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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pineapple Cheese Ball

Here's a simple little recipe for a festive looking and tasty Pineapple Cheese Ball.  With cream cheese on sale, at wonderfully low prices this time of the year, it is so much cheaper to make your own cheese ball than buy one at the grocery store.  And, I find, the homemade cheese balls are so much tastier than the purchased ones.  This Pineapple Cheese Ball is mild tasting but if you'd like it a little nippier add ½ cup of grated old or sharp cheddar cheese to the mixture. 

Party cheese balls are oldies, for sure, as most people my age will remember them from the 1970s and '80s, but if they tasted good back then they will taste good now!  And they're still in the stores around Christmas and especially New Year's Eve.  Served with an assortment of party crackers they make a dandy little appetizer. (But I've known some to make a meal out of them!)

Make the Pineapple Cheese Ball mixture the day before or at least early the day of serving to let all the flavours meld together.  If you want the nuts to remain crunchy, roll the ball in the chopped nuts shortly before serving. 

Pineapple Cheese Ball
1- 8 oz. package cream cheese
⅔ cup crushed pineapple, well drained after measuring
2 tablespoons chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
¼ teaspoon seasoned salt
½ cup finely chopped pecans*

Soften cream cheese by leaving it out of the refrigerator at room temperature for several hours.   Mix with pineapple, green pepper, green onions and seasoned salt and combine well.  Cover and place in refrigerator to chill.  When mixture is cold roll into a ball and cover with chopped pecans. Serve with assorted crackers.  

Makes 1 cheese ball, about 2 cups of mixture. 

*If for some reason you cannot eat nuts, omit them and pack the mixture in a nice serving bowl and serve with crackers as you would the cheese ball

Drain the pineapple very well by pressing it against the strainer.   If it still seems wet, squeeze it to remove as much juice as you can.

If the cream cheese is soft enough you can mix it by hand just as easily as using a mixer.  Once the cream cheese is soft mix in the remaining ingredients, except the nuts, and place in the refrigerator  to chill. 

Form the well chilled cheese mixture into a ball.  You may find it easier to handle if you are wearing latex or plastic gloves.  

Roll the cheese ball in the chopped pecans and place on a pretty serving dish.  I toasted the pecans for about 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven before chopping. 

Surround the Pineapple Cheese Ball with your favourite crackers.  I used wheat thins, vegetable crackers and onion crackers.  Place a cheese spreader on the plate and dig in.

Yum...smooth and crunchy in every bite.
All dressed up and ready for the party!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Russian Tea Cakes

Snowy white, tender, nutty shortbread cookies make a toothsome treat at Christmas time. Russian Tea Cakes are known by several other names--Mexican Wedding Cakes, Snowballs, Melting Moments and I suppose another dozen or so names.  It doesn't matter what they're called because they are so melt-in-your-mouth GOOD! 

I wasn't long married when I came across this recipe in my old red Betty Crocker Cookbook.  I was hooked at the first bite.  Oh my, they were so good.  I really like nuts in cookies and cakes and these just hit the spot for me.

Aunt Cora also loved these.  She would request them at Christmas and kept them under lock and key so no one else could eat them.  She'd dole them out and have one every day until they were gone.  When you taste them you'll know why she did! 

Russian Tea Cakes
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2¼ cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup finely chopped nuts,walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, etc...your favourite

Extra icing sugar for rolling the cookies.  

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line an ungreased cookie sheet with parchment paper if you wish. 

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together.  Gradually work in the flour, salt and chopped nuts until the mixture holds together.  Shape dough in 1-inch balls and place on the ungreased or parchment lined pan.

Bake 10-12 minutes until golden.  Don't let these brown.  

While cookies are still warm, roll in the extra icing sugar.  The heat from the cookies will melt the sugar unto the cookies.  Let cool and roll in the icing sugar a second time.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

The nuts should be quite fine.  A food processor will give you a fine chop but you can do it with a knife and a little effort.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together.  Gradually add the flour, salt and nuts until everything is well mixed.  It is important not to overwork the dough.  Once everything is combined stop mixing.

