Pie Crust “Cinnamon Roll”

For some reason, I always have left over pie crust.  Its really not that traumatizing – in fact, I’m pretty pumped every time I have some left over because I get to make this treat!  This is something my mom always did with her left over pie crust.

On a side note, I hate food waste so several recipes I’m going to be sharing in the near future have to do with using up some of those pesky ingredients we often have left over during Holiday baking…like egg whites!  I found myself swimming in those things after Thanksgiving (let’s talk TEN egg whites), so I had to get creative…

Okay, so back to my pie crust “cinnamon roll.”  First I’ll give you a sweet pie crust recipe that never fails – its buttery, flaky, and delicious…and then I’ll teach you the art of the cinnamon roll.  Its really complicated, so try not to get overwhelmed.  I kid, I kid – this is so easy that you should feel guilty opting to throw away the extra dough!

Sweet Pie Crust:

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3 TBS granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 4 TBS ice water (plus more if needed)

The really easy way to do this is to throw everything in a food processor and pulse until everything is combined, adding more water one TBS at a time if needed.

If you don’t have a food processor, then combine the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in the butter using a pastry blender until its pea-sized.  Add remaining ingredients and combine until the dough sticks together, adding additional water one TBS at a time if needed.  Refrigerate crust for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

And now for the left overs…

Roll that left over crust out, brush with melted butter and sprinkle generously with granulated sugar and cinnamon.  Roll the dough like you would a cinnamon roll and seal all the edges.  Place on a baking sheet and brush roll with additional melted butter.  Bake that little guy for 10-12 minutes (or until the crust is golden brown) at about 350°.  Let it cool slightly before cutting it into 2 inch pieces.

Categories: American, Desserts, Recipes, Snacks | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Cranberry Orange Bread with Grand Marnier Glaze

I don’t know why I do this to myself – I take a few days off from blogging and then I get totally back-logged.  Seriously, I have like 7 new recipes I’ve tried lately and haven’t posted about a single one.  Bummer for you AND for me!  But have no fear, I’m queuing this thing up and you’ll have plenty of new foods to try soon!  I’m even going to post a couple Thanksgiving-ish recipes because let’s be honest, in many households, Christmas dinner has a really striking resemblance to Thanksgiving dinner, at least its that way at my in-law’s…they can’t be the only ones!

So let’s start with Cranberry Orange Bread!  I found this recipe while I was laid up and immediately thought it would make the perfect breakfast snack while preparing Thanksgiving dinner.  I was right.  Yum.  We pretty much picked at this moist quick bread all day long – the sweet orange against the tart cranberries is quite the treat and the Grand Marnier glaze just seals it all together.  I will definitely be making this again…and probably for breakfast!


  • 1 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering pan
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. orange juice
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 2 TBS freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. dried cranberries
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 6 to 8 TBS Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

Preheat oven to 330°. Butter two 6-cup-capacity loaf pans (or, if making the mini loaves, butter six 2-cup-capacity pans).

With an electric or standing mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add orange juice, sour cream, orange zest, and vanilla; mix until blended.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture and cranberries to wet ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are absorbed; do not overmix.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers of breads comes out clean, 70 to 75 minutes for large loaves and 60 minutes for mini loaves.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and 6 tbsp. Grand Marnier. Glaze should have consistency of thick maple syrup or corn syrup. If it is too thick, thin with an additional tbsp. of liqueur.

Let loaves cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a cooling rack set over a large baking sheet. With a thin skewer or long toothpick, poke deep holes in tops of loaves. Drizzle with Grand Marnier glaze so that it coats the top, runs down the sides, and seeps through the holes.

Let loaves cool completely, then slice and serve, or wrap and freeze.

Courtesy of Stephanie Dean, Sunset

Categories: American, Breads, Desserts, Recipes | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

PB&J Cookies

I have an exciting cookie for you that is SUPER cute, even for adults.  I feel like its the adult version of the kid-friendly sandwich.  And don’t run away after you look at the pictures that show the process!  I promise this isn’t scary at all and is worth the little bit of effort!

