Sandra Lee's cinnamon buns, BLT salad and more

Today - Season 2013 Peter Kramer
TODAY -- Pictured -- (Photo By: Peter Kramer/NBC)

Sandra Lee, the queen of all things semi-homemade, is shedding her apron and donning a writer's cap for the release of her very first novel, "The Recipe Box." Now you can make three dishes from the author's new book: Swedish cinnamon buns, Mike's Mason jar BLT salad and a Malibu mojito.

Swedish cinnamon buns
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  • For the dough:

    • 1 package dry yeast
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1 1/3 cups milk, room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
    • 5 cups flour
  • For the filling:

    • 1 stick soft butter
    • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • For the topping:

    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1 cup brown (demerara) sugar cubes, coarsely chopped
  • For Emma's icing:

    • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Baking Directions:

Make the buns: Dissolve the yeast in 2 tablespoons of the milk. Whisk together the milk, sugar, butter, egg, cinnamon and salt. Add in the dissolved yeast. Stir in 1 cup of flour at a time until you have soft dough. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour as needed, about 8 to 10 minutes. Put into a buttered bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Gently punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Roll into a 12x19-inch rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough. Stir together the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the surface. Starting with the longest side, roll up into a log and pinch the seam together. Cut into 20 to 24 pieces, about 1-inch thick. Put them cut-side down into a buttered 9-x13-inch cake pan or 2 9-inch cake pans. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.When ready to bake, brush the tops of the buns with the egg and sprinkle over the chopped brown sugar cubes. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are well browned. Make the frosting: While the buns are baking, beat together the icing ingredients until smooth. Remove the buns from the oven and let them sit for 5 minutes. Spread the icing over the warm buns. Serve warm.

Mike's Mason jar BLT salad
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Makes 4 servings


  • For the salad:

    • 2 avocados, sliced
    • 8 slices cooked bacon, chopped
    • 2 heads Bibb lettuce, coarsely chopped
    • 16 basil leaves, sliced
    • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • For the Parmesan toasts:

    • 12 1/4-inch slices from a baguette
    • 4 tablespoons grated parmesan
    • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
    • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the vinaigrette:

    • 3/4 cup champagne vinegar
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • Pinch sugar
    • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
    • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


Baking Directions:

For Parmesan toasts: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the bread slices onto a cookie sheet and cook them until lightly browned, turning once. Turn on the broiler. Stir together the butter, parmesan, and black pepper. When the toasts are cool enough to handle, spread each with some of the butter mixture. Put under the broiler until melted and lightly browned. Set aside to cool. Vinaigrette: In a pint mason jar, shake together the vinegar, mustard, shallot, salt, pepper, and sugar. Add the olive oil and shake again. Refrigerate until ready to use.Salad: Toss the avocados gently in a little vinaigrette to preserve the color. In 4 wide-mouth quart Mason jars, make a layer in the bottom of each with ¼ of lettuce. Add a layer of tomatoes on top, then a layer of avocado, then a layer of bacon. Top with basil, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, pour some dressing into each jar, put the top on, and give it a shake. Serve with long forks and the parmesan toasts.Note: — If you are pressed for time, use a prepared salad dressing of your choice.— Try a different vinegar for the vinaigrette: apple cider, sherry, or red wine.— Use romaine or iceberg lettuce in place in place of Bibb.

Malibu mojito
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Makes 1 drink


    • 4 mint leaves, plus one for garnish
    • 2 chunks fresh pineapple, plus a spear for garnish
    • 2 lime wedges, plus more for garnish
    • 1 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste
    • 2 ounces white rum, such as a Captain Morgan Silver
    • Club soda


Baking Directions:

Put the 3 mint leaves, pineapple chunks, 2 lime wedges and sugar into the bottom of a bar glass. Muddle everything using a muddler or a wooden spoon. Add rum and fill with ice. Cover and shake 10 to 12 times. Pour into a clean tall glass. Top with a splash of club soda and garnish with a lime wedge, pineapple spear and mint leaf. Note: — For darker flavor, substitute the Captain Morgan Silver with Captain Morgan Original Spice Rum.— Add a splash of Ciroc Coconut Vodka along with the club soda to give the mojito a little extra something.


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