Simple advice for a better life.
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010

Creative Commons License photo credit: volliem

If you are planning a New Year get-together with your friends, but still searching around for some party food recipes, I am here to help out.

To make this party planning a little less stressful for you, I am posting the links to some of the party foods recipes I have posted so far this year (there will be more by the end of the New Year…thanks for being a friend).

Preparing these will keep you busy, but you will be basking in glory of compliments from your friends, as these are very popular and delicious party foods, which I personally tasted and used at my parties.

You can also include:

  • Vegetable tray with dip -  (selection of baby carrots, grape tomatoes, red, green and yellow peppers, cut up celery sticks , sliced cucumbers, with your favorite dip).
  • Cheese and crackers – arrange different cheeses cut up to bite size pieces with your favorite crackers.
  • Kobasa  with party bread, or rye bread – Ukrainian or Polish smoked sausage, sliced up cold, or boiled for 20 minutes, cooled slightly, then sliced up.
  • Canapés – If you still have some spare time, you can make small canapés with a bite size chunk of bread, dab of mustard (Kosciusko Mustard is really good), slice of kobasa, and top it off with a slice of pickle, spear it all with a fancy toothpick, and arrange these in a single layer on a serving dish.  Looks great and tastes even better.
  • Chips and dip
  • Pretzels with dip
  • Pepperoni slices with cheese and crackers
  • Tray of fresh fruit
  • Pizza
  • Chicken Wings

I am sure these will help you out for this party, or any other future parties you may host, since Super Bowl is coming up very soon.

As for the rest of the party planning, let your imagination run wild.

Have a super party

and

HAPPY NEW  YEAR!!

Ginger Chocolate Truffles – Recipe

Ginger Chocolate TrufflesHere is another melt-in-your mouth recipe for your enjoyment.  I chose this one as a finally for this year’s recipes mentioned in my preview of Christmas cookie post.

I am getting myself so hungry for sweets, sitting here today and writing up these recipes and salivating over all the pictures of cookies.    Hopefully you find them enticing enough to make them, and share your comments with all of us in the blog land.

Meanwhile, here is a recipe for Ginger Chocolate Truffles.

This recipe makes about 40 pieces.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cream cheese (one package), softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 5 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled (1.5 min in the microwave, stirring once halfway through)
  • 1 cup toasted, ground almonds (for coating)
  • Chocolate sprinkles (optional for coating)
  • Cocoa powder (optional for coating)

Directions:

  1. Add cream cheese into a large mixing bowl, and mix with an electric mixer until smooth.
  2. Mix powdered sugar with ginger.
  3. Gradually add to cream cheese and mix well.
  4. Add melted chocolate, and mix until combined.
  5. Cover and chill for at least an hour or overnight.
  6. Shape the chilled mixture into 1-inch balls.
  7. Roll in almonds, or any other of your favorite coatings.
  8. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to 2 weeks (if you can keep away from them for that long..).

Tip: My favorite coating is the cocoa powder. These truffles tend to get quite soft is kept out of fridge for a long time.  For best results, please store in the fridge, in an airtight container.

Frosted Lemon Cookies – Recipe

Frosted Lemon CookiesWhen I came across this recipe, I could almost taste the lemon flavor of the icing on my tongue, and decided to save the recipe and to make these cookies.

As you already know, I only post recipes which I have personally tested, and share my own pictures of the finished product (I’m still a newbie on food photography..).  I also post some products completed by others in their kitchens, but once I had the pleasure of sampling them, I am more than honored to include them in my post, with the permission of the chef, of course.

These Frosted Lemon Cookies are actually very good, and the lemon icing is a very refreshing change for your taste buds, after sampling a myriad of sweets during the Holiday Season.  As this recipe is for drop cookies, it is a quick project and even the frosting is quite simple.  The only thing that requires a little more patience is the drying time of the frosted cookies, but even that is possible during the same time frame as the baking.

This recipe makes 5 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sweet butter (unsalted), softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbs lemon peel, grated
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice (from one lemon)
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Directions:

  1. Combine the butter, sugar and eggs.
  2. Mix well, until well blended and creamy.
  3. Add the lemon peel and lemon juice, and mix well.
  4. Mix the flour with the cream of tartar, salt, and baking soda.
  5. Gradually add to butter mixture and continue mixing until a smooth batter is formed.
  6. Drop cookie batter by rounded teaspoonfuls at least 1-2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  8. Bake cookies for 6 minutes, or until edges appear golden brown.
  9. Remove and cool enough to handle, as you will frost warm cookies, and let them on cookie drying rack, until the frosting is set (firm to touch, not soft or sticky).

