Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Perfect Appetizer Menu for your New Years Eve

The Christmas holiday usually means lots of parties and get-togethers and this year was no exception. Although the year coming to a end, there is still ONE more party to either host or attend, NEW YEARS! Out with the old and in with the new!
This weekend, I tried out a menu that was simple and perfect for our final hurrah which you can duplicate at your end of the year party. Each year at Christmas, I try to get together with my high school girls friends. A few of them have moved away so this annual event is a great way to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new year to come. Wow, how the years seem to pass us by. Even though we only get together once or twice a year, it always feels like yesterday.  
As you know, with any good get together, there has to be great food & a few drinks... those always go hand-in-hand in my book. So, stressed for time, I put together my Pre-New Year menu. Lucky for me, these ladies are pretty easy to please... the menu was simple and delicious with just the right amount of variety.
One great rule of thumb for hosting a party is DO NOT try to make everything by yourself! Accept help where you can, either by having a friend bring the dessert or purchasing a few good, ready-made appetizers that you know everyone will enjoy.  
I hope you'll give my "simple & delicious" party menu a try!

Menu:  (Serves 10-12 people)
California Quinoa Salad
Roasted Winter Vegetables
Cheese and Meat Platter
Mini Quiches
Blackberry Honey Goat Cheese Crostini
Dessert (pick any of LiveBakeLove's awesome desserts!)

California Quinoa Salad:

2 cups quinoa
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon McCormick seasoning
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-2 large mangos small dice
1/3 cup minced flat leaf parsley
1 bag of frozen edamame 16 oz (defrosted)
1/2 cup of green onion tops , diced small
3/4 cup toasted almond slivers
6 tablespoons, olive oil
6 tablespoons, blood orange olive oil (or a citrus olive olive)
6 tablespoons, white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons, fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 shallot, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of Feta Cheese (optional)

1. Rinse quinoa in water and place in a medium size saucepan with 4 cups of water, 1 teaspoon salt , McCormick seasoning and pepper.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered approx. 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Set aside to cool. Tip: This can be made a day ahead.

2. Combine the mango, parsley, edamame, green onion and toasted almonds in a large bowl. Set aside while you make the dressing.

3. To make the dressing -  place the olive oils, vinegar, lemon juice, shallot, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper in a jar and shake well to combine.

4. To assemble the salad -
~ Fluff the cooled quinoa with a fork and add it to the mango mixture.
~ Add the Feta Cheese and toss gently with a fork to combine.
~ Shake to salad dressing one more time to combine and pour the dressing over the salad mixture. Toss gently to combine and distribute the dressing.
~ Refrigerate until ready to serve

Roasted Winter Vegetable Platter:

This recipe makes a medium sized platter. I used the following vegetables:
Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
Winter mini squashes (Costco has a nice bag)
Mini Yukon Potatoes
Carrot Medley (different colors)
Assorted sweet peppers

Preheat oven to 425
1. Rise and dry all vegetables and put on a large rimmed baking sheet.
2. Sprinkle about 3-5 tablespoons of olive olive, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss by hand to coat.
3.  Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
4. Remove from oven after the 15-20 minutes and flip with a spatula.  Return to oven and roast for an additional 15 minutes
5. Remove from oven and serve warm or room temp.

Meat & Cheese Platter:

1/2 pound of good hard salami (only spent $4.50 at the deli counter of my grocery store )
1 block of Cheddar (about 12 oz)
1 block of Monterrey jack cheese   (about 12 oz)
1 can of x large black olives
4oz of cream cheese 
3-4 tablespoons of a jalapeno jelly
1 container of cherry or grape tomatoes
One container of mozzarella balls in herbs
12 wooden Skewers (Party city has these cheap)
salt and pepper
*Note: add another meat if a lot of men will be attending

1. Use a nice 16"-18" platter
2. Cut the cheeses in to 1/2-1" squares.  Add to middle of platter.  Arrange Salami next to cheese.
3. Take 4oz block of cream cheese and using your hands shape into a thick disk. Arrange on platter. Add the 3-4 tablespoons of Jalapeno Jelly on top.
4. Put the olives in a nice glass bowl and arrange on platter.
5. To assemble the skewers - alternate tomatoes and mozzarella balls. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Arrange on platter.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  
6. Arrange crackers in a platter next to the cheese platter.

Mini Quiches
Costco buy.... honestly this a great appetizer that always gets eaten.  You can also find them at Trader Joes during the holidays.

Blackberry Honey Goat Cheese Crostini

The platter you see in this picture is not the one from last night's party.... unfortunately, I forgot to buy blackberries when I was at the store (DARN!). This recipe (from a previous event) was too good not to share and would be perfect for New Year's Eve. It's super easy to make and absolutely delicious. Plus, it looks beautiful too!   

Prep: Wash and cut about 1 cup of blackberries in half and allow to dry

4oz Honey Goat Cheese (in your grocery store near the specialty cheese, very affordable)
2 tablespoons Honey ( i used dessert flower)
1 loaf of a hearty Cranberry Nut bread cut into 1/4" slices then cut into halves or thirds to get 3"x3"pieces
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
Kosher salt
12 mint leave cut into ribbons (aka chiffonade)
Blackberry halves
3-4 cup assorted roasted nuts

1. Preheat over to 375f
2. Brush the sliced bread with olive oil, on both sides. Sprinkle lighty with kosher salt and put on cookie tray.
3. Bake for 6-8 minutes and turn over and back for another 5-6 minutes.  Both side should be lightly toasted.  set aside to cool
4. Mix the goat cheese with the honey until completely combined. Once bread has cooled spread about 1 1/2 teaspoons onto one side of the bread.
5. Arrange 3-4 of the cut blackberries on top of the goat cheese and garnish with mint.
6. Arrange crostini on a nice platter.
7.  Sprinkle the nuts around platter to fill in the holes.
8. Refrigerate until ready to serve!
NOTE: you can use Vegan cheese instead of the Goat cheese instead.  Faye was the tester for that one, its delicious!


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