New Year’s Day

There are certain occasions when even an avid cook likes to take a step back and go the easy route and for me, New Year’s is one of them.  After all the festivities and special baking and cooking of the past month, it’s time to do something less complicated.  Yet, New Year’s Eve and Day are really fun holidays when I love to entertain.

I think dining out on New Year’s Eve is a good idea—for one thing, the woman in me loves to get dressed up and this is the occasion.

I think we’ll have some friends in before going to a concert at the Sheldon Theatre and I will serve a champagne punch this year, just to be different—and it’s so delicious, all it needs is a meat and cheese tray.

On New Year’s Day, we usually have a laid back, football day like most Americans; however, I encourage friends and family to stop in and partake of my New Year’s Day Chili.  When my children were little, we lived much closer to family and many people came to our house every New Year’s.  Rather than have the big family dinner, I started the tradition of making a big pot of chili early in the day; and putting out bowls of grated cheese, sour cream, lime wedges and diced avocado for toppings.  Everyone helps himself and grabs a hot corn muffin and watches football—or not.  For dessert I put all the remaining Christmas cookies and candy on a pretty plate and encourage people to clean it up.  The next day, anything sweet left in the house is going the way of the old year.

New Year’s Eve Champagne Punch

24 oz. pineapple juice
24 oz. pink grapefruit/tangerine juice
1 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. grenadine
1 10-oz pkg frozen raspberries (unsweetened)
2 bottles domestic champagne

Chill the juices; combine with lemon juice and grenadine.  Put into punch bowl with ice ring or cubes.  Just before serving, pop the champagne and pour carefully down the side of the bowl and add the raspberries.  Serve.

New Year’s Day Chili

3 pounds ground beef
2 onions, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 stalks celery, diced fine
4 cans chili beans
1 48 oz bottle tomato juice
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sweet paprika
¼ tsp or to taste, cayenne pepper

Brown ground beef. Drain excess fat with bulb baster. Add onion celery, and minced garlic.  Add beans and tomato juice; stir.  Add all the spices and bring to a simmer.  Simmer, uncovered for 1 ½ hours.  Serve with bowls of grated cheddar, sour cream, avocado and lime wedges.  Leave a bottle of Tabasco on the counter for the really macho guys.

Corn Muffins

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
4 tsp. baking powder
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup Canola oil
1 egg
1 cup milk

Heat oven to 425.  Grease or spray muffin cups. Put dry ingredients into a medium bowl.  Combine oil, egg and milk.  Add all at once to dry ingredients.  Stir only until blended.  Fill muffin cups ¾ full.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins.  Serve with butter and honey.

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