Comfort Food

Comfort Food

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Many of my Christmas traditions are carried over from my own childhood or from my husband’s childhood!  My antique ornament collection includes several small boxes of mercury painted glass ornaments from Joe’s mother’s collection, too.   I have to admit that I don’t use those anymore, but maybe next year, I’ll decorate a tree with those and with ornaments that my daughter made when she was a little girl.   We have a precious angel made from a man’s handkerchief that has another child’s name written in it!   I never could find the Sunday School mom that ended up with an angel with Nicole’s name in it, though … so we just always enjoyed the one we came home with!  We called it "Andi the Angel" because that is the name written inside it!

I have so many treasured items that I’ve received as gifts over the years, that I should just decorate the whole house and leave everything out (and up) all year long!  All those things matter, but the food traditions are the things that I love most.

Homemade eggnog … on every Christmas Eve for 45 years!   Homemade Irish Cream since some nurses (who were nuns) at Notre Dame gave their secret recipe to my husband!  Marshmallow cream fudge … chocolate, peanut butter and vanilla … was a welcome addition after watching my mom make it without the magic of marshmallow cream for my whole childhood!  Penuche made in a big cast iron skillet, using Mrs. Harrison’s recipe.  The Harrisons were like an extra set of grandparents for us.  They lived right across the street from us.   Fruitcake.  Yes, my husband and I loved fruitcake, so I baked it every year.

The most important food tradition on my list is a Christmas morning breakfast treat!  In 1974, a magazine had a picture of the cutest Christmas Tree made from cinnamon rolls.  Homemade cinnamon rolls were already one of my specialties, so shaping the Christmas Tree was an easy creation.  Sweet icing, maraschino cherry ornaments in red and green … and colored sugars to make a garland.  Needless to say, after the first year … this became a tradition.   When Nicole got married, her dad reminded her that she needed to carry on with that tradition and she has!

You can google this idea and find hundreds of recipes for the dough.  Shortcuts certainly include frozen bread dough or frozen cinnamon rolls.  Another shortcut is to simply use tubes of cinnamon rolls that bake in just a few minutes.  I’ve even seen this done with tubes of  crescent rolls spread with hazelnut chocolate and rolled up … then baked in a tree shape.  I’m going to share my refrigerator rolls recipe with you, so at least the longest part of the rising process will be done overnight in the fridge!

All you do with any of the risen dough you are using is roll it out into a rectangle that is about half an inch thick.  Brush it with melted butter, sprinkle generously with dark brown sugar and chopped nuts ... sprinkle with cinnamon!  Then you roll it up like a jelly roll, slice it in 1-inch pieces and place them in a prepared sheet pan.  Shape them like a tree!

I let them rest and rise a little more (up to an hour until they are about double the original size), then bake them at 375 degrees for 10 - 15 minutes or until they are starting to brown on the edges. 

Frost them with a simple combination of powdered sugar and a few drops of milk.  Flavored coffee creamer makes a good glaze, too … just use it instead of milk.

There are lots of ways to finish decorating the tree!  Sprinkle chocolate chips over the tree and place it back in the oven for just a few minutes until the chips melt.  Add more nuts to the tree or sprinkle it with any of the things you use to decorate cookies!  You can use peppermint candies, gum drops,  … anything that makes you happy!


Overnight Refrigerator Rolls 

When using this recipe for Christmas Tree Rolls, divide the dough in half roll it out and prepare for rolls.  You’ll be able to cut 10 – 12 rolls from each portion.


1 1/4 cups warm water (105 degrees F to 115 degrees F)
1 pkg or 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Sprinkle with a little of the 1/3 cup sugar.

After the yeast starts to bubble a little, add in 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the rest of the sugar, oil, egg, and salt. Beat with an electric mixer ... I use my dough hook on my Kitchen Aid. Scrape down the sides and mix for five minutes until you have a sticky ball! 

Pour a little canola oil in a refrigerator container large enough to allow the dough to triple in size. Roll the ball of dough around to coat all sides with oil. Refrigerate overnight (or up to 3 days). 

When you are ready to use it, pour it out onto a floured surface and let it rest 15 minutes. Shape the dough into 24 balls - don't overwork the dough. Place into a greased pan 13 x 9 inch pan. You can use any size pans, really ... or place the rolls on a greased baking sheet with a couple inches space between them. 

Cover the rolls and place in a warm location ... Let them rise until double in size. This will take between 1 and 2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes for individual rolls, about 20 minutes for pan rolls, or until golden. Immediately remove rolls from pans. If desired, brush tops of rolls with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Serve warm. Makes 2 dozen rolls.


This post is part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetable project!  If you want to see more, click the menu button!  Enjoy

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