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New Years Eve Feast December 2014
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Forsyth County News

New Year’s Eve is Wednesday night and for many that means a glittery outfit and a night out on the town or at a neighborhood party. For us, it almost always means one thing: a night at home and a special dinner.

Sure, going out to a nice place for dinner is fun — but it is expensive and not nearly as good as what you can prepare at home. Even if you don’t think you are particularly handy in the kitchen, you can still prepare this menu. You will save so much money making dinner at home, you can splurge on a good bottle of Champagne or wine.

Happy New Year!

This year we are having a favorite combination — surf and turf. If you are worried about being stressed out making this dinner, have no fear. Almost everything can be prepared or assembled ahead of time, and that way all you have to do is to set out dishes, bake the scampi and the made-ahead twice baked potatoes, and grill the steaks.

Menu for two:
Smoked salmon on crackers with dill and capers
Baked shrimp scampi
Filet mignon with blue cheese
Twice baked potatoes
Favorite ice cream and cookies

Smoked salmon on crackers with dill and capers

4 ounces good quality smoked salmon
2 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh dill
2 tablespoons capers, drained and dried on paper towel
1 tablespoon red onion, finely diced
Wedges of lemon
Good quality crackers

Either assemble yourself, or just set everything out on a plate and do it as you are ready to eat. Place the salmon on a plate and top with dill, capers, red onion. Place the softened cream cheese on the plate as well. Add a few lemon wedges and the crackers.

Baby greens with candied walnuts and goat cheese

3 cups baby greens
1/3 cup raw walnuts
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Pinch of salt
3 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
3 tablespoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the candied walnuts ahead of time. Assemble salad right before serving. Melt butter in a small skillet and add walnuts. Cook over low heat and do not burn, until walnuts are beginning to brown. Add brown sugar and pinch of salt and stir. Cook another minute or so, being careful not to burn. Remove from heat and place on a plate to cool. To assemble salad, divide greens on two salad plates. Top each salad with half of the goat cheese, half of the dried cranberries and half of the candied walnuts. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. When ready to serve, drizzle dressing over each of the salads.

Twice baked potatoes

1 medium Russet baking potato
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sour cream
2-3 tablespoons milk or cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of onion powder
1/2 cup extra sharp white cheddar, shredded
2 tablespoons parsley, minced

Scrub potatoes and prick with a fork in several places. Bake in preheated 450-degree oven until fork tender, about an hour. Remove from oven and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out filling, leaving shell intact.

In bowl, mash the potato with butter, sour cream and milk. Potato should be consistency of firm mashed potatoes. Stir in salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders, and shredded cheese. Stir in parsley and then mound half of the mixture into each potato shell. Set aside (or make ahead) until ready to bake. When ready to cook, place in preheated 350-degree oven for 25 minutes or until hot.

Shrimp scampi is delicious, but usually must be prepared at the last minute. This recipe allows you to assemble the dish ahead of time, and then, while you are heating the grill to cook the steaks, you can pop this in the oven and it will be ready when they are.

Oven baked shrimp scampi

1/2 pound (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 tablespoon dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 extra-large egg yolk
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.

Starting from the outer edge of a small, oven safe dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. Place under a broiler for one minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

Grilled filets with blue cheese

2 filet mignons
Kosher salt and pepper
2 tablespoons good quality blue cheese or Gorgonzola
2 teaspoons butter

Sprinkle filets with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Grill over hot coals to your desired level of doneness, depending on the thickness of your steaks. When done, remove to a plate and top each steak with 1 tablespoon blue cheese and 1 teaspoon of butter. Tent with foil a few minutes.