Holiday feasts are daunting enough when prepared for a few kids, a set of in-laws and the occasional cousin or two. For Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, of TLC's "18 Kids and Counting," Christmas dinner is attended by anywhere from 30 to 45 members of their immediate and extended family. Although most gatherings of this size would probably be mass pandemonium, each Duggar lends a hand to make Christmas dinner a memorable -- and delicious -- event for everyone involved.
Served buffet-style, Christmas dinner at the Duggar house has to please the entire household, from parents to toddler-aged children. The family meal is compilation of traditional dishes, including two turkeys, mashed potatoes, stuffing and green beans. A smattering of somewhat less conventional but equally delicious favorites brought by guests and whipped up in-house add a touch of flair and flavor to the meal.
"Different family members will bring specialty dishes, like my sister from Ohio, who brings the peanut butter and chocolate Buckeyes," said Michelle Duggar. "That's always something we look forward to after dinner."
Customary cold-weather drinks, such as hot apple cider and hot chocolate with Christmas tree-shaped marshmallows, are a must-have at any Duggar winter gathering. The clan adds a little heat to the cider by stirring in red-hot cinnamon candies.
A minimum of 15 homemade pecan, apple and pumpkin pies grace the dessert buffet. Made entirely from scratch, Duggar family pumpkin pies are so cherished that they're actually served in place of birthday cakes all year long. "We have pumpkin pie every month of the year!" explained Michelle. "We make our own crusts with fluted edges. The girls especially get really creative, and we have made some cute pies using cookie cutters."
More beloved than any of this mouth-watering fare are the traditional Duggar homemade yeast rolls. Originally introduced to the family by a close friend, these easy-to-make and versatile rolls have become a staple at holiday and other gatherings.
"Everyone that comes to have Christmas dinner with us goes home with the yeast roll recipe," Michelle shared. "The rolls melt in your mouth!"
Although the rolls are primarily served with Christmas dinner, they double as dessert or even breakfast when topped with honey, jam or apple butter. Substituting one cup of whole-wheat flour in place of regular white flour can easily increase the healthiness factor of this no-fail recipe.
"One cup of whole wheat flour makes it richer and healthier and turns out well if you don't add too much," advised Michelle.
The only thing better than the taste of the rolls is how preparing them brings the family together. Jim Bob and Michelle have fostered a love of cooking in their household by letting all of the children lend a hand in assembly-line fashion when making these rolls and other dishes.
Michelle said, "We pull stools up to the counter so the younger children can help. Letting them get in there helps gets that love of cooking started at an early age."
More Duggar-tested and approved recipes are available at TLC.