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Eating Well: Fresh salsa perfect use for extra garden tomatoes

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In my column two weeks ago, I featured tomato recipes because of the abundance in local gardens.

One of them was for a wonderful cooked salsa. With fresh garden tomatoes still plentiful, this week, I'm offering a couple of fresh salsa recipes that are great served alongside tortilla chips, used as a side dish to Mexican dishes or piled high on nachos covered with melted cheese.

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The homemade Pico De Gallo is exceptionally easy and so deliciously fresh. If you don't like 'hot' you may want to tone down the number of jalapenos you use.

The Cilantro-Salsa Recipe is equally as good and can be made with plum tomatoes if you prefer. The Favorite Salsa is another variation with a little bit different twist thanks to the balsamic vinegar.

Preceded by an appetizer of fresh guacamole (also injected with fresh garden tomatoes) and chips, then pairing the Pico with the Chicken Enchilada main dish entrée I've also included, and capping it all off with the Mexican Fried ice cream, you have the perfect 'south of the border' meal.

The fresh Pico De Gallo or any of the salsa recipes for that matter are excellent served alongside the Chicken Enchilada casserole, along with a dollop of sour cream and a little more guacamole.

When you are preparing the recipes, I would suggest that you double the size right away, because they always disappear rapidly.

Until next time, from my kitchen to yours, happy cooking!

Pico De Gallo

2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

½ a medium sized onion, finely chopped

3 fresh jalapeno peppers, stems and seeds removed, finely chopped

1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

¼ tsp. salt

Juice of ½ a fresh lime

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and chill for at least an hour, or until ready to serve.

Cilantro Lime Salsa Fresco

5-6 plum tomatoes or 3 large regular tomatoes, diced small

1 medium white onion, diced small

1 jalapeno pepper, diced small

Juice of two limes, or one lemon and one lime

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Salt to taste

Combine everything in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate a couple of hours before serving.

Favorite Salsa

2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped fine

1 tsp. minced fresh garlic

2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

Dash of salt

Dash of freshly ground pepper

Mix all together and chill for a couple of hours.

Yummy, Easy Guacamole

2 ripe avocados, pitted and peeled

1 clove minced garlic

1 tsp. salt

2 diced plum tomatoes

2 minced jalapeno peppers, seeds removed

1 minced small red onion

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

4 tbsp. fresh lime juice

Pit, dice and peel the avocados. Gently mash in bowl with garlic and salt. Mix in tomatoes, jalapenos, onion, cilantro and lime juice. Serve immediately or place plastic wrap onto surface and place in fridge for no longer than one day.

Fast Guacamole

2 ripe avocados, pitted and peeled

1 tbsp. fresh lime juice

2 tbsp. picante sauce

¼ tsp. garlic powder

¼ tsp. salt

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Use a fork or potato masher to blend well. Serve immediately.

Chicken Enchiladas

1 can cream of chicken soup

½ cup sour cream

1 tbsp. margarine

½ cup chopped onion

1 tsp. chili powder

2 cups cubed, cooked chicken

1 4 oz. can green chilies

8 flour tortillas (smaller ones)

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Mix sour cream and soup together and set aside. Saute onion in margarine. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the cheese, with two tablespoons of the soup and sour cream mixture.

Place scoop of mixture onto the tortilla shell and roll. (I fold all four sides over, so I have a nice little bundle with the chicken mixture all tucked inside.) Place in 8x8" baking dish. Top with remaining soup mixture and cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Mexican Fried Ice Cream

1 ½ sticks butter

1 ½ cups brown sugar, packed

3 ¾ cups corn flakes, crushed before measuring

¼ tsp. cinnamon

Melt butter together with brown sugar. Remove from heat and add crushed corn flakes and cinnamon. Scoop 12 servings of ice cream. Wearing plastic food serving gloves, compact each serving into a ball a littler larger than a golf ball. If the ice cream seems to be very soft, put back into freezer for a few minutes. Roll each ice cream ball into the corn flake mixture and gently pat to make sure the entire serving is coated. Place into a lined muffin tin. Return to freezer to cool and firm for about 1 ½ hours. Serve with chocolate sauce, honey, or real whipped cream.

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