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 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.