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secretcookies13_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

These cookies are a little kooky for me, but I guess sometimes I’m as susceptible to the charms of decorations as anyone else! And, if you can’t go all out during the holidays – when can you?

These cookies are really all about fun, fun on the outside, fun on the inside. I’ve adapted a recipe from an article I cut out years ago from a magazine.

Secret Cookies, Makes about 30 3″ cookies

  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 2-1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. dark chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/4 t. almond extract
  • Sprinkles or colored sugar for coating

Preheat the oven to 375. Put the butter and sugar in a bowl, cream well.

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Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

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Then the flour.

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Stir 3/4 c. of dough into the chocolate.

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Roll a 1″ ball of chocolate dough and then cover it with a thin pancake of vanilla dough.

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Then roll each ball in sprinkles or sugar.

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Put them on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

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Bake for about 10 minutes.

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I added an extra white chocolate drizzle to the plain sugar ones to dress them up for a party!

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lemonricottacookies13_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

First off let me note that I have not fallen off the wagon and gone whole-hog on the food coloring – that bright fuschia icing is from freeze-dried raspberries! I know, right? Perfect for upcoming holiday cookies! But I digress.

This cookie story starts with a trip my little slice of heaven on Earth – Whole Foods. I could wander that store for hours. In the bakery of the Whole Foods in question is a display of international cookies, including a lemon ricotta coated in pale pink raspberry icing. They are delicious.

So the quest began. Finding a recipe for the cookie was easy enough, and while I tinkered with it a bit they are basically the same. But the icing was going to be the hard part. I finally hit paydirt when I read a piece on a pastry chef who uses pulverized freeze-dried fruit for macarons.

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I got this bag at Target for $3.99 and only used about a third of it for this recipe. The color is spectacular and I’m going to experiment with this idea more in the future. I touched up the flavor with a bit of raspberry bakery emulsion and voila! These cookies are delicate, cakey and while you could use a lemon glaze if you want I think the raspberry really sets them off.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Raspberry Glaze, Makes about 30 3″ cookies

  • 1 stick of salted butter
  • 1 container of part-skim ricotta (15 oz.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 c. granulataed sugar
  • Zest of two lemons, finely grated
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 t. lemon bakery emulsion
  • 2-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • For the glaze:
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/3 c. freeze-dried raspberries
  • 1-2 T. water
  • 1/2 t. raspberry bakery emulsion

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar together well.

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Beat in the ricotta, then the eggs one at a time, beating well after addition.

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Beat in the flour and baking powder.

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Stir in the lemon zest, juice and flavor. You should have a thick, creamy batter.

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Drop by tablespoons until a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake about 12-15 minutes, until the edges are light golden brown.

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Cool the cookies while you make the glaze. The freeze-dried raspberries are an amazing color, and they taste like raspberry popcorn.

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Put the raspberries in a spice grinder and run until finely ground to a powder.

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Add the raspberry powder to the powdered sugar.

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Drizzle in water until you have the desired consistency.

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Spoon the glaze over the cookies. You can do the whole cookie, or just a lacy pattern if you don’t want as much raspberry flavor.

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Let the glaze air-dry for about two hours and then store the cookies in an airtight container.


Four years ago: Apple Pie
Three years ago: Peanut Butter Pie
Two years ago: Ginger-Chocolate Scones
One year ago: Quick Orange Cinnamon Rolls


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by Heather Harris Brady

If you see the word biscotti and automatically picture those behemoth jawbreakers in the cannisters at the coffee shop, let me just say, these are not those. These are both crunchy and tender, and are gone in two-three bites. Because of their small size they are just as at home on a cookie plate as they are in pretty bags for gift giving.

They include dried cranberries (you could use dried cherries too), pistachios and a coating of white chocolate on one side – because it’s the holidays and we’re being fancy. However, you could mix in anything – or leave them plain.

Holiday Biscotti, Makes about 36 2-1/2″ cookies

  • 1/2 c. butter, soft
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 t. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/2 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. dried cranberries
  • 3/4 c. pistachios
  • 8 oz. white chocolate couverture (chocolate tempered for melting)

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar together well, then beat in the eggs and baking powder.

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Beat in the flour.

