Holiday Recipes: Ring in the new year with good food, friends

As we approach the last few days of 2015, I want to remember all the great times and recipes that were made in my kitchen. Without all the people in my life I love to share them with, life there would not be nearly as fun. 

On New Year’s Eve we like to enjoy special appetizers and a dinner of grilled prawns or steak at our little cabin on Caribou Lake.Years ago when the boys were little we’d gather up our friends, load the tow sleds up with coolers and boxes of food and drinks and head out to the lake in a little caravan of snowmachines and happy people to celebrate the new year and spend the night at the cabin.

We’d enjoy a wonderful dinner and champagne to ring in the new year and then in the morning I would bake a breakfast casserole to fuel us up for a day of riding in the hills. Those are some great memories.


Homer’s Hot Crab and Artichoke Dip

Serves 8

Oven pre-heated to 350 degrees

Alaskans are fortunate to have the best seafood in the world available so close and I am spoiled to enjoy the best of the best year around. Living in a seaside community has many benefits if you appreciate fresh seafood as much as most of us do.

A favorite with our family and famous in Homer is this creamy, delicious hot crab dip. Here is my version which I serve with toasted sourdough baguette bread.


• 2 cups good quality mayonnaise

• 8 ounces softened cream cheese

• 1 1/2 cups finely grated good quality Parmesan cheese

• 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated mozzarella cheese

• 2 tablespoons minced celery

• 1/4 cup diced scallion

• 2 tablespoons minced red pepper (optional)

• 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh minced parsley (optional)

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (optional)

• 1 teaspoon lemon juice

• 1/8 teaspoon white pepper

• 1/2-1 teaspoon Frank’s hot sauce

• 1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar

3 cups  king crab or dungeness crab meat cleaned and picked from the shell

1 cup quartered marinated artichoke hearts  drained (found in canned vegetable section)


Mix mayonnaise, cream cheese, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses in bowl.

Gently mix in celery, onion, red pepper, parsley and garlic.

Mix lemon, pepper, hot sauce and sherry vinegar in small bowl together and then add to mixture.

Fold in crab and artichokes. Taste and determine if any salt is needed. I like to add a shake of Johnny’s season salt to many of my recipes.

Can be refrigerated at this point for baking later.

Bake in shallow baking dish on 375 degrees until hot and bubbly, about 10-15 minutes.  Serve hot with bread and crackers. 

Crab, Pear and Cheese Strudel

This recipe from a  friend also contains crab and other ingredients that I love: pear, ham and cheese. It is made with phyllo dough and is a tasty, elegant appetizer to serve at your next celebration.

Serves 6 

Preheat oven 375 degrees


• 2 small ripe pears — peeled, cored and chopped fine

• 1/2 pound of crab meat, picked over (about 2 cups)

• 1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella cheese

• 1/2 cup finely chopped Virginia ham

• 3/4 cup drained and minced water chestnuts

• 3 scallions, thinly chopped 

• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

• 6 sheets Phyllo dough at room temperature

• 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 1-2 tablespoons bread crumbs


Spray a 10x15x2 inch pan with non-stick spray.

Combine pears, crab meat, cheese, ham, water chestnuts, scallions, lemon juice  and pepper in bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.

Cover phyllo dough with a barely damp paper towel to keep it from drying out as you work with it.

To assemble:

Place one sheet of phyllo dough on a 16 inch sheet of wax paper and brush the dough with a little butter evenly to cover the entire sheet. Top that sheet with another sheet and brush with melted butter. Continue with remaining sheets one at a time and brushing melted butter over each sheet. Sprinkle top sheet with bread crumbs. 

Spoon crab filling lengthwise on the long end of the phyllo stack. Fold 1 inch of dough over the filling.

Fold 1 inch of dough in on each end of short edges of the dough. 

Roll up the strudel lengthwise using the wax paper to help lift the dough. Gently transfer the roll to the prepared pan, brush with melted butter. With a sharp knife, lightly score the top to indicate equal sized serving pieces, about 2 inches wide,  being careful not to cut through dough. 

Bake the strudel until lightly browned and heated through — 15-20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and cut into slices to serve.



I am looking forward to another grand year of fun and fabulous food. Santa brought me an outdoor pizza oven. Visiting son Rob made up four balls of sourdough pizza dough to experiment with. What a great way to share some great times — out on the deck eating hot pizza in the winter.

Until next time, ring in the new year safely. Hug everyone you love lots and make some memories to remember. 

I wish you lots of fun adventures in the kitchen in 2016.