Thursday, October 26, 2017

Taco Party!!

Last weekend we had a wonderful dinner to celebrate FOUR October birthdays in our family.  My mom, my nephew, and my brother's fiance and her son: they all have their birthdays within about 8 days. That's nutty! Several years ago, we decided to just lump all these loved ones into one celebration. Ha ha.

Back in the olden days, when my grandpa was still alive, we used to have family dinners quite often. We've got a wide range of appetites and dietary preferences in our family... so family dinner can be kinda complicated. At some point, I think it was my mom who realized that a Make-Your-Own-Taco-Bar is the way to go!! Everyone can just make their favorite tacos... This year I was hosting, and so I told everyone what I was going to make, and let them know that if they wanted any non-vegan items, or other favorites, they should bring that for themselves. Perfect!

Here's the glorious spread!

I couldn't quite get everything in all one picture -- but this is most of it! I made and assembled all sorts of toppings:
 Cabbage Slaw 
(a mix of the recipes from Viva Vegan! and The Taco Cleanse)
Pickled Red Onion
Chipotle Tomato Sauce
6 kinds of Hot Sauce (from the fridge)
Fresh Salsa
Vegan Cheese (Chao tomato cayenne)
Fresh Cilantro and Green Onions

My mom and my aunt brought along an excellent array of all sorts of drinks, and my brother brought a few non-vegan items for himself and his kiddos. Such a peaceful way to accommodate everyone's needs!

more more more

As you can see, I went crazy with the tortillas. I bought crunchy taco shells, handmade corn tortillas, mini corn tortillas, and corn + flour combo tortillas. Everyone's got their favorite kind of tortilla! 

For substantial fillings, I made:
-- A Huge Batch of Refried Beans. I used the excellent recipe from The Taco Cleanse. I really love that recipe, it takes a couple hours, but it doesn't really take much work. You just have your beans simmering away while you putter around the house doing other things and getting ready for your taco party.

-- Fajita Peppers and Onions. Again, I turned to my trusty source: The Taco Cleanse. I LOVE the fajita recipe in that book sooooo much - super flavorful and quite spicy. The original recipe calls for soy curls, which I personally am crazy about. But I thought that might freak out some people in my family, so I just left them out and made a big batch with just peppers and onions and all spicy goodness.

-- Saucy Portabello and Butternut Tacos - (recipe here) from The Minimalist Baker. I'm not usually much of a mushroom fan, but I thought this might appeal to a wider audience, instead of using any "meat replacement." In fact, it was a really great recipe! And the tomato-chipotle sauce is very good! To my own surprise: would definitely make again. 

Our birthday honorees:
My sister-in-law (she was sick and couldn't come! boo hoo!)
My Nephew (he is learning to drive!)
My Nephew (he recently moved to Austin, my mom brought a cardboard cutout of him!)
My mom (75 years of greatness!)

isn't that pretty?

Beautiful Baked Tart

For dessert, I asked my trusted community of vegan pals: what is a good appley dessert to make? I had so many ideas, but one of my friends suggested this Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel Sauce, from Smitten Kitchen. This recipe is a total hit: just enough fussiness to be sort of satisfying, but actually not much work at all, very beautiful, and super delicious! I used store-bought puff pastry -- something I almost never buy, and it's just such a special treat. Most store-bought puff pastry is accidentally vegan, by the way! I think the one I used was Pepperidge Farm. 

In order to veganize this recipe, I used Miyoko's NonDairy Butter for the butter, and I used homemade cashew cream (soaked cashews blended with a bit of water) for the heavy cream in the caramel sauce. 

I got all wrapped up in the moment and forgot to take pictures, but to serve the tart, I made little personalized birthday flags on toothpicks, and jabbed a candle into the tart for each bday honoree. 

It was such a sweet evening together. Perhaps Taco Buffet is the answer that will bring peace and harmony to all future family dinners!!! 


  1. Your family gatherings are the best!

  2. What fun!! Anyone can get behind a taco party. I need to wrangle some friends and do the same. You really know how to celebrate.

  3. I love reading about all of your gatherings!
    Perhaps a taco party is the secret to world peace? It can certainly bring everyone together.

  4. Everything looks delicious! My mother also decided years ago that taco night is the way to happily feed our large family. She sometimes changes it up with Mediterranean night. Yellow rice, pita or flat bread, chopped cucumber tomato salad, pickled red onions, roasted red peppers, roasted cauliflower, kalamata olives, pickled red cabbage, za’atar roasted chick peas, falafel, harissa, hummus, baba ganoush, lemon tahini sauce, tzatziki (made with a blended cashew or soy yogurt base).Such a fun way to please everyone.

  5. All of this looks so good! This is the second time this week I've seen someone mention that apple tart from Smitten Kitchen. It turned out so beautifully and sounds delicious!

  6. What an amazing spread. I'd be delighted to get an invite to a party with all that glorious food there!

  7. I somehow LOST your blog link for a while there! I've re-done my blogroll - glad I found you again! I will add you ASAP! And visit more frequently again! This spread looks STELLAR, btw!!!!

  8. You really do have the best celebrations. A taco party is perfect and I love how many different types of tortilla you got! The tart looks amazing too, apple tarts are the best and it's the perfect fruit for this time of year.


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