You're going to need something to soak up all that bubbly. To pair with the sparkling libations of New Year's Eve, consider these finger foods. They're as simple to eat as they are to make, with hardly a need for utensils. Many of these snacks can also be assembled in advance, so you can get to eating long before the ball begins to drop.
Michelle Stark, Times food editor
Speaking of iconic New Year's Eve balls, consider adding a cheese ball to your appetizer repertoire. A cheese ball is exactly what it sounds like: a ball made out of cheese. It's also a very easy way to make your spread look festive. By rolling different cheeses together into a ball then coating it with things like nuts, spices and fruits, something simple becomes the standout centerpiece of your spread. We're offering two recipes here because we couldn't choose between the sweet-tart flavors of the first one and the pungent, savory allure of the second.
Cranberry Nut Cheese Ball
8 ounces cream cheese
2 cups shredded white sharp cheddar cheese
⅓ cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
Crackers for serving
In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and cheddar cheese until well combined. Mix in chopped cranberries.
Lay a large piece of plastic wrap out on a flat surface. Scoop the cheese mixture out of the bowl and place it in the middle of the plastic wrap. Wrap the plastic around the cheese mound, then use your hands to shape it into a ball. Chill for at least 1 hour.
Unwrap the cheese ball and, using small handfuls of nuts at a time, press the chopped pecans onto the outer surface of the cheese ball.
Chill until ready to serve.
Blue Cheese Shallot Cheese Ball
8 ounces cream cheese, full fat, at room temperature
4 ounce blue cheese, at room temperature
1 small shallot, peeled and minced
Zest from 1 small lemon
1 teaspoon black pepper
In a food processor, combine all ingredients except pecans and parsley. Mix well.
Using a spatula, spoon the mixture onto a large piece of wax paper and form into a ball. (I bring the corners of the wax paper up to the middle and give a gentle twist to keep the cheese mixture as a ball.) Refrigerate for 24 hours. Before serving, mince the pecans and parsley in a food processor, scatter on a cutting board and gently roll the cheese ball in the mixture. Serve.
Party mixes and pods
You know when you pop a particularly flavor-laden morsel of store-bought snack mix into your mouth unexpectedly, and then spend the rest of the bag searching again for that heightened flavor? This Party Snack Mix is like an entire bowl of that well-seasoned pretzel. You can sub out just about any snack item you want for the first four ingredients, like assorted crackers or other types of nuts.
Party Snack Mix
2 cups Bugles (original flavor)
3 cups small pretzels
2 cups roasted unsalted peanuts
1 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
12 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon English mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika plus more for sprinkling
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add garlic and gently cook to infuse butter, about 5 minutes. Strain into a small bowl, pressing to extract garlic juices; discard garlic. Stir in Worcestershire, Dijon mustard, mustard powder, salt, paprika and pepper. Pour over mixture in bowl and gently toss to coat.
Divide mixture between 2 baking sheets and spread in an even layer. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until dry and toasted, about 1 hour. Sprinkle mixture with a few pinches of paprika. Toss and let cool completely on baking sheets. (The party mix will become crispy as it cools.)
Transfer party mix to a large bowl.
Source: Bon Appétit
This thoroughly addicting snack tastes best when prepared just before it's served. To keep it hot as long as possible, serve it right in the cast iron skillet in which it is cooked. Just be sure to place a pot holder or towel over the handle of the skillet, so no one burns themselves.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (10-ounce) package frozen edamame (thawed and patted dry)
2 dried chiles de arbol
3 smashed unpeeled garlic cloves
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Lime wedges (for serving)
Heat a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Place oil in skillet followed by edamame, chiles and garlic. Cook, tossing often, until edamame are blistered and garlic is golden, about 5 minutes. Toss in pepper flakes and sea salt. Serve with lime wedges.
Serves 4 to 6.
Source: Bon Appétit
Puff pastry makes these pinwheels a cinch to assemble. If you're not thrilled about the idea of pepperoni, you can omit it (or substitute another deli meat) and double the amount of cheese.
½ cup grated Asiago cheese
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
2 tablespoons honey Dijon mustard
2 ounces packaged sliced pepperoni (about 24 1 ½-inch-diameter slices)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
Mix first four ingredients in medium bowl. Cut puff pastry crosswise in half to form 2 rectangles. Spread 1 tablespoon mustard over 1 puff pastry rectangle, leaving 1-inch plain border at 1 long edge. Place half of pepperoni in single layer atop mustard. Top pepperoni with half of cheese mixture. Brush plain border with egg. Starting at side opposite plain border, roll up pastry, sealing at egg-coated edge. Transfer pastry roll, seam side down, to medium baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pastry rectangle, mustard, pepperoni, cheese mixture and egg. Chill rolls until firm, about 30 minutes, or wrap and chill up to 1 day.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with foil. Lightly spray with vegetable oil spray. Cut each pastry roll into about 30 (1/4-inch-thick) rounds. Transfer pinwheels to prepared sheets. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to platter; serve.
Makes about 60 pinwheels.
Source: Bon Appétit
12 jumbo shrimp, deveined
¼ fresh pineapple cut into bite-sized chunks or 1 (14-ounce) can pineapple chunks in natural juice, drained
6 slices center-cut bacon, cut in half crosswise
12 wooden toothpicks
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Holding a shrimp, nest a chunk of pineapple in the natural curve of the shrimp then wrap bacon around the shrimp and pineapple and secure with a wooden toothpick.
Wrap and secure all 12 shrimp, then add to the hot pan and cook 3 minutes on each side or until bacon is crisp and shrimp are opaque and firm.
Source: Food Network