Mini Gingerbread Houses

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This week my goal was to start & finish my Christmas baking. Thanks to a few vacation days, it was easily accomplished. We have certain baked goods that we make every year…it’s tradition! These include sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, peanut butter balls. Every year I try one or two new recipes and sometimes those are included in the yearly pre-holiday baking days. I’ve even found recipes during the past 2 years on Pinterest that are now a key part of my Christmas baking (I’ll save those for another post).

So, in preparation for my baking days, I looked at my Pinterest boards for something that stood out and would be easy to accomplish among the other recipes on the agenda.

And then I remembered these….mini gingerbread houses! How cute are they!? I love the look of miniature food items (& should probably create a new board dedicated to them!).

Since I was already making gingerbread cookies, I decided to make 3 mini houses with the dough I had leftover at the end. I use Martha Stewart’s gingerbread cookie recipe (available on her website).

The link above provides a template.

Rolled out the dough, place templates and cut. I used a butter knife to cut out the shapes (and therefore likely didn’t cut as precisely as I should have).

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Out of the oven. The cookies expanded and the door openings filled in, so I trimmed them with a knife as soon as they came out of the oven.

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Here they are! The instructions call for putting them together with royal icing. I used buttercream icing as I already had made some for the other cookies I was baking, and it worked fine for what I needed.

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Aren’t they adorable?!

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The original poster of this idea made her houses to fit on the edges of coffee mugs. But here was the tough part…I had a difficult time finding a mug it would fit on! Probably because I wasn’t as precise when I cut out the pieces.

I managed to fit it on this mug, but it was a tight fit.

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I also thought they would be cute on a bowl, for kids to enjoy with ice cream:

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Would I make these again?! Yes! It would be fun to experiment with the size of the pieces and to decorate them with candies.

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“NYTimes rated best Chocolate Chip Cookies”

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This week I made Chocolate Chip Cookies. It was the original plan when I made Taquitos last week, but they got bumped when my pantry was short an ingredient. I’ve pinned a few Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes to my Yum board, but chose to try this one first because the caption with the Pin claimed: “The NYTimes rated this the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever.” …Sounded like a great endorsement to me!

I knew we needed baking soda, and after reviewing the recipe ingredients, I realized the recipe required approximately 1.5 bags of chocolate chips (we had 1 bag on hand). J picked up the missing items and actually returned from the grocery store with 2 new bags of chocolate chips. He was excited to have found Ghirardelli brand chocolate chips – yum!

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My helper-cutie pie N and I started baking. Our only deviation from the recipe was using all purpose flour in place of the recommended mix of cake flour and bread flour. I figured it would work out since the blogger whom I pinned the recipe from notes that she did the same thing. Other than that, we creamed, sifted, and mixed to our hearts content, following the recipe to the letter. Then we hit a road block. We got to the finished-dough-stage, the ready-to-bake-stage, the looking-forward-to-eating-warm-cookies-tonight-stage, and I read that we’re suppose to “refrigerate dough for 24-36 hours” — what?!? Ugh, it took will-power, but we did it, we popped it into the fridge and waited an entire day cause we didn’t want to mess with “the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever”. I’ll admit, I’m building some pretty high expectations at this point.

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The next day was my second challenge with the recipe – the dough was no longer easily moldable, but instead, very hard and quite a chore to scoop & bake. We persevered, surely the delicious reward would be worth it, right?

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A short baking time later… cookies! Unfortunately here was disappointment numero tres… I didn’t love them! I fully take responsibility that it could have been me, so I’m not going to knock the recipe… perhaps it was the flour variation, or oven temperature, or who knows, but they were simply “meh”… and we didn’t think they were nearly as good as the traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe found on the chocolate chip bags.

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So, in summary, I wouldn’t make this one again, but we still tried one more pin from the hundreds in the queue. In this case, you don’t know until you try, so no regrets.

Oh yeah, and what’s that you ask?…
What happened to the other bag and a half of chocolate chips?

Why are you asking me.
I haven’t seen them.
I haven’t seen any extra chocolate chips anywhere.
I would not eat a bag and a half of chocolate chips.
Don’t ask me anymore questions.

I dedicate this post to my witty brother… for a multitude of reasons, really. I have a feeling he’ll get this post and relate to it on a couple levels. xo

And we thank him for the really cute children’s book he gave my son: “I want my hat back”, by Jon Klassen – check it out, and this post will have a little more meaning for you too.

M&M Cookies

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I love baking…cookies, cupcakes, etc. But I tend to stick to the same recipes… the ones I’ve made over and over. I have pinned some pretty delicious looking baking ideas to Pinterest during the past year and it’s time to start trying the recipes!

This week I decided to make M&M Cookies. Who doesn’t like cookies? 🙂 They’re easy to share with family & friends…and easy to freeze any extras.

The full recipe can be found by following the link through Pinterest. I doubled the recipe, to have more cookies for sharing 🙂

Cream the butter.

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Add sugars, eggs, vanilla.

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Mix dry ingredients together, including the special ingredient, vanilla pudding powder.

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Add butter mixture with dry ingredients.

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Add the chocolate chips.

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Add the M&Ms..yummy! The recipe calls for mini M&Ms, which I couldn’t find at the store I visited. I liked the idea of the cookies having smaller pieces, so i chopped some of the regular M&Ms, and left some regular size.

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YUM!

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The recipe suggested using a baking mat or parchment paper on the baking sheets, which I need to make a habit of. A better alternative to greasing the cookie sheets (and helps the cookies to bake evenly).

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Finished!

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These cookies were a big hit! I will be making this recipe again. Mine didn’t turn out as flat as the original recipe (maybe due to doubling the recipe?), but they tasted great!

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What’s your favourite kind of cookies?