Friday, February 24, 2012

Bringing the Tropics Home: Recipes for a Fiesta-Inspired Gathering

In the midst of winter, the constant chill and wet weather can put even the most upbeat person in a dismal mood. Instead of stretching your budget to jet away to a warmer locale, why not bring the tropics home? Host a Hawaiian or Mexican themed gathering for your friends and they will all thank you for their temporary get-away.

With the availability of out-of-season fruits and vegetables in grocery stores, you can celebrate summer any time of year, making a fiesta-themed event easy. Plus, you can use these recipes when your own harvest of warm weather fruits comes around. Favorites that will make it onto my party's shopping list include: fresh papaya, mango, and pineapple to flavor fruit drinks; ripe avocados for guacamole; and peppers for a spicy salsa. Here are Carla's recipes for festive tropical fruit salad, guacamole, and salsa. If you don't have loquats for the fruit salad, substitute your favorite tropical fruit.

Tropical Fruit Cup Mix 1⁄2 c. sugar and 1 c. water, boil 5 minutes, chill, and add 1⁄4 c. lemon juice. Gently mix 3 peeled, sliced kiwi fruits; 3 peeled, sectioned sweet citrus fruits; and 3 c. fresh, sliced loquats (or 1 c. canned). Pour syrup over fruit. Chill and serve. Fancy: Add some sliced ginger root to syrup before boiling. Remove the ginger before adding fruit.

Guacamole Peel, remove pit, and mash 4 avocados. Thoroughly mix in 1 chopped tomato, 1⁄2 t. garlic powder, 1 T. lime juice, plus hot sauce to taste if you're so inclined (I prefer it without). This is great in almost any sandwich combination or with chips, in a salad, or as a side dish (without the hot sauce). It can be frozen.

Homemade Salsa Chop 3 fresh jalapeno or Serrano chilies, 4 ripe big tomatoes, 1 globe (or 6 green) onion, 2 garlic cloves, and 1⁄4 c. fresh parsley (or cilantro) leaves. Mix together. Stir in 1⁄2 t. salt.

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