Easy Ranch Style Beans Recipe (Instant Pot, Slow Cooker or Stove Top)

overhead shot a a bowl of the ranch style beans recipe.

This is a DIY version of the canned variety of Ranch Style Beans you buy at the supermarket. Just like the premade ones, this homemade ranch style beans recipe is easy and flavorful!

If you’ve never had Ranch Style Beans before, I’d describe them as pinto beans with a southwestern flair. Sounds pretty tasty, doesn’t it?

Just this week I used these on top of the nachos the kids the requested for dinner instead of meat. Nobody complained!

I also love using these homemade ranch style beans in this recipe for Mexican Haystacks. They’d also be a great sub for meat in tacos, quesadillas, this Tex Mex spaghetti squash recipe, or even just to serve as a side dish.

I always make a full batch and then freeze the leftovers in meal size portions. It makes them perfect to pull out of the freezer for a super fast and cheap supper.

(For another bean recipe, check out these Crock Pot refried beans!)

ingredients to puree for the ranch style beans sauce

Ingredients for the blender

Ranch Style Beans Recipe Ingredients:

  • tomatoes/tomato Sauce
  • onion
  • garlic
  • molasses
  • apple cider vinegar
  • beef broth
  • pinto beans
  • salt
  • paprika
  • smoked paprika
  • cumin
  • oregano

If you are like me, these are all ingredients that you already have in your pantry. Perfect for spur of the moment cooking in the instant pot.

pureed ranch style beans sauce

The pureed ingredients

How to Cook Ranch Style Beans:

You have three options here.

  1. Instant Pot. This is my go to method. So fast and easy. All you do is combine all the ingredients and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes (mine is 8 quart). You almost can’t have the canned variety opened and heated in that time. Yes, I’m joking but seriously I was able to make these after work and have them done in time for dinner. The Instant Pot has saved me more than once when it comes to getting beans finished in time for supper.
  2. Slow Cooker. Great set and forget it method. I frequently use this method for beans as well. Dump everything into your Crock Pot and let it go. Cooking time varies greatly from slow cooker to slow cooker. Mine tends to cook things quickly.
    On high check at 3 hours and then each hour after that. It probably will be between 4-6 hours.
    On low your Crock Pot will most likely take 8-10 hours, though again, I’d recommend first checking at 5 hours.
  3. Stove Top. Do a quick soak with your beans. (Cover with water and boil for 10 minutes. Turn heat off and let sit for 1 hour. Remove the water from the beans.) Add all other ingredients and simmer beans for 2-3 hours. Check liquid level occasionally and add broth or water if needed.
seasonings for the ranch style beans

The other ingredients needed for the recipe

Ranch Style Beans Recipe Instructions:

  • Blend the tomatoes/sauce, onion, garlic, molasses, vinegar, and some of the beef broth.
  • Rinse and sort out any bad pinto beans. Place in Instant Pot (or cooker of your choice).
  • Add the pureed liquid, salt, more beef broth, paprika, smoked paprika, cumin, and oregano.
  • Cook until done. Season with more salt, if needed.

If you want more of a kick, feel free to add chili powder or another chili pepper.

The listed combination is perfect for my family with kids, though.

Finished Ranch Style Beans

The beans after they have finished cooking in the Instant Pot

Ranch Style Beans Recipe

Easy Ranch Style Beans Recipe (Instant Pot, Slow Cooker or Stove Top)
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Tex Mex
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 cups
 
Easy and tasty southwestern flavored pinto beans! Perfect as a side or in your favorite Tex Mex dishes.
Ingredients
  • 1 can tomato sauce (or 1.5 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 6 cups beef broth, divided
  • 2 cups dried pinto beans
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Instructions
  1. Place tomatoes/sauce, onion, garlic, molasses, vinegar, and 2 cups of beef broth in a blender. Puree until smooth.
  2. Rinse and sort pinto beans.
  3. If cooking on the stove (or on low in the crock pot - I do NOT do this step when using the Instant Pot) do a quick soak - put beans in pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Turn stove off, cover and let sit for 1 hour. Drain.
  4. Combine beans, pureed mixture, 4 more cups of broth, salt, both paprikas, cumin, and oregano in your cooking device.
  5. Cook until done. Check and see if more salt is needed.
  6. Instant Pot: Cook on high pressure for 25-30 minutes. Quick release.
  7. Slow Cooker: Cook on high for 4-6 hours or cook on low for 8-10 hours. (Crock Pots are different, be sure to check doneness of the beans early the first time you make this.)
  8. Stove: (Do the quick soak first) Let beans simmer for 2-3 hours. Add additional broth or water if needed.

