New Year’s Eve In: An Appetizer Menu

New Year’s Eve In: An Appetizer Menu

Check on your hypochondriac friends. We are not okay.

Omicron’s symptoms are pretty close to that of allergies, which I suffer from year round, and therefore I think he’s a jerk. I had a COVID-19 test scheduled for this morning, a just in case measure before I see my elderly parents and also family visiting from California. I’ve had a gremlin lodged up my right nostril since the day after Christmas, and while he’s likely just an angry bout of allergies, I keep reading about people with mild cases of the sniffles and positive COVID tests. (I really need to get off Twitter. It’s worse than WebMD.)

I’ve taken a handful of COVID tests, both before and after vaccination, and they’ve all been negative. There’s no reason this time should be different, but I am still worried about dismissing a real threat and infecting my family, so I pushed down all my fears of being the girl who cried COVID and sought available testing. After striking out with COVID testing at local CVS pharmacies and the local urgent care, I found a testing site near my old neighborhood in Canton. It had terrible reviews, but it was listed on a government website, so I figured it was legit and probably just had stressed out staff with a terrible bedside (carside?) manner. I was able to snag an 11 am appointment with an ease that should have alarmed me. I answered a view questions, then had a time confirmed, and then did a pre registration that involved adding my insurance card and drivers license numbers in both image and text box forms.

After driving nearly 20 minutes and getting lost in the most generic office building area (I really should not have been that lost. It was a 2 minute drive from my old house and directly behind my cat’s veterinarian office), I found the office/testing site. It had a handwritten sign on the door saying it was out of tests and to try their other location in another city. Suddenly the 1-star review of “They weren’t even there” I had read online made more sense. I started trying to work out if any attempt at identity theft can be accomplished with one’s driver’s license number and insurance policy number (no idea), but then met another couple who also registered online and had been to this site before. Apparently it is a legit testing site (they’d been here on an occasion when there were tests) and they had been trying to find testing since Christmas Eve, and this was common elsewhere.

So I’m tired. And sniffly. And torn about whether to go to my parents’ house.

It’s probably allergies, right?

Anyway, back to the post topic, which is New Year’s Eve appetizer recipes.

As there is a very infectious disease raging, may I make a suggestion for your New Years Eve? Stay home. Have a dance party with your significant other, your kids, or your dog or cat. (If you have a dance party with your dog, please, please get this on video and send it to me.) Open a bottle of bubbly, whether it’s fancy champagne, cava, prosecco, or a non-alcoholic bottle of Martinelli’s sparkling cider (the best non-alcoholic bubbly in my opinion) and all make all of the appetizers.

New Years Eve Menu:

  • Air Fried Artichoke Hearts with Roasted Garlic Aioli
  • Everything Peppers
  • Ginger Lime Shrimp

Air Fried Artichoke Hearts with Spiced Aioli

In full disclosure, I got the idea to air fry frozen artichoke hearts on a Trader Joe’s Facebook group from a lovely woman named Maria, so only the aioli is my own recipe. Since grocery availability varies by region, I feel I should add that Trader Joe’s is the only place I have reliably found frozen artichoke hearts.

  • 12 oz bag frozen artichoke hearts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Spiced Aioli

  • 5 oz plain Greek nonfat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  1. Mix together aioli ingredients. Set aside.
  2. Toss artichoke hearts (do not thaw) with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Place in a single layer in your air fryer.  
  4. Set air fryer to 400° and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until crispy and golden.

Variation: You could also bread the artichoke hearts. I prefer to keep these simple and unbreaded.

Everything Peppers

  • Sweet mini peppers
  • Whipped cream cheese (or regular cream cheese softened)
  • Everything but the Bagel seasoning
  1. Wash, halve, and deseed mini peppers.
  2. Fill mini pepper halves with cream cheese.
  3. Top with Everything seasoning.

Variations: If you don’t like cream cheese, try filling the peppers with either guacamole or hummus and some diced veggies. If peppers aren’t your favorite, top cucumber slices with cream cheese and Everything seasoning.

Ginger Lime Shrimp


  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • Juice of 1 lime (approx. 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 16 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined
  1. Mix together all ingredients for marinade in a large bowl.
  2. Add shrimp. Let marinate in the refrigerator for anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  4. Drain shrimp and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake shrimp for 6 to 8 minutes.
  6. Place on toothpicks or skewers for easier serving.

Variation: For a spicier version, add either red pepper flakes or a deseeded hot pepper (jalapeno or serrano) to the marinade.

2021 Holiday Gift Guide

2021 Holiday Gift Guide

I have a bit of a shopping problem. My usual impulse buys include clothes, books, jewelry, and wine. I don’t always know when to stop. I have a similar issue with holiday shopping. I used to try to get all of my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving because shopping malls are a nightmare in December. I don’t do that anymore. Because I will always buy “just one more stocking stuffer” and then when it comes time to wrap everything up, I don’t always remember where I put it all. I think I like shopping for presents better than opening presents. It’s just such a quest.

So this is where I try to make my weakness your strength by offering you all sorts of Christmas and Hanukkah gift ideas. (You’re welcome.) Then in December, I am planning to post about gifts that you can make yourself. I have tried to include as many fair trade items as I could. As a former Ten Thousand Villages volunteer, I really love that organization. All of the artisan groups were established to give women and their families financial independence, and all of the merchandise is sustainable, with much of it recycled. I’ve also tried to include small businesses, mostly off Etsy. I am not an affiliate of any of the companies mentioned, and this post is strictly for fun.

