Individual Chicken Pot Pie

The humble pot pie was once the height of culinary style. During the Elizabethan era, these savory pastries — decorated with flowers, fancy designs, etc. were elaborate assertions of the chef’s skill in the royal households of France and England. Among the lower classes, pot pie were popular because the addition of a crust helped feed another mouth or two, while individual pastries, empanadas and perogies were well suited for sale by street vendors as portable meals.

Fortunately, the resurgence in so called ‘retro’ foods has brought pot pies back to the table. There is no reason why they shouldn’t do just as well in the 21st century. To some, chicken pot pie is a staple comfort food. The recipes mix of meat and vegetables in a chicken broth seasoned with herbs, produces a spectrum of flavors that’s like no other.

The trick is getting all the ingredients to the right degree of doneness at the same time. It may be these timing issues that led to the abandonment of the homemade pot pie in favor of the frozen variety. One thing for sure, is that they are definitely worth the time and effort. It makes good sense to make a big recipe, freeze them unbaked (if you choose) and there ready when you need them.

Individual Chicken Pot Pie
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Individual Chicken Pot Pie
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
Filling
  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp oil. Add chicken, season with 1 tsp salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink on the outside but not dry, 4-6 minutes. Remove from skillet & set aside.
  2. Decrease heat & add remaining oil. When oil is hot, add onions, mushrooms, carrots, celery, garlic, remaining 1 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, dried thyme & savory; stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Add margarine & melt.
  3. Stir in the flour & cook for 1-2 minutes; gradually stirring in chicken broth & milk. Bring to a simmer, continue stirring until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat & stir in peas, thyme, mustard & reserved chicken. Cover & set aside while preparing pastry.
Pastry
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt. With a pastry blender, cut in white & yellow Crisco. In a measuring cup, place the egg & vinegar; add enough cold water to make 1 cup & whisk together. Make a well in flour; pour in all of the liquid & combine.
  2. Roll out pastry. For 6 individual pies, prepared in mini foil pot pie pans, cut 6 - 8" (20 cm) circles for the bottom shells & 6 - 5 1/2" (14 cm) circles for the tops. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Place pastry lined pans on a baking sheet & divide chicken filling among them. Moisten edges with milk or water; place pastry circles on top, crimping edges with a fork. Whisk together 1 egg & 1 Tbsp water; brush tops of pot pies with egg wash. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden.
Recipe Notes
  • This amount of pastry will actually make enough for a double recipe of filling or just some extra for another time. If wrapped tightly it will freezes well.
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Sour Cream Oatmeal Cookies

Sour cream is often thought of as topping for potatoes or an addition to sauces. Due to its creamy texture, sour cream can be added to a variety of baked goods and recipes in order to yield moister results. The use of sour cream has been associated with the cooking traditions of Eastern Europe, Germany, Ukraine and Russia since the first half of the 20th century. Originally made by allowing cream to sour naturally, today’s commercial version can contain the addition of lactic acid, gelatin or guar gum.

Probably one of the first recipes I ever used sour cream in was coffeecake. I just couldn’t believe how tender and moist it was and the heavenly smell when it came out of the oven. Looking through my mother’s recipe files, I see there were many recipes that contained sour cream that she had used.

I saw this recipe on a site called love2cooksweets.ca  It was posted back in 2010. Nothing fancy but makes a wonderful sour cream oatmeal cookie. These can be filed under ‘comfort food’ I’m sure.

Sour Cream Oatmeal Cookies
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Servings
24
Servings
24
Sour Cream Oatmeal Cookies
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Servings
24
Servings
24
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda & salt. In a medium bowl, cream butter with sugars; beat in egg & vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream. Stir in raisins & oats.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Scoop dough onto cookie sheet a few inches apart. Bake 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool on pan about 30 seconds then remove to wire racks.
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Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving Day, it seems like baking some special little dinner rolls for the occasion would be in order.

Bread making has always been a carefully protected symbol of civilization. The Greeks would let only priests make bread — they reasoned that dealing with the ‘staff of life’ was the business of those trained in religious matters. The Romans, a practical-minded people, turned bread baking over to the Civil Service and enforced rigid sanitary regulations. In any case, it has always been an integral  part of history.