 

Do you buy Ranch Style Beans? What are your favorite ways to use them?

close up shot of a bowl of ranch style beans

 

Gifts for a Pastor’s Wife (& kids) to Make them Feel Appreciated

Thank you card on a table with graphic of gift ideas for your pastor's wife

Let’s talk about an often over looked part of church ministry. We know to appreciate our pastors, but what about their wives?! This post is all about ways to appreciate her and ideas of gifts for the pastor’s wife (and their children)!

[ For honoring your pastor check out these posts: Ways to Encourage Pastors,
Gift Ideas for Pastors, and an easy Chex Mix Pastor’s Gift].

Vase of flowers and list of pastor's wife gifts

Our pastor’s families sacrifice a lot with all the time spent on call, visiting in the hospital, dealing with stressful situations, and having an unpredictable life. 

Birthday’s, holidays, and Minister Appreciation Month are all the perfect time to do a little something for them to let them know we appreciate their service to our church as well. The problem can be actually coming up with ideas of gifts for the pastor’s wife and meaningful ways to appreciate them.

We don’t want them to feel neglected and unappreciated, so these things can be a sweet way to show your gratitude. 

Andrea, a pastor’s wife in the Twin Cities and mother of 4 children, ages 2-11, is back again today to share some gift ideas with us.

Guest Post by Andrea

Take some time to get to really know your pastor’s wife and build a friendship. Knowing likes and dislikes will help you as you decide the best gifts for you pastor’s wife and how to really show her she is appreciated.

Ideas of Gifts for a Pastor’s Wife:

1. Food. Arrange for someone to bring a meal for your pastor and his family twice a week during the month of October. Find out their likes/dislikes and allergies! If you know your pastor’s wife loves brownies, make them a pan!

2. Cleaning. How about a house cleaning service? (Know your pastor! If they wouldn’t feel comfortable with you cleaning their house, consider giving them a certificate to a cleaning company?)

3. Physical pastor’s wife gift:

  • Gift cards addressed to her for: spa/hair salon, coffee shop, favorite clothing store. (Please don’t offer to take her shopping – this can be very awkward! Instead, give her a gift card and offer to babysit her kids while she goes out shopping.)
  • Take her out for a movie or coffee.
  • Send her flowers on her birthday.
  • If she enjoys outdoor activities, take her out for hiking, tennis, boating, etc.
  • Small gifts that you know she’d appreciate. Whether books, a necklace, a gift bag of treats she might not splurge on herself. If you don’t know her well enough to do this on your own, ask her husband or children for ideas!

4. Practical ways to encourage your pastor’s wife.

  • Write her a note of encouragement and appreciation.
  • Pray for her instead of criticizing and judging her.
  • Don’t listen to or participate in gossip about her.
  • Give her grace: she is human just like you. Don’t hold her up to your expectations: pastor’s wives are not all the same. They are uniquely made by God with personality, talents, strengths and spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit determined were best for them. Some are introverts, some are extroverts. Maybe they can play piano, others cannot. Some love to serve in children’s ministry, others do not. Some are called to women’s ministries, others are not! Allow them to be who God created them to be, not who you expect them to be. 

thank you card and list of pastor's wife gifts

4. Don’t forget your pastor’s children!

  • Give them a gift card especially for them (ice cream shop?), or take the family somewhere fun (waterpark, indoor playground, disc golf, etc.)!
  • Make each child a gift basket of their own with their favorite items.
  • Write them a note of encouragement and appreciation.
  • Pray for them.
  • Give them grace: they are humans just like everyone else’s kids. Give them freedom to make mistakes, freedom to learn and mature.. If you have a concern, talk to your pastor lovingly about it as you would want someone to talk to you about your own children. (Don’t have different expectations for his children than you do for your own!)
  • Don’t listen to or participate in gossip about your pastor’s children. Take a stand in that moment and remind the gossiper that they are just children who are in the process of becoming more and more like Jesus, just like all of us.

