While most bloggers take this week to reflect back on the best of 2012 or share their new year’s resolutions, I’m trying my best to only look forward. I could list what I was thankful for this past year — new friends, babies, milestone celebrations and vacations — but in all honesty, the best part of my year also took a dramatic turn to be the worst. I also failed at 2012’s resolutions — surprise, surprise — so not much to reflect on there either. However, here’s a few reasons why I’m hopeful 2013 will be my year.
1. Maybe it wasn’t the most congenial in-person conversation of all time, but I was able to seek closure after Christmas that I hope will help me find some level of peace with a bad situation in the coming months.
2. New Year’s Eve was spent on my sofa in sweatpants with curbside carryout from P.F. Chang’s, a bottle of champagne and a movie marathon. Might sound lonely, but it was exactly what I needed and here’s the hopeful part — I received not one, but two great fortunes in my cookies that ironically went hand-in-hand (yes, I’m guilty for asking for two cookies in case the first fortune was no fun).
3. I’ve thrown resolutions out the window! I recently read an article on a new favorite blog, The Everygirl, that said, “When you approach your life changes from an intentional point of view, you can see how far you’ve come from where you started and celebrate that as a success.” The point is to stop making quantitative goals that wane. So instead of new year’s resolutions, a few of my new year’s intentions are: trying something new at the gym (I’m leaning toward pilates), eat healthy more than half of the week, write more, start back with Shirlington Running Club, work at letting go and forgiving more, volunteer with an extra Make-a-Wish family, unplug from the Internet and phone simultaneously, and have no-shop months (a.k.a. no presents for myself). Is it bad I already picked out what I’m buying in February?
4. I have plans to look forward to including travel with family and friends on the books to Las Vegas and Riviera Maya, Mexico, and fingers-crossed, Los Angeles will be added, too.
5. In case you haven’t heard, the Pantone Color Institute has named emerald the color of 2013 — the color of growth, renewal and prosperity. And being a May baby, emerald is my birth color.
Okay, so maybe that last one is a stretch and I might sound crazy, but I need all the positive signs I can get. So how was my first day of the new year spent? Cooking for nearly 20 friends, of course! The saying is the way you celebrate New Year’s determines how you spend the rest of the year. So when I decided to have a low-key New Year’s Eve, I decided it would be good luck to share my family’s tradition of dinner on New Year’s Day with my closest friends away from home and as a way to say thank you. Now here’s a rundown of the menu.
Cocktail drink: Pear Rum Blush.
Appetizers: Vegetable tray; herb-marinated mozzarella, tomatoes, pepperoni and salami; bourbon hot dogs; and crostini with feta cheese, caramelized pears and honey.
Dinner: Zucchini and spinach goat cheese lasagna with homemade pomodoro sauce; baked shrimp scampi; balsamic roast beef; potato salad; garlic green bean salad; and sauteed brussel sprouts with bacon and raisins.
Dessert: Chocolate rum cake.
My favorite new dish was the sauteed brussel sprouts with bacon and raisins. I first tried them during a get-together at Christmas and then stumbled upon a recipe in an old issues of Bon Appetit during a recent cooking magazine purge. If you didn’t like brussel sprouts as a kid, you will surely like these grown-up brussel sprouts. Everything is better with bacon. And here’s to hoping 13 is finally a lucky number!
Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Raisins
Adapted from Bon Appetit
2 slices thick bacon1 lb. brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook turning occasionally until crisp. Using tongs, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain and cool. Coarsely crumble and reserve.
Add brussel sprouts to bacon drippings in skillet and season with salt and pepper. Saute, stirring often, until well browned and softened, about 5 – 7 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add raisins, shallot and butter. Cook, stirring often, until shallot is soft. Add chicken broth and increase heat bringing to a boil, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Reduce heat again to medium-low and simmer until broth has almost completely evaporated. Stir in vinegar and crumbled bacon.