Jack O’ Lantern Cinnamon Buns

Jack O Lantern Cinnamon Buns

We had these Jack O’ Lantern Cinnamon Buns for breakfast the morning after Halloween.

I know, I know… didn’t we get enough sugar from trick or treating??

Well, yes, but Halloween was on a Friday and darned if I was going to let an entire weekend go by without continuing the celebration.

However, I was looking for something very easy.  Not “oh, that wasn’t too bad.”  EASY.

I mean, I could have gone all out and made the dough from scratch, taking the time to dye it orange, and mix in some real pumpkins, and to dye the icing as well, but – really – I couldn’t be bothered.

Not while dealing with a candy hangover, anyway.

Jack O Lantern Cinnamon Buns

One of the reasons this was easy was because nothing was homemade.

Except the faces.

But those I did when I was making chocolate covered marshmallow ghosts a few days earlier.

Either way, you should do these ahead of time.  There’s no reason not to:  they keep well.

What I did was freehand some jack o’ lantern faces on some waxed paper with some melted dark cocoa candy melts.  You could try to use regular chocolate chips, but I don’t suggest it.

At first, I tried to make two eyes, a nose, and a mouth {see the faces in the upper right hand corner of the above photo} but they just looked strange.  Instead, I switched to just making two eyes and a mouth.

Just make sure that the mouth touches both of the eyes so that the face is all one piece.  Otherwise you’ll be pulling a bunch of little pieces off of the waxed paper and puzzling it together waaaaaaay too early in the morning.  This way it’s just peel-and-stick.

I stored my faces, along with the waxed paper cut into smaller pieces, in a baggy in the fridge.  When I stuck the buns in the oven, I stuck the faces in the freezer.  This made them easier to remove from the waxed paper and less likely to start melting in my hand.

Jack O Lantern Cinnamon Buns

To Make the Jack O’ Lantern Cinnamon Buns: 

As I mentioned, the buns and icing were just regular store bought cinnamon rolls.  So cook them according to the package directions, then remove them to a serving platter and add the icing.

Before the icing starts to dry and harden, sprinkle them generously with the orange sugar sprinkles.

Then place the chocolate faces on top.  Press ever so gently to make sure it’s stuck to the icing, but don’t press down too hard.  Pressing down roughly will cause the faces to break, and after a few minutes they’ll melt slightly, adhering to the icing all by themselves.

Then just serve and relax!

Here are the sprinkles and candy melts I used:

Wilton Orange Sugar Sprinkles Wilton Dark Cocoa Candy Melts

Orange sprinkles can be more difficult to find when it’s not fall, but then, you probably won’t be making these for any occasion but Halloween anyway.


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Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

If you’re looking for an amazing cookie that just screams “summer,” you need to try these.

I love anything orange creamsicle related.  Including the Popsicles, of course.  And these were just so much fun to eat.

Plus, they were super simple, since I started with a box mix.

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

If you follow the directions on the box, they suggest adding the matching flavored icing to the cookies, but I tend to avoid icings that may not actually dry.  Too difficult to store.

So I dipped them in white chocolate instead.

And to really get the creamsicle-flavor, I also added a cup of white chocolate chips to the batter.

If you were in a bind and didn’t have the time to dip the cooled cookies in chocolate (even tho it only takes a few minutes), you still need to add in the chocolate chips.  They really send the cookies over the edge.

Orangesicle Cookie Mix

Above is a pic of the box mix that I used.  Picked it up at the grocery store in the cake mix aisle.

But if you can’t find it in your local store, the Pillsbury Orangesicle Premium Cookie Mix is also available online.

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Here you can see the batter with the chocolate chips mixed in.

Like little gooey balls of creamsicles……

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

After they were baked and fully cooled, I dipped them in some melted Bright White Candy Melts (tho regular white would work, too).

It looks like I dipped the cookies in halfway, but the chocolate really only covers the top and sides – not the bottom.  I didn’t want the chocolate overpowering the orange flavor.