5. Couple Time. Give the pastor and his wife time together. Give them a gift card to a restaurant and babysitting services. Don’t just offer to babysit the kids, ask them specifically, “Can we schedule an evening for me to babysit your kids?” Many times they might feel awkward to approach YOU with a request to babysit. It’s better if you approach THEM with a specific offer.

6. Respect their family time! Avoid calling their husband and father on his day off, or during dinner hours or on vacation.

7. Remember. Be sure to remember them on their birthdays and anniversaries! Send a card in the mail. Pray for them.

Be sure to read the comments for more ideas, especially on the importance of non-tangible gifts and our words!

What are you favorite ways to honor your Pastor’s family? What are your favorite gifts for a pastor’s wife to give (or receive if you are a minister’s wife)?

If you missed the earlier posts, don’t forget to check out Ways to Encourage Your Pastor and Gift Ideas for Pastors.

bucket of fresh flowers and graphic about ways to appreciate your pastor's wife

vase of flowers and ideas for pastor's wife gifts Originally published October 3, 2014. Updated September 15, 2020.

The Best Italian Dips (& an Yummy Italian Layer Dip Recipe)

close up of layered italian dips on a plate

Does anyone else love Italian food? It’s always a favorite with my kids and husband and one of those go to crowd pleasers when company is coming for dinner. Today, I have some delicious Italian Dips to share with you and the recipe for my favorite Italian Layer Dip!

These Italian dips would be perfect appetizers for a dinner or cookout. They are also great for bringing to a holiday party! They taste amazing and you’ll be bringing something different than everyone else.

Delicious Italian Dips

Italian SalsaFirst up is this super easy (and frugal) recipe for Italian salsa! Becky suggests serving it with chips, crackers, or pita chips. Love the simplicity of this appetizer. Perfect for throwing together for a last minute event.

Tuscan White Bean Bruschetta Dip. I’m a huge hummus fan, so this dip is up my alley! The creamy dip is made with cannellini beans and topped with tomatoes. You serve it with easy garlicky toast.

Restaurant Style Bread Dipping OilA quality olive oil and a bunch of dried herbs and fresh garlic. Love having this at Italian restaurants but it’s so easy to make at home. If you already have a good loaf of bread, this takes minutes to come together. (I think homemade french bread would be delicious with this!)

Lasagna DipThis is a warm, meaty dip that you bake in the oven. I love that even with baking time, this can be done in 30 minutes. They serve it with bread, but I think it would be great with pita or bagel chips as well.

Italian Layer Dip. You’ll find this tasty recipe down below! Keep scrolling. It has a creamy ricotta base and is covered with the delicious tomato topping you usually associate with bruschetta. I love serving it with this slices of bread I bake until crisp.

What Italian dips are your favorite?

Now, on to the recipe for Italian Layer Dip!

Italian Layer Dip Recipe:

Oh my goodness. This Italian layer dip is amazing! Definitely drool worthy and it’s also super easy and can be made in advance.

I mean can you really go wrong with basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar? Especially when combined with the creaminess of ricotta cheese! It really can’t get much better than that.

This appetizer is refreshing, creamy, and light. Serve on top of bagel chips (or thinly sliced baguettes toasted in the oven is what I normally do) and you have the perfect mix of textures and flavors.

Ideal appetizer for a summer party, small group, cookout, Christmas party etc or you could serve it with a nice salad and you’d have an ideal meal for a girls’ night.

This easy and oven free Italian Layer Dip is amazing! Perfect start to any meal. This will be a favorite.To make ahead, combine the ingredients for the base and store in the fridge until ready to use. Do the same with the topping (storing in a different container). They can remain in the fridge for several days. Before serving, spread the base on your plate/platter and make sure to use the slotted spoon to scoop the tomatoes on the top.

[In case you are wondering what to do with the rest of the container of ricotta, don’t forget about Easy Skillet Lasagna (again, perfect for summer since you don’t have to turn the oven on)!]

