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Great Dish Ideas for Your Cinco de Mayo Party

Getting ready to host a Cinco de Mayo party at your home this year?

Read below for some dish ideas to serve as you host a great party honoring Mexico’s victory in 1862 against France in the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexico War.

(Note that Cinco de Mayo is a rather minor holiday in Mexico itself; it’s evolved in the U.S. into a day that celebrates Mexican heritage and culture.)

No matter if you decorate your home with colors of Mexico’s flag (red, yellow and green) or if you have lively Mexican music playing in the background, you must provide great food. The party will be a bust without it (or a success, no matter what).

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Read below for some ideas as to what Mexican/Tex Mex dishes to serve at your party.

  • Start with guacamole and chips that your guests may nosh upon when they arrive. Guacamole is delicious and the avocados it’s made of provide your guests with some heart-health benefits.
  • For those who don’t like guacamole – or as an additional dip – create a lovely salsa dip with tomatoes and cucumbers. In fact, consider keeping some large cut cucumber slices in a bowl nearby that your guests may use to dip into the salsa (instead of the usual tortilla chips).
  • Offer shrimp-filled quesadillas with some ground chipotle chili for zest.
  • Create mini crab nachos. Create a crab dip and instead of placing tortilla chips nearby, place the dip in small bowls made of corn tortillas.
  • If providing your guests with a make-your-own-fajitas buffet, be sure to provide some delicious and sizzling hot carne asada as your meat.
  • Offer guests Mexican veggie stacks of grilled vegetables spiced with chili.
  • For dessert, offer coconut flan or bake subtly-sweet Mexican Wedding Cookies.

Parties should be fun for everyone, including the hosts. If you’d rather not cook (and serve and clean) for your Cinco de Mayo party, contact the catering arm of Mattito’s Tex Mex restaurants.

We’re also open Cinco de May (May 5), but we expect to be pretty busy. Contact the Mattito’s nearest you for reservations.

Image by Eric Shalov at fr.wikipedia (Transferred from fr.wikipedia) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

5 Reasons Why Tex Mex Will Always be Popular

Do you think Tex Mex cuisine someday will wan in popularity?

We sure don’t!

Here are five reasons why Tex Mex food will always be popular:

  1. Tex Mex aficionados know that this cuisine is not only delicious, but also good for you. The dishes tend to have a lot of minerals and vitamins within them (so many vegetables!), and so long as you don’t pile on the guacamole and cheese, a Tex Mex meal can be low in fat and calories. In addition to the aforementioned vegetables, Tex Mex dishes often include such healthy foods as black beans, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and peppers. Many dishes now can come served with chicken or fish instead of beef, making the dishes even healthier.
  2. Tex Mex food is just comforting. There’s something about the tortillas (starch), the beans (starch) and the meat (protein) that help Tex Mex dishes stick to our ribs, satisfying our need for being filled.

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  1. The chilies. More to the point: the flavors of the chilies. There’s hot. There’s mild. There’s sweet. Don’t forget smoky. If you love how chilies can bring out a meat’s or a dish’s flavor, you’ll never tire of Tex Mex cuisine.
  2. Desserts are subtle in their sweetness. So much of American desserts are thick with rich icing, chocolate, cream, cheese cake, and on and on and on. Tex Mex desserts, on the other hand, offer a sweet taste that’s more subtle in its sweetness. Many people are tired of being bombarded with sugar; Tex Mex desserts offer a hint of sweetness and plenty of flavor.
  3. Tex Mex dishes are growing in popularity all over the globe. Once a dish enters global status (hellooooo American hamburger), it’s almost impossible to see it disappear.

Do you need your weekly or monthly “fix” of great Tex Mex cuisine? Then make sure you visit the Mattito’s location nearest you. We look forward to helping you get your need for Tex Mex food met!

Photo courtesy Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Your Easter Supper Done Tex Mex Style

If you’re wondering what to cook for Easter dinner, you may decide to go the traditional route and serve a delicious ham (yum!).

But why not break from tradition and – especially because you live in Texas – serve an Easter supper that has some Tex Mex/southwestern cuisine roots?

For example, the ham. Why not make a ham with a chipotle-pineapple glaze? The glaze makes the ham smoky and spicy; the chipotle peppers with their seeds see to that. (To keep the glaze mild, remove the seeds from the peppers.

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Easter supper just isn’t Easter supper without ham as the main dish.

Mashed potatoes are almost required during Easter supper. So to make them more Tex  Mex worthy, add a clove or two of minced garlic mixed in with your butter and milk.

