I have yet to find any time for holiday baking, but our friend Elizabeth and her daughter Sophie dropped by some yummy and extremely cute gingerbread men the other day. Naturally I coaxed her to share her recipe with us! Here’s her take:
I made it from scratch from a recipe in my favorite baking cookbook: the King Arthur Flour’s Baking Companion. This is the first time I’ve made them. Sophie was sick on Monday and couldn’t go to school, but I didn’t want her to miss out on making gingerbread men (which her classmates did that day). So, I turned to my trusty cookbook, and we baked. Sophie loved spreading the flour, rolling the dough, cutting the cookie shapes, and making the eyes and buttons with red-hots. As for tips, I prepared the dough Sunday night and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The recipe gives a range for the baking time — I found it really hard to judge when they were done since the dough is so dark. I baked them on the shorter side, and they were pretty soft. If you prefer crisper cookies, just bake them a bit longer if your first dozen are too soft for your taste.
Hopefully I’ll find some time for baking this weekend, when I’ll be pulling out a few of my old favorites as well. What about you, have you baked any holiday cookies yet? Please tell us! — Angela M.
Click through to the next page for the recipe. (more…)
We asked Shelterrific’s amazing contributors to tell us the one hostess gift they always go to during the holidays. Here’s their picks!
Sarah Lyons: Doggie treats
Holidays can be stressful for our canine friends, with all the hustle and bustle and new people in the house. While I never forgo a bottle of wine for human hosts, for the canines in the home, I love to pick up gourmet doggie treats. As an added bonus, it keeps guests from feeding Fido party food. Always a good thing. â€” Sarah L.
Sarah Christensen: Slate cheese board
It may be having the best year ever as far as hostess gifts go, but even mainstream popularity doesnâ€™t dissuade me from reaching for a slate cheese board every night the clock strikes party time. Available in red or black, the natural slate slabs are a chic way to display cheese and other nibbles on the holiday table. Each comes packaged in a cute burlap bag equipped with chalk for labeling by the savviest of hostesses. $28 for the 10â€ x 14â€ at Brooklynslate.com.
Mary Sheely: Tea infuser
I love getting a small tin of tea from Tuscan Tea Room, a local West Seattle shop. They aren’t selling online yet (but plan to), so think local and visit your nearby tea shop for tiny, colorful tins of yummy flavors. (I love Tuscan Tea Room’s creme brulee.) I usually sweeten the deal with a tea infuser as well, so my hostess has no excuse to not try the tea! I like this one by Tovolo a lot (and it comes with a built-in stand).
Okay, the holiday stress is getting to me, so I’m spending even more time online wondering, “Would my mom like that? Would my father-in-law use this?” I am a subscriber to “It’s the thought that counts,” so I try to get gifts that really fit a personality or are things that I remember that person talking about liking. Fred Flare has some fun stuff that isn’t bank-breaking, great for small gifts or to round out a mail-home package — most of these are listed as top sellers for good reason.
A log pillow is a perennial favorite that looks cute at Christmas or year-round, depending on how woodsy or how hip your gift recipient may be. If you know someone with a fireplace that’s inoperable, how cool would two log pillows look in there? Just $18.
My sister-in-law received Wreck This Journal from her family one year, and it was a huge hit. We helped her “wreck it” with some scribbles and comments on certain pages, so it became both a fun party game and a souvenir of the night. Fun gift from kids to parents or vice versa!
Now on to Garnet Hill, where I scored big points one year by purchasing oh-so-soft flannel sheets, $30-120, for my mom who is always cold! She still loves them.
For some useful charm, I love the shape and colors of this Bauer pottery, $13-88.
And that pottery got me thinking about Fishs Eddy, where the first thing to catch my eye was this four-glass “In Crowd” set of glasses, $16, with illustrations by cartoonist Roz Chast. If you have a friend with a New Yorker subscription, she would recognize these dopey folks in a heartbeat. And looky here: there’s an entire section devoted to Roz Chast’s work!
Really stumped? How about something small, odd, and memorable from the Tchotchkes? Come on, this Chrysler Building lantern is amazing — but also pricey at $65. So how about a whole array of Lady Figurines, about $5 each? Instant collection that would look pretty on a bathroom windowsill. — Mary T.
Journal image via Destructive Therapy.
There are lots wonderful seasonal things filling grocery store shelves right now: Egg nog, peppermint bark, cheese logs. One thing that gives me great joy is Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Green Tea. It is the perfect way to end any meal. Did you know that green tea is a great breath freshener? And, because it’s decaffeinated I can sip it on the couch while I watch Boardwalk Empire. Which I’m about to do right now.
If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, I seriously suggest you stock up. (I have enough to get me through the next season of Downton Abbey — starting in January.) What is your favorite holiday-only grocery store gem? Please share! — Angela M.
I am always tempted to make a gingerbread house, but never get around to it. Perhaps I’m not inspired by the traditional Hanzel & Gretal cottage style they all have. Well, it looks like I have found my dream gingerbread house, The Modern Gingerbread House. It’s so cute I don’t want to eat it – I want to live in it! With classic mid-century style it comes with a rock garden and garden. Add a few teal and orange gumdrops on the roof, and you’ve got centerpiece any mod homemaker can be proud of. Get the kit at uncrate.com, $80. — Angela M.