5.0 from 2 reviews
Italian Layer Dip
 
Ingredients
Base
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese (full fat is thicker and holds up better)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
  • ⅛ t. salt
  • 2 T. fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 T. grated Parmesan
Topping
  • 3 roma tomatoes (1 cup) deseeded and diced
  • 2 T. finely chopped red onion
  • 2 T. chiffonade basil
  • ⅛ t. garlic paste
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • Additional basil for garnish
  • Grated Parmesan
Instructions
Base
  1. Combine the cheeses until smooth.
  2. Stir in salt, parsley, and parmesan.
  3. Spread on the bottom of a plate or pie pan.
Topping
  1. Combine all topping ingredients in a bowl. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Let sit for an hour.
  3. Using a slotted spoon to let as much of the liquid off as possible put on top of the cheese layer.
  4. Garnish with additional basil and freshly grated parmesan.
  5. Refrigerate until serving.
Notes
Serve with bagel chips or thinly slices baguettes that you toast in the oven.

To make ahead, combine the ingredients for the base and store in the fridge until ready to use. Do the same with the topping (storing in a different container). They can remain in the fridge for several days. Before serving, spread the base on your plate/platter and make sure to use the slotted spoon to scoop the tomatoes on the top.

 

Aren’t you ready to dig into these tasty looking Italian dips? Move on over chips and salsa! (Although, those will always be a favorite of my kiddos too!)

close up of italian layer dip with graphic 5 italian dips to tryThis easy and oven free Italian Layer Dip is amazing! Perfect start to any meal. This will be a favorite.

This is a yummy appetizer! Italian Layer Dip is perfect for any party. Easy and no oven necessary.

Originally published January 24, 2014. Updated September 14, 2020.

Awesome Gifts for Kids Under $10

purple present next to a tree

With birthdays, Christmas, and other events buying presents for all the kiddos in your life can really add up! Today, I wanted to put together an fun list of gifts for kids all under $10! The perfect way to let a child you know you care and thought of them but still let you stay within your budget.

[Check out this post for more tips on Christmas presents on a budget!]

With Christmas around the corner, some of these ideas would not only make a great Christmas presents, but you could also use them as a bigger stocking stuffer item. They would also work great for Easter basket fillers for your children or even a Valentine’s present.

Affiliate links are used in this post. See disclosure page for more details.


Fun Gifts for Kids Under $10

Beyblades

If your kids are as obsessed with Beyblades as mine are, they will love getting a new one to battle with. You can find a Beyblade or a Beyblade with launcher for under $10 on Amazon or also in the toy section of a Walmart or Target.

Puzzles. 

Puzzles are always a hit with my kids. For Preschool and Kindergarten age kids, be sure to check out the giant floor puzzles. I found these Frozen and Paw Patrol options for under $10! For younger kids check out this chunky puzzle or puzzles with big knobs.

Once you get up to kids a little older, you can find some jigsaw puzzles with less than 100 pieces under $10 on Amazon. For puzzles larger than that, check out Dollar Tree! You can find puzzles from 24 – 500 pieces for just a dollar! My kids have enjoyed many of these (and you don’t have to stress if they lose a piece.)

Gift Card. 

What child doesn’t appreciate a gift card? A $5 card you give with something else or just a $10 gift card will be enjoyed. My kids love having spending money to buy what they want – whether for toys, games, craft supplies, or their favorite fast food type restaurants!

Books.

 If you know a reader, they will never turn down a good book! You can start with board books for babies and toddlers (even my 4 year old still loves board books) and go all the way up to chapter books and classic novels! I will put together a post with book gift ideas broken down by age. If you need help in the meantime, let me know!

Movies. 

Buy a Blu-ray or DVD of a favorite movie. They will love having it available to watch again and again.

Snacks. 

Fun snacks are always a favorite. When mom buys the groceries things tend to be simple. You can spoil the kids with special treats, snacks, and candy that they don’t normally get. Isn’t that a perfect gifts for kids under $10 idea? Even older kids appreciate yummy food!

Games.

 All three of my kids love game nights! Something as simple as Uno or Skip-Bo is always a hit for them. Or look into Qwixx and Spot it!

