Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ring in the New Year Without Breaking the Bank

Count Down to New Years

If it's your turn to host the crowd this New Years, with a little planning, you can pull out all the stops and still have money left over to start the New Year off.

Ring in the New Year Menu

Hors d'oeuvres
Virginia peanut butter and black eyed pea hummus
Chilled, herb crusted roast loin of pork with mustard and marinated Vidalia onions

Spicy New Orleans jambalaya
Crisp green salad with raspberry vinaigrette
Virginia red wine (like merlot)

Holiday cookies

Top the jambalya with
sour cream and cheese, if desired!

Virginia Peanut Butter Hummus
Not only is this divine but it includes that most important southern tradition for good luck and prosperity in the New Year - black eyed peas. Serve with raw veggies for dipping.

Serves 10 to 12

1/3 cup natural peanut butter (unsweetened)
1 small mild onion (cut into random chunks)
2 cloves raw garlic (or 4 cloves roasted)
2 (15 oz) cans chick peas (drained, rinsed and drained again)
1 (15 oz) can black eyed peas (drained, rinsed and drained again)
Juice of 4 limes (about 1/3 cup - bottled is OK)
Handful of finely chopped parsley leaves (no stems - about 1/3 cup)
Optional - hot sauce to taste
Optional - salt and pepper to taste

Put everything (except parsley) into the food processor. Pulse to chop then blend till smooth - about 2 minutes. Add a little more lime juice, if necessary, to make the consistency you like. Stir in the parsley and optional ingredients, if desired.  Refrigerate until serving time.

Chilled, Herb Crusted Roast Loin of Pork
A make-ahead hors d'oeuvre filled with good taste and good luck. Serve very thinly sliced with cocktail size rye bread, Dijon or brown mustard and marinated Vidalia onion along side so guests can make their own mini sandwiches.

Serves 10-12 for hors d'oeuvres

1 loin of pork (4 to 5 pounds)
1/4 cup sweet (mild) paprika
1 tablespoon dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons ground)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon ground, regular (fine) grind black pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 cup apple butter (any type)
3 - 4 tablespoons bacon fat

Coat a baking pan with cooking spray then line with aluminum foil. (Pan size is not important but a 10 X 15 X 1 inch pan works well.) Wash pork under running water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Center pork in baking pan.

Stir everything (except bacon fat) together and spread over the entire pork loin (except bottom) as if you were frosting a cake. Drape a piece of plastic wrap over the frosted pork. Refrigerate 2-6 hours.

When ready to cook, position oven rack so pork will roast in center. Preheat to 350 degrees. Roast pork, uncovered, in preheated oven for 45 minutes then melt the bacon fat and baste the pork. Continue cooking until done - about an hour more.

Remove cooked pork from oven. It will look awful - like a dark log - but don't worry. When it's sliced, it's beautiful. If any of the crust fell off, use a knife to pat it back. Do not use any herb mixture that stuck to the pan and burned.  Cool 1/2 hour then refrigerate, lightly covered, over night before slicing.

Marinated Vidalia Onions
4 (3 inch in diameter)Vidalia or other sweet onions
1 cup (approximately) of you favorite Italian dressing

Slice onion paper thin. Separate into rings. Put into a bowl and toss with dressing. Cover. Refrigerate overnight.

Spicy New Orleans Jambalaya
This make-ahead crowd pleaser is a delicious way to ring in the New Year. Easy on the budget and easy on the cook!

Makes 10 to 12 (1 1/2 cup) servings

2 (8 ounce) boxes Zatarain’s New Orleans style jambalaya mix
2 cups raw rice (long grain brown or converted rice)
3 onions (chopped – about 2 cups)
6 cups tomato juice
6 cups water
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp (60-70 count with shells or without – raw)
1 (5 to 6) pound cooked chicken (cooled, removed from the bone and cut into large, bite sized pieces)
2 (16 ounce) rings kielbasa sausage (any type – cut into ¼ inch thick slices)
2 cups peas (fresh or frozen – canned not recommended)
2 cups corn (fresh, frozen or canned - drained)
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes (undrained)
Optional garnish for serving - sour cream and grated cheddar

Put jambalaya mix, rice, onions, tomato juice and water into a large pot. Cover. Bring to a boil over high then reduce to simmer. Cook about 25-30 minutes or until rice is tender (all liquid will not be absorbed).

Add shrimp, chicken and kielbasa. Cover. Simmer on low 15 -20 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and heat through. Garnish for serving with sour cream and grated cheddar, if desired.

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