Meet Buddy!

I know I say that all of our fosters are the best, but for the first time we were actually really close to foster failing.

I “picked” Jughead (re-named buddy because, let’s be honest, Jughead is just a dumb name) as our next foster back in early December.  In his “help me” photo it said he was 1-2 years old and 30 lbs, but all I saw was this cute little puppy face looking back at me!  He was the perfect size for Stella and Luke and I are generally drawn to hound mixes so it seemed great!

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He was supposed to ride to MN from a shelter in Arkansas on December 16th with some of his other friends, but the poor little dude tore his toenail and had to be sedated, which meant he missed the “freedom ride.”  They don’t have rides going from Arkansas very often so they didn’t think he would be able to come to MN for at least a month.

We were all set to foster and another pup from the same shelter didn’t have a home so last-minute we brought Winnie (formerly known as Shirley Temple – again, dumb name) home on the 16th.

Winnie

Winnie was a very sweet, calm dog but only ended-up being with us for only four days.  A lovely young man ended-up taking her as a foster-fail – she is living the artsy life hanging out with him all day at a Children’s Theater (CUTE)!

Conveniently little Buddy was able to catch a freedom ride up north that same week, so finally he came to us the Friday before Christmas.

At first he was extremely docile and scared.  He essentially didn’t move from the same spot on our rug for two days unless we fed him or picked him up to go outside, etc.  We were kind of wondering what we had gotten ourselves into!  Also unfortunately for buddy, it was Christmas weekend so we threw him right into the Tucker family gathering.  He went to my sister’s house (with two other dogs and a baby) and still basically stuck to his dog bed the whole day.

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It wasn’t until around day 4 that he started to come out of his shell, and immediately he bonded with Stella – they play SO WELL together!  We hosted a party for New Years and had 3 other dogs at our house plus several people and kids, and he did great!

He is now all goofy/playful/clumsy personality, housebroken, and has learned to sit nicely for food/treats.  He sleeps nicely on his bed at night and after an incident with his kennel one day (photo below – I’m not even mad, more impressed!!) he hangs out in a room with Stella all day without accidents.

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Quick sidebar on his daytime activities – I purchased a Nest on black Friday for future baby Fox.  It essentially streams live video via a phone/tablet app with sound (and you can talk back to it too!).  I decided to try it out on the dog’s room the other day and O.M.G. it is SO entertaining!  Stella basically sleeps in her cozy cave all day, and when buddy isn’t roaming/whining/bugging her he also calmly sleeps on his bed.  Amazing how fun it is to watch nothing happen all day :).

So despite being obsessed with this little cutie, with baby Fox coming this spring it just probably isn’t the right time to get a second dog.  So Buddy is still adoptable via Secondhand Hounds and would be the perfect family/brewery/go anywhere dog!

Who is looking for a new family member?!

 

White Chocolate Chex Mix (AKA “Christmas Crack”)

With the holiday season upon us I am reminded of the little gem of a recipe my husband and I refer to as “Christmas Crack.”  This recipe has been floating around my family for years, and was a staple to bring to various functions throughout my childhood.

While the title has Christmas in it, this salty sweet goodness can be made any time of year, and with colored m&m’s can be tailored to any holiday! (think pink/red for Valentines day, black/orange for Halloween, red/blue for 4th of July).  You could even do gold/black to prep for New Years!

It is super easy and great for get-togethers or to package individually for gifts!

Warning though:  Snack at your own risk – once you start, it is hard to stop! (hence the crack name)

Here is the recipe, enjoy 🙂

White Chocolate Chex Mix

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (10 oz) mini pretzels)
  • 5 cups Cheerios
  • 5 cups corn Chex
  • 1 pound M&M’s
  • 1 cups salted peanuts
  • 2 packages (12 oz each) white chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbl vegetable oil

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Directions:

  • Mix together the cheerios, chex, peanuts, m&ms, and pretzels in a large bowl until combined and set aside (note I made several batches hence the multiple bowls below)

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  • Mix the white chocolate chips and vegetable oil in a microwave-safe bowl until the chips are coated
  • Heat in the microwave until smooth, being careful not to scorch!
  • Pour the melted chocolate over the chex ingredients and gently stir until evenly coated.
  • Spread on a parchment-lined cookie sheet to harden, then store in an air-tight container (you may have to break-up some of the pieces).

Happy snacking!

Megan

 

 

Holiday Cream Cheese Pear Tart

This year I received a lovely Harry and David gift basket from a vendor with a bunch of fresh pears.  I love pears, but we had so many I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them!  I decided to contribute to our family Christmas brunch with a fun holiday pear tart!