Pan or dinner rolls, a name given to small pieces of dough, shaped and baked in a pan with their sides touching. This prevents them from flattening out, instead springing upwards.

At our house we love pan buns. For some strange reason, both of us enjoy baked goods when they are very lightly baked rather than dark and crispy. Pan buns usually fit that description.

These PUMPKIN DINNER ROLLS  check all the boxes. For Thanksgiving, they’re just a little bit more special as well as being a suitable accompaniment for soups and stews during the fall and winter months. If you like pumpkin, I think you will enjoy them.

Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
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Servings
10 rolls
Servings
10 rolls
Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
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Servings
10 rolls
Servings
10 rolls
Ingredients
Dough
Honey Butter
Servings: rolls
Instructions
  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat milk & butter about 45 seconds. Whisk until butter has melted smoothly into the milk; add egg, pumpkin puree & whisk again to combine. Heat again about 15 seconds to warm total mixture. In a large mixing bowl, add remaining dough ingredients along with pumpkin/milk mixture.
  2. Combine & knead dough on a lightly floured surface 5-8 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Grease bowl lightly, place dough in bowl & turn to grease all sides of dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a draft-free place until dough has doubled in bulk.
  3. Spray work surface with baking spray, punch dough down & turn onto surface. Divide dough into 10 equal portions; roll each into a ball. Place dough balls into a sprayed, 9 x 9-inch square pan; cover with plastic wrap & place in a draft-free area until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small bowl, melt butter & add honey; stir to combine. Before baking, generously brush the rolls with honey butter; reserving any extra to brush on after baking.
  5. Bake 15-17 minutes or until puffed & golden. After removing from oven, brush with any remaining honey butter & allow to cool slightly before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • For some extra 'butter' to serve with rolls, whisk together equal parts softened butter & honey until fluffy.
  • MAKE AHEAD OPTION:   Once you have the rolls in the baking pan, cover with foil & place in refrigerator overnight. When ready to bake, bring the rolls to room temperature & allow to rise about 45 minutes before baking.
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Classic Gingerbread Cake

Gingerbread (cake) is the perfect sweet/spicy dessert for fall and winter, flavored by a ‘strange lumpy little root’. I recall my mother baking gingerbread cake for our supper dessert. She would serve it warm with farm fresh whipped cream. For lack of a better expression, ‘it was to die for’. Strangely enough, I was never fond of molasses but certainly enjoyed that warm gingerbread cake!?

Gingerbread has been baked in Europe for centuries. In some places it was soft, delicately spiced cake, in others, a crisp, flat cookie. Then in other places, warm, thick, dark squares of bread served with lemon sauce or whipped cream.

At first, gingerbread was made with breadcrumbs and sweetened with honey, but as it made its way throughout the world it has been adapted to meet the taste of different cultures. In North America, along with the ground ginger we usually like to add cinnamon, and cloves. Molasses is usually labeled as ‘sulphured’ or ‘unsulphured’ depending on whether sulphur was used in the processing. The unsulphured molasses is lighter in color and tends to have a nicer flavor.

Brion does not remember ever eating gingerbread cake?? I’m going to try to bring back the taste of a memory  with this classic little cake and see what he thinks.

Classic Gingerbread Cake
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Applesauce is such a great addition in that it adds to the cake moistness.
Servings
9-12
Servings
9-12
Classic Gingerbread Cake
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Applesauce is such a great addition in that it adds to the cake moistness.
Servings
9-12
Servings
9-12
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together sugar & butter until lightened in color & fluffy. Beat in egg, molasses, applesauce & hot water until fully combined.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger & cloves. Whisk into wet ingredients, mixing ONLY until blended.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cake springs back when touched or a knife inserted comes our clean.
Recipe Notes
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Salmon, New Potato & Dill Mini Quiche

It seems logical, since new potatoes and fresh dill are available, to make some of these special little quiche.

When I think of salmon, dill immediately comes to mind. One of the few herbs you can purchase fresh in the supermarkets year round. Dill is a very pretty herb with its feathery leaves or fronds. It has a fresh, grassy flavor that is often referred to as anise-like. A member of the parsley family, it can bring out the flavors of other herbs.

