Gingerbread House with Graham Crackers

Tips and tricks to making gingerbread houses with royal icing and graham crackers.

Building and decorating gingerbread houses is one of my cherished childhood memories from the holidays. It was aways so much fun and such a mess! 😆 I knew it and that’s why the last couple of years I’ve picked up one of the easy kits that comes with everything you need. Super convenient for sure, especially with a baby in the house! But this year we wanted to give it a go with graham crackers and homemade royal icing. And yes, it was a mess but SO worth it! P was more proud then she’d ever been about her house and J loved picking his sprinkles and sneaking extra icing. Here’s how we made our village!

Royal Frosting

Homemade royal icing worked so much better than any of the frosting packets that come with the kits. It’s easier to spread and dries much quicker.

Ingredients

3 cups /360 grams confectioners sugar

2 large egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Combine sugar, eggs and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl and whip until stiff and glossy. Transfer to popping bag or bottles. Keep covered when you’re not using it.

Building the Houses

We made one large house and a few little houses in our village. I think part of the process is playing around with the graham crackers to see what works and what doesn’t. This what made it easier for us:

We used blocks to support the walls of our house while we spread on the icing. We eventually switched to piping bags and bottles.

Pipe or spread icing on the sides of the cracker before putting it on the house.

I think we’re ready for some dry wall work 😝

The based dried for about 40 minutes before we put on the roof. Using whole graham crackers for the roof worked really well.

For our little houses we used 3 whole crackers snapped in half. If it were just my 2.5 year old, I would make these little houses every time. They are quick to dry and just enough space to decorate without loosing interest.

Decorating

Now the fun part 😂 Each little elf got a bottle of icing and decorated away. I helped J with spreading the icing and he loved to choose which sprinkle to use. P worked happily with her house on a spinning cake stand. Her biggest success was using mini candy canes to make a door and decorating the cake stand with gumdrops and chocolates.

As the years go by, I look forward to seeing how the they change and create a unique house every time! I don’t think I’ll ever go back to buying the kits.

If you make a house like ours we’d love to see it! Share your gingerbread house creations #junebugbakerslove

Happy building!!

Xoxo

June Bug Bakers

Chocolate Pretzel Jingle Sticks

We are so portable these days, with remote work and school, that we decided to spent the week after Thanksgiving at a cabin in our nearby mountains. In between school and hiking I wanted a fun and easy activity to feel festive at the start of December. The fact that we made these in a kitchen not our own proves how easy it is 🤣 So if you like chocolate covered pretzels and your kiddos like (love:) sprinkles, make these. It’s a perfect holiday activity for age preschool and up!

From start to finish it took us about 30 minutes, plus time for the chocolate to set. I melted the chocolate over LOW heat on the stove, stirring often and watching carefully that it didn’t burn. Once it’s smooth and warm (about 10 minutes) it’s ready to pour into a tall glass. We used 6oz of chocolate melts for about 12-15 pretzel rods.

I set up a spot with wax paper for both Penny and Jack. They shared the tall glass of melted chocolate to dip the pretzels. Penny worked pretty independently. I helped Jack with the chocolate while he enjoyed testing and playing with the sprinkles.

Let us know if you make your own Jingle Sticks! Share a picture on Instagram and tag us @junebugbakers #junebugbakersjinglesticks

Oh and don’t forget the hot cocoa! Happy December!!

Xoxo

June Bug Bakers

Smoothie Breakfast Bowl

A perfect breakfast for a summer heat wave. These refreshing bowls are made with a blend of frozen cherries, pomegranate arils, strawberries, and blueberries. Fruits high in antioxidants and packed with nutrients. It also tastes amazing!

Making a Breakfast Bowl with Your Little Baker

This is an Easy Easy Lemon Squeezy treat to make together. We get our frozen mixed antioxidant fruit blend from Sprouts. P measures all the ingredients with me, dumps everything in the blender and loves pushing the buttons. Top the bowls with anything you have in the pantry – granola, coconut, almonds, and even more fruit! This recipe makes 6 cups. We froze the extra and defrosted it in the refrigerator overnight to enjoy the next morning.

How we Blended it

Smoothie Breakfast Bowl

Blend Together:
12 oz frozen antioxidant fruit blend: blueberries, sweet cherries, pomegranate arils + strawberries
6 oz frozen blueberries
1 banana
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey

Toppings:
Granola
Coconut
Strawberries
Chai seeds

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Strawberry Peach Yogurt Smoothie

We love smoothies or ‘smoovies’ as some say 😉 This recipe for a yogurt fruit smoothie is perfect for little ones in the kitchen. Plus it’s packed with protein and sweetened by honey. We used strawberries we froze earlier this summer and bought frozen peaches. The recipes makes 2 full servings but it stretches to about 4 servings for little kids.

