Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Four Fab Appetizers for New Year's Eve

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING

I usually save recipes for Sundays, but today I'm going to share with you my hacks for super quick and super easy appetizers. Why? Because it's New Year's Eve. You're going out to a party. You're having friends in. Maybe you just want something fun and a little elegant to go with the Champagne or Prosecco you and your sweetheart are going to enjoy while watching Rockin' New Year's Eve 2020 or New Year's Eve or just streaming The Mandalorian because really, you can't have too much Baby Yoda.



I love him so much!!!!
Maybe you're one of those fab hostesses/hosts who plans the evening starting with the appetizers, and so you've been all set for days, with a tray of homemade quiches waiting in the refrigerator. If so, this is not for you. This is for the rest of us, who know what the main dish is, and we have most of the ingredients, but we suddenly realize while in the booze aisle of the grocery store that people expect to eat something with their cocktails. Or those of us who didn't call the hostess soon enough to be assigned one of the easy dishes to bring (bread, salad in a bag) and are stuck with the starters. 


You don't have time to wrap bacon around scallops; you need a dish with three ingredients, something you can whip up in fifteen minutes after getting home from work. Ten would be better. I've got you, fam.

Looks fancy to bring: Cream cheese dip with chutney
Ingredients: 
Cream cheese with chives, 1 or 2 containers depending on the size of the crowd.
Jar of chutney (If they have it in my rural Hanneford, you can find it at your grocery store.)
Salted peanuts for garnish (skip this if anyone might be nut-allergic, obvs.)
Fancy crackers.

Spoon the cream cheese into a really nice looking, shallow cut glass or china bowl. Smooth it out. Spoon the chutney over the top. Sprinkle the peanuts on to make it look like this actually took time. Serve with the fancy crackers. 




Oh, no, there are vegans at the party: Bruschetta with fake homemade hummus
Ingredients: 
Baguette
Container of hummus
Jar of sun-dried tomatoes
Bunch of fresh parsley (Italian if you can get it) chopped
Olive oil.

Slice the baguette into diagonal pieces and toast in the toaster oven or under the broiler.
While the bread is toasting, scoop the hummus into a mixing bowl. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and the chopped parsley. Does it look lumpy? Good, people will think it's homemade. 
Take the bread out and drizzle a little oil on each slice before adding a spoonful of "your" hummus. Tell the guests you soak dried chickpeas for 24 hours before making this. 

I need something hearty to counterbalance all the drinks my friends are going to put away: Meatballs on toothpicks with sauces 
Ingredients:
Frozen bag of meatballs (yes, you could make your own, but that would kind of blow the whole "fast and easy" vibe out of the water.)
Toothpicks
1 jar each: Marinara sauce, BBQ sauce and Sweet and Sour sauce.

Cook the meatballs as directed (usually under the broiler.
Stick toothpicks in 'em.
Decant the sauces into bowls and let your guests go to town. If you want to up the heartiness quotient, serve with a basket of small finger rolls and encourage  everyone to dip those as well.

I'm stopping at Target/the grocery store and that's it: Archer Farms individual quiches or Snyders Honey Mustard Pretzel Bits
Seriously. I served the Archer Farm quiches as an appetizer for my Christmas dinner. I hid the boxes they came in (12 per box, which I think is a nice amount) and everyone loved them. As for the honey mustard pretzel bits, they are simply irresistible. I don't know what it is, but I have yet to see anyone who can stop themselves from reaching into a bowl.


Okay, Dear Readers, what are your hosting hacks? And do you have plans to ring in the New Year tonight?

76 comments:

  1. Happy New Year’s Eve!

    These are great ideas, Julia. A cheese tray is always good, too.
    Or, shrimp cocktail: you just have to dump [er, arrange] the shrimp in a bowl and put the cocktail sauce in a second bowl.
    Mozzarella sticks in the air fryer are quick and easy, too . . . .