I love peanut butter cookies.  A lot.  Especially when they’re dipped in dark chocolate…but that’s a whole other story.  These cookies may be my new fav though because they pack a little surprise: a jam-filled center.  Can you say, “yum”?  You should…


  • 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. smooth peanut butter, preferably natural style – I used Jif Natural
  • 1/3 c. chunky peanut butter, preferably natural style – again, I used Jif Natural (its obviously my favorite)
  • 1 oz. (2 TBS) reduced-fat cream cheese (neufchatel)
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. dark brown sugar
  • 3 TBS liquid egg substitute
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • About 1/4 cup strawberry or raspberry jam – I used Smucker’s Red Raspberry Simply Fruit

Preheat the oven to 350º with a rack in the center position.  Coat a baking sheet with pan spray (even if non-stick), or line it with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt, set aside.

In a medium bowl, using electric mixer, beat the peanut butter, cream cheese, butter, and granulated and brown sugars together on medium speed to 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is well blended.  Add the egg substitute and vanilla and mix for 2 minutes longer.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the flour mixture on low speed, beating for 1 minutes, just until it is incorporated.  The mixture will look a little dry.

Set aside 2/3 cup of the dough for the cookie tops.  Scoop the remaining dough into 16 equal portions and roll them between your hands to form balls.  Use you thumb or index finger to press a hole about 1/2 inch deep into the center of each ball, gently pinching the dough to create a well about the size of a quarter.  Fill each hole with 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of the jam.

Separate the remaining dough into 16 equal portions.  Roll them between your hands to form small balls.  Use the tines of a fork to smash the dough into a circle and make hash marks on the cookie tops.  Tops should be no more than 1/4 inch thick.

Lay one cookie top over each of the filled cookies and press the tops and bottoms together gently all around the edges to seal in the jam.

Space the cookies evenly on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes until the dough no longer appears wet or shiny but has not begun to brown..  Halfway through the baking time, rotate the sheet from front to back.

Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 15 minute then transfer directly to wire rack to cool completely.  Store any leftover cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

Adapted slightly from Marisa Churchill in Sweet & Skinny

Categories: American, Desserts, Recipes, Snacks | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

The Fastest Chocolate Cake. Ever.

I admitted the other day that I am a Pinterest addict.  I’m not sure that I’m ready to find a 10-step program though – I think I can manage on my own.  On that note, I’m not afraid to drag others down with me, so if you haven’t discovered the crack joy that is Pinterest, message me your email and I’ll send you an invitation.  You know you’re curious…especially when I mention that I found this crazy concoction on there.  Yup, Pinterest is a great way to find recipes…baaaaaad news, folks (not for the blog per say, but my productivity is definitely taking a hit).

Okay, enough about my problem.  I really wanted to bake for some odd reason last weekend.  Maybe it was the fact that Branden was glued to the TV watching college football and I had lost interest.  Unfortunately, I was kind of halted in my tracks for two reasons: 1. I still can’t stand for very long and 2. I apparently had a bit of a stomach bug that was making me a bit queezy.  Major bummer.  BUT, I still felt the need to be in the kitchen if only for a few minutes.  Enter Nutella Mug Cake.  Seriously.

This is the easiest cake you’ll ever make.  You literally throw all the ingredients into a mug, give it a stir, pop it in the microwave for a few minutes and TA-DA!  CAKE!  I made this over a commercial break.  Yes, a commercial break.  And clean up was a cinch: a mug, a fork, and a single measuring spoon.  Incredible.

I followed the recipe to a T except for one minor detail.  I don’t buy self-rising flour.  Ever.  I don’t like my flour having a mind of its own.  So I MacGyvered my own tiny bit of self-rising flour.  If you don’t like/have self-rising flour, use the 4 TBS of all-purpose flour plus a pinch of salt and pinch of baking powder.  Seriously, its the same thing but cheaper.  Want a more exact recipe for self-rising flour should you find yourself in this predicament again?  Well here you go…

1 c. Self-Rising Flour = 1 c. unsifted All-Purpose Flour + 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder + 1/2 tsp. salt


UPDATE, UPDATE!!  So Branden thought this thing needed more chocolate soooooo the other night I threw in a big ‘ole handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a couple drops of vanilla extract.  Bingo!  Chocolatey deliciousness right here, folks!  I think this is going to be the way we make it from here on out!

