Mary Beth Johnson is a wife and mum to four schooners, as she’s dubbed her children. On a normal afternoon, you would find her in moccasins, skinny jeans and a comfortable tee, camera in hand. Recently moving to the suburbs of Atlanta, Mary Beth spends her days homeschooling, sneaking away to the bookstore, trying to act the part of a southerner, and sifting through recipes in The Vegetarian Times. Food is her love language.

There are a few traditions I hope to establish with our children from Christmas to Christmas and baking cookies together is one of them. I had told my girls we would sit down and make these together one afternoon and they were so excited they finished their school in record time!

I loved the idea of trying gingerbread cookies, as they are festive and not overly sweet. This is an amazing stand-alone recipe and you can use a toothpick to poke eyes, nose and a mouth in the gingerbread men before baking – really easy! But should you wish to add to the excitement and decorate, simply mix a bit of powdered sugar with a few drops of milk and you will have the perfect icing. For decorating, I put the icing in a ziplock bag, cut a teensy hole in one corner, and we used it as a decorating tube.


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)

For icing: 1 cup of powdered sugar + a couple teaspoons of milk

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended. In a large bowl (KitchenAid’s great for this) beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended. Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon zest and continue to mix until well blended. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.
Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. (Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but in this case it should be refrigerated. Return to room temp before using.)
Preheat oven to 375°. Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Use additional flour to avoid sticking. Cut out cookies with your favorite cookie cutters. Space cookies 1.5 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 1 sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookies–my favorite!).
Remove cookie sheet from oven and allow the cookies to stand until the cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack. After cookies are cool you may decorate them any way you like. I gradually mixed about 1 cup of powdered sugar with 1-2 teaspoons of milk until I reached my desired icing texture, and then decorated using a ziplock bag. These make wonderful Christmas gifts to your neighbors and friends. ENJOY!!!!

*All photography is my own.


December 17, 2014


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