December 30, 2004 at 10:09 a.m.

Party food ideas for New Year’s

Party food ideas for New Year’s
Party food ideas for New Year’s

As many people often say, “where did this past year go?” It seems the older I get the faster time flits on by. Are you one who likes to make New Year’s resolutions? I don’t usually make them as more often than not they are broken in a matter of a week or two. But, this year it’s different for me. There are a few things that I think I can keep if I try hard. So, I’ll share them with you.

•I resolve to laugh a lot (it’s very good for your health, you know).

•Smile at people I don’t know (that should get them wondering).

•Accept what I cannot change (a real challenge).

•And, I shall try hard not to give my advice unless I am asked for it (a bigger challenge).

I’m going to tack this part of the column somewhere where I can see it every day (like taping it to my bathroom mirror) as a reminder to keep these resolutions.

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Are you having a New Year’s party or going to a party to bring in the new year? Perhaps you need some ideas for foods for snacking or are asked to bring something to share. Keep in mind that some of the snacky stuff should be more than just “junk food.” I recently helped one of my sisters prepare food for a holiday open house. This is what she served.

WARM SOURDOUGH BREAD WITH CHEESE

1 unsliced round (1 lb.) loaf sourdough bread

3/4 lb. Monterrey Jack cheese, sliced 1/8-inch thick (from a rectangle chunk of cheese-about 1-1/4 by 2-1/4)

1/2 c. butter or margarine, melted

1/2 c. chopped green onion, using tops (about 3 onions)

2-3 t. poppy seeds

Slice bread across loaf in 1-inch slices, but not through the bottom of the loaf.

Turn bread a quarter of a turn and again make 1-inch slices. You then should have a bunch of bread squares.

Put cheese slices in between the squares, filling all the spaces. (Cut some of the rectangles in half if you’re running out.)

Combine butter, onions and poppy seeds. Drizzle over bread (so it goes between the squares.) Wrap loaf loosely in foil, using two pieces of foil if needed.

*Put on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Unwrap and bake 10 minutes longer or till cheese is melted. Set on serving plate to serve.

*At this point you can refrigerate the wrapped bread if you want to save some last minute prep. Bake 5 minutes longer before you uncover if the bread is cold. Guests can pull apart the squares with their fingers and indulge. It’s delicious––a bit putzy but it’s worth it. Serves 6-8.

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This spread is easy to make and can be served with a variety of crackers or veggie “dippers,” such as carrot sticks, celery sticks, broccoli, cauliflower florets, etc.

CORNED BEEF SPREAD

2 small packages corned beef, chopped

1-8 oz. package cream cheese, softened (can use 1/3 less fat or fat-free)

1/2 c. salad dressing

1/3 c. minced onion

Combine last three ingredients in a bowl, beating until smooth. Fold in corned beef. Refrigerate until serving time. Makes about 1-1/2 to 2 cups.

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In this recipe you can make your own little meatballs using your favorite recipe or buy a bag of them in the meat department’s frozen food section.

PINEAPPLE-GINGER SAUCE FOR MEATBALLS

1-20 oz. can crushed pineapple (in its own juice), drained (save the juice)

1 T. cornstarch

1 t. ground ginger

3/4 c. orange juice

2 T. maple syrup (can use pancake syrup that’s maple flavored)

2 lbs. cooked meatballs

In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch and ginger. Slowly add pineapple juice, blending until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until thickened. Cook a minute. Add orange juice and syrup; cook and stir till thick and clear.

Fold in pineapple and meatballs; heat about 15 minutes over medium heat or until meatballs are heated through.

Makes about 60 small meatballs.

NOTE: If you’re making your own meatballs, make and cook them ahead, even a day or two, and refrigerate until you’re ready to put them together with the sauce.

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Cheese cubes may be purchased in the deli, but you can easily make your own using your favorite cheeses. Simple cut bulk cheese into 3/4-inch squares, stick a toothpick in the center and you’re all set.

Use a variety of cheese such as dill, salami, pepper jack, jalapeno, etc. They’re great finger food and pleasing to your palate.

Don’t forget to make a fresh fruit plate using bite-size cut-up fruit. Fresh fruit goes so well with cheeses and it’s a whole lot better for us than chips.

Another good choice for snacking is popcorn. Pop a big batch, set some plastic or paper bowls next to a big bowl of the popped stuff and it won’t be long before the bowl is empty.

Remember “ants on a log” made with celery, peanut butter and raisins? Of course you do. For adults use 1-1/2 inch pieces of washed and dried celery filled with any soft cheese spread. Try the ones in the little jars or the flavored soft cheese spreads. If you’re going to do this, stuff a long rib of celery and then cut it into diagonal 1-1/2 inch pieces. Another good filling would be to use a tuna, chicken or shrimp salad spread (don’t use big chunks of meat or fish).

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This is a good recipe for another toothpick type of appetizer. I’m thinking you can make them ahead, up to the baking part and refrigerate for a couple of hours before baking them.

CHICKEN BITES

2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into about 35 1-inch squares, set aside

1/2 c. finely crushed round buttery crackers (about 12)

1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

2 T. finely chopped walnuts

1/2 t. dried thyme

1/2 t. basil leaves

1/8 t. pepper

1/4 c. melted butter or margarine

Cover a large cookie sheet with foil.

Mix dry ingredients in a shallow bowl (pie pan works).

Dip chicken pieces into butter, then into crumb mixture.

Put chicken pieces about 1/2-inch apart on cookie sheet. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes about 35 appetizers.

Now, this is a mother, grandma and friend giving advice (there I go breaking one of resolutions) but this is necessary. Please use good sense if you’re partying on New Year’s Eve or whenever you celebrate. You don’t really want to be a statistic, do you? And, if you get inebriated, for pete’s sake––don’t go out and put that key in the ignition. Stay overnight and sleep on the couch or floor and guess what––you’ll wake up in the morning.

It’s been a great year for us in many ways and I sincerely hope that the coming year will be a happy and fruitful one for you and your loved ones. Happy New Year!


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