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Crisp Waffles

This summer, I have been making lots of waffles. There’s something about a freshly cooked waffle that gets my day going on the right foot. I originally started eating these waffles at my in-laws house. Bob’s mom, Patty, always makes us big, delicious breakfasts before work, travel, etc. One summer, I lived at their house while teaching sailing camp, and she made me breakfast every day. Now, I am learning how to make some of her breakfasts, such as these crisp waffles and her oatmeal pancakes!

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These waffles can be improved by soaking the flour overnight. More information about soaking flour in water and an acidic liquid medium can be read at: http://lifeonpurposemama.blogspot.com/2011/01/soaking-flour-whys-and-hows.html . This process breaks down the flour and makes the product more digestible and nutritious.

The recipe comes from a Betty Crocker cookbook and you can see it has been used for years!

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The night before:

Soak the 2 cups of flour in the 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/4 cup of cultured buttermilk. Simply combine the flour, water, and buttermilk, cover with plastic wrap, and leave it out on the counter overnight. (This replaces the milk in the recipe.)

In the morning, proceed with the recipe:

  • Add the dry ingredients to the flour mixture: 4 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt
  • Melt 1 stick of unsalted butter in a small saucepan.
  • Once melted, allow the butter to cool slightly, then add two beaten eggs and 1 tbsp of sugar. Stir to combine.
  • Lastly, add the egg, butter, and sugar to the flour mixture!
  • When your waffle iron is heated, pour 1/4 cup- 1/3 cup batter in the center of each square. This recipe yields about 12 Belgian waffles.
    • You will need to adjust the waffle iron temperature to your preferred crispiness. I usually cook on 3-4  (Medium) heat for a nice golden brown crisp.

Topping ideas: 

  • Maple Syrup with bananas and walnuts
  • Whipped cream with frozen sugared strawberries or any fresh fruit
  • And… fresh off the iron, these waffles stand alone well!

Don’t have buttermilk at home?

Bob and I do not keep buttermilk readily available at our house. In order to soak in an acidic medium, you can make buttermilk by mixing lemon juice with milk. The conversion is 1 tbsp of lemon juice in one cup of milk. You can make one cup of buttermilk and save the extra, or I often just put 1 tsp of lemon juice in 1/4 cup of milk. Let this sit for 5-10 minutes before adding the water and flour. Here is a link to more buttermilk substitute recipes: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-a-quick-easy-buttermilk-substitute-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-185757

Extra Batter?

If you have

extra batter, you can save it in a tupperware container in the fridge and use within 2-3 days. I like to make enough for the day and then make fresh waffles for a few days. If you do not plan to eat waffles as often or do not have the time to heat up the griddle the next day, you can cook up all the waffles and freeze them! They are great re-heated in a toaster oven for about 10 minutes on 350F or until warm and toasty.

Don’t wanna soak your flour?

This recipe for crisp waffles tastes good even if you do not soak over night and use all 2% milk rather than a water/buttermilk combination, but I recommend soaking your flour to see what you think. It tastes great, and it’s healthier!

Have a big crowd? 

This recipe can be easily doubled! I made a double batch for a Sunday morning breakfast for 8 people. Waffles were everywhere. We kept the cooked ones warm in the oven while I finished cooking the rest.

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Time to heat up your waffle irons! Enjoy!

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Boston Vacation

To top off summer, Bob and I left the humid, blistering heat of Texas for a week trip in Boston. I had just completed an engaging semester of maternity and newborn nursing, which I absolutely loved, but I was ready for a vacation!  Thanks to Patty and Dave, Bob’s parents, we were able to spend time with family and tour an awesome city! Before leaving the Houston airport, I made sure to drink some Dunkin’ donuts coffee in preparation for our voyage East.
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Flying into Logan international airport, we soared across Boston harbor. The window view was spectacular. Bob’s parents had told us their experience with planes landing above their sailboats… almost as if they were about to touch the sailboat’s mast. What a cool location for an airport!

When we arrived, we drove to Charlestown first. Here, we saw the Bunker Hill Memorial. Then, we went to dinner at Warren Tavern, which was built in 1730 and visited by both George Washington and Paul Revere. Dr. Warren was the man who sent Paul Revere and William Dawes to alert the Colonials about the British soldiers. It was the Minute Men National Park that sparked my memory about all the history in Boston because they had a detailed visitors’ center with a multimedia presentation. Each year, Boston schools’ spring break falls on the week of April 19, in honor of the battles of Lexington and Concord.

