Oh, wow. Christmas is over, just like that. We heard the kids whispering in the living room around 6:15 as they checked out with flashlights what Santa brought them. They let us rest a little longer, and finally rushed into our room to tell us that SANTA BROUGHT HULA HOOPS!! And PILLOW PETS!! HE REALLY CAME, HE DID, HE CAME! Just watching them, overflowing with excitement and joy, was the only gift I needed that morning.
Another unexpected gift on Christmas day was this:
Our first annual Christmas day family photo. My husband – smart man that he is – had the brilliant idea to take an annual photograph of everyone who came to our Christmas dinner. This is Year One of the annual Christmas photo. I can’t even describe how happy this photo makes me. I’m holding my 87-year old grandmother’s hand in this photo, the only grandparent I have left. She’s survived lymphoma, and she’ll tell you all about it if you give her a moment of your time. Also in the photo are my parents, my children, my husband’s parents, my sister-in-law and her family, and our babysitter, Nikki.
I just love that photo.
It was a good Christmas day. We did our meal in our typical fashion – potluck style, to make it a little easier on the host and to give each family the opportunity to make one of their special dishes. My father-in-law used to own a barbeque restaurant, and he kept the smoker when the restaurant closed its doors. He cooked and brought a smoked ham and some barbeque ribs that were simply delicious.
My dad made his famous mashed potatoes. My sister-in-law brought her grandmother’s amazing sweet potato casserole. I made the cornbread dressing, the pumpkin pies, a Meyer lemon cheesecake (post coming soon!), and the Waldorf salad.
My mother used to make Waldorf salad for our holiday meals, primarily the Thanksgiving meal, and then one year she stopped. I think it became too much of a hassle to chop all those apples, and I can’t blame her. It is sort of a pain in the rear. But, the salad was part of our holiday tradition, so I took over making the salad. Now I make it for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s one of the lighter dishes on our holiday menu, and we all appreciate having something a little healthier but full of flavor.
I’m not sure where I got this recipe from exactly, but I’ve modified it some over the years. I used to try to make it the day before, but it really doesn’t work as well that way. The dressing gets runny, the apples tend to get a little mealy. I sometimes add toasted, chopped walnuts, but I didn’t this year. I’ve added regular raisins, but I really like the golden raisins in the salad.
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones. I sure did.
Yield: Serves 10-12.
For the apples in this salad, I usually use a few Granny Smith apples, a few yellow apples, and a few red apples (preferably Gala). The mixed variety of apples gives the salad a nice flavor and beautiful colors. Also, I usually use low-fat mayonnaise and nonfat Greek yogurt in the dressing. It makes for a light, refreshing fruit salad, and I never feel guilty about going back for seconds.
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup honey
lemon zest from one lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
9 apples, mixed variety, cored and chopped into 1/2 to 3/4 inch dice
1 1/2 cup celery, diced
1 1/2 cup seedless red grapes, halved
3/4 cup golden raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, and ground ginger. Stir in all fruits, except walnuts if you're using them. Cover and chill for at least one hour. Stir in walnuts just prior to serving.
Note: This salad is best made the same day you plan to serve it.