RECIPE: Tomato and Avocado Salsa

Did somebody say, “Olive Garden”?

Whoa, Marilyn! How did that happen?! You go about your daily routine for decades without any special attention, then pow! Suddenly you’re “viral”! You go girl!

What a joy it’s been to watch this phenomenon unfold; my family and I are so looking forward to the upcoming week of Marilyn’s appearances in New York City! Wow, what an absolutely wonderful thing to have happen. It’s a reminder of the beauty and spontaneity of life – like they say, it’s full of surprises!

Some friends are coming over tonight for a casual get-together, and I wanted to try this easy new appetizer recipe to get the party started right.

Great appetizers are full of flavor to stimulate the appetite, but not so rich that they spoil it. To get that balance, look to fresh, flavorful ingredients. Ripe tomatoes add beautiful color, great taste, and a host of healthy nutrients – like vitamin C – to any appetizer.

Here’s a recipe for Tomato and Avocado Salsa – whether you make it mild or spice it up, this salsa will make a lot of mouths happy. Try serving it in individual, wide mouthed glasses so guests can dip and re-dip as much as they like.

Tomato Tips

Don’t Refrigerate

For the best tomato flavor, never refrigerate them. A chilled tomato will not finish ripening because cold halts the ripening process. Cold also kills the flavor of tomatoes, so even when the tomatoes are fully ripe, keep them out of the refrigerator.

How Much?

1 medium tomato, seeded = approximately 3/4 cup chopped.
1 large tomato, seeded = 1 cup chopped.
1 pound of tomatoes = approximately 2 1/2 cups chopped, or 2 cups puréed.

Tomato and Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

  • 2 large Florida tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cumin
  • Your favorite hot sauce (for heat)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. In medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir to combine.
  2. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and hot sauce.
  3. Serve at room temperature for best flavor.

Serves
Yield 4 to 6 servings

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
For hotter version, substitute 1 seeded fresh jalapeño pepper for green pepper. Also, if you prefer, use toasted cumin seed instead of ground cumin.

Source: Florida Tomatoes

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Valentine Recipe: Chocolate-Dipped Stuffed Figs

Sweet and Savory Valentine Bites

Whether you’re hosting a festive Valentine’s Day party, or entertaining just for two, these recipes give you some sweet and savory choices that will set the mood for romance.

 Scrumptious bites start with simple, flavorful ingredients – golden Calimyrna and dark purple Mission figs from California and Jarlsberg cheese.

 Sweet, mouthwatering figs are not only packed with great taste, they’re full of fiber and essential nutrients, making them as good for you as they are good to eat.

The versatile taste and texture of Jarlsberg cheese is ideal for these appetizers. Jarlsberg’s mild, nutty-sweet flavor and buttery creaminess makes it a perfect partner to figs and, along with its excellent melting properties, adaptable to many sweet or savory dishes.

You can combine both ingredients in one easy sure-to-please appetizer: Make a slit in a fig and stuff with a piece of Jarlsberg. Wrap with partially-cooked bacon (it should be a bit limp) and heat at 400°F just until bacon is crispy and cheese begins to melt.

See more of my sweet and savory Valentine’s Day recipes here: /tag/valentines-day/

Chocolate-Dipped Stuffed Figs

Ingredients

  • 15 Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brandy (or 1/2 cup water mixed with
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
  • 15 to 30 small pieces candied ginger, toasted nuts or chocolate
  • 5 to 6 ounces semisweet, bittersweet or premium white chocolate, chopped

Preparation

  1. With sharp knife, cut small slit in bottom of each fig.
  2. In small saucepan, heat sugar and water over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Stir in brandy and figs. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Drain figs, cool and dry thoroughly.
  3. Stuff one or two pieces of ginger, nuts and/or chocolate into each fig.
  4. Place chopped chocolate in 1-cup glass measuring cup or small microwave-safe bowl. Heat on medium/50 percent power until almost melted, stirring after every 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from oven and stir until melted.
  5. Hold stem of each fig and dip in melted chocolate. Place figs, stems up, on wax paper-lined tray until chocolate sets. Decorate with white chocolate or nuts, as desired.
  6. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Serves
Makes 15 figs

Get more sweet and savory recipes at www.ValleyFig.com and www.JarlsbergUSA.com.

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Valentine Recipe: Jarlsberg, Ham and Herb Swirls

Sweet and Savory Valentine Bites

Whether you’re hosting a festive Valentine’s Day party, or entertaining just for two, these recipes give you some sweet and savory choices that will set the mood for romance.

 Scrumptious bites start with simple, flavorful ingredients – golden Calimyrna and dark purple Mission figs from California and Jarlsberg cheese.

 Sweet, mouthwatering figs are not only packed with great taste, they’re full of fiber and essential nutrients, making them as good for you as they are good to eat.

The versatile taste and texture of Jarlsberg cheese is ideal for these appetizers. Jarlsberg’s mild, nutty-sweet flavor and buttery creaminess makes it a perfect partner to figs and, along with its excellent melting properties, adaptable to many sweet or savory dishes.

You can combine both ingredients in one easy sure-to-please appetizer: Make a slit in a fig and stuff with a piece of Jarlsberg. Wrap with partially-cooked bacon (it should be a bit limp) and heat at 400°F just until bacon is crispy and cheese begins to melt.

See more of my sweet and savory Valentine’s Day recipes here: /tag/valentines-day/

Jarlsberg, Ham and Herb Swirls

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil or thyme leaves
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) finely shredded Jarlsberg cheese
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest or other lean ham

Preparation

  1. Unfold pastry onto lightly floured board; cut in half, lengthwise, to form two pieces. Brush beaten egg on entire surface of each piece.
  2. Leaving a 1/2-inch border around each pastry, top with the following, dividing evenly: Dijon mustard, green onion, basil and Jarlsberg. Top each with sliced ham, cutting to fit in a single layer within border.
  3. Starting at the long ends, carefully roll up each pastry. Gently pinch ends to seal pastry rolls. Wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill rolls, seam side down, for 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  4. To serve, preheat oven to 400°F. Unwrap rolls and cut each roll crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Place, 1 inch apart, on 2 greased baking sheets.
  5. Bake one sheet at a time for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. Place on wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.

Serves
Makes about 26 swirls

Get more sweet and savory recipes at www.ValleyFig.com and www.JarlsbergUSA.com.

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