Gingersnap Lemon Tarts

I know how you love it when I don’t give measurements :) Okay, maybe not, but this is too easy to not be able to do even without a specific recipe.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner but these would make a great addition to any holiday or special occasion menu. They are so flavorful and tart, and you can just pop them right into your mouth. Perfect!

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Gingersnap Lemon Tarts

Take gingersnaps, crumble them, add melted butter, and form them into a mini-muffin pan to make crusts. Add a dollop of  lemon curd and a fresh berry on top. Viola!

Check out last year’s Valentine’s Day Recipe Round Up

Tomorrow begins Gluten-Free February!! Stay tuned to see what my menu will be :)

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Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award and Blog of the Year 2012 Award

 

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Thank you to Cathie at Help For Your Life for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award and for the Blog of the Year 2012 Award (1st Star)!! It is an honor to be nominated and recognized for any award, but even more is the blessing of being part of such a great community.

The rules for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award are:

  1. Provide a link and thank the blogger who nominated you for this award.
  2. Answer the 10 questions provided.
  3. Nominate up to 12 blogs.
  4. Provide links to the nominated blogs and kindly let the recipients know that they have been nominated.
  5. Include the award logo within your blog post.

Here are the 10 questions:

  1. What is your favorite color? — Pretty much all reds but mostly pink.
  2. Your favorite animal? — That would have to be my Brussels Griffon.
  3. Your favorite non-alcoholic drinks? — Water, Sweet Tea, or Gingerale.
  4. Facebook or Twitter? — Both, but I am actively on FB whereas Twitter just posts itself. Ha!
  5. Your favorite pattern? Not big on patterns but I do like paisely and argyle.
  6. Do you prefer getting or giving presents? — Both
  7. Your favorite number? 1156…..or 7
  8. Your favorite day of the week? Don’t know. I like every day.
  9. Your favorite flower? Tulips and Gerber Daisies.
  10. What is your passion? — Writing, cooking, family & friends.

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The rules for the Blog of the Year 2012 Award are:

  1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the Blog of the Year 2012 Award.
  2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
  3. Please include a link back to this page Blog of the Year 2012 Award – and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)
  4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them.
  5. You can now also join our Facebook page – click the link here Blog of the Year 2012 Award Facebook page and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience.
  6. As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars.

When you begin you will receive the ‘1 star’ award – and every time you are given the award by another blog – you can add another star! There are a total of 6 stars to collect.

There are so many blogs I enjoy, and some that I would like to know better.

I have selected the following nominees for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award and the Blog of the Year 2012 Award!

1. Hungry Little Girl

2. The Domestically Impaired Guide to the Retro Kitchen Arts

3. Blessed With Grace

4. This Gal Cooks

5. Food Done Light

6. What’s That, Sally?

7. My Whole Food Life

8. Flour Me With Love

9. At 350 Degrees

10. Food Thoughts of a Chef Wannabe

11. The Inklings of Life

12. My Healthy Ohana

Congratulations and enjoy!

Blessings,

Tiramisu Cupcakes

Last week I posted a recipe for Cannoli Tarts that I made for an Italian-themed dinner I went to, but what I didn’t mention was that I made these fabulous little Tiramisu cupcakes as well.

I got this recipe from Life Is Sweets and I knew this was something I needed to make, not only for the dinner but because I LOVE Tiramisu. And even though it’s a bit of a cheat because you use cake batter instead of lady fingers, it’s surprisingly close in taste to a real tiramisu, and even better is that it does not have any rum  or kahlua in it, so it’s great for everyone. (Yes, I know alcohol cooks off, but there are some people who do not like eating things that have a strong alcohol taste, my hubby included.)

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Tiramisu Cupcakes

*Basic Yellow Cake Batter

8 oz. mascarpone cheese

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

unsweetened cocoa

chocolate, for grating/shaving

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1. Bake cupcakes according to package/recipe directions. *I always use foil liners. I prefer them over paper liners any day. Everything usually comes out of a foil liner perfectly, but not always so with paper. Also, you will be soaking the cake in coffee and the foil will not soak through.

2. Allow the cupcakes to cool. Then use a wooden skewer and poke a lot of holes in the cupcakes.

3. Make a strong cup of coffee and spoon over the cupcakes slowly, so that the coffee is absorbed into the cakes. Spooning 1 tsp at a time until the coffee is all gone, at least 5 tsp per cupcake. Don’t worry if this seems too much. You want that sponge cake effect and after you refrigerate them they will firm back up a bit.

