Gingerbread Houses – Christmas ideas

Gingerbread House ideas – These are made with gingerbread dough. Gingerbread Dough Recipe: In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda together until the mixture is smooth. Blend in the flour and water to make a stiff dough. Chill at least 30 minutes or until firm. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 375 degrees Fahrenheit. You will need Gingerbread House templates.

Here is an internet link to templates: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=gingerbread+house+templates&FORM=HDRSC2

1/2 cup butter softened 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light molasses or dark corn syrup 1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda 2 cups plain flour

lots of different sweets, lollies, gum drops, liquorice, peppermint, marshmallows, candy canes, biscuits, cookies and put together with royal icing (2 egg whites lightly beaten mixed with 3 cups of pure icing sugar).

Making a gingerbread cubby house: a bunch of boxes, coloured paper, paints, cardboard, toilet rolls, cellophane, long wrapping rolls, spare cardboard and paper plates.

Lynda Gray’s Cupcake Recipe – quick delicious and easy

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These are mini-christmas trees.

Lynda Gray’s Cupcake Recipe – quick delicious and easy

Since lots of people have been asking for my cupcake recipe I thought I would share it.

Lynda Gray’s Cupcake Recipe
Cupcake Recipe easy and delicious
Simple Cupcake Recipe

Ingredients:
100 grams caster sugar (or to make them without a sweetener instead use stevia powder 10 – 15 grams)
125 grams self-raising flour
115 grams unsalted butter
2 room temperature eggs/2-3 dessertspoons of milk (cows or rice is best)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (preferably the natural concentrated extract)
6 muffin cases

Preheat the oven to 180C or 356F.
First step take all ingredients out of the fridge
Make sure they are more to room temperature when using
You need muffin cases not those little patty cases
Muffin trays and spray them with some cooking spray
I use olive oil cooking spray. Then place the muffin cases in them.

Pour all ingredients into a cooking bowl and mix until smooth
you may want to add a little milk at this stage just (1-3 dessertspoons)
I use rice milk. Once mixed use a dessertspoon and place the mixture into the muffin cases around 2/3rds full.Place in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until cooked.
You can smell that sweet aroma of the cupcakes cascading from the oven when they are ready.

Place them on a cooling tray. Once cooled there are many ways to ice them. Christmas Tree icing you need soft icing mixture, butter and a tiny bit of milk. Red and green natural food colours. Two separate bowls. Pour in a cup of icing sugar, soft butter mix until firm – you can add a tiny bit of milk as you are mixing. The trick with icing is use a little liquid at a time when mixing. Pour in your colour. Make one red, the other green in the separate bowls. Mix until firm yet smooth. Take out two icing bags. Place the red in one and the green in the other. Outline the cupcake with red and then fill in the middle with green in a swirling motion and when finished lift the bag upwards to finish off the top. Then for decorations you could use – cake decoration balls as baubles or currants.

You can also Royal Ice them: Royal icing looks and tastes great. 1 egg white mixed with pure icing sugar – the harder icing sugar). Mix the egg white with the icing sugar until
it is firm. Then spoon the icing on top. The smaller the spoon the easier. I sprinkle with dark chocolate. Buy a bar of dark chocolate and grate it over the top of icing or an easier way is to buy a chocolate bar and grate it or chop it into small chunks and place on top.

Happy baking.

Turkey Cooking Tips

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Cooking that Christmas Turkey.  Some little tips for cooking your turkey.

I always cook my turkey on Christmas Eve as it makes my Christmas Day so much more relaxing.  I just reheat it on Christmas Day in the oven with some juices.  I leave it overnight in the fridge until Christmas morning when I reheat it.  I think of cooking a turkey like nurturing or caring for someone.  I check on it while cooking and have a timer by the oven set for 30 minutes so every thirty minutes I check on how it is cooking.   Once I have worked out the time it will take I write it down.  Then I easily remember when I put it in the oven and when I need to take it out.

