4TH OF JULY
My kids absolutely LOVE the 4th of July! Between the picnics, fireworks, parades, and hot summer weather, who can blame them? My favorite thing about this time of year is the food, of course. A massive variety of fresh produce is available, unlike any other time of the year, and it seems that we are always entertaining-a perfect combination! Here are some of my favorite summer picnic ideas:
Mini lemon pound cakes with lemon glaze and fresh strawberries and blueberries.
Roasted red potatoes whipped with cream, chives, cheese, and bacon and baked twice.
Spinach and orecchiette salad with grape tomatoes, parmesan, and a Greek lemon vinaigrette.
We love to decorate for Halloween in our family. And we love to bake, so it was only logical that we combine the two! This is our homemade haunted gingerbread house. I baked the gingerbread and the girls decorated.
Some of the things you need to consider when building a gingerbread house from scratch:
- Make sure to bake the gingerbread until it is crispy. Do not underbake! The cookie will be soft and the structure will collapse as it settles. If you cannot bake it crisp enough without burning it, after baking leave it out uncovered for a few days until it naturally dries out. Be careful not to do this if the weather is damp, or the gingerbread will just absorb the moisture in the air and will not dry.
- Cut a paper template first and use a ruler and sharp knife to make all the cuts. I have a template made out of parchment paper that I roll up and store to use each year so I do not have to rethink the design.
- Make sure you have a good method to seal the house. I prefer to make a caramel and drizzle it on the edges. When it cools, the bond is so tight, there is no way anything is moving! I found Martha Stewart’s recipe to be the most successful. This is often a 2-person job since the caramel is scalding hot and the gingerbread needs to be held in place while being assembled.
Her recipe is https://www.pinterest.com/pin/419890365229771833/
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- Bring sugar and the water to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat, and simmer until thickened and light brown, about 10 minutes. Use immediately to secure all joints and mount house to platform.
- I use a pastry brush and also a spoon for pouring in larger areas. Be careful because it dries fast so you need to work quickly-another reason this is a 2 person job! If the caramel hardens in the pan while you are working, you can reheat it on the stovetop.