Festive Food/Drink/Dresses – to ring in a New Year

 New Year’s Nibblies

Whether you’re hosting a New Year’s Eve party or attending one — you don’t want to spend what’s left of 2014 cooking in the kitchen.  Here are three perfect party solution appetizers with only 5 ingredients or less to make it easy for you.roasted-gnocchi-sundried-tomato-olive-stacks

They are taken from Justin Chapple, Food & Wines Test Kitchen senior editor.  Enjoy!

Roasted gnocchi, sundried tomato & olive stacks (photo above)

Ready made gnocchi make a perfect base for a bite-sized canapé that’s easy to make and perfect for a party platter or casual nibble with drinks.


500g pack of fresh gnocchi

4 tbsp olive oil

40 pitted green olives

40 sundried tomatoes

40 basil leaves

Heat oven to 350F. Tip the fresh gnocchi in a roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Thread the roasted gnocchi onto cocktail sticks with pitted green olives, sundried tomatoes and basil leaves. Serve while the gnocchi is still warm.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, November 2014

Smoked Salmon with Artichoke Hearts

Photo: Linda Pugliese/Food and Wine
Photo: Linda Pugliese/Food and Wine

Total time: 25 minutes

Servings: Makes 32 Hors D’Oeuvres


16 small marinated artichoke hearts, drained, plus 1 teaspoon of the oil from the jar

1/2 cup packed celery leaves

1/2 pound thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut into thirty-two 4-inch-by-1-inch strips

1/2 small red onion, cut into thin 1-inch-long strips

Preheat the oven to 450°. Pat the artichoke hearts dry with paper towels and halve them lengthwise. Arrange the artichoke hearts cut side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet and roast for 5 minutes, until sizzling. Carefully transfer the artichokes to a plate. Arrange the celery leaves on the baking sheet and coat with the reserved artichoke oil. Roast for 3 minutes, until the leaves are crisp.

Wrap each piece of the smoked salmon around an artichoke half and a few of the onion strips and transfer to a platter. Garnish with the crisp celery leaves and serve.

Bacon-Wrapped Cherry Peppers

Photo: Lucas Allen/Food and Wine Magazine
Photo: Lucas Allen/Food and Wine Magazine

Total time: 30 minutes

Servings 4 to 6

These genius hors d’oeuvres call for just three ingredients. The recipe can be made ahead of time, so it’s great for parties.


6 jarred hot cherry peppers- halved through the stem, seeded, drained and patted dry

1/3 cup cream cheese, softened

12 thin bacon slices (6 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Stuff each cherry pepper half with a heaping teaspoon of cream cheese and wrap with a slice of bacon; secure with a toothpick.

Arrange the stuffed peppers in a large ovenproof skillet and cook over moderate heat, turning, until the bacon is browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for about 5 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the cream cheese is hot. Serve the stuffed cherry peppers warm.

 Other simple standard staples:

fig & stilton squares (on thawed out puff pastry that is baked in the oven) or even stilton spooned into hollowed out figs garnished with a halved walnut on top.

Photo: Tina Rupp/Food & Wine
Photo: Tina Rupp/Food & Wine

baked mushroom caps (stuffed with crab & cream cheese or your choice).

cheese platter (mix of soft & hard)

cut up veggies and dips (always a hit)

Party platters don’t have to be all too time consuming & crazy  making. Have fun putting them together.  They should be pleasing to the eye and the palate.  Your guests will enjoy your company and a good glass of bubbly.©LauraManske.CostaFavolosa.Prosecco1ac

Yes…..a bubbly person is always best!


champagne-sparkling-wine-food-pairings_612Champagne is the classic wine choice for parties and celebrations, it’s true. But if you ask people who’ve been in the wine business what their “desert island” wine would be—the wine they could see themselves drinking for the rest of their life—the answer is almost invariably

Champagne (and not just because it’s served cold). The reason is simple: Champagne and other sparkling wines—Cava, Prosecco, Moscato d’Asti, included—are not just great party wines, they’re also the most versatile wines for pairing with food.

What makes all these sparkling wines so food-friendly? Consider these factors: Most bottles are blended from different vintage wines, resulting in a cuvée that’s greater than the sum of its parts; they tend to showcase minerality, a characteristic that adds depth to fruity, savory, meaty, and gamy flavors; and these wines possess an unparalleled acidity that cuts through rich, fatty dishes and surmounts even high-acid ingredients such as tomatoes or vinegars. And of course, there’s the celebratory feel that sparkling wines add to any occasion. They’re playful enough for a casual weekend brunch and double as the go-to drink for more formal occasions.  Source: epicurious.com

WEAR:  when in doubt go for the classics like the never fail LBD.

Photo: Bazaar Magazine
Photo: Bazaar Magazine

It will never let you down, you can dress it up in so many ways (especially with something glittery) and you’ll wear it way after the midnight countdown.hbz-the-list-lbd-9-gareth-pugh-sm

 And if you’re planning to give someone the cold shoulder do it in a strapless LBD.




Simple food – Pleasing Party Platters

Crudités anyone?  I love that word!party1Okay you guys, we’re in the midst of summer now.  This is where we okay, I tend to get lazy. Maybe I’m just speaking for myself but I don’t really feel like cooking until Fall. Well at least nothing major and nothing that involves party3turning on the oven.  This is the time when I start to throw things together last minute or just barbeque.

So how about those party platters?  You know…the usual cheeses, dips, olives, nuts, cold cuts.  I had deviled eggs at one barbeque – an almost forgotten but welcome addition. party4 Doesn’t everyone have a party finger-food specialty?  How about arranging a great cheese platter?  Here are some photos that will give you a few arrangement ideas.  Don’t forget the grapes.

How cute is this?
How cute is this?