Happy New Year!

January 1, 2010

Happy New Year! 2010 is here and to help ring it in, we had our traditional fondue party last night. We’ve been doing this for years. It started as something fun to do while we were home with small kids and has now become a tradition among our daughter’s friends, who come every year. I like it because it gives a purpose to the holiday for me and we have fun food, and then I can go to bed at 10!

In addition to the cheese and chocolate fondue, this year I made some appetizers. I made cocktail wieners – so not Martha but a kitschy thing I like to make. It’s very simple – mix a bag of mini wieners with half a jar of grape jelly and half a bottle of chili sauce and heat it up.

I also made stuffed mushrooms. I used baby bella mushrooms and filled them with a mix of crabmeat, cream cheese, mustard, dill, lemon juice, bread crumbs and salt and pepper. I put the mushrooms in a baking dish and just covered the bottom with chicken broth. I covered it and baked for 15 min at 400.

I bought a bag of mini vegetable egg rolls and served those with sweet and sour sauce. Then I made up a puff pastry item (channeling my inner Martha). I started with two sheets of puff pastry, which I rolled out to make a bit thinner. Then I mixed 3/4 jar of pesto with 8 oz. of goat cheese in the Cuisinart with some pepper. I spread this mix on the puff pastry and then placed prosciutto on top (I used about 12 pieces of paper thin prosciutto). I rolled them into logs, sealed the edges with water, and refrigerated (a trick I learned from Martha). Then I sliced them and baked at 350 for about 10-15 minutes until they were brown and cooked through. I liked them, but thought they were a little salty.

The fondue went well, but as always it is hours of cutting up food! With the cheese, I served: ham, chicken sausage, marinated chicken breasts, French bread, pumpernickel/rye, pear, apple, grapes, cherry tomato, broccoli, and cauliflower. With the chocolate: pretzel logs, graham crackers, marshmallows, pineapple, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, banana, tangerine, rice krispies, pound cake, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and chocolate chip biscotti. We had rainbow sprinkles, chopped nuts, and chopped white chocolate to roll things in as well. Beverages were sparking apple juice, sparkling white grape juice, sparkling red grape juice and cola. We had a bottle of sparkling apple pomegranate juice, but the screw top lid was stuck and when Mr. MarthaAndMe finally got it off, it ended up breaking the top of the bottle off, so we had to toss that one.

I loved the way my table looked, even if it was not up to Martha’s standards. I used my gold tablecloth. I went to the party store and bought plates, cups, and napkins that say Happy New Year. I bought a string of New Year garland which went down the center of the table. Each person got a hat, a noisemaker and two little champagne poppers. Also in the center of the table I placed a few different metal noisemakers, a big horn, a little gold hat and a feathered New Year’s tiara. It looked festive and cute.

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New Year’s Eve Fondue

January 2, 2009

It is a tradition at our house to have fondue on New Year’s Eve. It used to be just us and the kids, but over the years, more and more people have joined us. Our dining room table was at capacity this year and the two fondue pots I had going were barely enough. Next year, I think we’ll have to expand to another room and add a pot.

The table

The table

First, the table.  New Year’s started out as a simple thing and has gradually become more complicated. This year we ended up with 9 people (one unexpectedly showed up at the last minute and we had to scramble to add a seat). It’s hard to see in the photo, but I took curling ribbon, curled it,  and ran it the length of the table. Then I made shorter strands and laid them the opposite way along it. In between each place setting, I put another squiggle of curled ribbon. We also have some crazy new year hats and crowns that the guests amuse themselves with before dinner.

Cheese fondue

Cheese fondue

This year I used Martha’s fondue recipes. First, the cheese fondue. Let me say here that cheese fondue and I have a long and troubled history. The first few years it went beautifully. Then we entered a period where the fondue did not combine well for a few years – it would be stringy or separate. Last year I cheated and bought some already made, which I just heated. This year I put my trust in Martha. It was touch and go. I had the wine heated and started slowly adding cheese. All it did was clump up in the bottom of the pan. I kept stirring and stirring and slowly adding cheese, with no change. After half an hour, I reached the panic stage and Mr. MarthaAndMe was sent to look online for help while I called my mother. No help from either place. I kept stirring and finally added the cornstarch and lemon juice and POOF it suddenly came together. Miraculous.

Cheese fondue service

Cheese fondue service

With the cheese fondue I served:

– squares of ham

– slices of Italian chicken sausage

-cherry tomatoes

– slices of pear

– chunks of French bread

– chunks of pumpernickel rye bread

– pieces of hot pretzels (a total hit with the guests)

– broccoli

– cauliflower

– zucchini

I also served a honey mustard sauce and a creamy dill sauce. Also on the table was the carmelized onion dip (see yesterday’s post). Martha’s fondue was excellent. It had a nice mix of cheeses which gave it a nice depth of flavor. As always, you’ve got to keep an eye on you fondue pots. If it gets too hot, it starts to overcook. If you cool it too much, it gets clumpy.

Next up was the chocolate fondue. This is easy to make since you just melt chocolate in cream. I used a mix of dark and semi-sweet chocolate. It was fabulous. I also used the same recipe and substituted some white chocolate to make a white chocolate fondue.

Chocolate fondue service

Chocolate fondue service

With the fondue I served:

– strawberries

– pineapple

– marshmallows

– chocolate chip cookies

– fortune cookies

– chunks of rice krispie treats

– blueberries

– raspberries

– banana

– biscotti

– pound cake

I also served a bowl of chopped peanuts and a bowl of flake coconut (to roll things in after they are dipped in the chocolate). The chocolate fondue is always a big hit and so delicious.

We had a great time, but this party just about kills me every year! It takes so long to chop and prepare the many foods in advance and then there are so many plates, forks, and serving dishes to wash afterwards! Our party is dinner only – guests go elsewhere for the ball drop, so we were in bed by 10:30 and sound asleep from exhaustion.

A Teacup Collection

December 30, 2008

teacupsThis is my Christmas teacup collection. When I was a child, each year my grandmother gave me one for my birthday. You can imagine how I felt as an 8 year old, opening a china teacup. But now I’m glad I have the collection. Some of them have been broken and glued back together. I also am constantly looking for more that are not red, since most of the rooms in my house use pink or cranberry at Christmas, not red.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. As always, we will be having a fondue party. This year, I’m going to make Martha’s version, from her site. I just got back from the grocery store where I bought everything we need.  If I can locate my Season’s Eatings special issue magazine, I want to make the onion dip with the potato slices for dipping. Somehow the magazine is missing at the moment. If you have the recipe, would you email it to me? I’m tearing my hair out here trying to find it.

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