Let's Celebrate! New Years Eve Cocktail Soiree, with cocktails, appetizers and petite desserts, or in other words finger food.
"Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that
should not be indulged in lightly" M.F. K. Fisher
"Happy New Year 2011!" This greeting will be said and heard for many weeks as the new year gets under way. Did you know, in modern America New Year's Day was not always on January 1. January 1 has been celebrated as a holiday by western nations for only about 400 years.
How New Year's was Celebrated in Ancient TimesThe celebration is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first new moon (actually the first visible crescent) after the first day of spring. The Babylonian new year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its own particular manner of celebration, and our new years celebration festivities are pale in comparison.
The Romans continued to observe the new year in late March, but their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the calendar soon became out of sync with the sun. In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate in 153 BC, declared January 1 to be the beginning of the new year. But tampering still continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar. It again established January 1 as the new year. In order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days.
New Years Traditions Throughout History
Making New Years resolutions also date back to the early Babylonians. Our modern resolutions include the promise to lose weight or quit smoking or some other promise no one ever seems to keep. The early Babylonian's most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment!
Carrying on another tradition that I happen to be quite fond of is the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA which dates back to 1886 when members of the Valley Hunt Club decorated their carriages with flowers. It celebrated the ripening of the orange crop in CA, another thing you don't see too much of anymore, as grapes have taken over as "the crop." My family and I have attended the parade on a number of occasions getting up at the crack of dawn to get the best spot possible on the parade route. We have also benefited from amazing seats at the Rose Bowl football game which was initially first played in 1902.
I'm sure you know that certain foods served on New Years are thought to bring good luck. Although I'm not a person who believes in "good luck" many cultures believe that anything in the shape of a ring is good luck because it symbolizes "coming full circle" or completing a year's cycle. The Dutch believe that eating donuts on New Year's Day will bring good fortune and surely pack on a few pounds too.
Many parts of the U. S., including my current home state of Texas y'all celebrate by consuming black-eyed peas accompanied with some hog jowls or ham. The hog, and it's meat, is considered lucky because it symbolized prosperity. Cabbage is another "good luck" vegetable consumed on New Year's Day.
The song, Auld Lang Syne is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. It was first published in 1796 after one of the writers of the song passed on. Too bad it wasn't published before.
Many countries, including the good ole U.S.A. celebrate by using fireworks. Everyone, especially children love a dazzling festive display of lights. One of the most famous in the U. S. is the New York Times Square display as the ball descends from the pole counting down to New Years celebration.
One of my favorite New Year's eve was spent with my husband at a romantic five star restaurant on the waterfront in San Diego. We then drove out to Jerry's parents home where our daughter was spending the night and we all celebrated with root beer floats! Sometimes simple things are the best. Another fond memory is when my sister Kristin and I were young and my dad worked 4-midnight at Shell refinery. My mom, sister and I would watch on TV Guy Lombardo bring in the new year. Mom, would make a cheese platter with petite rye bread (which I loved) those little frozen pizza rolls, some eggnog and a few other goodies and we would celebrate with horns and hats. When my dad would come home and we got to stay up a little longer, then off to bed so my parents could celebrate together.
However you chose to celebrate the New Year, attending a party, staying warm and cozy in your home, hosting a soiree, going to church or whatever makes you happy be safe and have a glorious, blessed New Year and remember to give thanks to God for all your blessings.
Ideas For Your New Year's Eve Soiree
If you are sending out invitations, get them ready a few weeks in advance and sent out. Make them fun by adding a little sparkly glitter or confetti inside the card and when recipients open the invitation up the confetti will flutter out. I do this with my Christmas cards too.
Make the evening memorable with wonderful food and cocktails, fun festive sparkling decor, music, adding a dash of lightheartedness, some creativity and a group of good friends or just the pleasure of being with your family and you'll design an affair to remember and still have enough time and energy to be the life of your own party.
To me, New Years Eve means sparkle and shine. Bring out your silver, crystal and everything beautiful. Candles galore will certainly look festive. You can add impact right from the start at your front door and proceed into the entryway and don't forget to add some glamor and shine in your powder room. A few beautiful floral arrangements placed around your home and on the buffet table always add impact and glamor. Don't put away those white Christmas lights just yet, use them for your New Years Eve celebration.
Just about every New Year's Eve party could use some great hats, noisemakers and don't forget the confetti to throw at the stroke of midnight. Add a fantastic centerpiece to your buffet table. And of course we can't have a New Year's party without candles and I means lots of them.
