Fiesta by the Sea

This weekend Melissa and I gathered "The Creatives" for a little fiesta.  Melissa so graciously opened her home to myself and 9 other ladies for a cooking class taught by me!  On the menu...
For starters we had salsa & salsa verde, served with homemade chips and guacamole.  I made my mother's limeade with vodka, which was nothing compared to the margarita's Melissa made--the best I have ever had (sorry mom).  Dinner was simple, it was all about me teaching the basic staples that I had grown up with: rice, beans, and handmade flour tortillas.

I was more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but I pulled it off!  The meal was as if my grandmother made it herself.  Oh and to top it off Brandi made the most delicious tres leches cake.  I pretty much rolled myself home from the party.

...And by the way, we gave that adorable little bull (pictured above) one heck of a beat down.  What fell to the ground wasn't candy.  I had stuffed that bull full of a different kind of treat.

How fun is that?!  The site of grown ladies screaming and rushing in to grab these little treasures was a site I will never forget.

Melissa, thank you for opening your beautiful home to all of us.  And ladies, thank you for being the most creative bunch of beauties a girl could surround herself with.

Be sure to visit Fern & Feather for her take (and lovely photos) on the party.  Grace I am sure will have something to say about it...y'all ;) And thank you Nicole for supplying me with a couple of food photos.

Recipes below.  These are family recipes. Please adjust them, make them your own BUT what ever you do, DO NOT try to substitute brown rice in the spanish rice.  Trust me, it doesn't work.  White rice won't kill you. ;)
Traditional Pinto Beans
1lb dry pinto beans
1 large onion
garlic salt
2 Tbs olive oil
4 cups water
*1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Wash and rinse beans (no need to soak overnight...that's for gringos), and place in crock pot.  Add onion and olive oil. Stir well. Season to taste with garlic salt, cover the pot, and cook on high until beans are very tender, about 5 hours.  Roughly mash beans--this gives you a slightly refried bean consistency, at this point you can eat as is or stir in 1-2 cups of cheese for a little extra goodness ;)

Spanish Rice
1-2 Tbs olive oil
1.5 cups long grain rice
1/2 large onion finely chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2-8oz cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
1.5 Tbs cumin
salt + pepper to taste
1 cup cilantro leaves

Heat oil in a medium sauce pan.  Saute rice, onion, and garlic until rice is browned and onions are tender.  Stir in tomato sauce and water.  Season with salt, pepper, and cumin.  Let ingredients come to a boil.  Add cilantro leaves, cover, and simmer for  30 minutes, or until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed.

Flour Tortillas
3 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp.  salt
4-6 Tbsp. vegetable shortening or lard
about 1 1/4 cups warm water

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add vegetable shortening or lard. Use a fork or a pastry cutter to cut in the shortening or just do it the old fashioned way and use your hands.

Next add warm water a little at a time until your dough is soft and not sticky. You do not need very hot water.

Knead the dough for a few minutes. Pull of 12-14 pieces of dough and roll into small balls, 
let them rest for at least 10 minutes, longer if you like.

Lightly flour your rolling area, and roll each ball with a rolling pin to about 1/8" thickness.  

Place each tortilla on a medium hot cast iron skillet.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side, or until the tortilla does not look doughy and there are little brown specks on both sides.  If you have any left over, let them cool completely before storing in a ziplock bag in the fridge.


3 cups flour 
1 tsp. salt 
1/3 cup vegetable oil 
1 cup warm water

Combine all the flour, salt, vegetable oil, and water until it forms a dough.

Roll the dough into a big ball and take about an 1 to 2 inch pieces off. Pat the dough flat with your hands or take a rolling pin and roll into circles.

Put the dough on a flat pan on the stove and let the sides cook until there are little brown specks on both sides like you would see on other tortillas.


  1. Thank you for the recipe's! I linked your post for recipe's to the party post. XOXO Nicole

  2. wish i could have made it! thank you for sharing the recipes!

  3. thank you, thank you! The rice receipt may have just changed my life. Can't wait to see how the hubs reacts to the salsa~ it's goin' to be good. I'll try to film it :)

  4. Sounds like a great time! I love the piñata idea!!

  5. I am assuming my invitation was somehow lost in the mail, because this party looks so fabulous and included all my favorite things.. super creative friends, delishious looking food and great booze. fingers crossed that I get off the D list soon...xox

  6. Wow. You are such a great cook, clever, funny, and beautiful to boot. You're the whole package:) Looks like I really missed a great, great time. Next time!

  7. YUMMMMMMMM!! Now I can make the beans, since I've been dreaming about them:) Thank you for the lovely evening!

  8. such a great cooking class Bianca! I think next I want you to do some soul food ;)!.... oxoxo!!!

  9. Fern and Feather, soul food it is: smothered pork chops, collard greens, black eyed peas, corn bread, southern mac n' cheese, and sweet potato pie for dessert. I just made myself hungry!

  10. Three things:
    1) What a fab and dee-lish idea!
    2) I'm with Greta... do I offend?
    3) Soul food cooking class? Please invite me!


  11. Bianca, you're the greatest ever. We need to get together again soon. And I can't wait to try these recipes for my own dinner guests soon.

  12. I'm still thinking about all the deliocious food we consumed.
    Bianca, I'm snaching the photo of the bull because I'm the loser who forgot her camera. Will make sure to send my peeps over for your recipes.

  13. thank you so much bianca for the fabulous cooking lessons! my life has changed for the better since saturday night. i can't wait for soul food night. my southern twang will def be in effect for some southern delicacies. love you tons! xoxoox

  14. The food looks delicious! I'm dying to try some of the recipes!

  15. Bianca,

    Looks like I missed a great party! I am going to try these recipes and I wouldn't even think of substituting brown rice for white! I've never even considered making my own tortillas, which is strange because I make my own pizza dough all the time. Love all the photos, especially the treasures from the Pinata.


  16. Bianca, What a beautifully done fiesta! I am so sorry I was not there to enjoy all of the creative energy and delicious food! It sounds like another cooking class in the the mix and I would love to be counted in on that one! ;) Thanks {again} for more delicious recipes! xo Samantha

  17. MMMM!! Love me some Mexican food - how lucky are we to live in So Cal?

  18. How did my comment not make it?? Hmmmmmm - Such a fun night, taught by one crazy talented woman! (that's very talented, not crazy as in crazy!)
    xo Melissa
    PS Still deciding where to use my prized olive green zipper.....

  19. I'm cracking up about the long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs AND the pinata. come on!! Cute!! was hoping you were coming over to make me the margies and since my crock pot wasn't on all day, we're opening a can here and spicing it up.. oh and I got skinnygirl margs?? hoping that I somehow get skinny drinking them? haa.