1/  The average weight of a Christmas Turkey is 5.5 kilograms after stuffing equivalent to 12lbs.  This means you cook this Turkey for 200 minutes = 3 hours and 10 minutes. (1 kilogram = 20 minutes cooking time plus you add a further 90 minutes)

2/  Before you place it in the oven wrap it in aluminium or tin foil (see number 6 you can layer the turkey with bacon or pancetta slices before wrapping in the foil).

3/  Put 2 litres of chicken stock in the pan and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Check the turkey every 30 minutes and pour the juices over the top.  Keeps it moist it is going to be cooking for along time.

3/  Cook it at 175 degrees – 180 degrees celsius or 360 degrees fahrenheit.

4/  To see if the turkey is ready – pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a small fork or baking skewer.  If the juice runs out clear the turkey is ready, if it is slightly pink keep cooking it.

5/  You can stuff the turkey in various ways – turkey mince mixed with 2-3 tablespoons thyme and/or sage, 2 egg yolks, some cut up french stick, 30 grams or 1 ounce of breadcrumbs, 1 onion, himalayan crystal salt and cracked pepper is always nice.  Use a sewing needle and strong cotton and sew the opening up after you have stuffed it if you want to.

6/  You can layer the turkey with organic bacon or pancetta before baking.  This draws more flavour into the turkey.

Vegetarian Christmas Turkey Fruit Platter and Thanksgiving Vegetarian Turkey

Vegetarian Christmas Turkey Fruit Platter and Thanksgiving Vegetarian Turkey

This is a quick easy platter to make to keep Christmas festive and healthy.  Mandarins, Kiwi Fruit, Strawberries, Boysenberries, Cheddar Cheese or Hard cheese and Black Grapes.

For the turkey itself:  Cut a pear in half, take the seeds out and a little of the core, use currants or raisins for the eyes, cut the nose and feet out with a hard cheese. Cut little bits out of the pear to place the eyes, nose and feet in.

Tip: you can use a little bit of dip or cream cheese to place in the holes to secure the raisins and cheese in place.

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Chocolate Cake – I love this cake.

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Chocolate Cake – Super divine, wicked and delicious.

When I first made this Chocolate Cake after eating one piece.  I kept thinking about it all day.  It is so divine.  It is to me the chocolate cake to end all chocolate cakes.  It takes a while to mix the ingredients as it is a delicate blend and you need to mix it together slowly.

Ingredients

200 grams of high quality cooking chocolate (70%) cocoa

150 grams of unsalted butter

5 free range or organic eggs (separated)

110 grams of vanilla sugar or caster sugar

2 tablespoons of high quality (dutch process if possible) cocoa

1/2 cup very fine almond meal

Icing:  Double Cream

Method: 

Preheat oven once half the ingredients are sorted to 180 degrees celsius or 350 degrees fahrenheit. Break up the cooking chocolate and the butter into small pieces for melting. The best way to melt them is in a heat proof bowl that fits into one of your saucepans. Fill half the saucepan with water. Place the bowl with the chocolate inside and simmer it on low heat until it melts. Stir with a metal spoon use a cooking glove while stirring. Add the butter and combine well.

Take out two bowls – Separate the eggs – use the yolks first (the yellow). Slightly cool the chocolate once it has melted and then add it into the egg yolks and whisk until well combined.  Then slowly whisk in the sugar and the cocoa and the almond meal. Beat the egg whites until they form a soft peak and then fold them gently into the chocolate mix very delicately and slowly.  Put mixture into a greased proof paper lined cake tin and bake at 180 degrees celsius or 350 degrees fahrenheit (in the bottom shelf of the oven) for approximately 25-30 minutes. (In a fan forced it may be ready in 20 minutes). (The cake needs to be firm and a little puffed when ready).  To cool place a piece of greased proof paper over the top.  Then place on top some sort of spring form or cake tin.  (I have double tins of all my cake tins.  I just use the same tin to press it down with).  Press down lightly and weigh down the tin with something you can find in the cupboard.  Ice with double cream and dust with icing sugar if you like.

Baker’s tip:  Make sure the eggs are at room temperature before beginning.

Love is Not All – Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Love is Not All – Edna St. Vincent Millay

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.