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    1. Joan, shrimp and cocktail sauce was my mother's easy appetizer. To make it really fancy, she would stuff a lettuce leaf into a wine glass and hang several shrimp over the edge. Then a spoonful of sauce goes atop the lettuce. Voila! Instant individual shrimp salads!

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  2. We had the cream cheese & chutney thing as an appetizer at our family Christmas get-together and it was to die for! Seriously. I could eat that stuff every day. (Maybe for my next book launch party???)

    No partying tonight for this gal. I'll be in bed by 9:30, hoping no one shoots off fireworks or firearms at midnight.


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    1. Annette, we live in the country in Maine, so firearms are often a feature of New Year's eve at midnight. I'm keeping my fingers crossed the Smithie's poor anxious dog won't pee from fright.

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  3. Those all sound wonderful! Since my sweetie treats NYE like any other night (can you say boring?), I'm having a gathering of women friends. I'm going to make teriyaki wingettes. Cut steamed Trader Joe's tamales into bite sized bits and drizzle with enchilada sauce. Manchego and crackers. And friends are bringing Chinese appetizers. Now I'm thinking about cream cheese and chutney! Do you get the soft cream cheese or a block? Happy New Year!

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    1. We used block of cream cheese with red pepper jelly on the center of a nice plate surrounded my nice crackers. We stuck nice butter knives in the cream cheese to make spreading easier.

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    2. I get the soft stuff in the tub, Edith, but you can make it with the bricks if you want to let them soften and whip them up yourself. You can also add other things beside chives if you want - try olive tapenade or cranberries with chopped walnuts, or bacon along with the chives.

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  4. I like the idea that the staging makes the appetizer. It's the presentation, not the complexity. This is a good thing to remember should I ever go out/invite someone over for New Year's Eve. As it stands now, I may toss the dogs some treats at midnight, but I'm not a big stay-up-and-get-kissed kinda gal. Puppy kisses don't count.

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    1. Gigi, it really is the presentation. Put put nuts and pretzel bits in your grandmother's china bowls and guests will be wowed.

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  5. There are no party hacks for me. I simply don't host any.

    There's no partying for me tonight either. I'll be awake as I play a Savatage album at midnight. Before that I'm probably joining in on a New Year's Eve book launch party on Facebook with a host of authors including Maddie Day and a host of others!

    That's it.

    By the way, here's my Best of 2019 Mysteries and Thrillers list: http://classic-rock-bottom.ning.com/forum/topics/my-top-ten-mysteries-thrillers-of-2019

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    1. Nice choices, Jay. I've wanted to read THIN ICE by Paige Shelton (murder in cold and rural places is my jam) and I'm glad to see you recommend it so highly.

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    2. Julia, I have to say that it took me by surprise that I liked it so much. But it is definitely worth the time investment.

      It's also nice that authors featured on the list have been sharing it on their social media accounts. Four so far with one messaging me to say that they are stealing the tagline I wrote for her book.

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  6. We are staying home tonight, having a quiet celebration in front of our new fireplace. With our traditional Sazeracs (high-octane cocktail made with rye, simple syrup, Peychaud's Bitters, and a wash of Pernod, shaken with ice.) We only have one a year, but we both like that better than champagne, and it reminds us of a great trip to New Orleans, what better way to see in a new year?

    Oh, yeah, food! I keep a jar of bacon marmalade in the pantry, and another of a wild hot pepper jam, because either is a marvel heated up and poured over a small block of cream cheese. Easy peasy for a last-minute appetizer, but fabulous. You can really do the same thing with any good jam or preserves, and garnish with walnut halves. Serve with crackers.

    Our closing was pushed to this afternoon, so I am not really relaxing until that's done. I will be happy to see 2019 in the rearview mirror.