Dill is a commonly used herb in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. Fresh dill is often added to seafood dishes, yogurt sauces, vinegars, potato salads, fresh baked breads and soups as well as making a very gourmet looking garnish.

Quiche had become popular in England after WWII, but it wasn’t until the 70’s and 80’s that it really caught on in North America. Today we have many variations in our quiche fillings. There are also crustless recipes of quiche but some would argue that those can only be classed as ‘baked custard’.

Hot or cold, I have always enjoyed quiche. Brion probably could take it or leave it but I think this SALMON, NEW POTATO & DILL QUICHE  will be real tasty.

Salmon, New Potato & Dill Mini Quiche
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Servings
8 MINIS
Servings
8 MINIS
Salmon, New Potato & Dill Mini Quiche
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Servings
8 MINIS
Servings
8 MINIS
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt. Cut in white & yellow Crisco shortening until it resembles small peas. In a 1 cup measure, place egg & vinegar; combine. Add enough COLD water to fill cup. Pour all at once over flour mixture, mixing quickly, until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. This should only take a couple of minutes; DO NOT OVER MIX PASTRY.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface. Cut 8 circles about 5 3/4" in diameter (providing your mini tart shell pans are 4 3/4" size). Line mini tart pans with pastry & place them on a baking sheet. Place a piece of parchment in each shell, fill it with dry beans & 'blind' bake pastry crust for 6-8 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 325 F.
  3. Divide grated cheese between tart shells; slice cooked new potatoes over cheese. Top with cubed salmon fillet, green onions & fresh dill. In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk & spices; beat well. Carefully pour equally over each tart. Place in oven & bake for 35-40 minutes or until filling is set & slightly golden. Cool in tin before removing to serve. If desired, sprinkle tops with a little bit more shredded Gouda cheese.
Recipe Notes
  • Smoked or fresh raw, ground salmon can be used instead of salmon fillet.
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German Plum Cake / Tart

I know it sounds quite ordinary but we are not just talking about just any plum cake. Variations of the German specialty, ‘zwetschgenkuchen’, exist where some versions are made with a shortbread pastry verses a yeast dough, some have streusel – some do not – some are round, other’s are rectangular. One thing for sure is that they all use the plump, sweet, juicy European plums also known as Italian Prune Plums or Empress Plums. This variety is ideal for cooking not only because of their texture but also because their flavor becomes more complex through cooking.

Fruit and yeast-based cakes are a German hallmark with this cake being a perfect example. Its not overly sweet, has a touch of tartness to it, a small hint of cinnamon and that tender yeast dough.

When I was growing up and my mother used Italian Prune Plums in her canning or baking, I just thought it was because they were available at the time. I had no idea that they played such a special part in German baking until I was older.

I realize this is probably not the kind of thing you feel like making on a hot summer day. I suggest putting it on hold for a rainy day because it is well worth the effort. Just to encourage you further, I’ve added an alternate yogurt dough you could use instead of the yeasted one which would speed things up.

German Plum Cake / Tart
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
German Plum Cake / Tart
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
Ingredients
Streusel
Yogurt Cake Dough (an alternate to use instead of yeast dough)
Servings:
Instructions
Yeast Dough
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup warm milk & allow to become frothy, about 5-10 minutes. With an electric hand mixer, beat together sugar, salt, warm melted butter, egg & vanilla. When yeast is ready, Combine with egg mixture. Add flour, 1 cup at a time to wet mixture. Stir well after each addition; dough should become smooth & elastic. It will not be firm enough to knead into a ball, more like thick batter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap & set in a warm, draft-free place to rise for an hour or until doubled in bulk.
Streusel
  1. In a small bowl, combine streusel ingredients. Using fingertips, rub mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
'ALTERNATE' Yogurt Dough
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. In small bowl, beat together yogurt, milk, oil & vanilla. Make a well in center of dry ingredients; add wet mixture & combine until dough forms a ball.
To make Plum Cake Tarts
  1. Generously butter eight - 4 x 3/4" mini tart pans or press out a rectangle of dough about 8 x 10" size on a baking sheet or a jelly-roll pan could be used. For tart pans, divide dough into 8 pieces & press dough out over bottom & up sides. For the rectangle shape, dough could be rolled out on parchment paper & laid directly on pan.
  2. Lay plums close together in rows, covering the entire dough. If using YEAST DOUGH, set pan in a warm place & let rise rise an hour. Sprinkle the streusel over the top & bake at 350 F. for 30-35 minutes or until top is golden. If using YOGURT DOUGH, evenly sprinkle farina over dough before placing the plums on the pastry ( it helps to keep the pastry from becoming soggy). Arrange plums on pastry; distribute streusel over cake. Bake at 350 F. for 30 minutes or streusel is light golden.
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Rhubarb Sour Cream Pie or Tarts