On our first full day in Boston, we had to go for a sail. We headed into Boston from the apartment, and first, we toured the USS Constitution. I was the only one who had not seen “Old Ironsides”. At the USS Constitution museum, I learned the history of this honored Naval ship.

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Next, we were off to sail! Bob’s parents are members at Courageous Sailing Center off the Boston inner harbor. We took out a J22, and enjoyed a windy afternoon on the water. Sadly, the wind was coming from the wrong direction for us to have planes landing over our heads, but we had several planes take off above us!

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After sailing, we headed to Fenway Park for a Red Sox vs. Astros game! We had standing room tickets on the Green Monster, but we found four open seats and no one ever came and claimed them. This location had a great view of the field, and the pictures don’t do it justice.

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The following day, we went to Minute Men National Park, followed by kayaking from the south bridge to the north bridge on the Concord river. We rented the kayaks from Southbridge Boat House. It was so much fun to see the North bridge from the water and to spend some time rowing with Bob!

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Kayak selfie! Thank goodness for Lifeproof cases, as long as you don’t drop the phone and lose in the water!

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 Patty and Dave on their kayak!

After kayaking, we went to New Hampshire for some outlet mall shopping! NH does not have sales tax, so that was an added bonus. Bob and I got great deals on new Sperry’s. You gotta love it when the receipt says you saved $140. We also got Bob some new wayfarer RayBans…this Lenscrafters did 30% off with AAA membership! Whoop!

The following day, it was back into Boston for a duck tour and an Italian dinner in the North End. The duck tour was so much fun! Our ConDucktor was Professor Quackenstein and we rode in Back Bay Bertha.

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Back Bay Bertha was parked in front of the loading zone at the end of the night, so we were able to take a photo with her. Photobombed by another ConDucktor!

614The Boston Duck Tour was an entertaining way to see the city. This was the second tour for Patty and Dave, and each trip, they learned something new and saw different sites. I learned that within a 50 mile radius there is more than 1,000 Dunkin’ Donuts…then, I saw about five in the next five minutes. We saw the grave yard where Sam Adams is buried. Pointing to a bar across the street, he said, “This the only place you can drink a cold Sam Adams while staring at a cold Sam Adams!” It was really cool that the duck could be driven directly into the water! We went into the Charles river for the water portion of the tour!

Before dinner, we went to the Old North Church, which played its part in history on the night of April 18th, 1775 by raising lanterns to inform the Charlestown patriots of the British troops planned route to Lexington,  “one if by land, and two if by sea!”

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We had dinner at Panza Ristorante. The most memorable dish was the bruschetta appetizer… it was the best I have ever had: Crunchy warm bread with fresh tomatoes, red onion, balsamic drizzle, and small pieces of creamy goat cheese tied the whole dish together. Bob ordered the Chicken Panza, which was also a table favorite.

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Since we were right around the corner from Mike’s Pastry, we had to stop in to get some famous cannolis. I did not think I really like cannolis, so I had Bob order me two giant chocolate chip cookies. The cookies were so delicious… I would go back just for that! Then, I tried an espresso cannoli, and I liked it, too!

Our final day on the East coast, we drove to Gloucester, MA part of Cape Ann. This area was founded in 1623 by men from Dorchester, and it became one of the earliest English settlements, predating Salem (1626) and Boston (1630). We went to the park, and we walked the shoreline, visiting the Fisherman’s memorial. It was surprising to see the number of Fishermen deaths at sea, which are caused by a number of things such as large storms, sinking, small dorys gone astray, and being run down by steamers.

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Bob and I had such an amazing time on the East Coast. It was fun to visit our family in a new area before they move back to Texas sometime in the future. Thank you so much Patty and Dave for this fun adventure! We learned a lot about Boston history, baseball, and East Coast living.

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Happy 50th birthday, Dad!

50 years ago today, my dad entered this world. Nanni and Papa-Pete were moving to St. Louis from Corpus Christi, but even then, my dad knew he wanted to be born in Texas. He arrived before they could fly to STL, and his first days were spent in a tiny motel, using a dresser drawer as a crib. When he arrived in STL, he must have felt like royalty sleeping in the Culver family crib. These fifty years have been full of adventure, wonder, trials, and triumphs.  In my 23 years in his life, I have learned many things from him. Dad, you have been a great role model and inspiration to me, and I wanted to share some fond memories I have with you!