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  7. Jungle red party--yay! so glad you all could make it, and I can see we put the right Red in charge of snacks:)

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    1. You and Hallie have the brilliant from-scratch cooking covered, Roberta. I stick to my wheelhouse. :-)

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  8. Yummy! Wish we could all celebrate in person together! Happiest of New Years—and on into the roaring twenties!

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    1. Yay! I'm hoping for lots of chainette fringe!

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    2. Rooting for cloche hats, myself. So flattering on so many faces.

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    3. LOVE cloche hats, Julia. Almost brought one back from London...

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  9. a small wheel of brie wrapped in crescent roll dough and baked for 15-20 minutes. For fancy I put chutney on top before I wrap the dough. A beaten egg wash makes it pretty and brown.

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    1. Ooh, this one sounds especially good to me! Both delicious and EASY!

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    2. Ive had this sort of appetizer before, Margaret, and you're right, its both delicious AND impressive looking.

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  10. Yum! I'll bring guacamole ... the only tricky part is buying them ripe but not too ripe. Then peel and mash with lime juice. S+P. Period. (Is it ok to admit that I still love onion soup dip - sour cream and Lipton onion soup on potato chips?)

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    1. EVERYONE loves that classic, Hallie, even if you have to go completely sodium-free for a month afterwards.:-)

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    2. ohhh, onion dip + chips!!! can't have it in the house or I will make a pig of myself, but, oh yum!

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  11. Onion soup dip and rippled potato chips used to be my very favorite NYE snack! Now I just go to bed at the usual time and wake up in the new year. Have a wonderful time tonight all you partiers! The foods sound so yummy I wish I could join you all!

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  12. I don’t plan to do a darn thing but I do have some appetizers from Trader Joe in the freezer. Frank may have some champagne chilling too if he’s not asleep.

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    1. That's the best kind of New year's Eve party in my opinion, Pat!

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  13. We have a box of bacon wrapped scallops from Trader Joe’s in the freezer. Maybe we’ll trot those out. Our day is complicated. Toby the Wonder Dog had a difficult night, so he’s off to see the vet this morning. Fingers crossed. And our dear neighbor is back in the hospital. Doesn’t bode well. Recovering from fall and femur fracture couple months ago. So any midnight watch we keep tonight will be over the ill.

    I pray to all the gods that be for a better new decade. And happy new year, my friends

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    1. Ann, there's a lovely Compline prayer from the Book of Common Prayer I want to share with you. It got me through many a weary night.

      Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

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    2. Julia, that is my favorite Compline prayer. Such a comfort.

      And Ann, thinking of you, and Toby, and your neighbor, and sending much love. xx

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    3. Thank you Julia. That made me weep. Toby did have an abscess, got a shot for that. And something for pain. You are the best.

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    4. I'm late to the game this morning, but I had to jump in here because of the Compline prayer. It is totally the best prayer - covers everyone and everything. Ann, I will keep Toby and your neighbor in my prayers that they will rest well and be pain free, and that you and Julie, if you have to watch, will do so with strength and comfort. Thanks, Julia, for putting it in your comment! (I'll put my food suggestion at the bottom of the thread.)

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  14. Rack of ribs, the prepped kind. Cook them early, cut apart and keep warm in a crock pot. Lots of napkins nearby.

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  15. Similar to Julia's chutney and cream cheese, I've been known to do something similar with Pickapeppa sauce - you just put the block of cream cheese on a pretty plate and pour Pickapeppa over it. Yummy and a little spicy with Triscuts or Wheat Thins.

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    1. Sounds similar to one of my favorites - cream cheese with hot pepper jelly. The mix of creamy, gooey,sweet and hot is divine.

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    2. I was going to suggest the cream cheese and hot pepper jelly, Julia, but you beat me to it. The pepper jelly is also good on goat cheese, or brie.

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    3. Love cream cheese with Pickapeppa sauce. Also have served block cream cheese with jalapeno jelly, both red and green, over it. Frabjous and looks so pretty on the holidays.

