In the spirit of Auld Lang Syne, a group of my friends from the college years reunite for New Year Year’s Eve every year. We spend half the year selecting a location, finding a house to rent and then all of December planning the meals. This year, it took an 8 bedroom condo in Myrtle Beach to house 10 adults and 6 kids. Three of the regular group weren’t able to attend plus 3 children spent the time with their grandparents, so you can see how this tends to be one big party each year!
Lately, I handle New Year’s Eve dinner. Last year, we had artisan pizzas with all the leftovers in the mountain cabin. This year, I knew I had a big kitchen and plenty of time to prep, so I arranged a tasting party. The first step was to visit the party store. This irks my husband to no end. He hates when I visit the party store because it costs a lot for things made of paper and plastic. I went anyway, rebellious wife that I am!
Yes, I started by buying the serving pieces without even determining the menu. That’s how I work. Let’s move on to the menu.
- Bang Bang Shrimp (copycat)
- Crab Wontons
- Roasted Garlic Cherry Tomatoes
- Shanghai Drummettes
- Spinach and Artichoke Dip
- Pesto Pizza
I love Bonefish Grill’s Bang Bang Shrimp. A lot of other restaurants have a similar appetizer now, so I thought I might find a copycat recipe. I did and it was a huge hit. Having never actually bought fresh shrimp, nor fried it, I was a little wary that I could pull this off, but it was super easy. I bought the shrimp locally in Myrtle Beach from Mr. Fish. It was already peeled and deveined, because, honestly, who enjoys that job?
I just used Thai Kitchen’s Spicy Thai Chili as opposed to sweet along with hot sauce. It worked great and I wouldn’t change a thing. Plate with richly colored lettuce leaves or crispy shredded lettuce.
Next up was the Crab Wontons. This is so simple, it is on my menu for most parties. Mix 1 pkg of 8 oz cream cheese with 1 can of crab (or use fresh if you have it!). Add 1 tsp of soy sauce and tbsp of scallions. Mix thoroughly. Then, spoon 1 tsp into a wonton wrapper and place in a mini muffin tin. Repeat until the tin is full and brush the tops of the wonton wrappers with egg wash. Bake at 400 for 8-10 mins. They come out crunchy on top and creamy in the middle. Serve plated with sweet and sour sauce. The bright orange sauce really makes the dish pop!
I think I had a thing about Asian flavors for this party. I saw this recipe for Shanghai drummettes and I thought it was brilliant. I made the marinade before ever leaving on the trip and kept it in the cooler. Then, the night before the party, I slipped all the drummettes into a freezer bag with the marinade and left it in the refrigerator. I turned it a few times to make sure they were well covered. The drummettes were sticky and sweet, full of flavor. They were very satisfying! I completely forgot to add the sesame seeds and I think that would have put them over the top.
The Roasted Garlic Cherry Tomatoes took awhile to prepare, which is why I took care of them the night prior to New Year’s Eve. First, I roasted a head of garlic. (Cut off the top, place on square of foil, drizzle with olive oil and salt, wrap tightly, then bake at 400 for 45 mins to an hour.) After the garlic cools, squeeze out the roasted garlic into a bowl and discard the paper outer shells.
Clean and rinse the tomatoes and cut off the bottoms so they will stand flat. At the top, scoop out the pulp into a bowl or sink. Repeat until you are done with all tomatoes. Then mix 1 pkg of cream cheese with the roasted garlic along with salt and pepper to taste. I didn’t, but I would in the future add some dried herbs to the mixture including 1 tsp basil and 1 tsp oregano. Fill each tomato with the cream cheese mixture by adding the mixture to a pastry bag with a tip or a plastic bag and cut off a small bottom corner. Garnish with basil.
This Spinach and Artichoke Dip came from a Pampered Chef Party I attended back in October. Again, this one is so easy, just mixing things already made for you and baking, but it is pretty good. I served with store bought bread, which I should have toasted, and Tostitos because tortilla chips are salty, crunchy goodness.
For the Pesto Pizza, I had pre-made pizza dough before we ever left and kept it cool using a cooler and the fridge until a few hours before the party. I rolled and stretched it out on a cookie sheet and lightly covered it with store bought pesto and 5 cheeses. I also covered half with caramelized onions. Baked at 400 for about 7-8 minutes.
The presentation and taste of the food was well received, but I should have had a few more things. It wasn’t quite enough to fill us up or combat all the evening’s cocktails. But, it was a lot of fun and they really did look great! My friends were sweet and cleaned all the plastic plates and bowls and forks so I can use them again! I am already thinking about the next occasion!