Whether you’re having dozens of friends over on New Year’s Eve or keeping things quiet with just family, setting out a few midnight snacks will tastefully ring in the New Year (and help absorb the alcohol in the Champagne!).
Here are a few easy ideas for dishes to make and to purchase ready-made from your favorite market. Many of the dishes may be assembled ahead and/or served at room temperature, giving you more time to mingle. They’re so easy, the “recipes” are almost non-recipes!
Mix and match three from each category following the tried-and-true cocktail party rule of “Make 3, Buy 3.”
Garlic Parmesan Bites: Garlic + Cheese + Bread = Nirvana
Bacon Wrapped Dates: Sweet, salty and savory all in one bite.
Seasoned Chicken Strips: These crowd pleasers are a cinch to make.
Caprese Puffs: It’s like a summer caprese salad, only made with pantry staples and crescent rolls.
Roasted Pearl Onions: Bite-sized by nature, roasting these little gems gives them sweetness.
Mini Yorkshire Pudding Cups: A miniature version of a traditional holiday feast.
Marinated olives: Look on the salad bar or antipasto bar or in the deli section of your local market for more variety.
Flavored nuts: Many grocery stores have expanded their selection of nuts beyond the plain salted variety. Cost Plus World Market also carries a good selection of interesting flavors such as wasabi, chile-lime and barbecue.
Brie with dried fruits and nuts: Surround a wheel of brie with selections such as cranberries, apricots and walnuts or cherries, raisins and pistachios. Serve with crackers.
Roasted red peppers: In a jar or off the antipasto bar, be sure to look for areas of charring to make sure they were fire roasted.
Cornichons: If you can’t find these unique French pickles, substitute gherkins instead.
Parmesan: Cut a block of parmesan (such as Parmigano Reggiano) into bite-size shards.
What to drink?
The beverage of the evening is, of course, sparkling wine. Some sparkling wines have origin-controlled proper names such as Champagne (France), Spumante (Italy) or Cava (Spain). Most all sparkling wines use the winemaking method made famous by the French monk Dom Perignon some 300 years ago. Place your sparkler of choice in the refrigerator at 6 p.m. for a well-chilled midnight treat. If you forget to chill it ahead of time, do NOT place sparkling wine in the freezer. (It will explode.) Instead, place the bottle in a large wine bucket filled half with cold water and half with ice cubes for about one hour.
Calculate 1/6 of a bottle per person for a midnight toast. For a twist, add an ounce or so of fruit-flavored liqueur to the bottom of the glass before pouring the wine. Perhaps the most famous liqueur/Champagne cocktail is the Kir Royale—a blend of Crème de Cassis (black currant liqueur) and Champagne. More modern takes could include pomegranate liqueur, raspberry liqueur or cherry liqueur; each goes particularly well with a dry sparkling wine.Please drink responsibly and have a safe and happy New Year!
Garlic Parmesan Rounds
Make the toasts and the spread early in the day and assemble and bake just before the party begins. These are tasty hot or at room temperature.
- 6 slices of white sandwich bread
- Olive oil
- ½ c. grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ c. mayonnaise
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ t. salt
- Dash of hot sauce (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 4 rounds out of each slice of bread using a small cookie cutter. (If you don’t have a small cutter, trim the edges off the bread and cut into 4 squares.) Brush each piece lightly with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and bake about 8 minutes, just until the bread begins to brown lightly. Cool. Mix together the remaining ingredients, combining well. Divide the mixture evenly among the toasts, about 1 teaspoon each. Return the toasts to the oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes until the cheese starts to bubble and the toasts are browned. Garnish with chopped chives if desired.
Bacon Wrapped Dates
These may be assembled earlier in the day and kept in the fridge until ready to broil.
- 1 tub flavored soft cheese (such as Alouette or Rondele)
- 1 package Medjool dates
- 10 slices bacon
Preheat the broiler. Cut the bacon slices in half. Make a slit in each date, being careful not to cut all the way through. Remove the pit. Stuff each date with a bit of cheese, wrap in bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place on a baking sheet and broil 5 to 8 minutes until the bacon is crisp.
Seasoned Chicken Strips
- 1 ½ pounds chicken tenders
- ½ c. Italian dressing
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the chicken tenders in half lengthwise to yield 1 inch wide strips. Season with salt and pepper and place in a plastic resealable bag. Pour in the dressing and turn the tenders to coat well. Place in the refrigerator to marinate at least 30 minutes. (This can be done in the morning.)Soak bamboo skewers in water 20 minutes. Thread each chicken tender onto a skewer and place on a wire rack set in a roasting pan. Bake 20-25 minutes, turning midway through the cooking time. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- 1 container of crescent rolls
- 1/3 c. diced tomatoes, well drained
- ½ c. shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 T. dried basil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the tomatoes, cheese and basil in a small bowl. Roll out the crescent roll dough, and separate into 4 rectangles. (Do not separate into triangles.) With a knife or a pastry scraper, cut each section of dough diagonally in half; each section will yield 4 triangles. Place a scant teaspoon of the cheese mixture in the middle of each small triangle. Working with one triangle at a time, fold in the sides and pinch the seams closed. (It’s okay to get different shapes out of each piece of dough. These are homemade!) Place on a baking sheet and bake 11 to 13 minutes until golden brown.Hints: For added flavor, use Italian recipe tomatoes. Fresh basil may be substituted, just be sure to cut it into small ribbons. If using a dark baking sheet, turn the puffs over midway through the cooking time to prevent over browning.
Roasted Pearl Onions
- 1 12 oz. bag of frozen pearl onions
- 1 T. olive oi
- 1 T. Balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Thaw and drain the onions and pat dry. Toss the onions with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the onions in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven 10 minutes or until the onions begin to brown. Shake the pan to turn over the onions and bake 8 to 10 minutes more until brown. Remove from the oven and toss with the Balsamic vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.Tips: These may be made ahead and served at room temperature. If you cannot find frozen onions, substitute a 12 oz. jar of plain cocktail onions, well drained.
Mini Yorkshire Pudding Cups
The Yorkshire Puddings may be made ahead of time. Assemble the dish a few
moments before the party begins and serve at room temperature.
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. milk
- 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 c. all purpose flour
- ½ t. salt
- ½ c. vegetable oil
- Prepared horseradish sauce
- 12 slices of deli roast beef
Preheat oven to 425. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and Worcestershire. Sift in the flour and add the salt; whisk until smooth. Let rest about 10 to 15 minutes.While the batter is resting, pour a small amount of oil (about 1/8 inch) in each of 36 miniature muffin cups. Place the muffin tins on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the hot oven, about 5 minutes, to warm the oil.With a gravy ladle, divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling them to the top. Bake 10 minutes or until puffy and golden brown. Remove from the muffin cups immediately and drain on paper towels if needed.
Cut each slice of roast beef into 3 pieces and roll up. Cut chives to 2 inch lengths. With a small knife, cut a slit in each pudding, being careful not to pierce the bottom. Place a small dollop of horseradish in the bottom of each pudding, top with a piece of beef and 2 chives. Yield: 36.