Tuesday, September 9, 2008

For the Love of Kylee

The daughter of a friend from church, Kylee's sweet spirit and pure heart have endeared her to the ladies in my dinner group. So in celebration of her 13th birthday, we planned a surprise party in her honor. I hope our evening of fun reminded Kylee how special she is to all of us. And even more, I hope it showed her she has a support group of women who will be there for her through her teenage years and beyond.

A pink and green color palette set a table that was festive, feminine and fresh.

Little touches brought this fun tablescape together. Decorator fabric cut with pinking shears made a lovely tablecloth. Name tags tied to the stems of our tea glasses served as place cards, but allowed us to take our drinks from the table without confusing glasses. And using preppy argyle-patterned paper and dotting our I's with hearts added youthful details. Pink and white balloons hung over the table and tied to Kylee's chair added punches of color. Lake photos of Kylee taken by my friend Allison and glued to card stock brightened each guest's place, while a keepsake party invitation on Kylee's plate let our honoree in on the surprise. Apples, candles and fabric-covered boxes added color to the table. And our showstopping centerpiece was Kylee's cake, a luscious strawberry cake covered in ruffles of buttercream icing ribbons and topped with green leaves, pink rosebuds and 13 peppermint striped candles.

The Menu
Apples and Caramel Dip
Creamy Onion and Pepper Dip with Tortilla Chips
Frozen Strawberry Salad
Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
Green Beans
Mashed Potatoes
Pineapple au Gratin
Yeast Rolls
Strawberry Cake with Buttercream Icing
Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream

The Recipes
A few of you have requested the party recipes. I kept this party simple with easy appetizers and several make-ahead dishes. And Kylee's mom, Jamie, brought her famous mashed potatoes. You can find my frozen strawberry salad recipe in a previous post. I serve this refreshing salad often because I can make it days before the party, and it adds a sweet touch of pink to the table.

Here are the recipes for poppy seed chicken, pineapple au gratin and buttercream icing. Poppy seed chicken is a creamy chicken casserole. Some might find it bland, but it is the ultimate comfort food to me! Pineapple au gratin is a delicious accompaniment to nearly any meal. And it is quick to put together in a pinch. It took two recipes of the buttercream icing recipe below to complete Kylee's cake, but all those fluffy, feminine ruffles were definitely "the icing on the cake" for our meal -- a perfect southern celebration!

Poppy Seed Chicken
6-8 chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
16 ounces sour cream
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 stick margarine or butter, melted
Boil chicken, and shred into bite-size pieces. Mix soup and sour cream, and stir in chicken. Spoon mixture into a greased 9" x 13" casserole dish. Sprinkle crushed crackers over the chicken mixture, then sprinkle poppy seeds over the top. Drizzle melted margarine over the top. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly. (This is a great make-ahead dish, and making it the night before enhances the flavor. In our area, many people serve poppy seed chicken over white rice.)

Pineapple Au Gratin
2 large cans pineapple tidbits in own juice, well drained
1 cup sugar
5 T. flour
1 ½ cups grated medium cheddar cheese
¾ cup crushed Ritz crackers
1 stick margarine, melted
Combine flour, sugar and pineapple. Pour into a greased baking dish (2 qt.). Sprinkle cheese on top, and cracker crumbs on top of cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Buttercream Icing
1 cup shortening
2 sticks margarine
3 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons clear imitation vanilla extract
2 lb. 10X confectioners sugar
With an electric mixer, cream shortening, margarine, milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in sugar until smooth.

Photos of Kylee by Allison Hilyer
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