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Here comes another year

Joey Doll, Wikimedia Commons

If you like to snack while celebrating the New Year, try these vegetarian stuffed mushroom caps.


Are you looking forward to 2023? The past few years have been a wild ride, what with COVID and politics, inflation and a lot of other things. But one thing remains the same: we all need to eat.

If your family enjoys getting together like mine does, you might be wondering what kind of New Year’s Eve (or Day) snacks to put out. We don’t exactly call it a party, as most of us can be found snoring in a chair as we wait for the midnight ruckus. There are no decorations or party hats, but sometimes we have noise makers.

Instead of champagne we are likely to pop open a bottle of sparkling cider. It may not sound like much fun compared to some people’s extravaganzas, but it’s just what we do.

For New Year’s Day, we feast on an Italian tradition called bagna cauda, which features a hotpot of olive oil, garlic and anchovies. We dip or slightly cook a variety of fresh veggies and strips of meat and eat lots of Italian bread. Wine is also on the table. But the snacks are the stars on New Year’s Eve. I know we recently covered holiday snacks, but there can never be too many.

Here are some favorites. Happy New Year, all.

Seven layer bean dip

A good idea is to add some dried taco seasoning to the refried beans to spice them up.

2 cans (15-oz. each) refried beans (or if using homemade, 4 cups)

1 cup salsa (such as chunky style Pace)

2 cups guacamole

1 container (16-oz.) sour cream

1 envelope Hidden Valley Fiesta Ranch Dip

1 to 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (or Colby Jack)

3 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 can sliced black olives

3 to 4 green onions, thinly sliced

Corn chips or tortilla chips, for serving

1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the refried beans and salsa. Mix until well blended and spread in the bottom of a glass 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spread the guacamole over the layer of beans.

2. Mix the fiesta ranch packet into the sour cream, then spread that layer over the guacamole.

3. Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the sour cream layer.

4. Add the sliced olives, then the diced tomatoes, and green onions.

5. Cover mixture and refrigerate until ready to serve. Arrange the chips nearby. Makes 16 to 20 servings.

Homemade pot stickers

Tip: When the lid is on the pan, shake the pan a few times to help keep the pot stickers from well, sticking. Also, feel free to mince up a can of water chestnuts to add to this.

1 package (36 count) pot sticker or wonton wrappers

1 pound uncooked ground beef, pork, chicken or turkey

1 large carrot, peeled and grated, or finely chopped in food processor

1/2 small zucchini, grated or finely chopped in a food processor

3 green onions, finely chopped

3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 scant teaspoon ginger (powdered)

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

1/2 to 3/4 cup water

Dipping sauce:

Soy sauce

Sweet chili sauce

1. In a large bowl, combine ground meat, grated carrot, grated zucchini, finely chopped green onions, sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, ginger, salt, and black pepper. Mix together thoroughly by hand.

2. Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture on half of each wrapper.

3. Dip your finger in water and moisten one edge of a wrapper. Fold it over and pinch the wrapper shut. Make a few folds along the edge and pinch them to give them the pot sticker look. Repeat for all 36 wrappers.

4. In a large frying pan with a lid, heat the 3 tablespoons of oil. Place a layer of pot stickers in the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until browned on that side.

5. Flip pot stickers over and add 1/2 cup of water. Put the lid on the frying pan immediately. (This steams the pot stickers.) Leave the lid on for 5 to 7 minutes. Watch to see if the water starts to evaporate. If it does, add a little more water.

6. Repeat cooking process for the rest of the pot stickers. Depending on how large the frying pan is, you may need to do two or three batches.

7. For the dipping sauce, mix half soy sauce and half sweet chili sauce. Serve the pot stickers hot along with the sauce. Makes 36 pot stickers.

Classic deviled eggs

I like to kick up the flavor by adding more mustard and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Maybe even a drop or two of Louisiana hot sauce.

12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut in half lengthwise

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon parsley flakes (or chopped fresh)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

Paprika, for garnish

1. In a medium mixing bowl, add the cooked egg yolks and mash them up with the tines of a fork or a pastry cutter.

2. Add the mayonnaise, parsley, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and onion powder to the egg yolks. Mix with a fork until everything is well combined.

3. Using a small spoon or piping bag, fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture. Place each egg half on an egg tray or platter.

4. Sprinkle with paprika and additional parsley flakes, if desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 24 halves.

Vegetarian stuffed mushrooms

You can use flat-leaf or curly parsley for this. You can also make stuffing the caps easier by placing the filling into a plastic bag and cutting off a bottom corner to squeeze it in.

24 cremini mushrooms (the brown kind)

1 cup breadcrumbs

1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2 to 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely minced, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a large half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Wipe the mushrooms clean with a paper towel and remove the stems. Reserve half of the mushroom stems and finely chop them. Set aside.

3. Transfer the mushroom caps, cavity side up, onto the lined baking sheet and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients (breadcrumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, garlic, parsley, olive oil, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper). Add in the chopped stems. Stir to combine. You could also combine the ingredients in a food processor and pulse mix to combine. In this case, you wouldn’t have to chop up the stems or parsley as finely because the processor will do it for you.

4. Carefully scoop the mixture into the mushroom caps. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the top of the mixture starts to turn golden brown.

5. Serve the appetizers warm with a sprinkle of chopped parsley on top. For added flavor, drizzle some olive oil on top, if desired. Makes 24 stuffed mushrooms.


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