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Ideas for Christmas Day long drive

My husband and I are going to be driving 6 hours to go my brother's house for dinner at 1pm. (The more I think about it, the more crazy I think we are for doing this.) SInce I don't know if even fast food places would be open on Christmas morning--and I'd like something nicer anyway--I'm trying to think of what would be something delicious and relatively easy to eat in the car. Only things I've thought of so far are rotisserie chicken sandwiches or quiche (I can feed my husband while he drives).

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  1. I know you'll have to rise & shine early to make your destination on time but if it's breakfast you're concerned about, you could cook some bacon, sausage or other meat the night before & refrigerate. In the morning, it takes a couple of minutes to scramble eggs. You could make breakfast wraps...add cheese or hash browns. Make the night before with the meat then heat them both in the microwave and wrap in foil for the trip. Add some sliced fruit or berries and a thermos or mug of your favorite beverage and you're set until dinner. Pack a couple of muffins, granola bars or another snack to tide you over if you need a little something.

    If breakfast is not what you want, why stop at rotesserie chicken sandwiches? You could do any sandwich; I wouldn't suggest anything that is messy & going to drip for the driver. He can feed himself. JMO. Have a safe trip!

    1. savory muffins: bacon, cheese, onion, bell peppers
      chicken, chopped pear, chutney, chopped romaine, wrapped in burrito style tortillas
      pineapple chunks, berries, peeled oranges
      really good coffee and juice
      and I couldn't get through a 6 hr drive without a package of potato chips :)

      1 Reply
      1. re: KarenDW

        I'd completely avoid any ingredients that might be main features in the dinner meal. How about a Spanish tortilla/frittata (eggs, potatoes, onions and any vegetables you want to add, such as peas or red peppers), sliced to fit into crusty baguettes? Pack some fruits, nuts, veggie sticks and other foods you could easily consume in the car, plus beverages and you're good to go. My reasoning is that since you'll be eating a large holiday meal in the early afternoon, you car treats should be more snack-ish but healthy. Chances are good that there will be lots of temptations over the course of the rest of the day.

      2. I think this depends on how early you get up and when you normally feel like eating. Sounds like you'll be leaving the house at 7am. For me, I'm ready for breakfast with protein at that time of day. Also, will you need a rest stop and stretch your legs so maybe you should leave at 6:30am to allow time for that. For a morning, we would probably need two stops LOL. Hence, my vote would be for a scrambled egg/ham/cheese type meal in a wrap but I would not eat while driving since I like to dip my wraps in salsa.
        For the second stop or to eat around 10:30 am would be fresh fruit and a cheese stick. For us, it would be an apple. Since dinner won't be until 1pm (or later!?) I would also have muffins, something with a lot of fruit and fiber. Your favorite juice and coffee anytime.

        1. We always opt for crap: Donettes (yes those chocolate-wax covered donuts), a bag of strawberry twizzlers, and peanut m&m's. Coffee to start, then I switch to water, husband guzzles Mt. Dew.
          That's our road trip basics. I tried to get some healthy stuff, once. The organic/all natural licorice was disgusting. So, we eat the junk... not stuff we eat on a regular basis, so makes the road trip junk kind of "special." ha!
          Other ideas:
          Banana Nut bread made into cream cheese sandwiches, sliced summer sausage/cheese sandwiches (on dinner rolls, perfect size), assorted muffins (but they can be kinda crumbly, as can be granola bars), can of nuts (I like those small cans of natural almonds).

          1 Reply
          1. re: wyogal

            Wyogal - just add some Doritos and that sounds like me and my husband, right down to him guzzling Mt. Dew!

            Seriously, though, there are lots of good ideas in this thread already. If I were going to pack a sandwich to take along, it would probably be a muffaletta. Small quiches (made in muffin tins so they're easy to hold in one hand) would be awesome as well, and can be eaten hot or room (car) temp.

          2. Get up earlier and make a breakfast burrito or a kg of bacon if that'll turn your crank.

            For the road, all the other suggestions are good and I'll throw in empanadas/Cornish pasties, onigiri and charcuterie (though I'm not sure how much you want salted pork product - it works for me).

