Do you Fondue? and other New Year’s Eve at home ideas

Dan and I have never celebrated New Year’s Eve in the traditional way. Well, if traditional means spending a fortune to be crammed into a restaurant or hotel with a few hundred of your closest strangers for 6 hours.

We’ve worked events together, although standing on a freezing loading dock waiting for Young MC during the midnight countdown isn’t exactly my idea of a great New Year’s Eve.

We’ve gone to concerts with a big group of friends, and while very fun we did pay too much and it was way too crowded.

And since we’ve moved about an hour away from many of our friends, we’ve had dinner parties at home. A few friends that stay over night, amazing food that you don’t have every day, and a wonderfully good time. Even pre-kids that was our favorite way to spend the holiday. And now that we have kids, it’s totally the way to go. No need to find a sitter, spend a fortune on tickets to an event. Use that money towards a really special night at home.

Here are a few ideas…some we’ve done in years past, some we’ll do one of these years soon!

1. Fondue: so, you got a fondue pot for your wedding, or on a whim. Now be honest, how many times have you used it? Here’s an excuse to break it out! This year we’ll be fondue-ing it up with Dan’s parents. I like this recipe from Food & Wine

2. Champagne tasting: Dan and I got married in February, so around New Year’s we were looking for just the right champagne to serve at our wedding. Just the right $10 not-at-all champagne. So, I went to the local wine shop and picked up their finest $10 Cava, Prosecco, California sparkling, and French sparkling. We put them all in bags and did a blind tasting. A really fun way to spend the evening, since we’d be popping the bubbly anyway! Oh, and the winner? Charles de Fere, a French sparking wine. You really can’t go wrong for $10 a bottle.

3. Prime Rib dinner: Nicholas isn’t a big steak-eater yet, so we don’t really make big roasts for just the two of us. But invite a few friends over and treat them to a prime cut of meat. I like Tyler’s Ultimate recipes for this one:

Prime Rib
Parnsip Puree
Creamed Spinach
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellers Artemis Cabernet: a big, bold California Cab

4. Oysters & Martini’s: Oysters are in season right now, and they’re pretty easy to find at your local Whole Foods. Have the seafood market shuck them for you, then serve raw with mignonette or old school Rockefeller.

A Ketel One martini is the perfect accompaniment. James Bond made shaken martinis famous, and it’s a shame in my book. You want the vodka as cold as can be, but not chewy with ice chips. Put the vodka in the freezer hours before, chill the glasses, then gently stir the vodka with ice before straining and serving.

And don’t forget to serve something else…no one will make it to midnight on oysters and martinis alone!

Raw Oysters with Mignonette
Oysters Rockefeller
The perfect martini

5. Wine-centered meal: Do you have a bottle on the shelf that you’ve been saving for a special occasion? Break it out for New Year’s Eve! We’ve got a Barolo d’Alba we carried back from Italy 5 years ago that’s just about ready to drink. We’ll probably make a big Bolognese lasagna when it’s time for our Barolo. Grab your great bottle, then find a perfect match on Food & Wine.

How do you like to spend New Year’s Eve?

Brunch: the most wonderful meal of the week

Bloody MaryI love brunch. It’s this wonderful meal where anything goes. You can have eggs. You can have burgers. You can have coffee. You can have cocktails. It can be a leisurely meal with the family, or a party that lasts all day. Ah, brunch. Dan and I once hosted a brunch that lasted 12 hours. You know it’s a successful brunch when it turns into dinner. And now, with kids, it’s also one of the best meals to entertain. Kids can play together, adults can socialize, and everyone can enjoy some delicious food. Here’s one brunch menu, but I’m sure there will be plenty more of these in the future. This one is extra special though since Dan agreed to share his Bloody Mary recipe. For anyone who’s every had his Bloody Mary’s, now you can make them at home yourself. You’re welcome.

Brunchtastic Brunch:

Brunch complete

Dan’s Bloody Mary’s
Broccoli Cheddar Frittata
Oven Roasted Bacon
Roasted Tomato Grits
Banana Berry Muffins