Now that the kids have been home for a few months, are you driving yourself nuts trying to figure out something new to keep them occupied? How about making Pop Tarts? They've been a kid's favorite breakfast or snack for generations now, but not always the most healthful of meals with ingredients that are hard to pronounce on the back of the package.

I'll be the first to admit that those brown sugar/cinnamon Pop Tarts rank in the Top 10 of my childhood favorites, and, yes, I've secretly indulged and become a kid again more than once, gnawing the edges off and enjoying the creamy sugary filling bite after bite. So I was intrigued when a recipe from appeared in my inbox inviting me to make my own.

Here's what it said:

"Only have a teaspoon of sprinkles or a couple tablespoons of jam left? That works! Got a little chocolate in the cupboard but not enough for a batch of cookies? Here's a chance to use it up. Gather up a few other sweet odds and ends, and you'll have enough creative flavors for a full batch. And anything goes, so go nuts!"

OK, I had all that. The email also recommended that making Pop Tarts was kid's play, and I didn't have any kids or grandchildren on hand — thanks to the current social distancing recommendations — so I let the kid in me come out and play. I had a fun afternoon bringing back memories of those sweet confections popping up from the toaster.

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Learn about a professional rock climber’s favorite treats, including her recipe for Berry Pop Tarts here:

Here are some ideas for fillers other than cinnamon.

* Almond or peanut butter

* Fresh or frozen fruit, lightly sweetened

* Nutella

* Jam or jelly

* Any combination of the above, such as Nutella and peanut butter or peanut butter and jelly.


Homemade Pop Tarts

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup cold water


1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift flour, 1 tablespoon sugar and salt together into a bowl. Cut in chilled butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles small peas. Add vanilla. Mix in cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough comes together and forms a ball.

Divide dough into 2 pieces, and wrap with plastic wrap; chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Beat softened butter, 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl to make filling.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut dough into rectangles with a knife. Drop 1 tablespoon of filling onto half of the rectangles. Cover with remaining rectangles. Press edges with a fork to seal. Poke a few holes in the top of each pastry with a toothpick.

Arrange pastries on the lined baking sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool pastries on a wire rack, about 15 minutes.


Another Best Brunch

Several weeks ago I wrote a column about brunch and some of the best places in town to enjoy it. Here's another: Flying Squirrel, located at 55 Johnson St. on Chattanooga's Southside. The restaurant has just expanded its Sunday brunch hours and has started opening at 10:30 a.m., an hour earlier than before. When you go, experience the shrimp and grits made with local smoked cheddar grits from Sweetwater Valley or the Pork Belly BLT with local heirloom tomatoes. Nothing better. What a delicious way to start your Sunday.

Email Anne Braly at

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Anne Braly