Lemon & Raspberry Tart with Almond Crust

This is a guest post by Naomi of Bakers Royale. Welcome Naomi!

For as long as I can remember, the kitchen has been my favorite place. Baking up sweet treats has always been something soothing and calming for me. Don’t get me wrong, there are crazy days when nothing I’m making or testing turns out right. Then there are days when I can’t remember if I added ¼ or ½ cup of something to a batter.

Those are the days that I have to remind myself to take a deep breath. Relax. Baking and cooking are an act of sharing and nurturing others and not an act of culinary acrobatics. It’s this sentiment that Aimée does so well in fostering here at Simple Bites. That said, I’m excited to be here as a guest and share a deliciously simple Valentine’s dessert.

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The Health Benefits of Sourdough Bread (Recipe: Whole Grain Sourdough Bread)

Written by Shannon of Nourishing Days

I wish you could smell this bread. It smells of handmade farm tables and loaves shaped by the hands of our ancestors. It is the kind of bread that you slather thick with butter and eat with soup when snow falls and winds howl.

This is sourdough bread – tangy and moist, dense and nutty. It is the bread made for centuries before the invention of commercial yeast packets.

For over two years we did not make or keep bread in our home for health reasons. Bread now graces our table once again, but without the ill effects we felt before. And it is all thanks to the wonder that is traditional sourdough bread and the many health benefits it contains.

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Beautiful Cookies for the Artistically Inept (Brown Sugar Molded Cookies)

Written by Lynn Craig of Cookie Baker Lynn.
This is undeniably the season for making cookies. Cookie swaps, cookie plates for the neighbors, gifts of cookies for teachers, and nostalgia all demand that we spend some time in the kitchen. Even people who rarely bake the rest of the year will dust off their old, faithful cookie book and bake up a batch or two of the family favorites.

Because I bake cookies all the time, I like to create something different, really beautiful and special for gifting. Unfortunately I have the decorating skills of a four-year-old on a sugar high. Lots of enthusiasm, not so much art.

I don’t have the patience or steady hands to intricately frost a cookie, let alone a dozen cookies! Fortunately there is a way to make gorgeous cookies for the artistically handicapped, like myself, that doesn’t take days and days of work.

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How to Make Homemade Mincemeat

I wish you could smell my kitchen right now. The aromas wafting out of it rank up there with roasting turkey and fresh baked pannetone. A pot of homemade mincemeat is simmering on the stove and I’m thinking we’ll be nibbling mince tarts before the weekend is over.

Wait, don’t click away! Granted mincemeat is unfamiliar to many and has a reputation to live down (suet? Eww) but the mincemeat I’m talking about is seasonal, bursting with flavor, and downright decadent. My version of this British holiday favorite is full of cranberries, apples, fresh ground spices, spiked with a splash of liquor and sweetened with maple syrup.

Mincemeat is most often used in recipes such as mince pies, a favorite of Jamie Oliver’s, or Nigella Lawson’s Star-topped mince tarts. I’ve also enjoyed it in shortbread bars, and this Christmas, plan to create a mincemeat slab pie of sorts.

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Simple Shortbread: One Recipe, Four Cookies

Christmas cookies are everywhere you look these days. This month, magazines have devoted entire issues to them, bloggers and bakers just wrapped a #cookieweek theme on Twitter.

Cookbooks such as the brand new Gourmet Cookie Book are inundating us with endless options for sweet, buttery goodness.

Every year there is some new trend, some riff on a classic or old favourite, but it is rare that I am swayed. Sure, I try a few new cookie recipes every holiday season, but one variety that I am eternally devoted to are shortbread.

No matter how busy I am during the weeks leading up to the holidays, I always make time for classic homemade shortbread. This simple combination of just a few ingredients claims to be the best cookie ever and I tend to agree.

If you are bored with the classic recipe, the good news for you is that there are many variations that you can make on the standard, as this type of cookie lends itself well to flavourings.

Here are directions for making four different varieties of shortbread using the same dough. All are simple to make and don’t require the extra step of rolling dough and cutting shapes (although that is a fine option and the dough works well for that method too).

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