What’s your roast beast?

What’s your roast beast? December 21, 2013

My favorite part of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is where he brings back the roast beast. Because while it’s true that Christmas isn’t about presents or decorations or food, you really do want to have that special Christmas food!

PIC the grinch himself carved the roast beast


If we can manage it, we spend Christmas Eve drinking egg nog and decorating the tree, then going to Midnight Mass.  Then Christmas morning is presents and chocolate and a breakfast of eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, and cinnamon buns.  Candy all day.  Then — and here is the most brilliant idea we’ve ever had — Chinese take-out for dinner.  I think this tradition was instituted on the Christmas that I was 8 and 24/30ths months pregnant with baby #6, and was not up to cooking a ham or turkey that nobody wanted anyway.  But somehow, no matter how stuffed with marshmallow Santas you are, there is always room for meat on a stick.

For the rest of Christmas food (which we make during vacation, which means they may not appear until after Christmas day) here are my tried and true recipes, suitable for anyone who can follow directions, but isn’t especially gifted in the kitchen:

Skaarup’s Lunatic Fudge Lots of variations.  The kids like the one with crushed candy canes.  You don’t need a candy thermometer to make this stuff, and can turn out pounds and pounds of it pretty easily.

Buckeyes. These are delicious, and easy enough for the kids to make mostly on their own.  I just go in the other room and pretend I don’t know what horrors are transpiring.

NB:  I do not recommend adding a dab of chocolate to cover up the toothpick hole, unless you are prepared for candy that doubles as a female anatomy lesson.  Ha-cha-cha!

Peanut brittle.  I always hated peanut brittle, so I don’t even know why I tried this recipe. But it is fantastic.  Very light and airy, nothing like the tooth-loosening stuff you get at the store.  Oh, and the part where you add the baking powder and it foams up like crazy?  FUN.  You can also make it with other kinds of nuts.

I don’t usually make cookies, because they just seem to flow into the house on their own.  Also, I made terrible cookies.

How about you?  What are your essential Christmas foods?

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  • Cathy K

    We’re not Italian, but we do the 7 fishes (more or less) for Christmas Eve, and panettone and coffee for Christmas Day breakfast while wading through the sea of wrapping paper. Sometimes we have goose for Christmas dinner, or a nice rib roast with Yorkshire pudding. Springerle and gingerbread cookies; plum pudding and figgy pudding.

  • Those recipes you linked are useful, given that my mom was just telling me 1) she was craving fudge and wanted an easy recipe and 2) she loves peanut brittle but finds most kinds too hard on her teeth now. So thanks!

    My roast beast is a pernil — pork shoulder, Puerto Rican style. In fact, right now Mr. Beadgirl and I are having a heated discussion about what to serve, the traditional pernil from my heritage or a goose from his (English) heritage.

    I also make an assortment of cookies, which make handy last-minute gifts. And I’ll be missing my mom’s rum cake (really, Bacardi’s rum cake) this year because she will not be visiting us.

  • silicasandra

    We do the seven fishes on Christmas Eve, and I think this year we’re having homemade ravioli on Christmas (I must come right out and say I do not make any of this – I just get to eat it!). I had to laugh at your “meat on a stick” comment because more than once we’ve had something called “city chicken” on Christmas, which is not chicken, but is breaded and baked meat on a stick (I think pork, but I’m really not sure, and I don’t want to ask). I don’t know how common it is because I never heard of it until I married my husband, but he claims it is a Pennsylvania thing. (It’s also really, really good.) There’s also an assortment of baked Italian goodies that would be dessert any other time of year, but since it’s Christmas, they’re designated as breakfast food.

  • Jupey

    My great-grandmother’s cinnamon rolls Try as we have, none of her descendants have been able to get them just the way she did. But they are still wonderful – with a glaze of brown sugar and butter. About a thousand calories each, I think, but then Christmas calories don’t really count.

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    My sister-in-law makes these wonderful things by spreading peanut butter on Ritz crackers, sandwiching them together and covering the whole thing in thick chocolate. Oh my gosh, they’re incredible. My sister make a spiced plum wine that just TASTES like Christmas in a glass. I could finish a whole bottle myself (her port isn’t bad either). I’m in charge of homemade chocolate cream pie. I’m going to try making peppermint whipped cream for it this year. To be honest, I almost like Christmas eve better, which is just spaghetti and beer and cheer and anticipation and the tree is sparkling with lights and the presents are tumbled about under the tree, untouched and so tempting.

