Tag Archives: gingerbread

How to Make Zombie Gingerbread Ornaments

Inspiration for me comes from the strangest places … this year for Christmas I decided that I would make some lovely felted ornaments, in the shape of gingerbread men. Then I thought how cute it would be if the ornaments had “bite” marks in them; I had seen a set of cookie cutters a year or so ago, in the shape of “half eaten” gingerbread men, and thought they were hilarious.

So on a slow evening I retreated to my sewing room, sat down with a piece of cardboard, some brown felt, and various odds and sods and within two hours I had made my first three “zombie gingerbread” ornaments. (Hmmm … I seemed to have missed a step … OH, did I mention I was watching “The Walking Dead” at the time? No? Well, I was. Great show.) It wasn’t that much of a mental stretch, to be honest … half-eaten gingerbread men … back for revenge … zombie gingerbread.

Supplies needed:

  • Cardboard
  • Fine tip black marker
  • 1-2 yards of brown felt (depending on how many ornaments you decide to make)
  • cotton batting for stuffing
  • sharp scissors
  • sewing machine
  • needle for hand sewing (if desired)
  • (for decorating) rick rack, ribbon, buttons, fabric paint

The first step is to decide how big you want your half-eaten gingerbread ornament to be … I think up to about 5-6 inches long is good, and about 3-4 inches across…this will make the figure large enough to add enough gory detail, but small enough so that they will not instantly be noticed when visitors come to admire your tree. My little guy below is about 6.5 inches long and about 4.5 inches across.

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Figure 1

Trace a basic gingerbread figure, with missing appendages, on a piece of cardboard, (Figure 1). This will allow you to use the pattern over and over again without the pattern getting ripped and torn. Along one of the sides of the figure, make two notches to indicate where you will leave the seam open to lightly stuff the figure with some cotton batting.

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Figure 2

Place your pattern onto a piece of brown felt, and trace the pattern with a fine tip black marker, (Figure 2). The outline should be just barely visible on the felt; this will help when you go to sew the felt together. Place the traced felt piece on top of another piece of felt, and pin the two segments together, with the outlined piece on top (Figure 3).

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Figure 3

Using your sewing machine, sew the two pieces of felt together, following the outline of the gingerbread figure, (Figure 4).

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Figure 4

Take special care around the “bite marks” … lift up the presser foot and adjust the material as needed to get the best bite impression. By the time I did the third ornament it was super easy. Also remember to leave a small opening along the side to stuff … (Figure 5)

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Figure 5

Once the felt pieces are sewn together, use a sharp pair of scissors to cut around the outline…try to cut as close as possible to the seam. (Figure 6)

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Figure 6

You now have a half-eaten gingerbread figure. Now all it needs is a little stuffing, (Figure 7), and a hook for hanging (Figure 8). When you stuff your zombie ornament with batting, you may also want to leave a little hanging out, like entrails. (Remember, not TOO much stuffing…most gingerbread men are fairly flat when they come out of the oven. Use just enough stuffing to give it a bit of a body).

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Figure 7
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Figure 8

You now have a blank slate in front of you. It’s time to unleash your inner zombie freak! For my first attempt I stuck with the very simple-to-use 3D paint markers. These are fabric pens that give a great 3D effect, and are SO easy to handle. If you are making zombie gingerbread you will most assuredly need the following colours; red (blood), white, black, green (gangrene), and perhaps a little yellow (gangrene/pus). Just remember to let the paint dry for a day.

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If you are more creative, you could also hand-sew scraps of rick rack or ribbon to simulate a zombie gingerbread man’s torn “clothes”, a spare black button for an eye…the possibilities are endless.

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One last note…zombies need a victim to chase, so it doesn’t matter how many gingerbread zombies you make…remember to make a terrified looking victim or two!!

gingerbread zombie

Healthy Halloween Treats – It Doesn’t Have To Be Candy To Be Delicious

If buckets full of candy at Halloween leave you shuddering and your dentist rubbing his hands in glee, then you need to get into healthy Halloween treats for your kids. Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it’s tasteless or that your neighbourhood kids will shun your home during ‘Trick or Treat’. Healthy eating and healthy treats can be just as much fun as store bought candy, as well as being a lot easier on your pocket and your health.

