Category - Lorri’s Diner

Our favorite recipes, all in one place for your convenience.

Balloon Buns
Maple Sugar Candy
Butter Bell
Five Minute Bread
Halloween Snack Mix
Crockpot Granola
Lemony Chicken Noodle Soup
Pumpkin Spice Latte
Something to Like About Summer
Pumpkin Girl Bakes

Balloon Buns

I was fortunate to attend a junior high that had required home ec and industrial arts classes. We learned to cook and bake, sew, draft (technical drawing), and work with wood and metal. Several of my projects from those classes still survive! Actually, I just took possession of them again, as we upsized our house while my parents have been downsizing. Hmm, I think I feel another blog post in that!

I was looking for a recipe in a magazine the other day and I came across my original copy of a recipe from my junior high cooking class. It’s for “balloon buns” – a quick and simple snack.

Check it out –

Can you see the discoloration around the drawing of the balloon? That’s because you can measure your dough right on the balloon, so that’s years of grease traveling across the page!

I thought I’d share this recipe, not because it is any great culinary achievement, but because it is something kids can learn to make. And because balloon buns make me smile.

Balloon Buns


  • 1 cup biscuit mix
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons soft butter
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon-sugar
  • 4 large marshmallows


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin pan for 4.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine biscuit mix and water to form a ball of dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured breadboard. Knead 4-6 times. Shape into an even round ball.
  3. Cut dough into 4 equal pieces. Take each piece of dough and flatten with your hand into a 4 inch circle.
  4. Spread dough with 1/4 of the soft butter, sprinkle with 1/4 of the cinnamon-sugar. Place marshmallow in center of circle. Bring up edges around marshmallows and seal tightly by pinching dough together. Place with smooth side up in lightly greased muffin tin.
  5. Bake 10 min. Balloon buns will expand as marshmallow melts. Some of the melted centers may ooze out if not sealed well. Place pan or baking sheet under muffin tin to catch spills.
  6. Serve hot, makes 4

(I doubled this recipe for our family, and the only thing I actually measured was the biscuit mix and water. After forming the dough circle, I just spread butter on them and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar without measuring.)

Maple Sugar Candy

“It’s called a sugar snow, because a snow this time of year means that men can make more sugar.  You see, this little cold spell and the snow will hold back the leafing of the trees, and that makes a longer run of sap.”
-Pa Ingalls in Little House in the Big Woods

In mid-March, after a couple of days of near 70 degree weather, we got several inches of snow, followed by another warm up and even more snow.  We woke up one morning to this:

In anticipation of the sugar snows, I went out and bought some pure maple syrup to make maple sugar candy, just like in “Little House in the Big Woods”.  It’s surprisingly simple and quick to make and very, very yummy.

Here’s our syrup, bubbling its way up to 236 degrees F.
(Don’t you love the drip pans covered in foil?  Classy.  Goes so well with the granite countertops and hardwood floors.)

Pumpkin Girl stirs the slightly cooled syrup.

Thirty minutes later, the hardened and unmolded candy sits ready to be eaten!

Here’s the complete recipe:

Maple Sugar Candy

You will need:

8 1/2 oz pure maple syrup (regular pancake syrup won’t work)

candy thermometer

candy mold


Lightly grease the rim of a heavy 1 quart sauce pan with butter to prevent maple syrup from boiling over.

Pour maple syrup into sauce pan.

Over medium heat, cook maple syrup until candy thermometer reads 236 degrees F (approximately 10-15 minutes).

While maple syrup is heating, put hot tap water into a two cup glass measuring cup.  When syrup is almost 236 degrees, pour out water and dry measuring cup completely.

Transfer syrup to the warm glass measuring cup with pour spout, using rubber spatula to remove as much syrup from sauce pan as possible.

Place candy thermometer in the maple syrup and cool syrup to 200 degrees.

Use a small wire whisk to stir the maple syrup in the measuring cup until it begins to thicken and turn cream.  This is only going to take a couple of minutes, so be ready.  Don’t allow syrup to get too thick.

Place the candy mold on a cool surface and carefully and quickly fill each candy cavity to just full with thickened syrup.