If you want a fuss free party try serving a large assorted cheese platter with crackers and sliced baguettes. Also, fresh fruit and vegetable platters with assorted dips. Bowls of olives and marinated vegetables work well too, along with a bowls of spicy nuts. I always like pretty bowls of candy around the house too.
Platters of smoked salmon, petite bagels, cream cheese, caviar, finely chopped red onion and capers is always delicious. Mounds of chilled shrimp or crab with cocktail sauce is lovely. Oysters on the half shell and steamed clams are a nice choice too. Fond memories of my high school years involve attending my best friends parents New Years Eve party in Anacortes, WA where they had a large dining table, with a plastic cloth and newspapers on top of the table heaping with whole cooked Dungeness Crabs (some of the best crab in the world.) The feast consisted of other tables full of glorious seafood too, but the crab was my favorite and I ate my fair share of it! I'm getting hungry for some crab right now.
Another thing I simply love are petite buttermilk, cheddar, scallion biscuits with ham and a sweet hot mustard. Biscuits or small rolls slathered with barbecued shredded pork and coleslaw and delicious. Mummm, I can taste it right this minute, maybe I better go make us some!
You can always pick a theme such as; Mexican, Mediterranean, Italian or Asian and choose appetizers that incorporate foods from these countries.
Below you will find an assortment of cocktails, appetizers and petite dessert recipes that I think you will enjoy. If you don't want to serve cocktails, serve a few different types of wine or champagne (being sure to save some champagne for the midnight toast) and here's a chance to bring out your ice bucket(s). Assorted beers and a variety of sodas and see my recipe for spiked egg nog. For additional appetizer recipes look at my appetizer blog for January 2010.
I hope you enjoy the recipes listed below.
Crab Quiche - I love, love, love quiche so if I were making these I'd double the recipe
1 stick of butter, soft
1 (3 oz.) package cream cheese, soft
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbl. all purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup crab meat
1 cup Swiss or Gruyere cheese, grated
1/2 cup scallions, chopped including green part
1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
Tabasco, few dashes
For the pastry; cream the butter and cream cheese. Add flour and mix well. For dough into a ball and chill in plastic wrap for 2 hours. Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness to fit in miniature muffins tins lining bottom and up sides of pans.
For the filling; in a mixing bowl add all ingredients and mix gently until blended. Spoon about 2 Tablespoonfuls of filling into each muffin tin. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until puffed and golden. Remove to cooling rack, rest for about 5 minutes then remove from pan.
Puff Pastry with Brie
2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 (8 oz) round baby wheel brie cheese
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped (divided)
2 Tbl. water
2/3 cup apricot 100% jam (or jam of your choice) fig jam is wonderful too
Crackers, fruit slices, etc.
Preheat oven 400 degrees. Unfold each puff pastry on lightly floured surface. Roll gently to seal any cracks in each sheet of pastry. Spoon preserves into center of each pastry, then sprinkle on 1/2 of nuts. Place one round of brie to cover. Trim excess pastry and press to seal seams. Whisk eggs and water in bowl and brush seams with egg mixture. Place seam side down on baking sheet. Brush to with egg mixture. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand about 15 to 20 minutes before cutting.
Mozzarella and Tomato Skewers
16 small fresh mozzarella balls
16 fresh basil leaves
16 cherry tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
salt and fleshly ground black pepper
small cocktail skewers
Thread mozzarella, basil and tomatoes on small skewers. Place on a serving platter and drizzle with olive oil, vinegar and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Dates stuffed with Goat Cheese and Wrapped in Prosciutto
1/3 cup herb goat cheese, soft
16 Medjool dates, pitted and sliced in center, but not all the way through
16 large basil leaves
4 wide thin slices prosciutto, cut into 4 long strips
cocktail toothpicks soaked in water for about 10 minutes
Heat broiler. Spoon 1 tsp. cheese into each date and wrap with a basil leaf then wrap with prosciutto strip. Secure with toothpick and broil until cheese bubbles about 2 to 3 minutes.
Curried Shrimp Tarts
1 cup cooked shrimp, chopped
1/2 of (8 oz) package cream cheese, soft
3 Tbl. scallions, chopped finely including green part
1 Tbl. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. curry powder (good quality)
Tabasco (to taste)
3 Tbl. mango chutney
chopped fresh chives (garnish)
In a bowl, stir together, shrimp, cream cheese, scallions, lime juice, curry and Tabasco. Spoon mixture into pastry shells and top with 1/2 tsp. mango chutney sprinkle with chives.
