Ring in the New Year in style without spending a fortune. With these frugal appetizers, easy main course selections, and show-stopping desserts, you can mix and match the dishes for a buffet or seated dinner.
Champagne CocktailsMake an inexpensive bottle of champagne into a spectacular cocktail with sugar cubes and a dash of bitters. With the money saved, you can splurge a bit on some showy party appetizers to nibble as the New Year makes an appearance.
Savory Yogurt Cheesecake with Caramelized OnionsFancy as it looks, this is basically a low-cost ricotta cheesecake nestled in a pie crust (store-bought works fine) and topped with sautéed onions. Bake the cheesecake in advance and caramelize onions on the day of the party. Serve with crackers. (Hint: If you entertain a lot, buy crackers in bulk at a warehouse store and keep them in the freezer until you need them.)
Chevre and Mango Steak BitesTake a frugal cut of meat like flank steak and dress it up for the holiday by rolling it up with goat cheese and garnishing it with a sliver of dried mango. It's simple yet stunning, yet saves money since meat is an appetizer rather than a main course.
Black-eyed Pea Cornbread Cakes With Jalapeño Sour CreamBlack-eyed peas go upscale in these crispy cornbread cakes dressed with spunky jalapeno sour cream. Serve them as a main course or shape them into smaller cakes for appetizers at a tapas-style party. They're a fun, home-style alternative to expensive crab cakes.
Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes, and BasilRisotto is an elegant entrée and this one needs only small amounts of fresh mozzarella and basil to make it special. Worried about the cost? Italian Arborio rice, while pricier than the plain white variety, is easy on the pocketbook compared with a meat main course.
Lazy Lasagna BologneseNo-cook noodles plus a layering of inexpensive ground beef, sausage, tomatoes and bechamel sauce make this lasagna rich yet simple to make. And by using inexpensive cuts of meat and skipping all the cheese, the price per serving is downright friendly.
Cinnamon-Orange Crème BrûléeCréme brulee is a perfect end to special celebrations, and when you make it with 2% milk instead of cream, this cinnamon-orange scented version is light on the pocketbook and the waistline. Make it in advance and finish it under the broiler just before serving.
Midnight Chocolate CakeMost of the ingredients for this dense, one-layer chocolate cake are probably already in your pantry. And using cocoa in the batter instead of premium chocolate keeps the price down. If you don't have time to make the cooked icing, whip up heavy cream and add a splash of your favorite liqueur.