The looming question at our abode this week is: What are we doing for New Year’s Eve?
For a couple years, we welcomed the New Year with fondue with close friends. Some years we’ve hosted a larger party. Other years we’ve gone out to eat. Last year, we combined those efforts, first gathering at our house for a social hour, then heading out for supper at a local establishment.
After the recent snowfall quashed so many Christmas holiday plans, I think many people are taking a wait-and-see attitude, not wanting to plan too far in advance in case the weather may trump whatever they’ve put together. But I just checked the forecast, and except for a few scattered flurries, it doesn’t look like Mother Nature has any New Year’s Eve nastiness in store. So the party planning can begin.
With that in mind, I began surveying some of my co-workers for quick and easy appetizer ideas.
Newsroom colleague Justine suggested this tidbit put together for last year’s Christmas celebration by her mother, Diane Parenteau of Avoca: Start with the Tostitos Scoops (not the Fritos ones!) , and fill each one with a small amount of taco meat. Add a tiny dollop of sour cream (Diane used a pastry bag to accomplish this), then sprinkle with your choice of finely shredded lettuce, tomato, cheese or any other typical taco topping that you have on hand. Justine describes them as “yummy and pretty.”
Graphics guy Nate made this appetizer for a Daily Globe potluck: Spread thin slices of deli top round roast beef with seasoned cream cheese. Wrap the cheese-laden meat around raw asparagus spears.
From the advertising department comes Kari Wasmund’s Easy Taco Dip: Combine 8 ounces shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese, 1 chopped green onion, 1 diced medium tomato, 1 small can diced black olives, 1 small can green chiles and Italian dressing to taste (usually about half a bottle). Serve with chips.
In my own files, I found a couple of appetizers/dips that fit the bill as exceedingly simple. The first was printed off the Food Network, courtesy Paula Deen. Like many recipes that Paula shares, it relies on butter for richness. I’ve often made a big batch of this during the holiday season for toting to multiple gatherings.
All-Purpose Cheese Spread: In a mixing bowl, combine one 6-ounce jar cheese spread (Cheez Whiz), one 8-ounce package softened cream cheese, ½ cup mayonnaise, ½ cup softened butter and 1 (scant) teaspoon garlic powder. Whip with mixer until fluffy. Keep in refrigerator.
From my cousin Clay Thompson’s “Enormously Big Official Valley 101 Cookbook,” comes another Cheez Whiz specialty called Critters: Preheat broiler. On a foil-lined baking sheet, lay out as many rye party rounds (usually found in a small loaf in the deli section) as will fit side by side. Spread Cheez Whiz on each slice and top with a slice of pepperoni. Broil until cheese bubbles and pepperoni is cooked.
And finally, a number of years ago, DotMom printed a chicken wings recipe that was simply a combination of soy sauce and brown sugar, mixed together and poured over frozen chicken wings before they were baked low and slow for a couple hours. I recently came across this version, which may get tried at our house, since hubby Bryan recently bought a bag of frozen wings. I think I’d add some red pepper flakes or hot sauce to the mixture to give the wings a bit of a kick.
Easy Chicken Wings
Use 3 pounds chicken wings, cut apart with wing tips discarded.
Combine 1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup melted butter and 1 cup packed brown sugar; pour over wings and marinate at least one hour, but preferably overnight.
Remove wings from marinade and bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.