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  16. Costco has brilliant frozen appetizers, by the way. And a lot of freshly made ones, too.

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    1. I have heard tell of the wonders of Costco, Karen, but would you believe we don't have a single one in Maine? The nearest store is in New Hampshire, almost a two hour's drive away!

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    2. Both the ones near me are over a half-hour away. But a couple years ago I discovered their delivery service, and now I rarely go to a physical store.

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    3. What? Costco delivers? How did I not know that?!!! Although I used the Whole Foods Prime delivery the first time the other day, when we were both sick and it was pouring rain. Fabulous!

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  17. Can of refried beans in microwave bowl, heat, stir in a little nice salsa and grated cheese, top with more cheese, microwave until the cheese gets a just soft and stringy, serve with nice tortilla chips.

    Cut finger bite veggies or purchases a pre cut tray. Add a nice store bought hummus, I don't even try to pretend I made it.

    I do have a nice raw radish sauce but it is so thick it really a spread. Finely chopped radish -squeeze out some of the water, block of cream cheese, finely chopped or grated garlic, dried dill, lemon juice, mix, salt and pepper to taste. Service with those cut up veggies -pre recipe but like to spread it on baguette or crackers. The dip might turn a little pink from the radish which is why I squeeze out the water.

    Okay, off to work. Enjoy your last day of the year everyone.

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    1. Deana, that radish sauce/spread sounds fantastic. Is it hot and peppery? Or does the cream cheese calm it down?

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    2. A little peppery but instructions say finely chop the radish but, yes, the cream cheese helps mellow it out.

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    3. Love the refried bean idea, Deana.

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    4. Used to use it for finger food wedding receptions back in the day.

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  18. Wishing all the Reds and readers good health and a prosperous New Year filled with joy! And lots of books, naturally!

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    1. And a happy and healthy New year to you as well, Flora!

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  19. Yuuuuuum! Wish I could pop up at your house, Julia! We are still fighting the plague here (it’s reached ridiculous) so we will be streaming The Mandalorian because baby Yoda cures all ills.

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    1. My daughters and I sat down to watch ONE episode. Seven hours later...

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  20. We have finished The Mandalorian, sadly, and have been busy trading viruses, so a very quiet New Year's Eve here. Our housekeepers brought us tamales on Christmas, which I put in the freezer for tonight, so am looking forward to those!

    Wishing everyone a safe NYE with whatever sized party suits you!

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    1. Nothing like those little bit sized tamales, jealous xox

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  21. Since we have Christmas followed by two birthdays, with my husband's being yesterday, I'm rather through with fixing special dishes or desserts. I made husband a birthday cake yesterday. So, tonight will be really easy. I will probably get out the block of Havarti cheese we didn't use at Christmas and slice it and put some crackers around it. Now I'm thinking about it, I might have some frozen mini quiches I could pop in the oven. No, no, no. Here I am starting to think of what I can do, and I was going to do nothing. Well, I won't do anything that requires really fixing or cooking. I think our meal is going to be pot pies, frozen and oven ready. And, we do have that yummy chocolate cake from the birthday yesterday for dessert. Tomorrow, we are going to have some sort of light meal with my mother-in-law, to get in our black-eyed peas. She's unable to cook or fix anything, so we will take something.

    Now, I want to wish everyone here a bright and joyful New Year. I'm ready to kick this year to the curb with a heavy boot. I wish you all good health and the energy and means to do some things that you've been putting off. I hope this year is the year of doing, not just dreaming. And, of course, I wish you all great reading, which should be an easy goal to reach, since there are so many amazing authors right here at Jungle Reds.

    And, for our New Year's entertainment, my husband and I will be finishing season two of Lost in Space on Netflix. We are loving it as much as season one. Also, I've stumbled into a couple of Netflix shows I've really enjoyed. One was Retribution, a Scottish setting murder mystery, and last night I stumbled onto Le Foret (The Forest), which is a French series with subtitles. Don't let the subtitles stop you. In fact, since I'm hard of hearing, I loved the subtitles. The Forest is a murder/crime mystery that really drew me in. I have one and one half episodes to go. I finally had to go to bed this morning.