4. Whip up the heavy cream until it’s firm and has stiff peaks.

5. In a nother bowl, combine the mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar, then fold into the whipped cream.

6. Using a large ziplock or frosting bag, snip off a corner and pipe frosting onto the cupcakes.

7. Garnish with cocoa and/or grated chocolate.

8. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Gluten-Free Flour Mix

I got this amazing recipe for a basic GF flour mix from the Gluten Free Goddess, so I am in no way stating that this is my recipe. If you truly want to learn all there is to know about living gluten-free, go check out her blog.

Yes, you can buy GF baking flour but that is costly. If you cook/bake enough (and I suspect you do if you’re GF) then it is way more cost-effective to make your own flour blend.

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Basic GF Flour Mix

1 cup sorghum flour

1 cup tapioca starch (or potato starch)

1/3 – 1/2 cup almond meal (or buckwheat flour, millet flour, quinoa flour)

1 tsp xanthan gum

*I’d love any GF cooking tips you have, so please don’t hesitate to share. You can email me privately at thehomeheart@gmail.com if you prefer.

Come back tomorrow when I share this recipe :) Squeeeeeee!

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Gluten is sneaky stuff

So, as promised I am doing my gluten research in an attempt to have a GF February. Though truthfully I don’t know if I can do a whole month because when I announced my plans to my family one night at dinner it sounded something like this:

Chirp

Chirp

Chirp…

And it looked like this:

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So I decided to say no more about it and just continue doing what I do.

Now in my research I am collecting recipes and making plans and menus, and I am going to attempt to take this one week at a time. Mainly so that I don’t overwhelm myself  but also because I really do want to see (and feel) the benefits of this so that we can be encouraged to go on. Mostly I don’t think my family will really notice the difference in the meals- at least not by what I’ve seen in the recipes I’ve been collecting and the huge amount of GF options available these days- as far as taste and quality goes.

I try to take ALL the available information (there’s a lot!) in stride. There’s so much to know and I am not even going to fool myself into believing that I am going to understand it all right away. In fact, for you other GF wannabes like me, I say just focus on the cooking. Find some good recipes and follow them. Learn the rest as you go. I say this with all humility because these past few weeks have taught me one really important thing: I eat a lot of gluten!

Like I said, the cooking is easy because I can just follow someone else’s wonderful tried and true recipes until I get the hang of it myself. What really gets me is paying attention to what I’ve put into my mouth during these weeks of research. It’s amazing. Does anyone else ever feel that those easy access foods are the most gluten-filled? It’s true. The most common thing I am likely to eat during a regular day is some type of bread.

But here’s the sneaky part. You know when you’re putting bread into your mouth, that’s obvious, but did you know where else gluten is? It’s in prepackaged gravies, broths, salad dressings, cured meats, burger patties, meatballs, herb cheeses, spice blends, dry mustard, canned soups, tomato paste, sweeteners, confectioners and brown sugar, flavored coffees, herbal teas, roasted nuts, jerky, yogurt and pudding, some chocolate chips, cocoa, flavored vinegars, cooking wines, wine coolers, some ice cream and other frozen desserts, and liquor.

Always read the labels.

Do you know what you’re looking for? Here’s a basic list for you:

1. Flour  (bleached white, unbleached, whole wheat, cracked wheat, barely, semolina, spelt, farro, kamut, triticale)

2. Pasta  (Semolina, spelt, whole wheat)

3. Cous Cous

4. Beer, ale, lager

5. Malt vinegar, malt flavorings, barley malt

A few items that are sometimes GF but not always: seitan, tempeh, flavored tofu, Injera bread (typically made from teff flour), Asian rice wraps. Always check the labels to make sure that these substitutes are GF.

So what is Gluten-free?

1. Corn (grits, polenta and cornmeal, tortillas)

2. Buckwheat (buckwheat cereal, kasha, buckwheat flour)

3. Rice (white, brown, risotto, basmati, jasmine, sticky rice, rice cereal, rice flour, sweet rice and brown rice flour, rice paper)

4. Quinoa (quinoa cereal flakes, quinoa flour)

5. Millet and millet flour

6. Oats (certified GF oats and oatmeal)

7. Nut meals and flours (almond, chestnut, pecan, cashew)

8. Soy (chickpea, garbanzo, soya {NOT soy sauce}, bean flour)

9. Tapicoa (whole) and starch (manioc)

10. Potato starch (for baking) and potato flour (as a thickener)

11. Sweet potato and yam flour

12. Starches (cornstarch, arrowroot)

13. Other flour substitutes: Sorghum, amaranth, coconut, teff

14. Pasta alternatives: soy, rice, corn, soba

15. Nut & Seed Butters: almond, peanut, cashew, pecan, sesame tahini, sunflower and hemp seed butter

You see how many options you have, yes? It just takes a little more work and planning. For example, you can’t just use an almond flour in place of regular flour. It takes a combination of flour substitutes to replace the one regular wheat flour, but it can be done and none too difficult. Next I will share a GF flour blend I came across, so stay tuned for that.

