It has been a season of invitations for us. We had thought about having people over for a feast of sorts, but we were included on someone else’s gues list before we could put together our own.
Thankfully, we just had to show up for the office party this year. The restaurant took care of decorations, ambiance, and all of the food: from beverages to rolls and salads to sides, entrees, and most important of all: dessert. Bella Tori at the Mansion had a good variety of miniature desserts that not only looked festive but had good flavors and textures as well.
The next Wednesday, just the ladies went out for a lunch break before Christmas vacation. We’re starting a tradition of lunch at Mandarin Garden. We all pay for our own entree, and the restaurant has been generous in bringing out a mountain of scoops of ice cream “on the house”. When we’ve cleared away the empty dishes, we exchange gifts, then hurry back to the office.
Our mid-week home group of people from church decided to have a Christmas party complete with a white elephant gift exhange. Instead of pitching in toward the cost of our usual meal of salad and pizza, each family was to bring an appetizer to share. Unfortunately, Joel wasn’t feeling well, so we missed out on the fun.
Saturday evening was the next thing on our calendar: 7 p.m. bring a food item to share. Hmmm. Rather than risk appearing a Scrooge, I brought a “vegetable”, protein, and dessert. Aldi made two of the items quite easy: they sell a trio of fancy meats already fanned out on a clear plastic tray, and they have a box of 12 fancy macaroons in their frozen foods section. The only work I had to do was to stir together some spinach dip. I was somewhat suprised that people liked it so much, considering that mayonnaise and cream cheese aren’t at the top of this “healthful-minded” generation’s list of ingredients. A good time was had by all, and the evening sped by in conversation rather than any parlour games.
Sunday we gathered at church as we would any weekend. After the service, we stopped at home to get a few things our refrigerator before driving on to our host’s house. Since I hadn’t fiddled around much with holiday treats this season I had decided to put a little bit of effort into presentation for my appetizer. A basket of red seedless grapes with some sliced havarti was the easy part. The stuffed dates and figs were a little more fussy to prepare.
I was winging it on the spinach dip, so I’m going to give you a list of ingredients that I may or may not have used in the quantities listed. You’ll have to whip up your own batch to taste. Serve with very thin tortilla chips or baby carrots.
Fresh baby spinach, finely sliced and sautéed in 2 T unsalted butter
A bit of onion, finely chopped
½ t paprika
4 oz cream cheese
¾ c half & half
½ c mayonnaise
½ c sour cream
8 oz water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
½ t salt
¼ t black pepper