            Fast-food are generally open should you have that need for a McMuffin.

            Do you have some sweet sweet booze to help you through the meal?

            1. I suggest that you not feed your husband while he drives. Take a break by parking and eating for the sake of safety for the rest of the people on road if not for yourselves.

              Prepare sandwiches with non-drip ingredients like cold cuts. Do you really need haute cuisine on the road? Won't you be fed well once you arrive at your destination?

              1 Reply
              1. re: ChiliDude

                I think a combination of Christmas morning and a six hour drive requires some special food even if it's Twizzlers you don't usually eat. But I agree that rest stops are the best time for eating except for some little snacks along the way.

              2. My go to for something like this is a baked stuffed bread. You start w/ dough (I make my own but you can buy frozen and it works fine). Roll flat, fill w/ whatever you want (eggs, bacon and cheese are great for breakfast), roll and pinch seams closed. Bake. Something like this:


                1. To try to reply to most of you in one shot: I know we could eat junk food on the way, but this will be CHRISTMAS morning and if I had my druthers, I'd be home eating eggs Benedict (prepared by my husband, of course). It's going to be a long boring drive for us, so the least I can do is bring something special to eat along the way.

                  I LOVE the ideas offered along the lines of stuffed bread. I've been trying to figure out for over 10 years how to make a steak and mushroom pie like we used to buy at a British bakery in Escondido, CA (long gone now). One of our fondest memories is of a picnic at the San Diego Wild Animal Park with those steak and mushroom pies, Cornish pasties, and Eccles cakes. If I could secretly produce something like that for the drive, I would make my husband's day.

                  But a "savory muffin" also sounds good. Never made one before, so I'll have to look into it.

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: Thanks4Food

                    Muffins are kinda crumbly. I'd rather go with a quick bread, like banana nut, or zucchini, made into a sandwich.
                    Good salami and cheese, on a small bun, can eat in a few bites with one hand.

                    and the junk food IS special, as we never get twizzlers unless we are on a road trip or at the movies.

                    1. re: Thanks4Food

                      A Cornish pasty would be great. Is there a reason you can't do one?

                      On the steak odea, Trader Joe's has a great puff pastry this time of year and pie dough so it could be done if you're short on time. We use Trader Joe's philly cheese steak mix (rib eye and skirt steak), cook it up w/ cooked onions and mushrooms. Top on one side of the puff pastry w/ cheese. Put the top on, crimp edges and bake.

                      1. re: chowser

                        Re: the pasties: the only reason being that I don't know how and have no recipes. Unfortunately, the closest TJs is 3 hours away. That's why we don't expect a lot available on the road: we're in the South and won't be driving through any large cities.

                        So that I don't have to individually reply to everyone: we won't want to eat breakfast at 6am and we're not coffee drinkers. The point of my post was to get ideas for something tastey I could make the day before and eat room temp in the car. Something that would surprise and please my husband would be especially welcome. So the stuffed bread/pastry ideas are great as well as that suggestion to make muffin-sized quiches. I saw those Nancy's petite quiches the other day at the store and thought that something like that would be ideal.

                        1. re: Thanks4Food

                          I don't suppose something like baked teriyaki or soy-braised wings would work? They're nice cold and you could leave a little trail of bones as you traverse the country.

                          Gingershelley just posted on stromboli, which looks like a big pastie. Make it to pizza pocket size and don't use any filling that spills out and you're good to go.

                          1. re: wattacetti

                            Yes, I was thinking that myself: a smaller version of stromboli would be great.

                            If I did the wing thing, I would definitely make him stop to eat: I'm imagining sticky sauce all over the steering wheel and instrument panel. :-P

                          2. re: Thanks4Food

                            Recipe? You are on the internet......
                            Pie dough, cook up a filling (ground beef, onions, potatoes, a tad bit of gravy. Fold, seal. Bake. ta-da. But before you fold, put a tablespoon of jam in the corner for the last bite.

                            1. re: wyogal

                              Wow, Wyogal,

                              I think we all get that we are ON the internet, since this is where we are gathering here.

                              Some posters rather than Bing or Google for recipe sources, come here instead for tried and true threads, and advice from posters who's handle's they recogognize and value, that is the difference.