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

1 box Pillsbury Orangesicle Premium Cookie Mix
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup white or bright white Candy Melts

Make the cookie dough according the package directions.  Stir in chocolate chips and drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets.  Bake according to package directions.  Allow to cool completely.

Melt the Candy Melts in a small bowl.  Dip half of the top of each cookie into the melted chocolate and allow to set on waxed or parchment paper.  Store covered.

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Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce Recipe

This dish has such a fun flavor, and it’s a nice change to the everyday (albeit wonderful) regular ol’ marinara sauce.

Spaghetti with spice.

This recipe is based on Penne with Vodka Sauce by Giada De Laurentiis.  I’ve been making it for years, and, in the beginning, I was pretty much following her recipe word for word.

Then, one day, I went to make it and discovered that the only vodka we had in the house was orange flavored.


Well, I threw caution to the wind and, for one of the first times in my life, I changed up a well-tested recipe.

I was not disappointed.

This stuff is awesome.  First of all, the vodka – any flavored vodka – adds a nice sweetness to the finished product.  Regular vodka may not have much of a flavor on it’s own, but when you simmer it with tomatoes, it makes a very rich sauce.  By using the orange flavored vodka instead, you also give the dish a noticeable citrus touch.

And it makes your kitchen smell amazing as it cooks.

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

I’ve been making this version for quite a while now, and I just can’t go back to the regular recipe.  I love the fruitiness.  It’s one of the more unique flavors in my repertoire.

And it’s easy to make.

All of the ingredients are pictured above, so the only thing I don’t usually already have in my pantry is the heavy cream.  When I pick some up, I make this dish.

I use the Traditional Ragu bottled sauce because it’s a very basic sauce:  just tomatoes, mostly.  No overpowering herbs, no big chunks of veggies – I don’t want things like that to overshadow the awesomeness of the flavor behind the meal.

It’s also quick.  The whole thing from start to finish only takes about a half hour.  Just make sure you simmer it for a full 20 minutes, to cook off the alcohol.

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

It’s a pretty basic process.

And the noodles can cook while the sauce simmers.

I usually throw them in some boiling water when the gravy  sauce is about halfway done.

And you don’t have to use Rigatoni.  I’ve used Penne as well, but I prefer the bigger noodles for this.

Also, once you mix the sauce and the noodles, it may appear at first as though there is too much sauce.  Keep mixing and the sauce will absorb into the macaroni.

When I dish it up, I sometimes add a scoop of Ricotta to the top.  Some people like to mix it in, but I leave it like that, picking up a little cheese and a couple noodles in each bite.  I like the contrasting textures.  But the Ricotta is not necessary.  Just a nice touch.

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6+


1 quart (or 6 cups or 2-24 Oz. jars) of smooth marinara sauce
1 cup Orange-flavored Vodka
1 tsp. each pepper & garlic powder
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 grated Parmesan
16 Oz. Rigatoni
Ricotta, to taste (optional)

Cook the pasta, according to directions.

In a large saucepot, combine the marinara sauce, vodka, and spices. Bring the marinara sauce and vodka to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. The sauce should reduce by about 1/4.

Stir in the cream and gently simmer for a few minutes until heated through.

Stir in the Parmesan. Continue to heat until the cheese is melted and fully combined.

Stir the cooked and drained pasta into the sauce. Mix well.

Serve with a scoop of Ricotta, if desired.


Click for the Free Printable PDF:  Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce


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Miami Beach & Home

miami beach & home

My latest Polyvore venture is called “Miami Beach & Home,” a name inspired by the Miami Beach poster hanging next to the window with the ocean view and the sculptures on the coffee table.

I picked a sofa to match the colors in the poster and then played around with fun pillows and accents in a variety of colors that seemed somewhat tropical and modern to me.

It’s purposely eclectic.  Supposed to be fun.

What do you think?

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