Happy New Year’s! Plus Two of Our Traditional New Year’s Recipes

Well, there is another year over and a new one beginning.  Every year seems to go by faster than usual.  

New Year’s Eve Japanese Baked Mussels

Since Wade and I have been dating we always stay in on New Year’s Eve.  The yearly pub crawl just isn’t our thing anymore.  We don’t really do Valentines Day, so New Year’s Eve is our romantic night in together.  I make Japanese Baked Mayonnaise Mussels as an appetizer and Wade makes homemade sushi.  Then, for dessert we always have root beer floats because that was a tradition in Wade’s family.  We also, of course, have cocktails and a bottle of sparkling wine at midnight.  I’d like to share with you our mussel recipe which is adapted slightly from the one found here.  It is almost exactly like the mussels found on many menus at sushi restaurants.

•1 1/2 pounds black mussels, scrubbed clean
•1 large clove garlic, minced
•1/2 inch piece ginger, minced finely
•juice from 1/2 lemon plus 1/2 teaspoon zest, or 2 Tablespoons bottled juice
•1 1/2 teaspoons wasabi paste
•2 sliced green onions, plus 1 or 2 more for garnish (optional)
•1 teaspoon soy sauce
•1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
•1/2 cup mayonnaise (I like the olive oil mayonnaise because it is lower in fat but still tastes like mayo)
•Panko bread crumbs for topping

Preheat the broiler to high.

Saute the scrubbed mussels in a large skillet until for about 5 minutes, or until they pop open.  Pop the mussels apart and discard the empty shell half.  

Place the shells with the meat in a large baking dish.  Mix together the garlic, ginger, lemon, wasabi, green onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, and the mayo.  Place a small spoonful of the mayo mixture into each mussel half. 

 Sprinkle each mussel half with a pinch or two of panko bread crumbs.  Broil until the bread crumbs are slightly toasted and the mayonnaise mixture is hot.  Top with additional green onions.

New Year’s Day Hoppin’ John

For the first time ever we are having company over on New Year’s Day.  My parents and my Aunt Dani and her family will be coming over for a very Southern meal of Hoppin’ John Soup, collard greens, cornbread, and a chocolate fondue with fruit.  I have been making the Hoppin’ John for years, but this is the first time I have invited company over to enjoy it with us.  Now that we live in a house we have a lot more room than we did in our old apartment.  

The plan is to make everything ahead of time, in either the crockpot or the rice cooker.  I’ll be putting the soup in the smartpot around 11:30 or so tonight, letting it cook about 9 hours, and then letting it stay warm until lunch time, which will be a bit early tomorrow.  The crock pot greens will also get turned on in another crock pot before bed.  Then tomorrow all we will have to do is cook some rice in the rice cooker, put the chocolate fondue in the little crock pot, and cut up fruit.  I have read about how great it is to entertain using only crock pots, and this will be my first try at it, so hopefully it all goes according to plan. The recipe I use for Hoppin’ John is originally from Rachael Ray’s Just In Time Cookbook, but I’m adapting it for our tastes and to work in the crock pot.

•3 cups dry  rice, white or brown, cooked your way on the side

•8 cups chicken stock 
•1 3/4 pounds andouille sausage, cut into 1/2″ chunks
•6 cloves garlic, chopped
• 4 large stalks celery, diced into 1/2″ pieces
•4 green bell peppers, diced
•2 large onions, diced
•2 bay leaves
•1 Tablespoon thyme
•2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into small pieces
•2 16 oz. bags frozen black eyed peas
•2 large cans diced tomatoes, undrained
•Pepper, to taste (you probably won’t need salt since the sausage is pretty salty already)
•Lots of hot sauce to add at the table

Combine the chicken stock, sausage, garlic, celery, bell pepper, onion, bay leaves, thyme, sweet potatoes, black eyed peas, and tomatoes in a large crock pot.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Before serving time, cook rice according to your own method.  Place a scoop or two of rice in a soup bowl and top with the soup.  Stir and serve with hot sauce.

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