                              Some people need more encouragement to enter areas where they are not confident in cooking, as I have found as a cooking teacher. A few of my students know as much as me - it seems like they show up for the confidence boost - like they don't believe in their own instincts. Some just like to learn in person, or from a knowledgeable teacher rather than fling about.
                              Isn't this whole board about community, and support, and the exchange of ideas? Please don't put an earnest poster down for her questions.

                              Speaking of instincts, really? Put a Tblsp of Jam at the bottom of a savory pastry for sweet bite at the end? Funky... have you found it really si good?

                              I would rather have my dessert a little apart from my savory pocket.

                              1. re: gingershelley

                                The bit of jam in the corner is a historic way of making pasties.
                                You really don't need our advice. You know what you want, you know what you don't want.
                                You don't need to bite heads off the folks you disagree with.
                                you know, support and all that.
                                Just trying to help.

                                1. re: wyogal

                                  Wyogal, I don't think you are saying that to OP, but to me; I agree... I kind of thought you were doing that to her. My apoligies if you thought I said to you same.

                                  All is good. Let's let our loving community share and grow.

                              2. re: wyogal

                                It has been a few years now, but I searched all over the web and couldn't find recipes for steak pies and Cornish pasties. And last year I specifically asked the Chowhound folks for a steak and mushroom pie recipe and got no replies at all. (Husband and I would not want ground beef.)

                                1. re: wyogal

                                  As gingershelley said, the whole point of Chowhound is to get ideas/recommendations from other cooks. A great deal of the posts on Chowhound are for recipes, so are you going to say the same to them? ("You're on the internet...")

                                  I was hoping that if someone mentioned Cornish pasties and meat pies, they might be British and be able to give me an authentic recipe that they or their mothers/grandmothers make. My nephew-in-law is British and loves to cook and I can't even get him to give him a steak and mushroom pie recipe.

                                  1. re: Thanks4Food

                                    I like this pasty recipe and think it tastes like the real thing we ate in Cornwall. I am definitely not British, but a great pasty fan.
                                    Have only made it once, but always mean to again. It would be great car food. The lard is important for making the pastry correctly as is slicing, not cubing the veggies.

                                    We travel with frittate since they are yummy, nutritious and forgiving.

                                    1. re: magiesmom

                                      Wow, just checked out the site and it looks great (except for that turnip/rutabaga ingredient--I'm not keen on trying new veggies). But I realize now that I don't think we've ever had one of these. Must have been a run-of-the-mill pasty and not a Cornish pasty. I'm thinking these might be a bit too big for our purposes and so might rather go with a sausage roll. Any idea what the traditional sausage is that's used in a sausage roll? (All I ever see locally are breakfast sausages which I hate or Italian sweet or hot. WHERE does one get other types of sausages?)

                              3. re: Thanks4Food

                                Sorry, I'm fixated on Trader Joe's puff pastry because it's seasonal but Pepperidge Farm would do and you could use any type of meat, even ground beef, or bacon and sliced eggs for a breakfast feel. I love the stuffed bread but think that puff pastry takes it up a notch, as nice pastry goes. I leave the stuffed bread at room temperature overnight but you'd have to go w/ your comfort level. It refrigerates but the bread does get a little harder.

                                You could also do home made pop tarts. I like this recipe but you could use premade pie dough if you don't like making dough. I've tried different fillings but nothing beats the cinnamon sugar filling on the site:


                                Another one I love is baked oatmeal. It's like an oatmeal cookie for breakfast. You could make this and a batch of bacon for the trip. Both easy to eat.

                                If you do quiche, bake them in mini muffin or muffin tins and they'll hold together for eating in the car. Minis are best because they're bite sized. You can make them in advance, freeze and then bake the night before to heat.

                                Oh, whatever you do, no peeled grapes to feed your husband--it's a choking hazard and you don't want to be doing the Heimlich maneuver at 60 mph.:-) Seriously, though, I think grapes are the perfect fruit for road trips, seedless, unless you want to do the When Harry Met Sally thing and spit them out the window.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  Thanks for the ideas. Even though I posted just awhie ago about going with Hickory Farms...I'm already swerving (to use an impaired driver term) back to some kind of stuffed pastry.

