Life in Lape Haven

Category - Recipes

Cinnamon Rolls for a Really Good Day

Cinnamon Rolls for a Really Good Day - Life in Lape Haven. Some recipes are perfect for celebrating a good day (or making a not-so-good day better). These easy homemade cinnamon rolls will make any day special!

Some days I actually manage to get on top of all the craziness of life and check enough things off the to-do list that I feel accomplished and able to relax. Some days my boys are sweet and cooperative, I am focused and ambitious, and we have a really great day.

This was such a day. One Tuesday when Josiah (my middlest) was about 2 years old. I’d managed to straighten the house, vacuum AND mop the floors, and spend time with my littlest guy before he had a good nap. Josiah even managed to wake up on his own from his nap (instead of me having to wake him) so that we could go pick up Elijah from school. Elijah had had a great day at school – he’d taken in a story that he’d “written” and got to “read” it to his class. Plus the weather was nice enough that we even spent a little while at the playground, which my boys always love.

Everyone was having a fabulous day.

So when we got home, I felt like making something special for us. We do a lot of brownies and cookies around here, so I decided to veer a little off our beaten path and make cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon Rolls for a Really Good Day - Life in Lape Haven. Some recipes are perfect for celebrating a good day (or making a not-so-good day better). These easy homemade cinnamon rolls will make any day special!

I have a really easy recipe that my mom found years ago that is delicious. In theory, it shouldn’t take more than two hours from start to finish, with lots of down time while the dough is either rising or baking. My house was fairly clean, my boys were happy, and dinner was already made (leftover Beef, Barley, & Veggie soup). I could do this. No problem.

Mixing up the dry ingredients went well. Adding the water, butter, and egg was simple. Letting it rise the first time was actually so easy that I let it go a little longer than 30 minutes. My boys were happily playing together, and things were good.

And then it came time to roll out the dough, and my boys volunteered to get in the way and make a mess while they ignored my directions help. Whatever playing they had been doing since we got home seemed to have amped them up to busy levels too fidgety to be truly helpful with the dough. After getting out unnecessary utensils, rearranging the mail on the counter, getting into the flour one too many times, and someone shoving someone else AGAIN, they were sent upstairs to play so that I could use just a few minutes to spread out the dough, smear butter on it, and top it with cinnamon and sugar before rolling it all up together into a happy little tube of deliciousness. It would take me 10 minutes tops.

Josiah must have known the perfect moment that Mommy’s hands would be covered in melty butter, cinnamon, and sugar and busy wrangling stickier-than-normal dough into a long tube.

That’s when I heard the squeal-meets-laugh from Elijah and his yell of, “Josiah is trying to flush stuffed animals down the potty!”

So, I had to leave my cinnamon half-rolls, hurriedly rinse my hands, and sprint to the bathroom to rescue a random toy from a swirly. I was bit too late – when I got there, Elijah was giggling while holding a dripping, soggy Cookie Monster over my just-mopped-this-afternoon floor, and Josiah was standing with his hand on the toilet handle, excitedly waiting to flush it again.

Josiah was “firmly informed” that playing in the toilet is not allowed. After wiping up my bathroom floor with a disinfectant wipe, I “adamantly requested” that my boys take all the other stuffed toys piled in the hallway – How did all these get downstairs? – back upstairs and put them away (there were at least a dozen of them). Elijah was stationed on the couch, punished as an encouraging accomplice. Josiah was relocated to the high chair in the kitchen where I could keep an eye on him while I somewhat discouragedly finished rolling, cutting, and moving cinnamon rolls to the pan. Cinnamon Rolls for a Really Good Day. A rewarding recipe for every day life.

With a sigh, I put our “treat for having such a good day” into the oven.

By the time the rolls were baked, cooled, and covered in icing (I adapted a recipe for icing from here), all warm, gooey, and cinnamon-y, the boys were behaving better, finishing their dinner, and regaling Daddy with tales all about their day.

They told him about going to the playground, Elijah reading his story at school, Josiah doing puzzles with Mommy that morning.

They left out getting in trouble for fighting, playing in the flour, and flushing Cooking Monster (okay, well, Elijah made sure to mention that, but not his part in it).

They only focused on the better parts of the day.

I had had time to get over my frustrations with curious, active boys who can go quickly from sweet and cooperative darlings to mess-making tornadoes with a tendency to argue and fight with each other. I decided to follow their example and focus on the better parts of the day. When I revisited it, the nice things definitely outweighed the bad, and it was still a pretty good day.

For that we all should celebrate. Thankfully, I’d made just the thing. Cinnamon Rolls for a Really Good Day. A rewarding recipe for every day life.

