By Amanda Stone
JOPLIN, Mo. —
We've made it through the holidays ... almost.
There's one more event that requires food and fun just around the corner: New Year's Eve. The cool kids call it amateur's night and stay in. Whether you're a cool kid or you just have some kids, staying home is a great way to ring in the new year, or the 10 o'clock while snoring on the couch -- not that I do that.
Hors d'oeuvres -- or "fancy little snacks," as I like to refer to them -- are the key to making New Year's Eve at home feel special, as well as fizzy cocktails served in fancy glasses. Have a few close friends and family over, enjoy the fancy snacks, play games and light some sparklers for the kids. And don't forget the glitter. No one should ring in the new year without glitter.
Enjoy each other and be grateful for the small things that we often take for granted: food, family, friends and fun. And fondue. It's hard to beat a pot of melted cheese goodness. Adding fondue into the mix at a party will wow your guests. It seems fancy, but it's actually quite easy.
If you don't have a fondue pot, borrow a cool retro one from a relative who received it as a wedding gift in the 1970s. If they still have it, it's probably in excellent condition in the back of their cabinet. Or do what I'm going to do: Use a Crock Pot. It's not nearly as magical, but it will do the job for a casual gathering. A couple of small Crock Pots would be ideal. You could even exchange that hideous shirt you got for Christmas and get a fondue pot.
Traditional fondue originated in Switzerland and uses cheese fondue and bread dippers exclusively. Luckily, we have made great strides in melted food since then.
Swiss and Gruyere are the classic cheeses for fondue, but you can use many different kinds. Serve your fondue with chunks of crusty bread, soft pretzels, bite-sized vegetables, ham, shrimp and anything else you can think of that will stick on the end of a fork and stand up to a cheese dredging. Or, go wild and make a chocolate fondue, too.
Use fruit, cheesecake or pound cake chunks, and marshmallows. Splurge and start fresh in 2013.
Try these party pleasers if you are staying home or going to someone else's home this New Year's Eve. You will impress!
Classic cheese fondue
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 pound Swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon kirsch or brandy (optional)
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
Rub the inside of a heavy pot or Dutch oven with the cut side of the garlic. Add the white wine and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a bowl, toss the cheeses with the cornstarch. Working in 3 batches, gradually stir the cheese mixture into the wine until melted. Pour in the kirsch or brandy and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is gently bubbling, about 2 minutes; season. Serve immediately from the Dutch oven or transfer to a fondue pot or Crock Pot to keep warm. Top with grated nutmeg to taste. Serve with crusty baguette pieces for dipping.
Source: Rachel Ray magazine
Classic chocolate fondue
1 cup whipping cream
8 ounces premium chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons orange liqueur (Grand Marnier is recommended)
Various sliced fruits and dessert treats, for dipping
Over low flame, heat cream until warm, but do not bring to a boil. Pour in chocolate while stirring continuously. Mixture will become smooth. Stir in liqueur and transfer to a fondue pot. Dip with various fruits or dessert treats.
Source: Paula Deen
4 slices bacon
3 slices whole-wheat toast, crusts cut off
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup fresh basil
Crisp lettuce, cut into 1-inch chunks
24 cherry tomatoes
Cut each bacon slice into 6 pieces and cook until crisp. Cut each toast slice into 8 squares. Puree mayonnaise, basil and 2 tablespoons water. Season with salt and pepper. Thread 1 piece each bread, bacon, lettuce and tomato on skewer or toothpick; repeat with remaining ingredients.
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