New Year’s Eve Dinner for Two
Vanilla-Fig Champagne Sparkler
The festive combo of cinnamon, vanilla, and figs make a tasty way to welcome the New Year, but this fantastic flavor trio will also keep you celebrating all fall and winter. Cheers!
Spiced Whiskey Sour
Five-spice powder turns the classic whiskey sour into something special. You can double, triple, or quadruple the spiced sugar syrup and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Use in cocktails, or drizzle over hot oatmeal.
Radicchio Caesar Salad
Craving a fresh salad in the midst of cold weather? Seasonal radicchio and baby spinach leaves replace romaine in this delicious twist on the classic Caesar salad. The radicchio, a winter chicory known for its signature bitter and slightly spicy taste, provides ample crunch in this filling salad. With creamy Caesar dressing and rich Parmesan cheese, it clocks in at a surprising 77 calories per serving.
Lobster Roll Bruschetta
Though we love the sweet flavor of lobster in this appetizer, you can easily substitute 1/2 pound of shrimp with delicious results.
Herbed Whole-Grain Yeast Rolls
Golden whole-grain yeast rolls get a fresh, fragrant hit from a whole host of seasonal herbs, including fresh sage, rosemary, and chives. Make ahead and freeze up to 1 month, saving the butter and herb coat for after reheating. The yeast should begin to foam after 5 minutes in the warm milk; if it doesn’t, it may be a sign that your yeast is no longer active and should be replaced. Use leftover rolls for tomorrow’s breakfast, or make turkey sliders with split toasted rolls, cranberry sauce, and sliced turkey.
Mussels in Spicy Coconut Broth
This recipe can be prepared and plated to impress in a flash. While broth mixture comes to a boil, scrub and debeard mussels. Slice basil while mussels cook.
Simple Flaky Crab Cakes
These crab cakes hold together best with dry, finely ground whole-wheat breadcrumbs; if you use whole-wheat panko, they may fall apart in the pan. Chives have a delicate onion flavor that won't overpower the crab.
Lemon-Herb Risotto With Shrimp and Haricots Verts
Risotto requires no special technique, just the patience to keep stirring. Use a ladle to add liquid in even amounts. Sautéed fennel adds a touch of sweetness, but you can leave it out if you prefer and sprinkle on a little dill at the end instead. We pair this staff favorite with Grilled Balsamic Radicchio with Pine Nuts. Radicchio—that bitter, crunchy, scarlet and white vegetable Italians adore, becomes entirely different when roasted or grilled. Red and white-veined radicchio, like its chicory relatives endive and frisée, is loved and sometimes feared for its bitter edge. Tossed into a salad, radicchio is bright and assertive. Sautéed, grilled, or baked, its sharp character mellows. Its color deepens and the flavor turns mellow and nutty, with just a hint of bitterness remaining.
Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Chipotle Butter and Bell Pepper Sauté
Make sure the cast-iron skillet is hot before adding the steaks so that they get a nicely browned crust on both sides. We like both red and orange peppers, though just one color will work. In place of tenderloin steaks, you can also use top blade steaks or petite tenders.
Sheet Pan Chicken with Roasted Baby Potatoes
Time: 40 minutes
Flavor Hit: Tarragon and mustard are a perfect pair—the herb’s slightly sweet anise notes balance the mustard’s pungency.
Serve with Chile and Lime Roasted Carrots
Acorn Squash With Sage-Cranberry Rice Stuffing
Hack the cooker so that you can make smaller amounts with great results. For a stew or braise, use smaller amounts, place into 8- or 10-ounce ramekins, and set those down in the cooker to slowly simmer to perfection while you’re at work. With this recipe, you’re basically treating the slow cooker like a small steam oven.
Sautéed Salmon with Citrus Salsa
Consider this light dinner an antidote to a season of rich stews, braises, and roasts. Serve with Cilantro Quinoa with Pine Nuts for date night, or double for 4 people. The tart, bright citrus topper cuts through the natural fattiness of the salmon; it would overwhelm lighter fish like cod or flounder. After freeing the citrus sections, squeeze the membranes over a bowl and make a quick vinaigrette for enjoying during the week. Change up the salsa with chopped tart-crisp apples and a seeded minced jalapeño, or try diced ripe pear and pomegranate arils.
Smoky Brussels Sprouts
Since there’s a touch of sugar in this recipe, stir the Brussels sprouts often to prevent burning. If you’re feeling extra decadent, top this side with a little grated Manchego cheese.
Glazed Baby Carrots
To save time, look for prepeeled real baby carrots in microwavable bags. With just a little brown sugar, these carrots become tender and juicy without turning to complete mush. This veggie side dish comes together in just 10 minutes, and it is a great, last-minute option that packs a punch of sweetness to silence any picky eaters. Double the recipe, and use leftover chopped carrots in grains, salads, and breakfast scrambles.
Lemon-Feta Green Beans
Searing lemons is one of our favorite tricks for upping the ante on any dish. The tart juice mellows out, providing the perfect balance for the briny capers and feta in this skillet side. If you have any leftovers, try adding halved cherry tomatoes and enjoying as a cold salad; some cooked chicken or shrimp would turn it into a lovely main dish.
Chocolate Quinoa Covered Strawberries
For two people, this recipe is a bit high on saturated fat (almost all of it coming from the dark chocolate) for our everyday nutritional guidelines. But it’s Valentine’s Day, so splurge a little if you feel like it. If this is for an everyday treat, cut it to 4 servings, and you get the nutritional thumbs up.
A dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa powder is a traditional garnish for this classic dessert. Here, we sprinkle the tops with sliced almonds before baking to add contrasting flavor and texture.
Fresh Gingerbread Squares
Teff flour is a soft, almost-fluffy whole-grain flour with an intense nuttiness that makes it excellent for baking. But the beauty of fresh gingerbread is finding the perfect texture—delicate yet dense—so we add a bit of hearty whole-wheat flour to give this treat a heftier, more winter-worthy base. Stout beers adds a pleasantly earthy bitterness that complements the molasses, fresh ginger, and cinnamon; any frothy leftovers will pair nicely with a still-warm baked square. If you don't have any stout on hand, simply use 1/4 cup additional buttermilk instead.
Salted Caramel Brownies
Peppermint Mocha Latte
This month, put your workday fuel to more relaxing use. A tiny drop of essential oil gives these chocolaty sippers a peppermint punch, while a cool microwave trick foams the milk, no frother needed. Like to spike? A splash of Kahlua or bourbon makes them all the merrier. Look for peppermint oil at Whole Foods or natural foods stores in the essential oils section. While we love very dark chocolates (80% percent or more), bittersweet works best here, making for rounder, smoother flavor.