I know many games can be well over $10, but the basic games are still a lot of fun. Watch for deals around Thanksgiving and Christmas to get more expensive games for less.

We also enjoy Clue, Rummikub, Sequence (and Sequence for Kids). We love playing Pictionary when we are with their cousins and believe it or not, my 7 and 9 year old have been loving the themed Monopoly games lately. We have The Christmas Story version.

Another go to is Apples to Apples Jr.

 

Crafts Kits. 

Again, crafts are something that all of my kids enjoy! The DIY kits are always fun because they get to make new projects (and I like that all the supplies are right there). Here are just a few that I found! (All of these were under $10 when I added them to the post.)

Don’t for get to check Hobby Lobby, Walmart, and Target for craft kit options too!

Clothes. 

I know outfits will be more than $10, but think of something like a fun T-Shirt, dress, or even accessory. Often times you can even get a cool shirt on sale for $5 and you could include something else with the piece clothing.

Craft Supplies.

Yep, I know we just talked about craft kits but this is something different.

Go to Dollar Tree (or buy when school supplies are on sale or using a coupon at Hobby Lobby) and gather together a much of an assortment of craft stuff as you can and put it in a plastic tub for the child.

Next time they want to create, they will have all the necessary items!

Things from glue (or a glue gun for older kids), pipe cleaners, different kinds of beads, stickers, glitter, pompom balls, streamers, yarn etc! The possibilities are endless.

Socks. 

There are so many fun socks out there! Find a pair for $5 and stuff it with some extra goodies (or a gift card) or get a pack for $10 and let it be the gift! Don’t discount looking at Walmart and Target – I’ve seen some super fun options lately. During winter months you can always consider fuzzy socks as well.

Flashlight.

A legit flashlight (or lantern or headlamp)! Kids love these and I know my kids are always raiding our flashlight drawer. Having their own (that you label with their name) would be a great gift!

Seasonal Items.

Think about what time of year it is and what kinds of things kids do outside! Winter toys & sleds, chalk, bubbles, hula hoops, water toys, bug catchers, beach towels, plants etc. It’s always fun to receive something new to use on outdoor adventures. You can find some fun seasonal gifts for kids for under $10 on Amazon or your local dollar store or even Walmart.


two kids sitting on a couch and parents giving them gifts

Right there are 13 different categories of gifts for kids under $10 to help you jump start your gift buying this year! These ideas work for kids of a variety of ages and the options really are endless.

Other Gift Guide Posts:

Gifts for Preschoolers
Gifts for 2 Year Olds
Gifts for Preschool Boys
Gifts for Teenage Girls
Gifts for Teenage Boys
Under $10 Gifts for Women
Frugal Gifts for Him

One last money saving tip, when you find these types of things on clearance or on sale for a great price buy a couple and build up a small gift stash in your closet. Perfect to use for your own kids or for friends. It saves you money from having to go out at buy something full price.

What are your favorite gifts under $10 for kids to give?

Mouthwatering and Easy Mini Pavlovas

Mini pavlovas on a white plate topped with whipped cream and fresh peaches

These mini pavlovas are such a delicious and fun dessert! One of my favorites.

My first experience with pavlova was 10 years ago. Someone made a giant rectangular pavlova for a ladies’ Bible study I participated in. It was love at first bite!

Since then I’ve made the traditional round pavlovas, half sheet pan size rectangular pavlovas, and of course these adorable mini pavlovas.

If you’ve never had pavlova before, it’s a meringue like crust, crispy on the outside and marshmallow like in the middle, topped with freshly whipped cream and fruit.

So good.

This is also dessert that comes across as fancy, but it is inexpensive to make if you use fruit that is in season.

MINI PAVLOVA INGREDIENTS

Once you see the simplicity of these ingredients, you’ll understand why it’s budget friendly!

  • Egg whites
  • Granulated sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Vanilla extract
  • Vinegar or lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Powdered sugar
  • Fresh fruit

Use whatever fresh fruit is in season. Things like strawberries, blueberries, any other berry. Peaches and other pit fruits are also great options. You can do one fruit or a combination.

A mint leaf or two on the top would be a fun presentation options as well.

