The Best Gingerbread House Recipe

It all starts here. If you want a great looking gingerbread house that will stay together for the season and be sturdy enough to hold all of that candy, you have to have the perfect recipe.

You have two main choices – do you want to use molds to make the gingerbread house pieces or make them rolling out the dough and then cutting the pieces. It is really your preference. There is a lot of detail in the molds but then you are going to be covering all or a lot of that detail with candy. Of course with the detailed molds, you always have the option of covering the window, door or roof with candy or let the roof shingles show through.

So What Kind Of Molds Should You Use?

If you are going to use molds, I’ve found that cast iron with a non stick coating work the best. My first molds did not have a non stick coating and of course that was lots of recipes ago too so between the two approximately half of the pieces were either breaking when I tried to get them out of the mold or the dough was too crispy and the pieces broke very easily. Once IResults of the Best Gingerbread House Recipe
discovered the non stick coated molds and had a great recipe, getting the pieces out of the mold was a breeze and I didn’t break any of them. Of course a little squirt of a spray olive oil to the mold won’t hurt either.

There are lots of cookie cutter options out there that you can use for rolled out dough. With this option you get a nice smooth looking finish to your gingerbread house. There is no detail on the walls or the roof. You make all of the detail with your decorating with frosting and candy. It is completely a matter of preference.

And Now For The Best Gingerbread House Recipe That I’ve Found

Believe me, I’ve tried a lot of recipes! The first required cooking some of the ingredients together, letting them cool and then mixing them with the dry ingredients. If you are making a lot of houses like I always do, this is such a long process – waiting for part of your recipe to cool before putting your dough together. I prefer to make all of my dough in one day and get it in the refrigerator and then bake a couple of houses each day. That way you can assemble and deliver the houses and you don’t get too many pieces filling your house at any one time. My sisters and nieces and I make a party of making all of the dough on a Saturday in early November. We put the dough together by assembly line – someone puts the first half of the ingredients in a bowl and passes it on to the next person who adds the rest of the ingredients. Then the bowl is passed to one of the people getting in there and mixing the dough by hand and finally the finished dough is wrapped and put in the refrigerator. It works great and it is really fun. We can make dough for 25 to 30 houses in less than a couple of hours and then we just have lunch and hang out.

Ok, ok, as promised.. Here is the best tasting, most durable, prettiest (yes prettiest – it has that nice rich, deep, warm brown color) recipe that I’ve found.

Here is what you’ll need for each house:

  • 1/2 cup shortening (use the sticks, one half of a stick to one house)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 4 tablespoons cold water (start with 2 and work up to 4 (you can always add more but you can’t take it out!)
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

The original recipe calls for creaming together the shortening, sugar, molassas and water, sifting the flower, spices and salt and then adding the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture but honestly, I add everything at once and then mix everything real well by hand. The dough should be stiff and slightly sticky. If it is so sticky that it is sticking to your hands, grab a little flour until it doesn’t stick to your hands. Chill at least an hour.

Grease or spray the mold with olive oil. Press the dough into the mold or roll out and cut the pieces as instructed. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the mold or pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes then carefully remove each piece of gingerbread and place on another cooling rack, flat side down.

It works best to bake the gingerbread a day ahead of when you are assembling to allow it to dry out some and get stronger. In fact, I actually like to bake it a couple of days ahead, leave it uncovered and assemble the sides on the next day and the roof a day later. Finally, if you have the luxury, don’t decorate for 24 hours after the house is fully assembled. (I learned the hard way not to put on the roof and begin right away placing heavy candy all over it only to have the roof start sliding off!) You don’t have to wait this entire time but if you can, the frosting will just keep getting harder and harder making the house so durable.

Watch for my next post where I’ll share the best frosting recipe I’ve found.

Do you have information that you’d love to share with others on the Internet? Why not learn to build your own blog? It offers the best  instructions with great videos and lots of detail. It is an entire community of people building blogs and websites that are always there to help with whatever you need or answer any questions that you might have. There is also a completely free option with instruction and 2 completely free websites. Give it a try and I’ll bet you’ll be hooked like I am.

Thanks so much and good luck with your gingerbread house. Any questions or comments, please feel free to add them below and I’ll be back in touch.