Categories: Desserts, Recipes, Snacks | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Mini Pumpkin Pies – The Light Version

Before we get started, I am going to offer up an apology.  My blog is about to get SUPER lame for the next two months.  Seriously, its going to be bad and here’s why: while you think I am this young, little thing without a worry in the world besides what I am going to cook next, I’m actually an 80-year-old woman with bunions.  Okay, so I’m not really 80, but I do seriously have bunions that have been made unbearable by my addiction to stiletto heels.  Mmmmm, stilettos.  So basically, I have to have my left bunion removed on Monday (had the right one done in February) which means I’m off my feet for quite some time.  Totally lame-o.  If only I didn’t love shoes so much…if it were socially acceptable to go barefoot all the time, I could totally put this off for several more years.

In short foot surgery = can’t stand on two feet for at least 6 weeks = no cooking for Lauren.  However, Branden will be taking over the cooking, so hopefully he’ll have some things to share with you over the next two months (of course, I’ll be posting them because we all know he doesn’t really have the desire to post).

All that jazz aside, I figured I should share a quick fall/Thanksgiving recipe before I go down for the count (seeing as it will be Thanksgiving by the time I’m back to “normal”).  So who doesn’t love a good pumpkin pie?  If you don’t, stop here.  Sorry!

This is actually a light version of pumpkin pie that surprisingly tastes pretty darn close the real deal – Branden actually really likes this recipe and he normally hates slimmed down baked goods.  Let’s be honest, slimmed down baked goods are often disgusting.  My theory is, you might as well make the real deal so that you actually enjoy it and chalk it up as a loss in the calorie department…that is, until I found a version of this recipe last year.

If you want to make a full pie instead of individual ones, double all the ingredients for the filling and bake at the same temp for 50 minutes or until set.


  • 4 sheets Phyllo dough
  • 1/4 c. packed, dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 3/4 c. canned pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 c. fat free evaporated milk
  • 1/4 c. egg whites or egg substitute
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º.  Lightly coat 6 ramekins with cooking spray.

Cut phyllo sheets in sixths*.  Place 1/6 phyllo in ramekin and lightly coat with cooking spray.  Top with another 1/6, placing corners just to the right of the previous sheet’s corners.  Repeat with two more pieces of phyllo.  Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until slightly browned.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, evaporated milk, egg, and vanilla.  Gradually whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients.

Divide filling evenly among ramekins.  Bake until set, about 40 minutes.  Cool completely before serving.

*Tip for working with phyllo: keep it covered with a damp cloth until you’re ready to use it as it dries out really quickly.  Store any unused dough in the freezer for later.

Categories: American, Desserts, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fall has arrived and with it comes Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love fall but hate it all at the same time.  I love the cooler evenings and the changing leaves, but I hate that winter is literally looming around the corner.  I feel like its going to come sooner than normal this year as we’re trending about 10 degrees cooler than average right now (secretly I’m still rooting for an Indian Summer, but that’s just me).  I’m not ready for 30 degree mornings yet – yes I said it, 30 degrees…we’ve already had one and it was awful!

All that babbling aside, the cooler temps and the county fair last week made me crave one of my favorite fall baked goods: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.  I’m seriously nuts about them!  I love them so much that I used to hide them under my bed in college so my roommates wouldn’t know I had them (so horrible, I know!).  I personally like these muffins better after they’re a day old because they settle and become more dense (personal preference).  And of course, what’s a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin without a warm glass of Caramel Apple Cider (really simple, pour some caramel – think quality ice cream topping- in apple cider and pop in the microwave for a few minutes)?


  • 1 2/3 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 TBS pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
  • 1 c. mini chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°.

Grease mini muffin pans.  Mix flour, sugar, spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Break eggs into another bowl.  Add pumpkin and butter; whisk until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour over dry ingredients and fold in with a spatula until moistened.  Scoop into cups and bake for 20 minutes.

Cool on wire rack and store in a covered container.

– Courtesy of my Momma

Categories: American, Breads, Breakfast, Desserts, Recipes, Snacks | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Another Reason to Love/Hate Baking: Salted Caramel Brownies

I like baked goods.  Who doesn’t?  But I hate baking.  It never works out right for me…it usually tastes good but either looks awful or the frosting doesn’t set or its a tad under cooked and the list goes on.  And once its done, its done – there’s no real correction of mistakes…chalk it up as a loss and move on.  Which brings me to my most recent delicious failure: Salted Caramel Brownies.  My mom had made these first and they…were…AWESOME. So I decided to suprise Branden with a pan of them when he came home from work the other night.  They tasted the same but neither the caramel or the chocolate drizzle set up…not even 24 hours later.  What.  The.  Heck?!  I swear, things that set for other people will never, ever set in my house; it must be impossible for anything other than my skin to dry out in here.  What was supposed to happen is that the caramel set up and got kind of hard and the chocolate drizzle set and dried (making a far less messy brownie than my ugly picture above). At least they taste good…I just won’t be putting these out at a bake sale any time soon!


