Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve spread

Last New Year's Eve was cold and snowy and we decided to stay in. Even if we weren't partying, I wanted special nibbles to pass the time till the ball dropped. I wanted them to be easy to make and made with ingredients I already had or ones that were at least inexpensive to purchase in one quick trip. I was also looking for one last hurrah of fat and sugar calories before buckling down for better health in 2009 but I didn't want to get too crazy. So the sausage balls made with Bisquick and cheese were out, as badly as I wanted the foods to taste homey and comforting and be filling. I think I did OK. Even the husband said "That was a pretty good spread."



Clockwise from left: deviled eggs, chicken wings with raspberry barbecue sauce, pepperoni rolls, hummus with herbed pita crisps and brown-sugar bacon (not shown.)

Three of the starters came from Katie Lee Joel's cookbook, "The Comfort Table". But here's a sampling of some of her recipes. (She and Billy split in May and I've noticed the book has been rereleased with "Katie Lee" on the cover.)

Her deviled eggs are nothing special, no matter how much Paula Deen raves about them. Cooks in my family make them better. I prefer a tangier filling. But here's her recipe because that's what I made last year.

DEVILED EGGS
from "The Comfort Table" by Katie Lee, Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2008

1 dozen large eggs
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon yellow prepared mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Paprika


Place the eggs in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add the vinegar. (Note from Cynthia: According to more than one site, adding vinegar to the water in which you boil eggs might keep them from cracking and if they do crack, it keeps the egg in the shell instead of it spilling out in the water.) Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn off the heat and cover. Let sit for 15-18 minutes. Drain off the water. When cool enough to touch, remove shells.

Slice each egg in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks and place them i na food processor. Arrange the whites on a serving platter. Add the mayo, mustard, salt and pepper to the yolks. Blend until smooth. Scoop the yolk mixture into a resealable plastic bag. Use scissors to snip off a bottom corner of the bag. Use the bag like a pastry bag to pipe the yolk mixture into the egg whites. Sprinkle each deviled egg half with paprika. Cover loosely and chill until serving time.

HUMMUS WITH HERBED PITA CRISPS
from "The Comfort Table" by Katie Lee, Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2008

For the pita crisps
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons minced fresh herbs (chives, parsley, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, etc.)
4 pitas, split in half and each half cut in fourths (use whole-wheat for a nuttier flavor)
Kosher salt

For the hummus
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained, juice reserved
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

OR just buy premade hummus


For the pita crisps
Preheat the oven to 400. In a mini food processor, combine the butter and herbs and pulse until well-combined. Spread the herb butter onto the pita slices. Sprinkle with salt and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes.

For the hummus
In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini and cumin. Pulse until smooth. With the food processor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream. Season with the salt and puree until very smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved chickpea juice at a time until the desired consistency is reached.




BROWN-SUGAR BACON
from "The Comfort Table" by Katie Lee, Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2008

I was going to make this for Christmas Day breakfast but an ice storm kept my guests away. Break it into 1-inch pieces for a cocktail-party snack.

1 pound applewood-smoked bacon
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place a wire cooling rack on top.

In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar and mustard. Add the bacon and toss to coat. Lay out the bacon slices flat on the rack. Brush with any remaining sugar. Roast the bacon for 25-30 minutes. Let drain on the rack for a few minutes before serving.


THIS YEAR...
If I make wings, I'm going to coat them with a spicy honey barbecue sauce made in West Virginia that I got as Christmas present. I have everything to make the brown-sugar bacon but I might save that for breakfast tomorrow. I am definitely trying new versions of Chex Mix, which Katie Lee was a spokeswoman for this holiday season. I'm most interested in the Buffalo and Deviled varieties.



Buffalo Chex Mix


I might make a Pampered Chef Classic Reuben sandwich ring. I might also make Katie Lee's Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip. I already promised the husband we'd toast with ice cream floats.

I guess I better get moving if I want to do all that.
Happy New Year!





HOT SPINACH & ARTICHOKE DIP
from "The Comfort Table" by Katie Lee, Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2008

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts (or drained jarred or canned, but not marinated)
1 cup steamed spinach (1 pound raw or 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well-drained)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves
6 large fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella


Preheat the oven to 375. Grease a 2-quart baking dish.
In a food processor, combine the cream cheese, artichoke hearts, spinach, mayo, Parmesan, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Spoon into the baking dish. Top with mozzarella. Bake until bubbling and the top is golden brown, 25-30 minutes.
Serve with crackers, tortilla chips or toasted rustic bread.





CLASSIC REUBEN SANDWICH RING
from The Pampered Chef "All The Best", 2003

2 cans crescent rolls
8 ounces sliced deli corned beef, chopped
1 8-ounce can sauerkraut, drained and squeezed dry
1 1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese, divided
1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 egg white, lightly beaten


Unroll 2 packages refrigerated crescent rolls and separate into 16 triangles. Arrange triangles, slightly overlapping, in a circle on a round baking stone or pan with wide ends 4 inches from edge. (Points will extend off the edge.) Roll wide ends of dough toward center to create a 5-inch opening.

Preheat oven to 375. Combine corned beef, sauerkraut, 1 cup of the cheese, dressing, parsley and garlic; mix well.

Scoop filling evenly over dough in a continuous circle. Bring points of triangle up over filling and tuck under dough at center to form a ring. Filling will show.
Brush with egg white. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

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