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.

Pretzel Bites

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This week I decided to tackle one of my first recipe pins: Pretzel bites!

Years ago I made soft pretzels a couple of times a year (delicious!) but haven’t made them in a couple of years. They’re a favourite mall snack of mine, so trying the bites was a great way of trying something new with a familiar treat 🙂

Here’s the Pinspiration

First step was to mix the water, sugar, yeast, and butter together.IMG_3068

The pictures end here for awhile because the recipe suggests mixing the dough with a dough hook. Since I don’t own a dough hook, I mixed the dough with my hands 🙂 and neglected the camera.

I won’t post the full recipe here, as the website does a great job of that.

Skipping ahead to after the dough has risen…

Divide the dough into 8 pieces:

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Roll out each piece and cut into 1 inch “bites”:

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Boil the bites for 30 seconds in a water and baking soda mixture:

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Brush with an egg & water mixture, and sprinkle with salt (or cinnamon & sugar)

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Bake & enjoy!

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These were delicious! My taste testers devoured the first plate in minutes.

It suggests a cheese sauce, and although I didn’t make it this time, I would try it next time. I’m also interested in making cinnamon & sugar bites.

I did find the process to make these time consuming, even in comparison to making regular soft pretzels. I’ll have to make those again in the near future, to really compare the experiences. But from memory, I would say I would make pretzels again before making these.

“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.

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

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Well, I’m simultaneously part way into a couple other Pinterest inspired projects (aka story of my life), but since they’re not yet finished I can’t post them on here yet… so I’m struggling to keep up with our weekly posts. To stay on track, I figured I could make a recipe… that’s something I could start & finish in one evening. Not that it’s a competition, but I did observe that Sus finished an Infinity Scarf in one night, yet Taquitos are more my finish-in-one-night speed – potatoes/patotoes. My last knitting project is an unfinished baby blanket… for a sweet pea who’s now 12. No, not 12 months… 12 years @@ (that’s my symbol for wide eyes). But let me get back on track…

I have a Pinterest board dedicated to recipes titled Yum. When I went back to review, two things happened:
a) I realized I’ve done a whole lotta pinning, but not so much making and baking,
b) I was hungry and wanted to make it all – I’ve pinned a whole lot of deliciousness!
Then I remembered the very first recipe I did make from my Pinterest board, actually Susan and I made it together when she was visiting. Needless to say, we were less than inspired and it’s no longer pinned to my board. Lets hope this time would be different…

I planned to choose a baking project to do with N, and after browsing my board, I wanted to make Chocolate Chip Cookies. But when I was an ingredient shy and it was nearing dinner time, I chose an entree instead – Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos. They made the cut since I had many of the ingredients on hand that needed to be used before we went out of town for a couple days. I also had a large cooked chicken breast leftover from dinner the night prior, so this was a perfect way to reinvent these leftovers.

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https://pinningcousins.wordpress.com | From Pins to Projects

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N was the cutest little helper…

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But he wanted to eat more than help at times… he was pilfering so much cheese from the recipe that I ended up giving him his own plate of ‘you-can-eat-this-cheese’

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https://pinningcousins.wordpress.com | From Pins to Projects

No need to reiterate the recipe here, as the site linked from my Taquitos pin has it perfectly explained, and they have prettier food photos.
The only 2 things we did differently were using classic red salsa instead of green (it’s what we had on hand), and we used medium tortilla shells, cut in half and rolled the long way for each taquito.

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The recipe made two trays. After I put the second tray in the oven, I realized it made a lot and I probably should have frozen some instead… but, it turns out they were all eaten very quickly.

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https://pinningcousins.wordpress.com | From Pins to Projects

They were a big hit – we loved this recipe and will definitely make it again – delicious!