Yummy Banana Bread!

You see them… the brown, almost black bananas in the fruit bowl. Do you toss them? Can you still eat them? WHAT DO YOU DO!?!?!?!

I make banana bread. I will admit, I’ve thown away my fair share of over ripe bananas. They are just too soft and sweet to eat past a certain point for me. I keep telling myself to make bread with them and the recipes I’ve found have too many steps and frankly, I’m lazy lol.

I did find a recipe that is easy and uses things you already have in the fridge and panty. You don’t need buttermilk or sour cream or anything like that. It is from the Paula Dean cookbook I have and it turns out AMAZING! Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised that the Queen of butter churned out a great recipe lol.

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It is super easy, minimal ingredients, and easy to customize. I’ll tell you how I tweaked my loaves below 🙂

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So you do not need an electric mixer but I used one since it makes it go faster. Here is what I did.

I did preheat the oven but instead of one loaf pan, I used to smaller ones since I wanted to do one plain and one with chocolate chips.

I creamed the butter and sugar together until most the grainy texture was gone.

I put all the wet ingredents except the bananas together first. I then added the dry. I used the mixer to mash up 4 bananas instead of 3 seperatly and mixed it in with the main ingredients after and it came out nice and moist.

I added half a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to one pan.

Cooking time is about 30-35 min if you use two half pans.

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They came out so tasty, even Avery loved it! It’s great fresh from the oven with some butter or room temp. I bet it would be super yummy warm with caramel sauce and sliced fresh bananas.

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I also make her Not your mama’s banana pudding recipe and her gooey cakes as well. Please comment below if you’d like to see them 🙂

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Life Update ~ Mom emotions and feelings

Hello internet. Not sure how many moms or parents follow this blog because I haven’t posted anything overly parent related lol. I realized mostly it has been recipes that have gotten my attention to post.

Today I am going to talk about mom stuff. I’m going to say right off the bat, I do not agree with mom shaming. Every one of us moms are trying our best. There is no manual, rule book, or game plan you can have that will turn out a perfect kid product. You have to do what you feel in your gut is right for your child, your family, and your own sanity. If I see mom shaming in the comments, I will delete them and deactivate the comment section. This is on any an all posts I make. You have been warned.

A little about me, I am an “older” mom. Most of my family had kids younger, early to mid 20’s. I would have rather been a younger mom myself, mostly for the possible increased energy to deal with the endless energy children seem to have. However, I didn’t meet my husband until I was 28 and there isn’t a single thing I’d change about it. I’m a firm believer that everything in your life prepares you for a certain path and I couldn’t image being married to anyone other than my husband. I can be neurotic, demanding, moody, and many other things and he is so “go with the flow” that we balance each other amazingly well.

So back to my daughter lol, now that I got all hubby mushy.  I found out I was pregnant with our daughter Avery 2 weeks before our wedding. She surprised us with how quick she decided to join us. We had planned on being pregnant a few months after and I had prepared myself for the possibility of having a hard time conceiving since I am a plus size gal. I’ve heard it can be difficult when carrying extra weight. I guess losing weight from wedding stress pushed us along lol.  When we got married I was 7 weeks along and in the thick of first trimester nausea.

Everything went pretty smoothly. It was a normal pregnancy by all accounts. I had occasional things I was nervous about, if she stopped moving a lot, any spotting, headaches, etc that I’m sure all new moms are nervous about too. You’re growing a human and you’ve never done it before, you’re allowed to make the occasional trip to L&D to get a check up. Towards the end of pregnancy, probably about month 7 or 8, I started to feel really tired. I wasn’t able to do all the things I wanted to around the house. My husband and I were living with my grandpa, he was mid 80’s when we lost my grandma and me moving in worked out as I was moving out of my apartment and he started needing someone around more. I made all his lunch, dinner, and snacks, did all the shopping, scheduled his appointments, took him wherever he needed to go because he opted not to drive. I was happy to do it. The new tired feeling made me not want to do any of those things and I started to feel like I wasn’t doing enough.

I started to feel like I was useless, questioning and doubting myself. Would I be a good mom? Would I be able to keep taking care of everything if I could barely do it before the baby came? It was a big mess. They say hormones really mess with your emotions and boy they were right. I mentioned it to my doctor and she suggested I talk to psych to make sure I was doing ok. I was never able to make it to an appointment before I had Avery so I tried to deal as best I could. It would come and go in waves and I always talked myself out of going because I was in an “upward swing”. Looking back, I really should have just gone.

