The Gingerbread House Diary, Day 2

I have made significant progress on the Gingerbread House today, as illustrated below.

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Of course, it is much easier to focus, concentrate, and cut straight lines when you don’t have interruptions (read: Sabrina and Alexander).

Speaking of the infamous posse, they are on their way to Florida as I type. We left the house at 4:45 a.m., and believe it or not, they asked to be dropped off at the curb, instead of having me take them through security and sit with them until boarding.

My babies are growing up…. sniff …. 

It’s about time ;)

Next up on the house – assembly. Wish me luck…..

Pumpkin Spice Cake

So the posse leave tomorrow, and I’m a mix of emotions right now.

On one side, I’m a little bit relieved because I.need.a.break.

On the other side, I’m going to miss the little buggers.

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However, instead of being concerned about what to pack, or what time we should leave in the morning for the airport, the most pressing issue on their minds right now is what am I going to do without them for 9 days?!

The possibilities are endless…….. 

Pumpkin Spice Cake – adapted from Taste of Home

  • 1 3/4  cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2  tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 – 15 ounce can solid-pack pumpkin
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; add to egg mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating well after each addition.

Transfer to a heavily greased 10-in. Bundt pan. Bake 60-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Remove pan and cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar or cream cheese icing. Yield: 12-16 servings.

 

 

 

The Gingerbread House Diary, Day 1

I’ve thought long and hard about this recently, and I’ve decided that this year, it’s time to overcome my fear of building a gingerbread house.

I know, that probably sounds silly, but you have to realize I’m still scarred after The Great Roof Collapse of 2012. You don’t remember that? Oh….. I do. It was devastating. All my hard work was for naught when the roof structure gave in and the whole house came down with it.

** sigh **

It was a HUGE house too – I can’t even begin to tell you how much flour, sugar, butter, and spices went into the trash.

** another sigh **

This year, I’m armed with a new template (I’ll be using this one), and using this recipe for the dough, and I’m ready to begin anew.

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I’m also fortunate enough to have an engineer-in-training (aka Sabrina), who will be standing by to offer advice on the best way to keep the house upright. She does have an ulterior motive for this, as she wants to make sure mine works first before she makes one of her own.

Great – my house is the proverbial guinea pig…….

 

Potato, Cabbage and Bacon Casserole

I found myself at an impasse the other day. I was in a predicament, a quandary , and completely devoid of intelligent thought.

Translated – I couldn’t think of anything to make for dinner.

I try really hard to come up with something new and somewhat exciting for dinner several times a week. And I just wasn’t feeling anything – I was browsing recipe after recipe, for what felt like hours, but nothing jumped out at me and said, “MAKE ME”.

And then, like the sky clearing after a storm, I found it. I can’t seem to locate the glorious photo I took of this dish, but it was outstanding and the entire family requested it become part of the regular rotation.

Of course, anything with bacon is a surefire hit with J and Sabrina…..

Potato, Cabbage and Bacon Casserole – adapted from Serious Eats

  • 3 medium russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 slices (about 4 ounces) thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 small but heavy head green cabbage (about 2 pounds), quartered, cored, and sliced into ribbons
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs. apple cider vinegar (I used red wine)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup grated mild white cheese, such as edam or gouda

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Add potatoes to a medium pot and cover with water. Set pot over high heat and bring to a boil, then drop to a simmer. Cook potatoes until they are firm-tender, about 7 minutes. Drain potatoes and set aside.

Add bacon to a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until bacon has rendered most of its fat, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.

If bacon has rendered more than 3 tablespoons of fat, drain fat, reserving 3 tablespoons. Return Dutch oven to medium-high heat and add cabbage, onions, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, and scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until vegetables have wilted and begun to brown, about 15 minutes. Add apple cider vinegar and deglaze pan, stirring rapidly and scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Add potatoes to cabbage mixture and stir to combine. Season thoroughly with pepper, then add reserved bacon, parsley, half-and-half and breadcrumbs. Stir to combine.

Lightly coat the bottom of a large casserole dish with cooking spray. Add cabbage mixture and press firmly and evenly into pan. Top casserole with an even layer of grated cheese, then cover pan with a sheet of tin foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake until casserole is bubbling and cheese has browned, about 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, let rest for 10 minutes, and serve.

Banana Pecan Bread

My father thinks knows is completely sure I’ve lost my mind.

Just so we are clear, this isn’t the first time he’s had that thought. And it won’t be the last, I assure you. 

Here’s the deal: I set a goal for myself last month to get back into my fitness groove – which means a lot of walking and riding. And get this – since October 23, I’ve ridden 167 miles and walked 64.8 miles.

Wow – that’s more than I thought. No wonder my shoes are so worn….

Anyway, I received a text from Dad yesterday that said, “Are you training for a marathon?”

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Nope – just enjoying the side benefits to all that activity – which means I have a slice of this bread smothered in peanut butter every morning after my workout. Plus, I have more energy and feel more clear headed, as I do my best thinking while exercising.

I’ve had a lot to think about lately…… like the fact that Christmas is around the corner. 

Commence online shopping!

Banana Pecan Bread – adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

This recipe is touted as “the best” banana bread. And while I’m not qualified to say whether it is or isn’t, I will say it is very good – it has a really nice texture and isn’t overly sweet.

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup yogurt
  • 2 cups mashed bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.Using a hand-held or stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed, about 3 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the yogurt, mashed bananas and vanilla on medium speed for 1 minute. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon together until combined. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients and pecans into the wet ingredients.Do not overmix.

Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 60-65 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf will come out clean when the bread is done. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.