Bars, Breakfast, Recipes

Fantastical Food Fight: Banana Breakfast Bars

These simple freezer-friendly banana breakfast bars come together in a snap and taste SO good! They’re a great breakfast or snack that everyone will love. 

These simple freezer-friendly banana breakfast bars come together in a snap and taste SO good! They're a great breakfast or snack that everyone will love. #FantasticalFoodFight via thepajamachef.com

Apparently these days all my recipes revolve around breakfast or snack time. Ha! I first made these yummy banana breakfast bars in the winter and have since made them several times because they are a) easy, b) addictive, c) pretty healthy, and d) made with ingredients I always, always, ALWAYS have on hand. All three of us love these hybrid granola bar/banana bread recipe that can be enjoyed for an on-the-go breakfast or for a healthy snack option. And my husband likes them doubly-so because they’re made in just one bowl for extra-easy clean up! Haha.

These simple freezer-friendly banana breakfast bars come together in a snap and taste SO good! They're a great breakfast or snack that everyone will love. #FantasticalFoodFight via thepajamachef.com

I’m always on the look out for easy, real-food recipes that I can make for my toddler’s afternoon snack at school… with the dreaded “nut free” caveat. I’m fortunate enough to not have a child with food allergies, so I don’t quite understand that world, though I do try to be sympathetic. But it’s hard because I love me some peanut butter and lots of my favorite recipes include it! So I have to think outside the box a bit for school snacks. We try to rotate between yogurt, applesauce, cheese, fruit, and some sort of muffin/bar recipe so he doesn’t have the same thing for snack everyday. The muffin/bar option is one of my favorites because so many recipes–including this one–can be made ahead and frozen so he doesn’t have a week’s worth of the same thing. I know he’s only two, but even so I don’t want him to get bored with the same snacks. And maybe BECAUSE he’s two, I don’t want him to get into a food rut. 🙂 So many store-bought breakfast/granola bars are made with nuts or nut butter, which is a no-go for school… so these are absolutely perfect!

These simple freezer-friendly banana breakfast bars come together in a snap and taste SO good! They're a great breakfast or snack that everyone will love. #FantasticalFoodFight via thepajamachef.com

I hope you give these easy bars a try. Read through the recipe below to see how to make them… and be sure to click over to the original recipe. If you don’t have to make nut-free snacks like I do, you’ll want to try the yummy peanut butter-white chocolate drizzle. I need to give that try sometime! 🙂

P.S. I’m linking these up with the BANANA Fantastical Food Fight this month. Check out more banana recipes here: 

two years ago: Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo
three years ago: Cantucci (Almond Biscotti)
four years ago: Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice
five years ago: Autumnal Muffins
six years ago: Iced Tea with Ginger-Mint Simple Syrup
seven years ago: Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad
eight years ago: Spaghetti + Meatballs

Banana Breakfast Bars

  • Servings: 12 bars
  • Print

slightly adapted from Crazy for Crust

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium bananas, very ripe
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, mash bananas. Add oil, egg, and vanilla, then whisk until egg is beaten in and everything is combined. Add in oats and flour, then stir to combine. Sprinkle in brown sugar, cinnamon, and baking soda. Stir to combine.

Pour batter into prepared pan, then bake for 18-22 minutes until edges are golden brown and center is cooked through.

Cool completely before cutting into bars. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze (in bags for easy lunch packing, if desired) for up to a month.

The original recipe has a yummy peanut butter-white chocolate drizzle on top if you want to try that! I needed to keep these nut-free for my son’s school, but that would be a fun addition. Enjoy!

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Easy and delicious, these peanut butter chocolate protein poppers are a fun healthier snack option that taste like dessert!  thepajamachef.com
Breakfast, Granola, Recipes

Peanut Butter Protein Poppers

Easy and delicious, these peanut butter chocolate protein poppers are a fun healthier snack option that taste like dessert! 