Deb

 

 

Making Memories With A Gingerbread House Birthday Party

We love making memories with our grand kids. It gives us hours of quality time with them not only when we are with them but for countless hours years and years later remembering and talking about how much fun we had.

We never imagined that one of the fun things that we decided to do with them one afternoon would ever lead to first a gingerbread house birthday party and then years and years of building and decorating gingerbread houses.

What Got Us Started Building Gingerbread Houses?

gingerbread houseWhen our grand kids were 7, 5 and 2, we were asked to babysit one day shortly before Christmas and wanted to come up with something fun to do with them right at their house. We were in our local grocery store and found a cool gingerbread house kit. The kit came with the house already assembled and it came with pre-made frosting and candy to decorate. It looked fool proof enough for us so we bought one and brought it to the kids.

We were so amazed by how excited they were with the idea of decorating a gingerbread house! They all seemed to know exactly what it was as they checked it out. They sorted all of the candy that came with it and pretty much ate as much or more than they put on the house. In fact, we had to run to the store part of the way through decorating to get more candy. Not only did they eat a bunch but their plan quickly became to cover every inch of the house. There really were not directions or suggestions so we did our best to come up with a way to get the frosting on the house in order to attach the candy. The frosting was sort of drippy so we ended up having to hold quite a few pieces in place waiting for the frosting to harden but it was looking great.

Amazingly all three of them, even our then only 2 year old granddaughter stayed focused on decorating and had a blast! The house came out beautiful and throughout the Christmas season, their decorated house was their favorite decoration. After Christmas they got to pick off and eat the candy and then put the house outside as a treat for the birds.


christmas lights

The Following Christmas Season

We fully planned to again decorate a gingerbread house with the kids as we approached the next Christmas season when our oldest granddaughter whose birthday is just 2 weeks before Christmas came to us and asked if we could decorate gingerbread houses at her birthday party. We considered that maybe each girl could decorate one wall of a house or even a gingerbread cookie. We talked about it and decided that it would be most fun for each child at the party to have their own entire gingerbread house to decorate and bring home to decorate their house but knew that it would be so expensive to buy a gingerbread house kit for each child as well as the additional candy that we knew they would need.

Where Do We Start

We really had no idea of what we were getting ourselves into, but decided that we would make the houses ourselves. We had never done anything like this, would need at least 16 houses, enough for each child at the party plus a couple of extra just in case…

Nothing warned us about how much time this would take or how challenging it would be. There were so many different recipes for both the houses and the frosting and we had to make a decision on whether we were going to roll out dough and cut out the pieces or purchase a mold to bake the houses in.

We decided to purchase 2 identical molds so that we could bake more than one house at a time. The mold was metal and two sided so in order to make one house, we had to fill the mold twice on one side and once on the other side. So, with 2 molds, we could not even bake one complete house at a time. We decided to follow the recipe that came with the mold and on the weekend following Thanksgiving, started making dough and baking walls.

We quickly found ourselves in the middle of a nightmare but knew that we couldn’t let our granddaughter down. so we kept working away. The recipe required that certain ingredients get combined and cooked and then mixed with the flour mixture after it cooled so just making the dough was a very slow and tedious process.

Once the dough was made, we then had to chill it for at least an hour which, because the fat in the recipe was butter, made the dough so hard. It was a nightmare getting the dough into the mold and we quickly learned that it was even more difficult to get the baked dough out of the mold causing us to break many of the walls that took us so long to make. We just couldn’t use enough cooking spray to provide an easy way to get the walls out of the molds in one piece.

We Somehow Had Enough Pieces Baked

I don’t know how we did it, but we managed to get all of the houses baked and then had to put them together.

Next Was The Frosting

Our next problem was with the frosting that we made from the recipe provided. It was so loose that we had to hold the walls together for quite a while in order to assemble the houses and then even longer in order to get the roofs to stay in place. I’m not sure how we got through it all, but we eventually built the number of houses that we needed for the party, loaded them in our car and delivered them to our granddaughter in time for her party.

Party Time!

