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Baby Shower Time!

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of helping out with a super special baby shower. One of the little girls I used to babysit, is having a baby! (insert sobbing) The years need to stop flying by. Seriously!

It was a blast coming up with ideas for her “Woodland” themed party. She had it it in the woods located on the grounds of her family’s horse ranch in South Lyon, Michigan. Very picturesque and very freezing! Ha! October is an unpredictable month here in Michigan. Thank goodness we had a huge bonfire to keep us warm!

Here is a picture of the sweet table we did for her event…

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We did the toadstool cupcakes and designed the table. The background is a section of old fence that we attached to posts and secured into the ground. The picnic table was one that the ranch had just sitting around.  Isn’t it just gloriously weathered?!  We hung decorative fans onto a length of jute with clothes pins. The little decorative sign was made by modpodging letters that we cut out onto a canvas and hung in the center. The tiered glass trays were made from lovely vintage thrift store finds. And of course, we love beautiful cake plates. It’s very hard for me to not purchase every single one that I see!

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Just drilling stuff!

Anyway, here are a few more fun shots.

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My little bluebird of happiness goes to all my events with me!

Thank you, sweet Katelin for having me be a part of a precious day.  Your little one is going to be a little Prince, and I cannot wait to meet him, smush him, and feed him sugar behind your back! Ha! Love you!

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Hi everyone!  I got all my licenses and classes and tests all DONE!  Hip hip hooray!  I can now bake for you and your events and we can all be confident that nothing will cause you bodily harm.  Of course I say this with a slight (hearty) laugh because, I did not learn anything all that new.  The biggest point that was gone over and over and over is “WASH YOUR HANDS”.  Um. Who is not doing this? I’ts like all the commercials for toilet paper… Who is not buying this product? haha! Anyway, rest assured that I am washing my hands AT ALL TIMES. If you call me, I will not be able to answer because my hands will literally be covered in suds. Leave me a message, I’ll listen to it, and then go wash my hands before I call you back. We are GOOD. :)

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So I am working out of a FABULOUS commercial kitchen in Plymouth called Proud Mitten. I love it here. It’s huge and gorgeous and it has a walk in oven! Woah! I share space with some seriously talented people and it always smells delicious!

Check them out at http://www.proudmittenkitchen.com/

Last week, I had my FIRST food event. Eek! Exciting! I was invited to the gorgeous and stylish “Beauty Haven” in downtown Plymouth, to participate in the Plymouth Ladies Night event. Beauty Haven is lovely and welcoming spa that offers sublime beauty treatments and top of the line products. Heidi, the owner, is so kind and beautiful too.

Check them out at http://www.yourbeautyhaven.com/

For this event, I made items for sample and items for sale. For sample, I did Vanilla Marshmallows spiked with peppermint essential oil. I had not used essential oil for marshmallows before and so my first batch was an experiment. It was terrible! It tasted like peppermint toothpaste. I was impressed! Essential oils pack QUITE a punch. I have used lemon, lavender, and orange before but not in food that was such a blank canvas like marshmallows. Needless to say, I made the peppermint batch over again, this time with far less essential oil. They were great! The ladies who came through the spa, really liked them.

For sale, I made Toasted Coconut Marshmallows. These are delicious little fluffy pillows of sugar topped and bottomed with nutty, fragrant, toasted organic coconut. So many people are surprised when they bite into a homemade marshmallow. They are so much better than the ones you buy in the bag. However, bagged marshmallows have their place. I wouldn’t dream of making krispy cereal treats without them.

Part of what I do with my business, is to set up displays or Sweet Tables. I wanted to showcase that a bit as well. Here are some pics of my set up at the event.

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I wanted to create a display that said “I bake, but I also design” and I hope it was a success! I have several upcoming events and I can’t wait to share them with you!

For orders, please contact me on my facebook page at facebook.com/bluebirdsnest

Thanks! Have a SWEET day!

Love,

Meagan

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Hi All!  Just thought I’d post a quick and easy yet impressive dinner that I pulled together the other night.  It’s a lovely roast chicken that you could serve on a Sunday to company but also makes a week night meal really special.  The tomato side dish was almost too easy to consider a recipe but what the heck… It was in Ina Garten’s cookbook so it has to be good!