Here’s the recipe for those special days when you need a little reward.

Easy recipe for delicious homemade cinnamon rolls.

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Tried It Tuesday: Kings Island Blue Ice Cream Copycat Recipe Tried It Tuesday - Kings Island Blue Ice Cream copycat recipe. This creamy, slightly berry flavored blue ice cream is a close substitute for Kings Island's famous blue, blueberry, Smurf ice cream. Yum.

For several years, the company that Brad worked for rewarded their employees with tickets for them and their families to different special events. When we were first engaged, in fact the day after we got engaged, we had passes to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio (the BEST amusement park EVER). I spent the day staring at my ring, getting used to the feel of it, and answering congratulatory texts from friends and family while waiting in line to face down some epic roller coasters (Millennium Force, anyone?)

Over the next few years, we got to pick between either Cedar Point or Kings Island (since both parks are owned by the same company). When Elijah was a little over two, we decided to use our tickets for a family day and introduce him to one of the parks.

Since Kings Island was closer to home, and since we knew we’d be in the kiddie area all day (Planet Snoopy features all the Peanuts characters, and Elijah has ALWAYS loved Charlie Brown), we headed to Cincinnatti for a little getaway. We spent the morning at the park, then checked into a hotel in the afternoon so that our little guy could get a good nap before we went back to Kings Island for the evening. The next morning, after time in the pool, we headed home, taking our time and finding a few other adventures along the way.

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday - Kings Island Blue Ice Cream Copycat Recipe

It became an instant tradition for our family, and when Josiah was all of four months old, he enjoyed the sights and sounds of Kings Island from his stroller or being snuggled up to mommy in his carrier.

Then a couple of years ago, Brad’s company changed plans, hosting their employee outings at the zoo instead. It was still a great event, but Elijah missed our tradition.

So that year we made sure to set aside a day to visit Kings Island. Elijah even saved up his birthday money to pay for his own ticket because he REALLY wanted to go (and we were trying to teach him that if you spend a dollar here and a dollar there, you don’t get to do anything big with it).

Having grown up in Ohio, I remember going to Kings Island when I was about Elijah’s age, and it was something special to see my little guys smiling at the fountains at the entrance and leaning way back to look up at the (replica) Eiffel Tower. With two boys big enough to enjoy the park, or at least their portion of the park, we knew it would be a wonderful day.

And it was…even when it stormed. And it did, as in thunder and lightning and downpours stormed. After hanging out in a gift shop until the rain let up, we wandered out to see what rides were open. That was when I noticed the blue ice cream.

Even though I’d been to Kings Island often in my lifetime, I’d never paid any attention to the blue ice cream sold in the park. However, a few days before this year’s trip, someone mentioned it on Facebook. So when I saw it, I was curious. What does blue ice cream taste like? Why are there so many people in line for it? Have I been missing out on something all these years???

I had to know. I suggested we have some ice cream while we waited for the rides to dry off. Hubby requires very little coaxing about that kind of thing, so that’s what we did.

One bite, and the long lines made sense: Creamy and sweet with a subtle blueberry-raspberry flavor. Yum!

We were all pleasantly surprised and immediately hooked, and it was declared that blue ice cream would become part of our Kings Island tradition from that day forward.

Only I didn’t want to wait until next year, so a few days after our trip, I was on Pinterest, looking for a copycat recipe for Kings Island’s blue ice cream, or blueberry ice cream, or Smurf ice cream (The blue ice cream was originally created in 1982, when the kiddie area was all Hanna-Barbera, and they introduced a Smurf ride – That was my favorite ride when I was a little girl).

However, if someone has a copycat recipe for this blue ice cream, they aren’t sharing it. After Pinterest, I tried Google. The only thing I learned was that there is a small ice cream shop near Cincinnatti that buys the same mix that Kings Island uses, and they serve it year-round. Nice for them, but no recipe for me.

I went back to Pinterest and pulled the recipes for any blue ice cream I could find, even though none of them said anything about Kings Island. One did mention Smurf ice cream and used raspberry extract, so that’s the one I tried.

In case you’re wondering, here’s a link to the ice cream maker that we use. (It is an affiliate link which means that at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission when you purchase something through the link.) —> ICE CREAM MAKER

The first time around I followed the recipe exactly and was rewarded with a blue ice cream that tasted like Froot Loops milk. Boo. The boys liked it, but eh…not me. The lemon oil really takes over.

The second time around I left out the lemon completely, hoping that the raspberry would shine through more but still be subtle.