After searching through a million Pinterest recipes, I settled on a hybrid of recipes from 365 Days of Baking and Food Network (with my own holiday twist :))

Here is the recipe:

Cream Cheese Pear Tart

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry sheets, thawed
  • 3 medium pears, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Tbl lemon juice
  • 1 Tbl plus 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 Tbl brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • Optional topping: honey and sugar

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Prepare the cream cheese filling by combining the cream cheese, one egg, and the almond extract until smooth.  Set aside

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  • Prepare the pear topping by combining your sliced pears, lemon juice, cornstarch, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Set aside
  • Beat the remaining egg into a bowl and set aside for the egg wash

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  • Spread-out the puff pastry sheets, setting one on top of the other.  Using a pizza cutter, cut into the shape of a Christmas tree (or if you aren’t doing this for Christmas, I would cut the sheets in half, length-wise making two pastries).

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  • With the remaining puff pastry sheet, cut two stars using a cookie cutter
  • Set one sheet aside, and cover one of the sheets with your cream cheese filling, leaving 1/2 inch or so along the eges

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  • Place the second sheet on top, and gently press/fold the edges creating a pocket for the topping, together then top with the egg wash
    *Note you can make smaller tarts with any remaining dough/filling/topping so you don’t waste!  You can also cut-out more stars, etc. to put on top of the tart to add to the presentation
  • Finally top the tart with the pear mixture.  Sprinkle some sugar/drizzle some honey over the tart (optional), and bake around 20 minutes on a parchment-lined cookie sheet until the tart is flaky and slightly browned.
  • Viola, you have a lovely Christmas tart!

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I adapted the tart to make it festive, but you could easily re-create our Christmas brunch for any winter occasion (menu below)!

  • Ham (a Christmas staple)
  • Mini Egg Quiches (similar to this recipe from Kitchen Snaps)
  • a Winter Fruit Salad (similar to this recipe from Bloglovin)
  • And of course the fixings for Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas!

I hope you enjoyed your holiday celebrations!

Megan

Hopper – Our 3-Legged Foster

As I mentioned in my last post, things have been a bit mental lately.  All good stuff, but Gopher Football, travel, the Alzheimer’s fundraiser, and a little thing called growing a baby – we’ve had our hands full!

Because of this we agreed (or more like Luke set the necessary boundary) that after Jammie we would wait to foster again after things slowed-down.  Essentially that meant after Thanksgiving.

I survived a few months of quickly scrolling over any sad or super cute pups on the Secondhand Hounds page, but then this I saw this:

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Quick sidebar, this screenshot is typical of “our process” – when I find dogs I’m obsessed with and want to foster, I send these photos to Luke and hope that he says yes!  Note I’m not trying to throw my husband under a bus, he keeps things manageable in our household and without him I probably would have 3 dogs, a million things going on, and would be going insane!

This dog stood out to me for three main reasons:

1.) She looks a bit like our dog, Stella
2.) Her leg was shot and had to be amputated..WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE
3.) She was on her way to MN that weekend and had no home

These things apparently stood out to Luke too, and his text response was literally “God Dammit Fine” despite knowing he would be alone with the dog about a week since I was going to be gone.  He is the best.

We picked June up last Friday and oh my goodness is she a cutie!  She is a little over a year old, and some sort of beagle, boxer, who knows mix (around 40 pounds I would guess).

 

She is super happy-go-lucky and rocks three legs!  She gets around extremely well and has some serious speed when her and Stella play chase!  She is also a huge cuddle bug, preferring to lay belly up like the photo above.

This video is a good example of her just fun, goofy personality:

 

No disrespect to the reality TV star, but the name “Momma June” was just too trashy for this fantastic little dog who has overcome so much in her short life.  So after getting to know her, we have been calling her Hopper 🙂

Hopper is staying with a temp foster while Luke and I are out of town, and when we get back we will check to make sure her ear infection is cleared-up and think she will be ready for adoption!

I’m Back, and with News!

So first I have to apologize – it has been ages since I have been on here!  I am going to chalk it up to Summer/Fall: 1; Megan: 0

But don’t worry, I haven’t been a complete sloth and do have some fun recipes/projects/pup-dates to share over the next couple of weeks as I get caught-up!

Before I do that though, Luke and I want to take a vote – which cheesy baby announcement is your favorite?!

This is part of the reason I’ve been M.I.A – there is a new pup joining the Fox family, and this time it isn’t a foster!  Baby Fox is due May 6, 2018 and we are thrilled (and a wee bit nervous in all honesty :))!

Without further ado, here is our Sunday morning attempt at some wonderfully cheesy baby announcements!

