With a brand-new year nearly at your doorstep, you’ll need a few fresh dishes to fortify you and your guests for the New Year’s Eve festivities. To guarantee a happy start to 2014, try some of Food Network’s top recipes for New Year’s, starting with a fizzy toast, of course. Giada’s Sgroppino is a classic Italian cocktail that combines Prosecco with chilled vodka, fresh mint and a lemon sorbet float. Refreshing and full of festive sparkle, it’s a great way to cleanse guests’ palates before dinner and build excitement for the big night ahead.
While some may be content to watch the Times Square ball drop on New Year’s Eve from the comfort of their pajamas while cuddled on the couch, Southern at Heart host Damaris Phillips is no such celebrator. In fact, this Louisville, Ky., native dons her most-elaborate outfit and her fanciest footwear for a night on the town as she prepares to ring in the new year. FN Dish caught up with Damaris toward the end of this year to find out more about her New Year’s traditions and best memory of the holiday. Read on below to learn her New Year’s resolution from last year and get her top tips for easy party fare.
How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve these days?
Damaris Phillips: I love going out. I love getting dressed up fancy. I love sparkly clothing. Like, there’s not a lot of occasions to wear sparkly heals, and I have maybe 15 pairs, so I love New Year’s because it’s the perfect time to put on sequins and rhinestones and glitter and get real dressed up. And I love to dance; I like to go to places where they have, like, an old-time ball kind of New Year’s, and my gentleman loves New Year’s. Like, it’s his favorite holiday, so I know how special it is for him, and it’s always fun to be celebrating together. I come up with New Year’s resolutions. For sure.
Whether your New Year’s plans include mingling with friends at a swanky late-night bash or watching the ball drop from the comfort of your living-room couch, it’s best to be surrounded by a spread of celebratory eats and drinks as you say goodbye to 2013 and welcome in the New Year. Champagne is a must-have sipper when the clock strikes midnight, but beyond straight bubbly, what munchies and cocktails should you serve? Look to Food Network’s top-five recipes for New Year’s to find sweet and savory picks plus a dressed-up cocktail from some of your favorite chefs, like the Neelys, Rachael, Giada and Ina.
5. The Neelys’ Pigs in a Blanket — Made with just a handful of everyday ingredients, the Neelys’ two-bite snack is ready to eat in a hurry thanks to store-bought crescent dough, which serves as the blanket for mini hot dogs.
4. Whoopee Pies — The beauty of these part-cake, part-cookie treats is that they’re eaten like a sandwich — with soft cocoa shells surrounding fluffy marshmallow filling — so guests can pick them up to enjoy while they’re mingling.
Of all the traditions my husband and I have started since getting married, our annual New Year’s Day brunch is my favorite. It started as an informal thing, just a few friends gathering to eat homemade waffles and watch the television coverage of the Mummers Parade (a beloved Philadelphia institution). However, over the years, it has grown into something of an event.
The festivities start at 11am and run into the late afternoon. Friends bring their kids and something for the table and we eat, watch the parade and share our hopes for the fresh, new year.
Guests show up with sweet rolls, deviled eggs, fruit platters and makings for mimosas. I fill in the gaps with whole-wheat waffles, a big green salad and a few quiches of various types. I particularly like making the quiche, because they can be prepared and baked the night before and then just warmed in the oven a bit before we eat.
Because I’m something of a planner, I start mapping out my menu well before the big day. I’ve already settled on one of the quiches I’ll be making for the party. It comes from recent Food Network Star winner Damaris Phillips: Quiche with Country Ham.
I adore everything that New Year’s Eve represents: fresh starts, resolutions and Harry running through the streets of New York City to kiss crinkly-faced Sally at midnight. My one gripe is that the critical moment happens too late for my circadian rhythm. Still, I love the holiday too much to ignore it, blithely heading to bed at 10pm and casually waking up the next morning, as if the whole year didn’t just change. That feels wrong. Instead, I’ve developed my own system for celebrating the New Year with gusto, within the confines of a reasonable bedtime. I’d like to say that I have developed my New Year celebration strategies for the benefit of my four young daughters. But, the unapologetic truth is, I’m just tired. I need my sleep. Having little ones at home is just a bonus excuse for not making it to the midnight toast. Anyone else relate? Whatever your reasons for hitting the hay early this year, I am pleased to share my three secrets to celebrating the new year’s arrival without having to actually witness it.