Now, since it had been a few weeks since we’d had the original ice cream at the park, it was hard to say for exactly sure that it’s a 100% copy of that ice cream, but it was close enough and tasty enough that my household was happy. This recipe will definitely work for us to satisfy those blue ice cream cravings until we can get back to the park each summer.

Updated Note: If I weren’t making this to show others that it tastes like the blue ice cream at Kings Island, I would not have added any blue food coloring. It really isn’t necessary to the taste. We have since learned that our boys are sensitive to artificial food dyes (it causes behavioral changes in all of them), so we avoid them completely now.

Also, I might play around with how much raspberry extract I add the next time I make it. I’m just wondering how a little more would taste…

If blue ice cream isn’t your thing, you can always check out my recipe for homemade Vanilla Ice Cream, too. 🙂

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Making Grandma’s Lime Pickles

Making Grandma's Lime Pickles: Life in Lape Haven. While it might seem light just a recipe for making and canning lime pickles from cucumbers, learning my great-grandma's recipe for sweet and tangy lime pickles from my grandmother is a special inheritance that connects generations.

Growing up, family gatherings at my maternal grandparents’ farm were always packed-house events with plenty of love, laughter, food, and volleyball (it’s kind of our family sport).

Grandpa and Grandma raised five children in their three-bedroom, one-bath home, and with addition of spouses and grandchildren (which numbered 14 when I was a young teen), dinner time meant a main table in the kitchen and a kids’ table in the utility room (when there were just 6 to 8 of us grandkids) and/or in the living room. It also meant that you wanted to get in line for food before the older grandsons.

Thankfully Grandma made sure she always had plenty of her most coveted homemade offerings: mashed potatoes, green beans, yeast rolls, and a type of sweet and tangy pickle that my Great-Grandma Leora (Grandpa’s mother) used to make, called “lime pickles.”

Making Grandma's Lime Pickles: Life in Lape Haven. While it might seem light just a recipe for making and canning lime pickles from cucumbers, learning my great-grandma's recipe for sweet and tangy lime pickles from my grandmother is a special inheritance that connects generations.

I cannot remember a single “everybody’s here” family dinner where we didn’t have all four of those items on the menu. After church on Sunday, they were there. Every Christmastime, they were there. Easter, there. Birthdays, there. Always, there.

As I got older, I helped out in the kitchen prep for some of those meals, so I learned how to make mashed potatoes, green beans, and yeast rolls just like my grandma. I was only missing one part of that nostalgic culinary quartet. Even though I’ve opened countless jars of her pickles over the years, filling bowls and setting them on the table, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally had the chance to learn how to make my grandma’s (and great-grandma’s) lime pickles.

Having never canned anything ever, I admit that I was a little intimidated by the idea. But Grandma was, as she always is, remarkably encouraging and patient, “Honey, if I can do it, you can it.”

Since making lime pickles requires a 24-hour soaking of the sliced cucumbers in the lime solution, Grandma had done all the prep work the day before, bless her heart. She sliced the cucumbers from her garden and ones I’d sent down to her from ours, and she mixed up the lime solution and put the slices in the mix to soak.

As we started the process of transferring the soaked cucumbers slices to the sink for a good rinsing off, Grandma gave me a little history on this recipe. She learned how to make lime pickles from her mother-in-law, my Great-Grandma Leora. (I’d always figured it was something passed down to her from her own mother).

The first time she went to help Great-Grandma make the pickles, Grandma realized that Leora was using lime, as in calcium hydroxide. She asked her mother-in-law, “Are you sure?” All Grandma knew about lime was that it was something that they dumped a cup of down their “backhouse” (outhouse) every so often, to keep the outhouse from smelling. Great-Grandma assured her that lime was what they needed to use.

Leora got her lime at the feed supply store back in the day, but we used a package of “pickling lime” from the grocery store. The pickling lime helps to maintain the “crunchiness” of the cucumber, but since it is alkaline, it can neutralize the acidity in your pickles, leading to sickness, if you don’t rinse them thoroughly enough. We rinsed ours in four changes of water in the sink, until the water was clear.

Life in Lape Haven: Making Grandma's Lime Pickles

Once the cucumber slices were rinsed well, they got to sit in a clean bath of rinse water for a few hours, during which time Josiah (who was with me) and I got to share lunch with my grandparents and just visit.

Any meal at my grandparents includes “visiting,” that time after everyone’s finished eating, but no one gets up from the table because you’re sharing and talking and laughing together. It’s almost sacred time, and there have been so many visiting sessions that I wish I could have recorded so that I would have my grandpa’s stories and silly jokes and Grandma’s laughter and comments to share with my children for years to come.

