In the Kitchen: Christmas dinner.

I have realized that January is nearly over & I still have not talked about my experiments with Christmas dinner. I had the family come up on Christmas day for dinner, so I cooked all the food, including trying a few things for the first time.

Monkey Bread
For my morning breakfast, I made a version of monkey bread from my Aunt Norma’s recipe. We used to have breakfast at their house on Christmas morning (unless they had hosted Christmas Eve) & I was always excited to get a chance to have this. The past few years our Christmas morning tradition has died out, but I still want a special breakfast. So even though I got home very very late on Christmas Eve, I got this set up to stick in the oven when I got up in the morning. (recipe below)

Crock Pot Turkey Breast
When I got up the first time on Christmas morning, it was to get in the kitchen and turn on the crock pot for our turkey breast. Then I went back to sleep for like 3 hours. I was essentially cooking mine from frozen (oops) & worried that it wouldn’t cook all the way through, so I let it go about an hour or so longer than the recipe called for. I also did not have a meat thermometer on hand (I really need to get one), so I had to wait until the family got here to check the temp. It was fine, but I think the turkey would have been a little more moist (and, in my opinion, tastier) had I been able to check on it more routinely. As it was, I think I overcooked it just a smidge.

Sweet Potatoes
This, though, was the best. Forget the green beans & salad. Who needs ’em? (They were there, but they were super easy and required no previous thought). What everybody needs is sweet potato stuff. I burned the dickens out of my finger trying to peel a boiled, yet still very hot sweet potato while making this, but it was totally worth it. Sweet potatoes mushed up and mixed with sugar & butter, then topped with pecans and more sugar and coconut? YUM.

Christmas dinner was a success and I was able to snack on sweet potato stuff for the rest of 2011.

Monkey Bread (aka Aunt Norma’s Easy Caramel Rolls)
18 Rhodes Frozen Dinner Rolls (not Texas size)
1 handful whole pecans
1 package (3oz) dry butterscotch pudding (not instant)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

Grease a large bundt pan (I use Pam spray). Put the rolls in the pan & sprinkle other ingredients over the top in the order listed. Let it sit overnight in uncovered pan in a warm place. In the morning, bake at 325 for 25 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes (pay attention to the time – it’s important), then invert onto large serving plate. Pull apart to eat & enjoy.

Sweet Potato Stuff (adapted from Sweet Potato Queen’s Book of Love)
3c. mashed sweet potatoes (3-5 whole sweet potatoes*)
1c. dark brown sugar (to taste)
1/3c. milk
1/2c. butter
2tsp vanilla
dash salt
2 eggs

Topping:
1c. dark brown sugar
1/3c. butter
1/3c. flour
1c. pecan pieces
1c. coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

After you’ve peeled your potatoes, put them in a bowl. Add the sugar, milk, butter, vanilla, & salt. Mix well & taste to see if you need more sugar. Beat in the eggs. Put in a greased casserole dish.

Mix up all the topping ingredients & put on top of the sweet potato mixture. Bake for 30 minutes.

*Easy way to peel your sweet taters – boil them (mine took about 20 minutes), then the skins will peel right off. Just be careful not to burn your fingers off. Ow.

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