Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest

Holiday traditions. Come read others and share at  Jen and Melissa's festive Blogfest.

Like my waiting for Santa days, Christmas is mostly about the anticipation. Only, as an adult, that anticipation includes shopping, wrapping, baking and packing for our visit with family in Indiana.

I bake scads of things to give away in goodie bags to friends and teachers. I have standard things like Chex party mix and decorated sugar cookies, and each year I try some experimenting too. This year, I'm making Muddy Buddies with store-brand Frosted Mini-Wheats instead of Chex cereal. I found a rum-spiced banana bread recipe to try and a killer fall-spiced caramel corn mix recipe that is as follows:

Caramel Corn Party Mix
Preheat oven, 300 degrees
Put in roasting pan:
-4c. popped popcorn (kernels removed)
-2c. Wheat Chex cereal
-1 1/2c. small pretzels
-1 1/2c. pecans
Mix in sauce pan:
-3/4c.brown sugar
-4T butter
-4T light corn syrup
Heat until boiling. Reduce heat to med/low for five minutes without stirring. 

Remove mixture from heat and add:
-2t. pumpkin pie spice
1t. baking soda
-1t. vanilla
Pour over popcorn mixture and stir. Bake 15 min. Stir. Bake five more minutes. Spread out on foil to cool. 

Yes, we have a tree and other decorations, but I want to continue with the baking theme by sharing pictures of our annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party.

It starts with four batches of gingerbread (7 cups of flour each). Around six hours later, I've rolled out and baked all the pieces for the houses:

Then, another four hours later, the assembly is done:

Add kids, icing and a whole lot of candy and you get:

It's such a mess but so much fun. Last night, some of the girls were even reminiscing about gingerbread parties of the past. Those kinds of traditions, connections and memories are the heart of Christmas for me.


  1. You make your own gingerbread houses??? That's the most amazing thing I've ever seen! I love decorating them, and I know the kids must have had so much fun!

  2. The Gingerbread houses look amazing - you must have had incredible amounts of fun. Have a lovely family celebration. Merry Christmas.

  3. Gingerbread houses are so fun! I'm not much of a baker, but your stuff looks wonderful!

  4. Thanks all. My houses aren't store-bought perfect, esp. since my cutters have gotten bent up some over the years, but they're much cheaper than the kits and still look great when the kids are done decorating.

  5. Wow, I'm impressed with the gingerbread! I think they're all the better for not being store bought!

    Also, I left you an award on my blog. :)

  6. What an awesome tradition!

    Happy holidays.

  7. The houses look like so much fun!
    And the rum-spiced banana bread---where can I find this recipe?!

  8. We've done this before. And man, they aren't easy to put together so they stick. The decorating part is the easy, fun part. Good for you! Kids will never forget this tradition!

  9. Wow, you baking fiend!! We always just cheated and used graham crackers for the side of our candy houses. LOL Merry Christmas!

  10. That is a lot on gingerbread. Looks like fun.

  11. Aw, that sounds and looks like so much fun! Merry Christmas! :)

  12. Look at all of those gingerbread houses! That's fantastic!!!

  13. Wow, you must have put a lot of work in those gingerbread houses. Merry Christmas from Vanessa and Avalon

  14. I've been looking for a good recipe for caramel corn - thanks!! :)

  15. Love the gingerbread houses. That has got to be a lot of fun in spite of the mess. The caramel corn mix sounds great - I'm going to try it. Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas! :D

  16. Wow! I'm speechless! Homemade gingerbread house...They are wonderful! What a great tradition. :-)

  17. Wow! Look at you go with the Gingerbread Houses. That's awesome! Have a great week and a Merry Christmas :)

  18. I've never made one but just seeing these has me running for the aisle with the sets! It seems like a ton of work but totally worth it in the end! Thank you for sharing!!

    Thanks for participating!

  19. Thanks all for commenting. Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!

  20. Gingerbread house decorating party, how fun! Merry Christmas!

  21. I love the idea of a Gingerbread house decorating party!! I usually do a Christmas Wrapping party. Maybe I'll switch it up next year with this. It sounds so FUN! Have a Merry Christmas!

  22. Jennie- A wrapping party is a great idea! I love to bake and shop but wrapping is my downfall. I try to watch holiday movies to make it more bearable, but having friends to watch and wrap with would make it fun.

  23. The gingerbread house party myst have been so much fun! What a great idea.

  24. I made gingerbread once and swore I would never do it again. I admire your ambition. Your houses look wonderful!

    I hope all your family and friends enjoy the time and love you put into each and every one.


  25. Wow, Jennifer! That is hardcore! I'm so impressed.

  26. I love making gingerbread houses - we do ours with graham crackers since I don't enjoy actual ginger bread. oops, maybe I shouldn't admit that - especially at Christmas. Enjoy your holiday! :)

  27. Oh that looks like fun. I've always wanted to build a gingerbread village. Maybe one day. Sorry it's taken so long to get to you. I've been making the rounds and now I've decided just be sure I visit all of you who visited me.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  28. You make gingerbread houses from scratch?? Holy crow! That's INSANELY AWESOME. Thank you for sharing!!!

    My cat knocked my gingerbread house off the counter before I could get any pictures or anything.

    Thank you so much for participating in our blog fest!

    Merry Christmas!