by Donna Cain
Truth be told, Byron and I are not big party people. When we entertain we usually have small gathering that are casual and allow us time to visit and relax with friends and family. For New Year’s Eve our tradition usually involves Scrabble, sitting by the fire and enjoying a special dinner together. This year I asked Byron if he would like to break our normal tradition and go to First Night Chatham…….his response “Let’s do First Night Brewster” 🙂 I can totally relate to the idea of staying home and relaxing as our lives have been rather crazy with a recent road trip to Nashville and Dallas to visit our daughter Jenn and selling our beloved Brewster by the Sea in November. After deciding to stay home for the holiday my mind started wandering to different recipes that are fun to enjoy when bringing in 2017!
Listed below in no particular order are some of our favorites to enjoy for your small or large gathering to celebrate 2017.
Everyone loves cheese and there is nothing better then a really savory Cheese Crisp done with quality cheese. We are thinking of adding these for our new 2017 breakfast rotation.
Traditionally these lovelies are done with good quality Parmesan Cheese but for something with a little more zing, try making them with 1/2 Parmesan Cheese and 1/2 Pepper Jack Cheese. Believe or not this is a two ingredient recipe that takes only a few minutes to make and is delicious every time. No recipe needed with a few small tips. For 24 crisps mix together 1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese with 1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese. Preheat oven to 400. Form into 2″circles and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Let cool to room temperature before serving.
We are going to grill some steaks for our meal and a few extra steps to make this Meat Marinade will turn a low cost piece of meat into a little slice of heaven. The day before mix together 1 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1 cup sugar, 1 Tablespoon honey, 1/2 cup red wine, 2 teaspoons fresh chopped ginger, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Place in a zip lock bag with your meat and place in the frig overnight allowing for 1/2 cup marinade per pound of meat. Discard marinade before grilling.
Looking for a show stopper for your hors d’oeuvres? Serve baked Brie and garnish with fresh figs, grapes and pears. Again this is so easy and can be made ahead. From your grocery store purchase a wheel of brie and a package of Pillsbury Pastry Dough. For the topping you can use any kind of favorite jam or chutney. We like to use our cranberry chutney but I also have used pepper jelly which is delicious too. Place a thin layer of jelly or chutney on your brie and wrap creatively with the pastry dough. We love to add cut outs of leaves. Wash the entire wrap with an egg wash. Bake in a 350 oven until golden brown. Serve warm with a cheese knife.
We love Sangria at the inn and serve all different varieties year round. I recently saw this recipe and thought it would be perfect for a New Year’s party, and we are going to serve it at a chamber meeting at the inn in February.
For this drink it’s nice to have a large glass pitcher with wine or champagne glasses or for a special occasion you might want to serve it in a punch bowl. You can combine everything but the club soda the day before to let the flavors come together and last minute add the club soda to create a very special adult beverage:) Cut up one apple and slice an orange. Add 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, 1 rosemary sprig, 6 ounces apple juice, 6 ounces cranberry juice, 12 ounces of club soda and one bottle of white wine. Voila!
Byron and I look forward to a good salad with most of our evening meals. In looking back to my younger years when we had teenagers to feed, I think our frig probably had a dozen bottles of different kinds of salad dressing. I would never in a million years thought of making my own. Now I can’t imagine buying a bottle premade salad dressing except when our grandson is visiting as he eats Kraft Ranch with everything. I use different bowls depending on how many I am feeding. If it’s just the two of us, I like to use a favorite pottery bowl and add 3 Tablespoons good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar, 1 teaspoon gourmet mustard, 1 Tablespoon Orange Juice and salt and pepper to taste. I whisk that together on the bottom and then add the salad greens which usually also includes spinach with tomatoes, avocado and feta cheese. It’s a delicious combination and so good for you!
Last but not least is our Traditional New York Cheese Cake recipe. My cousin Ann gave me the recipe many years ago and each time I make it I am amazed at the creaminess, and yes, it is better then the Cheese Cake Factory. (sorry Cheese Cake Factory)
- 1½ cups Zwieback or graham cracker crumbs
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2½ lb of cream cheese, softened
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon rind, grated
- 1¾ cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 475 and butter a 9" spring form pan. For the crust mix together the crumbs, 3 Tablespoons of sugar, and ⅓ cup melted butter. Press into the bottom of the pan. For the cake batter place in your mixing bowl the softened cream cheese and beat until fluffy. Add the vanilla and lemon rind. In a sport bowl combine the sugar, flour and salt and slowly add to the cream cheese mixture. Then beat in the eggs and yolks one at a time until well combined. Add the heavy cream and beat well. Pour on top of the crust. Bake at 475 for 10 minutes. reduce the heat to 200 and bake 1½ hours or more until set. Turn off heat. Leave door ajar and leave cake in oven for ½ hour more. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Release sides of the pan and use a spatula to remove the base. Store in the freezer and remove ½ hour before serving.
Innkeeper confession…..this was the first year that we did not have Christmas at the inn with all of our family. It was quite strange for me when my daughter April said, “oh Mom, I will make everything you just need to bring the Honey Baked Ham and the pecan pies”. When I was ordering the hams on line I noticed that they had a frozen cheese cake with all different types of yummy toppings. I thought to myself….since I am not doing my normal baking lets just try this. Well while everyone seemed to enjoy it, I could not help but think that my homemade version is SO much better.
Wishing all our guests and readers a wonderful safe and happy New Year’s Eve celebration filled with yummy food and a prosperous 2017 filled with good health and peace on earth.