Let the maple candy cool in the mold at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Gently push on the bottom of each cavity to loosen each maple candy and carefully remove pieces, one by one.

Remove any rough edges that remain on the candy (and eat them).

Butter Bell

KC over at The Cabbage Patch asked me about my butter bell.  I got mine at a kitchen store, but I’ve seen them in kitchen goods catalogs all the time.  The website for the company is The Official Butter Bell Store.

Here’s the lid and the base, sitting next to each other.
rsz_dsc02523The lid, on the left, holds the butter.  That’s the part I usually put on the table at dinner time.  The base, on the right, has just a little bit of cold water in it.  You change out the water every 2-3 days and the butter stays fresh, yet soft.

I have 2 pieces of advice – First, let the stick of butter warm up a bit before stuffing it into the lid.  And Second, wash the lid before adding a new stick of butter.  Otherwise it develops pink spots and a not so pleasant smell.

Five Minute Bread

I love homemade bread!  Actually, I love all carbs, but that’s another story.

We used to make  bread in the bread machine all the time.  Philip was actually quite good at it and made a yummy cinnamon bread that the two of us could finish off in a day or two.  That was before we had children.  Now we’d have to share was those little vultures.

Alas, our homemade bread-making days came to an end when I was pregnant with Pumpkin Girl and the very smell of baking bread made me ill.  I get a Super Sensor Nose when I’m pregnant – I once walked by a store display of Easter chocolate and could smell the chocolate right through the boxes.  So that was the end of the bread making.

We never really got back into it after my nose returned to normal.  With 2 little kids I just never found the time.  The bread machine was given away at some point and we made due with store bought.

I keep wanting to get back to it, but just never did.  Then after a vague conversation with my mom about a starter dough in the fridge that isn’t really sourdough and a chance blog post – I realized I’d stumbled on my answer.

Why didn’t anyone tell me about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day! Apparently the book has been around for a while and I just totally missed the boat.  It really is as easy as it sounds, with no fancy equipment or hard to find ingredients. Not even any kneading!  I even mixed the dough by hand with ease.

Here’s my first loaf:


Kind of small, but I attribute that to living at high altitude. Sort of funny shaped, too, but that was my fault. As small as it looks, the whole loaf easily fed our family of five. (We had it with spaghetti, not as sandwiches.)  We had 2 slices left over, which didn’t last the night. (I won’t mention the little piggy who at the last slices as dessert. ahem)  I went to the authors’ blog and found a couple of very easy adjustments to make for the higher altitude.

I made another loaf a couple of days later from the same batch of dough.  I shaped it better, but I can’t show you because we scarfed it down before I could take a picture.  But it was just as yummy as the first loaf.

I can’t believe it – I’m back in homemade bread heaven!

Crockpot Granola

With our packers coming on Monday, we have so much to do, but my friends Kat and Sheril wanted my recipe for crockpot granola, so here it is:

Crockpot Granola

5 c. oats
½ c. oil
½ c. honey
1 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon
1 c. coconut

Mix all ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for 5 hours or until brown, stirring occasionally. **Important: Make sure you keep the cover cracked on the crockpot. The more frequently you stir, the finer the consistency. If you prefer clumpier granola stir less.

Add raisins, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips when finished cooking….whatever you desire. This is delicious as a hot or cold cereal, as a snack, a topping for yogurt or made into granolabars.

This is very yummy, and my children love it.  Plus it makes the house smell so good while it’s cooking.

Lemony Chicken Noodle Soup

April on the East Coast is a cold and damp affair.  It has rained here 4 of the last 6 days and today the temperature peaked at 50 degrees.  That was sometime around noon and it has been getting colder ever since.  If any day called for a nice, warm soup, it is today.  I made Lemony Chicken Noodle soup which I got from Taste of Home.  The original only makes 2 servings, so I’ve modified it to serve a family.

Lemony Chicken Noodle Soup

1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 garlic clove, minced
enough water to fill your pot plus 2 1/2 Tablespoons chicken bouillon or
2 cans chicken broth
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 bag uncooked medium egg noodles
6 Tablespoons lemon juice

In a large pot, saute onion in oil until tender.  Add the chicken and garlic.  Cook and stir until chicken is lightly browned.  Stir in the water and bouillon (or broth), carrots, peas and basil.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the noodles.  Cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until noodles are tender.  Stir in lemon juice.