Easy and delicious, these peanut butter chocolate protein poppers are a fun healthier snack option that taste like dessert!  thepajamachef.com

It’s Fridayyyy! And I’m sitting in my office, eating lunch and hoping no one comes by and thinks I’m not working when really, it’s my lunch break. Does anyone else ever get like that? Paranoid, I mean… it’s my natural tendency. Ugh. But anyway, I shouldn’t be all “ugh” because it’s almost the weekend!! What does your weekend look like? These days, mine are filled with running, playing Duplo trains with my toddler, reading, going to church, and then MAKING ALL THE THINGS to eat on Sunday afternoons because marathon training makes me hungry.

Easy and delicious, these peanut butter chocolate protein poppers are a fun healthier snack option that taste like dessert!  thepajamachef.com

I’m not a hardcore meal prepper by any means, but I do like to be strategic in my weekend cooking: preparing breakfasts, snacks, and a dinner for Monday night make the whole week go so much smoother. Monday night dinner already made? Sign me up! Making a breakfast dish (baked oatmeal, egg casserole/muffins, or a batch of overnight oats) saves me in the mad rush out the door in the morning. Running at 5 am and trying to be out the door by 6:45 am is a little crazy some days, so having a prepared meal that I can easily heat up or take to go is fantastic. Likewise, I need snacks to enjoy at work. My coworkers and the students in the library probably think I eat all day long, and they wouldn’t be wrong. Haha! I do lots of the usual options: veggies and dip, apples and nut butter, cheese, nuts… but my new favorite thing is homemade granola bars and little bites, like these amazing Peanut Butter Protein Poppers! I know you can buy things like this but there’s just something so fun about homemade treats that are on the healthy side.

Easy and delicious, these peanut butter chocolate protein poppers are a fun healthier snack option that taste like dessert!  thepajamachef.com

These little peanut butter bites are made with protein powder, which isn’t something I consume regularly, but I had some samples to use so that was fun to throw in here. Aside from the protein powder, these bites have pantry staples that I use all the time in the kitchen. Oats! Cinnamon! Peanut butter! Honey! Coconut Oil! They are SO easy to make–just stir everything together, shape into balls, and chill for awhile. Then, melt some dark chocolate and drizzle on top. Presto! Tasty little protein poppers that are almost like dessert. I like to eat a couple of these in the afternoon as a snack, but I think they could also be great before/after a workout or even as a healthy dessert. Hope you guys enjoy!

Easy and delicious, these peanut butter chocolate protein poppers are a fun healthier snack option that taste like dessert!  thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Honey Sweetened Banana Berry Oat Muffins
two years ago: Creamy Pesto Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken
three years ago: Red Cabbage, Raisin, and Apple Slaw
four years ago: Healthy Crumb Topped Zucchini Bread
five years ago: Pumpkin Coconut Soup
six years ago: Chocolate Mousse 
seven years ago: Pumpkin Granola
eight years ago: Pizza Sauce

Peanut Butter Protein Poppers

  • Servings: 20 poppers
  • Print

slightly adapted from Kelly Lynn’s Sweets and Treats

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup protein powder – I used half vanilla, half plain
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter – I used a no-stir natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips – for drizzling (optional, but not really!)

Directions:

In a large bowl, stir together oats, protein powder, and cinnamon. In a measuring cup, whisk together peanut butter, honey, and coconut oil. If it is too thick to mix well, microwave it for 15 second bursts until easily stirrable. Pour over oat mixture, then quickly stir to combine. The texture will be similar to cookie dough, and if stirring is difficult, use your (clean!) hands to mix together.

Use a medium cookie scoop (or your hands) to roll into balls. Place on a silicone mat or wax paper lined baking sheet, then refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to set.

When set, drizzle with melted dark chocolate. I like to melt chocolate in the microwave, using 50% power for 15 second bursts. Stir between bursts until chocolate is completely melted. Drizzle chocolate over Peanut Butter Protein Poppers, then return to refrigerator for at least another 10 minutes until chocolate is set.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Notes: my protein powder had chia seeds in it, but if yours doesn’t, you could add a little in place of a little protein powder or oats… maybe like a tablespoon or so.

