Fiesta at Casa de Vela
Creamy guacamole and chilled margaritas are the standard stars of your usual Cinco de Mayo party. But when your hostess is Numero Uno Sugar Cookie Senora Meredith Vela, the fiesta should probably be renamed Cookie-de-Mayo or Cinco de Cookie.
Perhaps Meredith Vela was inspired to go all out this year by an encounter she had at the grocery store. “I knew people were really getting into the Cinco de Mayo spirit this year because when I was shopping at Fiesta for our party, a mariachi band was playing in the vegetable section. That’s not something you see every day!” marvels Meredith.
Meredith and her husband, Joel Vela, welcomed guests to the Casa de Vela with plenty of refreshing beverages (including miniature salted rim margarita glasses for tequila shots) and a delicioso fajita spread with all the fixings. The meal was wonderful, but the cookies . . . oh the amazing decorated sugar cookies! Blooming cacti, bright sombreros, glittery red peppers and colorful Mexican shirts. Everyone marveled at the detailed artwork. They were such masterpieces the guests didn’t want to eat them, but once they snuck a nibble the cookies didn’t last long!
Meredith, a social worker for dialysis and kidney transplant patients at Texas Children’s Hospital, laughs, “It’s just a fun hobby I do after work to relieve stress. I also enjoy making and giving cookies to people for themed events and holidays.”
In addition to cookies, Meredith occasionally creates candy stations for friends’ kids’ parties. The irony of her sugary activities is that her husband, Joel, is a pediatric dentist. Meredith’s large collection of cookie cutters even includes a tooth-shaped cookie cutter. And no, she doesn’t decorate the teeth cookies with cavities.
When guests weren’t busy oohing and aahing at the cookies there was also lots of traffic at the bar. Luckily everyone survived the “sangria pitcher incident.” While Meredith was pouring a pitcher of the fruity red concoction into a guest’s cup, the glass handle came off the pitcher and the sangria splattered all over the floor. Meredith got a cut on her hand, but luckily Dr. Nizar Dholaki and his wife, Heidi, were guests so he could confirm the cut wasn’t too deep so the party and hostess didn’t have to move to the emergency room. The sangria drinkers were sad their favorite drink was all gone but were okay to switch to margaritas.
When guests said “Adios” at the end of the night, they were invited to poke their hand through Mexican flag decorated “punch box” that has tissue paper covering little compartments (designed by Condit third-grade artist, and Vela’s daughter, Gianna Vela) to pull out a surprise. Creative party gifts included a box of Chiclets gum, a mini-maraca and a striped serape koozie for long neck cervezas. Gianna found the punch box idea on the Food Network.
Amigos celebrating at the Casa de Vela included Jim and Martha Johnson, Raja Nasir, Terry Leavitt-Chavez and Anthony Chavez, Claudia Stefanos, Elizabeth and John Donnelly, Deanna and Gary Barton, Janice Janes (Meredith’s Madre), Mical and Aharon Lutfak, Gabbi Vela, Claire DeBlanc and Kaitlin Quick.
Meredith’s sugar cookie recipe is a family recipe she is unable to share. But see her icing recipe here.
Salud to fiestas, friends and sharing cookies with everyone . . . even mariachis in the grocery store!
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