Like most soup recipes, this one isn’t an exact science.  Adjust the ingredients to suit your family size and tastes.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

(this is a repost from November 2, 2008)
Whew.  I think I’m recovered enough from a flurry of Halloween, birthday and baby shower activities.  I’ve had a couple of requests, both in real life and on my blog for my Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe, so here it is:

Pumpkin Spice Latte

2 heaping Tablespoons canned pumpkin
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
1 c strong coffee
2 c milk

Combine all into a pot and heat.  Serve into cups, garnish with whipped cream and ground nutmeg.  Makes 3 cups.

After I tried the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, I thought theirs was sweeter than mine, so next time I make it I’ll probably add more brown sugar.

*If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can make your own with spices you probably already have.  Here’s a recipe.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground allspice

Combine all and store in an airtight container.

Something to Like About Summer

lorris-dinerThe hot, miserable DC summer is here. But no, I am not going to bore with you how much I dislike it. Today I am going to share with you one of the things that I do like about summer: basil.

I started growing basil when we moved to DC. I’m not a very successful gardener, but basil is one thing I can grow. It’s quite easy – give it full sun, keep it moderately moist and let it grow. Pinch off the flowers so it won’t go to seed and you’ll have a bountiful harvest until the first frost.

I harvest my basil all season as I need it for cooking or when the plants get a little too big. I use fresh basil instead of dried or I freeze any extra. I just put washed leaves in a plastic container and stick it in the freezer. No big deal. In winter I have lots of “fresh” frozen leaves to cook with. They often turn black, but still taste and smell wonderful.

I like to cook salmon with basil. I got this recipe from my mom – she originally used tarragon and lemon pepper, but I switched it to basil and garlic powder and it tastes just as good. This is another very easy recipe, of course.

Salmon in the Oven

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place aluminum foil shiny side up and layer whole, fresh basil then salmon. Brush on melted butter or olive oil, sprinkle with garlic powder and more basil. Wrap and seal the foil. Place seam side down on baking sheet. Cook for half of total time needed, flip and continue cooking. Salmon is ready when it flakes easily with a fork.

Sorry the directions are a little vague. How much salmon you cook depends on how many people are eating. We usually make about 2 pounds of salmon for 5 people and it takes about 50 minutes to cook. Hopefully that will give you a guideline for your family.

Of course, the best thing to make with fresh basil is pesto sauce! We eat pesto with pasta 2 or 3 times a week during the summer. Here’s the recipe I use:

Pesto Sauce

Add the following ingredients to a blender or food processor:

2/3 c packed basil (about 2 4 inch high stalks)
2 Tablespoons pine nuts
1/3 c olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 ounces whole Parmesan cheese

Cover and process until blended.

This is the perfect amount of sauce for 1/2 pound of cooked penne. Also, I don’t go crazy measuring the basil or the cheese. If the sauce looks runny, add some more basil. If you think it needs more flavor, add more parmesan. You can also freeze this sauce. I like to use little Ziplock bowls, the kind that hold about 8 oz. They are just the right size and stack well in your freezer.


Pumpkin Girl Bakes

This recipe is Pumpkin Girl’s specialty. It’s best eaten the same day, so make it for a crowd or only make half. Though it is still tasty when reheated a day or two later.

Apple Dumpling Bake

2 tubes (8 oz each) refrigerated crescent rolls
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup Mountain Dew
ground cinnamon
vanilla ice cream

Unroll crescent rolls and separate dough into 16 triangles. Cut each apple into 8 wedges. Wrap a crescent dough triangle around each apple wedge. Place in a greased 13″x9″ baking dish.

In a bowl, combine sugar and butter; sprinkle over rolls. Slowly pour soda around rolls. Do not stir. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake, uncovvered at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream.

Serves 16

Here’s Pumpkin putting the sugar mixture over the rolls:

And pouring the soda:

The finished product:

Copyright © 2014. Created by Meks. Powered by WordPress.