Another must-do Easter side usually is asparagus, To celebrate your meal Tex Mex style, place a lemon glaze on your asparagus.

Easter isn’t Easter without cornbread. To add some Tex Mex influence to it, make green chili cornbread.

As for dessert, remember that there’s no Easter Bunny in Mexico, so there are no chocolate bunnies or jelly beans to eat. Instead, serve your Easter supper guests coconut cake with a side of lime or pineapple sorbet.

Once your children have found all of their Easter eggs, make deviled eggs out of them, but do so with a Tex Mex twist: make the filling with roasted red peppers, paprika, garlic cloves, fresh chives, and even chopped almonds!

Mattito’s restaurants are open Easter Sunday, during our usual hours. Make reservations for your large party (6-20 people) by contacting the Mattito’s location nearest you. We look forward to celebrating the Easter holiday with you and your loved ones.

Photo courtesy voraorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Easter Celebrations in Mexico

Easter in Mexico is one of the most important religious holidays of the year; many consider it to be more important than Christmas because Easter is considered such within the Catholic faith. Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geographia (INEGI) reports that almost 90 percent of Mexican practice Catholicism. Hence, Easter’s importance within the country.

The week leading up to Easter Sunday is known in Mexico as Semana Santa (Holy Week), which starts on Palm Sunday (known as Domingo de Ramos) to Easter Sunday (Domingo de Pascua). However, many school children have two weeks off during this time, so both the week before and the week after often are said to make up the Semana Santa holiday celebrations.

This two-week break often makes up a Spring Break for residents of Mexico. Like many Americans celebrating their own Spring Break, many Mexicans head to the beach at this time, so be prepared if you find yourself heading to the country’s gorgeous beaches the weeks before and after Easter.

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You won’t see or hear any mention of the Easter Bunny in Mexico during the Easter season.

Mexicans celebrate Holy Week starting on Palm Sunday with a parade of a man portraying Jesus riding a donkey through town as residents strew his path with palm fronds (this commemorates Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem the Sunday before his crucifixion).

Maundy Thursday is celebrated with foot-washing ceremonies (to commemorate Jesus’ washing the feet of his apostles), as well as visiting up to seven churches.

Good Friday sees somber processions in many Mexican cities and towns of Jesus carrying his cross to his crucifixion. Passion plays, which depict the actual crucifixion, also often are produced in towns throughout the country.

Easter itself is celebrated quietly – no Easter Bunny and his baskets of candy – in Mexico, with entire families heading to Mass. Some cities, however, do celebrate later in the day with fireworks and parades with music and dancing.

Visit one of our many Mattito’s locations during your Spring Break to enjoy the best Tex Mex cuisine in the Dallas and Frisco areas.

Photo courtesy Idea go/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Menudo Done Right

Have you heard that menudo is, well, disgusting? Not tasty? Just plain ugh!?

If so, then you haven’t had menudo done right, because when menudo is cooked and made correctly – OMG! It’s heaven on earth.

We kid you not.

For the uninitiated, menudo is a traditional Mexican soup made primarily of – are you ready? – a cow stomach (tripe) broth that has red chili peppers as its base. The soup also includes chopped onions, lime and chopped cilantro. Crushed oregano and red chili peppers also often make their way into menudo.

First, a truth: menudo does stink when cooking the cow stomach. It just does. The smell has nothing to do with how good the soup will – or won’t – taste once completed. The tripe itself can look repulsive.

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Yes, you read that correctly: menudo is a soup made from a cow’s stomach (tripe).

Some people describe the smell of cooking tripe to be akin to the odor emanating from a barnyard. Understand, however, that, when done right, finished menudo doesn’t smell of poop, it smells of the chili, oregano, and other spices. It smells pretty darn…OK.

Yet (also when done right) menudo tastes delicious!

Menudo done right should have the tripe cooked to the point where it’s tender (but will still have a bit of the rubbery “feel” of tripe). The broth should taste something like tortilla soup, but a bit less smoky. The tripe itself should be mild, allowing you to savor all flavors brought about by the chilis, cilantro, oregano, etc.

Menudo traditionally is a family food and is made for the entire household. It can take a very long time to make – tripe take hours to cook—and so it’s often associated with love – someone took hours to make this – and the warmth of family. Menudo often is cooked by several people at once, making it something of a communal activity, and then eaten as a feast.

Many people believe menudo makes a great hangover remedy.

The soup often is served at breakfast.