All of the kids had a blast decorating their houses, talking about their ideas, coming up with fun color combinations, even decorating the landscaping around the house. These were 8 year old girls so really the age that the parents would just drop their kids off at the party and then pick them up a couple of hours later but once the mothers saw what the girls were going to be doing, at least half of them stayed. They were as intrigued as their daughters. In fact, just in case we had any problem with the houses we brought a couple of extra which turned out to be good because a couple of the girl’s siblings also got to decorate their own house. The mothers were great helpers handling the frosting guns for the girls and offering their decorating ideas.

Best Birthday Party Ever

Needless to say, it was undoubtedly our granddaughter’s most memorable birthday party. I know that it is one that I certainly won’t forget. I was just so thankful that we came through it all with flying colors after all of the challenges and learning that we went through to get there.

We were thankful to have it past us and not really excited about the thought of doing it again but, the kids had so much fun, that when the next Christmas season came along, they started asking when we could do it again. We just looked at each other and started thinking about what we could do to make things easier.

Now 10 Years Later…

Continuously tweaking our recipes and learning the best ways to put everything together, we have gotten pretty good at this. We make between 25 and 30 houses every Christmas season and give them as presents, have kids to our house to decorate as a group and have even brought them as hostess presents when we were invited to Christmas parties.

Watch for future posts where I’ll share with you our best recipe and all of the tricks that we’ve learned to make our annual tradition of making Gingerbread Houses so much easier and less stressful. After all, if it isn’t fun, why would we want to do it!! It’s all about making great memories, not stressful ones!

Share Your Stories In Your Own Blog

Not long ago, I would never have thought that I could build my own blog like I have here but I came across a great website called WealthyAffiliate.com that taught me step by step how to build my own blog that is allowing me to share my thoughts and ideas with you about making changes in my life as I am getting close to retirement. I’m excited to share things like things to do to have fun with my grand kids, staying healthy and even supplementing my income. I’m having so much fun with it and you can too. At Wealthy Affiliate, you will find an entire community of everyone helping each other build great websites and blogs.

I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share below and watch for my next post that will be coming soon.

Thanks so much,

Deb

Learn To Build A Website For Free!

Being within 10 or so years from retirement, I’ve been thinking what it will be like when I no longer have a full time income coming in. Will I have to downsize and leave the house that I love? How much will my lifestyle have to change? No one knows how much money they will need for retirement so you are sort of forced into frugality. That is not the best case scenario for me.

I’ve worked hard all my life and yes, I’ve had fun doing it but I want to spend my retirement doing exactly what I want to do each and every day. I don’t want to worry about how much money I have. Because of this I’ve been thinking about what I might start building now that could provide me with extra income after I retire. I love to write and to share ideas that may be helpful to someone, so I thought that I would begin now to build a website with lots of advice for people with some of the same interests that I have. As long as I’m researching things for myself, why not build a way to share what I learn? Through my search I have found a great site to learn to build a website for free!

 

How Can Learning To Build A Website Possibly Be Free?

Check out a website called WealthyAffiliate.com. Two guys named Kyle and Carson started the website in 2005 right after getting out of college. They have built a truly amazing site that is a whole community of people building websites that all help and support each other with anything needed. They also have unbelievable step by step instructions on how to build a website or a blog and the basic level that includes two sites being completely free.

Why Do I Need a Website?

Just think about all of the possible reasons for wanting to learn how to build a website. If you are looking to earn some extra income you can learn to build and start a website at Wealthy Affiliate to promote your own products, other people’s products (affiliate marketing), building websites for other people or optimizing peoples websites to help them people with websites get better listings in Google.

Maybe you aren’t looking to earn extra money but would love to learn something new or have extra time to fill. Or do you belong to a club, a church or any type of organization that could use a website? You could easily put this together for them and promote yourself as a website builder in the process.

 

Where To Start?

Go to WealthyAffiliate.com and click on “How Wealthy Affiliate Works” to learn more or go ahead and register for a free account to try it out. There is simply no downside and you won’t find another website anywhere that will teach you what you can learn here about creating websites and blogs, optimizing them for the search engines or provides a huge community of support for advise and opinions on your website as you are building it or to ask any question that you have in the process.

