Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Apple Dinner

I must admit, I am a Daddy's Girl from way back. So I was delighted to host my father's birthday dinner earlier this month.

D-Dad, as the grandchildren call him, has made a point to spend time with each of his eight grandchildren these last few months since Mother's passing -- playing games, reading books, watching sporting events, and even making a Cub Scout camping trip.

I wanted Daddy to enjoy some of the dishes Mother traditionally prepared for his birthday, which inspired an apple theme for the evening.

Apple of My Eye Dinner Menu
Spinach-Artichoke Dip with Tortilla Chips

Spinach Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
Apple Waldorf Salad
Chicken Turnovers
Pecan-Cranberry Wild Rice
Green Beans
Apple Cake with Apples and Cream


Spinach-Artichoke Dip

A delicious appetizer that comes together in minutes.
10 ounces sour cream
Half-jar artichoke hearts (drained
2 packages frozen creamed spinach
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese
Half package onion soup mix
Microwave spinach according to package directions in a microwave-safe dish. Stir in remaining ingredients, and microwave until mixture is hot and bubbly. Top with a little shredded Parmesan cheese, and serve warm with tortilla chips.

Spinach Salad
This Rachael Ray recipe is quick, easy and tasty.

1 pound triple-washed spinach, de-stemmed
1 small Golden Delicious apple, quartered, cored and sliced
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons (a couple of splashes) apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grain mustard
1 tablespoon (a good drizzle) honey
Coarse salt and black pepper
Place spinach, apple and onion in a salad bowl. Place oil, vinegar, mustard and honey in a small plastic container and fit lid on container. Shake dressing to combine, 1 minute. Pour dressing over salad, toss and season with salt and pepper, to taste. (Note: I used Grey Poupon Country Dijon mustard and additional honey to sweeten the dressing.)

Apple Waldorf Salad
Mother's version of this salad was less sweet than most recipes. I don't have a copy of her recipe, but achieved a good approximation with this attempt to recreate it.

1 Red Delicious apple, chopped and dipped in lemon juice
1 Golden Delicious apple, chopped and dipped in lemon juice
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 small box raisins
2 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Combine first 5 ingredients in a mixing bowl, and stir in mayonnaise. Refrigerate until serving.


Chicken Turnovers
I made this Southern Lady recipe for my parents' anniversary the year Mother was diagnosed with cancer, and she told me it was one of the few things she enjoyed eating despite treatments that took her appetite. This remained one of her favorite dishes to eat at my house.

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
5 tablespoons butter, melted, divided
4 cups chicken, boiled and shredded
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped pimento
2 cans refrigerated crescent-roll dough
3/4 cup bread crumbs
In a large bowl, stir together the cream cheese and 3 tablespoons of melted butter until smooth. Add chicken and next 5 ingredients, stirring until well blended. Unroll crescent-roll dough and divide into rectangles (4 per can), pressing together any diagonal perforations. Place 1/2 cup chicken mixture in center of each dough rectangle. Fold dough over filling and press to seal. Dip turnovers in remaining melted butter and then roll in bread crumbs. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown. (Note: I used Italian bread crumbs and prepared half-size turnovers to keep servings smaller -- a good option with five children at the table.)

Pecan-Cranberry Wild Rice
Also a Southern Lady recipe, this dish is a great accompaniment to chicken turnovers. Simply prepare a box of wild rice according to package directions, stirring in a stick of margarine when you remove the rice from heat. Add sweetened dried cranberries and chopped pecans to taste.

Find Mother's apple chip cake recipe here. I dressed up Daddy's favorite cake with flowers and apple slices, and we enjoyed it sliced and topped with dollops of Cool Whip.

Daddy spent time hanging out with the children while I finished dinner preparations. When 11-year-old Carson popped in to ask me a question, I commented that everyone seemed to be enjoying D-Dad. He heartily agreed, adding, "D-Dad is awesome!" That's why he is the apple of our eye.

"I love my father as the stars -- he's a bright shining example and a happy twinkling in my heart." -- Terri Guillemets

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