gingerbread chicken coops + white house scenes

seven things i learned about the white house!

1. it is way smaller than i thought it would be. i envisioned a huge building with millions of hallways to get lost in and a state dining room the size of alaska, but that’s not the case! it’s like polly pocket. with a kitchen that is only about twice the size of mine (but then again they do have a separate pastry kitchen and meat room…). 

2. they make 25,000 cookies every holiday season and some of their most popular ones are in the shape of bo and sunny, the white house pups.

3. bo walked by. eggboy saw him. i did not. i was too busy giggling and cookie decorating with joy and ashley, and eggboy didn’t get the memo that you’re supposed to tell everyone else in the room when a white house pup walks by. eggboy is fired.*** 

4. the walls of the white house gingerbread house get baked for eight hours at a very low temperature. this helps them get super duper sturdy and allows them to remain completely flat and not curvy. otherwise the humidity could make them warp. 

5. susie, the white house pastry chef, has been there for 21 years and is a wizard of sugar! the bottom of the white house gingerbread houses are reinforced with a layer of melty sugar that hardens and looks like glass. and all of the trees around the house are also made of sugar. no green frosted ice cream cones in sight.

6. The security men in the little security house that you have to go through to get onto the grounds burn sugar cookie scented candles. idk if this is the norm but when we walked in all of the lights were off and it smelled of cookies and the big beefy security men who were ushering us through the metal detectors seemed to really appreciate it when we complimented them on their candle.

7. the news briefing room is exactly what it looks like on veep and designated survivor

***eggboy edit: he wants you to know that he is 99.9% sure that is was bo and is reserving .1% for the possibility that this could have been a bo decoy and eggboy doesn’t want to get arrested if this was classified information. hiiii white house! 

even though we spent less than 48 hours in d.c., we had the gosh darn loveliest time! aside from spending an afternoon at the white house, we hung out with the super awesome ladies of pineapple d.c. at on rye (which is the most insanely delicious new jewish deli (they have babka ice cream sandwiches!!!)), poked around the smithsonian and saw julia child’s old kitchen and got a tour from our new friend jessica, met our congressman who we learned is also a musician, and saw some extremely wonderful old friends!! everybody we saw had so much pride in d.c., and i certainly saw why. it is such a beautiful city with so many cool historical things, which i guess is exactly what you want in a capitol. that’s all i have to say about that, i wish i could say more, we tried to extend our trip because at the end of it we still had a list of people to see and things to eat, but then eggboy got food poisoning and barfed his brains out so we had to leave. he was officially forgiven for not telling me about his bo sighting. 

all of susie’s gingerbread got me inspired to come home and make my own gingerbread houses! it was the first time i’d had any desire to do that since i burnt myself out on making our gingerbread farm. i figured i should ease into it with something on the smaller, simpler side, so here are some gingerbread chicken coops! i searched high and low for chicken cookie cutters but couldn’t find a small enough one, so the official story here is that all of our chickens are dressed up as other animals. 

gingerbread chicken coops

makes 4 small houses


for the gingerbread:

1 c dark corn syrup, molasses, or a mix of the two (corn syrup for lighter colored walls, molasses for darker walls)

3/4 c dark brown sugar

3/4 c margarine or butter

4 c all-purpose flour

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

for the gingerbread house glue:

3 large egg whites

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

4 c powdered sugar

for decoration:

candy, sprinkles, shredded coconut, marzipan, chocolate, or other edible things you can find around your kitchen


for the gingerbread:

In a medium saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, combine corn syrup or molasses, brown sugar, and margarine or butter. Heat over medium heat on the stove or in the microwave for 1-minute increments, stirring in between each, until the margarine or butter is melted and the sugar has completely dissolved.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Stir in the sugar mixture until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° F and get your stencils ready. You can either make them or find them onlinethe coops pictured are about 2 3/4" wide and 4 1/4" tall at the tallest point.

