Christmas Tree Mashed Potatoes

Christmas Tree Mashed Potatoes Lunch

I enjoy challenging myself to see how many different themes I can make with cheesy mashed potatoes. While this Christmas tree is not my favorite, it was fun to eat.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Christmas Tree – cheddar mashed potatoes cooled then shaped with a cookie cutter, green peas, black olive, cherry tomatoes, black olives

Top Right: Pistachio nuts

Bottom Right: Sweet and Salty Chex Mix

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Broccoli Holly in Rice for Lunch

Holly broccoli and rice

Holly is toxic but broccoli shaped as holly was a delicious and healthy lunch.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Cooked broccoli – press into holly shaped cookie cutter, hot cooked Nishiki rice spooned around cookie cutter then carefully remove cookie cutter,  cherry tomatoes

Top Right: Pumpkin seeds

Bottom Right: Kiwi

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Flying Reindeer Salad

Flying Reindeer Lunch

This Flying Reindeer Salad was served for lunch at my parents home on December 24, 2016. I did not post it last year because I was busy getting ready to leave for a month in Japan. The concept was one that I had in mind for awhile. Executing it was not effortless. It was a very difficult time for me since my life had drastically changed and I was in transition. It was not easy to make the reindeer fly or even to make the carrots and kohlrabi reindeer stay together long enough to fly. I would have given up but my Mom was a force to be reckoned with. She took it on as a labor of love to try to make her very sad daughter happy and she was determined to make those reindeer stay together and fly. My Mom worked so hard and had my father help her.

If you want to make your own Flying Reindeer Salad you need:

It will take some practice, patience, and determination to make these reindeer fly. You also need some imagination to remove the wooden skewer in your mind and only see the reindeer flying. We had to make 7 but if you have a smaller party it would be easier.

Originally I wanted it to be entirely edible and thought about using spaghetti to attach the reindeer to the base carrot but of course it was not strong enough.

Flying Reindeer Close up

The entire meal did not get photographed or completed to plan, but here was the original menu:

  • Flying Reindeer Saladgreen salad with vegetable 3D reindeer flying above – vinaigrette or ranch dressing
  • Reindeer rolls
  • Shaped butter
  • Mushroom Soup
  • Apple Cheddar Soup
  • Reindeer / Santa Dessert – mini sugar cookie sleigh & reindeer with chocolate santa and some gift of berries in mini silicone cups with whipped cream

Flying Reindeer exposed

In the photo above you can see the base carrot exposed.

reindeer rolls

These reindeer rolls look sad to me but looking at them now makes me laugh and my guests enjoyed them. It is a recipe that I often use when making shaped bread for packed lunches.

Christmas Shaped Butter

I use chocolate, sugar, or other plastic or silicone molds to shape butter. It is always a hit with my guests. I only have a vague recollection of last year since I was in a fog of sadness but I think I used a silicone mold to shape softened butter and then put it in the freezer.

Easy sleigh dessert

I had intended to make 3D sleighs in some ways similar to this. But it did not happen. So we improvised with this simple and equally delicious dessert. Sugar cookie, blueberries, and whipped cream.

I had an amazing year and have come so far since that reindeer meal. Too bad I could not have told that sad woman how awesome 2017 would be for her. I would have also told her that her somewhat “failed” meal would end up being a happy memory and reminder of how much her family loves her.

Note: If you decide to make some reindeer fly over your salad, I would love to see photos of it.

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Gingerbread House with Candy Cane Fountain

GingerbreadHouseStreamFountain

My 13 year old nephew made a gingerbread house at my place. I love how it turned out! He did not have any special candy requests, he said he wanted to use my leftovers (from my creation for the Eastman Sweet Creations). I think it is awesome how he reused what I had left (tree and reindeer). He even took an idea that I could not figure out – use a waffle cup bowl to make a fountain, and he made an awesome and easy fountain. My 19 year old niece and I were his assistants but he had the vision and did a majority of the work.

