Home & Garden

Dining In: Celebrating the New Year

recipes by Karen Diefendorf
Whether you're entertaining on New Year's Eve or during the bowl games on Jan. 1, try these crowd-pleasing treats.

Mushroom bacon pizza
   12 oz. bacon (about 12 slices)
   1 1/2 lbs. fresh white mushrooms, sliced (about 8 cups)
   1 c. chopped onions
   1 1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
   2 tsp. oregano leaves, crushed
   1 tsp. salt
   1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
   1 large (10-oz.) Italian bread shell
   1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
   1/2 c. sliced plum tomatoes
   In a large skillet over medium heat cook bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towel; crumble and set aside.
   Pour off all but 4 tablespoons bacon fat. Add mushrooms, onions, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in crumbled bacon, oregano, salt and black pepper.
   Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place bread shell on pizza pan or baking tray. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
   Spoon 1 3/4 cups well drained mushroom bacon saute over cheese. Top with plum tomatoes. Bake until hot and cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Serves 4.

Bite-size meatballs
   1 lb. lean ground beef, veal or pork (or mixture)
   Salt and freshly ground pepper
   Dash of nutmeg
   1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
   1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
   3 Tbsp. olive oil
   Season the beef with 1/4 tsp. salt and a generous amount of pepper. Add the nutmeg, Parmesan, and parsley.
   Knead ingredients together until well-mixed. Shape into 1-inch balls. Heat half of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.
   Arrange half the meatballs in the pan and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Gently toss the meatballs to ensure even cooking and avoid sticking. Remove to serving tray.
   Add the rest of the oil and meatballs and cook in the same way. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Makes about 20 meatballs.

Dried tomato party pockets
   1/4 c. dried tomato bits
   2 Tbsp. boiling water
   1 c. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
   3 Tbsp. sliced green onions
   1 pkg. (10 oz) prepared refrigerated biscuits
   1 egg, beaten
   2 tsp. sesame seeds (optional)
   Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In medium bowl, mix tomato bits and water; set aside 5 minutes. Add cheese and onions; toss to blend evenly.
   On lightly-floured surface, roll out each biscuit to a 4- to 5-inch circle. For each pocket, place about 2 tablespoons tomato mixture onto center of circle. Brush edge with egg. Fold over and press to seal completely. Place, spaced apart, on baking sheet.
    Brush with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes ten 4-inch pockets.

Baked vegetable and seafood won tons
   2 envelopes dehydrated vegetable soup mix
   1 container (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
   1/2 lb. crabmeat (or imitation crabmeat) chopped
   1/4 tsp. garlic powder
   1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
   40 won ton wrappers (thawed if frozen)
   1 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
   Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, combine vegetable soup mix, cheese, crabmeat, garlic powder and pepper.
   Place 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on center of each won ton. Brush edges with water; fold each corner into center and press to seal.
   Arrange seam-side-down on lightly-greased baking sheet; brush won tons with oil. Bake 25 minutes or until crisp and golden brown, turning once.
   Note: Cover unbaked won tons with a damp cloth until ready to bake; brush with oil.

Hot artichoke dip
   1/2 c. mayonnaise (may use light or reduced cholesterol)
   1/2 c. sour cream
   1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
   1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
   1/8 tsp. hot pepper sauce
   Stir all ingredients until well mixed. Spoon into small ovenproof dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Makes 2 cups.

Spicy bean dip
   1 (16-oz.) can kidney beans rinsed and drained
   3 Tbsp. lemon juice
   2 cloves garlic, minced
   5 drops liquid hot pepper seasoning
   2 Tbsp. chopped scallions
   2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
   Toasted crackers or tortilla chips for dipping
   In an electric blender or food processor container, blend beans, lemon juice, garlic, and hot pepper seasoning until smooth.
   Stir in scallions and sesame seeds. Cover and chill at least 1 hour to blend flavors. Serve with crackers or chips.

Gouda party dip
(From the Dutch Dairy Bureau)
   8 oz. Dutch Gouda, shredded
   3/4 c. blue cheese, crumbled
   1/2 c. sour cream or plain yogurt
   4 Tbsp. butter, softened
   2 Tbsp. lemon juice
   1 onion, grated
   Pinch of cayenne
   In a mixing bowl, use a fork or pastry blender and cream together the Dutch Gouda and blue cheese until the mixture is smooth. Stir in butter and the lemon juice.
   Add the seasonings (adjust to personal taste) and beat (mix) the dip thoroughly to blend it well.
   Serve with fresh veggies, crusty French bread, or chips. Makes 2 1/2 cups. Can be refrigerated.