Ringing in the New Year right .. with taste!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Several people I know will be staying home this year to ring in the new year with family or friends. We all know that any New Year's Eve celebration always involves food. So, I went looking for some quick and simple recipes you might consider for your New Year's Eve menu or for anytime during the year. I included a couple of recipes that have bacon in the ingredient listing, because bacon is such a popular food right now.

So make your resolutions list and your grocery list and start the new year out right.

Baked Crab Rangoon

1 (6 ounce) can crabmeat, drained, flaked

4 ounces (1/2 of 8-ounce package) Neufchatel cheese, softened

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup light mayonnaise, reduced fat mayonnaise

12 wonton wrappers

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first 4 ingredients. Place 1 wonton wrapper in each of 12 muffin pan cups sprayed with cooking spray, extending edges of wrapper over rim of cup. Fill with crab mixture. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until edges of cups are golden brown and filling is heated through. For a crispier Rangoon: Bake wonton wrappers in muffin cups in 350 degree oven 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly browned. Fill with crabmeat mixture and bake 6 to 8 minutes or until filling is heated through. Makes 12 pieces.

Bacon Crescents

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

8 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup finely chopped onions

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon milk

2 cans (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients except crescent dough. Separate each can of dough into 8 triangles; cut each triangle lengthwise in half. Spread each dough triangle with 1 generous teaspoon cream cheese mixture; roll up, starting at short side of triangle. Place, point-sides down, on baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Spiced Nuts

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

1 can (10 ounces) mixed nuts

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix butter and seasonings until well blended. Pour over nuts in large bowl; toss to coat. Spread evenly into 13 x 9-inch pan. Bake 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring after 5 minutes.

For additional suggestion, add 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese or sunflower kernels to nuts before tossing with butter mixture.

The Pioneer Woman's Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp

2 pounds shrimp, raw, frozen deveined, shells on

2 sticks butter, cold, cut into pieces

1/4 cup parsley leaves, fresh

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, adjust to your taste

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 whole lemon, juiced

Crusty bread, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rinse the shrimp to separate, and then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. To the bowl of a food processor, add the butter, parsley, salt, red pepper, garlic and lemon juice. Pulse until combined. Sprinkle the cold butter crumbles over the shrimp. Bake until the shrimp is opaque and the butter is hot and bubbly. Serve with hot crusty bread. Peel and eat the shrimp, and then encourage guests to dip the bread into the butter in the bottom of the pan. This is so easy and delicious. The juice in the bottom of the pan is delicious and so is the shrimp.

Ham and Cheese Spirals

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (1/2 of 17-1/4-ounce package), thawed

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

8 slices smoked ham from lunch meat package

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Beat egg and water until blended. Unfold pastry on lightly floured surface. Roll into 14 x 10-inch rectangle; cut lengthwise in half. Brush both pastry halves lightly with egg. Sprinkle 1 pastry piece with 3 tablespoons cheese and pepper; cover with ham and remaining pastry piece, egg-side down. Roll gently with rolling pin to seal. Brush lightly with some of the remaining egg. Roll up tightly into 14-inch log, starting at 1 long side; cut crosswise into 24 slices. Place, cut-sides down, on parchment-covered baking sheet. Brush with remaining egg; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.

To make these spirals ahead of serving, prepare spirals as directed but do not slice or bake. Wrap securely; freeze. When ready to serve, thaw, slice and bake as directed.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Bacon Crispies

1 pound hickory smoked bacon, cut slices in half

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 sleeve buttery rectangular crackers (such as Waverly Wafers)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 1 teaspoon of Parmesan cheese on each cracker. Wrap each cheese cracker tightly with bacon. Place the wrapped crackers on a baking sheet and put the baking sheet on the oven rack. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the bacon is done. Do not turn. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Snow White Fudge

2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

2/3 cup milk

1/4 cup butter

12 ounces white chocolate (coarsely chopped)

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup dried cherries, cranberries or apricots, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup toasted almond slices

Line an 8-inch square pan with foil, grease foil. Mix sugar and milk in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, add butter and stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Without stirring, boil for 5 minutes. Over low heat, add chocolate and almond extract. Stir, then whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Stir in dried cherries and toasted almonds.

Pour mixture into pan. Refrigerate 2 hours until firm. Invert pan, peel off foil and cut in 1 inch squares.

Tip: To toast almonds, spread in single layer on cookie sheet. Bake in 350-degree oven for 5-10 minutes, shaking pan occasionally until they begin to brown.

Pecan Pie Cookies

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch each of ginger, and cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, continue beating until egg is fully incorporated and mixture is once again smooth and fluffy.

Add baking powder and flour, continue beating until mixture is uniform, with everything incorporated. Set dough aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, mix pecans and brown sugar with spices, if using.

Add in heavy cream and vanilla, mix until well combined.

Roll cookie dough into balls that are about 1.25 inches in diameter, and place them on cookie sheets -- leave about 2 inches between the cookies.

Gently use thumb to press down in the middle of each cookie, making an indentation.

Roll thumb slightly to stretch the indentation out a little.

Fill each indentation with about 1 tsp. of pecan filling.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.

Allow to cool on sheets for 5 minutes or so, before gently transferring to plate.

Have a wonderful week, and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at news@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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