New Year's Eve Party Food
Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes
Elegant and rich, this supermoist pillow of chocolate cake gets its color and texture from the vibrant-red, naturally sweet beet. There’s nothing artificial about this dramatically hued holiday treat coated in a dense cloud of creamy white frosting. We purée the tender beet root with buttermilk and vanilla to create a luscious cream that not only adds a light, velvety texture to the cupcake but also allows us to use less sugar, oil, and butter in the batter, saving fat and hundreds of calories. You simply can’t “beet” it.
Port of Call Punch
The muddling technique draws complex flavors from the lemon, making the beverage floral, bracing, and irresistible. A sprinkling of grated nutmeg on top adds a warm, soothing, fragrant layer to the punch, which is remarkably complex-flavored despite having only 6 ingredients. Ruby port has spent less time cask-aging than tawny port, and so is a little sweeter and fruitier, perfect in this recipe. This drink has a lower alcohol content than standard cocktails, a great quality in a punch that's meant to refresh as much as relax.
Glazed Cocktail Meatballs
These mini meatballs are perfect for holiday parties and tailgating. We made them healthier by forgoing sodium-heavy ingredients like the usual ketchup and chili sauce and including whole-grain bulgur in place of breadcrumbs. You can also serve a larger portion of these meatballs for weeknight dinner. To up the kid-friendly factor, omit the ground red pepper in the glaze and serve with mashed potatoes (à la Swedish meatballs). For a tangier glaze, substitute cranberry sauce for the grape jelly.
Foolproof Cheese Fondue
Fondue is forever tied to the kitschy themed parties of the 1960s and 70s, but the dish is worth reviving: It's a casual, fun way to entertain. Nutritionally, fondue is a great way to stretch the calorie and saturated fat content of rich cheeses over several servings without losing any melty goodness. We add evaporated milk to make the base even creamier with fewer calories and less saturated fat. Guests will keep coming back for more. Any Gruyère works wonderfully here, but the aged kind has a bigger, nuttier flavor. While a double boiler is used in many recipes, you'll need a heavy saucepan and direct heat here to activate the cornstarch and thicken the fondue. Serve with tart, crisp apples and crusty whole-grain bread.
Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes
We had the greatest success using a pan with 2 1/2-ounce cups, such as Chicago Metallic's 12-Well Mini Cheesecake Pan ($25). This pan has removable bottoms (similar to a tart pan) so that you simply push each cheesecake up to remove it. You can also bake them in a standard muffin tin; line it with foil liners for easier removal.
Grilled Chicken Skewers With Wasabi Mayo
A kicking dipping sauce adds amped up fun and flavor. Serve with Orzo with Snap Peas, Cilantro, and Peanuts for a complete meal with 46g of protein. If you use wood skewers on the outdoor grill, be sure to soak them in water before grilling to avoid burning. Make a few extra skewers to add chicken to lunches and salads the next day. The wasabi mayo adds bold flavor to simply seasoned grilled chicken and pairs well with the sweetness of honey and tang of rice vinegar. The mayo can be saved and served alongside roasted vegetables, skirt steak, or fresh grilled fish.
Lemon-Gin Sparkling Cocktails
Loosely based on the French 75, a classic cocktail of gin, Champagne, lemon juice, and sugar, this welcoming beverage uses lemonade concentrate as a shortcut. Be sure to allow the concentrate to thaw ahead of time. You'll use almost a whole bottle of Champagne; the rest goes into the dessert. If time allows, you can use a quick simple syrup with lemon juice: Combine 3 tablespoons each of sugar, lemon juice, and water; microwave for 1 minute, and cool.
Tricolored Beet Tart
Start your holiday meal with a simple yet gorgeous beet tart, topped off with tangy goat cheese, crunchy hazelnuts, and flaky sea salt. Par-bake the crust to get a lovely raised edge (what forms the shell of your tart) and ensure that the bottom will be cooked through. If you or your guests are not beet fans, substitute sweet potatoes: Wrap 4 (4-ounce) sweet potatoes in parchment paper, and microwave at HIGH 3 minutes. Then cool, peel, and slice. You can also sub feta for goat cheese and pecans or walnuts for hazelnuts.
Think of these tasty little tassies as your own personal pecan pie. They're both salty and sweet, with a hit of oaky bourbon. Whole-grain rye flour adds the perfect touch of sour to the shortbread-like crust, while toasted pecans do double duty in the crust and in the maple-splashed filling. As if that weren't enough to jingle your bell, we drizzle warm bittersweet chocolate over each bite to ensure maximum satisfaction.
Pink Grapefruit and Lychee Cocktail
Pink grapefruit, a popular winter fruit, stars in this pretty beverage. Look for canned lychee fruit, which has a delicately sweet flavor, in the ethnic food aisle at the supermarket or at Asian groceries. Use the leftover lychees in a fruit salad.
Caramelized Leek and Spinach Dip
Beautifully caramelized leeks and onions cannot be rushed; resist the urge to crank up the heat. Leeks become especially silky and sweet when left to cook awhile. If they start to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a tablespoon or two of water, and stir (the liquid will evaporate during cooking). Instead of bread or crackers, serve the dip with an array of vegetables, such as baby carrots, endive leaves, radishes, diagonally sliced cucumber, and mini sweet bell peppers for a bit of freshness, color, and crunch. You'll also save calories and room for the rest of the meal.
• • Gluten-Free Tip: Many dairy products are gluten free, but some contain additives with gluten. Read the labels carefully. When in doubt, seek out products that are specifically labeled gluten free.
Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies
These moist bars feature the seasonal pairing of peppermint and chocolate. They're sure to be a hit with everyone—children included—at your holiday party.
Kale, Mushroom, and Bacon Pita Pizzas
Individual Kale, Mushroom, and Bacon Pita Pizzas couldn’t be easier or more delicious, especially with a creamy rosemary-garlic white bean spread as the base. If you think pitas are destined only for topping or dipping, think again: once toasted and blended, they add depth to the classic Spanish red pepper sauce in Kale and Mushroom Quinoa with Romesco.
The New Essentials:
Whole-Wheat Pitas - Not just for stuffing, pitas are an instant pizza base and your all-purpose bread for breadcrumbs.
Sliced Cremini Mushrooms - Meaty, no-prep mushrooms add richness and earthiness to gravies, sautés, and stir-fries.
Vanilla-Fig Champagne Sparkler
The festive combo of cinnamon, vanilla, and figs make a tasty way to welcome the New Year, but this fantastic flavor trio will also keep you celebrating all fall and winter. Cheers!
Mini Cheese Balls
Save 108 calories, 7g sat fat, and 69mg sodium per serving over a traditional cheese ball. Almond milk cream cheese is delicately nutty, with a buttery-rich texture and zero grams of sat fat. Find it at Whole Foods stores nationwide. You can substitute 1⁄3-less-fat cream cheese, which adds 1.6g sat fat to each serving.
Sesame-Soy Nut and Pretzel Mix
If any one dish is devoured quickly and constantly (usually by the fistful) throughout the holiday, it’s snack mix. Consisting of salty nuts, pretzels, and cereal doused with a Worcestershire and butter, this innocent munchie racks up sodium and calories quickly. Our healthier version gives you all the salt, crunch, and bold spices of the original with the addition of whole-grain popcorn, toasty whole-wheat cereal, and spicy wasabi peas. The peas inspired an Asian track with toasty sesame oil and reduced-sodium soy sauce, cashews, and pungent ground ginger.
Sweet clementines shine during cold winter months. Make the most of them in this festive, spiced sangria. Opt for a fruit-forward, higher acidity variety of red wine, such as grenache or tempranillo.
Goat Cheese Cheesecake Bites
Who says goat cheese is only for savory food. Creamy and luscious, goat cheese makes for the perfect ingredient in a thick, decadent cheesecake dessert. Mixed with Greek yogurt and a touch of powdered sugar, this adorable cheesecake bites are the perfect solution for using up leftover goat cheese. Topped with fruit preserves and served in pre-made mini-phyllo shells, this cute, crowd-pleasing dessert is ready in minutes.
Avocado Chicken Salad
Fresh, tasty, and delicious is how this 5-star Avocado Chicken Salad is commonly described. Mrs. Hartzell raves, “So delicious and easy! I could seriously eat this every day!” You’re not alone. We could, too. This particular recipe uses vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise but doesn’t lose its creamy texture, thanks to avocado. Salsa and fresh cilantro give this chicken salad its south-of-the-border flavors. So, instead of layering over a bed of greens, serve with tortilla chips for scooping and an added crunch.
Hasseltots with Crème Fraîche and Caviar
This two-bite, no-fork-required appetizer is perfect for parties where guests will be juggling drinks and nibbles. Choose a sustainable, budget-friendly roe. Depending on what kind you choose, it can be affordable or break the bank. Make note of the origin to be sure you aren't buying caviar or roe from endangered fishing areas or species. We suggest Classic American White Sturgeon Caviar ($85/oz.), Paddlefish Caviar ($44/oz.), Salmon Roe ($8/oz.), and Masago ($5/oz.). Store opened caviar on ice, and use within one to two days. In a pinch, sour cream can stand in for the crème fraîche.
Mini Vegan Gingerbread Cakes
Gingerbread is the ultimate holiday treat. Sweetness and spice combine for a flavorful dessert that makes the whole house smell like Christmas. These mini bundt cakes are perfect for guests, with everyone getting their own individual treat. For extra hosting flair, wait to dust them with powdered sugar until they're presented on the dining table. The best part? Each of these totally vegan cakes comes in just under 200 calories.
Almond Butter Chocolate Truffles
Store-bought chocolates fall short compared to these homemade peanut butter and chocolate truffles. Made with almond butter and antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, you can add any toppings you like, such as coconut, chopped nuts, cocoa powder, or dried fruit. For only 6 grams of sugar per serving, the options are plentiful.
Pear and Pomegranate Bellini
Raise your glass to good friends and family while knocking back this fruity holiday cocktail. Cheers!
Tangy Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Classic lemon squares can contain up to 36 grams of sugar per piece. By putting a tangy cheesecake spin on ours, we’ve cut the sugar down to only 6 grams per pop. Your sweet tooth will agree that these bars are good enough to enjoy year-round.
Mac and Cheese Bites
Feed a hungry crowd these all-star, feel-good favorites at your next party. Nothing is as comforting as melty, creamy, cheesy, comforting macaroni and cheese. Be still our hearts.
Chocolate-Chestnut Cream Bites
Allow yourself to be seduced by the nutty-sweet aroma of freshly roasted chestnuts, a true seasonal treasure. The flavor is rich and faintly sweet, with hints of caramel. Try our picture-perfect phyllo dough poppers. For an elegant presentation, spoon the filling into a piping bag, and then fill the shells.
White wine may eventually lose its flavor after uncorking, but why waste it? Here, we perk up leftover wine with sparkling apple-cranberry cider and add fresh apples, pears, and grapes for an autumn-themed spin on the popular drink.