Reviews

Book Review: Falling for You

Looking for a sweet romance with some mystery thrown in for good measure? Be sure to read Becky Wade’s Falling for You!

Looking for a sweet romance with some mystery thrown in for good measure? Be sure to read Becky Wade's Falling for You! #bookreview thepajamachef.com

description of the book from the publisher:

Willow Bradford is content taking a break from modeling to run her family’s inn until she comes face-to-face with NFL quarterback Corbin Stewart, the man who broke her heart–and wants to win her back. When a decades-old missing-persons case brings them together, they’re forced to decide whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

As usual, my five point review:

  • I absolutely loved this book! The characters, the setting, the mix of love and mystery… this was a fabulous book. Though I don’t read very much Christian fiction anymore, Becky Wade is always at the top of my to-read list because her novels are always so well written and NOT cheesy! Elements of faith were present but not in an overbearing sort of way.
  • Falling for You is the sequel to True to You, which I also reviewed on my blog. Though these books are related and feature the same family, you could read them out of order and not miss anything. I personally enjoyed Willow’s story in this novel over her sister’s previously. This was a shocker to me because Nora, Willow’s sister, is a library-type like me… and Willow is this model in love with a football player! Who’s more like me? Not Willow, but I was enthralled by her story anyways.
  • The best part of Willow and Corbin’s romance is the fact that their love story is a second-chance sort of love story. They previously dated and suffered a painful (and very realistic) breakup, and this book explores their journey to get to know one another again… and maybe end up together too. Only time will tell, right?! 🙂 The content of their story, as well as both of their personal histories, does make this a little more of a mature-readers book instead of preteens or early teenagers… so parents, be aware of that. Nothing is graphic though, but there are some difficult situations to process through.
  • My favorite part of this novel was something completely unexpected… a little mystery! Corbin and Willow team up (along with Corbin’s precocious niece, Charlotte) to search for Charlotte’s long-missing great-aunt Josephine. That journey, coupled with everyone’s personal ups and downs, was fun to read about even though it illustrated painful family stories in the process. That journey gave Corbin and Willow something to focus on besides themselves and really helped the story develop.
  • All in all, this is a great book to read–I breezed through it in just a few days, and if I didn’t have other responsibilities, this would have read it in a day. It was that good! Any of Becky Wade’s novels are wonderful, but this one may very well be my favorite.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

How I Eat

How I Eat: Eating Well in Pregnancy and Beyond

Welcome to How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People. (If you missed it, click over to read more about this series on The Pajama Chef.) This series is meant to inspire readers (and myself!) with tips and tricks for meal planning and getting dinner on the table. Whether you’re cooking for one or a crowd, I firmly believe that good food shouldn’t be sacrificed just because life is busy.

How I Eat, Shannon: Eating Well in Pregnancy and Beyond

Today’s feature on How I Eat is Shannon. Shannon is the genius behind Pregnancy Plate, a unique meal planning services focusing on getting mama, baby, and the whole family the nutrition necessary for each stage of pregnancy! Read through this post for more about Shannon’s journey, food background, and also a coupon code to get you set up with this great service!

Tell us about yourself. Who are you cooking for? What else influences how you get meals on the table?

I just started a new business so I am busy getting it off the ground before the baby. I cook for my husband and our 2-year old daughter. We also have a newborn (a June baby!). Our daughter eats separately from us because of work schedules. She eats leftovers from our dinners or I will make her separate food like tilapia and reheat it through the week. I cook dinner for my husband and myself after she goes to sleep. When I’m pregnant,I look for what’s easy but healthy. Luckily, my business is an online meal plan for pregnant women, so I’ve use that to guide our meals. When I’m not pregnant, I like to try new recipes every week. I usually run a search on Epicurious or browse my cookbooks focused on a protein that’s not planned yet that week or that my husband suggests (ex. let’s have shrimp this week).

What meals do you plan?