Spicy Shrimp with Avocado Dipping Sauce - this recipe comes from my daughter, Brittany (thanks sweetie)
3 lbs. large to jumbo shrimp, peeled and cleaned, leaving tail on
2 large lemons, juiced
2 large sweet onions, sliced very thinly (julienne style)
1 to 2 Tbl. Tabasco sauce
2 1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
2 bay leaves
Avocado Dipping Sauce
1 cup buttermilk
2 large Haas avocado, peeled & seeded
3 Tbl. Italian parsley, chopped
2 Tbl. fresh cilantro, chopped
2 scallions chopped, including green part
2 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For shrimp; bring a pot of water to boil and add bay leaves, shrimp and onion cook about 30 seconds. Drain well in a colander and refresh in cold water, pat dry with paper towels and place shrimp and onions in large bowl, discard bay leaves. Squeeze lemon juice over shrimp, add hot sauce, Creole seasoning, salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss to coat. Place in frig for at least 1 hour. To serve, place on platter, sprinkle on chopped parsley and serve with sauce in a bowl on the side. Note: you can also add some washed and seeded sliced jalapeno peppers (leave seeds in for more heat)
For sauce; In a food processor or blender, add buttermilk, avocado, parsley, cilantro, green onions and lemon juice until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Bacon and Blue Cheese Dip
1 package bacon, chopped (good quality bacon)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
6 oz. Maytag blue cheese, crumbled (you use whatever brand you like, but I love Maytag)
2 Tbl. fresh chives, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
Crackers and baguette slices, apple slices or mixed vegetables (for dipping)
Cook bacon in pan until nice and crisp. Remove to paper towels and drain. Remove some of the bacon fat and add minced garlic, cooking until tender, but not browned. In the bowl of electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add whipping cream and beat until combined. Stir in bacon, garlic, blue cheese, walnuts and chives.
Next, you can either, place in oven proof dish and bake on 350 degrees until golden and bubbly or you can serve at room temperature.
Spicy Pecans (two ways)
3 cups pecan halves
3 Tbl. butter, melted
2 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. Tabasco
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a bowl, add all ingredients and gently stir in nuts until coated. Spread pecans on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until crisp and lightly toasted. Serve warm.
Fruity, Spicy Nuts
1 Tbl. orange zest
1 Tbl. fresh orange juice
1 egg white
2 cups pecan halves
1 Tbl. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground chipolte chile pepper
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Combine zest, orange juice and egg white in a bowl and whisk. Stir in pecans. Combine sugar, salt and pepper and stir into pecans mixture mixing well. Spread mixture on baking sheet coated with Pam cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack; cool completely. Stir in cranberries. If you happen to have any left store in airtight container.
Parmesan Crisps with Caviar - my son-in-law Derek loves these
10 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely shredded
6 oz. caviar, good quality
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
fresh chives, finely chopped
Place 2 Tbl. fresh Parmesan cheese on nonstick baking sheets and pat into a 2-inch circle, repeat with remaining cheese using additional nonstick baking sheets. Bake one sheet at a time in 400 degree oven for about 4 minutes or until bubbly and lightly golden. Cool on baking sheet for 1 minute then remove with spatula and gently drape over inverted 1 3/4 inch muffin tins to cool and stiffen into cup shapes.
To serve, place Parmesan cups on serving platter, top with a dollop of sour cream, sprinkle of red onion, some caviar and top with fresh chives.
Party Cheese Log
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 (10 oz) package sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup pimineto, chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cayenne
dash of salt
pecans, lightly toasted and chopped, garnish
Italian parsley, chopped, garnish
In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and cheddar cheese until well blended. Add pimiento, onion, sun dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, cayenne and salt, taste and adjust seasonings. Mix well and chill for several hours. Place some plastic wrap on work surface, add mixture and shape the mixture into a log and roll in pecans and parsley. Roll up and twist ends, place in frig until ready to serve. For serving; place on platter and surround with crackers or baguette slices.
Chicken Skewers - I would double these as they go fast
2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch strips
2 bunches scallions, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces, including green part
1 cup teriyaki marinade
2 Tbl. fresh ginger, grated
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbl. sugar
4 Tbl. dark sesame oil
sesame seeds, lightly toasted for garnish
fresh cilantro, chopped, garnish
2 Tbl. fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp. red chili paste
1/4 soy sauce
1 Tbl. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbl. dark brown sugar (or I also like Hoisin sauce)
2 limes juiced
2 Tbl. sesame oil
1/4 cup hot water
For sauce; in a blender, add all ingredients except water. Process until well blended if you think the sauce is too thick, add small amount of water, as needed.
Chicken; In a bowl, combine, teriyaki marinade, ginger, garlic, sugar and sesame oil, add chicken and scallions. Cover and place in frig for up to 2 hours.
