Bubbles (Happy New Year!)

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful end to 2013/start to 2014!

Tuesday night the Friday Night Dinner crew said goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014 in our usual crazy, classy style 😉 We got all dressed up, walked down our red carpet (it was actually a red tablecloth, but that’s our little secret), had some drinks, champagne-infused food, got a little silly playing some games, and took a little walk to Jamison Square for our midnight countdown. It was so much fun ringing in the New Year with my favourite people. Our first cheers of the evening occurred with a Backstreet Boys song playing in the background; it really couldn’t have been more  perfect. The Backstreet Boys are an integral part of FNDs!



Our theme for the evening was ‘Bubbles’, so everyone’s dish had to either contain some champagne or other sparkling beverage or be round/bubble-shaped. Taylor made a really, really good champagne cocktail and some tabbouleh with a champagne dressing, Christina made a pumpkin roll dusted with powdered sugar and a caprese salad, Mary made grilled vegetables with a pine nut pesto (the vegetables were round), Annie poached some salmon in champagne and delicious margaritas, Callie stirred up a great champagne risotto, and I made champagne cupcakes and champagne truffles. That’s a lot of champagne, right?! Yeah, totally worth it.


We played Quelf which is a totally ridiculous, silly game. Ours was filled with creepy Darth Vader noises, imitation golf announcing, dancing dog mascots and lots of laughter. After the game, we tried to go up to the rooftop of Taylor’s apartment complex so we could yell the countdown to midnight at the top of our lungs, but it was locked and we couldn’t get out there. So we switched up our plans a little and went to a local square/park surrounded by beautiful trees filled with lights and a big old Christmas tree in the middle. It was the perfect place to count down the seconds to 2014.


We had a little FND photoshoot because, well, it was New Years Eve and if ya aren’t going to take pictures then, when will you? We look pretty good all dressed up 🙂




All of our food was so good it almost made me want to cook with champagne all the time. Almost. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to spend all my money on alcohol I’m just going to cook, even if it does make things delicious. You all should, however, try a few of these dishes. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

New Years Champagne Cocktail: 

(Makes 1 drink)


  • 1.5 oz. St-Germaine
  • 3 oz. Champagne
  • .5 oz. homemade cranberry syrup
  • Club soda

Cranberry syrup: 

  • 12 oz. cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar


  1. To make the syrup, combine ingredients in medium saucepan and put on medium/high heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture boils. Once cranberries begin to burst, remove from heat. Strain, saving liquid. Chill liquid for at least 3 hours or up to a week.
  2. In a champagne glass, add St-Germaine, Champagne and cranberry syrup. Top with club soda to desired preference.


Pumpkin Roll: 




  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup Libby’s pure pumpkin
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)


  • 1 (8oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)



  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.
  3. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.


  1. Beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.




  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 6 tbsp. EVOO
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 roma or plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup (packed) parsley, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp. mint, finely chopped

Champagne Dressing: 

  • 2 tbsp. champagne
  • 3 tbsp. EVOO
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon


  1. Bring water to a boil. Add couscous and stir for 30 seconds. Add EVOO and lemon juice, stir. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  2. In a bowl, combine couscous, tomato, bell pepper, parsley and mint. Stir. Season with salt, as needed. Top with extra dressing, stir. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
  3. If you want the champagne dressing, whisk together the ingredients, pour over tabbouleh and mix together.


Grill-Roasted Vegetables with Pine Nut Pesto: 



  • 1lb. carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1lb. parsnips, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1lb. Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
  • One 2 1/2lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 by 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 large shallots, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In a large bowl, toss the carrots and parsnip pieces with the brussels sprouts, butternut squash, shallots, thyme sprigs and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat a gas grill to high heat (about 425°F). Place 2 perforated grill pans directly on the grate to heat for about 10 minutes. Divide the vegetables between the grill pans and grill over high heat, stirring and turning occasionally, until they are tender and lightly charred in spots, about 50 minutes. Alternatively, roast the vegetables in a large roasting pan in a 425° oven, stirring them occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the pine nuts and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until they are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and garlic and cook, stirring, until the pine nuts are browned and the garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Let cool, then transfer to a mini processor. Add the grated cheese and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and pulse to a chunky puree. Season the pine nut pesto with salt.
  4. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl and toss with the pine nut pesto. Serve hot or warm.


Poached Salmon: 



  • 1 to 1 1/2lb. salmon fillets, pin bones removed
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (to fit with the theme we used dry champagne)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 shallot, peeled and sliced thin
  • Several sprigs of fresh dill or sprinkle of dried dill
  • Sprig of fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Sprinkle the salmon fillets with a little salt. Put the wine, water, dill, parsley and onions in a sauté pan, and bring to a simmer on medium heat.
  2. Place salmon fillets, skin-side down on the pan. Cover. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet, or to desired done-ness. Do not overcook. Serve sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper.


Champagne Risotto: 



  • 1/4 cup finely minced shallots
  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 1/4 cups brut (dry) champagne
  • 3-5 cups vegetable broth, simmering
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan


  1. Saute the shallots in the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook over medium heat until the rice is opaque and pearl-like, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add 1 cup of champagne and stir until it is completely absorbed. Then add the hot broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and waiting until the broth is absorbed before adding more. Continue adding broth ½ cup at a time until the rice is cooked but still al dente, or firm to the bite. (All the broth may not be needed.)
  3. Add the remaining ¼ cup champagne and continue stirring until almost absorbed, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the half-and-half and the ½ cup Parmesan, and serve immediately.


Champagne Cupcakes: 




  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup champagne/prosecco/sparkling wine (I used prosecco)

Champagne Pastry Creme Filling: 

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 1/2 cup champagne/prosecco
  • 2 tbsp. corn starch
  • 5 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Champagne Frosting: 

  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp. champagne/prosecco
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside.  in a medium sized bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup champagne and 1/2 cup sour cream (mixture will fizz and bubble a little).  Add flour and champagne mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour.  Batter will be thick.
  3. Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of batter.  Bake for 17-22 minutes.  Set aside.


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk cornstarch in 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Combine the remaining heavy cream, sugar and 1/2 cup champagne in a saucepan; bring to a boil then remove from heat.
  2. Beat the whole egg and egg yolks into the cornstarch/heavy cream mixture.  Pour 1/3 of boiling champagne mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so the eggs do not cook.  Return the remaining champagne/heavy cream mixture to a boil.  Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
  3. Cut a divot into the top of each cupcake and fill with pastry cream.  Trim the cut-out cake pieces flat to make a “lid” and place on top of the filled divot.


  1. Place 1 cup of champagne in a small saucepan.  Simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons.  Transfer to a small bowl or condiment cup and allow to cool.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together.  Once the frosting is thick and fluffy, pour in the reduced 2 tbsp. champagne plus  1 tbsp. champagne from the bottle and mix well.
  3. Frost the cream-filled cupcakes.


Champagne Truffles: 


  • 1/4 cup Champagne, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. light-coloured corn syrup
  • 6oz. milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa


  1. Combine first four ingredients in the top of a double boiler. Cook over simmering water until chocolates completely melt, stirring constantly. Pour mixture into a 9-inch pie plate. Cover surface with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.
  2. Scoop chocolate mixture with a spoon into equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Place cocoa in a shallow bowl. Roll chocolate balls in cocoa to coat completely. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Happy eating, everyone!


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