                                  I'm still laughing over the Heimlich at 60...

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    i really like frozen grapes on a road trip.

                                    there is something about road trips-- i just hate packing my own sandwich or lunch or whatever, it kind of sucks because sometimes awful fast food happens as a result. i think it's something about having a smell/odor of the food in the car for a few hours, and then i never want to eat the sandwich, i'd rather stop and eat something much more mediocre. then of course, i'm like, gross, why did i do that/why didn't i plan better?

                                    in my own case, i would think really hard about shops in my hometown that would be open for business on that day, either a 365 day doughnut shop or similar establishment, or owned-operated by folks who don't celebrate that religious holiday-- like a jewish deli or chinese bakery, and get some bagels or steamed buns, or some banh mi or halal gyros or something. i don't know if the op lives or will be driving through a good area for that, though.

                              4. re: Thanks4Food

                                Here is a recipe for a simple stuffed bread - italian style- called a Stromboli; http://www.fabulousfoods.com/recipes/... this has cured meats, roasted peppers, basil, cheeses, etc. in it. Used to do this at a catering company I was chef at. We brushed the dough with italian dressing before layering the stuffing ingredients.
                                I think you could also use this dough (sturdy enough to contain things and handle a little fatty action), with med-rare steak, sauteed mushrooms & onions, and put a thin layer of beef gravy to make it a little moist when you cut it - that could be your steak pie ;)!

                                Let us know what you do. Happy Holidays!

                              5. Alton Brown talked about ideal car food... probably on that motorcycle show he did. I think he said the Banana is the ideal car food. In my opinion, it is not as ideal as other fruits because you've gotta deal with the peel.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: GraydonCarter

                                  And the smell of the peel if you don't get rid of it ASAP.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Soupkitten had the right idea with grapes. Sometimes I'll stop at a salad bar and fill a container with finger foods combined... grapes, grape tomatos, olives, pinapple chunks.

                                  2. re: GraydonCarter

                                    Actually, I have some precious Satsuma oranges that cost me an arm and a leg. (I used to be able to buy for $5/grocery bag-full in San Diego. Sigh.) They are super easy to peel and eat--and the peel smells good too. Glad you reminded me to bring those along. They are actually my #1 Christmas present to myself.

                                    1. re: Thanks4Food

                                      Wow, Thks4fd, what part of the country are you in? In Seattle this week, at one major groc. chain, a 3 lb. bag of Satsuma's is $3.99....

                                      I love those too, as grandparents in Tucson had a tree, and our christmas box growing up came packed in Satsuma's! Or, if we went there, we had fresh juice from the tree every day!

                                      1. re: gingershelley

                                        Sob. We're in the South and I just spent $3.99/lb at a farmer's market. Last year the ones at Whole Foods were all mushy and horrible. I couldn't believe they were still trying to sell them.

                                        1. re: Thanks4Food

                                          Can I send you a box/bag? That just seems wrong...

                                          email me at my profile email, and I can buy a couple bags and mail em' no problem.

                                          One of the best recipes EVER I have made with satsuma/tangerine's is this:


                                          This is the second-best dessert I have ever made! Seemed a little counter-intuitive on reading, and the sauce needed some work, but WOW, amazing as all the parts/ tastes come together.

                                          I am hoarding Satsuma's now to have juice in the freezer to serve this all winter.

                                          Really, I will send. Such a shame to go without or have them bad at that awful price..

                                          1. re: gingershelley

                                            Thank you for sharing this recipe! It sounds incredible!!

                                              1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                Oh, Terrie and thanks4fd, seriously -

                                                I don't make 'complicated' desserts often - I am more of a cooking than dessert lady, except for special occasions.. all that measuring and folowing the recipe!

                                                But this! It was I think, from of all things from a Sept. issue of Bon Appetit (back when I still liked the mag. a few years ago). Kind of early for tangerines, but I don't remember it being an issue - I am on west coast, they come in early.

                                                Anyhoo, this was pretty simple, divide and conquer. Make the brittle one day, put in airtight container. make semifreddo the next if you need. layer. freeze overnight or two (more makes it a litle funny in my experience).

