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A new snack for entertaining and some mincemeat tarts with homemade pie crust.

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FROM MY PANTRY BY SHARYN THOMPSON

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

For your holiday entertaining, I have a super easy snack for you to make either on your BBQ or in your oven. Thanks to Annette Richer for making it for Gary and I and giving me the recipe. It uses cream cheese, pesto, chopped tomatoes and grated cheese. Wrap in foil and heat. It’s as easy as that. I brought it to our daughter Karens birthday and it was a real hit!

I baked some mincemeat tarts this week for Christmas. I have my great grandmother’s recipe for homemade mincemeat from way back in the 1800’s. But now I use our store’s wonderful Scotchstyle mincemeat with rum and suet already in it. You can follow Dorothy and Rita’s pastry recipe or come in and buy my ready made frozen tart shells for a fast and easy baking time. Just add the mincemeat and bake. Either way your tarts will be homemade and delicious!

Thanks to Annette and Dorothy and Rita for the recipes given to me many years ago. My wish for you is to have a very Holy and Merry Christmas with your families and the coming New Year 2020 to be filled with good health, peace and happiness! See you next year!

ANNETTE’S EASY SNACK

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 or 2 -8oz. bricks of plain cream cheese
  • pesto for spreading
  • chopped fresh garden tomatoes or winter cherry tomatoes cut in 1/4’s or 1/2’s
  • grated old cheddar cheese or tex mex shredded cheese
  • foil for wrapping, using double thickness

METHOD:

  • Use a double thickness of foil. Lay it on your work surface.
  • Place the unwrapped cream cheese on the foil. Use one or two packages, depending on how many people you will be serving to.
  • Spread a layer of pesto over the cream cheese.
  • Top with a generous layer of diced tomatoes. I still had some of my own garden tomatoes to use when I brought this to Karens birthday.
  • Now just sprinkle over this lots of shredded old cheddar cheese or texmex cheese. Whatever you have is fine.
  • Loosely wrap the foil around and over the dip. Place this in a shallow baking dish. Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  • Serve with some sliced baguettes or crackers. ENJOY!

DOROTHY AND RITA’S PASTRY

(This recipe made 3 dozen mincemeat tarts, 5 pie shells to freeze for future use and a tiny mincemeat pie for our dessert that night.)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 cups of bleached or unbleached pastry flour (Both are sold at Sharyn’s Pantry. This flour is the key to the flakiest tender pie crust ever! I always use our unbleached pastry flour.)
  • 2 tsp. fine salt
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 lb. of Crisco vegetable shortening
  • 1 egg beaten
  • enough cold milk when added to the beaten egg in a measuring cup to measure 1- 1/8 cups total liquid

METHOD:

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the pastry flour, salt, brown sugar & baking powder.
  • Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the pound of shortening into the flour mixture until it is the size of peas. (We sell pastry blenders too!)
  • In a liquid measuring cup, whisk the egg and add to it enough cold milk to measure 1 and 1/8 cups total liquid.
  • Pour the egg and milk mixture over the flour and shortening , keeping back about 1/8 cup of the milk mixture.
  • Using a plastic bowl scraper, (We sell all kinds of these handy gadgets at my store Sharyns Pantry.) mix in the milk and egg mixture into the Crisco and flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and press the mixture together. Add a bit more of the milk if the mixture seems too dry. The pastry must be able to hold together when you press some in you hand.
  • You see, flour changes its amount of moisture in it according to the temperature and humidity in your home. That is why a baker weighs the flour and not measuring it as we do by the cupful. Since we are not working with 100 lbs. at a time, thank the dear Lord! we must adjust the liquid needed to keep the pastry at just the right amount of moisture so we can roll out the dough easily.
  • I use a pastry cloth and rolling pin cover to make rolling dough a snap! We sell these at my store. I wouldn’t think about rolling pastry or cookies without them.
  • Lightly flour the rolling pin cover and pastry cloth with some all purpose flour. Take a good handful of the pastry and form it into a ball, then flatten it. Dust it with some flour and then roll out the pie crust until it is a bit less than 1/4 ” thick. I learned this from Anna Olson, using all purpose flour for rolling out your pastry.
  • Cut the pastry with a round cookie cutter. (We sell all kinds of cutters too!) Place the round rolled out pastry into a ribbed tart tin or small muffin tin. Gently, press the dough into and up around the sides of the tins.(Guess what, we sell baking tins too!)
  • Fill the pastry with some of our mincemeat and top the mincemeat with a small pastry cutout. I don’t completely cover the mincemeat with a top crust.
  • Bake the tarts in a 350 degree F. oven until the pastry turns a light golden. Cool on wire cooling racks.
  • OR use my frozen ready to bake tart shells. Just fill them with mincemeat, cut one tart shell into 4 or 5 pieces and top the mincemeat with the tiny piece of pastry cutout. Bake as above until the pastry is lightly browned. I must admit that last year I just used my frozen tart shells and had delicious mincemeat tarts without the fuss of homemade pastry being made. Either way will make your family love you for your efforts to make them happy. ENJOY!