Template: Cakes by Catriona Gingerbread House Template

Gingerbread dough: Gingerbread dough recipe

Royal Icing: Royal Icing recipe

Gingerbread House Overview.jpg

Roof: Sour Jacks lemonade candy, Twizzlers, mini gum drops

Door: Pepperidge Farm Milano cookie

Pathway: Mini M&M’s

Stream: Large sanding sugar, rocks – broken Oreo cookies, fish – Swedish fish

Fountain: Waffle cone cup, royal icing, fine sanding sugar, candy canes, string licorice

Windows: Large sanding sugar, white chocolate mini Kit Kats (split in half for shutters), string licorice

Greenery: Spearmint leaves (some cut), royal icing covered ice cream cone

Gingerbread House Side

Gingerbread Reindeer Close.jpg

Gingerbread House 1

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2017 Gingerbread Sweet Creations

Row Houses Gingerbread

I am excited to have a gingerbread creation in a museum! I am part of the 2017 Sweet Creations at the Eastman Museum. This year there are 60 different submissions. I have visited this exhibit at least 5 times in the past with various combinations of nieces and nephews. I loved going this year with my 19 year old niece and 13 year old nephew to see the displays. It was special that mine was part of it. This is an example of you never know what will happen in the future. I could not have imagined 10 years ago that I would have a house in this exhibit.

These are just a small sample of the amazing creations made by people in the Rochester, NY area. I was surprised to see mine under glass (I guess if it is under glass depends on the location they decide to place it).  It is an impressive exhibit this year. If you will be in Rochester before December 13, 2017, make sure to go see it.

gingerbread sewing machine

Lights in windows gingerbread house

upside down ice cream cones gingerbread house

green roof gingerbread house

gingerbread quilt shop

gingerbread fireplace

gingerbread Casa di dolci

gingerbread firehouse

gingerbread church

gingerbread clock

Beauty and Beast Gingerbread House

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Gingerbread Row Houses

Row Houses at Christmas Gingerbread

My place smelled like gingerbread in October this year. I decided to enter a gingerbread house in Sweet Creations at the Eastman Museum.  In September, I was accepted as a participant. My gingerbread had to be delivered by November 1. The exhibit runs from November 3 until December 13.

Note: See the end of this post to get all of the details of what I used to make this.

paper model gingerbread row houses

I am not sure how I came up with the idea to do row houses. It was important for me to do something different from what I have done in the past. Somewhat recently I made an A-Frame and Tutor Bakery and I have built a Victorian with a turret in the past. I made my own templates and assembled simple paper models so I could get a feel for how it would look. I worked in a larger scale this year since the museum had a maximum size of 20 inches by 16 inches. My Dad cut a board sized 20 inches by 16 inches for me.

In the photo above you can see a glimpse of my current craft room. My companion calls it the “Forbidden Room” because it is often not as clutter-free as the rest of my place and when the room is not very organized, I keep the door closed.

I wanted my row houses to be 3 different colors – green, white and red for Christmas colors. I had considered flooding the pieces in each color with Royal Icing but decided that I wanted the aesthetic of the gingerbread look with only a little color. I thought it would be fun to use green, white, and red Tic-Tacs but it was very difficult to find red Tic-Tacs. I had to call around and found them at Walgreens.

poinsettia fondant with spearmint leaves

Poinsettias: I rolled out red fondant and cut out two mini star shapes with a mini cutter. I then lined them up askew and pushed together. I pressed mini decorating balls into the centers. I rolled spearmint leaf candy and cut with a mini leaf cutter. I put the poinsettias on the green house windows (14).

fondant spearmint leaves gingerbread house deco

Holly: I rolled spearmint leaf candy and cut with a mini holly leaf cutter. I rolled small balls of red fondant. I put the holly on the green house windows (14).

deco gingerbread row house walls

Candles: I found this tutorial. Mine are not as beautiful as in the tutorial but in context you get the idea. Since I put candles on the white house (in the middle), I only had to make 10 candles.

pumpkin seed, candy cane, almond gingerbread roof

This was my first time decorating the roof and sides before assembling. I would use this method again, it is much easier to decorate a horizontal wall. As usual it is best to leave a lot of time for drying when making gingerbread.