Roll your dough out onto a piece of parchment paper that will fit on your cookie sheet. Lightly flour the dough and place your stencils on top (leaving 1 inch in between them) and use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to trace around them. Remove excess dough, slide the parchment onto your cookie sheet, and then bake until the edges just start to brown. Begin checking for doneness at 15 minutes. If you'd like a darker brown color, you can leave them in there for up to 45 minutes. You can re-roll your dough scraps a few times. If it starts to feel dry, microwave it for 30 seconds or so.

allows the walls to cool and then assemble using gingerbread house glue...

for the gingerbread house glue:

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Beat on medium high for 7 to 10 minutes, until very fluffy.

Immediately spoon into a piping bag and use. Any frosting that's not being used should remain under plastic wrap (the plastic wrap should touch the surface of the frosting), so that it doesn't dry out.

to assemble the coops:

use the glue like mortar, pasting together the walls. reinforce every corner on the inside with more glue. prop them up to dry before gluing on the roof.

once all of the coops are assembled, let them dry for about 15 to 20 minutes. then, use your remaining glue to decorate! 


preserved lemon pappardelle with fried pine nuts, feta, and mint

molly on the range goes to print today. hallelujah! all of my fears about typos and clarity were at an all time high this week. i started to second guess some things that i thought were funny when i first wrote them and wondered if they weren't funny at all. at first i thought, well, nothing is funny after you've read it 5,000 times. but then i realized that pitch perfect 2 is still funny after watching it 5,000 times. so that's what kept me up at night this week. i started drafting answers to questions that i'm afraid people will ask when the book comes out, in case they don't understand things. i'm probably being silly, or maybe i'm just paranoid because i'm extraordinarily sleep deprived. but in general i am very excited to be one step closer to have all of my favorite recipes in a physical object that i can splatter paint with soy sauce, give as gifts, and just pet like a small animal.

the one other thing that kept me up at night this week was tel aviv nightlife. i cashed in all of my frequent flier miles for a little college reunion with brian and rob, my bridesmen, and we did some of the best most shameless dancing we've ever done. (it was probably more like stylized jumping than dancing, but whatever.) what i like about the dancing in tel aviv is that you don't have to get dressed up or wait on a long dumb line, there's just an abundance of chill bars with chill humans that aren't overcrowded and which happen to have great djs in one section where you can dance like tomorrow is the end of the world if you want. (fave spots: sputnik, radio, and kuli ama.) it was such a great time! but now i'm so happy to be home, right in time for wheat harvest! and also our garden is like whazzup! 

in the summer i love fresh pasta with just fresh herbs, olive oil, and lemon. leave the heavy sauce for sweater weather, these days i'm all about things from the garden tossed about and served next to a sausage or vegetable from the grill. my little macaroni eggs (well, now they are big macaroni, as you can see!) make this pasta so beautiful and yellow, and i'm using the fresh pasta recipe from my friend emiko's stunning new book, florentine (i'm giving away a copy of it over here, btw)the pasta is surprisingly easy to make and totally luxurious, but if you're short on time or just can't be bothered to get out your pasta maker, the combination of flavors here is still worth ripping apart your mint plant for. it's a combination i cannot get enough of these days: feta, mint, olive oil, nuts, spicy stuff, and either a fresh squeeze of lemon or chopped preserved lemon (which lends a funkier pickle-y flavor that i love, just make sure to rinse them otherwise this will be too salty). it's sort of like a deconstructed pesto situation that's just gotten back from summer vacation in morocco. i'm using preserved lemons from trader joe's, but you can also make your own. and california olive ranch's rich and robust olive oil is my go-to for this since its oomph factor can really hang well with the strong personalities of feta and lemon. 

this is a pasta i would gain 300 pounds for, fyi. 

preserved lemon pappardelle with fried pine nuts, feta, and mint

serves 4


kosher salt

1 lb pappardelle (store bought or use emiko’s recipe, below)

1/3 c california olive ranch rich and robust olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 c raw pine nuts

4 slices preserved lemon, rinsed and finely chopped

1 c lightly packed fresh mint, chopped

Black pepper

1 c crumbled feta

Crushed red pepper


bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it ferociously, and cook the pasta according to the manufacturer’s directions. 

