Christmas Eve Day holds many preparations for the coming dates – figuring out what vegetables you want in your garden, adding reminder dates to your calendar for when to start and transplant them, watching a YouTube channel of a more experienced gardener in your zone….oh, you didn’t do that today? Well, how about checking out the half off sale at a local thrift store and buying items at the hardware store to fix a running toilet. Did you do those, too? Perhaps you were more likely to have also picked up a few grocery items, picked up cookie decorating items from a friend, and prepare tomorrow’s breakfast.
Contrary to the picture above, today was a beautiful spring-esque day. No snow. It felt wrong for the end of December but I am not complaining.
Our Christmas Day plans this year are a bit different than years past since we are not joining family to celebrate. As we were “staying in town” some friends invited us to join them to celebrate. Then sickness hit and those plans changed yesterday.
The cookie decorating was to be done at our friends’ house, unbeknownst to the kids. Even though the gathering has been postponed our friends did not want to see all the supplies go to waste. During my errands today I dropped by their house to aquire the materials. The kids were quite excited to see the bag full of supplies I picked up and brought home. Hopefully tomorrow will find them creatively engaged for quite a while.
While doing laundry today I realized I did not have actual food plans tomorrow beyond breakfast. We had planned to take desserts to the Christmas gathering where the hosts were making the main parts. Opening the freezer my Plan B began to take shape. The main meal tomorrow will have a southern, rather than predictable Midwest, flare as I do have chicken and Panko crumbs but no ham or green bean casserole. The oven fried chicken I made earlier this month turned out fabulous when tested on the kids. It is fairly easy, light on the mess, and full of flavor. Perfect for a filling meal tomorrow. We can add in sides of potatoes, grilled onions, cherry tomatoes, and other goodies. George will also be Chief Dessert Officer (CDO) and given a choice of box mixes to create.
Before getting to food the kids will want to be opening gift, of course. Jack even made sure to double check that there would be gifts in the morning rather than having to wait because of not seeing family and others being sick. I reassured him there would be.
After the Puddin’ Heads went to sleep I set out to create the asked for scavenger hunt. I had been trying to gather inspiration these past few days to create some sort of theme or direction. It was not coming to me and I had pretty much given up on this family tradition. Sitting in the semi-dark with quiet around me a poem came to mind. Inspiration had found me.
With only three written clues this is by far the shortest treasure hunt we have done. The kids will find the bottom right-hand note in their stockings leading them to the upper right-hand note (in the freezer). That note will hopefully tip them off to check out our Christmas village where they will find the poem, on the left in the photo above. Once outside they will be presented with a goodie-bag crumb trail leading to their literal Big Gift.
And that has been my relaxing Christmas Eve Day. I hope yours has been as full of good points, even if the plans end up working out different than previously thought. What have you been up to today?
If you are looking for a delicious breakfast, here is the Sticky Buns recipe I used. It does take time to rise but otherwise is not a hard recipe. Enjoy!
Yield: 12 rolls
- ⅔cup water
- 1⁄4 cup (1 ⅓ ounces) bread flour
- ⅔cup milk
- 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
- 2 3⁄4 cups (15 ⅛ ounces) bread flour
- 2 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast or instant
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1⁄2 cup packed (3 ½ ounces) dark brown sugar
- 1⁄4 cup (1 ¾ ounces) granulated sugar
- 1⁄4 cup dark corn syrup
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup pecans toasted and chopped (optional)
- 3⁄4 cup packed (5 ¼ ounces) dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- These buns take about 4 hours to make from start to finish. For dough that is easy to work with and produces light, fluffy buns, we strongly recommend that you measure the flour for the dough by weight. The slight tackiness of the dough aids in flattening and stretching it in step 6, so resist the urge to use a lot of dusting flour. Rolling the dough cylinder tightly in step 7 will result in misshapen rolls; keep the cylinder a bit slack. Bake these buns in a metal, not glass or ceramic, baking pan. We like dark corn syrup and pecans here, but light corn syrup may be used, and the nuts may be omitted, if desired.
- FOR THE FLOUR PASTE: Whisk water and flour together in small bowl until no lumps remain. Microwave, whisking every 25 seconds, until mixture thickens to stiff, smooth, pudding-like consistency that forms mound when dropped from end of whisk into bowl, 50 to 75 seconds.
- FOR THE DOUGH: In bowl of stand mixer, whisk flour paste and milk together until smooth. Add egg and yolk and whisk until incorporated. Add flour and yeast. Fit stand mixer with dough hook and mix on low speed until all flour is moistened, 1 to 2 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes. Add sugar and salt and mix on medium-low speed for 5 minutes. Stop mixer and add butter. Continue to mix on medium-low speed for 5 minutes longer, scraping down dough hook and sides of bowl halfway through (dough will stick to bottom of bowl).
- Transfer dough to lightly floured counter. Knead briefly to form ball and transfer seam side down to lightly greased bowl; lightly coat surface of dough with vegetable oil spray and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise until just doubled in volume, 40 minutes to 1 hour.
- FOR THE TOPPING: While dough rises, grease 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan. Whisk melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt together in medium bowl until smooth. Add water and whisk until incorporated. Pour mixture into prepared pan and tilt pan to cover bottom. Sprinkle evenly with pecans, if using.
- FOR THE FILLING: Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl and mix until thoroughly combined; set aside.
- Turn out dough onto lightly floured counter. Press dough gently but firmly to expel air. Working from center toward edge, pat and stretch dough to form 18 by 15-inch rectangle with long edge nearest you. Sprinkle filling over dough, leaving 1-inch border along top edge; smooth filling into even layer with your hand, then gently press mixture into dough to adhere.
- Beginning with long edge nearest you, roll dough into cylinder, taking care not to roll too tightly. Pinch seam to seal and roll cylinder seam side down. Mark gently with knife to create 12 equal portions. To slice, hold strand of dental floss taut and slide underneath cylinder, stopping at first mark. Cross ends of floss over each other and pull. Slice cylinder into 12 portions and transfer, cut sides down, to prepared baking pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until buns are puffy and touching one another, 40 minutes to 1 hour. (Buns may be refrigerated immediately after shaping for up to 14 hours. To bake, remove baking pan from refrigerator and let sit until buns are puffy and touching one another, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.) Meanwhile, adjust oven racks to lowest and lower-middle positions. Place rimmed baking sheet on lower rack to catch any drips and heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Bake buns on upper rack until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Tent with aluminum foil and bake until center of dough registers at least 200 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Let buns cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Place rimmed baking sheet over buns and carefully invert. Remove pan and let buns cool for 5 minutes. Using spoon, scoop any glaze on baking sheet onto buns. Let cool for at least 10 minutes longer before serving.