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Ring in the New Year with these zesty party favorites

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:58 p.m.

Holiday entertaining is in full swing and it seems like everyone wants to spread the cheer.

Let's look at a few recipes that can be easily prepared and will let you be able to enjoy your party and friends and not be stuck in the kitchen.

Our first recipe is for a hot crab dip that is really different because of the cashews used in making it.

You can use crackers, toast points or even melba rounds to accompany this dish.

Arrange them attractively on a serving plate or platter ahead of time so they are ready to go. This recipe will serve 6 to 10 people; however it can be easily doubled or tripled.

Hot Crab and Cashew Dip

serves 6 to 10

1 pound cooked crabmeat

1 cup unsalted cashews

1 tablespoon butter

2 teaspoons flour

3/4cup light cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/4cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

36 whole wheatcrackers, toast points or melba rounds

Blend the crab and cashews together. Heat the butter in a saucepan, add the flour when the butter has melted, whisk to blend and cook for two minutes over low heat.

Pour in the cream and whisk to mix together, simmering until it becomes a thick sauce.

Blend in the parsley, cheese and crab/cashew mixture.

Simmer for a minute or two then serve in a warmed bowl or fondue unit and accompany with the cracker assortment.

You can purchase shrimp that is already cooked in the frozen food section or the seafood area of the market. It is very convenient; however, it does lack the flavor that freshly prepared shrimp gives.

Here is a standard recipe for buffet shrimp that will really be a stand out on your buffet.

Party Pickled Shrimp

(serves 12)

8 cups boiling water

11/4pounds peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp

1 lemon

1 lime

1 carrot, peeled and diced

3 cups diced onion

1 cup diced celery

1/4cup pickling spice

6 bay leaves

1 cup safflower oil1/2cup vinegar

1/4cup sherry

2 tablespoons capers

2 teaspoons salt

3/4teaspoon red pepper sauce

Place the shrimp in a nonreactive kettle or stock pot and then pour the boiling water over top.

Quarter the lemon and the lime and add to the shrimp. Place the carrot, one cup of onion celery and pickling spice into the shrimp. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for five minutes. Drain and cool completely.

In a large bowl, place alternate layers of shrimp and onions. Top with the bay leaves. Blend the remaining ingredients together and pour over the shrimp. Cover and refrigerate 12 to 24 hours. Drain the marinade and place the shrimp on a serving plate and serve.

There's always an abundance of little wieners wrapped in puff pastry and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon.

If you are having a small group, here's an appetizer that will really wow the guests. You can make this for approximately the same cost as a box of the frozen hors d'oeuvres. Be sure to use a good quality, thicker cut bacon. A fruit-flavored smoked bacon or wood flavored one will add extra flavor. You'll easily find the cooked lobster meat in the seafood section of larger markets.

These appetizers can be prepared ahead of time, up to a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator until just a few minutes before cooking.

Lobster wrapped in bacon

(serves 6)

1 pound lobster tail meat or claw meat

18 bacon slices

Cut the lobster in 36 equal sized pieces. Cut each slice of bacon in half. Wrap each lobster piece with a piece of bacon and skewer with a toothpick.

Bake in a 500 degree preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the bacon is crisped. Remove from the pan and place on a serving plate.

Serve very hot.

As always, enjoy!

David Kelly has worked as a chef for more than 40 years. He has shared his recipes, tips and experiences in Culinary Corner for 21 years.

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