These treats are great for a Halloween party you are hosting, for a school snack, or to give out to the kids and their parents you know (give packaged goodies to trick or treaters you aren’t familiar with.)

Yummy Mini Pizza Mummies

mummy pizza

Image Credit

Pizza is always a treat, and you can make mini pizzas that are healthy and look scarily like the head of a mummy. Spoon a small amount pizza sauce onto small rounds of pizza dough and use small olive slices to make the eyes. The mummification of the mini pizza comes in the careful placement of cheese strips across the ‘face’ to resemble the mummy wrapping. You can make up a tray of Pizza Mummies and bake them in an oven at 350ºF for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is all melted.

The great thing about making healthy treats is that your kids can help you in the kitchen and your Halloween festivities can turn into a fun filled afternoon of cooking with Mom.

Frightening Freaky Cheese Fingers

monster fingers

Image Credit

A real spooky treat that children will gobble up in seconds. Using a white cheese like Mozzarella is perfect for this Halloween treat. Cut finger sized sections of Mozzarella cheese and carefully carve out the lines to represent the joints below the nail and the first knuckle. An adult should always perform this task, as you’ll want to use a sharp paring knife to get the best effect. Cut a small ‘finger nail’ out of a green pepper and use a dab of cream cheese to stick it onto your cheese finger. Absolutely a smash hit with kids and the only drawback is you’ll probably run out of them quickly!

The Phantom Toast

This is probably the simplest healthy Halloween treat ever. You can’t have a Halloween party without ghosts, or in this case toasts! Simply toast some bread and cut out a ghost shape when it is cool. Lather on some cream cheese and add a couple of olive sections for the oval mouth and scary eyes. Kids love working on this one as much as they love eating their ghost shapes.

‘Dem Bones, ‘Dem Bones…

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Image Credit

If you’re looking for sweet treats that are still healthy, and want to avoid cake and other candy, then why not meet in the middle with Skeleton Gingerbread. You can buy gingerbread cookie dough or even ask your bakery to create you a batch of gingerbread shapes without any decoration on them. When you get them home, you can use white icing or frosting and then pipe a skeleton onto the gingerbread for a sweet but relatively healthy treat.

Caring for your children means watching what they eat all of the time. You can create wonderful healthy treats for any holiday celebration. Getting your kids involved in the kitchen with you means so much more than a quick trip to the candy store to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Not Just a Gingerbread House… It’s HAUNTED!!

 

Image credit: thehometeacher.org

A big thank you to guest contributor Ruth Randall for this spooky and tasty tutorial!

Decorating gingerbread houses is fun anytime of the year, but at Halloween it’s even better, because the more mistakes the better…. er, spookier it is!

Here’s my method of making a haunted gingerbread house.

Before You Begin

We’re going to make this one from scratch. The good thing about making a gingerbread house from scratch is that the cookie dough obligingly comes out looking decrepit and well used – just like a broken-down haunted house should look.

(Note: if you’re really pressed for time, start out with a basic house kit. You can modify the front gable to be longer/taller, and you’re good to go!)

Plan an entire afternoon for your gingerbread house, and be prepared for a grand time with the kids. Let’s go!

Haunted Gingerbread House Materials

  • Baking parchment
  • Candy pieces (woohoo!) – follow our basics or substitute your favorites
  • Decorating bags and tips 
  • A big apron
  • House pattern on cardboard (an old cereal box will work)
  • A free afternoon
  • A haunted house kit or basic house kit, if you’ll be going this route

Gingerbread:

  • 3 cups basic white flour (whole wheat is not recommended for houses)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 egg, beaten

Icing:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 6 cups confectioners sugar
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar

Make Your Gingerbread House Pattern

haunted_houseSimple house patterns can be found on the internet, or by browsing through clipart images for Halloween houses to find a shape you like.