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You’ll have a lovely soft moldable dough.

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Divide it in three parts, divide the berries and nuts evenly among them, and knead them in.

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Roll each one into a log about 9″ x 2″. Put them on greased cookie sheets and push them down with a spatula to flatten them a bit.

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Bake them at 350 for about 20-25 minutes, until firm and lightly browned.

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Reduce the heat to 325 and take them out of the oven. Let the logs cool a bit, then slice them into pieces 1/2″ wide. Lay them on the cookie sheet on their side.

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Put them back in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, flip them, and bake for another 10 minutes. This will toast each side lightly without the bottoms getting too dark.

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Cool the biscotti on racks while you melt the white chocolate. Spread the chocolate on one side of each cookie.

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Let it harden, then serve or store them at room temperature in airtight containers. These will keep nicely for about two weeks, freeze for longer storage.

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Three years ago: Swedish Visiting Cake
Two years ago: Sweet Potato Pumpkin Pie
One year ago: Apple Clafouti


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by Heather Harris Brady

This is going to be a short post today since here in America we’re heading into the big Thanksgiving holiday. If you are going out or visiting this coming holiday season these little bites would be a perfect hostess gift, especially tied up in a clear box with ribbon. Not only are they delicious, they are snowy-pretty and they check all the boxes – vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, raw, paleo, etc.

I had these at an ayurveda workshop, where they were said to boost immunity. Give these a try even if you don’t like dates – I’ve never been crazy about dates myself but I love these. You can substitute more ground almonds for coconut if you like. If you can grind your spices fresh, and make these ahead, as the flavors blend and improve over time.

If you wanted an interesting cheese course you could roll these in minced nuts instead and serve them with a goat cheese, gorgonzola or a seared halloumi.

Orange Bites, Makes about 24 1-1/2″ treats

  • 2 c. medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • Zest of two organic oranges
  • 1/2 c. raw almonds
  • 1 t. fresh ground gingerroot
  • 1 t. fresh ground cardamom
  • 1 t. cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 2 T. olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 T. coconut powder plus extra for coating

Put the dates in the food processor.

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Add the spices, honey, nuts and oil. Roughly chop, then add the orange zest and 2 T. of the coconut powder.

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Pulse until the mixture comes together into a dough.

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Spread some coconut powder on a plate.

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Scoop out heaping teaspoons of the date mixture and roll them in the coconut until they are well-coated.

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Store finished treats in an airtight container at room temperature. These will keep nicely for up to two weeks. Safe travels and happy weekend everyone!

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Three years ago: Cranberry Orange Bread Pudding
Two years ago: Parker House Dinner Rolls
One year ago: Vanilla Sauce


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by Heather Harris Brady

Building a gingerbread house is much like building a real house – it’s going to take longer, cost more and create a bigger mess than you expected. But at the end you’ll feel like you really accomplished something. Last year we used a kit (the best option for anyone with a short attention span) but this year there were big dreams in the little house. Still, the kids (a teen and a tween) didn’t believe me when I told them this project was going to take all day – they were washed and ready to get on the job at 9 am. The final lifesaver went down about 8 pm. It’s not constant work, to be sure there’s plenty of time when things need to dry, but it’s a long process.  It’s also a good learning process – my son took a photo of the lighthouse and scaled it into a pattern using 1/2″ graph paper. Before we cut from the dough he made a scale model out of cardboard to make sure the pieces fit.

In the last post I provided the recipe for the dough, and here I will give you the recipe for the icing as well as some lessons learned the hard way. Before you even contemplate a building project make sure you have plenty of meringue powder on hand. It’s your new best friend and it looks like this:

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Our lighthouse took nearly two large batches of icing, one for coating the pieces and one for final assembly. You use the same icing, in different thicknesses, for everything.

Royal Icing, Makes one Batch

  • 1/2 c. meringue powder
  • 9 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. water

Combine the meringue powder and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whip in the water a bit at time until you achieve a thick frosting. Continue to beat for another two-three minutes until thick and glossy.

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Icing and assembly step one: Coat all the exterior pieces and let them dry. If you like the brown color you can skip this step and just decorate each piece, then let it dry. But our lighthouse is red and white and so it must be painted!