  • Dinner

In a typical week, approximately how many meals per week do you plan to eat at home or prepare to take with you (e.g., to work or school)? No shame… curious minds want to know! For this, I would include any food purchased at the grocery store (e.g., rotisserie chicken, bagged salad mix, etc.) but not takeout.

  • 16-18: I eat out 3-5 times per week, maybe a few days for lunch or so.

What is your basic meal planning method?

Typically, on the weekend, I outline the meals for the week (factoring in our schedules), take inventory, and shop for the ingredients. I focus on getting a healthy variety during pregnancy because it is so important for the baby and myself. I used to order what I could from Amazon Fresh and then go to the store for just a few things, but they stopped delivering in my area. As I get further in my pregnancy, I’ve been less rigid with the shopping on the weekend, because I find a large and involved trip to the stores exhausting. Some weeks I go to the store several times to get stuff just for that night.

How I Eat, Shannon: Eating Well in Pregnancy and Beyond

What are your favorite weeknight meals?

I love this turkey quinoa chili from Well Plated. I made it last night and will have it for lunches and also freeze some for later. It was a go-to freezer meal for my first baby and I’ve made it for some friends who were pregnant as well. I try to eat a lot of salmon during my third trimester for DHA, and there are a lot of different ways to make it so it’s been fun experimenting. I love the lemon risotto from the “Giada’s Kitchen” cookbook (Giada De Laurentiis), topped with shrimp, scallops or chicken piccata, asparagus or broccoli on the side.

What are your “no-brainer” meals? Or what meals do you make when there’s “nothing” to eat?

Homemade pizza is always a good option because it’s easy, cheap, and tastes better than ordering out. We live in LA so it’s a fast drive to get some pizza dough, or my husband can stop on his way home from work. I also keep a stash of frozen cheese ravioli that I can quickly make for an easy meal with jarred sauce.

Do you use any tools to help you create your meal plan and/or execute it?

  • Paid meal planning service like eMeals
  • Paper meal planner of some type

How I Eat, Shannon: Eating Well in Pregnancy and Beyond

Can you share more about Pregnancy Plate?

I’m using Pregnancy Plate, a meal planning service for pregnant women (it’s my business). It’s been so helpful during my pregnancy to have my meals planned already and to know that they are well-balanced and healthy. Every week focuses on a key nutrient, like Iron, Choline or Omega-3’s, which is based on the baby’s development and week of pregnancy. There are 5 dinner recipes that include ingredients containing that nutrient. It’s helped me eat a healthy variety during pregnancy, and I’ve eaten or increased certain foods that I don’t normally eat because they are in the plan (lentils, beans, more leafy greens, etc.). It’s also fun to learn about how certain nutrients help my baby develop. I created the content so long ago, combined with my pregnancy brain, it’s practically new to me each week when I read it!

What is your best advice for someone who is just starting to meal plan?

  1. Set realistic expectations and take baby steps (pun intended!) – start by planning and buying ingredients for 1-2 meals for the week and add more as you get into the habit. It’s unrealistic to go from no planning to suddenly planning 5-7 days. It’s discouraging to spend a bunch of time planning and money shopping, and have it go to waste. So start with something that you know you can do, don’t put a bunch of pressure on yourself, and feel good about the little changes you make.
  2. Make a list of 5-8 meals that you like, and rotate through them monthly (ex. beef tacos, fish tacos, garlic shrimp with pasta and salad). Be specific. Then, each week, you can pull 1-2 meals from that list. It takes some of the pressure off the weekly planning. It’s easier to plan 3 meals each week from scratch than it is to plan 5. By using the list, the “planning” for those meals is done and you have just a few left to figure out!
  3. Be patient. If you’re new to cooking in general, it takes a lot of time to learn. It might take you an hour to make a meal with all the chopping and prepping at first, but as you get better it will take you 20 minutes. Don’t let it discourage you…practice is the only way to get faster. So stick with it!

How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People - a new series on thepajamachef.com inspiring YOU in the weekly routine of meal planning!

