Boy, the weather outside is finally frightful!  Which is perfect for my message to you today:  I have a holly jolly stay-at-home-New-Year's Eve plan, including a Film, Food, and FUN!  Just sit back and enjoy my PPB-happy offering!

I don't know about you, fellow-readers, but when it comes to parties, I've always been better in settings where I can actually hear my friends' conversations and can pepper them with my endless curious follow-up questions and tangents.  My kids threaten every year to get me an ear-trumpet for Christmas because I tilt my head to the left and frame my ear with my hand to make sure I catch every word being said.  They think it's because I'm fifty, but I know that I've always had to work hard to hear conversation when there is music and crowd and hubbub to hear over.  Plus, isn't it a compliment to actually be listened to intently, says me?  I am DETERMINED to hear what's said.  Besides, re parties, I can say for sure that Dave did not fall in love with me for my glamorous outfits or talented dance moves.  So home and small groups have for a good long time been a great choice for New Year's Eve with the Koropps.

First, FILM.  For your wonderful celebration anticipating 2016, you simply must Netflix or rent, or On Demand the most wonderful movie, "The Big Night", about two Italian brothers bringing their traditional, home-cooking to 1950's New York via their tiny, start-up restaurant.  Watch it for the cast, the acting, the cinematography, and the FOOD!  This film is just a must-see, especially for smaller groups who wish to listen to it.  Maybe start it early - before dinner?  The scenes depicting the two brothers are unforgettable, including their inevitable sibling-bickers, melded with the pressures they share of running a small business.  The brothers' pressures are overcome on "The Big Night" by their sheer love of food, family and tradition.  It is sooooo good!

Once you've watched the movie and seen my favorite ending-dinner scene, you'll know the magic of Wish Papers.  Wish Papers are a dessert tradition in which folks write their wish for the year on very special paper and then set it alight -- if you catch the wee ember on its descent, your wish will come true!  Please come buy a pack at PPB; they will enchant you and your friends.

Next, FOOD, after the film (or pause it, or before, or whenever), go ahead and serve a simple Italian (of course) red sauce and romaine salad. For dinner, I'll give you two Italian red sauces:  one so easy and fabulous that it will make you want to dance around, and one my Scottish grandmother Jean Duncan MacGregor sort of stole from the great Italian restaurant near her home in Forest Park in the 1940's. This recipe is so good by the way that my Italian husband has learned how to make it and all three of my teenagers can make it without a recipe card.

  1. Dance-worthy Sauce. Take out a pan, a 28-ounce can of tomatoes, a stick of butter, an onion and your salt and pepper. Put the pan on the stove and put in the tomatoes and butter and season with salt and pepper. Cut the onion in half (I don't bother to peel mine) and put it in, cut side down. At medium low heat, simmer the sauce for 30-35 minutes. Stir occasionally. This sauce is meant to be used sparingly on your pasta. Make double for a group of 4 or more or if my son Tom and his friends will be there. Use leftovers as a topping for bruschetta, along with ricotta or any white cheese you have.  If you still have more, use it as a base for tomato soup with water or broth to loosen it, and half and half if you like.
  2. MacGregor Spaghetti (email me at read@prairiepathbooks and I will reply with this recipe - but you need to leave about 6 hours to cook and simmer).

Now, FUN!!  I would never sell you "oh,boy" sparklers, confetti or surprise gifties.  PPB sells only OH Boy!!! things!!  First, you simply must pop our Confetti tubes at the big moment — and just watch how much fun Jenny and I had with this Confetti Popper!  And our sparklers are the BEST you've ever seen - you will not just "oh, boy" - I promise, you will share a wonder-full OH BOY with your friends.  I recommend passing a sparkler and saying your best 2015 memories out loud, even.  If there are any kiddos present, please don't miss the opportunity to watch them, again - enchanted, unroll a hand-made and whimsical Surprise Ball, laden with old-fashioned and charming gifties that will ooh-ahh your party, no doubt.

And if you are cooking "off the Italian grid," I've ordered extra copies of my favorite cookbook of the year:  Mary Giuliani's "The Cocktail Party."  Her things are small portions that are never fussy, always clever, and so darned FUN!  What a blast for you, and your guests (adults and/or kids) - to serve her DIY Grilled Cheese Bar, and her Dress-You-Own Pigs in a Blanket, or oooh - so naughty MACO (Mac and Cheese taco with guac).  If you don't want to be elaborate but want a dessert, what about her "Chopretzato"?  It's just chocolate pudding, mini pretzels and potato chips in a clear glass or mug, sprinkled with grated dark chocolate. Kids can help make everything here.  And if you're wanting to indulge in a funner wee bubbly, think about Giuliani's champagne Jell-o shots, or her blueberry vodka cocktail (both can be made with alcohol substitutions).

No matter how you order your Film, Food and Fun - we at PPB just know you will have a Happy New Year.  See you soon, all the best!  Sandy