Thursday, August 22, 2013

Salsa - the food, not the dance

My mother makes an awesome salsa!  She perfected it many years ago and submitted it to a fundraising cookbook called Heavenly Delights for the Lakeland Christian Academy Class of 1996 (for any nostalgia buffs).  She called the recipe Hot Salsa and some years it was very hot!  I love the recipe and make it frequently, although with fewer hot seeds.

One of my daughters likes salsa, but doesn't care for the hot stuff. For a time I was buying Chi Chi's for an easy lunch option for her. Chips, salsa,cheese -easier school lunch than PB & J, and she loved it too. 

Over the last two years or so, I have been working to improve the quality of the food I provide for my family. I have tried to cut out high fructose corn syrup. Additionally I started realizing many foods contained unnecessary added sugar.  During the phase when I was purchasing Chi Chi's salsa I assumed it contained sugar and other ingredients typical of processed food, however, I was willing to live with that at the time to keep my sanity.  One day I finally got brave and read the ingredient list on Chi Chi's.  Imagine my surprise when I realized the ingredients were the same as my mom's recipe but in different quantities.  Thank you Chi Chi's for not adding sugar and weird ingredients to your salsa!

Since I had the ingredients and was making hot salsa anyway, why not try to replicate Chi Chi's milder salsa? So last summer I created this kid friendly salsa recipe. I had most ingredients on hand, making it a cheaper option than store bought salsa. We have never successfully grown jalapenos, so that is a small expense.
Here is the recipe:
 3 cups diced tomatoes
 2 cups diced onions
 1 1/2 cups diced jalapenos, remove all seeds for mild salsa
 3 cloves garlic, minced
 1 cup vinegar
 2 teaspoons salt
 2 small cans tomato paste
 Combine all of the ingredients except tomato paste in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for five minutes.  Add tomato paste and thoroughly mix.  Process like you would process tomatoes - can or freeze.  (I have been working with tomatoes a lot this week. 'Tis the season... My research indicates that recipes like this with acidic and non- acidic vegetables together must be pressure canned as opposed to water bath canned.)

Some of our favorite ways to eat salsa are:
 plain with chips,
 mixed with cheese and sour cream as a chip dip,
 on potatoes,
 in chili,
 on chicken,
 on tacos, salads, and burritos,
 and my new favorite trick is to combine it directly with the taco meat for the flavor with less mess.


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