Gingerbread Recipe for Making Houses

Before you start on this project, you will need to make house shaped templates for the gingerbread cookies.  Best made out of cardboard.  You will need a front, a side, and a roof panel, making each twice to make four walls and both sides of the roof for a house.  Get creative and make trees or gingerbread boys and girls!  The best thing about making gingerbread houses is you can use your imagination..however tame or wild!  The photo featured is from our first attempt at using our imagination a few years ago. Our girls made their houses in a more traditional shape that year, featured below.

This recipe, including the royal icing, not only tastes amazing, but it is to create the most durable quality cookie for building.

Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water (if needed during mixing)

Candies of choice for decorations

Royal Icing for construction
3 ounces pasteurized egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda together until smooth.

Blend in flour and water.

Wrap dough in pastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 375 F.

Roll out the dough 1/4-inch thick onto a sheet of parchment paper that is cut in the shape/size of your cookie baking sheets.

Now it’s time to use your paper house templates.  Lightly flour the patterns before placing them on the dough.  Cut out patterns with a sharp knife, leaving an inch of space between shapes.

Transfer parchment paper to a baking sheet.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until pieces are firm/brown around the edges.

Cool completely.

Now you are ready to assemble and decorate your gingerbread house!

**My advice is assemble the house with roof at least 15 minutes before you start decorating; the weight of the candies and icing is heavy and could collapse wet icing.

Have a blast!

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Cinnamon Apple Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 tbsp for coating apples 
  • 2 apples, peeled and diced
  •  tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon, plus a pinch for coating apples 
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon

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Directions

Preheat oven to 375F.
Line muffin/cupcake tin with liners. 
Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a bowl. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, coat diced apples with flour and cinnamon. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar with mixer. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla.
Add in flour mixture, a 1/4 cup at a time, alternating with milk, until fully incorporated.
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Fold in diced apples.  
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Scoop mixture into lined muffin/cupcake tins.  Each liner can be filled up to 3/4 full.
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Bakfor about 25 -30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.
Allow muffins to cool from the oven once done.
TOPPING:  Melt butter.  Mix together sugar and cinnamon.  Set aside.
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Brush each muffin with butter then coat with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Done!

Pork Taco Peppers

Ingredients
Ground Pork Taco Meat (see below)
4 medium sized peppers, tops trimmed, cored and seeds removed
1 cup of Mexican style cheese

 

Instructions

Heat oven to 400F.

Clean peppers; remove tops, trim the interior and remove seeds.
You will be left with the perfect cup.

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Pork Taco Meat Ingredients 
1 lb ground pork
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tspn cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of tepid water

Further instructions can be found here.

Once taco meat is complete, fill the pepper cups to the top with mixture. Then place on a baking sheet.

Top with cheese then bake for 35 minutes, till cheese is bubbling and brown.

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Done!  Top with your favorite toppings..sour cream, guacamole or just eat as they are.  They are so good.  The peppers not only keep the carb count down, but they’re sweet and add a new dimension to the savory taco meat.  Also if you stick to the timeframe, you will have a bit of a fresh bite texture. (this is one of my favorites!)

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Zucchini Stuffed with Pesto Beef

This is a low carb recipe.  

Ingredients

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1 pound lean grass fed ground beef 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk organic celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons nut free pesto (made ahead)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup Romano Cheese
  • 1 cup marinara sauce (made ahead)
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

 

 

Pre-heat oven 375F.

Make the marinara sauce ahead of time. Shown here in a skillet. While the sauce is simmering on low start on the rest of the dish.

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To Prep Zucchini

Scrub clean. Half each zucchini lengthwise.  Hollow each seeded half with a spoon.  Chop the centers, and set aside.  They will be used in the meat mixture.

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Place the zucchini halves, face up, on a baking sheet, and place in the lowest rack of the oven and bake for 6 minutes.

Take them from the oven and set aside to cool till they are to be used.

 

For the Stuffing:

In a large skillet heat up the oil to sauté the onions with garlic, then add the zucchini centers and celery.  Cook through until the onions are translucent. 

Add beef.  With wooden spoon chop up the ground beef into smaller pieces.  Cook beef through till browned.

Add pesto, and mix in with grated cheese.

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Assembly

Fill each zucchini half with meat mixture.   

Place on baking sheet.

Top with a spoonful of sauce and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.

 

Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes or until the zucchini is fork tender.

Enjoy!

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Cardone

The cardone, in English known as cardoon, is a celery stalk like thistle plant, that is related to the artichoke family.  The flavors are close to the artichoke as well, being that it is an earthy mellow flavor.

Fried cardone is a traditional Italian side dish that my family has always made for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and never sits around very long. The dish is unassuming but is spectacular in flavor and one of my all time favorites.

Prepping cardone to cook can be timely, but so worth it.

**To Prep you will need to blanch the vegetable;  Trim all leaves, peel the stalks, cut into four-inch pieces and boil them in salted water for fifteen minutes to remove any bitterness.

 

Fried Cardone

INGREDIENTS 
1 large stalk of prepped cardone
1 cup of flour
S&P to taste
EVOO for pan frying

1. Combine flour with s&p in a bowl.

2. Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat.  If it’s too hot the flour will burn too quickly.

3. Flour the prepped cardone.

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4. Place as many pieces of cardone in the pan at once, adding more oil if needed.