Three hours later, the lunch dishes were cleared from the table, Josiah was off to explore with his great-grandpa, and Grandma and I were ready to get to pickling. She had the canning jars cleaned and waiting in the oven, and she set the temperature to 200° to sterilize them as we cooked the cucumbers on the stove. Also on the stove, she had the jar lids and rings in a pan with water (about ¾ of the way full). Once they came to a near boil, she turned the burner down to a low simmer. Grandma explained that lowering the temperature kept the lids’ seals from sticking together.

Following Great-Grandma Leora’s recipe, we mixed up the brine in a large stock pot and created a “bag” of all the spices. (Grandma used an old kitchen washcloth, cut off a strip to tie it up, and then cut off the excess. You could use cheesecloth or a clean linen cloth.) Once the brine was stirred well and the bag of spices tossed in to float around, we filled the pot with our rinsed cucumbers slices. We actually had so many cucumbers that we had to make extra brine and spices to have enough to come up close to the top of the pot.

Setting the heat to medium-high and stirring occasionally, it was just a matter of time (about 15 minutes) before the first few slices started to become clear or translucent, meaning they were ready to go into a jar. Using a slotted spoon and a funnel, I ladled the first few slices into a waiting, very warm jar fresh from the oven. Once I’d found enough “clear” pickles to fill about half of the jar, Grandma used a towel to hold and cover the top of the jar, giving it a good shake or three, before allowing me to continue to fill it. When the pickle reached almost to the top of the jar, and after another good shake to make sure we couldn’t fit any more in, Grandma used a ladle and tiny strainer to add brine to the jar, filling it up to just where the neck of the jar starts. She gave the mouth of the jar a good wiping off and then using tongs, I carefully place a lid on the top, followed by screwing on the ring. (Note from my first experience: Don’t leave the tongs too close to the small pan on simmer. Metal gets warm there.)

With the jar filled, lidded, and ringed, we set it aside on the counter to begin cooling. (I was quite proud of the first jar.) Then it was on to Jar Number Two. By the time the cucumbers had been cooking for about 30 minutes, all of them were clear and ready to be canned, so Grandma and I worked out a good system of me filling a jar halfway, and then while she shook it down, I worked to fill a second jar. We went back and forth between them until one was filled, brined, sealed, and set on the counter to cool. Then we pulled new jar from the oven.

Life in Lape Haven: Making Grandma's Lime Pickles

We took turns spooning the pickles out of the brine because the hot vinegar in it can be potent and stings the eyes. However, while we worked, we talked and enjoyed our time together. I would ask her questions about making the pickles, and she would try to answer, but she laughed and told me, “I’ve never taught anyone how to make them. But I’ve made them enough that I should be able to tell someone how to do it!”

At the end of the day, we had 12 jars (10 of pickles and 2 of pickle brine), which we split between us since, as my grandma explained, she’d used mostly my cucumbers while she had supplied the items for the brine. (I would have been happy with just learning…and maybe one jar of pickles)

Grandma said they were ready to enjoy as soon as they’d cooled, or the next day, or a couple of years later (as long as they aren’t soft and don’t smell or taste funny). She also instructed me to remove the rings from the jars in the next day or two. Apparently my grandpa had once left some rings on and found out how hard it can be to remove them after they’ve been screwed on so tightly for a few years. He said, “You might need a crowbar.”

As we sat at the kitchen table, listening for the jar lids to “pop,” signaling that the jars had cooled enough and sealed properly, she shared some additional family recipes with me, including recipes from my great-great grandmas, both of my maternal great-grandmas, and even one from a great-great aunt. I definitely plan to try them out and share them with you some time. These recipes, like the one for my Great-Grandma Leora’s Lime Pickles, are part of my inheritance, and they are something I will share with my children throughout the years. Maybe someday I’ll get to teach them to my own grandchildren.

Life in Lape Haven: Making Grandma's Lime Pickles

It might sound silly to some, but I felt so privileged to be able to learn from my grandma how to make her pickles. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, and I know I have cousins who would have loved to have shared the experience, too.

Grandpa told me later that my grandma had been “really looking forward to doing this with you.” It almost made me cry. It made my day to know that it was important and special to her, too.

Setting aside this time to allow my grandma to pass on her knowledge, recipes, and stories brought us both tremendous joy and beautiful new memories to cherish together…and five jars of lime pickles each.

