Dinner parties, if you mean a sit-down dinner party, are a lot of fun but a lot of work. Have you considered an appetizer party? Then you don’t need to worry about place settings, just sturdy plates and chairs and a few tray tables to set down plates and drinks. Makes it easier to mingle than the dinner table.
I’m not a racing fan so I can’t help with the Derby theme, but if you opt for the Cinco de Mayo, here’s some ideas (for an appetizer party):
Fresh fruit kabobs made with tropical fruits (like mangoes, papayas, kiwi, pineapple, etc.) For really authentic Mexican flavor, squeeze lime juice over them and sprinkle with red chile powder!
salsa, guacamole and refried beans for dips with tortilla chips
mini tostadas made with round tortilla chips, topped with shredded cheese (melted in oven) and garnish with salsa or sour cream, or nachos
set up a taco bar–fill taco shells (you can make your own for softer ones) with shredded chicken or beef or ground beef, and set up an array of toppings: shredded lettuce, cheese, chopped tomatoes, green onions, salsa, jalapenos, guacamole, sour cream. Let everyone fix their own.
Here’s a recipe for Mock Margarita punch (if you’d rather not serve alcohol):
12 oz can frozen lemonade concentrate (thawed)
12 oz can frozen limeade concentrate (thawed)
1 cup powdered sugar
6 cups crushed ice
1 qt club soda (chilled)
lime slices and coarse salt
In a 4-qt non-metal container, combine lemonade and limeade, powdered sugar and crushed ice. Mix well. Cover and freeze, stirring occasionally. Remove from freezer 30 minutes before serving. Place two cups slush mix into blender with 1 cup club soda. Blend until frothy. Rub rim of glass (you can find plastic margarita glasses at Wal*Mart or just use 9 oz Solo cups) with lime slice and dip in coarse salt. Fill glass and garnish with lime slice. Makes 24 1/2 cup servings.
For fun, find some CDs of mariachi music and use bright colors for the table linens and napkins. Check Oriental Trading Company for inexpensive decorations (like miniature pinatas).
If you need recipes for anything else, just PM or e-mail me. I also have recipes for traditional Mexican sit-down dinners (like enchiladas, mole, and chilies rellenos) and desserts (flan and tres leche cake).