1.) We’re Prego

Don’t even need a sign, the jar says it all…and this baby loves carbs which makes it more fitting 🙂

2.) Official Baby Toy Tester

We can’t do a baby announcement without incorporating our OG miss Stella!  Even with the bribery of treats, she was a true model diva for this photo session.  These were the best we could get, and our new foster, June (or Hopper) as we call her, had to make an appearance too! (more to come on June in another post!)

3.) Stowaway

We are preparing for a trip to Europe, and this time I’m traveling with a little stowaway!  Baby Fox has been quite the little traveler – Chicago, Taiwan, and soon to be the UK and Amsterdam!

4.) Bun in the Oven

Takin’ it back old-school with the “bun in the oven” analogy 🙂

Which is your favorite?!

Mini Date & Goat Cheese Cups with Bacon

Bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese are one of my favorite appetizers/party tricks.  They are the perfect combo of sweet and savory plus who doesn’t love goat cheese?  I’ll admit many people aren’t too pumped about trying a date, but everyone loves them once they try them!  The only down-side to these tasty treats is that they can be a bit putsy (and messy) to make – you have to slice each date, stuff with goat cheese, wrap with bacon, and bake for several minutes.

In looking for new recipes for a party I found these little gems from Well Plated and thought they would be much easier but still provide the same flavor.  I was right, these are my new thing, and I LOVE mini fillo cups so they were even better!

If you are looking to impress people but not go to a ton of work I’d recommend these!

Mini Date & Goat Cheese Cups with Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 1/2 Cups dry red wine
  • 1 Tbl honey
  • 5 ounces (or one package) dried, pitted dates
  • 2 boxes Athens mini fillo cups (in the freezer section)
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • fresh thyme (optional)

Directions:

  • Cook the bacon however you prefer (I bake mine at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes) and chop when cooled
  • Meanwhile, heat the wine and honey in a saucepan over medium heat until combined
  • Add the dates and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until they begin to plump-up, stirring occasionally
  • Remove the dates with a slotted spoon and dice when cooled (they become a bit of a paste which is fine)
  • Keep the fillo cups in the plastic package and fill the bottom of each cup with goat cheese using a spoon (or your fingers)
  • Top with date mixture and sprinkle with bacon
  • Garnish with thyme (optional)
  • Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 4 hours

Sidebar Jammie enjoyed watching me cook 🙂

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Enjoy!

Diaper Keg – Sunday Fun-day Couples Shower

One of my husband’s best friends, Garrett, and his wife Daniela are expecting a little boy in September!  I of course wanted a cutsie couples shower, and if Luke had his way we would have had had frozen pizzas and beer – so we settled in the middle on a Diaper Keg 🙂

It turned-out to be a perfect combo of fun, cute, and chill, and was a great way to get the fellas involved in the baby shower process and celebrate the parents-to-be!

Here are the details!

The Concept: The theme of the event was “Baby is Brewing” – guests were asked to bring diapers in exchange for a keg cup!

The Decor:  All of the decor, signage, etc. revolved around beer but with a “girlie” twist!

Diaper Cake: I’ve made diaper cakes before, but for this one I added the dad-to-be’s favorite beer – Milwaukee’s Best – so it tied-in the theme!  If you haven’t made diaper cakes before, they are actually super easy!  Here is a simple tutorial:

What you need:
 – Cardboard
– Tissue paper
– hot glue gun
– Paper towel roll
– various-sized rubber bands
– Diapers (any size) – roughly 30
– Ribbon to match your color scheme + any additional “cake toppers”

1. Use a piece of cardboard for the base – you can use cardboard from the diaper box or in this case I used a frozen pizza base!

2. Cover the cardboard base with tissue paper using a hot glue gun then glue the paper towel roll to the base

3. Roll several of the diapers up and wrap with a small rubber band – set the diapers around the paper towel roll then secure with a larger rubber band.  Repeat for another row until the base is the desired width (3 rows works best).  Do the same thing for the middle layer, only reduce the rows by one so it is tiered.  Repeat until you get to the top!  To add the beer cans, I replaced some of the diapers with the beer then filled-in with more diapers if needed

4. Measure the ribbon so it wraps the width of the base – using a hot glue gun secure the two ends of the ribbon around the diapers, being careful not to glue the diapers so they can be used!

5. Top with any additional kids toys, etc. – in this case we used a fun pacifier to help tie-in our theme (Luke picked it out)!

Beer mug flowers: I found these on Pinterest and thought they were so cute!  I bought 4 large mugs from Michael’s and filled them with gold tissue paper (you can use amber-colored rocks or anything that somewhat resembles the color of beer).  Then you top with cut white flowers – we used daisies but carnations would better resemble the foamy-top of beer!

