No Plans for New Year’s Eve?

New Year 2017

Whether you are with your family, with a loved one, or on your own, here are some simple ideas to ring in the new year.

Keeping it simple is always a favorite when you have a larger family. Host a dinner for friends with young ones so the adults can enjoy some adult time while the kids watch movies. Make it a pajama night so if the kids fall asleep, it’s easier to transport them home and put them to bed when the night is through.

Silvester Feuerwerk

Most towns offer some kind of outdoor party to ring in the new year. From live music to fireworks at midnight, it can be fun for the whole family or just you and your significant other.

If you’re kidless, make it a pot luck so everyone can enjoy a little bit of something while playing cards or games or watching TV for the ball to drop. A nice dinner out with your significant other followed by a walk in the park can be romantic.

Ski, snow, sun and winter fun - happy family ski team

Enjoy a family activity like bowling, skiing, going to the movies, or going for a midnight (late-night) hike. There is nothing like being outdoors enjoying the air to start a new year. Not a nighthawk? Then get up early to see the sunrise in the new year.

Regardless of how you spend your New Year’s Eve, we wish you a safe and happy new beginning to 2017.

5 Festive Fourth of July Recipes

Independence Day is this weekend. I am excited for one of my favorite Fourth of July traditions: the cookout. Each summer, I search for new and delicious fare to serve for this festive occasion. This year, I found some great recipes on Good Housekeeping’s website and also on azcentral.com.

Firecracker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

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Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

If you’d like to add a little spice to your holiday lineup, this sandwich will really hit the spot.

Ingredients

Sandwiches
  • ½ c. hot sauce
  • ¼ c. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp. ketchup
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Hamburger buns
  • ½ c. ranch dressing
Bleu Cheese-Apple Slaw
  • 1 c. packed shredded Savoy cabbage
  • 1 small apple
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 1½ oz. bleu cheese
  • ¼ c. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl; reserve 1/4 cup of the mixture. Add chicken to the remaining mixture and toss to coat. Marinate for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from marinade; discard marinade.
  3. Grill chicken, covered, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Grill buns until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread dressing on buns.
  4. Serve chicken topped with Bleu Cheese-Apple Slaw and drizzled with reserved sauce between buns.
  5. To make the slaw:Combine all slaw ingredients in a large bowl.

 

Smoky Barbequed Shrimp & Peach Kabobs

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Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

For lighter fare, these flavorful skewers kick it up a notch.

 Ingredients

  • 12 metal or bamboo skewers
  • 1 tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 lb. shelled de-veined shrimp
  • 3 medium peaches
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • Lime wedges

Directions

  1. If using bamboo skewers, soak skewers in cold water at least 30 minutes to prevent burning. Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on high.
  2. In large bowl, combine brown sugar, chile powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add shrimp, peaches, and onion; toss until evenly coated.
  3. Thread shrimp, peaches, and onion alternately onto skewers.
  4. Grill 3 to 4 minutes or until browned and shrimp become opaque throughout, turning once. Serve with lime wedges.

 

Red, White, and Bleu Potato Salad

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Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

This fresher version of a traditional staple is a welcome accompaniment to any summer barbeque.

Ingredients

  • 3 lb. red potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • ¼ c. aged sherry vinegar
  • 1 small shallot
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ c. bleu cheese
  • ⅓ c. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 14 oz. watercress
  • 2 green onions

Directions

  1. Place potatoes in an 8-quart saucepot. Add water until potatoes are immersed. Add 2 tablespoons salt and heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium. Boil 10 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are just cooked through, but not soft. Test by piercing a potato with a thin skewer or toothpick; when skewer meets some resistance but can slide all the way through, drain potatoes immediately. Potatoes can be drained and set aside at room temperature up to 4 hours ahead.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallot, mustard, bleu cheese, and 1/3 cup oil. This vinaigrette can be covered and refrigerated up to 4 hours ahead.
  3. Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on high.
  4. Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of each slice with the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, then sprinkle with a 1/2-teaspoon of salt and a 1/4-teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Place potato slices on the hot grill grate. Grill 5 to 10 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned on both sides, turning over once.
  6. Place watercress on large serving platter. Top with the potatoes and green onions. Drizzle the vinaigrette on top. Serve immediately.

 

Firework Fruit Skewers

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Van Blankenship/Gannett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids (and adults) will love these colorful and festive fruity fireworks.