Egg white in the mixer and a bowl or sugar for mini pavlovas

Room temperature egg whites and the bowl of sugar, cornstarch, and salt.

MINI PAVLOVA INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Beat room temperature egg whites until soft peaks form.
  2. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add a tablespoon at a time to the egg whites. Scrape down sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula after last tablespoon is added.
  3. Beat until stiff peaks form. The egg whites should feel smooth – not gritty from the sugar.
  4. Tap the egg whites off of the whisk. Combine the vanilla and vinegar and sprinkle over the top. Fold in gently.
  5. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  6. Line a large baking sheet (or two small ones) with parchment paper. Scoop the meringue onto the the sheets in 8 even piles and spread into circles making a slight indentation in the middle.
  7. Place in oven and turn oven down to 250 degrees. Bake for 60 minutes. They should be firm and dry (but not brown). Turn oven off and let them cool in the closed oven. (It’s easy to forget to turn the oven off… Guess how I know! Thus why these meringues are a little brown.)
  8. Whip the heavy cream and prepare the fruit. In the winter time, if you don’t have access to fresh fruit, you can make a simple fruit compote by boiling frozen fruit in a couple tablespoons of water (and a little sugar if needed) to make a fruity sauce. Brighten with a splash of lemon juice after cooking. Use this over the top instead of the fresh fruit.
  9. Assemble the mini pavlovas and enjoy!

Whipped meringue with stiff peaks for mini pavlovas

The meringue with stiff peaks and the vanilla/vinegar mixture ready to be folded in.

STORING MINI PAVLOVAS

One thing to know about a pavlova is that ones it’s topped with the whipped cream and fruit, you need to eat it. The meringue won’t stay crisp.

When I brought the large rectangular pavlova to a small group and a 4th of July celebration, I brought the meringue base and then serving dishes of whipped cream and fruit. Everyone topped their own. For a fancier party, you’d probably want to present the pavlova already assembled and then serve for the wow factor.

With the mini pavlovas, you could leave everything separate and serve the meringue on a platter followed by dishes of whipped cream and fruit options. Or for events that aren’t buffet style and you do have a head count, assemble and plate each mini pavlova before serving.

There’s no wrong option! Just know for storing leftovers it’s best to have all the components separate. For serving for a dinner party, you are fine to assemble everything ahead of time and serve. Leftovers that are already combined, you will want to eat within a day – the crispiness of the meringue won’t last.

Mini Pavlovas topped with peaches and a sprig of mint

Mini Pavlovas Recipe

Mini Pavlovas
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Mini pavlovas are such a fun dessert. An easy meringue base, topped with freshly whipped cream, and fresh fruit. Here are all the details to make your own!
Ingredients
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 cups fresh fruit
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Put room temperature egg whites in a bowl. (I use my KitchenAid with the whisk attachment, you could also use a bowl and electric beaters.) Beat until soft peaks form.
  3. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Once soft peaks have formed, add 1 tablespoon at a time to the egg mixture. After the last tablespoon is incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Continue whisking until stiff peaks have formed. (The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty if you rub it between your fingers.)
  5. Combine the vanilla and vinegar and sprinkle on top of the meringue. Fold in gently.
  6. Line a large baking sheet (or 2 smaller ones) with parchment paper.
  7. Spoon the meringue into 8 (could make 10 smaller ones - just watch the cooking time) equal blobs on the parchment paper, leaving plenty of space between them. Spread the meringue into circles around 4 inches in diameter. Create a slight indentation in the middle of the circles.
  8. Place in oven and TURN OVEN DOWN to 250 degrees.
  9. Bake for 60 minutes. Turn oven off and let the meringue cool in closed oven for a couple hours.
  10. Whip the heavy cream with the powder sugar.
  11. To serve, place meringue on a plate. Top with the whipped cream and fresh fruit.
Notes
Store leftover meringues (without any topping on them) in an air tight container for 2 days. This is a great recipe you can prepare ahead of time.

In the winter time, if you don't have access to fresh fruit, you can make a simple fruit compote by boiling frozen fruit in a couple tablespoons of water (and a little sugar if needed) to make a fruity sauce. Brighten with a splash of lemon juice after cooking. Use this over the top instead of the fresh fruit.