Gingerbread Birls, Boys, Birds and more…



Over the years I’ve tried many gingerbread cookie recipes, but this one has become the all-time favorite. It comes from Jann Johnson’s The Art of the Cookie, and is outstanding.

I can’t tell you exactly how many cookies the recipe makes–that depends on the size of your cookie cutters. At our house, we usually end up with several dozen.

Gingerbread Cookies
Note: The dough will need to be chilled for at least one hour before using

1/2 tsp each salt and baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional, but I use it every time)
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3 1/4 cup flour (I use unbleached)
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 stick butter), softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1/4 cup water
In a medium bowl, whisk salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and flour; set aside. In a large bowl with the mixer at medium speed, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in molasses and water; mixture will look curdled. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing well. Divide dough in half and shape each into a flattened ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour or overnight. Dough may be frozen at this point, but it must be thawed completely before using.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets. (I use Silpat.) On lightly floured surface, with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out one half of the dough 1/4 inch thick. Lift dough occasionally to prevent sticking. Lightly reflour the work surface and rolling pin as needed.

Cut out the cookies and decorate. Place on cookie sheets. They spread so leave space between them. Bake in the center of the oven 12-15 minutes, or until set. Let them cool.

Cooled cookies may be frozen… If you have any left!

If you make anything gingerbread, email to me at and I’ll post your photos here.

Until next time,


Contest has ended!



Thank you for participating in the 12 Days of Small Town Christmas with Harlequin American Romance Authors! The winners have been drawn and are listed on the giveaway page. Here are two of the lucky winners…


Deanna Vrba is the lucky winner of 23 books. Included in her bounty will be an autographed copy of A Rancher’s Christmas.

Alyssa Palmer won A Rancher’s Christmas, autographed by me!

front cover

All winners should receive emails from the author they won a prize from. If your author does not contact you within a few days please email for assistance.

Congratulations winners!

Until Next Time,


Panna Cotta

panna cotta

Last weekend I listened to The Splendid Table on NPR, the show for people who love to eat. I love this show but don’t get much chance to listen to it.

The host, Lynne Rossetto Kasper, gave a recipe for panna cotta. Naturally I had to try it. I have never been a fan of the stuff served in restaurants, but Lynne’s recipe is very good. And easy to make.

Warning: This stuff is killer rich, made mostly of cream and sour cream, with sugar and gelatin tossed in. I made a wine sauce to go with it. What can I say except that my arteries are now clogged… LOL! But I had to test it out, to see how it tastes. Now I’ll be able to serve it at our Winter Solstice party in a few weeks.

Here is the recipe. Give yourself a good 24 hours to make it and let it set, in the fridge so that it has a chance to firm up.


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (use the entire packet instead)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar, or more to taste
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8-ounce container) sour cream

1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. Let stand for 5 minutes. In a 3-quart saucepan, warm the cream with the sugar, salt, and vanilla over medium-high heat. Do not let it boil. Stir in the gelatin until thoroughly dissolved. Take the cream off the heat and cool about 5 minutes.

2. Put the sour cream in a medium bowl. Gently whisk in the warm cream a little at a time until smooth. Taste for sweetness. It may need another teaspoon of sugar. Rinse 8 2/3 -cup ramekins, custard cups, or coffee cups with cold water. Fill each one three-quarters full with the cream. Chill 4 to 24 hours. For a very pretty and tasty treat, layer the panna cotta with this wine “filling”:

Wine “Filling” :

    • 1 1/2 cup red wine
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1 whole allspice
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 packet gelatin dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water

Bring wine, sugar and spices to a boil. Boil 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and taste for sweetness; add more sugar if needed. Remove cinnamon and allspice. While still hot, whisk about 1/4 cup of the wine with the gelatin; when incorporated, add this to the rest of the wine. Whisk until smooth and there are no lumps.

Let cool thoroughly. If you have the time and patience, grab a pretty glass bowl and layer with the panna cotta. Here’s how to do that: Spoon about 1/2 of the panna cotta in the glass bowl. Chill until firm, about 4 hours. Without disturbing the panna cotta, gently add a new layer of 1/2 of the thickened wine . Chill 4 hours. Repeat, ending with a layer of the wine.

By the way, the photo above isn’t mine. I didn’t know that I needed to let everything set for such a long time, and mine turned out… not so pretty, but yummy all the same.

If you try it, let me know how it turns out.


Until next time,