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We piped a dam around the edge of each piece and then frosted inside the outside with a slightly thinner frosting.

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The windows got sashed with thick piping, the roof and trim pieces were painted red.

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After the exterior paint was dry we were ready to stand up the first walls. Make sure you have a good base here, we used an 1″ thick board covered in aluminum foil. Also have lots of things on hand to prop up the walls while they dry. If you have a small fan handy to speed up the drying process so much the better. Start building from the ground up.

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Attach the walls at the corners with a thick band of icing. Add some supports while they dry.

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Once you’ve got two walls standing you can add the other two. Let it all dry, then add the roof. With our gable roof we added the bottom sections first, let them dry, and then added the top.

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Keep the supports to make sure your roof panels don’t slide under their own weight! Finally, once the roof is set, you’re ready to decorate. The fun part!

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This is one of my favorite parts – the lighthouse has a yellow M&M light in it and there are lifesavers handy all around.

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The finishing touch – a final sprinkle of some fresh powder(ed sugar)! I’ll be scanning the pattern pieces and adding a link here if you want to build your own artistic interpretation of the Point Betsie Lighthouse. It can be done!

Two years ago: Spitzbuben
One year ago: Buche de Noel (Yule Log)

moroccanapp12_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Semolina flour is a predominant ingredient in many Moroccan dishes, and these are no exception. The dough is soft and a bit chewy, a nice complement to the sausage inside. You can use the traditional spicy lamb sausage if you can get it, hot italian sausage like me, veggies and cheese – anything really!

Sausage Pastries, Makes about eight 3″ pastries

  • 1/2 c. nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/3 c. warm water
  • 1 pkg. quick-rise yeast
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour (or replace 1/2 c. of this flour with a seasoned corn flour)
  • 1 c. semolina pastry flour
  • 1 c. sausage, browned and cooled

Combine the first four ingredients together and set aside for 20 minutes.

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Stir in all the rest of the ingredients except the sausage and stir until it cleans the side of the bowl. Let rise until doubled.

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Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured board. Divide it into eight golf-ball sized pieces. Take the first piece and divide it in two.

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Roll out each into a 3″ circle, add a spoon of sausage and seal the edges.

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When you’ve rolled them all out, heat up a cast iron pan (but don’t grease it). Put the patties in and let them brown well, then turn and do the other side.

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I tipped mine up along the sides of the pan to make sure the edges all cooked through as well. These go well with wine and would be great with beer. If you want to dress them up add a dipping cup of harissa on the side.

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One year ago: Candied Citron

Two years ago: Finnish Teaspoon Cookies (My favorite!)

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by Heather Harris Brady

It’s been a while since I’ve done a full menu so I thought I’d take the chance now, because this would be great for people who are ready for something different. You can make it your own, keeping the sauce on the side, adjusting the amount of heat, leave out the meat – whatever! So I’m going to do the run-down today and tomorrow we’ll start on the recipes. Most of these are from Paula Wolfert’s amazing The Food of Morocco, but I translated the idea for the appetizers and the apple burek from my other experiments.

Appetizer: Sausage-Stuffed Pastries

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Salad: Orange and Grated Carrot Salad

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Main Course: Moroccan Stew with Couscous

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Dessert: Apple Burek

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Two years ago: Cookie-Palooza

One year ago: Sweet Potato Pumpkin Pie

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by Heather Harris Brady

I used to make these when my children were small for fun things like picnics at the zoo, but I think you’ll find kids of all ages can acquire a taste for these. The body is really just a cake truffle (or a cake pop if that’s how you roll). Then they get ears from sliced almonds, eyes and a nose from mini chips and a licorice tail. I think they would be amazing if you’re looking for something different for a Cinderella or wizard-themed birthday party.

These would be a great beginner/kids in the kitchen recipe too, they’re easy and quick to make.

Chocolate Mice, Makes about one dozen 2″ long mice

  • 1 pkg. semi-sweet mini chips (you’ll have some leftover)
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2-1/4 c. crushed chocolate cookies or crumbled chocolate cake
  • 1/2 sleeve of chocolate graham crackers
  • 1/2 c. sliced almonds
  • 1 strand of peel-apart licorice, not yet peeled

Melt 1-1/3 c. of the chips over medium heat with the heavy cream.