Rhubarb was originally cultivated for its medicinal properties and was not used in European cooking until the late 18th century. The history of rhubarb is very complicated but simply put there are only two broad categories, medicinal and culinary.

Thought of by many as an old fashioned ‘vegetable’, it never has really fallen out of favor. In Germany, rhubarb season is from April until June. There are countless recipes using rhubarb as the German people are very passionate about eating produce they have grown themselves.

I have an inherited love of rhubarb — the way it tastes, its huge beautiful foliage, its hardiness, productiveness …….

RHUBARB SOUR CREAM PIE  (German Rhabarber Sauerrahn Kuchen) has been in my pie ‘go to’ file forever. The combination of these two ingredients works magic. Just for something different, I decided to use the same recipe but make it into tarts today.

Rhubarb Sour Cream Pie / Tarts
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Rhubarb Sour Cream Pie / Tarts
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Topping
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine oatmeal, brown sugar, margarine, flour & citrus zest. Cut in margarine until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon & nutmeg; beat in sour cream & egg. Gently fold in rhubarb. Pour into pastry shell. Sprinkle topping mixture over the filling.
  3. Bake at 400 F. for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F. & bake for 35-40 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.
Recipe Notes
  • In order to obtain nice slices, refrigerate pie until cold then slice & heat a bit in the microwave if preferred.
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Brunch – Celebrating Mother’s Day

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

In the food service industry, brunch on Mother’s Day is huge. What better way is there to celebrate your mom then by taking her out of the kitchen on her day. As is the case with many culinary traditions, the origin of brunch is a bit hazy.

There are numerous theories, such as the English tradition of feasting after a hunt, or from the Catholic tradition of fasting before church and having a large meal after services. By 1930, ‘brunch’, that blend of breakfast and lunch had caught on in the United States. From some of the classic dishes restaurants offered such as eggs benedict,  brunch evolved into decadent spreads that even included morning cocktails.

Today as we celebrate Mother’s Day, many special memories come to mind. My mother passed away in 1978 but even after 39 years, time has changed nothing. I still miss the sound of her voice, the wisdom in her advice, the stories of her life and just being in her presence. I miss her today as much as the day she left us and I always will.

It is also with loving thoughts, I celebrate my mother-in-law, Dolores, for her loving and kind ways and for raising that ‘special’ man I love sharing my life with. To my sisters, who give so much of themselves to be the great mom’s they are.

In July 2016, I posted a blog entitled ‘Brunch in Thibery, France. It has some more brunch ideas for croissants, crepes and french toast you might like.

For today I have two brunch items in mind. One is BAKED EGGS IN PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM CAPS  and the other a SAVORY SALMON & DILL MUFFIN.  Enjoy your day!

Salmon/Dill Muffins & Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
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Salmon/Dill Muffins & Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
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Ingredients
Salmon/Dill Muffins
Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
Servings:
Instructions
Salmon/Dill Muffins
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 8-cup large muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour & baking powder; add grated cheese, salmon & fresh dill. In a small bowl, beat together egg, milk & oil. Make a well in center of flour mixture; add wet ingredients, mix only until combined.
  3. Fill muffin cups half full; divide cream cheese between the 8 cups. Top with remaining batter to evenly fill cups. Bake 15-20 minutes or until they test done.
Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove stalk from mushroom caps. Make sure mushrooms do not get cracked so the eggs & sauce leak out. Place mushrooms in a baking dish that will keep them from tipping. Divide pasta sauce between mushrooms & spread. Break an egg into each mushroom. Pour cream over the eggs, drizzling to try to cover the whole surface.
  2. Carefully place mushrooms in the oven for about 20 minutes. When eggs are almost set lay cheese slices on top & continue baking for another 5 minutes.
Recipe Notes
  • Cooking times can vary between ovens; watch eggs closely.
  • If you prefer, you can scrape out the mushroom 'gills' to make more room for the filling.
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Lemon Chicken

Lemon chicken is the name of several dishes found in cuisines around the world which include chicken and lemon.