To use my haunted house on the right, click on it for the full image. The shape in the guide is for the front and back of the house. Then measure rectangular walls and roofs with the measurements in the document.

Take the house shape you like and enlarge it to fill an 8-1/2” x 11” page. From there you may have to adjust angles or the height/width, by tracing it onto another sheet of paper so that it is just right.

Cut the pattern out of paper and then trace it onto poster board or light-weight cardboard (like a cereal box). Making a pattern out of paper won’t survive the first cut. Do this:

  1. Cut 2 of the shapes for the front and back.
  2. Decide how deep the house should be and mark that out along with the height of the wall to match.
  3. Cut out two rectangles for the roof pieces. Remember to make them large so they overhang, but not so large that the house can’t bear its weight.

Cooking the Gingerbread Pieces

Tips

  • Before baking, decide if this house is going to be eaten or not; the baking time will be different, as well as the appearance of the house. I suggest making additional cookies to eat instead of trying to eat the house.
  • Try to assemble the house before the kids are around. At this point they won’t be interested or of much help. It also means the house will be set and have less chance of collapsing while it’s being decorated.

Baking Instructions

  1. Turn your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients, then mix in the wet. I like the recipe above – it’s a trial and error modification from gingerbread cookies – but the basic cookie recipe is shown at the end of this article. Go with what you’re most comfortable with.
  3. Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment. I use parchment because it can be slid right onto the baking sheet- no moving house pieces and risking accidents or shape changes.
  4. Now it’s time to cut out the patterns! Sprinkle flour over the dough before laying down the pattern so that they lift up easier. Place your cardboard shape pieces on top and cut the patterns out right on the parchment. Lift away and clean and use your shapes next year.
  5. Slip the cut dough on a baking sheet and place in a hot oven.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. About 8 minutes through baking, take it out to re-cut the pattern pieces. This helps to keep the shapes the size they are supposed to be as they finish baking. (Or cut and separate them in the first place, but be very careful. Usually I just slowly peel away the dough between the shapes.) When done, remove from oven.

gingerbread-dough gingerbread-shapes

If the pattern is complicated, it is also very helpful in identifying which pattern piece is which. The pattern I used had several different pieces that were very similar. I labeled them with letters and then wrote the letters on the parchment before baking. It was very handy as they cooled!

Once they are done, let them cool.

Icing Your Haunted Gingerbread House

gingerbread-decorationsUsing the recipe above, start by adding 1 cup of sugar to the other ingredients, adding one cup of sugar at a time while mixing. Whip this together for about 5 minutes and voila! Gingerbread house cement. Seriously.

Cover the mix with a damp towel so it does not dry out. You can also use 2 t of water and 2 t of powdered egg whites or meringue if you don’t want to use egg whites.

Then, feed it into a thick plastic bag with a small hole cut at the end.

There are two schools of thought about how to ice a gingerbread house: pre-assembly and post-assembly. I’ve done it both ways, and the only difference is how perfect the house looks.

Last year’s house was iced post-assembly and we were dismayed to see the windows run and drip. But in the end it had a rather eerie effect that we liked. Icing before putting the house together makes details much easier., but young kids may not be as interested, because … well, it doesn’t yet look like a haunted house!

You can also check out Pinterest for decoration ideas. I do!

Our haunted house, built from scatch!
Our haunted house, built from scatch!

What if You Don’t Have Time to Do it From Scratch?

Yes, creating your gingerbread from scratch can take a while, especially if you aren’t set up for cookie decorating with bags and equipment. Luckily, that’s where kits come in.

A kit comes with pre-cooked house shapes, icing, candy, and the decorating bags and tips. The kit I bought this year had bat candy – and it was already assembled. I just needed to decorate it.

It doesn’t get much easier than that!

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Commercial haunted gingerbread house
Commercial haunted gingerbread house