                                                As for sauce, not the best; I ended up making a weak sugar syrup with 1/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, a little tangerine peel, the juice, and after taking off heat and cooling for a bit, adding the segments, and spash of grand marnier for a boost.

                                                This is THE BEST TANGERINE USE I HAVE EVER FOUND. showcases all the flavors of it, in pillows of crunchy brittle, and a little creaminess.

                                                This would be a showstopping end to a holiday meal. I take no credit. Just sharin'....

                                    2. Actually, we have had more success finding food on the road on Christmas versus Thanksgiving. A lot of restaurants are open especially in metropolitan areas.

                                      1. If you eat breakfast before you leave, I'd think you'll really just need some snacks/small meal to tide you over.

                                        Peter Reinhart's soft cheese bread, or a cheese and sausage bread and clementines.
                                        Portuguese sweet bread, some firm good cheese and coffee.
                                        Sausage rolls, using a hiqh-quality sausage and sharp mustard with some apple slices.
                                        Small sandwiches of thinly sliced charcuterie, apple, sharp cheese and mustard.
                                        Croissant with good ham and cheese or chicken salad.

                                        (apparently I'm in a meat, bread and cheese mood. Maybe I need breakfast.)

                                        Apple or cherry turnovers or hand-pies.
                                        mini-quiche or muffin-size frittata

                                        Although, the more I think about it, the more my answer is: eat breakfast first, take some emergency rations in case you have car trouble, drink some coffee on the road and show up hungry for lunch. I probably would splurge on a fancy coffee instead of my usual black, though.

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: flourless

                                          Do you have any recipes for sausage rolls? I'm thinking I could make tiny quiches and then have sausage rolls.

                                          1. re: Thanks4Food

                                            I can't eat wheat anymore, I'm afraid, so my recipes are unlikely to be what you're looking for. I can give you the general idea, though. I do them as whatever cooked sausage sounds good, an appropriate sharp cheese, a smear of dijon. I wrap them in whatever bread-like dough I've been working with lately, roll them up and bake them off.

                                            Since you can presumably have wheat, I'd suggest using frozen puff-pastry or another enriched dough.

                                            1. re: Thanks4Food

                                              I love sausage rolls, but haven't made them at home. The best to me seem to have bread crumbs in the filling to lighten it up. Here's a recipe that sounds good:
                                              I'd add plenty of pepper and some herbs.

                                              1. re: emily

                                                This looks great--and really easy, too. Thanks so much!

                                            2. re: flourless

                                              Peter Reinhart's casatiello would be perfect!


                                              Meat, cheese, bread, all in one and it's delicious.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                Holy Cow, chowser, I only just noticed this post! I think you've got our Christmas road food! I've been on a bread-baking binge (using Artisan Bread in 5) and this looks like a great one to try. I love the idea of it being all in one. (Then I can tell my brother and sister-in-law that all we had on the way was a little bread. :-)

                                                I'm not clear, though, on where the actual recipes are. Do I need the book?

                                                1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                  Sorry, I didn't notice it didn't have the recipe. Here's one with the recipe, and the person made smaller ones which might be perfect for you. Don't cut the fat in half like the blogger recommends. It's good.


                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    Thank you for this - I can already feel my thighs growing!

                                                    1. re: biondanonima

                                                      It's excellent--typical of anything Peter Reinhart. I think I'm gong to make it for our breakfast, too. I just read a blog where the person did it w/ bacon and cheddar.

                                            3. I just got another idea, thanks to the Hickory Farms catalog that came in today's mail. I could kill two birds with one stone by presenting my husband with one of their gift baskets Christmas morning--then we could proceed to nibble on the treats on the drive. With the addition of some apples and/or satsumas for me and some Barq's rootbeer for him, this might just be the best bet. (No home cooking, though.)

                                              1. We have been stuck on the road on Xmas day and there were no fast food places open. This has happened a few times in a few different states, due to the fact that most of the world gets the day off, but not the next day, so traveling is necessary to make the 8am bell on December 26. We have since refused to travel more than a few hours for any holiday.