 

Have Some Fun – Learn About NASCAR Racing

Check Out Something New

100_0043As you get older, are you finding that you have more spare time to fill? Kids are grown up and on their own, now is the perfect time to try out new things. Stay open minded. You never know what you might end up really enjoying.

I’m so happy that I took the time to learn about NASCAR racing. My husband was into NASCAR racing when I met him and I had a choice of watching and going to races with him or not spending time together.

 

Our FIrst Trip To Daytona

It didn’t take long for me to really enjoy watching races on TV so for my husband’s 40
birthday, I decided to surprise him with a trip to the Daytona 500. He had never been to a race in person and was so excited to be going not to just any race, but the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s superbowl!

We were going to be in Daytona for 10 days so I really didn’t want to spend that much time in a single hotel room. I checked Continue reading

Try the Ninja Crock Pot Cooking System

Get Freedom From Cooking

Ninja Cooking System
Whether you are already retired or still working full time, you have to take the time to prepare your favorite, hopefully healthy meals and probably don’t want to spend all of your precious time in the kitchen cooking.

I used to make crockpot meals at least once a week but couldn’t really go off to work for a whole day leaving my meals to cook.
With an hour commute each way to and from work and at least an eight hour work day, there are very few meals that require ten hours of cooking time. So many crockpots have just 2 settings and no automatic shut off so if you end up getting home later than you planned your meal will really be overcooked. Kind of defeating the purpose, I would cook in my crock pot only when I was going to be home for all or most of the day.

 

Then I came across the Ninja Crock Pot Cooking System

Not only does this have a timer for up to 8 hours and then let switch to warm, it has a stovetop setting and an oven setting as well. So for those recipes that say brown your meat on the stove and then put them in the oven or the crockpot, you just put them in the Ninja and brown on the stovetop setting and then switch to the oven or crockpot setting!

Cooking with all of those nice drippings on the bottom of the pan from browning really helps to create
layers of flavors. Your food will taste so much better than if you just throw all of the ingredients into the pot all at once, turn on the heat and let it go for hours until everything is cooked through.

I love to experiment with all kinds of combinations of my favorite foods in order to come up with new favorite meals. Since I’m cooking for only 2 of us most of the time, I like to cook things that will feed us for one or two meals and then I freeze the leftover in amounts that are perfect for a single meal for us.

 

You’ll Love the Cookbook That Is Included

I think that my favorite thing from the cookbook is the beef stew. It is so thick it is barely a stew but is so tasty! There are great options for all meals including breakfast. There are also desserts and appetizers. Included are a couple of pans that you can insert to even bake a cake!

The top element in my oven recently burned out and I wasn’t sure how dangerous it was so I actually stopped using my stove and oven until it was fixed which took a week. In the meantime, I only had my trusty Ninja to cook with. I followed the recipe for one of the egg casseroles, cut it and refrigerated it in portion sizes and microwaved breakfast for the whole week. We never missed a beat.

My brother and sister in law’s stove/oven broke at their camp at the beginning of last season and, since I had given them the Ninja for a Christmas present, they brought it up with them. They never did get to replacing the stove since their time at camp was too valuable to spend appliance shopping so the used the Ninja for the whole summer season when they wanted to cook indoors.

 

I hope this was helpful for you. Please leave a comment below if you’ve tried the Ninja.

Have a great day!!

Debbi

 

 

Ideas To Supplement Your Retirement Plan

Are you beginning to think about what you might do in your retirement or maybe you are already retired but looking for ideas to occupy your time or earn some extra income? Wherever you are with respect to your retirement, I hope that you find some ideas that resonate with you here.

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If you’ve worked you whole life for someone else, this is your chance to realize the freedom that you deserve – living everyday doing exactly what you want to do. If you’ve worked for yourself all or part of your career, you will hopefully experience a different kind of freedom in retirement than you had during your career. How ever you spent your career, now is the opportunity to completely enjoy life as a thank you for all of your hard work.

Hopefully you are able to find ideas here to supplement your retirement plan. Weather you are looking for ways to earn a little extra income, different things to do with your grandkids, great vacation
ideas, ways to help you relax and reduce stress or products that make life a little easier at our age, you’ll find solutions to all of these here.

So have fun with your plan. Dream bigger than you have ever dreamed in your life. This is your special time! Enjoy yourself!