Thank you, Shannon! I’m so intrigued by your Pregnancy Plate meal planning service. Though I’m most certainly NOT pregnant now (ha!) it sounds like a great way to focus on healthy eating during that time… in a very easy way!

To get the word out about Pregnancy Plate, Shannon graciously set up a coupon code for readers of my blog… for $5 off a 3 month membership, use coupon code is 3pjchef5. Hope you check it out!!

Connect with Shannon on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook for more inspiration.

If you love cinnamon rolls, and you love blueberries, you NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE! Recipe for Blueberry Sweet Rolls on thepajamachef.com @thepajamachef
Breakfast, Pastries, Recipes

Blueberry Sweet Rolls

If you love cinnamon rolls, and you love blueberries, you NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE!

If you love cinnamon rolls, and you love blueberries, you NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE! Recipe for Blueberry Sweet Rolls on thepajamachef.com @thepajamachef

Long time no blog. Lots has been going on in my corner of the real world… including a new job (still at my library, just new responsibilities) and the start of marathon training (Rocket City Marathon in December). I know I could blog in the evening but I’ve honestly been more interested in reading a nice book. Currently, The Outsider by Stephen King. Eeeeek! I’m actually typing away at this post during my lunch break. But I’m back, and I bring BLUEBERRY SWEET ROLLS! These are absolutely phenomenal and I hope you can make them before summer is up. If you like cinnamon rolls, and you like blueberries, you will l-o-v-e these blueberry sweet rolls. #promise

If you love cinnamon rolls, and you love blueberries, you NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE! Recipe for Blueberry Sweet Rolls on thepajamachef.com @thepajamachef

Homemade cinnamon rolls are my love language. If someone tells me they’re making cinnamon rolls for brunch, and I show up expecting homemade cinnamon rolls and am greeted with their sad canned counterpart… I have to admit I’m a little disappointed. Not that people need to make good food (read: homemade cinnamon rolls) to be my friend exactly, but just that soft, fluffy sweet rolls are absolutely fabulous… and the canned kind are just a little blah. I know people are scared of baking with yeast, but it’s totally doable–and this recipe is a great place to start! For these blueberry sweet rolls, I use the same dough as my Copycat Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls… and that dough is SO forgiving. I’ve screwed it up more times than I can count. I’ve mismeasured the yeast, added too much flour, forgotten the buttermilk… I could go on. Basically, it takes a lot to mess up that dough, and even if you do, chances are good that your sweet rolls will still bake up soft and tender. And still be easy to roll out. #winning And for the record, if you invite me over, ask ME to make the cinnamon rolls. I’ll be happy to oblige!

If you love cinnamon rolls, and you love blueberries, you NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE! Recipe for Blueberry Sweet Rolls on thepajamachef.com @thepajamachefI could eat regular cinnamon rolls year round, but in the summer, I want to add fruit to everything! I mean, I eat copious amounts of fruit every day… so it’s only natural. Peaches! Watermelon! Berries of all types! This time, I loaded up on the blueberries because why not? The sweet blueberry filling I made is good enough to eat with a spoon, but please save some for your sweet rolls. You’ll probably have extra so you can swirl it in your oatmeal, top your ice cream with it, or just enjoy it as is. I added some cinnamon to the blueberry filling because it seemed only natural, but there’s also some cardamom in there to make it extra special. The best part about the blueberry filling is that some of it pools on the bottom of the baking dish as the rolls rise and bake. Yum!! After the rolls are baked up and before you dive in, take a minute to make a super easy cream cheese frosting. I added a bit of lemon juice and lemon zest, and that citrus addition was perfection! I prefer cream cheese frosting on my cinnamon rolls, blueberry or otherwise, but if you want something a little lighter, you could just make a glaze with powdered sugar, cream/milk, and lemon juice. There are recipes online but you could improvise with a cup of powdered sugar, a tablespoon of cream/milk, and a tablespoon of lemon juice and go from there. I highly recommend the cream cheese frosting but if you want something simpler, that glaze would also be fantastic.

