Want to know something I’ve never baked from scratch?

by Kristen on December 21, 2012 · 24 comments

in Reviews

Yup. Never done a gingerbread house from scratch.

I didn’t really grow up making gingerbread houses, so they’re not something I think of baking.

But occasionally I buy one on a deep after-Christmas clearance sale and then we end up assembling a gingerbread house in January or February.

Aldi sent me a gingerbread house kit this year, though, so for the first time ever, my kids made a gingerbread house in December. ;)

Our kit came in the mail, so one of the side pieces was cracked. But no worries-we fixed it up with some frosting and decided our gingerbread house was the rustic sort, with charming cracks. ;)

The kit from Aldi is $5.99, which is significantly cheaper than anywhere else I’ve seen, and it’s exactly the same as kits we’ve tried from other stores.

It may possibly be cheaper to bake one from scratch, but it’s also quite likely that it’s not, given that you’d probably have to buy multiple full bags of candy.

And if like me, you’re not especially motivated to bake a gingerbread house from scratch, you’d probably love this kit.

I’m sure a homemade gingerbread house would taste better, but hey, if I’m going for flavor, soft and chewy gingersnaps are where I’m headed. For house-building purposes, stiff, cracker-like gingerbread does just fine.

Oh, and thank you all so much for your helpful vacuum comments yesterday! I appreciate it muchly. It sounds like Dyson and Miele vacuums have lasted really well for you, as have some older model vacuums (and the odd Kirby….one reader said hers is 38 years old!!) The Miele I’m looking at is around the same price as the Dyson, and it sounds like I need to venture into that price range to get one that’s going to last me for more than a few years.

I plan to get a new vacuum after Christmas (my carpets can hang in there til then!) and I’ll let you guys know how it all turns out.

Also, before I go, I wanted to remind you that I’ve got two giveaways going that end on 12/31.

It’ll probably be pretty quiet around here until after Christmas, as I’ll be busy finishing up preparations and then enjoying some down time with my family.

So, in case I don’t see you before then, Merry Christmas!

_______________________________

Joshua’s 365 post: Unknown

disclosure: Aldi sent me a gingerbread house kit, but I was not compensated for this post and all words and opinions are my own.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lisa December 21, 2012 at 7:45 am

My family does gingerbread houses every year as a Christmas activity or craft. I also bought one at Michaels onsale w coupon, but this year tried something different. I used graham crackers so that everyone had their own to decorate. Also, my child is not a big candy eater, so I save all the candy through-out the year to decorate. It is amazing how candy hearts and jelly beans really make the house ‘snap’! I had never done them as a child, but it is sure a fun activity and a way to use up old candy. Oh yes, and by the way, we NEVER eat our gingerbread houses…by the time the holidays are over with the dust, etc it never was appealing! Have a great Christmas and terrific New Year!

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2 Becky December 21, 2012 at 7:56 am

We are planning to make our ginger bread house today too! We were gifted ours earlier (much earlier!) this year, so it will be super stale, but we’re not planning on eating it anyway!

I don’t remember ever seeing ginger bread houses as a girl growing up in England, but I love this activity! Although now you are inspiring me to bake some gingersnaps to accompany our ginger bread house construction project!

Happy Holidays Kristen! Hope you and your loved ones have a ‘marvy-fab’ Christmas :-)

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3 nicoleandmaggie December 21, 2012 at 8:30 am

We went to a gingerbread house party last weekend. It was amazing. The woman in charge had made something like 30 gingerbread houses from scratch (she had special cookie cutters and glued them together with a sugar syrup), and they were delicious (and adorable). The guests all brought frosting or candy.

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4 Kristen December 21, 2012 at 8:31 am

I bow to your friend! ;)

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5 Reese December 21, 2012 at 12:54 pm

This could be a fun thing for your kiddos and friends! What if you just did cookies or ornaments for a party? Have your kids invite a friend each (or two… depending how sane youd like to be). Each kid brings a candy. They all share..and decorate.

Funnnnn :D

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6 Leigh Ann December 27, 2012 at 11:25 am

We have a gingerbread house decorating party every year. We make the houses and the guests bring the candy. They really are not hard to make! And the homemade gingerbread smells great and is really Cheap to make. This year we made 9 houses. One of the secrets is to freeze the pieces before assembly. We have found that using melted white chocolate is best for gluing the house together and royal icing (made with egg whites) for decorating.

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7 Christine December 21, 2012 at 8:41 am

Hi,

I will be making Lisey’s Lemon bars today and wondered if they can be frozen?

Sorry my comment is unrelated to today’s post but I don’t know if you see new comments on an older post.

Love your blog,
Christine

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8 Kristen December 21, 2012 at 9:52 am

I think the take two recipe we posted can be frozen. I’m a little more unsure about the first one we posted-with the thicker lemon filling. I’m thinking the eggy, lemony filling wouldn’t hold up well in the freezer.

I do see new comments on old posts on Lisey’s blog and mine, so feel free to comment wherever!

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9 Julie December 21, 2012 at 8:57 am

You can always sweep your carpets with a broom. When I worked in restaurants, that is how we swept the rugs. And that’s what I did when my vacuum died before. Good luck!

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10 Molly December 21, 2012 at 9:09 am

I think one year in the future, when we are in a house situation that is conducive to hosting, we’re going to throw a gingerbread house party. But I’m going to cheat and use graham crackers and maybe hot glue.