Also, all images used here are product images.

Here are some codes I use throughout the list:

(S): Sustainable, eco-friendly goods.
(FT): Fair trade
(SB): Small business

For Him:

GAP men’s recycled half-zip sweater. (S) A more sustainable way to get cozy, and there is just something about a man in a sweater.

Shinola Utility Bi-fold Wallet. This local (Detroit) company offers monograming on all leather goods. And who does not enjoy monogrammed gifts?

For Her:

Be Resilent necklace from Ten Thousand Villages (S) (FT). This necklace is not only dainty and pretty, it has quite a story behind it. The artisan group from Cambodia that makes this line of brass jewelry uses brass bomb casing, leftover from decades of war, to create jewelry that promotes peace. Which your friend will either find to be either inspiring or horrifying.

Chelsea sweater-blazer by J. Crew Factory. There are two things I love about this. First, it’s dressier than your average cardigan, but comfier and more casual than a blazer. Second, it is appropriate for women of all ages. I could see a younger woman dressing up leggings with this. At 43, I would wear this to work with skinny pants. I could see my seventy-something mom wearing this over a black dress and heading off to church.

For a Preteen or Teen:

Checkerboard Vans slip-on. This fun unisex shoe will be appreciated by all the teens in your life.

Indoor/outdoor axe throwing game. It’s very possible the adults might join in on Christmas Day too.

Beats Earbuds. If the teen in your life doesn’t own high-quality earbuds, it is guaranteed that it’s on their wish list.

For the Person of Faith:

A Rhythm of Prayer, edited by Sarah Bessey. This collection of prayers and essays on prayer is a guide to getting through dark times. Full review here.

For this and all other books on this list, please support independent bookstores if possible given your budget and where you live.

Tree of Life Menorah from Ten Thousand Villages (FT) (S). This beautiful and intricate menorah is made by an artisan group from India, which is devoted to providing education and medical care for artisans and their families.

Olive Branch Dove Ornament from Ten Thousand Villages (FT) (S). I think every family member I have has been gifted this ornament simply because I think it is so pretty.

For Your Environmentalist Friend:

Palm Leaf Bike Basket from Ten Thousand Villages (FT) (S). Have a friend who prefers to bike around town to reduce their carbon footprint? They will adore this cute bicycle basket perfect for trips to the market.

The Puma Years by Laura Coleman. A memoir about how one woman moved from caring for a rescued puma to becoming a voice for environmental justice. Full review here.

Felt Dryer Ball Set by Ten Thousand Villages (FT) (S). For a friend who doesn’t mind a practical gift. These felt balls will eliminate the need for dryer sheets and lower your energy costs.

For the Self Care Queen:

Deep Sleep Bath Bomb from Lush (S). A bath bomb perfect for unwinding after a difficult work day. Great gift for the stressed out teacher, therapist, nurse, etc. in your life.

Dead Sea Mud and Olive Oil Soap from Ten Thousand Village (FT)(S). I know, I know. Mud sounds terrible like a terrible soap ingredient, but it’s great for your skin. This artisan group employs a group of Arab and Jewish women working together for peace and economic development.

Cat Nap Velvet Sleep Mask by Ten Thousand Villages (FT) (S). Because sometimes beauty sleep demands a cute mask. This artisan group provides employment opportunities for women in Bangladesh.

For Your Friend with a Green Thumb:

Elephant Planter from Ten Thousand Villages (FT) (S). This cute planter would be a great addition to a home with boho decor.

Wild Interiors by Hilton Carter. This gorgeous coffee table book provides inspiring interior design and plant styling for the plant parents out there.

For the Foodie:

Plenty by Hannah Howard. The memoir of Hannah Howard, restaurant manager turned food writer, is a celebration of women in the food industry. The full review for this memoir can be found here.

The Full Plate by Ayesha Curry. This is my favorite cookbook that I purchased in 2021. Everything I have made from this has been delicious, easy, and approachable. Favorite recipes include the Baked Scallops with Cherry Tomatoes and Parmesan and the Sheet Pan Salmon with Pesto Butter, Corn, and Tomatoes.

Silpat Perfect Cookie Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat (S). A more sustainable replacement for parchment paper for the baker in your life.

For the Bookworm:

Troublesome Book Woman t-shirt from Out of Print. Just the cutest!

The Guncle by Steven Rowley. A hilarious read guaranteed to brighten up their January. Full review can be found here.

For the Film Buff:

The Cinephile game from Uncommon Goods lets them put their extensive knowledge to the test.

100 Movies Scratch Off Poster from Uncommon Goods. Movie bucket list turned art.

For the Body Positivity Activist:

The Joyful Movement tee from YourBodyIsGood celebrates movement for all body types. (SB) The entire Etsy shop is adorable, and I am considering buying this mug for myself.

For the person you don’t really know but have to buy a gift for anyway:

Holiday cocoa bombs from AnhLineShop (SB). Great for bosses or your brother’s new girlfriend who you’ve only met once.

Winter Warmth candle by ShadowAndSpectra (SB). The gift of hygge.

What are your go-to gifts?