Roll the dough in 1-inch balls and place on cookie sheet. This air pan is great for shortbread based cookies as there's not much chance anything will burn.  You can, of course, use whatever pan you have.  Lining with parchment or a silicone mat is optional.  Whatever you use, it's not necessary to grease the cookie pan.

Bake until a nice golden colour.

Have a pan of sifted icing sugar ready.  While the cookies are still hot but cool enough to handle without burning your fingers, roll them in the icing sugar. I like to sift the sugar right over the cookies.  See how the sugar melts right onto the cookie.

When thoroughly cool, re-roll in extra icing sugar to give them a lovely, snowy covering.    These cookies freeze well, but the sugar will not look as pretty.  Before serving the thawed cookies sift a little icing sugar over the cookies to give them a just-made look.

Snowy white, nutty shortbread Russian Tea Cakes.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

Merry Christma

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.

 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus."
Matthew 1:18-25

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Anne's Pineapple Cream Squares--No Bake

Pineapple Cream Squares are a delectable dessert--a cross between a plated dessert and a cookie square.  To make it even more enticing, it's a no bake recipe.  The only time you turn on your stove is to pasteurize the egg and that can be done the day before.  These squares make a delightful addition any dessert buffet, especially during the Christmas season or any special celebration, for that matter. 

The recipe for Pineapple Cream Squares comes from my lovely daughter-in-law, Anne.  I first tasted these luscious squares when I was babysitting Ben while Anne finished her university degree.   I can assure you everyone is happy when she makes these and brings them to a potluck or family dinner.  As these are a real crowd pleaser you may not have any left when the company leaves or the potluck is over. (I can vouch for that.) The reason I mention company or potluck is because this is a very rich dessert and should be consumed by more than two or three people.  This is a sharing dessert, even though you'd (I'd) like to eat it all by yourself (myself).

Winter is a great time to make these tropical flavoured squares full of pineapple and coconut.  One can imagine oneself on a lovely beach with palm trees and warm breezes when eating these Pineapple Squares.  But don't eat too many or you won't fit into your bathing suit come summer.

The original recipe calls for raw eggs, but I've modified the recipe and have pasteurized the eggs before using.  Heating an egg to 160 degrees F. will kill harmful bacteria but you must use sugar with the eggs when heating them or you will end up with scrambled eggs instead of pasteurized eggs.

When served cold from the refrigerator the squares can be eaten without the use of a fork but they taste better after sitting out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You may find these are easier to eat with a fork than with fingers as they soften up into more of an eat-with-a-fork dessert.  

Pineapple Cream Squares
1 egg
¼ cup sugar

½ cup butter
This is what I consider a double graham wafer cracker.
½ cup sugar
1 cup coconut, fine unsweetened
1 -19 or 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained (Do not press out the juice, just let it drain.)

14 double or 28 single Graham wafer crackers
About 2 cups whipped cream or lightly sweetened whipped topping

Pasteurize the egg.  Mix egg and ¼ cup sugar together in a small heat proof bowl.  Place bowl over simmering water and whisk constantly until egg mixture reaches 160 degrees F. on a thermometer.  This will ensure the egg has been pasteurized and will be safe to eat.  Place bowl with the egg in an ice water bath to cool the mixture before using in the recipe.

Cream the butter and ½ cup sugar until light and fluffy.  Slowly beat in the cooled pasteurized egg mixture.  Beat well.  Fold in the coconut and drained pineapple.

Line 9x9-inch dish with half the graham crackers. You may have to trim a few crackers to fit.  Spread the creamed pineapple mixture over the bottom layer of crackers and top with another layer of the remaining crackers.  Top with whip.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before cutting.  I sometimes refrigerate the squares for several hours with out the whipping cream because I don't want the cream to weep or collapse.  I spread on the whipped cream a few hours before serving.  Whipped topping will hold up better. 

