One day, when the children are older, we'll have festive, formal dinners, But I truly enjoy the casualness of the appetizers and the togetherness as we spend the evening waiting to ring in the New Year!
We started out slowly. Our aim was to stay awake until Midnight. At 7:00 I brought out some mini gherkin pickles, green olives, black olives and peanuts. We munched on those as we sipped our celebratory beverages. My husband had a fabulous Dirty Martini, I a lovely glass of Veuve, and the children sipped Sparkling Italian Grapefruit Soda (Trader Joe's).
At 8:00 I brought out my Spicy Artichoke Dip and Ina Garten's Sun-dried Tomato dip (pictured below) that is truly out of this world! We noshed on those with pita chips and toasts made from French bread.
At 9:00 I started on Pioneer Woman's Steak Bites and Black Eyed Pea Salsa. Both were outrageously delightful!
We were so full that we never ate the cheeses (Blue, Manchega and Smoked Gryere) that I was going to serve with sliced pear, apple and crackers.
Nor did we get to the shrimp. I had intended on making The Barefoot Contessa's baked shrimp. Instead I tossed my clean, uncooked shrimp in the freezer to be enjoyed another day.
I purchased fresh and wonderfully delicious blackberries at the market on sale as well as strawberries to have with French Macaroons and Lemon Bars. I completely forgot about the grapes! I was going to hand out a dozen grapes to everyone as the Spanish tradition goes, but I totally forgot! I hope this doesn't mean we lose out on a chance for a very sweet year!
PW's Black Eyed Pea Salsa
(Except I couldn't find black eyed peas at two stores and we were in the midst of a mini snow storm so I had to use black beans)
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- ½ cups Olive Oil
- ⅓ cups White Wine (or Regular) Vinegar (I used Cider Vinegar, almost a full cup)
2 Tablespoons (to 3 Tablespoons) Sugar ( I thought it was a bit too sweet with 2)
- 1 teaspoon Celery Seed
- ½ teaspoons Dry Mustard ( I didn't have any. Ack!)
- ½ teaspoons Salt
- Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
- 3 stalks Celery Finely Chopped
- 3 stalks Green Onions, Sliced
- 1 whole Red Bell Pepper (Chopped)
- 1 whole Cucumber, Peeled, Seeded, And Chopped
- 1 whole Jalapeno (optional), Seeded And Chopped (I omited this too as I thought it would be too spicy for my four year old!)
- 1 cup (or More If Desired) Chopped Cilantro
- 2 cans Black-eyed Peas, Drained
Mix together dressing ingredients. Set aside.
Combine all vegetables (except cilantro) with black eyed peas. Pour dressing over the top and gently stir together. Add cilantro and stir gently.
Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips. (I thought they were best with blue corn tortilla chips)
PW's Steak Bites (I'm telling you run out and get some sirloin NOW!)
You'll need a package of sirloin steak.
You'll trim it of all excess fat and then cut slices about 1/2 in. thick, then you will cut bite sized pieces. Toss the pieces in to a bowl and sprinkle on a generous amount of sea salt, freshly ground pepper and garlic powder. Toss to ensure that the meat is well covered with the seasonings.
You'll add about 2 Tbs of butter to a pan, heat it up and get really hot. As the butter sizzles toss in about half your meat.
You'll cook your meat about 1 minute on each side. The trick is to quickly sear the sirloin so that the outside gets dark and crispy and the inside stays pink and tender. When done place on a plate, add 2 more tbs of butter to the pan, let it sizzle, add the meat and repeat.
Dirty Martini with Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives (I'm pretty sure this is going to be my husband's signature drink!)
2 oz good vodka, chilled
3/4 oz. Olive juice, chilled
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth, chilled
3 Colossal olives
Take a Colossal green olive, remove pimento, and add stuff the olive with a good blue cheese. Repeat for 2 more olives. Place onto a toothpick, set asside.
In a Shaker that has been chilling in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, place vodka, olive juice and vermouth. Shake well, and pour into martini glass. Add olives. Enjoy!
The olives, filled with blue cheese, when drunk from the Martini are TO DIE FOR!