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Baby-Q Onesies: Using white onesies from Target and paper from Michaels I created a “BBQ” sign to hang over the gift area.  I just taped the letters on the onsies so they could be used again, and used some leftover tissue paper pomanders to help add to the sign!

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Other: I filled-inn the rest with some homemade signs, paper straws/mason jars, and additional pomanders!

The Cake: Another focal point of the party was the cupcake-cake.  I had it made at Target for $24.99 (24 cupcakes) and I was super happy with how it turned out!  It read “from beer bottles to baby bottles” again going with the beer theme!

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The Games: We didn’t do any formal games, but did do “late night diaper thoughts” which always is entertaining with this group!

The Food: We wanted to keep the menu pretty simple and “BBQ-y” but of course still fun!  I actually was out of town for a girls weekend up north so most of the food had to be prepare-able in advance!  Here is what we went with:

Appetizers:
 – Popcorn (she’s about to pop!)
Buffalo Chicken Bites (the dad-to-be’s favorite) from one of my other blog posts
 – Corn, Avocado, and Black Bean Salsa from Produce on Parade
Fruit “on the grill” – I saw this idea on Pinterest as well and wanted to try it for our BBQ!  You cut a watermelon in half and scoop-out the watermelon so you are left with a bowl.  Fill it with blueberries and use skewers for the grill grates and I used corn on the cob holders for the feet of the grill.  Kabob the fruit and set on-top so it looks like a little grill!

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Mains:
 – Brats/Burgers
– Pasta Salad
(one package skinny spaghetti noodles, 1/2 to 3/4 bottle Italian dressing, 2 TBL plus more to taste Suddenly Salad seasoning, and veggies/toppings of choice like green pepper, green onion, tomato, and pepperoni)
– Beans (6 slices bacon cooked and crumbled, 2 28-oz cans baked beans, 1 Cup pineapple tidbits drained, 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1 1/2 Cup ketchup, 1/4 Cup molasses, 3 Tbl yellow mustard, 1/4 cup light brown sugar — saute the onions then combine all ingredients – heat and serve warm!)

Beverages:
 – Punch from another blog postWater, La Croix, and of course the keg!

It was so fun to celebrate Garrett and Daniela and get the crew together for a Sunday Fun-day!

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Pup-Date – Jammie!

***UPDATE***

Little Jimmy Jams (now Julien) got adopted to a fantastic family in Wayzata!  They are absolutely in love and appreciate all of his silly hound-ness!  We got our “family photo” before he left and like all of them I was a hot mess when we had to say goodbye.

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But of course we are so happy he is now with his forever-home and are so lucky we have fund such great adopters again!

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To our surprise (I’m not complaining) we have had our current Secondhand Hounds foster, Jammie, for about 3 weeks.  Since he is the cutest little munchkin we assumed that he would be adopted quickly, but with over 220 dogs on the site we think he probably is just getting lost in the sea of cuteness.

We also thought that since he was a goofball little puppy we wouldn’t get attached but we were wrong – he is just THE BEST!  He charms everyone he meets and has chilled-out a lot since we got him.  He now sleeps with us in bed (much to Luke’s dismay) and unlike Stella just chills curled-up in a ball of soft fur in the same spot all night.  When he doesn’t know what to do he chomps his jaw and reminds me a lot of those alligators on Donkey Kong you have to avoid!

Although he isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, he has caught-on quickly to potty training and has learned to sit!

He and Stella have also become besties – I busted them snuggling the other day and actually teared-up it was so cute (I mean their legs are intertwined…ahhhh)!

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Other than being cute he is doing really well and is still a healthy pup.  He did over-play with Stella and sprained his toe (yes that is a thing for dogs) but with some pain meds and “trying” to keep him from playing for a few days that is all healed-up!  He also got neutered (sorry bud) a couple weeks ago so he is ready to be adopted!

We have a meeting tonight with a potential adopter so paws crossed!

3 Perfect Sides for Summer

Spring is in the air in Minne – this weekend we were graced with 60+ degree sunny weather and it was glorious.  The neighborhood was buzzing and the smell of grilling filled the air – I think it is finally safe to put the winter coats away (knock on wood)!

I was invited to a wine club BBQ on Saturday with a fantastic group of women I met at work (shout-out Beth and Jamie for hosting!) and was asked to bring a side to share.  My sides as of late have all been butternut squash based or comfort foody so I had to dig into the recipe book to pull-out some of my summer go-to’s!