                                                After one Xmas dinner of pringles and Lunchables (pleases don't feed those disgusting things to your kids!), we learned to always have trail mix or granola, bananas, etc. In the car. Unless you intend to stop somewhere and get out, it is very hard to enjoy a meal eating in the car.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: mojoeater

                                                  We will definitely be stopping which is why I want to leave an hour earlier than necessary to allow for stopping and stretching. I'm getting some good ideas here with Cornish pasties, grapes, maybe some hummus and pita chips. And then there's GOT to be some Christmas cookies too!

                                                  This may be a one-time deal: we haven't spent a Christmas with family in many years and this is a rare opportunity to do so. But I realize the drive may also convince us that "There's no place like home." :-)

                                                2. You said you were in "the South", but where exactly? If it is cold or warm that would dictate what would be "road food". If it is cold I'd make some calzones the night before and then reheat that morning, wrap in foil, and put in insulated tote for the drive. They won't be piping hot but still nice and warm.

                                                  If it is warm I'd do sandwiches or wraps.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Barbara76137

                                                    Lots of the 7-11 style gas stations have a microwave inside.

                                                    1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                      Lots of those places won't allow you to bring in your own food to heat up in their microwaves.

                                                      1. re: Cherylptw

                                                        You could prep a stromboli the night before, bake it about 2/3 of the way, then let cool and sit, loosely covered with foil, until morning. If you can set a timer on your oven, have it preheat so that when you wake up, you can pop the stromboli into the oven and finish it. Wrap it up and head out. It won't take long before you have to dig in, since the smells will be perfuming your car.

                                                  2. Didn't know where to stick this reply, but I've committed myself to sausage rolls. Went to Whole Foods this afternoon and bought 2 lbs of "Irish Bangers" sausages. Tried to ask the butchers about them, but they were pretty clueless. I noticed they had breadcrumbs in them already, so I suppose I don't have to add those to the recipe. Also bought more satsumas. Meant to buy grapes, but I'll get some next week.

                                                    I know it's not traditionally part of the recipe, but I'd like to add cheese in with the sausage. Any recommendations? I've got a pound of Italian pesto cheddar that we bought at a dairy a month or so ago....think that would clash? Should I stick with a straight cheddar? Wondering about Swiss too... We will NOT be dipping in ketchup even though that seems to be traditional. I might include Dijon inside the rolls themselves.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                      I'd probably go with a good cheddar with those sausages, but gruyere would be good. If you are going to add cheese, you want to be able to taste it. I might actually skip the cheese in this case because you won't be eating them hot and congealed cheese might not be as appetizing as it would be melty-hot from the oven.

                                                      I'm curious about the pesto cheddar you have on hand. I've never seen it and wonder who dreamed up putting cheddar and pest together.

                                                      1. re: Terrie H.

                                                        Sweetwater Valley Farm in Tennessee. http://www.sweetwatervalley.com/ They have lots of different flavors. Our favorite was the Onion and Chive, but we also bought Tomato/Herb and Italian Pesto.

                                                        I've been thinking that I might just have the cheese on the side along with apple or pear slices....

                                                        1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                          I do love cheddar with onions or chives. I'll have to look for theirs.

                                                    2. I'm more for savory in the morning, so if it were my husband and I, I'd make breakfast burritos.
                                                      I make them often for us and everyone, so they do work well for the car. I put the hot sauce right on the egg and protein, works nicely. I've tried making the sausage, egg cheese English muffins, but not as easy to eat as wraps are, I'd probably drink coffee before we left, so I'd bring bottled waters. Perhaps if you're still thinking you might get hungry, and depending on the time you're going to be dining at the brother's house, I'd make deli sandwiches. Cut them in half, and wrap separately, otherwise it will fall apart if you're driving. Bring some dijon mustard and mayo premixed with red wine vinegar in a squirt bottle. Also I have a fat thermos and since I love soup, that'd be my choice, and pour some in some toss-away cups. Maybe a homemade chicken noodle or chicken and rice. Nothing too heavy or thick. Chili and thicker soups are great for road trips if you're not going to eat at the destination. Pears, oranges are also nice, but can get messy in the car- grapes work well.