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What does a perfect New Year’s Eve Party menu look like? Look no further than here.

Plan the perfect New Year’s Eve menu.
Plan the perfect New Year’s Eve menu. KRT

Do you have another party this weekend? Perhaps it is New Year’s Eve revelry or maybe a ball to kick off the Mardi Gras season. Or, maybe, it is a football fan fare?

End or start the year with party starters, appetizers and beverages. Some friends would rather graze on appetizers or snacks and sip wine than sit down to a meal. These days I tend to be a grazer, too. I love hors d’oeuvres.

Give the party a Latin fare with tapas or little plates. Hostesses and hosts also can go Greek with an appetizer as simple as Kalamata and green olives with feta cheese soaked in either olive oil or a vinaigrette.

The little plates and finger foods are easy to eat while visiting with friends and do not take much time to prepare. A favorite of mine is a block of cream cheese topped with hot pepper jelly. The late Ann Criswell, well-known Houston Chronicle food editor, always brought a block of cream cheese topped with Pickapeppa sauce as her party contribution. It was easy, and guests loved it.

When hosting a cocktail or wine and cheese party, make sure to include some heavy appetizers to help absorb the alcohol. Any host/hostess wants guests to have fun, but not imbibe too much. Remember if a guest has too much to drink, offer him/her a guest bedroom or call a taxi or driver to get them home safely.

A non-alcoholic punch is an easy fix and offers an alternative for non-drinkers.

Balancing the light and heavy hors d’oeuvres takes a little planning. A menu is a must even for a cocktail party. Chalk signs are perfect for labeling the appetizers and look nice on the table.

PERFECT MENU

A perfect menu should include hot hors d’oeuvres, cheeses and fruits, perhaps a favorite dip, a simple relish tray, a variety of crackers, nuts and several sweet offerings, whether candy, petit fours, pecan tassies or cookies.

A chocolate fountain is always a hit with guests. Strawberries, grapes, marshmallows, pretzels and cubes of pound cake are some dipper ideas for the chocolate.

Whatever menu is selected, keep it simple and easy. The host/hostess wants to enjoy the party, too, not be stuck in the kitchen.

Doris Lyons of Gulfport shares a recipe for a microwave fudge and two variations, a peanut butter one and a blonde fudge. These would be a sweet ending to the party or to put in gift boxes for guests to take home.

Being on the Coast, seafood is a must for any party.

Instead of the usual boiled shrimp and cocktail sauce, try marinated or pickled shrimp, easy to throw together. The hardest part is waiting several hours for the shrimp to marinate.

Profiteroles stuffed with crab dip are hot hors d’oeuvres that are tasty and look much harder to make than they are.

Enjoy the party, whether as a toast to the new year or a start to Mardi Gras revelry.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BROTH AND STOCK?

Carol Andrade of Gulfport needs answers to two questions. First off, she wants to know the difference between stock and broth.

“Can they be used in place of each other?” she asked.

Secondly, she wants information on turmeric.

“A friend gave me some turmeric. Lots of it,” she said. “I have never gotten fresh turmeric before. How do I use it and how do I store it?”

Readers, can you help Andrade? Please shoot me your answers via e-mail or mail.

STUFFED BUTTERNUT SQUASH, PLEASE

Brenda Roberts of Ocean Springs wants a recipe for stuffed butternut squash.

“I know someone has a recipe,” she said. “But does it have to be peeled to stuff?”

The stuffed squash recipe must be a healthy one because Roberts has several health problems that require low-fat or low-sugar recipes.

“I appreciate what you and readers can find,” she said.

OK, readers, please send me your healthy, stuffed butternut squash recipes. I will share them in an upcoming column.

MICROWAVE FUDGE

1 pound powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup oleo or butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts/coconut

Combine all but nuts and vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 2-3 minutes or until oleo melts.

Remove and stir until smooth. Add nuts and vanilla and blend well. Put into greased 9-inch square pan. Cool.

For peanut butter fudge: Omit cocoa. Add 1 cup light brown sugar. Follow above instructions. Add 1 cup peanut butter along with the vanilla and nuts/coconut.

For blonde fudge: Omit cocoa. Add light brown sugar. Follow above instructions. After microwaving add vanilla and nuts/coconut.

Submitted by Doris Roberts

MARINATED SHRIMP

32 medium size shrimp

2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions

1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard

1/8 teaspoon mace

1/8 teaspoon oregano or basil

3 tablespoons capers

(May add horseradish)

Beat all ingredients together in mixing bowl. Fold in the shrimp. Let marinate for several hours in the refrigerator. Shortly before serving, drain and spear shrimp on cocktail picks and arrange in a dish.

From “First Presbyterian Cookbook” in Orange, Texas.

ANDREA BOWEN’S CRAB PUFFS

Tea Party Puffs:

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 cup boiling water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sifted flour

4 eggs

Filling:

6 1/2 ounces of fresh white crabmeat or 1 can crabmeat

1 (8 ounces) package cream cheese

1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1 teaspoon minced onion

Combine butter and boiling water in medium-size saucepan and beat over high heat until butter melts. Turn heat to low, add salt and flour together and stir vigorously until mixture leaves sides of pan in a smooth, compact ball, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat. Add eggs, one at a time, beating with spoon until mixture has a satin-like sheen

Drop by teaspoonfuls, 1 1/2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets, shaping each into a mound that points up in the center. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven 20-25 minutes without opening the oven door. Puffs should be puffed and golden. Remove with spatula to wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, combine crabmeat, softened cream cheese, horseradish and onion in mixing bowl. Mix until blended. Slice tops off tea party puffs, fill and replace tops. Serve warm or at a room temperature. Makes 3-3 1/2 dozen.

From “Texas the Beautiful Cookbook”

Note: This is my recipe. When I lived in Houston, Bowen was my last name.

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