
Infusing alcohol with chili inspires and animates the alcohol. An infusion is when you seep a fruit or vegetable in a fluid to flavor the fluid. Sliced or whole, cover your desired flavor with the alcohol of your choice to make a superfabulicious new taste-bud pleasing treat.
I like to use different alcohols with different flavoring. For chilies I like to use vodka, tequila, rum or gin. A gin and tonic with a little lime made using chili-infused gin is soooo refreshingly hot on a cool summer night! Chili liquors go very well with tropical fruits juices such as mangoes, guavas and papayas. Strawberry margaritas made using chili-infused tequila are scrumptious, especially if you blend in vanilla ice-cream instead of using ice to chill it.
Basic Infusion Recipe:
1-750ml bottle of alcohol (vodka, tequila, rum, gin)
Cut the chilies in half and remove the seeds but leave the white fibers. Place the chilies in a glass bowl or canning jar large enough to fit the chilies and the alcohol. Pour the alcohol over the top of the chilies. Cover and place in a cool dark area. Mix the concoction 2-3 times a day. Let it seep for 24-48 hours.
You should begin tasting the mixture after approximately 12 hours to test it for flavor and heat. Your infusion is done when you find it has the right combination of flavor and heat. It should make your mouth tingle and be hot, but drinkable.
Strain the alcohol using a coffee filter or cheese-cloth. You can pour it back into the original bottle, or pour it into a decorative container to serve it. A decorative container helps to personalize your creation and will give it an appetizing appeal.
There is great variation in the heat of this infusion depending on the type of chilies you use and the length of time you infuse for. Have fun experimenting with different types of chilies. You can stick to one type or use different combinations of chilies. Green chilies will give your alcohol a greenish-greyish tint. Red chilies will cause the drink to have a pinkish cast. Mixing the red and green chilies may leave you with a brownish drink.
Chili Infused Drinks
Chili infused alcohols make great martinis, margaritas and other mixed drinks. Make a couple of pitchers of drinks, set them around and see which one goes fastest. Just be ready to make a few more pitchers. These drinks are red hot and distinctive additions to your party.
3 cups Chili Infused Tequila
1 1/2 cups of Guava Nector
The Juice of 5 Medium Limes
1 1/2 cups of Triple Sec
2 cups of Vanilla Ice Cream
Blend well in a blender and serve. I like to rim the glasses using a mix of regular sugar and red sugar sprinkles. Just wipe the rim of the glass with a piece of the juiced lime to moisten and turn upside down onto a plate of the sugar/sprinkle mix. Turn the glass to coat the rim evenly.
2 cups Chili-Infused Rum
1 cup Melon Liqueur (like Midori)
1 cup Cream de Coconut (like Coco Lopez)
1 cup Orange Juice
1 cup Pineapple Juice
1/2 cup Grenedine
Mix first 5 ingredients together. Fill a pitcher with ice and pour the mixture over the ice. Add Grenedine in last and let it settle to the bottom. This drink is as pretty as it is delicious!
Red Hot Chocolate Chilini
1 part Chili-Infused Vodka
1 part Creme de Cocoa
1 part Coffee Liqueur (like Kahlua)
Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir well using a cinnamon stick. Strain into your favorite glass. Garnish with the cinnamon stick.
No time to infuse? You can also have these delicious treats by muddling the chili or even by adding it as a garnish to your drink. Chili is a very versatile vegetable! All you really need to make these red hot drinks is some chili peppers and the ability to be adventurous!
Take care when you muddle chili. Muddling brings to mind the careful smooshing of a fruit or vegetable to obtain the most flavor from it. When you "muddle" a chili you may not want all of the possible heat. Just apply gentle pressure to the piece of pepper until it flattens. You can go further if you would like more heat, but a gentle flattening is all most people prefer.
You may want to add a couple of slices of chili to the drink as garnish. Just crush the chili pepper piece between your fingers slightly and toss it in. These pieces will spread the heat gradually. Adding chilies as garnish is a great way to introduce newcomers to the idea of an ice cold hot drink. The flavor sneaks up on their taste-buds and before you know it you have converted them!
Remember Hot Lips Houlihan from Mash? Did you know she was based on a real-life person? Hotlips Hammerly was from El Paso, Tx and so, they say, is this drink. Not only will it leave you with "Hot-Lips", but...if you imbibe a few, you may also live up to the "Hammerly" name.
1 oz Chocolate Vodka
1 oz DeKuyper® maraschino liqueur
1 oz Coffee Liqueur (such as Kahlua)
2 slices (1/4 inch thick) of red chili (or orange if you prefer Habaneros)
Gently flatten the chilies in a cocktail shaker. Add ice until 1/2 full. Pour in the other 3 ingredients. Shake, pour into a martini glass and hear the applause from your mouth.
1 oz DeKuyper® Watermelon Pucker schnapps
1 oz Melon Liqueur (such as Midori)
1 oz 5 Hour Energy Drink (Lemon-Lime)
2 slices (1/4 inch thick) red or green chili
Pour the first 3 ingredients into a shaker over ice. Shake, strain and pour into your favorite Martini glass. Add chili slices to garnish.
We all have them. Those manly men friends who don't eat quiche, don't play golf and don't drink foo-foo drinks. The ones who will take one look at the drinks above and ask if you have any real drinks. You know what they mean...beer, do you have any beer. To appease these towers of testosterone you should have some chili beer on hand.
You may be surprised to learn there are a few good chili beers out there. Crazy Ed has been busy in Arizona perfecting the art of brewing chili beer. Cave Creek Chili Beer has a strong chili odor, and leaves a slight burn in the mouth. Hopefully your friends are of the hot-hot wing persuasion or you may see some silly faces. My advice is have your camera ready!
The video below is very interesting, especially if you plan to infuse your alcohol. These gentlemen taste a variety of beers and discuss the different types of chilis used to make them. They also speak of the amount of time each took. An interesting and educational video.
Chili Line Dance
To round out the night, add a little dancing fun. Teach your friends the Chili Cha Cha and have a ball!
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