On planning the menu for Dad's birthday dinner

I’m trying to put together some cool stuff for Dad’s birthday dinner, and I thought I’d tap the collective wisdom of Cafe Society for inspiration. Dad’s turning 73 this year, and as I’ve posted elsewhere, he isn’t a “healthy 73.” I’d like to make something he really enjoys. In the past when I’ve asked him what he wants, he just tells me he’ll enjoy anything I make.

I obviously can’t really explain what he’d like and not online, but if people throw suggestions out there, I might be able to figure out a good plan. I’m a good cook, quite capable of following directions to try something new. I have my oven, microwave, slow cooker, and grill available. I’m not above buying a new tool if it’s the right thing to do.

The family expects me to do something a bit showy. Their friends at their condo building bug them when they come over to find out what I made. I care about presentation, even if I’m still learning some of the tricks. Little things like being able to doodle on the plate with a thick sauce helps.

Ok…specifics on the food choices. Dad is diabetic. I’m pre-diabetic. My Mom says her blood sugar is a little high, and doesn’t get into many other details. My sister has her own specific restrictions such as not eating ground meat…I’m not sure I can get into all of those, but I’ll screen them out if suggestions warrant them.

Dad is a comfort food type of person. He’d be happy with something meat and potatoes-ish. But I don’t want to just serve a steak. And I’m not serving white potatoes. Maybe…maybe…sweet potatoes.
Things I’ve made in the past for him and the family that went over well:
Mojo marinated pork chops
Pulled pork
Individual beef Wellingtons
Shish kabobs
Lamb stew
Shrimp with stewed tomato dish served over couscous
Side dishes - I tend to do just one or two veggies. There will only be four of us, so we don’t need a ton of food.
We tend to lean towards asparagus and broccoli. Dad won’t touch egg plant or zucchini. I’ve used white asparagus as part of the presentation in the past. I’ve used broccolini.

Dessert - I used to do all kinds of fun stuff for dessert. My family loves my apple pie, and I’ve made homemade ice cream to go with it. I make a bunch of different cakes. I’ve done individual chocolate souffles. But I’m looking for something more diabetic friendly these days. It will be his birthday, and I’m not afraid to throw a little sugar at it…but I don’t want it to be awful (nutritionally). I recently saw a recipe for a carmalized upside down apple cake. That might be fun.

I’m open to appetizers, if they’re fairly light and cute. I made some crab sushi roll one time, which I really liked, but my family isn’t into sushi and couldn’t get get comfortable with it, even though everything was cooked.

So, anyone want to throw out some fun suggestions?


Crown roast is the popular “right answer” for a showy main course at the moment, or so I gather from other Dope threads. It’s roasted meat, so it’s moderately healthy, at least compared to fried options. I think I’d do fifty pirouettes and faint if someone invited me to a dinner with a crown roast.

Since I am also Diabetic, I understand your determination to avoid white potatoes. Unfortunately, for many people (especially MALES, for some reason!), mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort and celebratory food.

May I suggest white potatoes mashed with another, lower-glycemic vegetable? Celery root perhaps, or even your sweet potatoes?

Or, a very popular Diabetic favorite is mashed cauliflower, using cream cheese? Rich, satisfying, great mouth feel, and VERY kind to blood sugar levels!

Oh, and stuffed mushroom caps for an appetizer are also very Diabetic-friendly!

A schnitzy looking shrimp cocktail in a martini glass would be lovely for a beginning. Guess you would have to be careful about the added sugar in the cocktail sauce. Boursin or Allouette cheese on endive leaves is festive and easy. Or scallops wrapped in bacon. I think a roast beef is always lovely, especially with a horseradish whipping cream sauce. Recipes for that are ubiquitous online. Steamed spinach is yummy and seems special, for some reason. I agree that mashed cauliflower is totally delish. Wish I had some right now! Or, if you don’t do the stuffed mushrooms, you could saute a mix of mushrooms served with a sprinkle of chopped parsley or tarragon. That does go so well with meat. Tomatoes Provencal are halved and baked with garlicky breadcrumbs. Maybe a salad with mesclun, roasted beets or butternut squash, blue cheese, and pecans? A pear tart with an almond paste filling (frangipane) wouldn’t be too sweet, I don’t think. If I think of more, I will post again.

Sattua, I’m loving the crown roast, and the cauliflower ‘mash’. VOW, PoorMarie, I’d love either the shrimp cocktail or the stuffed mushroom, but my sister wouldn’t eat either. I think. I know she wouldn’t touch the shrimp. I think she wouldn’t do the mushroom, but I need to check with her.

A pear tart…hmm…

I made a rutabaga and sweet potato mash for one of the sides for dinner tonight and it was really good.

Mashed cauliflower is also extremely good.

Sort of an inappropriate heart attack on a plate, but Patti Labelle’s Over The Rainbow Mac and Cheese is the best recipe there is. The perfect comfort food and fairly easy to make, once you get all of the ingredients. Go ahead and make two of them - freeze one so they can simply thaw and pop into the oven a few days/weeks later when the neighbors come a callin’.

Plus you can add just a mixed salad or any number of easy (healthier) side dishes to make the table look pretty.

Mmm…mac n cheese. I don’t think I can get away with serving that to Dad - the pasta is bad for him, and he’s quite a bit over weight…but I’m allowed to have some, within reason! And I do need a recipe for it…thanks!