Friday, December 31, 2010

Ringing in the New Year

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The family on Christmas Eve.

Well, here we are on the cusp of 2010. A pretty good year all around for our family. A few challenges, but that's what keeps us aware of our many blessings. Today is my baby's 21st birthday, an amazing milestone, that, he surprisingly does not want to spend at home. But we still have a 17 year old that has to have a social agenda chock-full, so we told her to invite her crew over tonight, we have a few adults coming over, and a spread of all that is bad in the food world today. I really thought about doing a fabulous beef tenderloin, a sweet potato gratin, champagne punch etc. But the truth is my kids, their friends and my husband want finger food. Pick up and go. Nothing crazy. I get it. We are not the kind of family that makes a counter full of appetizers to watch a football game, except today I make appetizers and we will enjoy the last weekend of the holidays before school starts, work sets in and life goes back to normal.

First off, everyone will receive their red underwear for breakfast. Red must be worn against the body as the New Year rings in to ward away evil spirits. All over Italy, red underwear are everywhere following Christmas. It is a bit more of a challenge here to find things that are, shall we say, appropriate? I will not take photos of our new drawers to share. They are quite tasteful, take my word on this.

So the party: No teenage get together is complete without Rotel. Now in the South, that means a couple of cans of Rotel (tomatoes and peppers) dumped into a brick of Velveeta and melted in a crock-pot. I will add some Italian sausage since it's a "special occasion". This is one of the main food groups in the South, and I am certain I am in violation of some law because I am not serving pulled pork butt with it. However, I am brining some pork tenderloins to toss on the grill and slice onto little rolls. There will also be some sliders for the kids left over from the last party.

Another Southern New Year's tradition is the black eyes peas. Now most prople I know who make them cook them with bacon and maybe some greens, onions, whatever. I have opted for a little Texas Caviar. I snagged the recipe from Epicurious and I love it. You can get the core recipe here, Texas Caviar from the Cowgirl Hall of Fame and my own vinaigrette. I have never been to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, but my friend's mom is in it. How cool is that? Dixie Moseley. Right now there is an exhibit at the museum on aprons. I know a food blogger/sewer who would love to see that, ME! Back to the peas. Any constant reader knows I didn't follow the recipe. I used 4 cans of beans, cilantro instead of parsley, 4 jalapenos, and an orange and a yellow pepper along with what it actually called for. As far as the dressing, apparently Epicurious took off the one that was originally on the site. I used a dried Penzey's salad dressing base and some white balsamic (for sweetness) and cider vinegar, and of course olive oil. Then put it in the fridge so they can mingle for a few hours. It is best on Fritos scoops, which I normally hate, but they can hold the weight of the beans. I am addicted to baked Tostitos, but you have to set the beans on the chip because they are far too fragile to scoop it up!

I am also making some marinated cheese. A recipe from my friend Claudia which I have changed over time as well. Here is my version:
Slice up your favorite cheese. I like fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, white cheddar, even cream cheese works. You want cheese that can take on bold flavors. Lay them in a shallow dish so they look good. Plating is so not my thing. Then top with some marinated artichoke hearts, some green olives, maybe some sun dried tomatoes. Then make up a vinaigrette with ¼ cup balsamic, ¼ cup olive oil, a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of sugar, 2 chopped green scallions and a jar of pimentos, drained. Pour over the cheese and garnish with fresh parsley and basil and let sit at room temp for an hour before eating on bruschetta. YUM!

I am also conceding to the cream cheese and jam business. There is this awesome grocery in Castle Rock, CO between Denver and the Springs. Tony's Market on Happy Canyon Road. What's not to like? A guy named Tony must be a paesono and what a great street name! Anyway Scott went for a sandwich and they were sampling Blueberry Jalepeno Jam on cream cheese. He was reeled in and brought a jar home for tonight.

The sweet stuff is chocolate fondue, cookies and cream cupcakes and red velvet cupcakes with almond buttercream. Pictures to follow. Providing of course I don't drink too much Veuve. No sunshine today either, so bad photo weather. Happy New Year to you all. Next week is my last week on management. Everyone say WHEW! and then we work on the resolutions!!!

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