How We made it

Strawberry Peach Yogurt Smoothie

Serves 2

Ingredients
1 cup frozen strawberries
1.5 cups frozen Peaches
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 milk or almond milk

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until liquefied. You might need to pause and push the frozen fruit down towards the blade. Adjust milk as needed.

Almond butter + flaxseed granola bars

Snacks are kind of a big deal. And it’s not just the toddler and preschooler, I love a little afternoon bite to hold me over until dinner. These easy no-bake granola bars are super tasty and packed with protein and nutrients.

I started eating flaxseed meal to increase supply while I was nursing and it worked wonders. Aside from that, flaxseed also contains essential fatty acids and is a great source of vitamins. The flavor works really well alongside the almond butter to provide some extra fuel for your day. Both of my kids devour them.

Baking tips by age

I would usually break down some baking tips by age but really these are just so simple any age can measure, pour and mix up this tasty treat. We found it helpful to use a big spoon to scoop the granola from the mixing bowl to the square pan. You can even have fun switching up the coconut and chocolate chips for your favorite add-ins, like nuts or dried fruit. I like to ground nuts so they are easy chewing for little mouths.

How we baked it

Almond Butter + Flaxseed Granola Bars

Hands on 20 minutes | Freezer 1 hour
Makes 16 bars in 9 inch pan

Ingredients

2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup flaxseed meal
1 cup almond butter or peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Combine oats and flaxseed meal in large bowl.
  2. Add nut butter and honey.
  3. Mix until oats are well coated.
  4. Mix in coconut and chocolate chips.
  5. Place in 9 inch square baking pan lined with parchment paper.
  6. Press well into the bottom and sides of pan.
  7. Freeze for 1 hour
  8. Remove granola bars from baking pan by pulling up on corners of the parchment paper.
  9. Place parchment paper on cutting board and cut granola into 16 squares.

Notes:
Granola bars can be kept in the refrigerator for about a week.
To transport, wrap bars in parchment paper and place in small bag or container.

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Fruity Firecracker Pops

These festive popsicles are packed with fresh fruit and lots of flavor. If you have ripe strawberries, blueberries and limes you likely have the rest of the ingredients in your kitchen.

You can layer each flavor red, white, and blue or for less of a hassle (and an equally patriotic look) make multiple single flavor pops. Adjusting the flavor is the fun part! We like ours sour so we added extra lime juice and a little less sugar. Have fun taste testing and adjusting to get your perfect combination.

Baking Tips By Age

2-4 years: Let them pour measured ingredients into the blender. Watching the blender jumble fruit is usually entertaining. At this age Penny liked playing around with the popcicle molds in between steps. Placing the sticks into the molds is another great job for a little baker.

5-7 years: We have this set of kids kitchen knives and it’s perfect for cutting the strawberries into smaller pieces. They can also help measuring and pouring ingredients into the blender. This time Penny loved pushing the button on the blender.

How we made it

Firecracker Fruit Pops

All colors combined fills about 6 of these Popsicle molds, plus 8 small ring pops.

Ingredients

Red Layer:
About 2 cups (12 oz) red fruit – this time we used strawberries and watermelon but raspberries also work
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice

White Layer:
1 cup greek yogurt or whole milk yogurt
4½ tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 to 3 tablespoon fresh lime juice, depending on how sour you like it.

Blue Layer:
About 2 cups blueberries
1 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice

Directions

  1. If using strawberries and watermelon cut into bite size pieces.
  2. Add red layer ingredients to blender and purée.
  3. Pour red layer into popsicle molds 1/3 of the way. For our molds it’s about 2 TBSP for each layer.
  4. Put red layer in the freezer to solidify, about 20 minutes.
  5. Combine white lime layer in bowl, mix and set aside.
  6. Rise out blender.
  7. Add blue layer ingredients to blender and puree. Set aside.
  8. Add white layer to popsicle mold and freeze, about 20 minutes.
  9. Add blue layer to mold and place popsicle sticks.
  10. Freeze until solid, about 5 hours.
  11. When ready to enjoy, run your popsicle molds under warm water to loosen.

A couple of other notes, depending on how crisp you want your lines, you may need to wipe away extra filling from the sides of the molds. If your little baker is helping pour the molds and it blends together, don’t even sweat it, ours ended up looking pretty cool!

Happy 4th of July!

Bugs and kisses,

June Bug Bakers