Bran muffin = healthy, right? But what makes a muffin a bran muffin? The bran, of course. But what exactly is bran — and why is it so good for you? Read more
Classic gingerbread inspires endless variations of delicious, decorative treats that go way beyond simple cut-out cookies — although we love those, too. From soft, moist loaf cake to sturdy homes made out of spicy gingerbread, here are just eight of the ways you can incorporate this timeless dessert into your Christmas feast.
Old-Fashioned Gingerbread (pictured at top)
Ina Garten’s gingerbread just smells like the holidays, with its mix of spices, crystallized ginger and raisins. Try putting a dollop of rum whipped cream on top to take this treat over the top.
In case you missed it, last week FoodNetwork.com and HGTV.com came together in the Scripps Lifestyle Studios to host the ultimate live holiday cookie party on Facebook (watch the three segments here, here and here). Justin Warner hosted the event, and I had the pleasure of nerding out with him and Michelle Buffardi, from FoodNetwork.com, on chocolate chip cookie recipes.
One of my favorite parts of the day was the unveiling of the gingerbread house that recipe developer Melissa Gaman and FoodNetwork.com’s Eric Kim (with special help from Mory Thomas and Miriam Garron) worked on ALL DAY! Viewers had a ton of questions about the construction of the house, so here are some of their building tips:
The Secret Roof Compartment (pictured above): Melissa cleverly turned our house into a surprise cookie jar. Here’s how she did it: She cut one of the roof sides into two pieces and “glued” the bottom piece, with royal icing, onto the house. The removable piece simply sat on top without needing to be affixed to the house. Then the whole roof was decorated in almond shingles that covered the seam to the secret panel!
For the December issues of Food Network Magazine and HGTV Magazine, the sister publications went head-to-head in a gingerbread house contest. The challenge: Each staff would decorate a simple gingerbread house made with a kit from the craft store, using all edible ingredients. Who won? That’s for you to decide.
Vote in the poll below, just for fun, to let the editors know which one is your favorite. Then head to Hearst’s sweepstakes page for a chance to win a $500 gift card to Michaels and a Wilton cake-decorating kit.
Cut-out cookies may be among the most-popular ways to enjoy gingerbread, but this sweet, slightly spicy flavor shines beyond people-shaped treats. From cocktails and cupcakes to waffles and trifles, celebrate the warm flavors of gingerbread with tried-and-true eats and drinks ideal for holiday entertaining. Read on below for Food Network’s top-five seasonal gingerbread recipes and get sweet inspiration from Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, Trisha Yearwood and more of your favorite chefs.
5. Gingerbread Waffles — Start with canned pumpkin puree to keep Rachael Ray’s cinnamon-spiced waffles quick and simple. Once these light, fluffy beauties are cooked, set up a toppings bar and let your family finish their waffles with syrup, whipped cream or fresh fruit.
4. Gingerbread Cupcakes with Orange Icing — For a double dose of bold ginger flavor, Ina mixes dried crystallized ginger into the molasses-spiked cupcake batter, then she sprinkles additional crystallized ginger atop the smooth citrus-cream cheese frosting.
When I was younger the thing I loved most about the holiday season was the dizzying array of cookies, candies and breakfast cakes that would suddenly appear in the our house. A practiced food sneak, I’d spirit away frosted sugar cookies and waxed paper-wrapped caramels and eat them in the luxurious privacy of my bedroom closet.
My parents were on to my sugar-seeking ways and would do their best to conceal the best of the treats from me so that I didn’t eat them all in a single day (I’ve since learned much about moderation). The one thing they never needed to tuck behind the cereal boxes on top of the refrigerator was the gingerbread. A yearly gift from our next-door neighbor, it was dense, heavy and smelled just slightly of bourbon. It was clearly not a cake for kids.
But as so often happens in life, my tastes have evolved over the years. The cookies I once craved now seem disgustingly sweet and that gingerbread I scorned appeals to me more than ever. That original recipe is long since gone (our neighbor died when I was 13), but I’ve spent the last few years searching out a similarly solid, barely sweetened cake to make and give out during the holiday season.
With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season in full swing, it can be tempting to take shortcuts for the sake of simplicity. This year, we’re all about doing whatever it takes to make this holiday your easiest, best one yet, but when it comes to building your own gingerbread house, you can skip the store-bought, pre-assembled kit and create your own one from scratch in flash. Believe it not, the gingerbread house pictured above comes together in just 1 hour and 30 minutes thanks to a fuss-free recipe with clear, step-by-step instructions. Learn the basics of making gingerbread houses below, assemble and decorate this simple, seasonal structure with your family, then post a picture of the finished product to Food Network’s Facebook timeline.
The beauty of this gingerbread dough in particular is that it can be made entirely in one bowl. After creating a stiff mixture of wet and dry ingredients, however, it’s important that the dough chill in the refrigerator for at least a half-hour. This will make it less tacky and far easier for you to roll out.
The sweetest designs of this season aren’t found on the red carpet, but instead on the pages of Food Network Magazine. Take inspiration from the styles seen on the pages of the December issue and create your own to-die-for candy outfits. Start with a batch of perfect gingerbread, and check out these runway-worthy duds:
How to DIY: Snip mini marshmallows in half with scissors; toss in colored sugar (it sticks to the cut side). Attach with royal icing. Read more
Tyler Florence: Best gift — moped as a ten-year old…and then, “…whatever my wife got me last Christmas. Thanks, honey!”
Sandra Lee: Best gift — a love letter from her honey.
Guy Fieri: Best gift — His horse, Rebel was his first thought. However, he changed his answer to his two sons instead.
Alton Brown: A jet from his wife. That’s right, a REAL jet.
Sunny Anderson: Beebee bear from her mom.
Danny Boome: Skiing lessons. Worst gift: Hospital bills after the skiing lessons.
Watch all the holiday memories from your favorite FN stars.
~ The FN Dish Staff
As mentioned, Food Network staffers just baked off in honor of the 12 Days of Cookies. To settle some bets, we’d love to hear which you think turned out the best. Plus, see if you can guess all the FN Gingerbread Stars in the last of the two fan photos at the bottom. Full answers (and the staff winner of our internal taste test) will be posted this Friday in the comments below…