This was the first Christmas we spent away from our families in, well, EVER. While we were sad to miss the great food and company, we were also a little excited to venture out and start some of our own traditions. We decided before we left that we would forego gifts this year. After all, our gift to each other was the trip. And we’d been saving for it for a long, long time.
We spent Christmas at Davis Mountains State Park. We had originally wanted to spend it in Big Bend, but it was a little further than we thought we could drive in the days time we had to get there. And we were worried about a) cell service (we hear it’s not great at Big Bend) and b) a place to stay. There is not an official electric/water hookup at any of the state park / national park campsites in Big Bend. There are RV parks nearby, and even one in the park itself, but we really did not want to stay at an RV park if we didn’t have to. Especially the one in Big Bend. Online it appeared to not have great reviews.
We arrived at David Mountains late on the 23rd. We immediately saw the wild javelinas and deer and numerous wildlife. We settled in that evening and in the morning had planned a Christmas Eve hike in which I wore – get this – a tank top (!) We Facetimed some friends at the summit of our hike and our parents, too. We got back, wandered around the ground and up to the Indian lodge, where we made some new friends from Maine that we’d ran into on the trail. It was mid-afternoon by this time, so we headed back to the trailer. Because…WE COOKED CHRISTMAS IN THE TRAILER.
It was very ambitious, but since we forewent gifts this year and it was 70 degrees out and we needed something to make it feel like a special day, we decided to cook Christmas dinner. We originally wanted to get very ambitious and try cooking duck. But, as we’ve learned with road life, you never really know what kind of grocery store situation you’ll have. Especially in the semi-remote West Texas. So we stopped first at a Neighborhood Walmart in Pecos. We learned it did not have a full grocery store. Or really a grocery store at all. So we settled on our backup: chicken Waikiki beach. I stocked up on everything I could, still missing a few ingredients, and made one last pit stop at a liquor store in town for Carson’s contribution to the meal: hot buttered rum.
I’m including the recipes for our three biggest / most taxing dinner elements below. I hope you’ll give them a try. Chicken Waikiki Beach was an old recipe I’d gotten from my mother from McCall's Great American Recipe Card Collection. It was kind of tricky to make in the trailer given all the steps. And to complicate it more, we'd done steps 1 and 2, and then had to complete step 3 once we got back from Christmas Eve service...at 9:00pm at night. So, we didn't even eat our Christmas supper until 10:30pm. Wowza. Won't do that again!
Cheesy Hashbrown Potatoes
- 10 C frozen hashbrowns (or about 6 fresh potatoes hand diced / grated)
- ¼ C butter
- 2 C shredded cheddar cheese (that’s 1 bag!)
- 12 oz sour cream
- ½ can milk
- 1 can cream of chicken OR cream of mushroom soup
- Add potatoes or hashbrowns to the crockpot.
- Mix soup, milk and sour cream together. Pour over the hashbrowns.
- Stir in cheddar cheese.
- Cook 4-5 hrs on high or 8-10 hrs on low (if using real potatoes like us – we also did not grate them finely, just chopped them finely, because we did not bring along a grater).
- Cook 2 hrs on high or 4 hrs on low if using frozen hashbrowns.
Chicken Waikiki Beach
- 4-5 frozen chicken breasts
- ½ C flour
- Frying oil (we used coconut oil!)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Thaw the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels.
- Coat in mixture of flour, salt and pepper.
- Heat frying oil of your choice (we used coconut oil!) in a pan.
- Fry pieces together, a few at a time, until golden brown.
- Place on a tin foil lined baking sheet.
Move on to step 2: making sauce.
- 1 can sliced pineapple
- 1 C sugar
- 2 T cornstarch
- ¾ C apple cider vinegar
- 1 T soy sauce
- ¼ t ginger
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 1 large green pepper
- Drain juice from canned pineapple and save it. Add enough water so the juice + water = 1 ¼ C.
- In a saucepan, combine pineapple juice, sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and chicken bouillon.
- Bring to boil and cook two minutes.
Move on to step 3: baking.
- Remove from heat. Pour over the chicken.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Add pineapple and pepper slices on top.
- Bake another 30 minutes.
**Note: remember that trip to the Pecos Walmart? Yea, they didn’t have all the stuff I needed for this. So we made a slightly different version. We purchased Lawry’s pineapple marinade which had basically the pineapple juice, sugar, vinegar and ginger already in it. I combined that with some regular sugar and corn starch and some powder chicken bouillon that I had. Cooked it as directed, and voila. It was pretty darn good!
Hot Buttered Rum
- 1 lb butter
- 1 lb brown sugar
- 1 lb confectioner's sugar (aka powdered sugar)
- 1 qt vanilla ice cream, softened
- 1 T cinnamon
- 1 t nutmeg
- Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.
- Add brown sugar, powdered sugar.
- Remove from heat, add ice cream, cinnamon, nutmeg.
- Pour mixture into plastic container and freeze.
- To enjoy, mix 1 T hot buttered rum mix with 1 oz (or more if you like!) of spiced rum in a mug. Then fill the cup with boiling water and sprinkle with nutmeg.
**Note: This batch makes enough for 100 people! Way too much. So, we cut each ingredient by 1/8. That was some really hard math for our brains, especially since we didn't have access to the internet to quickly google it. We ended up kind of guesstimating, and it worked out just fine. I don't think there's any "messing up" when it comes to these ingredients! Also: Thanks, Mary Vaughan, for the recipe!