The Traveler’s Christmas Dinner

by Britta on December 22, 2010

in Menus,Recipes

I was fortunate last year to be able to spend the holidays with an English friend and her family, and I really enjoyed having a new Christmas experience. I was happy to have a family to spend it with, even if it wasn’t my own. We shared a meal—actually, several meals, because the holidays are really all about food, aren’t they?—and I got to experience some new Christmas traditions, like singing different words to Silent Night and taking a Christmas day walk up to the local castle. I did miss my family, but at that point I was still happy to be on the road. Plus, I had just hit—let’s just say a milestone birthday—so I was still in celebration mode.

However, if I hadn’t been with a family, if I hadn’t known anyone in England, I would have had to make my own Christmas. I like the traditions that surround the holiday, especially the food, so this year, even though I’m home, I’m coming up with a Traveler’s Christmas meal, that I can take on the road with me next time I’m away from my family—or anyone’s family—over Christmas. Because being away from your family, and from your Christmas traditions, need not mean going without the big meal or the fun.

Here are a few recipes that you can make anywhere. If you have access to an oven, use it, but if not, your food will be just as good made on the stovetop. I’ve also written these recipes assuming you’re using the spice kit, so I haven’t included oils or spices in the shopping list.

The Traveler’s Christmas Dinner

The Traveler's Christmas Dinner

The Traveler's Christmas Dinner

Recipes
Turkey with Rosemary Stuffing
Smashed Potato
Roasted (or Steamed) Veggies
No-Bake Caramel Bars

Shopping List

  • 2 or 3 thick slices of roasted turkey from the deli
  • 1 medium russet potato
  • 2 or 3 veggies (I used zucchini and yellow squash, but you can choose your favorites)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 small loaf or a couple of rolls of crusty bread (day-old)
  • 1 pint or small container milk
  • 1 apple, optional (you’ll need half, chopped)
  • Handful of raisins, optional
  • 1 rib of celery (I have seen individual ribs being sold at the supermarket recently, but try the salad bar if you can only find a whole stalk)
  • 1 or 2 packets of jam: raspberry is probably easiest to find, but currant is also sometimes available and goes well with the turkey (If you can find an individual packet of cranberry sauce, that is, of course, ideal.)
  • 2 or 3 individual pats of butter
  • 1 small package caramel candies (you’ll need 10-12 of the candies)
  • 1 chocolate bar (you’ll need about half)
  • 2 or so handfuls of crumbly granola (not the big chunks)

Christmas Caramel Bars

Caramel Bars

Make the cookies first:
Unwrap the caramel candies and add them to a small saucepan. Add enough milk to coat the bottom of the pan and heat over low until the candies are melted and smooth, stirring frequently (constantly at the end). This takes longer than you’d think, so be patient. Meanwhile, line the bottom of a small, flat bowl or dish with half the granola. Break or chop half the chocolate bar into small pieces and sprinkle over the granola. When the caramel is smooth, pour over granola and chocolate. Top with the rest of the granola, pressing lightly so everything sticks. Set aside to cool. After a half-hour or so, take a knife and run it around the sides of the dish. Cool completely (while you’re making the rest of your meal) and cut into bars.

Make the roasted veggies next:
Heat oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Chop the veggies and half the onion into similar-sized chunks and place in a small roasting dish. Add a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss. Place dish in oven for 20-40 minutes, depending on the veggies you chose. Veggies are done when fork slides easily through. (If you don’t have an oven, steam the veggies instead. If you have a steamer basket, use that, but if not, place the chopped veggies in a medium saucepan and add a little water to the bottom. Heat over medium-low heat until veggies are cooked through. Use the veggie water in the stuffing (see recipe below). When they’re done, add a little butter and salt and pepper to taste.)

Make the stuffing next:
Cut the bread into cubes. Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium and add bread. Toss until the bread is coated with oil. Add a little more oil, half a small spoonful each of garlic and rosemary, plus a little salt and pepper (to taste). Continue to cook, tossing periodically, until bread is toasted, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set bread aside. Wipe out the pan and heat another small spoonful of olive oil. Add half the onion, chopped, and the celery stalk, chopped. Add the apple and raisins and heat through. Add bread and stir until mixture is combined. Add water (or broth, if you prefer) and stir until stuffing is mushy or desired consistency. Cover and cook over low heat until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.

Make the potato:
Peel, if desired, and chop. Place in saucepan and cover with water. Boil over medium-high heat until potato is done, when fork slides easily through. Drain potatoes and smash with a fork. Add a little milk, butter, salt and pepper, to taste, and stir.

Heat the turkey slices in the pan with the stuffing.

Serve the warmed turkey slices topped with the raspberry or currant jam, or cranberry sauce if you found it, and serve the stuffing, smashed potato and veggies on the side. (Unfortunately, this is a gravy-less meal. I couldn’t figure out a way to make gravy that didn’t involve pan drippings, flour or other things it’s too difficult to carry. Even the packets of gravy require additional ingredients. There may be the just-add-water varieties out there, so if you’re a gravy person, you might try looking for those.)

Eat the caramel bars for dessert. It’s not really Christmas without Christmas cookies, is it? (Incidentally, my Grandma used to make 6 or 7 types of cookies every Christmas for the family. The Caramel Bars were my favorites, so I figured out a way I could still have Grandma’s cookies even when I couldn’t follow the whole recipe. It’s not really Christmas without Grandma’s Christmas cookies, is it?)

How to use the leftovers
You’ll have half an apple, and some milk leftover, plus perhaps some caramels and half a chocolate bar. The cookies definitely call for a glass of milk, so drink the rest with your dessert. Tomorrow night, cut the apple into slices and melt the rest of the caramels for a dip. I think you can probably figure out how to use the rest of a chocolate bar!

Starting your own travel-related holiday traditions doesn’t mean having to miss out on the holiday meal. Make some new friends and double or triple the recipes, or share the meal with your family via Skype or Facebook. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Got your own travel Christmas traditions? Starting some new ones? Share in the comments!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pat Perry February 21, 2011 at 1:25 am

CLEVER! Love it – going to try the Caramel Bars tomorrow – it’s late and the munchies are hitting reading all these wonderfully creative recipes! I think I have some caramel chews in the secret candy drawer….. they are calling me. bye…

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