 

The organic, locally raised, antibiotic free chicken came to us courtesy of Bluebird Meadows Farm which just happens to be the home sweet home of Mark, Trish, Nolan, and Wesley Vermeer!  Also known as my bro and sis in law and nephews!  Trish is a fabulous lady and you can check out her blog at www.wagonwheelsandhighheels.blogspot.com   For this meal you will need:

 

One 5-6lb whole chicken
4 large cloves of garlic minced
One stick softened butter
Olive Oil (1 or 2 tbsp.)
3 tbsp. fresh minced parsley
2 tbsp. fresh minced basil
App. 30 sprigs of fresh thyme
half a lemon
2 large onions quartered
10 carrots peeled and cut into app. 2 inch pieces
Kitchen twine
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 425. In a 9×13 baking dish place onions (except for 1 or 2 quarters), carrots, and half the sprigs of thyme. Drizzle with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Set aside. In a bowl, combine the butter, garlic and herbs with small spatula until well mixed. Generously salt and pepper the inside cavity and outside of the chicken. Fill the cavity with the lemon, onion, and remaining thyme sprigs.

Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. With your fingers, gently separate the chicken skin from the meat creating pockets. Do this at the breasts and also along the back or “top” of the bird. Using your spatula, scoop out some of the butter mixture and stuff it into the pockets so it’s directly against the meat. Massage it in. Place the chicken on top of the carrots and onions. Spread the rest of the butter all over the chicken.

Roast for 1 1/2 hours or so until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through.

Serve on a platter surrounded by the roasted vegetables.

For the Tomato Salad:

5-7 Heirloom Tomatoes of different colors
7-10 Cherry or grape tomatoes
Blue cheese Crumbles
Salt and Pepper
Blue Cheese dressing
Fresh basil cut into a chiffonade (app. 12 leaves)

Cut the tomatoes into thick slices and arrange them nicely on your plate. Strew the blue cheese crumbles all over the tomatoes. Top with blue cheese dressing but not too much. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stack the basil leaves and then roll them up into a little cigar shape. Slice the cigar thinly so the basil is in little strips. Sprinkle over the top.

I also made some yellow rice to accompany the chicken and I think it was perfect. A side of buttered noodles would have been nice as well. Enjoy this meal soon!

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Love,

Meagan

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So, I didn’t document the Halloween thru Christmas festivities as well as I’d planned, but I hear that’s what having a 1-year-old does to you. Here is an unorganized look at some “stuff” from our holiday season!

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Bentley had a blast playing in his first ever pile of leaves!

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This was my fall table and chandelier.  I LOVE decorating for each season.

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This photo was taken on Halloween just before Bentley went outside, fell, and cut his nose and lip… Poor baby!  Honey Child (our dog) went as a dinosaur.

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During the fall season I made these delicious treats!  Home made Marshmallows (Ina Gartens recipe), An apple tart in puff pastry (based on a Kelsey Nixon recipe), and White Chocolate Bark (also one of Ina’s)  They were all AWESOME!  The marshmallows are easy and so delish.  If you make them once, you’ll want to make them forever!  Get the recipes:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/homemade-marshmallows-recipe/index.html  AND http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/white-chocolate-bark-recipe2/index.html  AND  http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/kelsey-nixon/honey-glazed-apple-pear-tart-recipe/index.html  I hope you love them as much as we do!

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These are pictures from Bentley’s FIRST BIRTHDAY!  It was a cowboy themed party at Victory Ranch in Northville.  It was so much fun…. I can’t believe my sweet baby is a year old… wow….

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Somewhere along the way, I went dark!  This is my natural color.  I miss the blonde, but my wallet sure doesn’t… haha.  Brunettes have more fun because they have extra money ;)

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Christmas time in our nest began with this Refrigerator Snowman!  His name is Chilly Willy.  It’s his Christian name.  He’s made of construction paper and scotch tape.  Next year, I hope to make him out of felt and magnets.  He’s so darn cute!

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I made Nigella Lawson’s recipe for Gingerbread.  It’s AMAZING! You can find it here http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/nigella-lawson/guinness-gingerbread-recipe/index.html  I purchased mini fake evergreens and vintage plastic deer figurines on etsy and stuck them all over the bread.  Then I made it “snow” with some powdered sugar!  Kids LOVE to help put the deer on and its so cute when its done.

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Bentley visited with Santa, but he wasn’t so sure it was a good idea… I think we got his picture just in time to avoid some tears.

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Bentley got his first haircut!  A  fohawk just like Daddy… :)  My boys are too cute.

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Here is a centerpiece I put together for my mother in law’s table.  The bowl came from IKEA and I just filled it up with random Christmas bulbs.  Simple and lovely!

