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12/28/2009 2:57:00 PM
Festive New Year's Eve holiday party planning tips with Storytellers' Nate Schreiber
Executive Chef Nathan Schreiber of Cliff Castle Casino’s Storytellers Restaurant.
Executive Chef Nathan Schreiber of Cliff Castle Casino’s Storytellers Restaurant.
High Desert Cranberry Bread Pudding drizzled with white chocolate sauce.
High Desert Cranberry Bread Pudding drizzled with white chocolate sauce.
By Lita Sorensen
Special to Kudos

New Year's Eve is a holiday notorious for producing high expectations, sandwiched as it is right after Christmas and fast approaching. With a little advance planning and knowing the right way to set a festive atmosphere, however, the holiday can be a cinch for party planners.

Executive Chef Nate Schreiber, of Cliff Castle Casino's award winning Storytellers restaurant knows how to set the mood for a party. "The great thing about a New Year's eve party is that it usually starts after dinner," he said. "Guests won't arrive starving, so you don't have to prepare a full meal."

This is exactly why appetizers and finger foods items are usually served at New Year's Eve parties.

"Deliver a taste of drama," Nate says, "with both your food and presentation. Glasses filled with colorful deserts, tastes that engage all the senses and include savory flavors as well as salty and sweet."

Convenience is always an important thing to consider when planning a New Year's Eve event, too.

"It's always appropriate to match the foods you have to the set-up of the party -- whether it be elegant or casual. But some foods like Buffalo Wings, for example, are never a good choice, because they are too messy. Not a good thing at a party where many of the guests dress up for the occasion!"

Another element to consider is the amount of people you are planning on attending the event.

"If you are hosting a large number of people, consider having at least five different types of food items," Nate says, "like light soups, finger foods or other savory fare, and a variety of colorful desserts."

Of course in planning a party, there is always a little stress involved. As Nate notes, "The best thing you can do when planning a party is not to forget to have a good time yourself!"

And if you are too busy this holiday, procrastinated or are simply too tired-out after Christmas? You can sample Nate's food at Cliff Castle Casino's New Year's Eve event, where he will be presenting a large but light buffet of delicious items such as Tequila Shrimp dipped in White Chocolate & Toasted Coconut, Cioppino, and a variety of uniquely garnished individual Mousse desserts.

For more information on Cliff Castle Casino's New Year's Eve party event, "The Party's at the Castle," which includes a full menu, two bands, gifts, dancing, a champagne toast and a chance to win $100,000, or to purchase tickets ($25 if bought in advance) please call The Castle Club at (928) 567-7999.

High Desert Cranberry Bread Pudding

Dry Mix


2 quarts of ciabatta sourdough bread cubed 1/2 inch

2 quarts of croissants cubed 1/2 inch

1 cup of pecans

1 cup of white chocolate chips

1/4 lb of butter cubed small

1 1/2 cup of craisins

1 cup of diced peaches

Wet Mix

6 eggs

1/2 quart heavy cream

1/2 cup of sugar

2 tspn of cinnamon

1/2 tspn of vanilla

3 tablespoon of chili powder

1/2 tspn of salt

Prickly Pear Cran Mojo Sauce

1/2 cup of honey

1 cup of prickly pear syrup

1 1/2 cup of cranberry juice

1 tablespoon of orange zest

1/2 tablespoon of dried oregano

2 1/2 tspn of ground cumin

1/4 tspn of salt

1 1/2 tspn of fresh ground black pepper

1 tspn of rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon of cornstarch

muffin pans, mixing bowls, gloves, cupcake papers, strainer, measuring spoons and cups, whisk, sauce pan, cutting board

Beat eggs, add remaining ingredients in the wet mix section and mix well. Line muffin pans with cupcake papers. In medium mixing bowl, place 1 to 2 quarts dry mix.

Add wet mix, a little at a time to moisten dry mix (bread should be completely saturated, but not dripping).

Fill cupcake papers packing tightly to be sure no air pockets remain, until just over top of muffin pan, rounding off the tops of each. Repeat above procedure until desired amount is done.

Re-saturate the tops of each with wet mix. Cover pans with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, at 350.

Use toothpick to tell when it is done. Allow to cool, remove from pan and individually wrap if not served immediately.

Prickly Pear Cran Mojo Sauce: Bring all ingredients except prickly pear syrup & orange zest to a simmer. Reduce for about 20 minutes.

Add prickly pear syrup & orange zest, bring back to simmer. Add a corn starch slurry (corn starch and water to make a thick paste), thicken to desired consistency. Remove from heat, cool and serve chilled. Garnish with extra Craisins, melted white chocolate chips and orange zest.

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