I dealt with so many issues during delivery and after Avery was here that I think talking to a professional would have been a good idea. Delivery was hard emotionally. I had gone in at 38 weeks with a headache and low-grade fever. I have Kaiser and they have you come into L&D to get checked out before they admit you, kind of like ER for pregnancy.  I tried to get some rest while hooked up to fetal monitors. I should also mention, Kaiser’s policy is if a mom has hypertension and you come in 38 weeks or later, they have you deliver for your safety and for the safety of the baby. I didn’t know this.

So I’m tired and scared I’m going to have to deliver. My blood pressure went up so much that they said I had to calm down or they were going to pull her right then and their C-section team during the day was the best team to use. I was there in the middle of the night. I did my best to calm down and relax. C-section was the option at the time because Avery was breech, both her feet were in my pelvis. The plan was to try to turn her around and be induced to deliver vaginally which was my birth plan. If they couldn’t turn her, I was going in for surgery. I had not, in any way prepared myself to undergo major surgery.

Long story short, she didn’t turn and I had to have a C-section. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t have my daughter naturally. You read all these things about how a vaginal birth is best for you and baby and by not being able to do that, I felt like I cheated Avery out of something beneficial. Part of me wonders if having a C-section caused my issues with breastfeeding too. I think that is what messed me up the most emotionally. I was never able to produce enough to adequately feed her. She lost too much weight in the 3 days between when we got home and her newborn check up. The sent me home with as much premade formula as possible to feed her to see if we could get her to put weight back on.

Talk about a failure, my own body couldn’t do the one thing it was designed to do. Have a baby and feed it. It took me weeks not to feel ashamed that I had to give my daughter formula. I did everything I possibly could to get milk to come in. I’d feed her, pump constantly, eat lactation cookies, make lactation smoothies, I even landed myself in ER because one of the supplements they suggest caused me incredible abdominal pain. I was never able to produce more than 1 oz in day. Even now, when she’s almost 11 months and coming off formula soon, I feel like I failed her. In my mind I know fed is best, no matter how she gets it. The benefits of her being on formula meant that we could go out and I didn’t have to worry about breastfeeding in public which is its own issue we won’t go into here. My husband could get up and feed her and let me sleep and I got help when we went to visit family and friends since I wasn’t her only food source. I keep reminding myself she is happy and health and that is whats important. But it still bothers me.

All this kind of carries over even now. Just like any mom does, I wonder if I’m doing a good enough job for her. Am I the best version of myself for my family? I’ll have days where I’m so frustrated trying to get her changed or in pajamas that I can’t help but cry and feel like I don’t deserve my family. Just last night I fought tears trying to get her bathed before bed. She is starting to get her own mind and personality. This is great but makes doing things that are necessary difficult. I remind myself to give myself a break, we have gone thru a lot in the last 6 months.

We lost my grandpa in November, we moved 100 miles away from our friends and family so we could buy a house and have me be home with Avery. I’m completely thankful for the chance to be home and be with her everyday, but a new town means minimal friends let alone other mom friends. Then in March, we lost my other grandpa unexpectedly. We got a lot to process and get thru. I don’t want to bog anyone down or load them up with my issues since everyone is fighting their own battles you can’t see.

I’m hoping my feelings and over-emotional moments are due to the pile of things life has stacked on us lately. I will say, getting this out, even in digital form, feels so amazing. Even if no one reads it or can understand what I’m feeling, I got it out of my head and off my mind. That in itself is a big step to feeling ok.

So in a very rambly nutshell, if you feel like you aren’t enough or inadequate, you’re not alone. There are other moms out there struggling and you don’t have to feel happy everyday. Not being OK is OK sometimes.

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken and Parmesan Garlic Potatoes

Hello internet!! As I’m sure everyone knows, life gets crazy. So many apologies for taking such a long break from blogging.  We had some family sadness the last couple months and took time to deal before returning to regularly scheduled programming.  In addition, I have started my own Etsy business, Ribbons and Curls Boutique.  It is a mix of handmade home decor, hair bows and head bands, as well as custom made mickey ears. I’ll post projects on here intermittently as I go along.

Well enough with the catch up and down to what I’m sure you’re on this post for! Chicken and potatoes with a garlic Parmesan cream sauce! I found this recipe on Pinterest and, like I usually do, I tweaked it based on what I had on hand and what my family will eat. Here is the original from damndelicious.net

I will put the recipe below as I prepared it, not as the original recipe.