We don’t offer menudo on our menu here at Mattito’s (we’re not open in the early mornings, after all). But if you must have it, contact us and we’ll see what we can do. (Be sure to give us a few days’ notice because of the time it takes to cook menudo right.)

Photo courtesy dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Spring Break Tex Mex Party Ideas

There’s little that says Fiesta! louder than a party to herald Spring Break.

And there’s little that says Fiesta! louder than a Spring Break party with Tex Mex food.

As spring approaches, so do Spring Breakers. Whether you’re heading out of town to go to your favorite Spring Break destination (or leaving town because you live in a favorite Spring Break destination), or if you’d just like to have a party to celebrate the arrival of spring (“Hello, Outdoors! I’ve missed you!”), why not throw a great Tex Mex party to celebrate the arrival of the spring equinox?

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It’s SPRING! Time to celebrate with a Spring Break Tex Mex party!

Of course, your Tex Mex Spring Break party needn’t be held outdoors (spring temperatures can be a bit on the cool side).

But you can celebrate spring indoors or out with colorful Tex Mex dishes such as fajitas. Offer a taco bar where guests can “build” their own tacos and top them with tomatoes, cheese, peppers, and more. Do you want to serve nachos? Why not serve giant, gargantuan nachos! As a meal! (Get some large corn tortillas – 4 to 6 inches in diameter — the ground beef, the olives AND the sour cream and you’re set).

Make sure you place lots of red, yellow and green decorations around your party site. Include balloons, streamers, placemats, colorful plates, glasses, and silverware.

Get a CD playing of lively Tex Mex tunes and/or your favorite songs that just “speak” Spring Break to you: music by the Beach Boys, The Beatles, Katy Perry, Lada Gaga, Beyonce, and more.

As for the cooking, why cook? After all, it’s Spring Break, with the emphasis on Break! Give yourself a much-deserved respite from the cooking and let Mattito’s cater your party for you. We can bring you such dishes as:

  • Beef and chicken fajitas
  • Beef fajita skewers
  • Chicken flautas
  • Beef tamales
  • Beef, chicken, spinach or cheese enchiladas
  • Set up a taco bar
  • Refried beans
  • Spanish rice
  • And more

In addition to the food itself, we also can provide china plates for our entrées, stainless flatware, cloth napkins, chaffing dishes, buffet tables and even fiesta décor!

Celebrate the arrival of spring the right way – with ease, with fun and with great Tex Mex food! Contact Mattito’s today!

Photo courtesy ratch0013/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Spanish Cuisine’s Influence on Tex Mex Food

That Tex Mex dish you enjoy so much at Mattito’s? You can thank Spain – partly – for it!

Tex Mex food actually comes to us from Mexico, but it wouldn’t be the food we love today without some influence from Spain.

How? Spain colonized Mexico through the early 1500s to 1821. Naturally, Spaniards brought their culture’s foods with them, influencing the cuisine of Mexico (while also being influenced by Mexico’s food).

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Tex Mex cuisine comes to us, in part, from the days of Spanish control over Mexico.

The foods that would become known as Tex Mex, actually come from the Tejanos, who are Texans of Mexican descent. Tex Mex cuisine is a melding of native Spanish and Mexican foods.

Tex Mex food in the South Texas region of the state hasn’t changed much, having always been influenced by the foods found in Mexico’s northern states.

The cuisine started taking on a more Americanized flavor in the 1900s as it added more ingredients such as cheese and used meat as a main ingredient rather than as a side dish.

Wikipedia.com reports that the first known usage of the term “Tex Mex” in reference to the cuisine was found in a 1963 article in New York Times Magazine. The terminology really took off, Wikipedia reports, when the well-known – and influential – food author Diana Kennedy discussed the difference between true Mexican food and Americanized Mexican food in her book (1972), The Cuisines of Mexico.

When the need strikes for great Tex Mex food – and believe us, we know how strong that need for a great taco, fajita, enchilada, burrito, or margarita can be when it strikes – get yourself over to the Mattito’s location nearest you for some delicious Tex Mex cuisine. Contact us today!

Photo courtesy Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Tex Mex Food Can Blast Away the Mid-Winter Blues

While winter here in Texas doesn’t get as cold as it does in Minnesota or Massachusetts, it can ice up on some winter days in some parts of the Lone Star State.

Regardless, it does get darker earlier in the winter months than in the heady days of summer. It often is more cloudy/gloomy.