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A shot of our Christmas dining room.  I printed out the letters for my Merry Christmas banner from here: http://www.shanty-2-chic.com/  It’s an amazing DIY website that offers FREE printable banners and an entire banner alphabet.  I printed out my letters and then I taped them onto brown paper lunch bags that I had cut open and spread flat.  then I cut a border around each letter.  I clothes pinned the letters to some lines of jute that I bought at a hardware store and tied them to the back of the mirror.  Boom.  Merry Christmas!

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Night time shot :)

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Tree #2 is in our living room.  My fireman calls this the “Christmas Throw Up Tree”…. He’s just jealous of my vast ornament collection that spans almost 3 decades… I’m not 30 yet ;)

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Look who I found sneaking behind the tree…

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Christmas shopping with my little copilot!

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Christmas card picture!  Thanks Auntie Jeanette and Uncle Matt!

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Great Grammy and Great Poppy got Bentley some singing snowmen and a saxophone playing Santa.  To say he enjoyed them would be a gross understatement….  To say I enjoyed them after the hundredth time they were played would also be a gross understatement…

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My fireman had to work on Christmas… so baby and I (and Grandpa, and Great Poppy, and Uncle Joel) went to visit him.  Someone was asleep by the time we got there :)  Daddy carried him around and showed him off.

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I fell in love with the firehouse vintage Santa who stands between the truck and the engine… Sorry husband…

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One of my beautiful gifts from my love…. a ruby heart.

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I hope to spend more nights in front of this fire… after the hectic pace, I need to relax for a few!  I hope you had a beautiful and meaningful holiday season.  Happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!  (the Mayans were wrong… bring it on 2013!!)

Love,

Meagan

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Magic Cobbler

This cobbler is magic in more ways than one. Not only does it taste like something not from this world, but it comes together the right way when you seemingly put it together the wrong way! Maaaaagicallllll…….

This is my grandmother’s recipe for all her cobblers and pretty much any fruit can be substituted for another. Well, except watermelon…or tomatoes… or a combo of the two. Bleck… The magic in this cobbler comes from the odd way you layer the ingredients. One may think that you should pour the topping over the top…. one may however be wrong. In this magical fantasy cobbler, you put the topping on the bottom and it rises to the top all by itself! ….magic…. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself you big bully! You’ll see! And I am not a sissy! Don’t pull my hair! I’m telling!!!!

For this recipe you will need:

1 stick of butter

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup milk

Desired Fruit (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, apples, etc.)

1/2 cup fairy dust (optional)

Begin by pouring the stick of melted butter in a 9×13 pan.

Next, mix together the flour, sugar, and baking powder until well combined.

Add the milk and mix well.

Next, pour the batter over the melted butter but DO NOT STIR.  I freaking mean it.  Don’t do it.

Then you can tumble your fruit over all that.  You want enough to cover the surface of the mix.  I’d say maybe 2 1/2 to 3 cups-ish?  Whatever looks good to you.  Then go ahead and sprinkle some sugar over the fruit.  About a tablespoon I’d say.

Then you stick it in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and delicious.

See?!  I told you!  Mom says you owe me an apology!

Enjoy this!  Make it today!

Love,

Meagan

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Bacon Sprouts

So… I like bacon. I have a crush on it. I want to marry it. Too much? Sorry. I think everyone pretty much shares my feelings though. Am I right? Of course I am. However… can the same be said for brussel sprouts? The poor little baby cabbage who is repeatedly scorned and fed to the family dog under the table… (cue the sad music) If I could, I would hold a stalk of innocent brussel sprouts in my arms while a single tear rolled down my cheek and softly whisper “It’s going to be alright… I’m going to cover you in bacon and present you to the masses!”. Then I would walk over to the open window and scream at the top of my lungs “brussel sprouts will triumph!”… Then the men in white coats would come and return me to my cell, but not before I shared with you, the secret recipe for… bacon sprouts. Deal with what just happened…

For this recipe, you will need:
1 lb fresh brussel sprouts
8 slices of bacon
1 clove of freshly grated garlic
salt
pepper

First you want to remove the tough outer leaves of the sprouts and slice them thinly into shreds. Think coleslaw size.

Next, chop up the bacon and render it in a skillet. Stick your face over the pan and get a bacon facial. Don’t apologize later when your husband tells you that your face smells curiously like bacon.