This dessert needs to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving or else the filling will be very hard. 

Makes 16 squares. You can cut these larger into 9 servings for a main dessert or smaller into 25 servings when using on a dessert buffet. 

Drain the pineapple but do not squeeze it dry.  Let it drip over a bowl. 

When pasteurizing the egg, make sure you mix the egg and sugar together constantly so the mixture will not curdle or scramble.  Make sure the temperature reaches 160 degrees F.  Cool the egg mixture before using in this recipe. 

Beat the remaining sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.  Add the pasteurized egg and continue to beat until well combined. 

Fold in the drained pineapple and the coconut.  I like to use fine shred unsweetened coconut for this recipe.

Line a 9x9-inch dish with graham crackers. You may need to trim some of the crackers to fit.  You will need about 7 double crackers for each layer.  I doubled the recipe and used a larger dish. 

Spread the creamed pineapple mixture evenly over the bottom layer of graham crackers.

Top the pineapple cream layer with the remaining graham crackers.  My dish looks larger because I doubled the recipe.  As the dessert sits in the refrigerator, the graham wafers soften and become almost cake-like. I forgot to take a picture of the finished dish of squares topped with cream but you can see what they look like in the next picture. 

Before serving let the pan of squares sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.  

Pineapple Cream Squares are very rich and delicious and luscious. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Chocolate Lovers ♥ ♥ ♥ Chocolate Cream Marshmallow Squares--No Bake

Did I hear someone say they LOVE chocolate???  Then these are the cookies for you!  A creamy chocolate ganache-like mixture, studded with marshmallows, sitting atop a graham wafer crumb crust, topped with cream and coconut makes for a chocolate lovers dream. 

These Chocolate Cream Marshmallow Squares are real Newfoundland cookies.  I say that because one of the ingredients is a can of Fussell's Thick Cream.  Canned cream is somewhat of a rarity in North America but Newfoundlanders enjoy and eat the majority of imported canned cream per capita in Canada (probably all of North America).  I've noticed that other Commonwealth or former Commonwealth countries also sell this delicious cream as well. 

I'm making these to take to church for the refreshments served after our annual Christmas program.  The only redeeming nutritional ingredient in the whole recipe is the milk but I'll wager they'll be wiped off the face of the earth once the after-concert crowd gets their jaws into these temptingly good chocolate morsels of creamy indulgence. 

This makes a large 9x13-inch pan of squares so you may want to share them with family and friends.  These do not freeze well because of the cream topping so make these the day before you want to serve them or at least early in the day to let the chocolate mixture firm up and the marshmallows soften. Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving. 

Chocolate Cream Marshmallow Squares--No Bake
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips or 2 cups, melted
1½ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup melted butter (edit: you may need an extra2 tablespoons butter if using purchased crumbs)
2 pouches Dream Whip or similar dry whipped topping product
¾ cup milk
1 -170 ml can Fussell's Thick Cream
1½ cups miniature marshmallows, white or fruit flavoured
About ½ cup flaked or shredded coconut for garnish (I used sweetened coconut)

You will need an ungreased 9x13-inch baking dish or pan.

Melt chocolate chips and cool.

While the chocolate is cooling, combine graham wafer crumbs, brown sugar and melter butter.  I make this right in the pan. Spread crumb mixture in bottom of pan.  Pack down firmly. Set aside. (Edit:  I just made these again using purchased crumbs and I needed an extra 2 tablespoons melted butter.  Homemade crumbs are a much better choice.)

Beat Dream Whip until stiff using the ¾ cup milk.  Add the can of cream and beat again.  Divide cream mixture between two bowls.

In one half of cream mix in the melted chocolate chips and beat together.   Fold in marshmallows and spread the mixture over the prepared crumb crust.

Spread remaining cream over the chocolate layer.  Sprinkle with coconut.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before cutting.

Makes 36-48 squares or more if cut smaller.

