Have At It: Sticky Buns

When we decided to move to Seattle in the middle of 2014, I was bummed that it meant I probably wouldn’t meet my goal of cooking with my dad at least twelve times before the year was over. I’d been having a lot of fun learning how to make some of the things my dad makes that I love most, and I’d really been enjoying collecting my dad’s stories. Plus, you know how I feel about goals and failure.  

Our year in Seattle was really hard in some ways, not least of which was feeling so far from my family. I had never lived outside of Colorado, and I’d always been in a pretty consistent rhythm of seeing my parents and siblings regularly. I missed them a lot, especially in the earliest days of my pregnancy.

My mom and dad made it work to fly to Seattle and spend five days with us after Abe was born, and they were some of the sweetest days of my life so far. Partly because my mom did all of our laundry and my dad cooked us three meals every day, but mostly because it took me by surprise how incredible it felt to see them love my baby the way they did, they way they do. They held him and sang to him and changed his diapers, and I wept uncontrollably the day they left.

Just a few weeks later, we made the move back to Denver with our boy. It’s taken me a little while to make plans for cooking with my dad again, but I’ve had these last two recipes in mind since before we even decided to move away. I've been so excited just thinking about sharing this with you. Christmastime has always been special for my family, and this recipe has long been a Christmas morning staple. You know, the thing you snack on with your coffee while you wait for the main event breakfast/brunch? You know.

My dad told me he thinks this recipe came from one of my aunts, but he couldn’t remember for sure. I’m certain there are endless versions of sticky buns out there, but I feel confident that these are the only ones I’ll ever make. They taste like my childhood and Christmas. Plus they’re SO quick and easy, there’s kind of no reason not to make them (unless you don't eat gluten or sugar or dairy). You still have time to pick up all the ingredients and prep them for this year's Thanksgiving morning, in fact. You could eat them while you watch the Macy's Parade!

Sticky Buns


1 three ounce box of vanilla JELL-O cook & serve 

8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter

3/4 cup of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 cup of sliced almonds (if you like nuts in your baked goods)

20 small white Rhodes dinner rolls


1. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the cook & serve, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

2. Grease a bundt pan with the stick of butter, then melt the remaining butter and find a plate/platter big enough to cover the top of your bundt pan. You'll need it when you pull them out of the oven.

3. Arrange the frozen rolls in the bundt pan, making sure to count out exactly 20.

4. Drizzle the butter over the top of the frozen rolls, making sure to coat the tops of all the rolls. Also make note of the melted butter pooled at the bottom of the bundt pan - it will be HOT later.

5. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the rolls, then cover with a paper towel and let rise overnight. Placing a cookie sheet underneath the bundt pan will help catch the sprinkles of dry ingredients that would otherwise spill all over your counter/floor/refrigerator. (My dad recommends placing the whole deal on top of your refrigerator because he thinks the heat from the motor helps the rolls rise. It worked for me.)

6. Preheat your oven to 350 before making your morning coffee. When it’s warm, slide your bundt pan/cookie sheet combo in for 30 minutes. You want the tops of the rolls to be a nice, golden brown on top.

7. As soon as you pull the pan out of the oven, cover it with your plate/platter and flip the sticky buns out of the bundt pan. Be careful not to burn yourself with the hot butter, and be prepared to dirty your oven mitt/towel/whatever you use to take hot dishes out of the oven.

8. Use a spatula to clear all of the sticky butter/sugar out of the bottom of the bundt pan and drizzle over the top of your sticky buns. 

9. Make some more coffee and get ready to party!

One of my goals for 2014 was to write one “Have At It” post per month, to include a story from my dad’s life with one of his recipes. I figured if nothing else, it would give me some motivation to get serious about getting my dad’s stories down, even if I had to write them myself. I only got ten recipes down in 2014, due to moving out of state and birthing my first child, so I'm finishing up the last two now in November and December, 2015. 

Previous Have At It Posts:

Homemade Pickles

Garlic Cheese Bread + Croutons

Chicken Caesar Salad

Reese's Rice Krispie Treats

Tacos and Salsa


Bean Dip Poppers

Goldrush Cookies

Homemade Home Run Pies

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Have you ever had a Home Run Pie?

I used to LOVE them.

When we were kids, my siblings and I used to get them whenever we had a snow day. That’s how I remember it, anyway. For me the tradition solidified in college, when I started doing my own grocery shopping. A pre-snowstorm trip to the the grocery store always included picking up a Home Run Pie. Or two.

I’m not sure when or why Horizon Food Group stopped making Home Run Pies, but I feel a slight hint of sadness at not being able to get one when I make an emergency grocery store run just before an impending blizzard. (Horizon Food Group does seem to have replaced Home Run Pies with “Cutie Pies”, which boast of being made with real fruit and whole grain wheat, though they contain partially hydrogenated oil. Also, the only store that carries them is Wal-Mart.)

So a couple of weekends ago, when we were hit with a foot of snow, I decided it was time to try making something like a Home Run Pie from scratch. I started with this recipe and figured I could count this as the first toward my bucket list goal of making 100 different kinds of pie.

Although they don’t taste quite like I remember Home Run Pies tasting, I’d say they turned out rather well (and no doubt one zillion times healthier). And since I’m committed to perfecting the sugary glaze on the outside of the pies, I may just make some more this weekend. We are supposed to get nine inches of snow tomorrow, after all.     


Homemade Home Run Pies Recipe (modified from spoon fork bacon):

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a bowl sift together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  3. Add 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes, and 1/4 cup cold cream cheese, cut into cubes, then cut in with a pastry knife or your fingers until a fine crumble is made.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons buttermilk and gently work together, until a dough just comes together.
  5. Form the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 25-30 minutes.
  6. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until ¼ inch thick.
  7. Cut twelve 4 inch circles from the dough and fill each with a small amount of cherry pie filling (you can make the filling from scratch when cherries are in season - but we’re making snow day treats, here).
  8. Whisk together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon heavy cream.
  9. Brush the perimeter of each pie with the egg wash and fold/pinch together, creating ½ circles.
  10. Press the ends with the back of a fork to seal and brush the tops with the egg wash.
  11. Using a pairing knife, cut 3 small slits on the tops of each pie.
  12. Place them onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.
  13. Allow the pies to cool completely on a cooling rack.
  14. While the pies cool, place 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons heavy cream, and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract into a small bowl and gently stir together with a fork until fully incorporated and smooth.
  15. Using a pastry brush, spread the icing over the top of each pie.
  16. Enjoy!