  • Karen Cain

    Ham. It’s always ham on Christmas Day, because what better way to celebrate the birth of a sweet little Jewish boy than with pork products? Anyway. I am required to make “cooked apples” to go with the ham. And we started a new tradition of making a birthday cake for Jesus, which I think is brilliant because it is a birthday, after all, and it takes care of the “what special dessert should I make for Christmas” dilemma.

  • Eileen

    Christmas Eve, we normally pick up cheesesteaks and hoagies on our way home from the Vigil Mass. Then I make chocolate chip and/or oatmeal cookies and the little guys will leave some out along with a shot of Wild Turkey for Dad/Santa Claus. Once we get the kids to bed, my husband and I will drink wine, eat cookies, and wrap presents while watching the Yule Log on TV. It’s my favorite time of the whole Christmas season. The peaceful and blessed calm before the storm.

    Christmas morning we typically eat candy from the stockings for breakfast. And then, because we all feel gross, my husband will run out for bagels to settle the stomachs and I’ll make some scrambled eggs to prevent us from going into hyperglycemic comas. We’ll eat an early dinner. I always make a ham (which I detest) and a turkey. We’ll have about 20 folks for dinner and a thousand or so (give or take – 😉 for dessert, where we’ll have our extended family Pollyanna and Yankee Swap.

  • Danielle M.

    Growing up, it was huge Italian feast, 7 fishes, opening presents and midnight Mass. Now it is 4pm Mass on Christmas Eve, huge Italian feast, opening presents from family. We have always always had Chinese takeout for Christmas dinner. After eating sooo much the night before and staying up late, no one was interested in a big meal, and you know, sticks.

  • That Was Then

    French Canadian tourtiere (spiced ground pork pie) with cranberry sauce dolloped on top! That is the taste of Christmas in my family, served after midnight mass. We call it Reveillon, and don’t go to sleep until 4 or 5 am. A toast is given, presents are opened, and a big feast commences, including turkey, etc. Christmas Day is spent relaxing and leftovers are eaten in the evening.

  • anna lisa

    Right now I’m cooking our Christmas Eve meal. It is a Colombian soup called Aijiaco, I’m not sure how to spell it but it sounds like “eye-hee-a-co”. My family loves it because you can jazz it up or dress it down for the more finicky little squirts. What I’m working on right now is the chicken stock. It will cook down all day. Tomorrow I will add three different kids of potato, yuca and then the minced and seasoned chicken. On the table will be a bowl of seasoned halved avocados, a bowl of spicy Ahee (cilantro, green onion, chilis and lime) a bowl of creme fraiche, and a dish of capers. If I really wanted to knock myself out I’d make some fried bananas and yuca chips as well, but I’ll only do it if my husband does it for me.

    Christmas day will be a collaboration between my Mother, who is making prime rib, roasted veggies from my sister Teresa, mashed potatoes which one of my boys will do, and my husband’s signature gravy-masterpiece. My mother usually does a raw platter of veggies as well. She also makes a slew of desserts and is pretty famous for her cheese pie. Guests always bring goodies and See’s candy–and yes, the whole evening will be awash in booze– I will forgo the cheese pie for it because I’m not pregnant and there will be almost seventeen loud teenagers that I will need to anesthetize myself from, but I will be careful to imbibe it like an IV drip, lest I cause scandal. If you ever happen to be a guest in our loony bin *never* but *NEVER* accept a Margarita from my husband. It will taste great, have fresh squeezed juice and fancy French liqueur, but these all serve to mask the eighteen shots he puts in there. His victim last year was our pastor. I should have protected him. Mea Culpa.

  • Fr. Denis Lemieux

    Tourtiere, butter tarts, and nanaimo bars. Why yes, I AM Canadian – how can you tell?

  • MC. D.

    My family is also big on Not Cooking On Christmas. They get deli meats and cheeses, chips, soda, veggies and dip, and potato rolls. Set it all out to build your own sandwiches and eat on the floor like civilized people.