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Today - Season 2013
Peter Kramer  /  NBC
Sandra Lee's mason jar BLT salad.
TODAY recipes
updated 7/8/2013 6:50:04 PM ET 2013-07-08T22:50:04

Recipe: Swedish cinnamon buns

  • 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

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.

Recipe: Mike's Mason jar BLT salad

  • 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

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.


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.


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.

— 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.

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings

Recipe: Malibu mojito

  • 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

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.

— 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.

Serving Size

Makes 1 drink

Video: Sandra Lee talks first novel ‘Recipe Box’

  1. Closed captioning of: Sandra Lee talks first novel ‘Recipe Box’

    >>> we are back at 8:43. for decades sandra lee has been making life sweeter with four cooking shows on the food network and recently she published her 25th cook book but that is not enough. she is shedding her a problem with a different kind of cap releasing her very novel called the recipe book. good morning to you.

    >> it's one thing to write recipes. was this difficult to do?

    >> it was interesting because when disney first came to me and asked me to write a novel i was shocked because no one in my genere had done it before which made it great for me. as the stories grew and the characters grew the recipes got smaller and smaller and smaller. there's about a dozen in there now but they have to do with characters in the book.

    >> we can't do a segment without food with you but there are recipes in the book.

    >> yes.

    >> it's really -- it's a story of a single mom trying to put her life back together and she meets a guy. some people have seen some similarities between this guy and your boyfriend?

    >> well, the story is about grace. she is a heroin and she is raising a 15-year-old daughter by herself and went through a traumatic divorce and she does have a new love in her life. i'm not going to give away secrets but the book is about women and generations of women coming together and the pains of what a family goes through. not just the generations that are here on the earth today but the ones that came before us. it's also about girlfriends. there's a girlfriend in the book that's the best friend from high school who i won't give away the punch line but she says to her girlfriend grace, you know, life is not a dress rehearsal for show choir . it is opening night every day of your life and that's what this book is about. it's about what roads to take and when you come to a fork in the road where do you go and when you get to the end of that road what does it look like and being thoughtful and thinking things threw and not just your family who is your family but your family who is your friends and who you spend your time and life with.

    >> it's not meant to be auto biographical but the wall street journal says he is a rugged outdoor man. he is a midwesterner who adores cooking and works in tv and dotes on the family pet.

    >> she is not in front of the camera. i never wanted to be in front of the camera either but both -- i have to say, the character, the love interest and my sweetheart, are very attractive men.

    >> there was a little inspiration there.

    >> it was easy. when you write a novel you pull from your life experiences. so there is a character named lorraine in the book and my grandmother was from new london , wisconsin which is where the book takes place.

    >> did you visit it and try to get that inspiration.

    >> i didn't. i have all the research. i have pictures from the early 19 hundreds when the first logging was taking place and so i looked through alabama of my grandmother's beautiful things . we have property deeds, and that's how new london came to life in my mind. it's a fantasy place in my mind and even though i went to high school and college in wisconsin, new london to me is up there with places that i look forward to visiting.

    >> you have an inspiring story yourself. you're somebody that grew up, you had a tough childhood. helped to raise your own four siblings. there were times when i know you felt people were saying you can't do this -- this semihomemade cooking, this won't work. how did you manage through that time. did you ever imagine your life would turn out as it did?

    >> that's what the book speaks about. there's a scene in the book where grace's mom is talking to her and is very upset with her mother for 16 years and all of these secrets of this family are in this recipe box and it's really about focussing on the generations in front of you and that came before you and learning the lessons they didn't learn and passing on the good ones you can. i just took my nieces and nephews for their high school graduation present to europe for three weeks. 8 kids for three weeks in europe, three countries, i don't know what i was thinking. talk about overachieving.

    >> you need a vacation from your vacation.

    >> but it's about teaching them history and it's about teaching them what life can be. if you choose very specific roads and that's why education is so important and that's why, you know, being a good family role model and insulating kids as they're growing up. i have a very, very specific way i think kids should be raised and that is loving and supported and insulating and giving them all the knowledge you have and including them, not excluding them.

    >> we are anxious to see the book. the recipe box is in stores now. thank

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