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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Easy Fruit Tarts

My husband and I left our vacation home in Florida on December 22, 2013 to make the long drive home just in time for Christmas.  In all honesty, we would have stayed longer but had already made plans for our family Christmas gathering on December 26, we had our monthly games night on the 28th and my husband had tickets to go to the Winter Classic on January 1.  We arrived home just after dinner on the 23rd leaving us the 24th to tidy up Christmas shopping and get the house ready for the 26th.  That meant a lot of prep in a rather short amount of time and only one day to pick up any extras needed, no easy feat after spending two long days on the road.

filling the tart shells
Mincemeat tarts are a family tradition for the holidays.  Normally, they are readily available in the grocery stores but this year, there were none to be found!  We finally found one of the few remaining jars of mincemeat to make mincemeat tarts at home.  Mincemeat is one of the few products I haven't home canned yet but intend to this year. 

I used a package of No Name tart shells (30 shells).  This is one convenience food I keep in the freezer on a regular basis because with very little effort I can easily have a quick dessert or savory dish.  All I need is a little filling!   I also use a jar of home canned low sugar strawberry jam in addition to the the mincemeat. 

cutting out the decorative pastry topping
Fruit tarts are typically topped with some type of crust before baking or whipped cream after baking.  Store bought mincemeat tarts are usually topped with a small circle of crust. I'm not sure why a circle is used but have noticed even the bakeries use a circle of dough for mincemeat tarts.  A dough topper is fairly easy to do with the pre-made tart shells.  I used six of the tart shells to make the toppers by lightly flattening them and cutting with mini cookie cutters. The scrap dough sticks together to maximize the number of the small bits of dough for topping.    I used a flower shape for the mincemeat tarts and a duck shape for the strawberry tarts.  The different shapes for the dough topping are practical.  They make it very easy for the little ones to tell the difference.

prepared tarts ready for baking
I put about 2 tablespoons of filling in each tart shell then topped with the appropriate dough topper.  There was no need to flatten the filling or distribute evenly as it would even out from the baking.  I placed the shells on a Silpat lined baking sheet.  In the event of any filling spilling over, this would make for easy clean-up.  Normally, the filling doesn't spill over with proper filling so the prepared tart shells can be placed close together on the baking pan.  I baked the prepared tarts at 375°F until the filling was bubbling and the crust golden brown.
baked tarts cooling
Once the tarts were baked, I removed them from the oven to cool on cooling racks.  After cooling, I placed the tarts in a covered serving dish and set them on the table along with the plate of oranges and bowl of nuts.  These are must haves for our Christmas celebrations.  The oranges and nuts are a long family tradition I brought to our family from my childhood days.  My Mom always had oranges and nuts on the coffee tables during the holiday season.  She had lived through the Great Depression so viewed both as symbols of being affluent enough to afford such luxuries.  The mincemeat tarts are from my husband's family holiday traditions, always appearing during the holiday season.

Our grandkids are very much foodies!  Our third little one (age 4) climbed up to the table for a tart.  Instead of taking a strawberry tart, he took a mincemeat one like Papa.  The kids just chuckled because his Mom did not inherit Papa's love of mincemeat tarts.  The little one ate that tart then a few minutes later he was walking around with another one.  So the taste buds skipped a generation! Oh and he can roll his tongue like Papa too :)

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