Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: Gingerbread

It seems like making gingerbread houses (or trains, or sleighs, or whatever else is out there these days) is the thing to do.  I remember thinking, as a child, that it seemed like a fun thing to do (but I can't remember ever getting to make one), so now that I'm an adult, of course I need my children to fulfill all of my here-to-for unfulfilled childhood wishes.

Someday, I will make a gingerbread house from scratch (it will probably be with my grandchildren, but I was encouraged to learn that now you can buy gingerbread house cookie cutter sets, so at least I won't have to measure, which has honestly been the biggest stumbling block for me), but in the meantime, there are kits.

But the kits are kind of expensive.  Of course, when you're living vicariously through your children, cost somehow becomes less of a factor.  So that's an option.

{Just in case you still need one, these houses are available from amazon with free shipping (just click the pictures).}

The option that I choose for my family is to make "gingerbread" houses using graham crackers.  Last year, Honey Maid even had gingerbread flavored graham crackers (I haven't seen them yet this year).  I know!  Isn't that great?

Using graham crackers as a base, prepared frosting, and candy from the bulk bins at your grocery store (or, if you're really planning ahead, or your kids had a really big haul, candy left over from trick or treating), you can make a whole village for about half the cost of a kit. 

Added bonus: each kid gets to make his own (those of you with more than one child, you recognize the value in this).

 First, cover a sturdy piece of cardboard, or a cutting board, with aluminum foil.  Then, place a heaping spoon-full of prepared frosting in a small zip-lock bag, squeeze all the air out, seal, and cut off one corner.  You will use this bag to place the frosting where you want it.
 Start with a base of graham crackers.  If you have younger children, you might want to do this yourself ahead of time and let it set for a bit.  I always pipe a line of frosting on the bottom edge of the cracker, too, so it'll stick to the board.  Remember that you can use a serrated knife to cut the crackers if you need a shape other than square or rectangular.
 Once the base is built, start decorating!  Use your ziplock bag to apply frosting to your structure, or to the candies, and place the candies on the building.  I got out a muffin tin to hold the candies--much easier for the kids than reaching into bulk-bin bags all the time.
 Ta da!  Roger added a Peeps Christmas tree to his front yard, and MC used chocolate covered pretzels to make a fence.
Triple bonus: you're likely to have leftover supplies, which means you can eat these and make more to display!  :)

Have fun!

P.S.  Next year, we're making a train.

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