Fruit Salad and Star Anise

  We chose a cookbook, Easy Menus for Dining In (Better Homes & Gardens), and decided to make a few recipes from it.  This book was great for the Little Chefs because it had a lot of pictures. They want to SEE what they will be making before they start. This was quite an enjoyable recipe to make. It was simple. All that was required was to make a simple syrup and cut some fruit. It was very evident my Little Chefs skills have improved!
  Little Chef A was assigned to make the simple syrup. I let her read the recipe, measure everything out and pour it all into the saucepan. She did a GREAT job. She said the star anise “smelt like jelly beans.”

  Little Chef C washed the strawberries and started cutting them before I gave her direction. The only thing I needed to tell her was to cut the strawberries in half one more time so they would fit in her mouth.

  Little Chef A cut the pineapple. This was a new experience. I showed her how to cut the side off and she wanted to do it. After cutting this (below) piece she said, “I think I have have cut it too fat.” I couldn’t have said it better! I helped save part of the pineapple and she wanted me to cut the rest. After explaining the core is very hard too eat I showed her how to cut the rest and she finished up.
  Both Little Chef A and C helped with the cantaloupe. I cut off the rind and they cut it into smaller pieces. It was so much fun cutting along side them and feeling like they could do their jobs safely. I caught a glimpse of the future in that moment. Cooking together, laughing, having fun….all this hard work really is paying off!

  The recipe calls for wine to be added to the simple syrup. I was going to use apple juice but of course did not have any in the house but we did have Martinelli’s Sparking Cider and decided to use that as a substitute.
  When the Little Chefs were eating bowl after bowl of their fruit salad Little Chef C noticed all the fruit was not cut to the same size. Some were bigger and some were smaller. I was impressed she noticed such a detail. The syrup was interesting. I found it made all the fruit come together with one taste. The very distinct flavors each fruit had was not as strong. I missed that. The Little Chefs were happy to have leftovers the next day! They will choose fruit over sweets any day!

Fruit Salad with Star Anise
Easy Menus for Dining In (Better Homes & Gardens)

Ingredients
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 star anise
1/2 cup white Zinfandel wine
6 cups assorted fresh fruit (such as pineapple chunks, blueberries, raspberries, peeled and sliced pears, diced mango, quartered strawberries, and/or cubed cantaloupe or honeydew melon)
Fresh mint sprigs (optional)

Directions
In a small saucepan combine the water, sugar, and star anise; bring to boiling. Boil, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened and syrupy, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Immediately stir in wine.
In a large bowl combine desired fruits. Add syrup, tossing to coat. Cover and chill at least two hours or up to 4 hours.
To serve, remove star anise. If desired, garnish with mint sprigs.

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