New Years

Image“Now, I go on a diet.”

It is eight days into the new year when my temporary house dad in Rome has turned to me and said this. I look at his wife and I joke, “That is possible in Italy?”

Both laughing, “Yes it is.”

I think to myself, ‘Diet…in Italy. Maybe.’ Then I think, ‘Maybe if I don’t eat along my tour of the north which I will be leaving for in a day, I can do an Italian diet—on both my calories and my wallet.’

Not possible. I repeat—Not possible, especially when Torino, Italy, home of the best chocolate in the world is on the list—especially when the 12th day of the 2011 means being barricaded by city walls of chocolate, cream, pastries, and gelato, especially when I have a sweet tooth that I don’t think the tooth fairy will ever collect from me…and especially when the city of Torino even has something called a chocolate pass which allows you to tour all the chocolate of the city within two days. Keeping to my wallet diet, I avoided the chocolate pass…but still didn’t avoid the chocolate. This is how I broke every basic New Years Resolution in the first fifteen days of the year.

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LuckyPulledPorkBlackPeasNachosHappy almost New Year’s everyone! It’s so hard to believe this year has come to an end. I have a slew of wonderful memories.

I love New Year’s Eve, it’s full of promise and hope for a better year. A year filled with health, organization, great food and more balance in life. We’ll see how I do.

How many of you start the New Year with food known for good luck? I am not a superstitious person, but everyone could use a little good juju…right? Lots of different foods are considered lucky on this day as they symbolize the eater’s hopes and dreams for the coming months and years.

Pork is considered a symbol of “progress” by many countries. A pig’s feeding habits cause them to “root forward” with their snouts, never looking back. Pigs are also…rotund, a sign of prosperity in many places around the world. Enjoy your pork in any form you choose and then buy a power ball ticket?! Why not.

I’ve also added (lucky) black-eyed peas to these nachos due to their resemblance of coins, a symbol of abundance. (Go get on a slot machine I suppose). Cornbread is also considered lucky, but instead I’ve added just the corn itself, emblematic of golden nuggets. I know.

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potato crispyny2011 2New Years Eve is upon us. Before kids, the hubs and I would pick a great restaurant, go out with friends, drink too much, and spend way too much money. After several years of that, we switched to cooking an amazing meal at home, made great cocktails, invited friends, and played board games until dawn.

Then we started a family. When Eli was young, we grabbed my parents and made 6p.m. reservations at The Palm. Came home, put on our sweats, and played games. We now bring in the New Year with friends, great food, cocktails, and lots of board games. The kids like to stay up until 12 (I rarely make it) and the evening usually ends with someone else’s kid sleeping here, and one of ours sleeping elsewhere.

This year we are having cocktails with friends. A light snack of cripsy potato skins and a simple “French Blonde Cocktail” to start off the evening. After that, a huge Tripoli match is on tap along with chocolate lava cakes. Let’s just hope I make it until 9p.m. That way I can at least bring in the New Year, east coast time!

Happy New Year everyone. Thanks for filling my year with blessings and gratitude.

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scallopcookedCooking long hours is fun on Thanksgiving but on New Year's Eve nobody wants to be in the kitchen except to pass through on the way to the freezer to refill the ice bucket. The perfect at-home meal on New Year's Eve is one that has pazazz, great flavor and doesn't take long to prepare.

With expectations high, everything about a New Year's Eve party needs to be special. Take-out deli sandwiches are fine to watch the weekly football game. Pizza and beer works for a Netflix festival of Tarantino movies. But for the night when you say goodbye to a whole year's experience and celebrate what's-hoped-for in the coming 365 days, it isn't enough to simply put food on the table.

If you're having a small gathering of friends and loved ones, easy-to-make scallops are an elegantly delicious way to tell everyone how much you love sharing this end-of-the-year evening with them.

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baconwrappedshrimpI always like to put the word "easy" before the word "entertaining," because I think entertaining should be easy, fuss-free, and uncomplicated, especially for the host or hostess. Making foods that are easy to put together, simple in their essence, and even easier to clean up are the key when entertaining on easy street. That the holidays are still in full swing and New Year's is just around the corner means that there is still time to flex your easy entertaining muscles. Any recipe that can go under the broiler and be done in minutes is my kind of easy. This shrimp hors d'ouevre is just that.

We all are familiar with the old-school appetizers of bacon-wrapped chicken livers, scallops, or dates. Well, there's also bacon-wrapped shrimp. Basically anything wrapped in bacon tastes good, right? These shrimp are jacketed in strips of flavorful applewood-smoked bacon. A dusting of hot paprika also adds to the smoky flavor of the finished bar bite. Clean-up is also made simpler since the pan is lined with foil. These hors d'ouevre are great for parties, especially on New Year's eve. They pair well with a variety of cocktails or a simple glass of bubbly. Now wasn't that entertaining made easy?

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