1- You always know how to laugh and how to make others laugh.

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2- You took reading very seriously as a child, and read stories to us when we were little!

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3- You instilled faith and morals into our lives from the start.

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4- You gave Matt and I some good looking genes.

5-You taught me to be brave. This family photo was taken right after I wiped out on my bike when I tried to ride no handed like you were.

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6- You demonstrated that when you find a jacket you like, you should never get rid of it…

1980-84 CCP-CPK0016About 25 years later…..

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7- You were always willing to go the extra mile for us, especially by driving us to sport events all across Texas and Illinois and driving to watch games when we were older.

8- You had tea parties with me and my stuffed animals.

9- You taught us how to play tennis!

10- You taught us how to drive… and demonstrated how not to drive ;)

11- You gave us the Pelton sarcasm!

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12- You reminded me that I am beautiful, smart, and funny when I needed to hear it.

13-I remember the time you made me a frame for the mirror full of adjectives that describe me.

14- You showed me that hard work and dedication pay off.

15- You gave us the opportunity to travel and see the world from other perspectives.

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16- And… you taught us a plethora of choice words while trying to drive on the opposite side of the car and road. Thankfully, you raised us to know not to say those words!

17- I remember swimming in the Irish hotel with swim caps and eating duck and rabbit for the first time in a fancy restaurant.

18- You taught us how to play cards, Oh hell at reunions, Gin Rummy, etc.

19- You always cooked extravagant breakfasts and desserts. I remember the time you made bananas fosters, and I thought the house was going to burn down.

20- You always threw big celebrations for birthdays and accomplishments.

21- You taught us to be loyal sports fans.

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22- You passed on the gene for doing the dishes. I remember waking up early to empty the dishwasher for you and mom, and now, I am still the dishwashing queen.

23- We built the coolest igloo one Christmas in Bloomington.

24- When we went fishing, you would always unhook the fish for me because I thought they were so gross.

25- You took us skiing and camping many times.

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26- You and Joe set the example of food photography….now, I can barely eat without taking a picture of a delicious meal!

27- You gave us the opportunity to attend Culver and experience family tradition.

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28- I am so thankful for all the family reunions we went on together!

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29- You are the king of shaped pancakes!

30- Every Halloween, you carved pumpkins for us!

31- You have your unique sayings, like “As you wish my dish,” which I catch myself saying now and then.

32- I remember one night in high school you came home to “make coffee” because I was alone with a boy.

33- You allowed me to become an Aggie, after raising me as a Longhorn.

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34- You dropped me off at Fish Camp my freshman year, and I was so sad to see you leave.

35- You gave me the gift of education and encouraged me to follow my dreams!

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36- Thanks to Alex, you are never to old to wear wolf onesie footed pajamas…

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37- You are patient.

38- You are a great uncle.

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39- You introduced Bob and I to the St. Louis City Museum… it was so much fun!

40-  You accepted Bob’s request to marry me and gave me a wonderful wedding to mark the beginning of my future with Bob.

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41- You taught me to be myself and to love unconditionally.

42- You encouraged me to go to nursing school, and I am so glad I did!

43- You passed on your love for spicy foods.

44- We helped Matt organize and pack up for his move to Africa in St. Louis.

45– We celebrated Bob and I’s first married thanksgiving with you, Ann, and Nanni in College Station!

46- You cherish moments spent with our family.

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This year, we celebrated your birthday early… a Colorado vacation in July when Matt, Bob and I were free from school and work. We went to Crested Butte, courtesy of Ann, who won a condo for a week’s stay during a raffle!  I’m so glad we had the chance to celebrate this big occasion together in a beautiful city.

47- We went rafting!

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49- Our most extreme activity was mountain biking!

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50- Dad, I hope you have the best birthday ever. May these memories live on as we create more. Cheers to a happy and healthy future! Just remember, you are fifty years young. :)

Love, Kerry <3

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Dog Fever

Last week, Bob and I had the opportunity to dogsit my mom’s dog, Bleubelle. We had watched her before, but this time, it was especially fun. We did not have any Fourth of July plans because we wanted to stay at home and relax for the holiday weekend, plus I had an exam coming up.

Bleubelle went with me to get snowcones… and coffee… She’s such a great trip pal.