If you love cinnamon rolls, and you love blueberries, you NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE! Recipe for Blueberry Sweet Rolls on thepajamachef.com @thepajamachef

Oh, and while this post is 100% NOT sponsored, if you’re in Nashville… be sure to check out Mr. Blueberry for the delivery service of your blueberry dreams. I used their luscious Michigan blueberries to make these sweet rolls (and to devour!). The season is almost ending (I think the last delivery is next weekend, August 24-25, 2018). Just FYI, friends! 🙂 Have a great Wednesday!!

one year ago: Mexican Lasagna
two years ago: Awesome Kale Salad
three years ago: Cheesy Veggie Pasta
four years ago: Dulce de Leche Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
five years ago: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
six years ago: Cinnamon Bacon Carbonara
seven years ago (wow!): Maple Pecan Pear Scones

Blueberry Sweet Rolls

  • Servings: 12-15 rolls
  • Print

adapted from my Copycat Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

for dough

  • 3/4 cup water – microwaved for about 15-20 seconds, should feel warm like bathwater, about 105-110 degrees F
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk [1/4 cup milk + a couple drops of lemon juice/vinegar stirred and left to sit for 5 minutes works great]
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour

for filling

  • 2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

for frosting

  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • zest of one large lemon
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together warm water, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Let rest for 5-10 minutes until yeast starts to bubble. When frothy, add salt, buttermilk, egg, oil, and remaining sugar. Whisk to combine. With a wooden spoon, stir in 2 cups of the flour. Then using a dough hook, add flour in 1/2 cup increments, mixing on low speed until dough begins pulling away from the side of the bowl. When a total of 4 1/2 cups flour have been added, increase speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes. If you need to add an additional 1/2 cup flour, do so during this kneading process. I usually add the extra flour if the dough seems too sticky.

Grease a bowl with cooking spray [you can use the same bowl if you are coordinated enough to grease while the dough is in there/hold it to the side], then allow dough to rise in a warm location, covered with a dish towel, until doubled in size. This should take 1-2 hours.

When dough is almost ready, prepare filling.

In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, stir together blueberries, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and cornstarch, then pour into blueberry mixture. Cook for another minute or two until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Allow to cool. Mixture will thicken a little more as it cools.

Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan and set aside.

When dough is ready, flour your clean counter top/work surface. Punch down the dough and roll into a large rectangle, about 20×30 inches. Spread butter over dough, leaving a 1 inch margin on all edges.

Next, top with the blueberry filling mixture. You probably won’t use all of it, and if your filling is very runny, you will want to use a slotted spoon to remove excess liquid. I overfilled the rolls so I would recommend starting with 1/3 cup of the filling and adding more from there. Extra filling is great on ice cream or oatmeal, or by the spoonful!

Roll into a tight log, rolling from the long side closest to you. When you are almost to the other end, bring the far long side up and over so the seam is on top. Gently press the exposed edge to the top of the dough to seal.

Divide the log into three sections, then divide each section into four or five rolls depending on how big you want them. Cut with a sharp knife and gently transfer cinnamon rolls to prepared pan. If you lose the filling along the way, just gather it up and sprinkle over cinnamon rolls. Cover rolls with a dish towel and let rise in a warm location for another 1-2 hours, or cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to bake the next morning [this is what I always do]. For the refrigerator rise, remove from refrigerator and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 15-17 minutes for 15 rolls or about 18-22 for 12 rolls. Bake until tops begin to brown, but check in the middle to make sure the dough isn’t raw. If they need additional baking time, cover with foil to prevent excess browning.

While rolls bake, prepare frosting. Using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or a whisk, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest, beating until combined. Add powdered sugar gradually, mixing until smooth. In my stand mixer this usually takes about 2-3 minutes. When I make the rolls the night before, I leave the butter and cream cheese on the counter overnight so they are soft in the morning.

When rolls come out of the oven, immediately spread half of the frosting on top. Add additional frosting on individual rolls for serving, or when they have cooled down considerably. Serve warm–they reheat well too!