December 23, 2010

A Few Favorite Christmas Recipes

Alla (Mountain Valley Farms) recently posted some of her favorite Christmas recipes and invited readers to do the same. Even though I did a lengthy recipe post for Thanksgiving, I've been so busy this month that I hadn't thought about sharing any Christmas recipes.

My Christmas menu isn't set in stone like Thanksgiving. One turkey a year is good enough for us, so the Christmas entree is always up in the air. One of my favorites was a crown roast with cranberry/sausage stuffing. Impressive and tasty. These are hard to find and expensive, so other years we've tried other things. Goose didn't go over very well (must have been me), and no one seems very enthusiastic when I mention duck, but ham is always acceptable. A good pork roast is in order this year.

Some things though, are traditional. Our Christmas Eve dinner for example. Throughout Advent, I make our favorite Christmas cookies and freeze a half dozen or so from each batch. Christmas Eve, I make pepperoni bread and we have that variety of Christmas cookies for dessert. That evening we attend a candlelight service at church and take the long way home to enjoy Christmas lights, listening to Charles Dickens Christmas Carol on tape. This tour always ends with a stop for ice cream. Brrr, I know! I don't know how we started doing that but it quickly became a family tradition!

A few things are traditional for Christmas dinner as well. Baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon butter. My grandmother's cinnamon apples. Pumpkin pie for dessert. My great-grandmother's lemon cream pie until last year. Last year we had our own pecans, (at least we had what the squirrels didn't get) and I found organic corn syrup, so I made my very first pecan pie. (There's also a Christmas chocolate-pecan layer cookie recipe at that link.)

The recipe for cinnamon apples does not tip the scale much toward healthful, but it's a tradition. I'm sure it could be made without the candies and red food coloring, but that red color is signature for Christmas!

Cinnamon Apples

This is the starter recipe. Once made, it keeps in the fridge until the following Christmas.  I've toted mine around the country through several long distance moves. The flavor only improves with each year's simmering!

2 C *apple juice concentrate, not diluted
1 C sugar
1/2 C cinnamon candies, like Red Hots
a little red food coloring

*Original recipe calls for 2 cups of water and a chopped apple. I substituted juice for convenience.

Mix and bring to a boil. Peel and core as many of your favorite cooking apples as you'd like to serve. (Original recipe calls for Jonathans, but most years I've only been able to find Granny Smiths). Simmer whole apples until tender but not too soft. Chill before serving.

Leftover liquid can be refrigerated until next year. I add a little of each ingredient if I don't have quite enough.

Also, here's my pepperoni bread recipe. My husband is Italian (half actually, but apparently the other half doesn't count), and this recipe came from his mother (ironically, the non-Italian half).

Pepperoni Bread

One batch of your favorite bread dough (enough for one loaf -
     this is one recipe I make with 100% unbleached white)
A package of sliced pepperoni
Provolone cheese, preferably grated, but slices cut in thin strips will do.

Roll out the bread dough as for pizza. Layer pepperoni and cheese over all, roll, and pinch all edges. Bake at 350F in French bread pan or baking sheet (or on pizza stone), for 35 to 45 minutes or until crust is browned. Slice and serve.

[HINT: A serrated bread knife makes it easier to slice fresh hot bread]

Those are two of the recipes that really "make" Christmas for us. It's funny how traditions can do that, but thats why I think traditions are important. Ask most adults about any holiday and chances are they will talk about the things their own families did year after year.

How many of you shared some of your traditional Christmas recipes on your blogs? Show of hands, please!  I'll try to drop by over the next several days to check them out because as much as I like our traditions, making new ones is fun too.


Sharon said...

That Pepperoni bread looks great. We have an open house for Christmas Eve and bake a ham. When we lived in town, Christmas Eve was pretty much family, with a few friends but pretty organized. Now that DS Josh's family is in Oregon, it's gravitated to an open house with more neighbors than family. No one wants to be alone on Christmas Eve.

Heather said...

Can't say that we have many traditional Christmas dishes... one thing we do, or my mom does actually, is caramel pecan rolls on Christmas morning. Not healthy but absolutely delicious!

Your photos from your doomed Christmas tree post are adorable! I remember when our cat used to do that. No ornaments on the bottom third of the tree at all. Did yours try to climb it?

Tami said...

Leigh, I swear we are on some kind of wierd wave length or something.

I hadn't thought about pepperoni bread in years. We lived in Norfolk Va for a few years and a bakery nearby made killer pepperoni "rolls" which we would scarf up. I thought about that this past weekend and "googled" some recipes. Looks easy!

I have a stick of pepperoni in my fridge as we speak.

Leigh said...

Sharon, that's a wonderful tradition in itself. :)

Heather, some traditional recipes aren't meant to be "upgraded" to healthy! I figure once a year won't hurt. :)

The funny thing about the tree and the kitties, is that they were only interested in it while I was decorating. As soon as I ignored it, so did they. When I resumed putting on ornaments, there were fascinated again! No, the didn't climb it fortunately. One small blessing. :)

Tami, that's too funny. I hadn't thought about rolls. That would actually be a great thing to send with DH when he's over the road. The recipe is super simple. And oooh so tasty!

Theresa said...

Oh yum, we've enjoyed pupperoni bread for years. Dang good stuff! A little parm and oregano on top of the loaf is ymmy too.
That apple recipe looks grand. I have a big old bag of granny smiths, it may be a skimpy holiday for the horses apple-wise if I can find some Red Hots! ;)
Have a wonderful holiday Leigh.