I melt chocolate over a simmering pot of water.  You can't see the pot but you can see the handle on the left side of the photo.  I set a heat proof bowl with the chocolate chips over barely simmering water and stir occasionally until melted.  Don't get the water too hot or the chocolate will scorch.

While the melted chocolate is cooling, make the graham cracker crumb crust.  You can use purchased graham crumbs or make your own by rolling out the crackers.  I like making my own because the texture is better.  The purchased crumbs are very fine and I don't think they make as good a crust.  But either bought graham cracker crumbs or homemade crumbs will work.  I make the crust right in the pan because that gives you one less bowl to wash.  Press the crust in the pan using the bottom of a measuring cup.   Set aside. 

Beat the Dream Whip stiff using the ¾ cup milk.  Beat in the canned cream.  Remove half of the cream mixture and lay aside for the topping.  To the remaining cream beat in the cooled melted chocolate.  Now, there's a beater worth licking clean.
Fold the miniature marshmallows into the chocolate cream mixture and spread over the prepared graham cracker crust.  Spread the reserved Dream Whip/Cream over the top and sprinkle with the coconut.  So sorry I never got a picture of the cream and coconut topping, but you can see it in the next picture.  

Here's the cream and coconut topping on a cut square.  Doesn't that make you want to eat chocolate!  If you don't like coconut, leave it off and garnish with chocolate curls. 

Creamy, smooth chocolate in every bite!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Steamed Onion Pudding

This is an onion ♥ lovers recipe.  If you and your family don't like onions (I'll pray for you) this is not the recipe for you.  But if you love onions, read on...

Newfoundlanders love a pudding served with cooked dinner.  Peas Pudding or Figgy Duff are probably the most famous but there are other puddings that make a Newfoundlander's mouth water, as well.  Some puddings made with soaked bread can be quite dense and wet.  I like them, but they're not my favourites as I like a drier pudding.  With this in mind I searched and experimented until I came up with the perfect (for me) Onion Pudding to serve with Christmas Dinner.   

Dinner puddings are usually boiled in a cotton pudding bag or cloth, right on top of the vegetables and meat but this pudding is steamed separately in a bowl or pudding mould.  This results in a drier but moist pudding, which I like.  

Onion Pudding is a lightly sweetened savoury pudding generously studded with chopped onions.  The sugar only enhances the natural sweetness of the cooked onions but you may decrease the sugar if wish to have a less sweet pudding.   Serve this pudding as one of the side dishes with your Christmas dinner.  It takes to gravy just wonderfully.

The pudding can be made in advance and reheated in the microwave or resteamed before serving.

Onion Pudding
2 cups flour
¼ cup sugar (you may decrease this to 2 tablespoons if you wish a less sweet pudding)
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch black pepper, optional
½ cup butter
2 large onions, chopped, about 2 cups
1 egg
1 cup milk

Grease a 6 cup pudding mould or heat-proof bowl.  Have a stock pot or dutch oven large enough to hold the mould or bowl ready with 3 inches of simmering water.  Place a trivet or jar lids in the bottom of the pot.  

Sift or mix together flour, sugar, baking powder salt and pepper.  Cut in butter until crumbly and butter is about the size of peas.  Mix in the chopped onions, tossing lightly.

Beat the egg into the milk and pour over the dry mixture.  Gently mix until just moistened.  Do not over beat.   

Scrape the pudding batter into the prepared bowl or mould.  Cover with the mould cover or if using a bowl cover with parchment paper and tie in place or use an elastic band. The mould is ready to place in the pot but the bowl will have to be wrapped in foil before placing in the pot.   

Cover the pot and bring the water to a gentle boil.  Steam the pudding for 1½ hours.   Turn the heat off and let the pudding sit in the pot until it is safe enough to remove without scalding your hands.

Serve hot with gravy with your Christmas Dinner (or any cooked dinner).

Makes about 8 servings.

I like to use a pastry cutter to mix the butter into the dry ingredients. Mix the chopped onion in with the flour mixture. Mix the egg and milk together and gently mix into the dry ingredients until just moistened.