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I was busy studying for a complicated pregnancy and newborn exam, but she did not mind at all. She’s a great study buddy!

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Sometimes, she looks like a running reindeer.

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Every morning, she would wait patiently for me to wake up and take her on her walk. We have a low bed frame, so she placed her nose on the mattress and stared at me until I woke up. It was too cute to handle. She’s a nice alternative to an alarm clock.

Bob and I miss her, but we are glad we had the chance to spend time with her. My mom did a great job training her. We went to the park to play frisbee and didn’t have to worry about her bugging other people or running off. One day, we will have our own pup… I just hope we can train that dog well, too!

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Congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Throop!

Bob and I had the pleasure to stand next to two of our very best friends as they said their wedding vows this weekend! Austin and Caitlin have been great friends to us throughout our college years. I met Caitlin at the beginning of my junior year of college when she transferred to A&M. Austin had talked up how much we would get along from the start, but at first, it was scary because we were both so shy! From then on, our friendships blossomed.

The wedding celebrations began on Thursday. The groom and his men went out for their bachelor festivities, and the girls had their bachelorette party.

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Then, on Friday, it was time to get our nails done before the rehearsal. The rehearsal dinner was an “I do BBQ”!

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Pictured above: Alissa (bride’s sister), Brooke, Sam, Tiff, Britt, Caitlin (the bride), Kristen (bride’s cousin), Jess, Sarah, Kerry, Jenna (other sister)

We even got to play on an amazing playground after the dinner!

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I had so much getting to know Caitlin’s friends from Buffalo. She has the sweetest friends, which makes sense since she is so sweet herself! Most of her bridesmaids she has known since childhood, and I am amazed by their strong friendships that have endured the distance between Texas and New York. The first night was the ice-breaker between all the girls, but by the end of the weekend, I did not want to say goodbye to the other bridesmaids.

Saturday came and went too quickly! I arrived at Caitlin’s house at 9 am. She was ready in her bride t-shirt, and her dog, Buddy, was wearing his wedding bow tie. First, we ate some of grandma’s amazing cinnamon roll casserole and fruit. Then, we had hair appointments at Wen Chic Image Bar- Katy, TX. This was a blow dry bar that offered hair styling and makeup services!

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After attempting to nap without ruining our hair, we headed to the wedding venue to put on our makeup and dresses. The chapel was freezing cold because it’s summer in Texas, so we spent the next two hours before the ceremony shivering and huddling to stay warm! Everyone looked stunning in their bridesmaid dresses, and Caitlin was more beautiful than usual! I was excited to see her in her finished wedding dress because I was with her the day she said yes to the dress! The ceremony was beautiful, and I tried not to cry! Here’s a picture as the minister announced them as Mr. and Mrs. Austin Throop (I found this on Facebook from a family friend of theirs!).

 

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Next, we took lots of pictures of the bride and groom with their families and the wedding party!

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I was so lucky to walk down the aisle with my husband! What a handsome groomsman to share the day with :)

We arrived at the reception just in time for the wedding party and bride and groom to be announced. The table assignments were posted on this old window pane… so cute!

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The dinner was delicious, and we all had a blast dancing the night away. They looked adorable on the dance floor and cutting the cake!

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In addition to spending the night dancing with Bob, I was happy to be reunited with many college friends who we do not see very often, including Michael and Dana, Kevin and Chelsea, and Daniel and Eden! We tried to take some good pics….

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But…we couldn’t stop dancing, and the camera had a mind of its own!

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I can’t express how much fun it was to share this day with Caitlin and her bridesmaids! After Austin and Caitlin’s grand exit, Bob and I went to a bar with all of our friends. We still had much catching up to do, since most of our night was spent dancing! I am so thankful for the blessing of great friends, and I loved being a part of the Throop’s special day!

<3 Kerry

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Sexy Sugar Cookies

Last Thursday, I headed to Houston for Caitlin’s Bachelorette party. Another bridesmaid and I planned the evening, and we decided all the girls could decorate their own sexy sugar cookies! I made the cookies in advance, and we set aside some time during the party for decorating. Here is a photo from Pinterest that inspired me to try out Lingerie sugar cookies!

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Mrs. Fields sugar cookies

(Recipe source: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/mrs-fields-sugar-cookies/)

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

1) In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the salt.

2) Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until evenly distributed.

3) Add the egg and the vanilla. Beat until well blended. Pause and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl periodically.

