New Year’s celebrations sparkle with variety

Instead of a full meal, offer guests their choice of appetizers to fit every taste as you ring in 2022

    There are few days more ideal for entertaining than New Year’s Eve.
    Whether your plans include a large group or just a few people, ringing in the new year with loved ones is always a joy.
    Entertaining doesn’t necessarily mean making a big dinner. A large tray of hors d’oeuvres is a delightful way to host, offering guests a variety of treats that can be just as filling while offering everyone a chance to try new foods and enjoy their favorites.
    Appetizers don’t need to be difficult. Many dips are simple to whip up and can be served with a variety of chips, croutons, pretzels and veggies.
    Many appetizers can be prepared ahead of time, then warmed up or plated just as guests arrive.
    Spread a fruity jam over a wheel of brie and wrap it in puff pastry. Bake it in a 400-degree oven and serve it warm with crackers.
    Or pick up some puff pastry cups and prepare them, then fill with a dollop of softened cream cheese and top with a tablespoon of pitted and chopped oil-cured olives. Bake in a 350-degree oven for five minutes, until the filling is hot.
    Wrap water chestnuts in bacon, secure with a toothpick and broil them for five minutes or so, until the bacon is crisp. Serve warm.
    You can make caprese bites by threading a grape tomato and a small piece of mozzarella on a skewer, then drizzling the skewers with a mixture of oil, vinegar, kosher salt and pepper, then sprinkle with chopped basil.
    If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even make your own chips. Just fry some cut-up tortillas or wonton wrappers and season with salt and other herbs and spices.
    Or just set out a charcuterie board filled with an abundance of cured meats, various cheeses, olives, nuts, fresh and dried fruits, crackers of small slices of bread, jelly or jam.
    Following are hors-d’oeuvres recipes from allrecipes.com.

 

    allrecipes.com

Sausage Flowers

1 pound ground Italian sausage
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup shredded Colby cheese
1 cup salsa
24 3.5-inch square wonton wrappers
12 ounces sour cream
1 bunch green onions, chopped

    Place ground sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain and remove from heat.
    Stir Monterey Jack cheese and Colby cheese into the warm sausage to melt. Stir in salsa.
    Gently press wonton wrappers into a lightly greased miniature muffin pan so that the edges are extending. Place a heaping tablespoon of the sausage mixture into each wonton wrapper.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes, until wonton edges begin to brown.
    Transfer baked wontons to a serving platter. Dollop each with approximately one tablespoon sour cream. Sprinkle with green onions.

King Crab Appetizers

2 12-ounce packages refrigerated biscuit dough
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 6-ounce can crab meat, drained
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch paprika

    Divide rolls in half and press into 12 lightly greased tartlet pans. Set aside.
    In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, crab, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese,  cheddar cheese, green onions and Worcestershire sauce. Spoon one teaspoon of mixture into each tart pan and garnish with paprika.
    Bake in a 375-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until light brown.
    Tartlets freeze well. Just reheat before serving.

 

Baked Brie With Caramelized Onion

1 head garlic
1/4 cup butter
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and sliced
1 8-ounce wedge Brie cheese
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 tablespoon melted butter

    Place garlic on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in a 400-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft.
    Melt 1/4 cup butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onion and apple in butter until tender and browned.
    Arrange brie on top of thawed puff pastry. Top with the apple and onion mixture. Fold puff pastry over the cheese and pinch closed. Brush with melted butter.
    Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm. Garnish with whole cloves of roasted garlic.

Fig and Prosciutto Appetzer

4 ounces honey-flavored goat cheese
3 ounces prosciutto
2 fresh figs, thinly sliced
2 leaves fresh basil, cut into thin strips
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    Place goat cheese on a sheet of plastic wrap. Top with another sheet of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to flatten into a 4-by-8-inch rectangle.
    Remove top sheet of plastic wrap and cover goat cheese with slices of prosciutto, slightly overlapping the edges. Cover prosciutto with a new sheet of plastic wrap and flip both sheets over so the goat cheese layer is now facing up.
    Remove top sheet of plastic wrap. Cover goat cheese evenly with figs, basil and black pepper. Starting from the long edge, roll tightly to form a log. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours.