Below are 3 summer-friendly, (relatively) healthy side dishes.  I ended-up making two sides for the party, and one to just have around to bring to work.

Enjoy!

Megan

1.) Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad

I feel like buffalo anything was kind of a “thing” for awhile, and this was my go-to side dish about 4 years ago.  Well cool or not I’m still a huge fan of buffalo chicken and love that this recipe from Half Baked Harvest is a bit different but still fairly healthy!  I pulled this guy out from the bottom of my Pinterest board and it was a hit!

It can be served as a side or the leftovers are perfect for lunch as well 🙂

*Note I skipped the cabbage, and I used a food processor to break-down the carrots.  I’ve found shredded carrots can be too tough and big in the salad.

2.) My Family’s Famous “Healthy Salad”

I’m not exactly sure where this recipe came from (I think my aunt’s friend Kathy?) but has been a staple summer side at the lake since I was a kid.  I’m sure it at one time had a different name, but the recipe card I have literally says “healthy salad.”  It is super flavorful, colorful, easy to make, pretty healthy (hence the name) and the beauty is that it stays good for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator!

I love to eat it over spinach as a salad for lunch at work 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 oz can peas
  • 1 15 oz can white (shoepeg) corn
  • 1 15 oz can french-style green beans
  • 2 oz pimentos (they come in 4 oz jars)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 chopped green pepper (yellow or red works as well)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Directions:

  • Drain corn, peas, green bean, and pimento then set aside in a medium bowl
  • Chop onion, pepper, and celery and combine with canned vegetables
  • In a small saucepan, stir together red wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper over low to medium heat until sugar is dissolved
  • Take off of heat and pour over vegetables, cool and refrigerate
  • Salad stores in refrigerator for 2-3 weeks

3.) Whole Wheat Veggie Mac & Cheese

I am a HUGE mac & cheese lover and for this recipe mixed some tricks from my Aunt Honey and some veggies into this creamy recipe from Macaroni and Cheesecake.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried pasta (I used whole-wheat elbow noodles)
  • 2 1/2 cups skim milk (I used almond milk and it turned-out fine)
  • 1/4 lb american cheese, cut into chunks*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, chopped

Directions:

  • In a saucepan add pasta and milk, bring to a simmer and cook until noodles are soft, around 20-25 minutes – be sure to stir frequently and make sure the milk never comes to a boil
  • While the pasta is cooking, saute the veggies with a drizzle of olive oil (and a sprinkle of garlic powder) over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until soft
  • Remove the pasta/milk from heat and add the cheese a little at a time, stirring until creamy.  Add the salt, dijon, and veggies and mix until combined.  You can add more milk as needed based on your creamy-ness preference

*the recipe called for 1 cup loosely shredded cheddar cheese, but as a trick from my Aunt, I used 1/4 lb yellow american cheese.  You get it at the deli counter, and just ask for it in a block vs. sliced (they look at you a little weird but it is worth it).  It melts so much better!

 

 

4th of July Brunch Win – Fruit and Cream Cheese Tarts

I grew-up in a lake town “up North” and the 4th of July is kind of a thing for my family.  In case you aren’t sure where “up North” actually is, it is how Minnesotans essentially describe anywhere north of about Alexandria and general lake country.  Or maybe best described by the photo below:

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My dad once said that the 4th of July was his favorite holiday – food, drinking, and good company without the pressure of gifts or formal entertaining.  I have to say I agree with him (although Christmas will always have a special place in my heart).

We have a pretty decent crew getting together to celebrate freedom and I opted to take-on Sunday brunch.  I have no shame in over-doing the red/white/blue food theme and in general (as I’ve said over and over) love bite-sized food.  So when I found these cute fruit and cream cheese pastries from Just a Taste I had to give them a try!

Fruit and Cream Cheese Tarts

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbl sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 sheets (one package) frozen pastry sheets (like these)
  • 1 1/2 cups fruit of choice
  • 1 large egg

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • With a mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla until creamy
  • Unfold the pastry sheet, and using a glass or cookie cutter (depending on what size pastries you want) cut-out circles **I used a glass that allowed 9 per sheet
  • Place the circles on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, around 2 inches apart
  • Lightly cut a border into each pastry near the edge and poke the center gently with a fork **The scored border is key to help the tart rise or “puff” properly along the edges
  • Spread the cream cheese mixture on each pastry and top with the fruit of your choice  **Be sure the fruit is properly dried so it doesn’t bleed
  • Mix together the egg and a spoonful of water (to create an egg wash), and brush the exposed edges of each pastry
  • Bake 15-18 minutes, until golden brown and puffy

Enjoy, and happy 4th!