Forget gingerbread houses. Welcome to the pretzel cabin

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Gingerbread houses are an iconic part of the holiday season, but let’s be real: Making them isn’t always fun. The walls are always caving in, the candy balls keep rolling away and the icing shingles wind up looking like a gloopy, dripping mess.

Well, fret no more, friends. You can build a holiday house out of candy without losing your cool. Enter the pretzel log cabin! Made out of pretzel logs, this is a sturdy alternative to the gingerbread house, making it perfect for kids’ little hands (and for adults with uncrafty hands). Plus, it’s got that all-American flair as log cabins are as patriotic as Abraham Lincoln himself.

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You just need a few basics to get started: pretzel rods, graham crackers (or a similar flat, sturdy cracker), icing and various other add-ons (sprinkles, hard peppermint candy, tiny pretzel sticks, gumdrops, you name it). Then you’ll be ready to personalize your very own. MyRecipes has a full tutorial on how to make one.

Back in 2015, the blogger at Spaceships and Laser Beams posted this incredible creation on Facebook.

Instagram also has plenty of amazing examples of pretzel log cabins that’ll spark ideas for your own. 

User @amynicholemilne created hers with a Seattle Seahawks theme. We’re loving the shredded wheat cereal she used on the roof. How clever!

And this cozy design from Instagrammer @laurabrittany6 includes cute little reindeer waiting outside on the snowy lawn.

Graham crackers can serve as a strong base to glue your pretzel rods onto, but if you don’t want to use crackers, you can cut out cardboard to the shape and size you want your structure to be (we know you probably have some Amazon boxes sitting around from all the holiday shopping!).

Once you have the base of your structure formed, you use the pretzel rods as logs stacking on top of the other until you reach your desired height. As with a gingerbread house, you’ll want to warm up your icing so that it’s the right, tacky consistency, and if it keeps hardening on you, set the icing in a glass bowl on a small mug warmer.

The Soccer Mom Blog also offers a Facebook video instruction on how to do this super-sweet craft with your kiddos.

Need some more inspiration? Search Instagram for #pretzelcabin to find lots of cool ideas. This cozy, unique twist on the gingerbread house is sure to become a classic!

This article originally appeared on Simplemost and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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This secret ingredient is the difference between home & restaurant cooking

This secret ingredient is the difference between home & restaurant cooking

In “Kitchen Confidential,” Anthony Bourdain famously said that stock is one of the biggest differences between restaurant cooking and home cooking. It’s the secret ingredient that adds depth, intensity, and structure to any dish. Don’t take his word for it, though. 

ImperfectProduce.com

Stock not only brings tremendously concentrated flavor to any dish, it is also the way to turn scraps that might otherwise go to waste into a delicious, versatile, and long-lasting super ingredient. 

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Stock is a great way to use up excess aromatic vegetables or vegetables that are on their last legs like celery cores, slightly wilted carrots, or that random half an onion that your roommate stashed in the fridge and never finished. 

Stock is also a great way to use parts of vegetables that you don’t normally cook with, like leek greens, scallion roots, and fennel fronds. We do not recommend using things like onion skins and carrot peels in stock as they don’t add a ton of flavor, but the final call is up to you! 

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Onions, carrots, celery, garlic, leeks, fennel, mushrooms, thyme, parsley. 

Note: Avoid cruciferous veggies like cabbage or brussels sprouts as they can result in a bitter stock. 

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Fresh herbs like thyme and parsley are lovely in stock but be careful of intense/woody herbs like rosemary as they can overpower it. Double concentrated tomato paste adds a nice combo of sweetness, acidity, and savoriness. 

A parmesan cheese rind (too often thrown out!) in stock adds a wonderful savory flavor. If you’ve got a splash of wine left over, it can be a great way to round out your stock, too. 

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Try roasting or sautéeing your vegetables ahead of time to deepen their flavor. 

If you’re using meat, save the bones/meat scraps from your roast chicken or choose cuts like shanks and oxtails as they are cheaper and make for a more flavorful stock with more body. 

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Save your veggie and meat scraps in your freezer and once you’ve got enough to make stock, make a big batch on a Sunday. The great thing about stock is once you put it on a simmer, you can start cooking other food, go for a hike, or just chill until it’s done. Once you’ve strained and cooled your stock, label and date it and keep it in the freezer! 

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In addition to being the perfect base for a restorative soup, you can use your stock as a braising liquid for meat or vegetables, as a medium for cooking rice or grains, and as the ultimate flavorful punch for your next sauce! 

This article originally appeared on ImperfectProduce.comand was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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Featured Image Credit: Jonny Klass / iStock.

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