Posts Tagged ‘New Year’

$100 Dinner Party Recipes

December 31, 2008

I am anticipating some requests for the recipes we used for our NYE dinner party.  I’ve decided to provide them all in a separate post, as the original post is so long.

Prime Rib Au Poivre

I found this recipe on Epicurious.  As I said, I’ve never made it, so I looked for the most basic and highly rated recipe on the site.  We followed this pretty closely, substituting shallots with onions and using brandy, as that’s what we had at the house.

Bitter Greens Salad with Toasted Walnuts and Apple with Walnut-Mustard Vinaigrette

I flew by the seat of my pants with this one, basing it on a salad from one of our favorite restaurants.  I like REALLY tart and light salad dressings.  If you are looking for a more detailed recipe, I recommend the Radicchio & Haricot Verts Salad with Candied Walnuts from Epicurious.  I made this for Thanksgiving and it was a hit.

For the salad at our NYE dinner, I used greens from our garden.  Mesclun, Red Leaf and Arugula.  The greens were quite bitter, something I personally do not enjoy, but everyone else loved it.  I toasted some walnuts under the broiler, and added some shaved carrots and sliced green apple.  For the dressing, I whisked together some walnut oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, S&P and a bit of sugar.  You can easily substitute the walnut oil with olive oil.  This salad would also be excellent with feta cheese.

Sautéed Green Beans with Almonds

This is a stand-by dish for me that is always popular.  I usually try to get Haricot Verts, which are essentially mini green beans.  David bought normal green beans and had gotten them ready before I got home, so he broke them in half.  Personally, I don’t suggest doing that :-)

Wash and green beans and blanch for one minute in boiling water.  Drain and reserve until ready to sauté.  Add a tablespoon of olive (or vegetable) oil to a skillet and toss in some green onions, sliced in half.  After a minute or so, add the beans and toss in a few slices of lemon.  Throw in a dash of dry white wine (from your glass, of course).  Add some almonds (sliced, chopped, whichever you prefer – or you can sub out with another nut, or omit) and continue to cook until they are browned.

Mashed Potatoes with Dill

I don’t really have any direction for this.  People tend to be VERY particular about how they prepare mashed potatoes.  My only tips are this:

  • After cooking the potatoes, drain and throw back on the stove top to cook off the water.
  • If using cream, milk or butter, warm it in a small saucepan before adding to potatoes.
  • Prepare before if possible, they are very easy to reheat.

I use a ricer.  For this dinner, I added a bunch of dried dill.  I put about 2 tablespoons of warm milk/cream/butter on the bottom of a dutch oven and threw the mashed potatoes in.  I added a bit more milk/cream and a pat of butter and covered.  When the meat came out, the potatoes went into the oven to rewarm.

Coffee/Orange Scented Chocolate Mousse

David made this and it was actually quite excellent for being lactose-free AND low in fat.  He got the recipe from his dad, an obsessive cook who catalogs countless recipes.  It is from Sunset magazine.

Serves 12

2 Packages Silken Tofu (Approx. 14 oz Apiece)
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
6 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
2 Tablespoons Coffee-Flavored Liqueur
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
2 Tablespoons Grated Orange Peel
1 Package Reduced Fat Frozen Whipped Topping, Thawed
1 Tablespoon Miniature Semisweet Chocolate Baking Chips

  1. Rinse and drain tofu.  Press between think layers of paper towels to remove water.  Break each block into several pieces.  Blend tofu pieces with sugar, cocoa, liqueur, vanilla and orange peel in a food processor or blender until very smooth.
  2. In a bowl, combine tofu mixture with whipped topping and fold together.
  3. Refrigerate.

You can chill in the bowl or put the mousse into separate servings and chill, as David did.  The recipe calls for the chocolate chips to be sprinkled on top, but we used our micro-plane to grate.  We also added fresh whipped cream (for those of us not lactose-intolerant).

NOTE: You can substitute the coffee liqueur with 1 Tbsp instant coffee granules dissolved in 2 Tbsp hot water OR 2 Tbsp brewed espresso.

Now I am off to another dinner party – enjoy your New Year everyone!!


Goodbye, 2008

December 31, 2008

I think we can all agree that 2008 was a tough year, with a few bright spots.  When you really think about it, the cross over into a new year is nothing much, but it’s easy to think of it as a Fresh Start.  Following are the highlights of my year, and my hopes for the next.

In 2008….

  1. I finally voted for a winner in a presidential election.
  2. I spent far too much time on Jezebel.
  3. Prop 8 passed, making me truly ashamed of my home state for the first time.
  4. I gained 10 pounds (likely directly correlated with No 2).
  5. The first baby was born into my circle of close friends.
  6. I went to Portland, Oregon three times and discovered Stumptown Coffee.
  7. I kicked off a budget.
  8. I started a blog about it so I would have at least some chance of succeeding.
  9. I spent a few months paying $400+ for gas.
  10. The economy went to shit.
  11. Nothing much improved in the Mid East.
  12. I landed in the hospital in the first week of the year and have not self-injured since.
  13. I managed to get to NYC to visit friends.
  14. My boyfriend and I hosted Thanksgiving.  For 20.
  15. I bought a Macbook that I couldn’t afford.
  16. We planted a garden.
  17. Our dog was attacked by a raccoon.  And a pit bull.
  18. I voted for HRC in the primaries.  And it made me happy.
  19. The Olympics happened.  And I didn’t watch them.
  20. Heath Ledger, Estelle Getty, Paul Newman, Tim Russert, George Carlin and Yves Saint Laurent died.

In 2009, I hope to….

  1. Pay off at least $10K in debt.
  2. Drink more water.
  3. Drink less alcohol.
  4. Spend less time online (specifically Jezebel).
  5. Get a raise.
  6. Work from home more.
  7. Start a travel fund with David.
  8. Exercise more and lose the weight I gained in 2008.
  9. Go to the farmer’s market more.
  10. Buy a used bike.
  11. Sell all of my discarded clothing on eBay.
  12. Maintain the Penny Plastic blog.
  13. Read more.
  14. Draw more.
  15. Try my best to get to the east coast to visit friends.
  16. Finally go to San Luis Obispo with David (he’s been asking me to go for years, he went to school there).
  17. See friends more often.
  18. Become more skilled in Illustrator and Photoshop.
  19. Plant a spring garden.
  20. Try and keep some perspective about things.

Wishing all of you a very happy, warm and safe New Years Eve.  See you in 2009.


2009 Resolutions

December 28, 2008

I’ve never been much for New Year Resolutions. I know why they happen at the cusp of a new year, but it always seems so…..forced.

However, seeing as how I’ve bounded forward with an ambitious debt pay-off plan, I figured I might as well throw a couple additional goals into the pot.

Penny’s 2009 Goals


Sleep More

Spend Less Time On The Internet

Start A Travel Fund With David

Simple enough, right?