Scrape the pudding batter into the prepared mould or bowl.  I don't have a mould so I use a heat-proof bowl.  Once the parchment paper has been fitted an elastic band secures it in place.  Place the pudding in the simmering water, cover and let gently boil for 1½ hours.  Once cooked let it sit until it can be safely removed from the pot.  No one wants a burned hand at Christmas.

The cooked pudding.  See the lovely pieces of onion.  Mmmm...soft and sweet.

Serve the Onion Pudding with Christmas dinner and give it a good ladleful of gravy.

You'll have no tears with this Onion Pudding.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

My Gingerbread House

Making a Gingerbread House is something you should do at least once in your life.  It's fun to plan and create a cookie house and if you have little kiddies at home they will be delighted.  I tend to keep my houses fairly simple but I've seen some real architectural  masterpieces on line.  I'm buying candy all year long for my house.  I'll be in a store and see a bag of candy that would be great on a Gingerbread House so I'll buy it and store it away for the construction season. Just last month I came across "Strawberry and Cream Bricks" which I knew would be perfect for the chimney. 

Here's some of my stash of construction materials.
The recipe for the Gingerbread House is the same as the Newfoundland Jam-Jams recipe, except I increased the amount of flour used and added ginger and a little cloves.  A stiffer dough is easier to handle and bake.  Depending on how big you want your Gingerbread House, you may have to make this recipe more than once.  For the house I made I used only one recipe.  It was just the right amount.   If you have leftover dough, just roll it out and make a few cookies.  

To make the Gingerbread House you will need:

1. Gingerbread House Cookie Dough
2. Template for house--make your own or find one online
3. Royal Icing
4. Assorted hard candies, candy canes, chocolate candies, sanding sugar, etc.
5. A cake board to hold the Gingerbread House.  A thin piece of plywood works well if your house is large.  You want something sturdy to hold the house.   If your house is not too big, heavy corragated cardboard would probably work.

Gingerbread House Cookie Dough
1 cup butter or margarine
¾ cup sugar
½ cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 4 tablespoons of hot water
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups flour to make a medium stiff dough

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you have a very hot oven decrease the temperature to 350 degrees.

Cream butter, sugar, molasses and vanilla together. Add the dissolved baking soda and mix well.  Add flour, spices and salt and mix until a stiff but not dry dough is formed.  It should roll easily.  Roll out on lightly floured parchment paper.  This will allow for easy transport to the cookie sheet. 

Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy.  I threw in the spices with the sugar instead of the flour.  That won't make much difference to the cookie.  Dissolve the baking soda in hot tap water and add to the mixture.  Don't forget the vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients to make a medium stiff dough.

Lay Gingerbread House templates on the rolled dough and cut around. Remove excess dough and   transfer the pieces still on the parchment paper to the cookie sheets.  (I roll my dough right out on parchment lined cookie sheet.)   Try to place similar size pieces on the same cookie sheet.  If you wish to cut out windows or doors do it now before baking.  

Bake in oven about 10-15 minutes depending on how thick and big the pieces are, being careful not to burn as molasses burns easily. Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing the house pieces from the pan.

If you wish to have "real" windows in your house you will need to crush hard candies with a hammer.   Place the candies in an old dish cloth or towel and bang away with the hammer.  I used butterscotch candies but use whatever colour you want for windows.  Place the baked house pieces on a parchment or foil lined pan. Put the crushed candies in the window openings and place in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes until the candy has melted.   Leave on the pan overnight before carefully peeling off the paper or foil. 

Even if you don't want the candy windows, let house pieces sit overnight to dry.  I left my house pieces out for several days.  I wanted to make sure they were thoroughly dried out.  

Sometime, while the house pieces are cooling and drying, cover the cake board with foil or some kind of covering.  I had a bakery cake board left over from someone's birthday party that I covered with foil wrapping paper.  (I'm always scrounging something or other.)