4) On low speed, add the flour in increments. Do not over mix.

5) Form the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

6) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

7) On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Use any cookie cutters to cut the dough and place shapes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

8) Bake for 12-15 minutes. I baked mine for 13 minutes. Keep a watchful eye on the cookies to prevent browning.

9) Place cookies on a cooling rack. Make sure they have completely cooled before decorating.

I have been using this sugar cookie recipe for years now, and the cookies never fail to please the crowd. You can use this recipe as your starting point for any sugar cookie project!

To make the sexy sugar cookies, I used a heart cookie cutter. By cutting off the tip of the heart, I created cookie boobs and butts to be decorated! I had trouble locating a heart cookie cutter, but finally, I found a set of hearts at Michael’s.

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The girls expressed their creativity by decorating unique panties and bras. It was pretty tedious work spreading the icing carefully over the cookies! I tried my best to create a masterpiece similar to the inspiration photo posted in the beginning.

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Overall, sexy sugar cookies were a hit, but after a long day of celebrating, it was tempting to just eat the cookies plain!

<3 Kerry

 

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Double-Stuffed Pop Tarts

Yesterday, I took on the task of making some flaky, buttery homemade pop tarts. Eagerly, I went to the store in the morning to purchase some last minute ingredients. I picked up some strawberry preserves for me, blueberry preserves for Bob, and orange juice for mimosas! I had not studied the recipe very much, so I was surprised to find out how many steps there were to complete!

I found this recipe from Cooking Classy (http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/05/homemade-pop-tarts/) via Pinterest. Use this website to retrieve the recipe from the source. It seemed like a recipe that needed to be tried at least once….

Here’s my brief summary of the recipe:

1: Make the dough. I used my Cuisinart food processor to cut the cold butter into the flour mixture just until it resembled coarse meal. Then, I added 5 tbsp of cold water while pulsing the processor several times. This caused the dough to begin forming a ball. (You can also use a handheld pastry blender.) Pictured is the dough’s consistency when I transferred it to my floured surface to shape it.

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2: Using my pastry mat, I divided the dough into two balls and shaped them into 5-inch discs. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.

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Hint: I have a Martha Stewart Pastry Mat (sold at Macy’s) that is perfect for making pastries, biscuits, etc. It has helpful tips for working with dough, and it has inches and centimeter measurements along the border as well.

3: Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove one disc of dough from the fridge. Each 5-inch disc makes 4 tarts.  Begin rolling the dough into a 13 x 11 inch rectangle. This is recommended in the source’s recipe so you can then cut straight edges at 12 x 10 inches. Now, cut the dough in half horizontally. Then, make three vertical cuts every 3-inches. This will give you eight 5-inch by 3-inch rectangles.

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4: After cutting the dough into the appropriate dimensions, move the bottom 4 pieces to the lined cookie sheet. Place 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp of preferred preserves onto the bottom piece of dough, and then cover with the top piece of dough. You can use your fingers or a fork to seal the tarts together. I used my fingers, followed by the fork. Inevitably, some preserves leaked out while cooking. Poke the top of each tart with a fork about 4 times.

**These pop tarts were double-stuffed. Use as little or as much preserves as you desire, but not so much that it can’t seal shut!

5: Repeat steps 3 & 4 with the other disc of dough.

6: Place the prepared pop tarts in the freezer. Allow to chill for at least 2 hours.

7: Bake the tarts in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on them, so they don’t burn. I removed mine when they reached a golden brown color. Allow to cool on the pan for 5 minutes. Then, transfer to a cooling rack.

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8: When the pop tarts are completely cooled, frost them in any color that appeals to you. Then, top with sprinkles!

**Frosting the pop tarts was the hardest part for me. The white icing was hard to see on the dough, so I added a few drops of red food coloring to make a pink. My double-stuffed tarts were causing the frosting to roll down the sides. Possibly, I needed thicker frosting. Either way, they turned out great! In the future, I may skip the frosting all together and enjoy the naked tarts.

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9: Store the pop tarts in a sealed-container. Freeze the extras and re-toast them on a busy morning.

I hope some of you will take on this challenge of baking homemade pop tarts! If you do, let me know how it goes and good luck! Remember, you will need several hours to finish the project, so do it on a lazy day. I’d recommend getting some quality blueberry preserves because those tasted the best to us!

Until next time! -Kerry