Spicy appetizers and herb-savvy drinks for jazzing your way into the New Year are right at your fingertips with a few of Phoebe Canakis’ New Year’s Eve recipes.

Canakis is the name behind Phoebe’s Pure Food, where she celebrates local and healthy eats through her blog, magazine, and online pantry as well as new blogging for Berks County Living Magazine. Her food wisdoms and efforts are based in Lancaster County.

For setting the scene at your festivities, Canakis has a few suggestions.


“Keep it simple, fresh and light,” she says. “Folks have, more likely than not, overindulged, and as we welcome in the New Year, most folks will graze, so offer light-in-calorie options. Create a beverage station in one area and other mini food stations throughout your social space to keep folks moving and interested.”

As an appetizer, Canakis offers a roasted red pepper dip. She notes that it can be enjoyed hot, cold or at room temperature.

“Pass on the cheese ball, or keep the cheese ball, but add this healthier, oh-so-simple, savory variation. Did you know that you can save fat and calories by substituting soft cheese for hard cheese? Adding non-fat Greek yogurt to dips is also a secret of mine,” Canakis explains of this recipe. “I trimmed fat and calories by substituting a soft cheese (feta/chèvre) for the hard cheese (cheddar). A single ounce of feta has 74 calories and 6 grams of fat versus 1 ounce of cheddar which has 113 calories and 9 grams of fat.”

This roasted red pepper dip can be made the night before your party, and it isn’t limited to just becoming a dip. Canakis adds that it can be used as a spread in a sandwich wrap or on top or roasted chicken, too.

The dip recipe yields one pound or 8 to 12 servings.

“It’s easy to prepare and appeals to a variety of palates,” she says. “You don’t need to be vegetarian to enjoy it, and it’s a healthy alternative to a hard cheese plate.”

For the sipping factor, Canakis has Rosemary Clementine Bubbly and Raspberry Thyme Gin Rickey recipes.

The recipes are easy to prepare and a bit unique at the same time, and when garnished with fresh herbs, it’s easy to see how gorgeous the drinks can turn out for you and your guests.

“Rosemary is historically used to strengthen the memory, but there is something fabulous about an herb that can be enjoyed in savory or sweet preparations,” Canakis says.

She recommends taste-testing cocktail recipes to make sure the drinks turn out well, and adapt the ingredients’ portions as needed, to your taste preference.

New Year’s Eve Recipes: Roasted Red Pepper Dip & Two Herb-Infused Cocktails
  • Roasted Red Pepper Dip
  • Ingredients:
  • 4 ounces feta cheese
  • ½ cup roasted red peppers, squeeze dry, reserving the liquid
  • 7 ounces non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Salt, to taste
  1. Purée all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
  2. If you need it thinner, add roasted red pepper liquid until you get the desired texture.

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Rosemary Clementine Bubbly
Drink Ingredients:
  • 8 ounces sparkling wine, prosecco or champagne
  • 2 ounces rosemary-infused simple syrup
  • Juice of 1 clementine
    Simple Syrup Ingredients:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 inches of fresh rosemary sprig
Simple Syrup Preparation:
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, and add the sugar, stirring.
  2. Reduce heat to low until sugar has dissolved.
  3. Turn the heat off, add the rosemary, cover and allow to cool.
  4. Reserve extra infused syrup in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.
    Drink Preparation:
  5. Use a 1:4 recipe of simple syrup to bubbly, blending all ingredients.
  6. Serve with a sprig of rosemary wrapped in a peel of clementine.


* * *

Raspberry Thyme Gin Rickey
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup raw sugar
  • 4 lavender sprigs
  • 1 thyme sprig (and a bit extra for garnishing)
  • 8 raspberries (and a few extra for garnishing)
  • ¼ cup gin
  • 1 tablespoon. lavender syrup
  • 2 teaspoon lime
  • Orange zest, to taste
  • Ice, as needed
  • Club soda, as needed
  1. In a saucepan, combine ½ cup of water, ½ cup of raw sugar, and 4 lavender sprigs.
  2. Boil until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. In a cocktail shaker, muddle 1 thyme sprig and 8 berries.
  4. Add ¼ cup of gin, 1 Tbsp. of lavender syrup, 2 tsp. of lime, orange zest, and ice; cover and shake.
  5. Strain into an ice-filled glass and add club soda.
  6. Garnish with raspberry and thyme.