Soak wooden skewers in water for about 30 minutes, then drain. Thread chicken and scallions onto skewers, discard marinade. Grill for about 4 minutes on each side until chicken is done. Place skewers on platter and sprinkle with sesame seeds and some chopped cilantro. Serve with sauce.
2 lbs. scallops (large ones) halved
2 cups Teriyaki sauce
1 lb. bacon
In a saute pan filled partially with water, bring to a simmer and poach scallops for no more than 2 minutes, drain and place in container with teriyaki sauce for 2 hours. Preheat broiler and cut bacon into 3 pieces, wrap bacon around scallop and secure with toothpicks. Broil wrapped scallops until bacon is crisp. Place on platter and serve.
Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
2 cups marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped finely
1/2 cup celery, chopped finely
1/2 cup Maytag blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup scallions, chopped finely, including green part
1 cup mayonnaise
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups large cherry tomatoes
12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 bunches Italian parsley (garnish)
These are a little tedious to make, but the end result tastes great. In a bowl, add chopped artichokes, celery, scallions, blue cheese, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Slice the top off each tomato and with a very small scoop, scoop out most of the inside of tomato. Place each tomato upside down on paper towels to drain. Stuff each tomato with a little of the artichoke mixture and a sprinkling of bacon on top. Refrigerate. Place parsley on platter and arrange tomatoes on top.
Prosciutto Wrapped Roasted Asparagus
2 lbs. fresh asparagus - don't use the thin spears you want a larger spear for this recipe
2 Tbl. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
16 thin pieces prosciutto
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Snap off tough ends of asparagus, wash and pat dry. Place on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss to coat. Spread out in single layer for roasting.
Place in oven for about 8 - 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut prosciutto so that you can wrap a piece around each asparagus spear. When asparagus has cooled, wrap a prosciutto slice a round exposing tips of asparagus. Place on serving platter and lightly drizzle with balsamic.
Delicious Petite Desserts
Mini Cheesecakes - I think just about everyone has made these and they are easy
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbl. pure vanilla extract
1 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
2" mini aluminum baking cups
Cherry pie filling or flavor of your choice (use good quality or make your own)
On a baking sheet add mini baking cups. Place a vanilla wafer in each mini baking cup. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy, beat in sugar, eggs one at a time, vanilla and lemon juice until well combined. Spoon about 3 Tbl. of cream cheese over each wafer. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, let cool and top with dollop of pie filling. Refrigerate.
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup butter, soft
3/4 all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup pecans or macadamia nuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square pan and use the parchment paper method if desired. Melt butterscotch chips and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. Add flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla and egg to mixture and mix well. Fold in marshmallows, chocolate chips and nuts until just combined. Spread in pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (do not overbake). Remove to cooling rack. When cooled remove to work surface and cut into petite squares.
Cranberry Pear Sorbet - serves about 8
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups whole cranberries, pureed
1 (29 oz) can pears, drained and pureed (do not use fresh)
2 Tbl. pear brandy
1 orange, zested
2 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
Combine sugar and water in small saucepan and stir over medium until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat just before syrup boils, transfer to a bowl and chill. Combine the chilled sugar syrup with remaining ingredients and freeze mixture in ice cream maker. I like to serve in small dessert cups or in wine flutes.
I happen to absolutely love eggnog especially with a little rum in it.
Easy Eggnog with Rum
1 quart fresh eggnog (make your own or purchase good quality)
12 oz. dark rum (purchase a good quality)
1 cup heavy whipping cream (whipped)
In a punch bowl, combine eggnog and rum, stirring well to incorporate. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Chill in frig. Stir when ready to serve and add a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg. I like it served in large wine glasses.
My very favorite cocktail is the Manhattan, then the Cosmopolitan
Manhattan - makes 1 serving
2 oz. rye whiskey
1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry (garnish)
Pour the ingredient's into mixing glass with ice cubes, stir well, strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with cherry.
Cosmopolitan - makes 1 serving
1 1/2 oz. vodka
1 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1/4 oz. cranberry juice
Orange peel for garnish
Shake all the ingredients with ice in cocktail shaker, strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel.
Berry Cosmo - makes 1 cocktail
2 oz. vodka
1 oz. Chambord
1 oz. Cranberry juice
1/2 oz. Grenadine
1/2 oz. Simple syrup
Shake all ingredients well with ice and strain over fresh ice in tall glass.
Martini - makes 2 cocktails
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
4 oz. gin
2 pimento stuffed green olives
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in vermouth then gin. Shake for 30 seconds and divide into 2 cocktail glasses. Garnish each with an olive.
Happy New Year and Bon Appetit
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Cor. 5:17