1. Pick a different time zone
I learned this one nine years ago when my (French) husband Philippe and I moved to the United States. On December 31, we still called all of our friends and family over in France at midnight (their time) to toast the New Year. We listened to their noisemakers and laughed along with their parties in full swing. We celebrated with them via phone, felt the joy of the upcoming year and hung up. I felt partied out a good half day before the ball would drop in Times Square. So, what started out as a phone call has turned into a yearly tradition with our daughters: We celebrate New Year’s as the French do, meaning in their time zone. We do a sit-down dinner complete with fancy-looking food for our whole family, toast each other with sparkling cider and call the family back in France at midnight, which is 3pm for us. And even I can stay up for that. For ideas on a few festive holiday dishes that will excite both kids and adults, try my recipes for Bacon Ranch Cream Cheese Wellington, a Carrot Hummus Platter and Chocolate Chip Biscookies.
If you overdid it on the holiday spread this year (ham AND prime rib, anyone?) and ended up with a fridge packed full of leftovers, never fear. We’ve got five ways to turn them into delicious new meals.
1. Ultimate Ham Sandwich
Whether your Christmas centerpiece was honey-baked or cherry-glazed, pile thick slices on crusty bread with lettuce, tomato, dill pickles, cheddar and whole-grain mustard, and you’ll have a renewed appreciation for the holiday ham.
Vegetarian eating during the holidays can be tricky, as so many classic main dishes are meaty picks, like turkey, ham and beef. If you’re hosting the celebration this year, you can plan ahead and make a selection of meatless favorites (in addition to beefier items, if you’d like). But if you’ll be gathering at someone else’s house and can’t guarantee what the host will be serving, it’s a good idea to bring at least one vegetarian dish to pass; this way you’ll know you have at least one dish to eat come dinnertime.
Bobby’s Cauliflower-Goat Cheese Gratin (pictured above) is a go-to pick, as it’s every bit as rich and satisfying as a traditional main dish, but it’s wholly meat-free. The beauty of this casserole is that it’s relatively hands-off to prepare. After arranging cauliflower florets alongside a trio of creamy, nutty cheeses and decadent heavy cream, he simply bakes the dish until the vegetables are soft. Your vegetarian guests will enjoy having a comforting, filling dish available, while meat eaters will appreciate the creamy cheese sauce coating each floret.
Whether you find yourself hosting unexpected holiday guests or are suddenly tasked with bringing a dish to pass at a party, it’s a good idea to have in your recipe arsenal those crowd-pleasing dishes that look deliciously elaborate and taste just as impressive but are, in fact, a cinch to prepare. When last-minute get-togethers arise, reach for Food Network’s top-five quick recipes for Christmas, a collection of celebration-worthy classics from some of your favorite chefs, like Rachael, Robert and Ina. Perhaps best of all, these go-to picks can be on the table in less than 35 minutes.
5. Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cider Reduction — Pork and apples are two ingredients simply better together, and here they’re combined when a sweet and tangy maple syrup-apple cider vinegar sauce is spooned over juicy tenderloins.
4. Creamed Spinach — With a rich and creamy sauce subtly spiced with nutmeg, this traditional steakhouse side dish can be made easily at home with fresh spinach and will round out any entree.
With family and friends spread far across the country, you’re likely to spend a lot of time on the road visiting this month. While en route, embrace the busy travel season with these Food Network-approved restaurant dishes that will guarantee you a happy holiday road trip. We’ve rounded up the top festive spots to find eggnog, gingerbread and yule logs galore, stretching all the way from the East Coast to snowy Alaska. Here are a few highlights to get your merry eating season started.
Ronnybrook Farm — Ancramdale, N.Y.
Sugarplums may be the traditional dancing vision this time of year, but Alex Guarnaschelli always dreams of rich eggnog instead. Her favorite kind hails from Ronnybrook, where the creamy classic is made with whole milk and heavy cream, and it’s spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. Alex suggests adding a splash of bourbon to Ronnybrook’s glass bottle of ‘nog for an extra-cozy holiday sip.
When my sister and I were young, we had a standing Christmas- cookie-decoration date with a family friend. Eleanor’s kids were grown, but she loved mixing up several batches of dough (some colored red and green with food-safe dye), pulling out the cookie cutters, and helping us make and bake fancy tray after tray of cookies.
I looked forward to that afternoon in Eleanor’s kitchen every year. Even after I got too old for the annual cookie party, I thought about it fondly (and dreamed about her delicious, buttery cookies).
When December rolled around this year, I found myself craving the experience of making and decorating holiday sugar cookies. I used to have a copy of Eleanor’s recipe, but no matter how much I looked, I couldn’t put my hands on it. And so I went looking for options and found The Pioneer Woman’s Favorite Christmas Cookies.
It uses vegetable shortening in place of butter and adds a little bit of orange zest to the dough, but otherwise seems very close to the recipe I once knew. And truly, it’s a delightful dough to work with. It comes together quickly, rolls out beautifully and holds its shape nicely while baking. If you’re still in the midst of your holiday baking, stir together a batch of this dough and cut out some cookies for your Weekender!