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11 Kim C December 21, 2012 at 9:54 am

I had to smile when I read that you buy yours on after Christmas sales. I buy mine for around $1 every year after Christmas, but we don’t make them in
Jan or Feb. I save it until the next Christmas and we make it in December.
No one could eat even a fresh one from a kit because they are cement hard and dusty by the time Christmas is over anyway. We just use last year’s kit
and call it a big day. My kids love this activity.

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12 Michelle December 21, 2012 at 10:19 am

We use graham crackers. (And frosting, not hot glue, because the kids will eat every crumb.) And we get odds and end of fun candies from the bulk bins at WinCo ( a grocery store that sounds like it’s a low-end version of Aldi’s). We made them from scratch one year and, besides having it take forever to roll/cut/bake them, it’s super hard to get them exactly perfect so they are structurally sound!

We have a really basic vacuum cleaner, but it’s made with metal parts, not plastic, so we expect it to last just about forever.

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13 Liz Botts December 21, 2012 at 11:01 am

We make houses out of graham crackers and store bought frosting. This year we had leftover frosting from decorating sugar cookies so we used that. Each kid can do what they want with their house. My oldest made his two stories this year. lol. I also buy candy at our local candy store. It lets me buy just the right amount for a low price plus I support a local business. Win-win-win. :)

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14 Liz Botts December 21, 2012 at 11:01 am

We make houses out of graham crackers and store bought frosting. This year we had leftover frosting from decorating sugar cookies so we used that. Each kid can do what they want with their house. My oldest made his two stories this year. lol. I also buy candy at our local candy store. It lets me buy just the right amount for a low price plus I support a local business. Win-win-win. :)

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15 Kris December 21, 2012 at 11:49 am

One of my friends told me she had a miserable time making a pre-fab gingerbread house with her son, so I’ve been scared away from them … however, since this seems to be a big hit with other families, maybe I’ll try it now that my kids are older. We don’t go back to school till January 7 so maybe I can score one on sale and it can be a fun activity toward the end of Christmas vacation.

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16 Sandy in NJ December 21, 2012 at 12:05 pm

My 9 year old son and I have made Aldi kit gingerbread houses the last three years. The plastic tray makes the construction part easy and he can pretty much do it all himself now. They’ve always been the cheapest ones I could find and we’ve been happy with them, although the kit has shrunk a little each year. They used to have trees and either snowmen or gingerbread men. That’s my only complaint.

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17 Tara December 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I wasn’t near my computer yesterday to weigh in and I am an owner of Miele for about 8 years. I love the vacuum except the bags are quite expensive…something to consider.

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18 Grammomsblog December 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm

For the first time, my daughter-in-law made a gingerbread house from scratch. We even used freshly ground ginger. It was a lot of fun for my grown kids to decorate it with an assortment of candy.

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19 WilliamB December 21, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Construction gingerbread tastes terrible, no matter the source. The amount of flour needed to make it stiff, and the relative lack of fat to make it stiff and defer decomposition, are not compatible w/ tastiness.

I’ve never bought a kit. I can bake the gingerbread but the two times I’ve tried to construct a house with it, the house was fit only to be condemned. So I buy pre-built or not at all. Somehow I’m never short of candy…

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20 Kristen December 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm

That’s a good point…it has to be kind of crackery no matter what, even if you make it from scratch.

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21 KalynBrooke | Creative Savings December 21, 2012 at 11:22 pm

I’ve never done one either, but think it would be fun. :)

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22 Economies of Kale December 22, 2012 at 7:23 am

The only time I have ever made a “gingerbread” house was when my family lived in the US and I made it out of graham crackers (which we don’t have in Australia). It was so easy and looked great.

My sister has tried making them from scratch and they do have a rustic look about them. We always have problems eating them since we don’t have a lot of little kids around any more.

Merry Christmas to you and your family Kristen :)

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23 Cheryl S. December 22, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Kristen — A comment on vacuum cleaners (I haven’t read all of the comments so I apologize if this topic has been addressed). You need to decide if you want a bag or bagless. I must have a bag because I do not want the dust going back into the air even in the garage. Evidently many people feel the same way AFTER buying a bagless such as Dyson. I know this because if you go into a high end distributor shop for bagged vacuums they might have tons of relatively brand new Dyson’s or other bagless vacuums that people traded in. So if you want bagless I would go there for a barely used one. Last time I was in my neighborhood vacuum store (I have a Riccar) the owner had about 40 Dyson’s lined up for resale and he warrantees them. He does not sell Dyson they were traded in for Riccars. Just a thought.

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24 Elaine in Ark December 24, 2012 at 11:30 am

I have a bagless, and I empty the canister this way:

1. On the patio

2. Holding up one edge of a garbage bag

3. Holding the top of the canister with that hand, so that the canister is in the bag

4. Open the bottom of the canister with my other hand, which is outside of the bag

5. Pull the dog hair out of the canister with the hand that is outside of the bag, so all the dirt will come out

6. Bang on the canister with that same hand to shake out all the dirt that’s still in the cylinder

I still remember the vacuum cleaner we had when I was a child. It had runners to pull it along, a cloth hose which connected to the body of the vacuum and came loose all the time, and a cloth bag that caught the dust. We had to go out on the porch to empty that bag into a paper bag, then we had to shake the bag in the air, to get as much dust out as possible. Our hands and arms would be covered with dust, and if the wind was blowing the wrong way, we’d choke on the dust. It was awful! My new canister model isn’t nearly that bad, and I’m not wasting a lot of money on disposable bags any more.

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