By the Gaffneys

Continuing this series of articles about planning your New Year’s Eve party, we have additional food and drink ideas.

Not that getting the tradition Chinese food take out isn’t a great option, but order early and plan on a long wait for cold food.


For food: Buffalo Chicken Dip or Bites

This dip is always a favorite. It’s a great way to get all the favor of Buffalo Chicken Wings without the mess. It can be served with tortilla chips (Tostitos Scoops work the best) or even with celery and carrot sticks (low carb). I use the reduced fat versions, but use what you prefer. I’ve seen similar recipes that people make in a slow cooker, but this is quick to put together and bake. You can even


2 pkgs. cream cheese, 8 oz. – softened

8 oz. chunky bleu cheese dressing

8 – 10 oz. Frank’s Original Red Hot sauce (NOT the buffalo wing sauce)

1 pkg. diced Purdue Short Cuts chicken or other brand

8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese or cheddar blend

Preheat your over to 350 degrees. Mix the all ingredients until well blended and be sure to dice up the chicken. The original recipe I was given said to cover with the shredded cheese and then mix after baking, but over the years I found it comes out better to mix the shredded cheese in before baking. Once blended, spread in a square baking dish. Bake the mixture at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until cheese is bubbling. Mix and serve. I usually take some from the baking dish and put it in a serving dish. That way you can keep it warm in the oven or re-heat. It is also a failsafe from double dipping guests (and, yes, there was an incident one year and I was happy to have the bulk of the dip in the baking dish to fall back on).

Another idea for serving is to spoon the mixture into whole Tostitos Scoops or get really fancy and use pastry cups (usually in the frozen food section with the appetizers). You can then top them with shredded carrot.

For drinks: The very simple or not so simple Manhattan

The not-so-simple –

What you’ll need:

  1. Mixing glass, spoon, and strainer or cocktail shaker
  2. Ice
  3. Martini glass


  1. Dash Angostura bitters
  2. 2 oz Rye or Bourbon (Bourbon makes the drink sweeter)
  3. 3/4 oz Sweet red vermouth (adjust in accordance with taste)
  4. Maraschino cherry (I prefer the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Cherries as the very popular Luxardo Maraschino Cherries as they are candied cherries and are very sweet)

Pour ingredients to your mixing glass and stir it over ice. Alternatively, you can use your favorite cocktail shaker. It will be better chilled via the shaker, but will lose some of the favor tones as the ice will dilute the mix. I suggest dropping garnishing the martini glass with the cherry and a dash of the cherry juice depending on your desire for sweetness. Strain the drink into your martini glass. And you are done.

But wait! These were supposed to be easy and fast drinks. As an alternative, here’s the very simple Manhattan:


  1. Jefferson’s Manhattan. In collaboration with Esquire Magazine, Jefferson’s has produced an excellent premixed Manhattan. (Not sure where to purchase – try Total Wines, they have it)
  2. Maraschino cherries (See above)

Refrigerate the mix the day before. Place it in the freezer about an hour prior to serving. And then simply pour it into your garnished chilled martini glass.