The Six Must Have Foods for Your New Year’s Celebration

photo Well – it’s here: the eve before the eve of the New Year.

We have no ‘big’ event planned for tomorrow… and I have no cute dress poised for reveal. But you know what? I’m still excited because of what is planned: getting together with some really great friends and all of our kids so we can ring in the New Year with togetherness, joy, and hearts lifted up with thanks to our Father.

Now, whether you have a small gathering, a large gathering, or even just a night planned for you and a friend to watch the ball drop at home, I bet late night snacks are likely on your mind. (And, if not, they should be ;-).)

If so, you’ll appreciate what I shared on AM Northwest today: the six ‘must-have’ foods I recommend for your New Year’s celebration table.

No cooking.

No labor intensive prep work.

They’re delicious at room temperate.

They’re easily replenishable.

Here ya go:

1) Cured meats. Walk up to any beautiful deli counter in a local grocery and you’ll see options that will blow your mind: wine cured salami, salami with parmesan, spicy salami, prosciutto. Whichever options you go with, have them for slice very thin slices; and, you really only need 10-12 slices of each.

2) Gourmet cheeses. The possibilities are endless with good cheese and, for me, the more pungent the better. Again, don’t just hit the big box grocer; head to one of your local grocers for your best selection. Whether you go soft cheese, or hard cheese (or offer a selection of both), just be sure to choose a well-balanced selection of flavors (from mild to rich) and either a cheese knife or cheese spreader for variation you serve. (The cheesemonger is a God-send… so don’t be afraid to ask questions, or even for a little nibble.)

  • My SOFT favorites are: St. Agur Blue, Humbolt Fog (an aged goat cheese), and a plain goat cheese you can roll in your own blend of freshly diced herbs. (For goat cheese herb coating: 2 TBSP finely diced curly parsley, 1/2 tsp finely diced rosemary, 1/2 tsp finely diced thyme, 1/4 tsp lemon zest, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper. Mix thouroughly with your fingers and then roll cheese log to coat entire outside.)
  • My HARD favorites are: an aged irish cheddar, Manchego (Spanish), or Compte (French).

3) Fruits – both dried and fresh. There’s nothing like fresh fruit to cleanse your palate, so it’s always a good idea to have fresh fruit on your entertaining table. Cut grapes into small clusters for easy grabbing; slice granny smith apples and/or pears into thin strips and toss with a little lemon juice to prevent browning; serve whole fresh berries.

As for dried fruits, two of my favorite to serve with soft cheese in particular are dried dates and dried figs. For the dates, just pull in half and remove the pit before serving; for the figs, trim off the hard stem and slice in half before serving.

4) Bread and crackers. Don’t think Ritz and saltines – you are entertaining and you need to go gourmet. There are so many wonderful crackers to compliment your quality meats and cheeses that you really don’t want to skimp here. Look for crackers that are very lightly seasoned (if at all) so that you don’t have a lot of competing flavors going on. I’m really loving the Raincoast Crisps (and they’re on sale at New Seasons right now for $6.99). Also, don’t buy precut and pretoasted bread – make your own baguette crisps! Pick up a thin baguette, slice into 1/2 inch slices, brush with olive oil, and bake on a cookie sheet for about 2-3 minutes (you want them toasted, but not over-crunchy.)

5) Marinated goodies. Olives. Marinated artichokes, or peppers, or mushrooms, or vegetables. Look in the jar aisle to see what you might discover, or head over to one of the olive / antipasti bars that are popping up in grocery stores.

6) Nuts. You can buy them raw, or lightly seasoned… or you can mix a big nut blend and season them yourself. Every year for Christmas I make the Spiced Mixed Nuts I found in Real Simple years and years ago. (NOTE: If you venture to make them, amend the recipe as follows: cut the sugar in half, add dried cranberries, and bake for only about 25 minutes (30 max). They continue to cook once you remove them from the oven and the suggested cooking time makes them wayyyyy too dark.)