 

gingerbread house walls in progress

I thought that these pieces looked beautiful on my coffee table. My living room and dining room was full of gingerbread making supplies. It was an organized, sweet smelling mess for awhile.

topless gingerbread houses

This was the assembled houses before roofs and landscaping. My companion helped me assemble the houses. It was much easier having two extra hands while attaching the walls to the base and to each other.

Santa Sleigh gingerbread

I had trouble with one of my reindeer. It got soft and fell into the snow (Royal Icing). When I picked it up, it’s head fell off and it’s feet remained in the snow. I had to re-bake a reindeer and replace before bringing my gingerbread to the museum. I also worried about some of my house pieces getting soft (maybe because I made them during rainy days in October?) but they seemed to recover.

outside wall of row houses gingerbread

Each time I make gingerbread houses, I get better but I am still not great about hiding where I attach the walls with the Royal Icing. I probably should just plan on attaching something afterwards to hide it since I get a little nervous and use too much Royal Icing.

gingerbread row houses doors close

My 19 year old niece helped me attach the roofs, and do the final decorating and landscaping. It was her wonderful idea to make house numbers. They are fondant with food coloring markers.

landscape layout gingerbread house

This is a layout of Santa’s sleigh and the park before assembling. I had wanted to make a fountain using a waffle cone bowl. My niece and I played with a few ideas but could not figure out a fast way to make it. The following week, my 13 year old nephew figured it out and put it near his gingerbread house.

row houses gingerbread under glass at museum

Here are my row houses at the Eastman Museum!

Gingerbread Recipe: I used this recipe.

Royal Icing Recipe: I did not want to deal with cracking and separating eggs so I used this recipe which uses Meringue Powder. It hardens fast and in works very well.

Green House

  • Wintergreen Tic-Tac’s
  • Windows – black fondant, shutters – RIPS rainbow licorice
  • Poinsettia’s – red fondant cut 2 with mini star cutter, silver dragees, spearmint leaves gumdrops rolled with rolling pin and cut with a mini leaf cutter
  • Door – Pepperidge Farm Milano cookie – frame – mini M&M’s, knob – Celebration pearls candy, door step – Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars
  • House Number – white fondant with food coloring marker
  • Roof – pumpkin seeds

White House

  • Freshmints Tic-Tac’s
  • Windows – black fondant, shutters – white fondant rolled in sanding sugar
  • Candles – white and red fondant, RIPS rainbow licorice
  • Door – Pepperidge Farm Milano cookie – frame – Celebration pearls candy, knob – Celebration pearls candy, doorstep – Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars
  • House Number – white fondant with food coloring marker
  • Roof – sliced almonds

Red House

  • Mixers Cherry & Cola Tic-Tac’s
  • Windows – black fondant, shutters – RIPS rainbow licorice
  • Holly – spearmint leaves gumdrops rolled with rolling pin and cut with a mini holly leaf cutter, berries red fondant, Door – Pepperidge Farm Milano cookie – frame – mini M&M’s, knob – Celebration pearls candy, doorstep – Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars
  • House Number – white fondant with food coloring marker
  • Roof – crushed candy canes

Santa’s Sleigh

  • Sleigh – Gold sanding sugar pressed into royal icing
  • Presents – mini white chocolate Kit-Kats covered with royal icing
  • Santa’s seat – chocolate bar
  • Reindeer – mini M&M’s, Sugar Pearls

Park

  • Trees – sugar ice cream cones with royal icing
  • Benches – chocolate bar with royal icing
  • Path – crushed Oreo cookies
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Cheesy Broccoli Rice for Lunch

Alligator Cheese Rice Lunch

I made these lunches for my companion and myself. I quickly made them a little cute with cookie cutters and cheese.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Alligator – cheddar cheese cut with a cookie cutter, broccoli rice – mix cooked rice with cooked broccoli, shredded cheddar cheese, and chopped water chestnuts

Top Right: Kiwi

Bottom Right: Black beans, frozen corn, salsa

WhaleCheeseRiceLunch

Container: Book Bento Box

Contents: Whale – cheddar cheese cut with a cookie cutter, broccoli rice – mix cooked rice with cooked broccoli, shredded cheddar cheese, and chopped water chestnuts, black beans, frozen corn, salsa

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