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Homemade sweet and tangy lime pickles from my great-grandma's recipe



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Zucchini Pizza in a Pot

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday - Zucchini Pizza in a Pot

I love having a garden. Being able to go outside and pick what you’ll have for dinner is awesome and so fun. However, when everything comes on at once, it can be tricky to eat it all up before it goes bad.

This year, hubby, our boys, and I planted a small garden with cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, and yellow summer squash. Our zucchini and summer squash plants were initially feeding the local rabbits, but once we blocked the plants off with chicken wire, we’ve managed to harvest a few vegetables from each plant.

My parents’ garden, however, has flourished with zucchini and squash, so with all that they’ve grown and our own garden’s contribution, we have quite a bit to use up between us.

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday - Zucchini Pizza in a Pot

For my family, the go-to recipe for zucchini and/or squash has been zucchini pizzas. (In case you don’t know, zucchini pizzas are made by slicing the zucchini into thick rounds or cutting it in half as “boats” or planks, then topping it with pizza sauce, pepperoni, cheese, and whatever other pizza toppings you want, and baking it.) It’s so yummy, and it gets my guys to eat their veggies.

Well, at least two of my three guys will eat their zucchini or squash. Josiah, who’s 2, just pulls off the toppings and eats those, leaving the sad little zucchini “crust” all alone on his plate.

So last week, as I stared down at a zucchini and squash that needed to be cooked, I had an idea and decided to try it out.

Since there wasn’t enough there to make zucchini pizzas for everyone, I decided to slice them both very thinly then cook it in a pot, adding the sauce and pizza toppings at the end to create the flavors of zucchini pizza, but all mixed together. I hoped this would serve two purposes: it would stretch what I had to work with and maybe, just maybe, Josiah would eat it better.

It was super quick and easy to throw together, and the end result was tasty, just like zucchini pizza, only saucier, which my guys loved.

My experiment worked, at least on one count. It definitely made enough to feed us all. Josiah, however, was not convinced. He actually sat there and picked the toppings out, bit by bit, leaving strips of zucchini and squash behind. *Sigh*

Brad and Elijah loved it, so it has become a new go-to zucchini recipe for us. Since I know we’re not the only ones with an over-abundance of zucchini and squash right now, I thought I’d share my little thrown-together, quick and easy, one-pot meal recipe with you all.

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday - Zucchini Pizza in a Pot

Just a note: Feel free to tweak the ingredients to your family’s liking. If I were making this just for myself, I’d use less sauce (maybe even half as much), but my guys love some pasta sauce. (Ours is almost a zucchini pizza soup. Haha) You can add more or less pepperoni and cheese and add whatever other pizza toppings you have on hand.

If you try it out, let me know how it goes over with your crew and if you were able to sneak it past any picky eaters with better luck than I had!

Tried It Tuesday: Blueberry Hand Pies

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday - Blueberry Hand Pies collage

My hubby calls me nearly every day on his way home from work. (It’s something we started when we were dating…aww) Inevitably, after an update on the boys and how our day went, he’ll ask, “What’s for dinner?” He knows that he’s in for a surprise when I reply with, “I’m concocting.”

“Concocting,” for me, means that I’m not just following a recipe. I might have one that I’m referencing, but I’m not sticking to it too closely, either because I’m making substitutions for certain ingredients or because I’m improving. Usually I’ll end up with two or three different recipes for a certain dish that I pull from, and the resulting effort is bits and pieces of them all.

I know – It sounds scary. However, you can ask Brad, and he’ll tell you that I have yet to make something horrible or totally inedible. (I’m not a food expert, but I do watch Food Network on TV.) I’ve made some okay meals this way and some super fantastic meals this way.

So when I found myself with a couple of pints of blueberries that I needed to use up quickly (they were on sale, and my boys love them, but they don’t have a long shelf life), I started looking for a new recipe that I could use them in.

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday - Blueberry Hand Pies, Bowl of Blueberries

Having recently added this rather yummy recipe for beef empanadas to my repertoire, I was curious about using the dough from it for blueberry “pie pockets” or hand pies. Of course, I wasn’t going to use the beef filling with my blueberries, so I needed a good blueberry pie filling. After searching for a while, I found a simple one and adapted it for what I wanted.

The results were delicious, and those little pies were gone within two days. The tweaked recipe mash-up has become a new favorite around our house, and I’m going to share it with you today.

Now I will say that the pie dough is not your average flaky pie crust. You could use any pie crust recipe or even store-bought crust with this filling. The reason I didn’t is because I like the flavor of this dough and its elasticity. I don’t have a problem with it tearing or breaking apart, and I can fill each pocket pretty full. Also, you can always change up the filling. Do your own concocting, and make it an adventure!