    And, last, but certainly not least, thank you, Julia, for the Compline prayer.

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    1. Kathy, give it an extra boot kick from me! Thanks in advance :-)

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    2. You're welcome, Kathy.

      And Youngest and I are raring to watch season 2 of Lost in Space. We've been holding off because so far, if we're in the family room viewing something, it's all three of us, and the Smithie isn't interested. Maybe we should make her watch the first episode of season 1 and see if it hooks her...

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  22. When I was working in a 3-person department (appointment clerks for 13-doctor practice), we would have lunch celebrations for holidays with a potluck, each department making a dish. Our go-to food (since none of us could leave our phones) was to put frozen meatballs, a jar of grape jelly and a bottle of chili sauce (Heinz is the best) in a crock pot in our tiny office. We could stir the stuff periodically without missing any calls, and sometimes, of course, it would be necessary to taste them to make sure they were doing all right before lunchtime. When it was time, one of us would run the crock pot to the lunchroom and set it up. With a serving spoon - no time for toothpicks! It was always a hit because it was very tasty.

    Tonight, it's TV and hoping the neighborhood folks don't go too crazy with the fireworks (which aren't allowed in the city limits but which never seems to stop anyone) so the dogs will go to sleep. And in case anyone wants to know how Mobile celebrates New Years, they drop a lighted 600-pound electric Moon Pie from a bank building, and a real, edible Moon Pie from Chattanooga (home of Moon Pies) gets served to 200 people! If that doesn't make any sense, you should know that at Mardi Gras in Mobile, float riders throw Moon Pies, along with beads and other crap. It's the South!

    Happy New Year to all of you!!

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    1. Happy New Year, Mary! I'd be very happy to celebrate with Moon Pies and fireworks, and that crockpot meatball dish sounds improbably delicious!

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  23. We will have our traditional tray of cheese, olives, pickles, crackers, pepperoni along with chips and dip We'll stay up until midnight (maybe) and be in bed by 12:00:30. We might watch "Young Frankenstein."

    Happy New Year!

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    1. Happy New year, Liz! It's funny - my family has a must-watch movie for several occasions (Christmas Eve, coldest day of the year, 4th of July) but nothing for New year's. Maybe we should work on that.

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  24. Happy New Year's Eve! We are making black eyed pea soup. Yum! I am attempting to bake gingerbread cookies for the first time in my life. Memo to myself: Next time DO NOT use the microwave! Use a saucepan to boil the molasses, sugar, almond milk and Earthly Balance (shortening).

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    1. Let us know how the gingerbread turned out, Diana.

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  25. It takes a little more planning, but savory puff pastry pinwheels will make you look like a super genius for very little work.

    Thaw the puff, roll it out a little, paint the surface with a jar of something "spready" or grated cheese, roll it up, chill, cut in slices (you can fridge these again till you're ready) bake till they are golden and puffed. Pro tips: use parchment paper and preheat your oven well.

    Sample fillings: pesto (if it's thin, put some extra parm in it), tapenade (if it's oily, drain it a bit), that artichoke bruschetta stuff, chopped and sauteed greens and mushrooms ... lots of possibilities.

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    1. Puff pastry anything if fabulous and I agree, I do better with parchment paper when baking puff pastry.

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    2. IS fabulous...silly fingers got in the way again

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    3. Puff pastry is the way to make anything look impressive, I agree.

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  26. Great ideas for apps any time of year! I'm putting these in my little recipe box. Yup, I still have a little recipe box, given to me 30 years ago. Many times I just google for a recipe, but the best ones are in my box. Happy New Year! My guy and I love your books and are looking forward to your next one.

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