I started the tradition of making Gingerbread houses with my kids from the time they were barely old enough to stick cereal pieces onto a frosted Gingerbread roof from their high chair. I've got to say that our first attempts at Gingerbread houses were pretty sorry looking. They were less than structurally sound to begin with and then we would pile on as much candy as we could before the eventual collaspse occurred. It took years to convince my kids that the HEAVIEST Gingerbread house was not necessarily the best house.
Over the years of building Gingerbread houses, our decorating has become a family Christmas tradition. This year was no exception. We had a blast with this years Gingerbread House decorating party. I'm not going to say which house won the decorating contest this year but I will say that MY DAD has officially been asked to step down from the competition. (Seriously - how many years in a row can he win this contest?) From now on he is going to be the Davis family Gingerbread House building CONSULTANT from now on.
1 1/4 cups packed dark-brown sugar
3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Transfer mixture to bowl of standing mixer. Beat in flour and baking powder.
Divide dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Roll out the Gingerbread to 1/8 inch thickness and cut with cookie cutters.
Place on silpat lined cookie sheet and bake 12 minutes at 350.
Let pieces sit at room temperature until firm. (I like to let mine sit out overnight to dry.) Assemble front, back and sides first. Let dry before adding roof.
Now the fun begins - Decorate!!!
If the novelty of new toys has already worn off and you're looking for a great way to entertain your kids for the next few days until they go back to school - let them create a gingerbread house. The sheer amount of snacks and sugar will draw them to this activity and it will keep them busy for hours.
We decorated our Gingerbread houses on Christmas night but there's no reason that you cant make it a New Years Eve activity. Oh, and if you need some Gingerbread House consulting - you can contact my dad. ;)
I've seen lots of different versions of the 12 days of Christmas but I wanted to share with you how my family celebrated the 12 days leading up to the big day this year. I can guarantee that this is a version of the 12 days of Christmas like no other. I didn't want to go out and buy a bunch of useless things for my family that they would never use just to mark the special days. Instead, I decided to get creative and see if we could EAT our way through the 12 days of Christmas. Turns out - we could - we did - and it was delicious.
For those of you who need a little reminder of the song that I used as my inspiration - here it is:
A partridge in a pear tree,
Two turtle doves,
Three french hens,
Four calling birds,
Five gold rings,
Six geese a-laying
Seven swans a-swimming,
Eight maids a-milking,
Nine ladies dancing,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Eleven pipers piping,
Twelve drummers drumming.
Day one was pretty easy - a pear seemed like the perfect way to celebrate a partridge in a pear tree.
As for day two - we induldged in a couple of chocolate turtles of course. Mmmmm. Two turtle (doves) never tasted so good.
Day three we had our own version of french hens. Well, ours weren't so much "French" as they were cornish.
I had to get a little more creative for 4 calling birds. We celebrated with trail mix which admittedly, was a bit of a stretch but trail mix resembles bird seed so I just went with it.
Day five we ate 5 gold rings. That's right - FIVE GOLD RINGS!!! YUM!!
Day six we had the most delicious omelettes. What better way to celebrate 6 geese a laying?
Seven swans a swimming stumped me for a while too. I finally decided to serve goldfish on day seven because goldfish swim too.
Day eight was one of our favorites. Warm homemade cookies and ice cold milk was perfect for 8 maids-a-milking.
Day 10 was lords a leaping and so I chose a food that "leaps" - gummy frogs of course.
Day eleven we celebrated pipers piping with piping hot mugs of cocoa of course.
Day 12 was perhaps the easiest of all to plan. Mini ice cream drumsticks were the perfect way to commerate 12 drummers drumming.
It's not too late to start your very own 12 Days of Christmas celebration. I know that you will enjoy eating your way through Christmas as much as we did. Oh, and if you come up with some new and unique ways to eat your way through the song - let me know. I'd love to hear them.
I put together a Hot Chocolate Bar this week to serve at of our Christmas parties. It was a a big hit and an easy way for our guests to customize and help themselves to their very own cup of piping hot chocolate. (Self serve drinks is the only way to go for busy dinner parties.)
I put together a carafe of warm milk, a jar of candy canes, a bowl of mini marshmallows, a can of whipped cream (not pictured), a couple of Christmas mugs and some Hot Chocolate Sticks and voila - an awesome Hot Chocolate Bar. I could have gotten really creative and put out some salted caramel or other interesting Hot Chocolate toppings but I was in a hurry - what can I say?
One batch of these fudgy Hot Chocolate Sticks makes 36 cups of cocoa so I had plenty to serve to everyone that stopped by our house for Christmas.
Store the leftovers in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator and pull them out for an instant Hot Chocolate fix. I guarantee that you will want to keep a batch of these near by all winter long.
Hot Chocolate Sticks
1/2 cup heavy cream
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
18 oz (about 3 cups) chopped semi-sweet chocolate or chips
4 oz (about 3/4 cup) chopped unsweetened chocolate
Place chopped chocolate in bowl. Pour warm milk over chocolate to melt.
Stir to combine until shiny and thickened.
Spread into foil lined pan and refrigerate 3-4 hours.
Remove from pan, turn upside down and cut into squares.
Place a stick into the center of each square and you're ready to serve.
Set up your hot chocolate bar and let your guests go to town.
Merry Christmas Friends.
I love my slow cooker and I'm not afraid to say it. Anyone else relying heavily on their slow cooker to get meals on the table this month? I've got enough stress without having to worry about getting meals prepared by 6:00. I can through dinner in the crock pot at 10 and voila - dinners ready by 5.
I chose Cornish Hens for my slow cooker last week because we are in the middle of celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas. You know - 3 French Hens? Well, my hens were Cornish and not French but you get the idea.
Slow Cooker Cornish Hens
2 Cornish Game Hen Chicken
8 oz. Orange Juice
1 Sprig Rosemary
1 Handful fresh Parsley
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Pepper
1 Fresh Orange, Sliced
2 Tablespoons Honey
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Pour juice mixture over hens. Place rosemary and parsley around hens.
Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours.
Place under broiler to brown the hens.
Since I could only fit 2 hens in my slow cooker and I definitely needed 3 to stick with the 3 French Hens theme - I roasted one of my hens in the oven. It turned out just as good as the crock pot hens.
Stay turned for my entire 12 Days of Christmas post. You will certainly get a good laugh at how we ATE our way through the 12 Days of Christmas.
I just realized that for 45 years, I've been calling brussels sprouts by the wrong name. I've been incorrectly referring to the beloved vegetable as brussel sprouts for as long as I can remember. Perhaps it happened unintentionally because brussel sprouts just rolls off the tongue easier than brussels sprouts. (I think it's the double s that makes it sound weird.) Does anyone else out there call them brussel sprouts? Surely I'm not the only one.
Regardless of what you call them, if you roast brussels sprouts with a little oil and toss them with some honey, they are delicious. These honey balsamic roasted brussels sprouts would be a great accompaniment to your Christmas dinner. ;)
Honey Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1½ lbs brussels sprouts
3 tbsp olive oil, separated
¾ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
Trim off the outer, dry leaves, cut the bottom off and slice sprouts lengthwise
In a large bowl, toss brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to coat thoroughly.
Transfer the brussels sprouts to baking sheet and roast until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes.
Place brussels sprouts back in bowl. Add remaining tablespoon olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey and toss to coat evenly. Taste and season with kosher salt if necessary and serve.
Now when you walk by the funny looking brussels sprouts stalks in the supermarket - you have no excuse not to pick one up. They are really super easy to prepare and you might just be surprised at how delicous they can be.
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