Chicken and Potatoes with Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons butter

8 large red potatoes, peels on, quartered

For the Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce

1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon butter

1/2 yellow onion, diced

4 teaspoons minced garlic (I use the prepared garlic in the jar)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup chicken brother (or more if needed)

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1/2 cup 2% milk

1/3 cup grated parmesan

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray baking dish with nonstick spray if desired.  Season chicken breasts with Italian seasoning and salt and pepper. In large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. I used cast iron for this as I feel it gives the meat a great brown crust. Brown the chicken until golden, about 3-4 min per side depending on how thick the breasts are. You aren’t looking to cook it thru yet, it will be going into the oven.  Remove chicken and place in your baking dish. Then add quartered potatoes.

Add remaining butter to your skillet and melt. Add your onion to the pan and start to sweat. Sweating means you aren’t looking for color, just to soften. Once the onion starts to go translucent, add your garlic. Stir frequently to make sure it doesn’t burn. Whisk flour in until lightly browned. Slowly add the chicken broth, whisking in between additions to make sure you don’t get clumps in the end. Once all the broth is added, add remaining Italian seasoning. Stir about 1-2 min and add milk and Parmesan. Keep stirring until it thickens. If the sauce is too thick, add more broth in small amounts until the consistency you’d like. Taste and add salt/pepper as needed. Pour sauce over chicken and potatoes and cover the pan with foil. Bake for about 25-30 min. Remove foil and allow top to brown, another 5-10 min.  Remove and serve with rice or sauteed vegetables.

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It was super tasty and definitely a repeat at our house.

Please comment below on how yours turns out! Comment for any recipes you’d like to see.

 

Carnitas Enchiladas with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

Whenever I go to the store, I always pick up a container of cooked pork to have on hand.  It is a real lifesaver when you’ve had a hard kid day, a long day at the office, or don’t feel like having leftovers. I will confess that these enchiladas aren’t traditional. I roll them when I have the patience to do it. However, with Avery crawling around, I don’t unless her dad is home to take over baby watch. This is more of a casserole application. A great thing about it is you can make a full or half pan to have lunches or frozen portions on hand.  If you make a half pan, the remaining pork can be used for bbq pulled pork sandwiches another day.

If you prefer homemade over store bought pork, I recommend smoking a pork butt in good weather to freeze for later use.  It always tastes better when you can add your own seasonings and flavors. This can be served with salad, rice, and beans for a complete meal. It is very easy to go vegan or vegetarian with this recipe. I used vegetable stock base for the enchilada sauce. You could use sauteed firm packed tofu cubed up or hearty portobello mushrooms for a beef like flavor.

 

Vegetable Stock

As I make dinners, I put vegetable scraps in a Ziploc bag and store them in the freezer. Things like onion ends and skins, potato skins, carrot ends, mushroom stems, etc. This really can use all your vegetable scraps, even peppers. I put them in a crock pot and add water to cover. Cook on low for 10 hours. Once the time is up, strain the stock to catch all the seeds and things.

From here you can use the stock immediately or freeze it. You can use ice cube trays, Tupperware, another Ziploc bag, anything really. I personally put the stock in a Tupperware container and freeze it. Once solid, I put it in a food-saver bag, remove the air, and store it that way. I also do this with my enchilada sauce when I make a large batch.

Red Enchilada Sauce

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All of this is done to taste, so this is what I did. If you like certain flavors or more heat, you can adjust accordingly.

1/4 cup salted butter (1/2 stick) *if making vegetarian or vegan, can substitute or leave out completely*

4 cups of vegetable stock

3 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon oregano

2 tablespoons groud cumin

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1/2 tablespoon paprika

1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon pepper

1 tablespoon beef bullion *if you are making this vegetarian or vegan, you can leave this out*

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Melt the butter with olive oil in the pan. If you prefer to leave the butter out, you can add another tablespoon of olive oil instead. The butter does add a depth of flavor and makes the sauce glossy.

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Add the flour to the butter and oil and whisk until it reaches this consistency. This helps cook the flour taste out and thickens the sauce as it cooks.

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Slowly add the vegetable stock to the butter/flour mixture. Whisk and incorporate the stock as you go. This will keep the mixture from giving you a lumpy finishing product. Just add enough stock until it looks like the above picture. There will still be a few lumps, but that is ok.

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Add the spices and seasonings directly to the mixture. This will make sure the flavor builds as it simmers. After whisking together, it will look like this.

