An Elegant New Year's Eve Offering with Minimal Effort

Pomegranates are at their prime right now. While becoming more popular, this fruit still "wows" the crowd when you add the flavorful seed to cocktails and even savory appetizers.

New Year’s Eve festivities call for something special. But as the busy holiday season comes to a close, many do not have the time or inclination to spend hours in the kitchen.

This year, go beyond offering your guests the basic cheese, fruit or veggie platter. Baked Coconut Shrimp are quick to make, delicious and can be prepared ahead of time. Keep the tray of prepared shrimp in the refrigerator. Just pop them into the oven 20 minutes before you wish to serve them.

Pomegranates add a great twist to your New Year’s Eve cocktails. Always festive, these odd-looking fruits are at the peak of their prime right now, it seems. A quick call to revealed that they still have pomegranates for your holiday needs. If you miss out there,  expects to carry them for several more weeks.

Pomegranates are easy to separate and clean, once you get the hang of it. Fill a large work bowl with cold water, then slice the pomegranate in half.

Submerge half the pomegranate in the cold water and work the pomegranate seeds out gently, keeping the pomegranate under water as you work. The seeds break free effortlessly and sink the bottom of the bowl. The seeds do not pop and your hands will not be stained.

Besides starring in cocktails, try adding pomegranate seeds to fresh cranberry sauce, then cover a block of cream cheese with the Cranberry-Pomegranate compote for an easy and elegant twist on the classic party offering.

Baked Coconut Shrimp

Serves 8 as an appetizer

  • 1 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 egg whites, beaten
  • 1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
  • 1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, in a mister bottle or olive oil cooking spray

Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Pre-heat oven to 450. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with olive oil.

Prepare the dipping sauce by combining all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until just simmering, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool while preparing the shrimp. Just before serving, stir in pomegranate seeds.

Combine the coconut, bread crumbs, salt, cumin and pepper in a shallow bowl.

Dip each shrimp in the beaten egg whites, then into the bread crumb mixture, pressing to adhere the crumbs to the shrimp. Lay the shrimp on the prepared baking sheet. Continue until all shrimp are coated.

Spray each shrimp lightly with olive oil.

Bake shrimp for 6 minutes per side, until light golden and crispy. Serve with dipping sauce.

Cranberry-Pomegranate Compote

Makes about 2 cups

  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Seeds from 1 pomegranate

Combine cranberries, juice, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue cooking for 12 minutes, stirring often.

Remove from heat. Cool 1 hour. Gently stir in pomegranate seeds then cool completely, about 2 more hours at room temperature.

Ginger-Pomegranate Cocktail

Makes 2 cocktails

  • 3 ounce ginger vodka (found at  in O’Fallon)
  • 3 ounce pomegranate juice
  • 10 pomegranate seeds, divided
  • Lemon wedge
  • Red sugar for rimming the glass

Run the lemon wedge around each glass rim then dip the glasses into the colored sugar. Drop 5 pomegranate seeds into each glass.

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine vodka and pomegranate juice. Shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds. Divide evenly between glasses.


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