Happy Everything! I hope you all are having a great weekend & enjoying still all the Holiday festivities!
Many of you may have turned your sights to New Year’s Eve. Yep, it’s around the corner & we will be welcoming 2015 before we know it. This year, I am still in “Quick & Easy Mode”…as I bet, many of you are as well! So, here is is…A Quick & Easy New Year’s Eve Party Menu! Everything on the menu can be made in less than an hour! Actually, the entire menu can be made in less than 2 hours…how’s that for “quick & easy”? What I also love about this menu is that the menu items are all easy to eat, so you do not need worry about anyone spilling something on their cute outfits…some of the items are “skinny”, no one really needs to worry about a New Year’s Day workout…& none of the menu items can bring you bad luck, as I know you’ll be noshing past Midnight, which is New Year’s Day, & who wants to eat anything that may bring bad luck in 2015, right?
Whether you host a larger party, or a smaller, more intimate one, everyone likes a little “bling” on New Year’s Eve! Consider that when planning your menu. For instance, I am a “bubbly” girl, & there’s nothing more celebratory than Champagne or Prosecco on New Year’s Eve! Rim Champagne flutes in William-Sonoma’s Gold Shimmer Sugar & also serve Shimmering Champagne Cocktails…”bubbly” mixed with a little X-Rated Fusion Liquor & rimmed in Gold Shimmer Sugar…delicious & a great presentation! The girls will love pink & gold mixed together! Add gold, red or pink-striped straws for a really festive look.
Caviar is another food associated with New Year’s Eve. To make it easy on myself, I will serve Skinny Caviar Dip with Shrimp & Potato Chips…my favorite chips are Cape Cod…they have the right amount of crunch & do not break apart when dipping. Red caviar is prettier than black when mixed with cream cheese, & it looks better when served with the shrimp. I have also used yellow caviar, but it’s a little “blah” & no one ever can figure out what the dip is…so red it is! Typically, I buy large or jumbo shrimp, & set the shrimp around the martini glass to serve…the potato chips are below in a larger bowl in which the martini glass sits. I also like to serve cucumber slices & celery sticks for super-skinny “crunch”.
For New Year’s Eve, I will serve a second “skinny” dip…Skinny Lemon Artichoke Dip…again, with potato chips to make entertaining easy, & but, importantly, because the salty chips taste great with the lemony artichokes. I have tried other crackers, but Cape Cod Chips are the easiest! For both the caviar & artichoke dips, buy Cape Cod Reduced Fat Chips…I’m not sure how many calories will actually be saved, but it’s better than none!
One of my favorite appetizers to serve over the years has been Bacon Wrapped Dates. This has been a staple since Dental School, when I worked for a caterer in Philadelphia to earn some desperately needed cash. The chef-owner served these one or two-bite appetizers at so many parties, from those held at the Annenberg Center to Rittenhouse Square, & I promise you, I couldn’t refill my serving tray fast enough, as the dates disappeared before I could get across the room! That was over 20 years ago, & this appetizer is still popular, both to serve & to make. Why? The combination of “salty & sweet” together is terrific…& there are only two ingredients…dates & bacon. You will be loved for serving these. Expect to serve about 3-4 per person…maybe more, since the guys especially will devour them! I like to make a second tray & bake it during the party…there’s nothing better than the smell of bacon cooking…you’ll have everyone’s attention then!
Another easier-than-easier to make appetizer is Roasted Cheesy Pumpkin Fondue. What I love about serving this is how dramatic the presentation is. Make the appetizer ahead of time, refrigerate & bake a couple of hours before you are ready to serve. The pumpkin retains its heat for a long time, so the fondue will remain luscious & creamy for a really good while. Serve small appetizer plates & spoons…it’s easier to eat all the yummy bread, cheese & pumpkin together! This appetizer will serve a lot of people…a little goes a long way.
Another quick & easy-to-make appetizer that’s on the New Year’s Eve Menu is Warm Nutty Jammy Camembert or Brie. Three ingredients. Place a small round of Camembert or Brie in a baking dish, layer your favorite chopped nuts & jam, jelly or preserves…bake for 5-10 minutes…serve with your favorite crackers & fruit slices. I also served this appetizer for two Holiday parties. For one party, I combined chopped walnuts & Habañero-Jalapeño Jelly with Camembert, then serve the warm cheese with Raincoast Crisps, apple & pear slices. The heat of the hot pepper jelly is fantastic with the creamy, buttery cheese, & the nuts add great crunch…I can eat this appetizer alone with a spoon! I also made this recipe with Cranberry Mostarda, which was equally as delicious…other great combinations would include orange marmalade, apricot jam, blackberry preserves…another fave combination is guava jam, macadamia nuts & brie…maybe I’ll do a Caribbean menu next?
Now for dessert. Since, technically, New Year’s falls on the seventh day of Christmas…remember the seven swans a swimming…I am still all about something cranberry. I recently found a recipe for Cranberry Shortbread from Bon Appétit, & I have adapted the recipe by adding more grapefruit to the compote. Click here for my adaption. To me, it needed a little more grapefruit. See what you think. What I love most about this recipe is a tart cranberry grapefruit compote is combined with a sweet, tender shortbread. It’s a great pick-up dessert cookie & pairs beautifully with Champagne or Prosecco…perfect for New Year’s Eve.
Happy 2015! All of the menu items can easily be made a day or two ahead-of-time, which will be a real timesaver, especially if you’re pressed for time. Be sure your wine & “bubbly” are well-chilled…all beer as well. Don’t be shy about asking invited friends to bring a bottle of “bubbly” that night…after all, you’re nice enough to host & clean-up the next day…that’s enough work. Cheers!
A Quick & Easy New Year’s Eve Party Menu