Cannoli Tarts

Once a month a group of my girlfriends get together and have dinner. We take turns hosting at our houses where everyone brings something, and there are usually a dozen kids between the ages of 1 and 12 running around as well as a couple of husbands on the side lines.

In December we had our Christmas get-together which is when I made my Triple Chocolate Tres Leches Trifle. This month we had an Italian theme. Since everyone liked my dessert so much I was assigned to do it again, so of course I decided to go the way of the cannoli.

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I found a recipe that allowed me to make my own cannoli shells. I always prefer to make something as opposed to buying it full of preservatives and junk. But it didn’t take me long to realize that it wasn’t going to work out very well. First of all, I have no metal cannoli tube to fry the shells with, not to mention the idea of frying each shell didn’t really appeal to me a whole lot. But I was still in a jam because you can’t just walk out to the nearest store and buy cannoli shells around here.

So I decided to make tarts with the shell dough. Yeah, that dough was not good. I don’t know what I did wrong (well, I guess if I really thought about it…) but I was determined I was going to make these little cannoli tarts, I just needed a proper shell. With resources being as limited as they are in my town I decided to use eggroll wrappers. Yep, it worked.

Cannoli Filling

4 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

1 & 1/2 cups powered sugar

1 T vanilla extract

1/3 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries

1/4 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

Chocolate for grating, optional

1 package Eggroll Wrapper Shells

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1. Drain ricotta if it has liquid. Use a cheese cloth. Also, rinse and drain the maraschino cherries. Squeeze out the excess liquid with your hands.

2. Combine ricotta, powdered sugar, and vanilla until combined.

3. Stir in cherries and chocolate chips. Be careful not to over mix.

4. For an even lighter filling you can whip up 1 cup of heavy cream and fold into the mixture.

5. Chill for at least 30 minutes before you fill shells.

6. Using a drinking glass (I used a wine glass because it was the best size) cut out 4 circles from each wrapper sheet.

7. Using a tart shaper, push the circles into a mini muffin pan. Bake the tarts at 350* for 5 -8 minutes. Watch to keep them from burning. Edges will get browned. Cool completely.

8. Fill each with a tsp of ricotta filling. I used my 1-inch melon baller for a perfect proportion. Dust the tops with some grated chocolate.

Tart shells may seem a bit hard at first, but if you make the tarts and refrigerate them for some time before serving, they will soften up a bit. This recipe will make 5 -6 dozen tarts (or 24 cannoli).

This photo is property of mymillionlittlethings.blogspot

This photo is property of mymillionlittlethings.blogspot

I’ve mentioned my melon baller a lot in my posts. It is such a great, handy little tool. The above picture is what I’m referring to if you didn’t know what the heck I was talking about. This one, and mine, is from Pampered Chef, but you can find them in most kitchen stores. They also come in a regular ice cream scoop size as well, which is perfect for filling cupcake/muffin tins.

It’s rumored that February’s theme will be Mexican (squeeeeeeeee!) and I think I may have been tasked with dessert again. Stay tuned to see what I make :)

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Tilapia Al Ajillo (Garlic Tilapia)

I’ve put this dish on my menu several times and have never gotten around to it, which is kinda crazy considering what a quick meal any tilapia dish makes.  If you like to eat fish often like we do, you might be looking for a way to serve it a little differently, too. This was a very simple and quick recipe, and it will go well with any sides you choose. I served this with a decked out salad and a brown rice pilaf.

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Garlic Tilapia

4 Tilapia fillets (or about 1 & 1/2 lbs)

4 garlic cloves, minced or thinly sliced

5 T butter

salt & pepper

fresh parsley, chopped

lemons, sliced, for serving

1. Season fillets with salt and pepper.

2. Heat skillet at medium heat. Melt butter.

3. Saute the garlic for a few minutes then place fish into the skillet and allow the bottom sides to sear.

4. Turn fish after 3 or 4 minutes. Tilapia cooks quickly.

5. Garlic should be browning but not burning. If the fish still isn’t done and the garlic is cooking too quickly, try to scoop it up and place on top of the fish, away from the direct heat.

6. Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon slices.

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Soup Recipe Round-Up

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love soup! Especially in the fall and winter as we face cold and frigid days, there is nothing more satisfying and warming than a good, hearty soup.

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Black Bean Soup

Turkey Noodle Soup

Baby Portabella and Wild Rice Soup

Hearty Taco Chili

Chicken Spaetzle Soup

Potato & Leek Soup

Lasagna Soup

Lentil & Pasta Soup

Beef & Barley Soup

Meatball Soup

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Greens & Beans Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Dolly’s Polish Cabbage Soup

Meatball Minestrone Soup

I hope you enjoy this collection, and if you missed my other round-ups you can find the links here:

Go-To Meal Round-Up

Crock Pot Recipe Round-Up

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Caramel Cake

You’re saying, “This, again?!!”

YES!

Listen to me peeps, I’m not kidding. You will thank me, I promise. No other cake will EVER compare for you ever again. Okay, maybe not quite, BUT since it’s Hubby’s birthday and this is his favorite cake…AND because the majority of my current readers probably aren’t aware that I’ve posted about this fantastic recipe before, I decided to reboot the caramel frosting recipe and post for you. I’m also including a recipe for made from scratch yellow cake as well.

I mean it…. you’re welcome.

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Yellow Cake

2 cups *cake flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

3 eggs, room temp

2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350*. Grease cake pans (2 9-inch, 9×13, 24 muffin tins).

*I never have cake flour in the house. Luckily there is an easy substitution using regular flour. For every cup of regular all-purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons and replace with 2 T of cornstarch. Sift many, many times. At least three times. Do not skip this step.

In bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix completely.

Slowly add flour, alternating with the addition of the milk. When finished the batter should be smooth.

Baking times:

Muffins: 15 – 20 minutes

2 9-inch pans: 20 – 25 minutes

9×13 pan: 30 – 35 minutes

Cool for 5 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack (except for the 9×13). Cool completely before frosting.

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Caramel Frosting

4 oz. can evaporated milk

1 stick butter

1 cup & 3 T tightly packed brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla

3 cups powdered sugar

1/2 tsp *water

Combine the evaporated milk, butter, and brown sugar in saucepan and boil for 10 or 15 minutes, stirring, until the sugar cooks down and it’s all carmelized and lovely.  Be careful not to burn.

Take the mixture and put into a metal bowl. Use a mixmaster or hand mixer an add in the vanilla and the powdered sugar. Scrape down the sides as it’s mixing.

*Add a 1/4 tsp of water. You can add up to 1 tsp but go very slowly. Get it the consistency you like.

Frost your cake or cupcakes with a thick layer of frosting, grab a glass of cold milk, and prepare to feel a little euphoric.

Does this cake look small to you? I used Wilton’s 4.5-inch cake pans to make a mini cake :) It’s 50% smaller than a regular 2-layer cake. Perfect for those who don’t want (or need) a ton of leftover cake lying around. I used the rest of the batter to make 12 cupcakes. Stay tuned to see what I did with those, later this week….

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Chocolate Pretzles

You might be thinking this is too simple to be a real post, but nobody ever said a recipe had to be difficult for it to count. Sure, you can just go buy some Flipz for that prepackaged and processed junk your body loves and will thank you for (not), or you could satisfy your sweet tooth with a litte homemade chocolate dipped pretzles of your own.

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Since Christmas we have seriously cleaned out the junk and as promised I have not made any desserts so far this month. But that didn’t stop me from craving something chocolate and there was nothing in the house that would do. Then it came to me during one of my staring-into-the-fridge moments. I had leftover Ganache (believe it)! All I had to do was heat that up and submerge a few pretzles into it, place them on a sheet of waxed paper, and set them in the fridge to harden.

Viola!

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I will say this however, unless you’ve got extra ganache laying around the house, don’t bother. A package of chocolate bark would do an even better job (though then you’d be dealing with preservatives and addtives…so there’s that).

Another idea is to sprinkle holiday-themed candies on them before the chocolate hardens. Since Valentine’s Day is around the corner some cute little pink, white, and/or red sprinkles would be darling. Hey, I think I may just do that :)

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