Colorful and refreshing, this salad is a full-on fiesta for your taste buds. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Refreshing, sweet and spicy, this fruit salad with its Mexican-inspired flavor profile accented with lime, jalapeno and cilantro is easy to prepare, requiring little more than a knife, a bowl and a whisk.

You’ll want to have the fruit and cucumber pre-chilled and be ready to gobble up the salad as soon as it’s assembled, as the zesty dressing draws the juice out of the fruit quickly and the salad will lose its fresh crunch. A sprinkle of Tajín, a chile-lime Mexican spice blend, is optional, but adds an extra touch of sultry “olé.” And if you’re dairy-free these days, the cheese can be omitted. Toasted pumpkin seeds are nice in this salad, or serve a bowl of tortilla chips on the side.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at or 504-0545.

How do you feel about healthy (somewhat) four-ingredient sweet crumbly clusters that bake in the oven in under 20 minutes? Yes, please.

Don’t be tempted to overdo it by adding more condensed milk than the recipe calls for. The mixture may seem crumbly but the natural sugar in the coconut milk and the melting chocolate will hold it all together enough for bite-size clusters of goodness.

I used condensed coconut milk for a dairy-free option. If you want to use dairy-free chocolate chips, Bake Believe, Enjoy Life and Ghirardelli non-dairy are all good brands.

Take this idea and go with it by experimenting with other nuts and other chip flavors to make your signature snackage. Just watch the clusters as they bake so nothing gets too browned and the chocolate doesn’t go from melty to burnt. That would be too sad. Store in the refrigerator or freezer as this concoction is a bit sticky.


Enjoy as is or use as a crumbly, rubbly topping for ice cream like I do, liking it a bit too much. I also have it on good authority that a liberal dose of this goes very well tucked into a peanut butter sandwich or added to a bowl of potato chips or pretzels. It’s a wonderful thing to have the opinions of an 8-year-old boy on speed dial.

Mexican watermelon and pineapple salad

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon lime zest

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon honey


1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced

Kosher salt and black pepper

1/4 cup red onion, finely diced

3 cups watermelon, cubed

3 cups fresh pineapple, cubed

1 large cucumber, chopped


2/3 cup queso fresco or cotija, crumbled

1/2 packed cup cilantro, chopped

Tajín or chile-lime seasoning blend, optional

In a large bowl, stir together oil, vinegar, lime zest and juice, honey and jalapeno. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add red onion and toss to coat. Let marinate for at least 10 minutes.

Add watermelon, pineapple and cucumber to the vinaigrette and toss to coat, seasoning to taste. Refrigerate until serving.

Just before serving, add cheese and cilantro to salad and toss to coat. Sprinkle with Tajín, if using.


Yield: 6 servings

Cashew-coconut crumbles

2 cups roasted, unsalted cashews, slightly chopped

2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 (11.6-ounce) can coconut condensed milk, well-stirred

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir all ingredients together in a bowl, then place spoonfuls of mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, squishing the mixture together into small mounds with your fingers if needed. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

Allow the clusters to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes, then move to a cooling rack.

Yield: 5 cups

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