Watch the segment to see how I had all this displayed: white plates, variation in server height, a fabulous slate cheese board.

If you have time, let me know what you have planned and what YOUR favorite thing(s) to serve for a party are. I’d love to hear some new suggestions!

And hey, last but not least, don’t forget: ENJOY THIS. Breathe, be thankful, and ENJOY the last couple days of 2013.

I’m so appreciative you’re here with me – thanks for reading.

AM Northwest: Blue Steak Salad and Salty Pappas

Today started super awesome. I was invited back on our local morning show, AM Northwest (PDX, KATU Channel 2) to cook up a 4th of July menu that goes beyond burgers and hotdogs… and here’s what we cooked up:

  • Blue Mixed Greens Salad with Marinated Flank Steak
  • “Salty Papas”
  • Red White and Blue Whipped Parfait

The recipes follow the video… and, in the video you’ll see the technique to use for salting the Salty Papas. Also, as I say in the segment, this is a great ‘deconstruct able’ meal. What this means is that you can prepare everything on the menu and gear it towards adults – but every recipe has elements that you can pull out and serve to the kids without additional effort. For example, my kids don’t eat this particular salad, but they love steak, pears, and the potatoes.

So – enjoy! If you will have children around, I suggest grilling up some corn on the cob while you’re at it. That way if they choose to forgo the salad, they can still have a yummy veggie to add to their plate.

Thanks for being here – and let me know if you try and of these recipes!

Rebel on,


Here are the recipes – all recipes make approx 4 servings.

Blue Mixed Greens Salad
4 handfulls of mixed greens
1 Bosc pear, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
A drizzle of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
A drizzle of balsamic vinegar
NOTE: Add a little bit of EVOO and balsamic at a time because dressing this salad requires less than you might think! You can always add more, but if you add too much you can’t go back.
Toss salad until all ingredients are evenly coated with EVOO and balsamic. Serve salad on plate and top with a serving of sliced marinated flank steak.
Marinade for Flank Steak
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
Garlic powder
Coarse black pepper
Dust one side of flank steak with a light coating of garlic powder; follow with a light coating of black pepper. Pour the lemon juice and soy sauce over the meat. Flip the meat from side to side in the marinade until both sides are fully coated with marinade. Cover will tin foil and refrigerate.
Remove steak from fridge about 20-30 minutes before you are ready to grill. Grill steak on direct, medium high setting for 15 minutes, turning once. Remove steak from grill and cover tightly with tin foil; allow steak to sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting into thin strips.
“Salty Papas” (aka Salty Potatoes)
1 pound of fingerling potatoes
Kosher salt
Put potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Cook potatoes on high heat at a rapid boil until soft when pierced with a fork. Once tender, drain off all water and return to stove.
Potatoes should be in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. (Depending on the size of your pot, you may have to complete this step in two batches.) Sprinkle all the potatoes with kosher salt (approx 1 TBSP per pound), cover and cook at medium high heat for 1 minute. While potatoes are still covered, begin to shake pan from side to side so that potatoes become fully coated in salt and do not stick to pan. Return to heat for 30 seconds and shake again. Do this several times until potatoes no longer look moist and there is a white powdery look to the skins. Remove from heat and place in a single layer on a platter until ready to serve. Serve with Cilantro Dipping Sauce.
Cilantro Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup packed cilantro
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic
a pinch of kosher salt
Add all ingredients into a food processor until paste-like. Serve beside Salty Papas.
Red White and Blue Whipped Parfait  
2 cups Blueberries
2 cups Strawberries, sliced into slivers
Homemade Whipped Cream
Create a bed of whipped cream in a small dessert bowl. Place blueberries and strawberries side by side, then top with a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy.
Homemade Whipped Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
Place cream and sugar in a bowl and whip on high speed with a mixer until stiff peaks form. (This should take 3-4 minutes.) Enjoy.