Remove the crisped bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and set it aside on paper towels to drain. Pour off all but about a tablespoon of bacon drippings and add the brussel sprouts. While they saute, add salt, pepper, and the grated clove of garlic. Cook until tender.

Serve the sprouts with the fairy dust bacon sprinkled magically on top. Call someone who has wronged you and tell them you forgive them. Trust me… it’s that good.

I love you. So much man… Seriously.

Love,
Meagan

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Pretzel Jello

Hello and Welcome back! I just wanted to share a quick, easy and majorly delicious recipe for “Pretzel Jello”. Sounds crazy I know… but its UH-MAZE-ING! This dish will make you the hero of the potluck, the queen of the barbecue, or the popular party guest who is definitely on the invite list forever and ever amen. There are lots of different versions online or floating around from church lady to church lady but this is the one I tried and it turned out fabulously :) For this recipe you will need:

2 Cups of crushed pretzel sticks
1 1/2 sticks of butter (melted)
3 tablespoons of sugar (for the crust)
1 cup of sugar (for the filling)
1 8oz brick cream cheese
1 8oz cool whip
2 cups boiling water
1 6oz package strawberry-banana JELLO
2 10 oz packages frozen strawberries (slightly thawed)

Preheat your oven to 350.  Crush the pretzels in a large ziploc bag with a rolling pin and place them in a mixing bowl.  

Add the 3 tbsp. sugar and melted butter.  Mix well and Press into the bottom of a 9×13 glass baking pan.  Bake for 8 minutes and let cool COMPLETELY.  

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1 cup sugar and cream cheese until well blended and smooth.  Fold in cool whip and refrigerate.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine jello mix and boiling water. Stir until dissolved and add strawberries with their liquid. Chill in the fridge until slightly set up.

Spread cream cheese mixture over pretzel crust, making sure you seal the edges of the layer completely. (if you don’t, the jello layer could soak through the edges and make your crust soggy)

Spoon the jello mixture on top of the cream cheese layer evenly. Refrigerate until Firm.

I made mine the night before and it was great! Enjoy!

Love,

Meagan

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Memorial Day Recap!

Our Memorial Day was great. We did not end up going to Ravenna because of a situation with the brakes in our car. Bummer! But we still ended up having a great time here in Northville with our family and friends. Heres our photo story…

The day began with a breakfast with friends and family! I cut a few folks out of the picture accidentally. Sorry!


Next we headed down town Northville for the Memorial Day Parade!


The NHS marching band was great as always.


All the local Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops were there as well. So cute. I love my town…


Even the dogs were feeling patriotic!


The parade ended up at “Rural Hill Cemetery” and led the crowd through the gates to pay tribute to our American heroes.


May God bless you, our sleeping heroes and may He comfort those you left behind. Thank you for serving.


Bentley and his flag!

Then we went home to enjoy a cook out with family and friends. We had bbq ribs, fried corn, mac and cheese, veggie platter, fresh rolls, pretzel jello, and pineapple upside down cake! Bentley enjoyed some swimming time with daddy at the pool and the other guys played corn hole. Since I’m terrible and corn hole and I hate the name, I stayed inside and drank coffee :) However, by the end of the day, I think everyone felt just like Bentley in this picture…

I hope everyone had a great time! I’d love to hear how you spent your holiday and I will be posting the recipe for “Pretzel Jello” very soon! Have a wonderful remainder of your weekend!

Love,

Meagan

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Happy Easter

Happy Easter fellow nesters! What will you be doing in celebration of this Holy Holiday? I will be starting my preparations as soon as I get out of the office tonight. I am making a few Easter Baskets for my neighbors. I am going to make some jars of Vanilla Bean-Orange Marmalade and some Cranberry Orange Scones. I am also going to include chocolate bunnies and some gladiola bulbs in their baskets. I hope they’ll enjoy them. I also made Bentley an Easter Basket filled with books, a rubber ducky, a little blue bunny, and some candy for mom and dad since Bentley doesn’t currently have any teeth… oh well!

Then tomorrow night, I will be trying my hand at some Hot Cross Buns! I’ve never attempted these before so hopefully they turn out! Have you ever made any? If so, what are your tips for me?

And finally, my Easter Treats will be complete with these Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Marshmallow Birds Nests! I think they will be pretty and appropriate for the Bluebird to make! Are these not too adorbs for words?

