Are you ready for New Year's Eve? Whether you're hosting a celebration for many, or an intimate affair for two, all you really need is an assortment of some favorite appetizers, the more variety the merrier, and plenty of bubbly. Add a few streamers or noisemakers, and mood music, and welcome, 2014!
When I'm planning an evening to see in the new year, I look for a mix of vegetarian and other appetizers -- often shrimp, because I love it, and because it's always a special treat. My entertaining mantra: some sweet, some salty, and all finger food. Here are 12 of my most popular party appetizers.
Asparagus wonton wraps with hoisin wasabi or mustard filling are fun to make with a crowd. Set up an assembly line on the kitchen counter, and let your guests join in the filling and rolling. Don't have asparagus? Try this with green beans.
No one will guess what's in these vegan avocado and edamame toasts, but they won't be able to stop eating. Salt, lime, Sriracha and sesame -- not officially the four food groups, but all of my favorite taste sensations spread on a crispy slice of bread. The color will really make your holiday table pop.
Another easy way to use wonton skins, these baked wonton samosas put a traditional Indian filling (peas, broccoli and mashed potatoes) inside a ready-made Chinese wrapper. No need to fry them; simply bake in the oven before you're ready to serve, or make ahead and freeze.
In every bar in Brazil, you can order salt cod balls (bolinhos de bacalhau) with your beer. Crispy on the outside, smooth and salty on the inside, they are positively addictive! I serve them with chipotle mayonnaise dip, for an extra little kick.
Sweet and sour is an irresistible combination, and it doesn't always come in meatball form. Caponata, made with eggplant, tomatoes, olives and capers, tastes perfect on toasted bread or crackers. You can make it days ahead, too; it gets better with age.
Rhode Island's own thick and rich official state condiment, coffee syrup (available online, and here in The Ocean State), provides the sweet flavor base for these make-ahead slow cooker turkey meatballs. Pair them with a nice red wine.
Whenever I go to a cocktail party, I reach first for anything on a skewer, because I know it's been grilled. These little skewers of beef teriyaki wrapped around ramps (you can substitute scallions) always disappear in seconds when I make them. In the winter, I grill them on my panini press. You can char them under the broiler, too.
It wouldn't be a party without shrimp, and these little grilled sesame-lime shrimp and cucumber skewers (which I cook on my panini press!), are always a crowd pleaser. They're just as good at room temperature, which makes them a perfect addition to the holiday buffet.
If you love boursin, the cheese you buy in little boxes in the supermarket, you'll love this homemade herbed cheese spread even more. I dig under the snow blanket in the garden to unearth sprigs of hardy thyme, to give this spread a fresh kick. Super easy, and even better when made a bit ahead of time.
I first tasted these roasted chickpeas with garlic, cumin and paprika at Estragon, a tapas place in Boston, when my husband Ted and Kalyn and I had dinner there years ago. Though I'm not a chickpea lover, I fell hard for these crunchy, spicy peas, and couldn't stop eating them. Whenever I serve them now, the same thing happens.
This roasted shrimp appetizer with spicy peanut sauce calls on staples from your Asian pantry: red curry paste, coconut milk, turmeric and ginger. The shrimp are spicy without being too too hot, and like all shrimp on skewers, they are truly addictive. Use the extra peanut sauce over pasta later in the week.
Every good party deserves deviled eggs, and these Sriracha avocado deviled eggs take this favored party appetizer to a new level. Avocado makes them creamy and a bit green; Sriracha makes them as hot as you like them. You might want to double the recipe, because these will surely disappear quickly.
What's your favorite party appetizer? Do share.
Happy New Year to all!
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