The Apple Pie Gal said... teeth are chattering just thinking about eating ice cream! I loved you comment about the apples and healthy. Does anyone eat healthy this time of year? I just don't even think about it, ha! Open mouth, insert food!!

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

I have never heard of that apple dish before. And having a starter too. I bet if you made up some starter and put that with a recipe card and gave those out for gifts people would be impressed.

Mama Pea said...

Warm, comfy cozy post! Made me feel festive and hungry. I just might have to tackle that pepperoni bread idea. Sounds yummy.

Our traditional Christmas Eve dinner has been Spinach Basil Soup, Cheese Snack Bread, and Black Olives with Carrot Sticks (stuck through the black olives -- go figure!?). I must admit the last couple of years I've tried to throw in a little change for variety's sake, but this year our daughter asked for the old traditional meal (nothing new, please) and so it shall be.

I'd LOVE ice cream for dessert but something tells me it wouldn't go over so well with everyone else!

Anonymous said...

The apple dish reminds me of when we had our baked apples...oh good! Thanks for the reminder and that bread...I'm sure it's to live for!...wholly yum! Hugs!

Anonymous said...

Sweet Potatoes with cinnamon butter sounds yum! Must remember that and it would go well with squash as well. Our breakfast tradition is eggs benedict on homemade scones and champagne with white peaches while we open stockings with much hilarity.
All the best of the season to you and yours!

Leigh said...

Theresa, ooo, I hadn't though of sprinkling it with Parmesan and oregano. I'll have to try that this year with my homegrown oregano. :)

The apples are a tasty treat. I hope you have the chance to give them a try!

APG, holidays are not for worrying about healthy! I have tried adapting some of our traditional recipes to healthier versions, but these just haven't been the same. :)

Jane, what a great idea! I hadn't thought of that. This is the only other food I know of besides sourdough or friendship bread, that has a starter. It never spoils or even ferments. I reckon it's because of all the sugar in in.

Mama Pea, funny about tradition. My family is the same way. "Don't mess with the holiday menu!" I really like your idea of olives and carrots.

Pam, I don't really make baked apples but they truly sound like a good but nutritious dessert. When our apple trees finally start to bear, I'll have to start experimenting!

Evelyn, your Christmas breakfast sounds absolutely fabulous. I used to make Scotch eggs, but haven't done that since the kids have moved out on their own. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Renee Nefe said...

We don't really have any traditional recipes...yet.

In our early married life we kept going from one set of parents to the other.

Then after we had our daughter we usually just spent the holidays with my MIL or my Brother's family if MIL went to Michigan.

Now we are on our own this it is time to start making some traditions! For Christmas Eve I'm making Ham and Mac & Cheese. Then for Christmas Day I'm making a rib roast (both were on sale this year)... We'll see which one goes over better with the family and next year I'll just make one.

We did make our candy this year and are planning to give most of it away.

One thing that we do is after Christmas Eve service we drive through our neighborhood to look at Christmas lights. We come home to cookies & hot chocolate and then open a gift or two.

bspinner said...

Good food and family can't get any better than that for a wonderful holiday.

Merry Christmas,

Blue bird said...

One different comment: I am a Sunworshipper, Solstice is my holiday and nothing else. That is enough if you think: life on Earth comes from the Sun.
Glory to the Sun
Shines on everyone
Thanks to God who created the Sun.
Happy days! Love: Julia/blue bird

Leigh said...

Renee, I'm amazed you don't have any traditional Christmas foods. Of course, visiting relatives most years doesn't allow for personal traditions as well. I like your having hot chocolate after driving to see Christmas lights. Makes more sense than our ice cream!

Barb, I couldn't agree more. Merry Christmas to you too!

Julia, well then, a belated Happy Solstice to you. Do you have any traditional solstice recipes. I'm curious about something though. With all respect, why would you feel inclined to worship the sun rather than it's creator? That's a thing that puzzles me.

Sheryl at Providence North said...

Sounds like a fantastic tradition - lots of fun and goodies!

We don't do turkey either. It's always something different.

Nina said...

Happy Christmas Leigh!
We'll be having raw veggies, hummus, red pepper dip, spinach dip, cheese fondue and a variety of breads, cheeses and crackers for tonight. It caters to the vegan, vegetarian and the omnivores! Tomorrow it's the traditional turkey, smashed potatoes, candied carrots, steamed beans, vegan stuffing, lentil salad and whatever exciting vegan/vegetarian type stuff that I come up with. It was way easier with just the vegetarian. The vegan puts a whole new twist into cooking!

Leigh said...

Sheryl, I've been amazed at how many commenters don't have turkey for Christmas, and how many actually have a changeable menu. Actually it's just Dan and me for Christmas day, so we're going to grill steaks!

Nina, merry Christmas to you too! You probably have the most challenging menu of anyone so far! An amazing mix for a really varied menu.

Tina T-P said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours Leigh! I think my favorite Christmas recipe is my Grandma's applesauce cake - I haven't made any yet this year - maybe I'll make it for my birthday next month...

Looks like the tree survived the kitties first Christmas! XOX T.

P.S. And Happy New Year too!

Phoebe said...

Leigh, we are not having turkey this year. We are however being helped by our turkey Gimpy McGimperson to celebrate Christmas, starting with the cutting of our Christmas tree.
I laughed until I cried. I put a video on the blog.

Leigh said...

Tina, yes, the tree survived. Actually both cats lost interest as soon as I stopped hanging ornaments. :)

I love applesauce cake. Sounds really yummy!

Phoebe, the video is a hoot. Who knew turkeys could be just as "in your business" as goats and chickens!