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Once you’ve gotten to this point, add the rest of your vegetable stock. Place on medium-low heat and let it simmer for at least 30 min. Longer is better. You may need to reduce heat if it starts to have a rolling simmer.

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As you let it simmer, the color will deepen. You may need more stock as it simmers and reduces. Be sure to add a touch more seasonings as needed when you add more stock.

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Finished product will be reduced by about a third, thicken, and be a nice deep red color. From here, you can let it cool and store as your needs dictate. If you find your sauce is too thin, you can make a cornstarch slurry. 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and just enough water to dissolve it. Whisk into the sauce and heat for another 5 min. This will thicken it up further.

If you are going to make enchiladas, keep on reading. 🙂

 

Carnitas Enchiladas

1 package of pulled pork (or smoked pork butt)

Corn Tortillas

Your homemade enchilada sauce

Cheese of your choice *can subsitute or leave out for Vegan and Vegetarian versions*

Prehead the oven to 350 degrees.  In a casserole dish, about 9×13 or a little smaller, spoon some of the enchilada sauce. Break up some corn tortillas to make a bottom layer.

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You can layer as you choose. I layered it: tortillas, pork, enchilada sauce, tortillas pork, more enchilada sauce, etc. If you like, you can add cheese in between the layers, but I just put it on the final layer.

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If you aren’t serving it right away and making lunch or future dinner portions, refrigerate the whole thing first. This will make it easier to slice into without the layers falling apart.

Keep in mind that if you decide to make it a bit spicy, the flavor will continue to develop as it sits in the fridge or freezer.

 

Bacon Roasted French Green Beans

I normally save this method of vegetable roasting for brussel sprouts. I first learned to make veggies this way when I threw my first Thanksgiving for my Grandpa. He didn’t enjoy certain vegetables It is the one way I can get even the most picky, anti-sprout person to eat and enjoy them! Roasting vegetables brings out so much flavor without removing a lot of the vitamins and nutrients that boiling them does. While I’m a firm believer in blanching, sometimes you just don’t have the time or desire to go that extra step.

Bacon Roasted French Green Beans

3 large handfuls of trimmed green beans (I purchase the large bag from Costco. Really just make a single layer on your baking sheet and you’ll have the right amount)

1 small onion cut into strips

6 pieces of bacon sliced into chunks

Kosher Salt

Ground Black Pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Granulated Garlic

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. This works better than foil, the bacon won’t stick.  Line the green beans up in a single layer on the sheet.  Break up the onion strings with your hands and evenly distribute on the sheet.  Repeat with bacon.

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Drizzle across the pan twice with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt, ground black pepper, and granulated garlic to taste.

Place in the middle rack in the oven. After 10 minutes, pull the sheet out and toss the green beans.  This makes sure that they cook evenly and they all get a touch of bacon grease.

After 20 minutes, remove from the oven. The green beans should still have a snap when you bite. I don’t know about you but I hate mushy vegetables.

You can translate this into any vegetable like brussle sprouts or broccoli. They take on a nice nutty flavor when roasted.  Root vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips would be a great dish as well.

So easy to make and a huge hit and such an easy weeknight side dish!

 

Happy Eating!

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Baked Pork Chops with Apple Onion Chutney

I trust everyone has recovered from their Super Bowl merriment! I have plenty of party finger foods on deck to post but today I wanted to post a tasty dinner that I did tonight! I have been playing with this recipe and finally found an incarnation of it that I think is just too good not to share. It is pretty simple, ingredients I had on hand and didn’t have to go shopping for, but tasted like I spent all day on it. I was able to make this in one pan since I used a large cast iron skillet.  If you do not have an oven safe skillet, then have a baking dish on standby. I paired this with buttery white rice and bacon roasted french green beans. It was a hit.

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Baked Pork Chops with Apple Onion Chutney

6 pork loin chops about 1/2 inch thick or more

1 yellow onion cut into strings

2 small gala apples, remove core, peel on, medium dice

1/2 cup white wine ( I used a chardonnay)

4 cloves minced garlic

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 1/2 cup diced baby Portobello mushrooms (I prefer Portobello for the flavor but white mushrooms work)

Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons butter

Mrs Dash Table Seasoning

Extra Virgin olive oil

 

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Blot the pork chops dry with paper towel to help the seasoning stick and to brown. Drizzle oil on to the skillet, about 2 turns around the pan. While it heats, season your chops on both sides with a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. I also used Mrs Dash Table Seasoning for extra flavor but you can skip this step. Brown each side for 2 to 3 minutes. Be sure to sear the edges also. Set aside on a plate.