Ingredients

  • 1 set of 10-inch skewers
  • Watermelon
  • Star cookie cutter
  • Blueberries
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Red grapes (optional)
  • Raspberries (optional)

Directions

  1. Wash fruit and skewers.
  2. Slice watermelon into 1-inch pieces that fit your cookie cutter’s width.
  3. Cut out stars from the watermelon using your cookie cutter.
  4. To assemble the skewers, slide a blueberry onto a stick. Follow with a mini marshmallow.
  5. Repeat, rotating between berries and marshmallows until there is about an inch of stick left.
  6. Place a star-shaped watermelon slice at the top of each skewer, making sure the pointed stick is not exposed.
  7. If desired, add red grapes or raspberries after the marshmallows to make a red, white, and blue pattern on the stick.

 

Star-Spangled Sangria

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Van Blankenship/Gannett

Don’t forget a crisp and refreshing beverage to beat the summer heat.

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 3 oz. elderflower liqueur
  • 2 c. blueberries, washed
  • 2 c. strawberries, washed and quartered
  • 3-4 Granny Smith apples
  • 12 oz. sparkling water
  • Ice

Directions

  1. Combine the first four ingredients in a pitcher.
  2. Slice the apples into 1/4-inch pieces, wide enough to fit your cookie cutter.
  3. Cut out stars from the apple slices using your cookie cutter.
  4. Chill beverage for at least 4 hours.
  5. Just before serving the sangria, add sparkling water.
  6. Serve sangria in a tall glass with ice and garnish with an apple-star cutout.

Now that you have some delicious ideas for your holiday cookout, you can have peace of mind going into this busy holiday weekend. Just remember to hit your local farm stands and farmers’ markets to get the freshest local organic ingredients.

Click here >> for more fun OMI recipe ideas.

 

 

Don’t Forget Breakfast This Thanksgiving

As we gear up for Thanksgiving, we have the turkeys prepped and the menu planned. If you’re like me, breakfast is the last thing on my mind. Breakfast shouldn’t be too complicated, because from the moment the coffee is brewing, I am busy.

To help make the morning more enjoyable and less stressful, here are several recipes that are quick, easy and delicious. Some of these recipes you can make the night before and reheat that morning. They can even become a new yearly tradition.

Crustless Zucchini and Basil Mini-Quiches

2995536015_3a950ae2e4_oMakes 4 Dozen

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil for pan
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small zucchini, grated
  • ¼ cup grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped

Heat oven to 450°F.

Prepare Batter: Put the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisking steadily, slowly pour in a 1/2 cup of milk, mixing until quite smooth. Whisk in the whole eggs and egg yolks, mixing again until smooth, then gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, the cream, the salt, and the nutmeg. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to one day. If using the next day, be sure to re-whisk.

Prepare Zucchini Mixture: In a nonstick pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add grated zucchini and stir until just softened, another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Oil mini muffin tins well. Put a pinch of grated cheese, a teaspoon of zucchini mixture, and a pinch of chopped fresh basil, into each muffin cup. Pour 1 tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup.

Bake until the quiches puff and start to turn golden, 15-18 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then carefully run a paring knife around the rim of each muffin cup. Carefully lift each quiche out of its cup.

Mini quiches freeze very well. Let cool, then freeze in a single layer in a covered container. Reheat on a cookie sheet in a 400° oven for about 5-10 minutes.

Spiced Crock-Pot Porridge

img_1555Makes about eight 1-cup servings; recipe can be doubled.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 8 cups water
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped apricots
  • ½ cup chopped dates
  • ½ cup chopped figs or raisins
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean, split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 1 orange

Toppings: Chopped roasted nuts, jam, fresh fruit, more dried fruit, milk, yogurt, leftover eggnog

Combine everything except the orange zest and toppings in the bowl of a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Set the cooker on its lowest cook setting (“LOW” or 8-10 hours), and leave overnight.

If you happen to get up during the night, give the porridge a stir as you pass by. If not, no worries.

In the morning, break up the thin film that forms over the top of the porridge and stir it in. Scrape the sides and bottom. Stir in the orange zest.

Serve with toppings. Leftover porridge will keep refrigerated for at least a week. Reheat with a little milk or water to make creamy again.

Lemon Scones

6849616359_e1952942a5_oIngredients

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1 egg, plus enough milk to make 3/4 cup

  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven 425° F

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and pinch of salt in a bowl.

Add butter and mix in a processor on “pulse,” or rub together with your fingertips until it looks like a crumble or bread crumbs.

Break an egg in to a measuring cup and add milk up to the 3/4 cup mark, and lightly beat with a fork.

Add the egg/milk mixture to dry ingredients and mix just until well combined. (Do not overmix).

Feel free to add extras at this step, such as lemon zest, cranberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, raisins, pieces of apple, or currants. There are unlimited possibilities!

Place spoonfuls of the mixture on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Tip: Keep on eye on them, because depending on the size you make, they may cook more quickly. Also, leave some space in between the scones because they grow. Serve plain or with butter or jam.

Eat up and enjoy!