In Canada, we usually either use breading or batter to coat the chicken before cooking it and serving it in a sweet lemon flavored sauce. A completely unrelated dish from Italy, also called lemon chicken is where a whole chicken is roasted with white wine, fresh lemon juice, fresh thyme and vegetables. In France, lemon chicken generally includes Dijon mustard in the sauce and is accompanied by roasted potatoes. I would presume the German version would be a chicken schnitzel with fresh lemon.

Having an inherited love of ‘sweet things’, lemon chicken has always appealed to me. I prefer to make a tempura batter to dip the chicken strips in and then fry them on a griddle. I’m not big on anything deep fried so this is as close as it gets for me. Some years ago I came across a recipe on a kraftfoods.com site for a very unique and easy ‘lemon sauce’ for chicken. It might not appeal to everyone but we enjoy it every so often.

Lemon Chicken
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Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
Lemon Chicken
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Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
Ingredients
Tempura Batter for Chicken
Lemon Sauce
Servings:
Instructions
Stir-Fry Vegetables
  1. Prepare vegetables & saute in 1/2 cup chicken broth until tender-crisp. Drain broth & reserve for later.
Tempura Batter
  1. In a bowl, whisk together all batter ingredients. Slice chicken breast into thin strips & place in batter; mix well. Heat griddle to 325 F. Add a small amount of oil; remove chicken strips from batter & place on griddle. Fry on each side until cooked & golden. Lay on paper towel to blot off oil.
Lemon Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine jelly powder & cornstarch. Add 1 cup chicken broth, dressing, garlic & ginger; stir until jelly powder is dissolved. Simmer over medium heat until sauce is thickened, stirring frequently. Add reserved broth from vegetables.
  2. Combine vegetables chicken & lemon sauce. Serve over hot cooked rice, if desired.
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Mini Fruit Crumble Cakes

Crisp or crumble, call it what you like, its just simply good to me. I think, over the years, I have made fruit crumble in just about every flavor and shape possible.

Crumbles became popular in Britain during WWII when crumble topping was an economical alternative to pie due to shortages of pastry ingredients. Other ingredients such as breadcrumbs or oatmeal helped further reduce the use of rationed flour, fat and sugar.

Crumble cakes can be made either sweet or savory. The sweet variety usually will contain fruit topped with a crumbly mixture of butter, flour and sugar. With the savory version, meat, vegetables and a sauce make up the the filling with cheese replacing the sugar in the crumble mix. The crumble is then baked until the topping is crisp. Generally the sweet dessert is served with custard or ice cream and the savory variety with accompanying vegetables.

Fruits that are commonly used in making crumble include apples, blueberries, peaches, rhubarb and plums or a combination of two or more. Due to its simplicity, this dish has remained popular over the years.

The MINI FRUIT CRUMBLE CAKES  I made for today’s blog were made with various kinds of preserves but you can prepare your own fruit for the filling or simply use canned pie filling — your choice!

Mini Fruit Crumble Cakes
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Mini Fruit Crumble Cakes
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour & sugar. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly; set aside 1/2 cup of the mixture. To remainder add baking powder, baking soda & nuts.
  3. Beat egg slightly in a small bowl. Stir in yogurt & lemon zest. Add to dry ingredients; stir just until moistened. Spread 2/3 of batter over bottom & part way up sides of 8 - 4" x 3/4" mini tart pans. Spoon pie filling over batter. Drop remaining batter by spoonfuls over filling.
  4. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture; place tart pans on baking sheet. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until done. Serve warm or cold.
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