Then a group of runners in Santa gear, came jogging by, wishing everyone happy holidays and passing out candy canes. :)
When I got home, I mixed up a batch of gingerbread men. And before anyone asks, here's my recipe. It makes THE BEST gingerbread! I cut them on the thick side and try not to overbake them so they're nice and chewy. If you like crunchy gingerbread or you're using it to make houses, just roll the dough out a little more thinly and bake it a little longer. It makes it a bit sturdier for construction.
5 - 5 1/2 cups flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. ginger
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. cloves
1 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. unsulphured molasses
Preheat oven to 375. Thoroughly mix flour, soda, salt, and spices. Melt shortening in large saucepan. Cool slightly. Add sugar, molasses, and eggs; mix well. Add 4 cups dry ingredients and mix well. (Make sure shortening is cooled enough, and add the eggs slowly while stirring, or you'll have a scrambled egg mess.)
Turn mixture onto lightly floured surface. Knead in remaining dry ingredients by hand. Add a little more flour, if necessary to make a firm dough. (I always need to add a little more flour.) Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness for cut-out cookies. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake small and medium sized cookies for 6-10 minutes, and large cookies for 10-15 minutes. (Put the same sized cookies on one sheet at a time or you'll have some underdone while others burn.)
Decorate cookies with Royal Icing and/or candies after they cool. I use 3 T. meringue powder, 1 lb. powdered sugar and 5-6 T. water to make Royal Icing. Beat it for like 10 minutes on medium. This icing is super-strong and fluffy. Because it's made with meringue powder instead of egg whites, you don't have to worry about the kids getting sick when they squirt the bags of icing directly into their mouths while "decorating".
Here are our creations...
Not my M&M button!
An easy way for kids to decorate (especially if you don't have a bunch of cake decorating supplies) is to put the icing in a zip-lock sandwich bag, seal it, and cut off a tiny bit on the corner of the bag. It's easy for kids to squirt the icing out of the little hole in the bag and the icing won't go glopping out of the top this way.
This is basically what Brooklyn did - pile M&Ms all over the cookies and then pick them off and eat them.
Having fun decorating
Savannah helped me bake the cookies, but then went to a movie with her friend and missed the decorating.