Throw a no-fuss New Year's Eve party this year.
A party for a few friends or family does not have to throw a host or hostess into a tizzy. A few hors d'oeuvres, a punch or sodas for non-drinkers and some mixers are all that is needed as far as food is concerned. Ask those who enjoy a cocktail or two to bring to their favorite or a bottle of wine or two. Remember, it's OK to ask others to help. It makes it easier on the host or hostess and cuts the cost, too.
Eight to 10 appetizers per person are needed for a two- to four-hour party. Hosts can gauge food amounts accordingly.
Today, I thought I would share some easy appetizers that I did for a small gathering. The guests enjoyed them. I made a non-alcoholic punch and a friend brought a couple of bottles of wine.
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One of the biggest hits was a new appetizer. Yes, I know: Never try a new recipe out on guests. I do it all the time, especially if I like all the ingredients in the recipe. Give these a try, and kick back and enjoy the party fun.
MINI CORN MUFFINS WITH PIMENTO CHEESE
2 packages (6 ounces each) Mexican-style cornbread and muffin mix; add milk and eggs according to package directions
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 jar pimentos, drained and chopped
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, and finely chopped
1 minced green onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Mix muffin mix according to directions on package. Pour into mini-muffin cups sprayed with nonstick spray and lined with mini muffin liners. Bake at 425 degrees for 13-15 minutes. Set aside.
Mix cheese, pimentos, mayonnaise, minced jalapeno and minced green onion. Stir in garlic powder. If too stiff, add more mayonnaise.
Top each muffin with a dollop of pimento cheese. Makes 36-48 muffins.
PARTY ARTICHOKE SPREAD WITH WISCONSIN BLUE CHEESE
Butter for bottom and side of springform pan
3 tablespoons seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2 cups (12 ounces) Wisconsin blue cheese, crumbled
1-1/3 cups sour cream, divided
3 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon each: minced fresh basil, fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons each: dried basil and oregano
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup chopped artichoke hearts, drained well
Quartered artichoke hearts for garnish, if desired
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Refrigerate.
Beat cream cheese in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in blue cheese and 2/3 cup sour cream. Beat in eggs.
Sauté shallot in butter until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir shallot into cheese mixture along with herbs and pepper. Fold in artichoke pieces. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 35-45 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Cool 10 minutes. Spread remaining sour cream over top. Garnish with artichoke quarters. Bake 5 minutes more. Cool to room temperature on wire rack. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
To serve, place on serving plate. Carefully run knife around outer edges; remove sides of pan. Serve with mild flavored crackers, such as water crackers. Makes 14-16 servings.
-- From "Share the Season with Wisconsin Cheese" at Rouses.
CHINESE GLAZED CHICKEN WINGS
12 chicken wings (about 2 pounds) tips removed, wings cut in half
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon purchased sweet-and-sour sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange chicken wings in sprayed foil-lined pan.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove wings from oven. Turn wings. Return to oven; bake an additional 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine all remaining ingredients; mix well.
Remove wings from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Brush wings with about half the sauce. Return to oven; bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
Remove wings from oven. Turn wings; brush with remaining half of sauce. Return to oven; bake an addition 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink next to bone. Makes 24 appetizers.
-- From "Holiday Appetizers & Desserts"
SPICY ITALIAN BARBECUE SHRIMP
2 sticks butter
2 pounds Gulf shrimp (in shells)
1 onion sliced
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
3 lemons, sliced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup sherry
Salt and pepper
Melt butter, add shrimp in shells and cook on medium heat on stove until shrimp turn pink. Add all other ingredients and cook until shrimp loosen from shell (about 10 minutes). Do not overcook. Serve with hot French bread. Serves 6. Can easily be doubled.
-- From "Mississippi Shrimp Recipes"
This dip is a must, especially when the party extends into the New Year. Black-eyed peas are supposed to be good luck.
BLACK-EYED PEA SALSA
1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped red bell peppers
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup sliced green onions with tops
1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
1/2 cup zesty Italian salad dressing
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Large corn chips or whatever you like
After mixing all the ingredients, refrigerate for 2 hours or more to allow flavors to blend.
-- Recipe by Sue Walker from "Bel Aire Baptist Celebrates 50 Years"
1 stick butter
Salt to taste
2 pounds pecans, cleaned
Melt butter and add salt. Stir into pecans and roast at 275 degrees for 30 minutes: specifically, roast 15 minutes; turn and roast another 15 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.
-- Recipe by Marge Eaton and Cora Barton from "Bel Aire Baptist Celebrates 50 Years"
Brenda Roberts of Ocean Springs loves fruit cake and would like a low-sugar recipe for fruit cake. She also wants and low-sugar, low-sodium gumbo recipe that does not have fish in it. Readers, if you have these recipes, send them to me.
Andrea Yeager, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.