Thursday, December 26, 2013

Making Gingerbread Men - A Winter Tradition

One of my favorite things to do during the winter months when the fire is crackling, and hot chocolate is my drink of choice ... is make gingerbread men!  I used to love making gingerbread cookies with my Grandma, and my Mama.  There's just something wholesome and nostalgic about rolling out dough and choosing special shapes to make little creations all your own.  And, of course, taking a snitch now and then of the yummy dough.  And, now, I get to have so much fun making new memories with my own children. 

I was going to be babysitting 3 of my nieces and nephews on Saturday, and thought, "Hey, I'll be watching 10 children (10 and under)!  Why not do something massively creative, messy, a huge process, and exhausting ... like make Gingerbread Men???!!"
:-) :-)
Really, who cares about the mess, or the extra fuss ... let's have some fun!  There are memories to be made!  

 Making the dough:  My dear sisters-in-law are very serious about avoiding refined sugars in their food.  I try to substitute honey for sugar, and succeed regularly, but I'm still more lenient than I should be.  Confession.  I have room to grow!  

Having an added reason to be more healthy, however, I searched for the perfect recipe (below) that included molasses (a MUST) and HONEY (instead of white or brown sugar).  We used a deliciously simple Cream Cheese Frosting for the icing, and sprinkled shredded coconut (non-sweetened) for added flair.   I will use this recipe from now on since it was AMAZING and the dough was very easy to work with ... and it is healthy!  I had another brilliant idea of coloring the coconut naturally using beets, carrots, rasperries, spinach, and blueberries ... but I ran out of time -- and desire to go the extra mile.

[Note:  I buy this shredded coconut from Azure Standard by the 5lb bag for something crazy like $9!!  Love this score.  I use this non-sweetened shredded coconut on oatmeal, in granola, in smoothies, etc.  Great buy!) 

It was so much fun to pull out the cookie cutters that have been used for generations.  The old white "tupperware" rolling pin, the tiny little kid-sized rolling pin.  The special little red cookie cutter that are so difficult to use (see mangled little bear - right).   And, of course, the gingerbread men cookie cutters.  I believe we have over 10 different sizes of little men.  My Grandma's favorite thing to do would be to cut out a little gingerbread man, and then transfer it to the cookie sheet where she would re-shape its arms and legs to make it look like it were running or dancing (below).

After the cookies were done, we had fun decorating.  I used us some left-over red-hots and sprinkles from last year, with some bits of candy cane.    Too much fun!  Decorated cookies were placed on lunch size paper plates with their names on them and then put in plastic bags so they won't dry out.  I've been rationing them at 1 per day so we won't be overloaded. :-)

 We only had one casualty ... Wyatt thought he needed to help decorate Vienna!  She got flour dumped all over her hair from his vantage point above her.  I think she thought it was great fun and would have loved for him to continue his play.  Youth!  I would never think to dump flour on someone, or laugh if it was dumped on me.  Oh to delight in randomness!!!

Here's the awesome recipes!  Have fun...

Honey Gingerbread Men

Honey Cream Cheese Icing

1 8 oz pkg  cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup honey

Mix well.  Cut the tip of a sandwich ziplock, add a spoonful of icing, and zip.  Gently squeeze the icing through the tip to decorate.  

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