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In the same skillet, drizzle some more olive oil, again about 2 turns around the pan, and saute the onion slices. I cut my onion from stem to top so it makes two half moons, and then cut into strings.

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Once the onions start to caramelize (get a golden brown around the edges) add the apples and garlic.  The apples have the skin on, this will help keep them together. Once the apples brown and give off liquid, add the mushrooms. As you stir, be sure to scrape the bottom of your skillet to get the flavor bits from browning the chops.

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Once the apples are just soft and the mushrooms are browned, add salt, pepper, butter, wine, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, and vinegar. Bring to a simmer and place the pork chops on top of the mixture. Nestle them in so they are surrounded by the chutney.

Place whole skillet (or baking dish if you had to transfer) into the oven for 20 minutes or until the pork chops are cooked thru.

When serving, be sure to spoon the chutney and sauce on top. If you wanted to serve with mashed potatoes, I’d make a cornstarch and water slurry to mix in before placing the chops back in the pan to bake. This will thicken the sauce for potatoes without using flour.

I will post the green beans in a separate post.

Happy Eating!

 

Sweet Tooth: Blackberry Hand Pies

I’m not much of a pie gal. I am a cookie, cake, brownie baking kind of person, mostly because chocolate is involved more often than not.  I have to be in the mood to bake a pie and making a whole big one goes to waste more often than not.  I first tried making hand pies this Christmas for my cookie boxes for family.  I found a simple recipe using boxed pie crusts and pre-made cherry pie filling.  They turned out well enough and were convenient to keep in a Tupperware container or pack for hubby’s lunch.

When I was making baby food this last time, I thought about doing a blackberry/apple sauce.  After I tried the berries, they were just a little too tart to put in Avery’s pouches.  I don’t want to add sugar for her if I don’t have to.  I had contemplated making a traditional pie, but to bake the first crust, let it cool, bake again, etc, was to labor intensive and I was in the mood for quick satisfaction, I decided to try making the hand pies with fresh fruit and see how it turned out.  This is purely an experiment that happened to have paid off. My next mission is to try a mixed berry or apple for giggles. This method can really translate into any filling you want.

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Blackberry Hand Pies

1 box of refrigerated Pillsbury pre-make pie crusts (2 crusts in a box)

3/4 c. granulated sugar (if your berries are on the sweet side, switch to half a cup instead)

2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 small lemon, juiced. ( it helps to roll the lemon on the counter or microwave for 30 sec to get the most juice)

2 c. blackberries, washed and drained

1 egg beaten with a tbsp of water

decorating sugar or cinnamon sugar combo

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with your rack set in the middle. Prep a cookie sheet or sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat. The juice will run no matter what you do so a pan with a lip is best. You can also use a cupcake pan for these pies as well which I’ll show below.

Take 1 refrigerated crust and carefully unroll it. Leave it out on the counter first before gathering your other ingredients.  Fresh out of the fridge, the dough can crack and break.

In a medium bowl, mix your blackberries, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, and lemon juice. Fold until the berries are all coated.  Be careful not to break up the berries, this will make the syrup really thin and hard to spoon.

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Take a circular cookie cutter, cup rim, or a mason jar lid like I used and punch out circles in the dough.  You should get 6 or 7 circles.  Helpful trick: if you re-roll the scraps, you can get another 3 circles out of the dough which will give you about 5 pies.

For the double crust pies, fill the circle with 4 or 5 berries and some juices. Take the egg and water mixture (egg wash) and brush the edge of the bottom round. This will help the top seal. Take another crust round and slightly stretch it so that it fits over the berries with a little lip. Grab a fork and use it to pinch the two pieces of dough together.  You can get really creative with this, you can use a ravioli crimper, fold the edges over, use a spoon for a scalloped edge, the sky is the limit. Once filled, cut small slits in the top to prevent a bubble over, brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with decorative sugar or cinnamon sugar for added flavor.

For the cupcake pan method, grease your tin with spray or butter, whichever you prefer. Place a dough round in the bottom as you see below. Fill with berries and juice until the edge and bake.

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Bake for 12-15 min or until the crust is browned. The cupcake tin method may take a bit longer since there is more filling. Cool and serve with ice cream or whipped cream or both! I’m partial to the single crust option which allows for easier topping additions.

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These are perfect to make ahead and freeze, can make them the night before for an event or make a batch to later enjoy in the hot summer months. Plus they are the perfect size for kids to enjoy.