 

Pork Gyoza

12 ounces ground pork
1/4 head cabbage, shredded
1 egg
2 spring onions, sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sake
2 teaspoons mirin
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
40 gyoza wrappers, or as needed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
For sauce:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce

    Combine ground pork, cabbage, egg, spring onions, one tablespoon soy sauce, sake, mirin and ginger in a large bowl. Mix well.
    Place one to two teaspoons pork mixture in the center of each gyoza wrapper. Moisten fingers with water and rub around the edges of each wrapper. Fold wrappers in half over the filling, creating a semi circle. Take one side of the wrapper and make crimps along the edges for a decorative pattern (like pleats of a skirt), then press the edges to seal the two sides together, making sure there isn’t much excess air inside the dumpling. Repeat until all the pork mixture is used.
    Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place as many gyoza in the skillet as fit in a single layer and fry three to five minutes, until the bottom is browned. Add water to skillet, reduce heat, cover and allow gyoza to steam about five minutes, until all the water has evaporated. Repeat with the remaining gyoza.
    Mix rice vinegar and soy sauce together for a dipping sauce and serve with the gyoza.

Kicked Up Olives

4 cups mixed olives with pits
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tangerines
3 slices sweet onion
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, or to taste

    Mix olives, garlic, balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes together in a bowl.
    Carefully peel tangerines and cut peels into strips. Squeeze juice from one tangerine over olive mixture. Add tangerine peel strips to olive mixture and toss well.
    Make a packet with a large piece of aluminum foil. Pour olive mixture into packet. Arrange onion slices and rosemary over olives and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle fennel seeds over mixture. Fold and seal packet, then place on a baking sheet.
    Bake in a 250-degree oven about 90 minutes, until warmed, about 90 minutes. Serve warm.

 

Jalepeno Cheese Puffs

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 4-ounce can diced jalapeno peppers
2 cloves garlic, pressed
3 green onions, diced
1 16-ounce package wonton wrappers
1 quart vegetable oil for frying

    In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, jalapeno peppers, garlic and green onions.
    Fill each wonton wrapper with approximately one teaspoon cream cheese mixture. Fold wrappers into triangles and press the edges with a moistened fork to seal.
    In a large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Drop four wontons at a time into the oil and quickly fry, turning once. Remove when golden brown and drain on paper towels.
    Place puffs on a rack set on a cookie sheet in a warm oven until serving.

Spiced Sweet Roasted Pepper Hummus

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
1 4-ounce jar roasted red peppers
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1-1/2 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

    In an electric blender or food processor, puree chickpeas, red peppers, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cumin, cayenne and salt. Process, using long pulses, until the mixture is fairly smooth, and slightly fluffy. Make sure to scrape the mixture off the sides of the food processor or blender in between pulses. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate at least one hour.
    The hummus can be made up to three days ahead and refrigerated. Return to room temperature before serving.
    Sprinkle hummus with the chopped parsley before serving.

 

Balsamic Bruschetta

8 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf French bread, toasted and sliced

    In a bowl, toss together tomatoes, basil, Parmesan cheese and garlic. Mix in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Serve on toasted bread slices.

 

Cheddar Beer Fondue

1 pound shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup lager beer
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons mustard powder

    Mix Cheddar cheese and flour together in a bowl.
    Bring beer to a light boil in a fondue pot, then add garlic, Worcestershire sauce and mustard powder and stir. Gradually stir cheese mixture into beer mixture. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, about five minutes, until cheese is melted.
    Serve as a dip with croutons, pieces of crusty bread, veggies, pretzels and other dippers.
   

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