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When the chocolate is melted and smooth remove it from the heat. Stir in the cookie crumbs and vanilla.

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Keep stirring until the crumbs absorb the chocolate and you get something that starts to look like chocolate play-doh.

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Put the chocolate mixture in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to thoroughly chill.

Process the grahams to a fine powder.

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And arrange the rest of your ingredients in easy reach of the work surface: graham crumbs, remaining chips, almonds, licorice.

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Get your chocolate mixture and pick up a spoonful, about a heaping tablespoon. Shape it into a little body.

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Then roll it in the graham crumbs.

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Add ears and a face like so:

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Wearing glittery Halloween nailpolish while you do so is optional. Also, you can use colored chips, confectionery eyes, or melted pink chocolate to do the faces if you want to get really fancy.

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In a few minutes you’ll be commander of your own mouse army! Don’t forget the tails.

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They’re cute boxed up too.

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I love this photo because it reminds me of my favorite picture book, Frederick.

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Frederick

Have a safe and fun Halloween everyone!
One year ago: Fall Dinner, Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

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by Heatber Harris Brady

Once when I was very young, maybe six, we visited an Italian family just before the Easter holiday. A huge pane di pasqua, Italian Easter bread, held court on the center of the kitchen table with long rows of colored Easter eggs in the braid. It was the most beautiful pastry I’d ever seen and I’ve never forgotten it although I’ve never come across it in the wild again.

This year I decided to look into this memory. From what I can see the bread itself is a rich, sweetened dough flavored either with orange or lemon zest and anise. One embeds the dyed raw eggs into the dough before baking and then sometimes its glazed and sprinkled with nonpareils.

While I’m still in love with the concept I’m lukewarm on the idea of baking raw eggshells and egg dye into the bread. So I decided to come up with my own recipe, make individual large-roll nests, then glaze and top them with mini chocolate eggs. They’ll be a nice decoration for the dinner table and the eggs will still give the kids a thrill.

Italian Easter Breads, Makes about a dozen

2 c. milk
1/3 c. butter
1 pkg. fast-rising yeast
3/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
5 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
One small boiled potato
Zest of two oranges
2 t. almond extract

Scald the milk. Stir in the butter and sugar. When the milk is lukewarm stir in the yeast. Mash the potato into the eggs and stir it into the milk, then stir in the flour.

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Let rise until doubled in bulk.

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Punch the dough down and knead in the zest and almond extract.

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Knead until soft and smooth. Break off balls just slightly larger than a golf ball.

Divide each ball into thirds and roll it out into a long snake, then braid them together. Bring the braid into a circle and stretch it a bit to make the nest shape in the middle. You have to be pretty extreme here because the dough is going to puff up a lot and you’ll lose the shape.

Preheat the oven to 375. When the rolls have doubled bake them for 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown. Brush them with butter while they’re hot.

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If you want to glaze them you can use royal icing or an orange glaze. For an orange glaze, stir together 2 T. softened butter, 2 c. confectioners sugar and the juice of two oranges. Adjust the consistency with more or less sugar as need be.

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Drizzle the rolls with the glaze and put a few chocolate eggs in the center before serving.

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by Heather Harris Brady

Since the roast beef and yorkshire pudding are on the heavy side, I wanted a light and pretty salad to go alongside. This is really quick to throw together, with whatever looks best in the produce section. I made an easy honey-lime vinaigrette and tossed it all just before serving.

Fruit & Vegetable Rainbow Salad, Serves 8

  • Three Clementine oranges, peeled and sectioned
  • One Prickly Pear, peeled and diced
  • One pomegranate, arils only
  • Five fresh pineapple slices, cut into chunks
  • One bag of rainbow salad mix (shredded carrots, broccoli, red cabbage)

For the dressing:

  • Three limes, juiced
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1/3 c. olive oil

You can wash and prepare all the fruit ahead of time if you like.

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If you do clean it ahead of time keep the pomegranate and prickly pear separate because they’ll color the rest of the fruit red. Assemble the salad:

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Whisk all the dressing ingredients together well and pour them over the top, then toss. Whatever the combination of fruit you use, this salad is a nice antidote to the long gray days of winter.

One year ago: Mexican Lasagne

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