Frosting:

  1. Mix 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  2. ¼ cup lemon juice
  3. Few drops of your favorite food coloring (I split the frosting in half and used two different colors for each batch.  One was red and the other one was green).
  4. Stir until smooth.
  5. Add more sugar if you feel the glaze is too thin, due to the amount of food coloring you added.

Tip: These cookies also taste really good without the icing. Frosted cookies need to be stored in an airtight container to prevent from drying out.

To make sure you have the correct icing consistency, do not add the food coloring until after you mix the sugar

and lemon juice, and see how thick it should be.  After you add the food coloring, add more powdered sugar to

get the same consistency as it was before.  If your icing is to thin, it will take much longer to set.

Sugar Cut Out Cookies – Recipe

Platter of sugar cookiesI am trying very hard to keep my promise to you, and post all my cookie recipes I gave you a preview of on my Christmas cookies post.

Here is a recipe, I also adopted from Suzy, for Sugar Cut Out Cookies.  I kept the recipe in its original form with the exception of decreasing the salt to ¼ tsp, and using only white sugar (I ran out of brown sugar).  Also, I have chosen to decorate my cookies with colored sugar and sprinkles, while she beautifully frosted hers.

These Sugar Cut Out Cookies are very festive looking, and deliciously enjoyable.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix well.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt).
  4. Gradually add to the butter/sugar mixture and mix well, until the dough is firm.
  5. Divide the dough in two balls, place in a covered bowl, and cool in the refrigerator for an hour (I kept it overnight, for lack of time for baking).
  6. Take out one dough ball and work it with your hands to soften it a bit.
  7. Place it on a floured work area and roll it out to 1/8 inch thickness.
  8. Use your favorite cookie cutters, dip them in flour, and cut out cookies.
  9. Cover you baking pans with parchment paper, set you cookies on slightly apart from each other, to allow for expansion during baking.
  10. Decorate with colored sugar and sprinkles.
  11. Preheat oven at 375°F.
  12. Bake cookies for 8 minutes, or until the edges appear golden brown.
  13. Remove onto cookie rack to cool.

Sugar cookies - Christmas trees 2

Sugar cookies - stars 2

Sugar cookies - stockings 2 Sugar cookies - stars 1
Tip: The taste of these cookies was super, but I would have liked them a little less firm and
crunchy.

5 Things To Do Before New Year’s

You have exactly three days until 2009 is officially over, but there are still some things you should make sure are done before you start 2010. Below is a short list of five things you should do before the end of the year.

  1. Don’t Lose Your Benefits
    If you have a flex spending account that you’ve been contributing to, do what HR says and use it or lose it.
  2. Lower Your Taxable Income
    • Be Charitable
      Donations can be helpful to those in need and can also let you lower your taxable income a bit.

      • Donate money to your favorite charity
      • Donate clothes, furniture or other items you no longer need or want but can still be useful to others
    • Take Losses on Your Stocks
      • Was 2009 a bad year for your portfolio?  You can claim a capital loss and write it off on your taxes if you sell your poor performers before the end of the year.  If the loss is greater than $3,000, you can carry it over to future years.  You can also sell your losers to offset any capital gains you’ve had this year.
    • Save for Retirement
      • Contribute to your individual retirement account.  You can donate up to $5,000 to your IRA or $6,000 if you’re 50 or older.  You’re actually able to contribute until April 2010 and still make the claim on your 2009 tax return, but if you have trouble putting money away, this is a great time to start making smaller, monthly contributions.
  3. Reconnect With an Old Friend
    • Did that just make you think of someone you haven’t spoken with recently?  If so, take the time to get back in touch with them whether that be making plans to spend time together or just setting aside some time to talk with them over the phone.
  4. Reflect On 2009
    • Think about what you enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about 2009 and work on repeating or correcting them in 2010.
  5. Enjoy New Year’s Eve!
    • In 3 days, 2009 is over and however good or bad of a year you had, you now have 365 days to make 2010 a great and memorable year.  Have fun this New Year’s Eve and start getting ready for 2010 because before you know it, you’ll be celebrating the beginning of 2011!
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