Gingerbread Men

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It’s starting to feel like Christmas!  We managed to get our tree up today, and with that comes gingerbread cookie season…(photos to come soon).

This recipe comes from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook (a classic from 1980).  This cookbook reminds me of my grandma, and baking these cookies at her house when I was younger… so much that the book automatically opens to this page because of how well used this recipe is.

PREP TIME: 2 min   COOK TIME: 8 min   TOTAL TIME: 10 min   YIELD: 24-36
Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 cups All purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup White sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (I use non-hydrogenated margarine)
  • 1/2 cup Light molasses
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 tsp Ground ginger
  • 1 tsp Ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
Directions:
  1. Mix sugar, margarine, molasses, and egg together.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients together well, then add margarine mixture until well blended.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 ºF.
  5. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll chilled dough 1/8″ thick (crispier cookies) or 1/4″ thick (softer cookies).  With cookie cutters, cut out men (or any other shapes that you might like).
  6. Don’t have a gingerbread man cookie cutter?  Make one easily enough by tracing the gingerbread man shape onto a piece of paper, cutting it out to use as a stencil, and just cut gingerbread dough around using a small knife.
  7. With pancake turner, place cookies 1/2″ apart on cookie sheets.
  8. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes in preheated oven, remove and cool cookies on rack before decorating.  Overcooked gingerbread cookies will be crunchier/dryer (we prefer them soft/chewy around our house).
  9. Decorate (cooled) cookies with Ornamental Cookie Frosting.
banana muffin

Banana (Bread) Muffins

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I do love lazy Sundays… unfortunately today was not one of them, but I did at least find some time to do some baking.  It was also a good opportunity to use up some ripe bananas.

This recipe has been adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks: The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook.  I think the reason I appreciate this cookbook so much is (being the nerd that I am), I love the commentary they include on some of the science of cooking.  That, and because pretty much every recipe I’ve tried so far from the book has been perfect.

So why ‘adapt’ it if it was already perfect?  Because I’m always looking for ways to make things a little bit healthier.  In this case, I replaced white all-purpose flour with whole wheat, which I think adds a nice texture.  I also decreased the sugar in the recipe.

PREP TIME: 15 min    COOK TIME: 30 min    TOTAL TIME: 45 min   YIELD: 8
Ingredients:
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (melted and cooled)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin (I used a large-sized muffin pan, which made 8) OR 9 by 5 inch loaf pan.
  2. Mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, margarine, and vanilla together in a medium bowl. Add in sugar and honey and mix.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Lightly fold this into the banana mixture until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky. Pour into muffin pans (OR loaf pan).
  4. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For large muffins, this took 30 minutes. For a loaf, this should take 55 minutes. Cool and serve warm or at room temperature.
chocchip

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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This is and has been my go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies since, well, really I started baking for myself at all;  I consider this one tried, tested and proven.

Cookie perfection in this case, to me means not overcooked, slightly chewy chocolately goodness, mmmmmmmmm…  The key to that in this case is not to overbake.

PREP TIME: 15 min    COOK TIME: 8 min   TOTAL TIME: 23 min    YIELD: 18
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, NOT melted (or substitute butter, softened)
  • 1 cup semi-packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 ºF
  2. Beat margarine, sugars, vanilla, and eggs until light and fluffy.
  3. Mix in flour, salt, baking soda (by hand) until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just lightly browned. Transfer to cooling rack.