By the Gaffneys

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

For food: Mini Grilled Reubens

This next recipe is a fun take on a very popular sandwich that appears to have first gained notoriety when it won a competition in 1956….the Reuben. In our case they will be Mini Grilled Reubens. This recipe is one I found in a cookbook called Half-Baked Gourmet, Party Food. These take a few steps, but are not complicated and are delicious.   The prep is the most time-consuming part, but it is just as easy as making a sandwich except it’s a lot of little ones.


½ cup butter, softened

Cocktail rye bread (usually found in deli area of supermarkets)

Russian Dressing/Thousand Island Dressing


4 ounces (.25 LB) deli corned beef

4 ounces (.25 LB) sliced swiss cheese

Wax paper (for prep)

Optional: Gluten free rye style bread, cut cocktail size (Three Bakers is good)


The book instructions state to spread butter on one side of each bread slice and place them butter side down on the wax paper. Then you build the mini sandwiches. For each bread slice put a teaspoon of Russian or Thousand Island Dressing (whichever you like better). Top half the bread slices with corned beef by folding the corned beef to fit the bread slice (depending on the size of the slices you may need to halve them). Then spoon one teaspoon of sauerkraut or coleslaw on top of the corned beef and then top with swiss cheese. Again, as with the corned beef, make sure the cheese slice fits the bread slice by folding or cutting as needed. Then cover with the other half of the bread slices with the butter side up. The book also indicates you can build them ahead of time and refrigerate until you are ready to cook and serve them.


If you have a sandwich grill or panini press (ex: Cuisinart Gridler), you can heat that up on medium-high heat and use it to cook them very quickly by placing the mini sandwiched on one side and closing the other side over them. They would not take more than two minutes to cook. If you do not have a panini press or something like it, then a large skillet or frying pan works great too. I used a large frying pan/skillet myself. Just heat it over medium-high heat and cook each sandwich for two minutes on each side. Then serve them right away so they are served hot although many guests will eat them after they have cooled off because they are so good.

I do have to disclose that when I made these, I made a couple batches after the initial batches by building them in the heating pan. It’s not perfect, but it worked just fine and I did not have uneaten sandwiches getting cold on a serving tray. You just need to make sure you build them quickly so the bread slice that is face down on the pan does not overcook. I also list the gluten free bread option as that is what I have to use. If you do use gluten free and regular, you will need to use two different pans to avoid cross-contamination.

For Drink: Hot Toddy

This drink is so simple and so much fun.


Spiced cider or cider (if you are doing individual servings, go with a spiced cider as the cinnamon sticks are a bit pricey)

Spiced rum

Cinnamon sticks (optional) (Best if you want to mull (heat) the cider for a large serving)

Heat the cider in a glass or pot for multiple servings. Add a shot of the spiced rum. You can garnish with the cinnamon stick or add a couple cinnamon sticks during the mulling (heating) process for flavor. Just leave the sticks in while serving as they will last a while.