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles when flicked across the surface. Add the garlic and pine nuts and cook, stirring, until they’re lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the preserved lemon and half the mint and cook, stirring, for another 1-2 minutes. Add the cooked pasta to the pan, reduce the heat to low, and toss the pasta to coat it evenly in the mixture. Give it like 20 turns of black pepper. Top it with the remaining fresh mint, the feta, and a few pinches of crushed red pepper. Serve immediately and enjoy. 

emiko's pappardelle

from emiko davies' book florentine

serves 4


200g plain flour

200g semolina, plus extra for dusting

4 eggs


Sift the flour and semolina onto a flat work surface and create a well in the middle with your hands. Crack the eggs into the well. Gently beat the eggs with a fork in a circular motion until they become creamy. Begin incorporating the flour and semolina little by little until it becomes too difficult to use the fork and then gather the dough with your hands. Knead for about 10 minutes or until it becomes elastic. Let the dough rest, covered so it does not dry out, for at least 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into two or three portions. With a pasta rolling machine or a rolling pin on a floured surface, roll out the dough until about 1 mm thick or until you can see your fingers through the other side. If rolling by hand, roll from the centre outwards.

The noodles should be cut to about 2–2.5 cm wide. Fold the dough lengthways over itself three or four times (dust with semolina between each fold so they do not stick) and then cut across the short side of the folded pasta. Use a sharp knife for a straight edge or a fluted pastry wheel cutter for a ruffled effect (good for catching sauce). Unroll the pasta, shaking it out, dust generously with semolina and shape into little ‘nests’ of equal portions – 100 g is equal to one serving. Cover under a dish towel or plastic wrap until ready to use.

Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water for about 3-5 minutes, or until silky and cooked al dente.


thank you, california olive ranch, for sponsoring this post! 

watermelon mini cakes

macaroni and tofu turn one this week!!!!!! 

i can't believe it. *they grow up so fast* look at them a year ago (!!):

and now they are beautiful colorful egg-layin ladies and tofu is a handsome young man and they bring us so much joy (and lots of shakshuka). happy birthday, macaroni and tofu! we love you! 

obviously we made little cakes for them with all of their favorite things: watermelon, yogurt, mint, and "sprinkles" (sunflower seeds and stuff). we sang the birthday song and thought about making little party hats... but i don't think chickens really like hats. sweaters, maybe. but hats? do you have any intel on this?

yogurt, i recently learned, is really good for chickies since it helps their digestion, and mint keeps them cool and helps repel any pests. and of course watermelon hydrates them, oh boy they are big watermelon fans.

i didn't sweeten the yogurt in these since chickens don't really have a sweet tooth, but if you're looking to make a human version of these, it might be tastier to use whipped cream or sweetened yogurt between the watermelon layers. or! you could take the old sweet/savory route and use slices of feta. these are easy little cakes to make and perfect for a hot summer day!

watermelon mini cakes

1. slice thin layers of watermelon and use a biscuit cutter to cut out your cake layers

2. stack up your layers with a layer of yogurt/whipped cream/feta (see note above) and a few mint leaves in between

3. top with mint leaves and sprinkles and enjoy!


macaroni's first egg!!!!!!

we hyperventilated for five minutes straight. and then omg-ed for five more. it was the greatest hanukkah present ever in all the land! one teeny tiny egg, too small for most of our egg cups and very lightly speckled. everything we've waited for since june (they grow up so fast!). we cuddled it and stared at it and finally decided that we should eat it ceremoniously, out of the egg cup we bought on our honeymoon.

we wanted a six-minute egg, but with such a dainty little specimen we reduced the time to five and it was perfect. firm whites, a yolk the thickness of honey. and its color! we kvelled so hard, we've never been prouder. is this what having an honor roll student is like? can i get a bumper sticker about all this? 

we spread our little egg onto buttered toast and sprinkled it with salt while the snow came down outside. it was tasty and bucolic af. now we're researching how to bronze the shell so we can keep it on our mantel forever and ever. 

we're so proud of you, macaroni!!