  • 3.38 oz. all-purpose flour (about 3/4 c.)
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 6 TBS melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 TBS evaporated milk, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp. coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare brownies, weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cup; level with a knife.  Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through baking powder) in a large bowl, stirring well.  Combine 6 TBS of butter, eggs, and 1 tsp. vanilla.  Add butter mixture to flour mixture; combine.  Scrape batter into a greased 9″ square baking dish.  Bake for 19 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging.  Cool in pan on a wire rack.

To prepare topping, melt 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 1/2 TBS milk; cook 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add vanilla and powdered sugar; stir with a whisk until smooth.  Spread mixture evenly over cooled brownies.  Let stand 20 minutes or until set.

Combine 2 TBS milk and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave for 45 seconds or until melted.  Stir until just smooth; drizzle over caramel.  Sprinkle with sea salt; let stand until set. Cut into squares.


Categories: American, Desserts, Recipes, Snacks | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Baby Basil-Zucchini Muffins with Fresh Parmesan

Finally we’ve reached the last of the zucchini recipes (yet I still have zucchini left…).  Honestly, I’m just plain sick of baking at this point and gave everything I made away.  Hopefully everyone enjoyed it!

These little muffins are kind of dangerous- as is anything that you can mindlessly pop into you mouth and loose track of the quantity consumed.  I really liked them, but was kind of surprised by how sweet they were, especially since they have Parmesan cheese on top.  I guess I just don’t think of putting Parm on sweets?  I mean, they weren’t overly sweet (I wouldn’t consider them a dessert muffin), but they also weren’t as savory as I would’ve liked…next time reducing the sugar for sure.

Anyways, hope I haven’t bored you to death with all the ways I’ve prepared zucchini in the last week.  Enjoy this final recipe!

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups finely shredded peeled zucchini, squeezed dry
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, basil, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Beat the eggs, milk and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in zucchini.
Fill greased or paper-lined miniature muffin cups two-thirds full. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pans to wire racks. Serve warm. 

Yield: about 4 dozen.

Recipe courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

Categories: American, Breads, Desserts, Recipes, Snacks | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think I’ve said it before but I really hate baking, particularly cakey cookies…mine always fall flat.  Always.  And for some reason, they always look like they’re on the verge of burning around the edges and pale in the center.  Unbelievable.

The jury is still out these babies…the fact that they spread out doesn’t appeal to me.  The flavors are good, but these are as ugly as sin and I’m not in a rush to share them.  I’m really baffled on why this always happens to me…please provide some insight if you’ve got it!

Let me know if these go any better for you!

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in zucchini. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add to zucchini mixture. Stir in nuts, chocolate chips, and coconut. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto buttered cookie sheets. Bake until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes, and transfer to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

Categories: American, Desserts, Recipes, Snacks | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Tropical Zucchini Bread

Looking for a different take on the classic zucchini bread your Mom always made?  Try this one…Tropical Zucchini Bread!  This sounds like a really weird combo, but I promise that you that the zucchini pretty much melts into the bread and you’re left with a wonderful tropical delight.

Make sure to really drain the zucchini and pineapple well- this bread is already really moist and you don’t want to end up with tropical mush!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14-ounce) can of crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup grated unpeeled zucchini
  • 1/2 cup medium sweetened coconut

Measure first 6 ingredients into large bowl. Stir. Make a well in center.

Combine next 5 ingredients in medium bowl until smooth.

Add remaining 3 ingredients. Stir. Add to well. Stir until just moistened. Spread in greased 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Bake in 350°F oven for about 1 hour until wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean**. Let stand in pan for 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool. Cuts into 16 slices.

**I didn’t want to make one giant loaf, so I poured my batter into 3 mini loaf pans and baked for about 30-35 minutes.

Categories: American, Breads, Desserts, Recipes | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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