Also, when it’s dark at 5 p.m. and doesn’t become fully light until 7:30 a.m. in mid-January, it’s very easy for Texans to succumb to the mid-winter blues, too.

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Mid-winter blues have a hold of you? Eat Tex Mex!

Tex Mex food can help beat these winter blues. How?

Read below.

  • Tex Mex food tends to be colorful. Take the fajita. Yes, it’s filled with delicious steak (brown), but don’t forget the gorgeous reds, yellows and greens of the dish’s bell peppers, the fiery reds of tomatoes. The cheerful green of the guacamole. It’s difficult not look at a Tex Mex dish such as the fajita without putting a smile on your face.
  • Tex Mex dishes can also be full of vitamins (all those delicious vegetables) and vitamins are known to keep one’s health optimal and one’s mood high.
  • While they may not be exactly healthy (to put it lightly), refried beans are probably only third or fourth to peanut butter, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese as the perfect comfort food for a dreary day. Refried beans are so stick-to-the-ribs and filling, a serving (or two) on a gloomy day is sure to raise one’s spirits.
  • Not that we want you to over-imbibe, but a single margarita on a cloudy and gloomy day is sure to make you look at the world a little more cheerfully.
  • Many Tex Mex restaurants provide small mariachi bands that walk around the establishment playing lively Mexican love songs and ballads. We absolutely dareyou to listen to a mariachi band and remain blue.

Sure, it’s nearing the end of February and the sun is rising earlier and setting later. But if you still feel yourself battling some sort of mid-winter blahs, visit the Mattito’s location nearest you for some spirits-lifting, delicious Tex Mex cuisine!

Photo courtesy rakratchada torsap/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Tex Mex Differs from Traditional Mexican Food

Tex Mex food often is used to describe Mexican food in restaurants today.

But real Mexican food – that which is found in Mexico – is quite a bit different from the cuisine we refer to as Tex Mex.

The food we serve here at Mattito’s, got its start from the Tejano culture that’s so vibrant here in Texas. (Tejanos are people of Mexican or even Spanish heritage who lived in Texas before it became a republic). Immigrants from northern Mexico also played a big role in the emergence of Tex Mex food.

Most people referred to the cuisine simply as Mexican food until about the 1970s, when the term Tex Mex rose in Texas to distinguish American “Mexican” cuisine from the cuisine eaten in Mexico.

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Stuffed Beef and Cheese Sopapilla, a delicious Tex Mex dish.

Tex Mex food tends to use a lot of cheese; not so in Mexico. Tex Mex cuisine also uses beef as a main ingredient; rice and beans are a main ingredient in Mexico, with beef used as sort of garnish (for flavor).

Mexico residents tend to eat a lot of chicken and pork.

Enchiladas tend to be smothered in mole or a green tomatillo sauce, rather than cheese.

Cummin also is used considerably in Tex Mex cuisine (this spice is used much more frequently in the northern parts of Mexico and not as frequently in the southern regions).

So whether you refer to it as Mexican food or Tex Mex, come to the Mattito’s location closest to you soon to enjoy some of our absolutely delicious cuisine. Contact us today for more information.

Leepaxton at en.wikipedia [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

How Mexico Celebrates Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day isn’t just a U.S. day of celebrating romance; residents of Mexico also celebrate the day in a big way.

Celebrated on February 14, the day (known as Dia de San Valentin and El Dia del Amor y la Amistad, “the day of love and friendship), is celebrated similarly as it is here in the U.S., with friends and lovers sending each other candy and flowers.

But there are some things done a bit differently on Valentine’s Day in Mexico.

For example, one thing young Mexicans do is to meet in a park. Young men and women separate and then walk around a kiosk or gazebo in the park in opposite directions. As a boy comes across a girl that he has his eye on, he presents her with a flower. Once they circle around again, if the girl is still holding the flower, it’s a sign that she also is interested in him.

Another, albeit newer, Valentine’s Day tradition is for a committed couple to plaster each other’s car (or their joint car) with notes that contain words of love for one another.

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Valentine’s Day traditions in Mexico are similar to those in the U.S.

Mexicans do send chocolates roses to their loved ones, but they also create hand-made cards and gifts, perhaps a bit more so than people in the United States do.

What’s more, Mexicans will purchase or make gifts and send flowers and candy to their friends: Valentine’s Day in Mexico celebrates friendship as well as romance.

If you’d like to celebrate Valentine’s Day in style, have dinner this year at a Mattito’s location near you. Contact us today for more information.

Image courtesy of nirots/FreeDigitalPhotos.net