Hello, New Year’s Eve Eve! I’ve always loved the turn of the year. Not for the parties — no, this girl stays home for a low-key celebration with the sibs, our collective four-legged friends and, often, a movie.
Food is, of course, central, but a total joy to prepare — no pressure of Christmas dinner perfection. No one cares if the balance of cuisines is cattywampus. Or if everything — or nothing — is batter fried. No one’s judging the cheese plate. No one’s frowning at the label on the bottle of Prosecco. No one’s discretely checking their hair and make-up in a mirror on their lap.
At SoupAddict’s New Year’s Eve gatherings, make-up and kempt hair is optional. A good appetite, a willingness to overlook mismatched stemware (which may or may not have water spots) and camaraderie with the beings I’m closest to on this earth, required.
No, it’s not for the parties. Or even the food, really. It’s the symbolic starting over. 2011 picked up chaotic speed in September and blurred right through the holiday season. I’m bowled over, actually, that it’s already December 30th.
January 1st and 2nd will find me putting away holiday decorations, rearranging the house, trying out the new treadmill and digging through the disaster that is my kitchen. And quietly looking forward to the blank slate of January.
With January bleak and brown and cold, this summer girl hunkers down, stepping out of the house only when necessary. Seed catalogs will litter every flat surface as I plan, sketch and dream about the year’s gardens.
And dream big about the year in general.
But first, there’s one last 2011 evening to prepare for. I’ve narrowed down the menu to a few things I wanted to share. Hunting for new appetizers and cocktails was surprisingly fun this year — there’s so much good stuff being created out there on the interwebs.
In addition to links to the finalists, I’m also including the recipe for my favorite margarita, which is always, always on the New Year’s Eve menu. (Links open in a new browser window so it’s easy to return to this page.)
- Caesar salad deviled eggs  – deviled eggs are a must, and I fell head-over-heels for these babies a couple of weeks ago when first spied on Smitten.
- Caramelized Onion Mushroom Gruyere Tarts  – normally, I would faint to the floor at the thought of pulling together a tart on New Year’s Eve, but these are totally doable. And the ingredients are just meant for each other.
- Serrano Ham and Manchego Croquetas  – a recent Food52 contest winner, I’ve been dying to try this. Smoked paprika aioli = genius.
- Creamy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms  – I predict a tray of these would disappear in no time. The splash of balsamic is truly inspired.
- Green Goddess Crostini  – a recent recipe I developed here on SoupAddict with New Year’s Eve in mind, I look for any excuse to use Green Goddess-anything.
- Ruffled Potato Chips  – crazy fun idea for a twist on regular potato chips that will look awesome on a serving platter. I’ll be trying these with black truffle salt and finely grated Parm.
- Gorgonzola and Pistachio Shortbread  – I’m sweets’d out, people. Savory shortbread sounds mighty good.
- Smoked Egg Salad Crostini  – I fell in love with smoked eggs last winter — yup, that’s hard-boiled eggs smoked on the grill — they make an incredibly savory egg salad, like nothing you’ve had before.
- Winter Party Punch  – this is my all-around party favorite, no matter the event. It’s gorgeous in the bowl, everyone loves it, and there’s never any leftover no matter what else is being served.
- Ginger Pineapple Sparkling Punch  – I served a variation of this at Christmas (using Champagne instead of vodka). Totally delicious. Don’t be a piker with the ginger — the result is not ginger-hot, just ginger-delicious.
- Pomegranate Champagne Punch  – a gorgeous Champagne-rum punch flecked with pomegranate seeds and mint leaves.
- New Year’s Margarita  – everyone has their favorite margarita, right? This is mine (recipe below).
- Homemade Grenadine  – how awesome is this!
- Frizzante Mojito  – I think Champagne makes everything better. I don’t often turn to the mojito as a beverage of choice, but this one makes the cut.
- Reserve Basilica  – Rum and Champagne? Yes, please. I’m not certain what Yuzu juice is, but I’m fairly certain I saw it at the grocery store recently.
- Frozen Peach Bellini  – a slushy take on an Italian classic, it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
- The Painkiller  – the search results blurb for “rum drinks” described this is a rum-spiked orange creamsicle. You had me at rum-spiked orange creamsicle.
- Boozy French Toast  — no contest here: this has become a tradition in my home. So delicious, so easy (prepared and refrigerated the night before, you just hit the snooze alarm New Year’s morning, shove it in the oven, and go back to sleep for a half hour). Best consumed while wearing cozy jammies.
Happy New Year, Everyone! Here’s to a healthy, grand-adventure-filled year — Dream Big in 2012!
New Year’s Margarita
(a variation of this was first published here on soupaddict.com exactly 2 years ago)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Yield: serves 4
12 ounces frozen limeade
2 cups ice cubes
6 fluid ounces tequila (get the good stuff; 2012 only comes around once)
3 fluid ounces Grand Marnier
1 lime, cut in half
Splash fresh orange juice
Coarse salt, for the rims
Place the limeade and ice cubes in a blender. Pour the tequila, Grand Marnier, and orange juice over the ice, and squeeze half of the lime on top.
Using the ice crusher setting, blend until cubes are broken down (5 to 10 seconds) then switch to a medium-high speed. Blend until creamy and foamy.
Slice the remaining lime half in half and squeeze gently around the rim of each glass.
Spread salt on a plate and dip the glass rims into the salt to coat.
Pour the margaritas into the glasses and serve immediately.