Assemble Gingerbread House with royal icing.  This will be the "glue" for your house.  You will have to make several batches to complete the house.  If you are planning on decorating your house over several days you may want to make only one batch at a time as this dries out very quickly.  Cover with a damp cloth while using the icing.  If you prefer to use powdered meringue powder, follow the directions on the package.  There is usually a recipe for Royal Icing included as well. 

Royal Icing
2⅔ cups icing sugar, sifted
2 large egg white or the equivalent of pasteurized egg white from a carton

Using the whip attachment of your mixer, combine the icing sugar and the egg white in the mixer bowl on low speed until mixed. Turn the speed up to high and whip until the icing is thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. You may add a little water for a thinner consistency (making icicles hang from roof) or more sugar for a thicker consistency.

Makes about  1⅓ -1½ cups of icing.  

Follow the pictures for a complete guide to constructing a Gingerbread House.  You will need an assortment of candies for decorating.  

Place the Royal Icing in a piping bag, for easy assembly.  I used a large writing tip to apply the icing.  Because I was doing this by myself and didn't have anyone to hold the sides of the house until they dried I used a dish of candy and a roll of masking tape to prop up the piece while they dried.  "Glue" the edges together with the Royal Icing.  Once the sides, front and back are stuck together, reinforce the seams from the inside.  When the body of the house has been stuck together and dried, apply the Royal Icing to the peaks and top edges of the house.  Do one side at a time.

Place one side of the roof on the icing and hold in place until dry enough to leave it without sliding off.  You will have half a roof on.  Apply the icing on the other side of the peak and along the top of the other side.  Place the other half of the roof in place and hold.  "Glue" on the door(s).  Now you are ready to decorate your house.

These are the strawberry brick candies I used to make a chimney.  I cut about 5 slices from each candy to make the bricks for the chimney.

The pictures are blurry--had the camera on the wrong setting but you get a good idea how I made the chimney.   I cut out and baked a chimney from the cookie dough to fit the roof.  Once that was stuck on the roof I started the brick work on the outside.  The Royal Icing made pretty good mortar in between the bricks.  After the chimney was finished I made a cap around the edge to make it look a little more realistic. 

I made a lamp post from a large yellow lollypop and one of those rolled chocolate filled wafer cookies.  I cut off the lollypop stick  half way and pushed it carefully into the middle of the wafer.  Then I anchored on to the board with a lump of thick Royal Icing.  (I added a little more icing sugar.) Then I propped up the lamp post with the helpful candy dish.  I tied it on to the dish until every thing was dry and secure.

Frost the roof if you wish and add detail to the windows.  I left off the back door as I want to be able to light up the house with one or two or those battery operated tea lights.

This is the front. I used candy stars on the windows and around the peak of the house.  The holly above the door is made from red Smarties and green Royal Icing with a few cake decorations.  The doorstep is made from two chocolate wafer cookies.  I lined the top of the roof with foil covered chocolate balls.

I outlined the roof with butterscotch candy and filled in with chocolate candy.

I covered the board with Royal Icing to look like snow.  This is the back of the house.  The deck is made from chocolate wafer cookies.

The snowman is made from three medium large white bubble gum left over from Halloween.  I stuck them together with the Royal Icing.  I drew on the face with food decorating pens.  The hat is a black candy melt and half a black jelly candy.

The wood pile is made from the round chocolate filled wafer cookies cut into different lengths.  I left some scraps of the wafers to look like birch bark.

The trees ice cream cones covered with green Royal Icing and Santa is a foil wrapped chocolate.  Blurry pictures.  Still didn't realize I had the camera on the wrong setting.  Oh, well....

Right side view.  I used a star tip on the piping bag to pipe a border around the cake board and also along the sides of the house. 

Left side view.  You can see the I outlined the edges of the board with marshmallow strawberries.

Back view.  This household looks like they'll be warm on cold winter days and nights--lots of wood ready to be cut.  The back door is not attached.  I will be able to remove the door to insert a couple of battery operated candles inside the house.

Front view.  I lined the walk way with red and green jujubes.  

Have fun making your own Gingerbread House.