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5. Brown on all sides till tender, then remove from heat. ** Clean the frying pan between each batch with a paper towel/clean tea towel to remove the fried flour between each batch, as to not burn the flour further.

Done!

Zucchini Rollatini

Zucchini Rollatini
2 large-sized zucchini, washed and sliced thin lengthwise
16 ounces ricotta cheese
6 Crimini Mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thin (baby bella mushrooms)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Romano/pecorino, and three tbsp for sprinkling on top
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Need: 3 cups marinara/tomato sauce, a couple parchment paper covered baking sheets, 1 plate, and a 9×13 baking pan.

Pre-heat oven to 400F.

Slice the zucchini lengthwise into thin slices.  Place on parchment covered baking sheets.

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Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over zucchini slices. Sprinkle with salt. Roast till the veggies are pliable/slightly under fork tender, around 15 minutes.

Remove slices and allow to cool.. you may turn off the oven, or set it to 375F for the next cook.

In a large bowl, beat egg then mix the ricotta, parsley, Romano cheese, nutmeg, and salt/pepper .

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In the 9×13 pan-drizzle a tablespoon of oil then add a 1/2 cup of sauce, stir together. Set aside for the next step.

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Add the mushrooms to the remaining sauce, then set aside for next step.

*Preheat oven to 375F if you turned it off.

Grab a plate to start filling the zucchini slices.  Be gentle with the cooked zucchini; they can be fragile and tear easily.

Lay a zucchini slice across the plate, then smear a spoon of the cheese mixture across then roll up firmly.

Place the roll into baking pan, atop sauce, seam side down. Continue with remaining zucchini lining them up tightly in the pan.

Use toothpick if needed to keep rolled (then remove before next step).

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Evenly distribute the mushroom marinara sauce on top of the rollatini.

Cover with grated cheese and mozzarella.

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Bake for 35 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly, slightly browned and the zucchini are absolutely fork tender.

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DONE!   Zucchini Rollatini!

Poblano Roasted Tomato Salsa

Ingredients
  • 4 medium-sized vine ripe tomatoes, seeds removed
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled and root end trimmed
  • 1 large poblano chili pepper, roasted (instructions below)
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Freshly ground pink Himalayan salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
Roast Poblano Peppers
  1. Preheat oven on LOW broil.
  2. Place whole poblano pepper on a baking sheet lined with tin foil into the oven.
  3. Cook till the skin is blistering.  Flip the pepper on all sides until completely blistered/charred.  Watch the poblano carefully so it doesn’t burn.
  4. Remove from the oven, let cool wrapped in foil.
  5. Remove skin.
  6. Cut in half, remove the top and all of the seeds.  Set aside

 

Making the salsa

  1. In a food processor, add all the ingredients: pepper, tomatoes, onions and garlic.
  2. Pulsate a handful of times to incorporate the ingredients together.  Add cumin and lime juice and let the processor run a minute to mix fully.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Refrigerate.

Pasta with Cauliflower and White Beans

Pasta with Cauliflower and White Beans
1 large cauliflower, washed and cut into pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 can white beans/cannelini beans
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup room temp water
a pinch of salt and pepper for taste

1 lb pasta, cooked

 

Instructions

1. Before starting, bring a large pot of water to a boil for your pasta. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs.

2. In a stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, let heat through.

3. Add cauliflower. Stir, coating with the oil and garlic.  

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4. Add a 1/4 cup water, then add beans.

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5. Cook through till cauliflower is soft when poked with a fork, adding salt and pepper to taste.

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6. Toss with cooked pasta and Romano cheese.

DONE!

Pasta with Sausage and Spinach

Pasta with Sausage and Spinach

Ingredients

    • 3 Italian sausage links, removed from casings
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 2/3 cup of fresh baby spinach, torn by hand (or a rustic chop)
    • 1/4 cup room temperature water
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Grated Romano Pecorino cheese
    • 1 lb of your favorite pasta

 

Instructions

1. Before starting, bring a large pot of water to a boil for your pasta. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs.

2. Remove casings from sausage, crumble by hand onto a dish.  Set aside.

3. In a stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, let heat through. Add crumbled sausage.  Cook sausage, crumbling it more with a wooden spoon, until it is cooked through. Turn heat down to a simmer. (at this point you should be close to an al dente cook to your pasta)

4. Add water, simmer until you see a yellowish hue to the sauce.

5. Add spinach, salt and pepper to taste.

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6. Add pasta to mixture; mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes, until pasta is tender, and sauce is absorbed.  Toss with cheese, then top for presentation.

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Done!

Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks organic celery, chopped 
  • 2 organic carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup room temperature water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2  28oz cans kitchen ready plum tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Black pepper, fresh from mill

 

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Instructions

1 . Heat oil on medium in a large stock pot. Add minced garlic, stir, then add chopped onion, carrot and celery to the pot.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat well.

2. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Crumble the meat, stir well and cook until the beef is no longer red in appearance.img_4525

3. Stir in nutmeg.

4. Add wine, let simmer until evaporated.

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5. Add tomatoes, stir thoroughly. As it starts to bubble, add water, stir until incorporated into the sauce, turn the heat down to a low simmer. Stir often until the heat comes down to simmer.

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6. Cook, uncovered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste to check salt and pepper preference, add if necessary.

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DONE!