However… With all the busy dinner making and treat concocting, lets not forget the “Reason for the Season”! Thank you Jesus for dying for my sins so I could live a life free from the power of death, hell, and the grave. Help me talk like You, think like You, give like You, forgive like You, and most of all help me learn to love like You.

We are all works in progress aren’t we? We will never deserve the extravagant love God has lavished on us but through grace we receive it. Through this amazing grace we can approach God boldly in prayer and make our requests known to Him. What a priveledge provided to us as a direct result of Jesus’s sacrafice… the “not so even” exchange of His perfect life for ours. For mine. For yours. Because He suffered, we can experience true joy and peace, because He died, we can look forward to an eternity in heaven, and because He lives again, we can face tomorrow.

This is one of my all time favorite hymns called “When I survey The Wondrous Cross”:

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

If you don’t have a place to go to church for Sunday services, I would encourage you to check out http://www.northridgechurch.com and find a service time that works for you. Open your heart to Easter and in so doing, open your heart to Christ. May God bless you this Easter and always.

Love,
Meagan

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Fresh Blueberry Pie

Welcome to my nest!  I have been super busy but I found the time (while Bentley was asleep) to make this blueberry pie!  This is an old Betty Crocker recipe that I tweaked a bit.  The fireman had brought home a huge container of fresh blueberries left over from a fruit salad at the fire house.  Somehow, these berries got left out and he didn’t want them to go to waste.  I poured them in a large plastic bag and froze them.  Theres no way we could have polished them all off but I knew I wanted to use them before they got freezer burn.  I am not usually a pie maker but I was feeling particularly empowered and decided to give it a shot.  Here goes nothin! I must apologize in advance for the “more terrible than usual” photos. I lost my camera in the move and had to use my phone camera. Maybe one day I’ll win the lottery and buy a Nikon….sigh… For this recipe you will need:

A 9 inch pie plate

1 box Pilsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust (there will be 2 in there)

3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Zest of 1 large lemon or 2 small lemons

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

Start by pre-heating your oven to 375 and pull your crusts out of the fridge and set them out on the counter to take the chill off.  They will be too hard to work with if you dont. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine blueberries, flour, sugar, and lemon zest. I used about a tablespoon of zest which was far more than what the recipe called for. I really love to use citrus zest in most recipes. It wakes up all the other flavors in your dish.

If your berries are frozen you will need to let this mixture sit out for about 20-30 minutes just to let them thaw out slightly. Its totally fine that they will be icy or slushy looking. During this time, you can get your crust going. If your berries are not frozen you really dont need to let them sit out so try to have your pie crust ready to go in your pie plate. Take out one of your crusts and unroll it into your pie plate. It will hang over the edges slightly.

Fold the crust under about a 1/2 inch all the way around. For a fluted edge like this one, put your thumb in the edge and use your index finger and thumb on the opposit hand to pinch the crust around your thumb. Do this all the way around the edge until it looks faboosh like this! (it was my first time doing this and i bet you can’t even tell…)

Next go ahead and pour your filling in the shell. Its like a little preview of what is to come. Yum. Amen.

I decided to do a lattice top after I had already fluted the edge of my pie. Technically you should do a plain top on a fluted edge pie and a lattice top on a plain edge pie… but I have always been a rebel. Rules Shmules…er whatever. I made it work! You take your second crust out and sprinkle some flour on the counter top. Unroll it and lay it out. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the crust into long strips about an inch or so wide. Lay them across the top of the filling vertically and and let the strips hang over the edge. Lift up every other strip and let them lay loosely upward.

Lay the other strips across the filling horizontally and then fold the vertical strip back over.

Keep this up until you have the look you want. Listen… mine is not perfect but it was good enough!

Once you have the top looking decent, you need to trim up the strips so they dont continue to hang over. I just used a knife to trim them and then I tried to press the ends into the sides of the bottom crust. Sometimes I could fit a strip in between a fluted part of the edge, sometimes I had to be a little more creative… but this is how it turned out.

When you bake a pie, the edge of the crust will usually brown much more quickly than the top. To prevent a burned edge, cover it in some strips of tin foil like this.

On the top of the crust I brushed a little bit of milk and sprinkled some additional sugar to make it shiny and pretty. Then it was into the oven for about 25 minutes. After that, I took the foil off and baked it for another 30 minutes so everything could brown up. The filling should be bubbly and juicy looking if its done. Let it cool to room temperature and serve it later with vanilla ice cream. So good!!

This pie was a big hit for me and I hope it will be for you too!

Love,

Meagan

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