Goat Cheese and Leek Tartlet

We are getting ready for our annual Miller-Monro New Year’s Eve Extravaganza. My cousin, Julie Miller, arrived yesterday with her three kids and one extra kid and a boyfriend. It’s always good to add a kid or two and even a boyfriend is nice (although, maybe not two boyfriends).

I think we are going on five years of bringing in the New Year together as one big happy family. I usually try to come up with a clever name combo like I do with our friends, The Owens. When we are together, we call ourselves the “Monrowens”. Years ago we used to hang out with the Augustin’s and we were the Mongustin’s. That was catchy. I can’t seem to come up with a clever combo of Miller and Monro. Moniller and Millro don’t sound so good. So, we are sticking with Miller-Monro.

I love it when Julie and the gang arrive. Julie and I are not just cousins. We are very close friends too. We laugh about everything. We have the same sense of humor. We even look alike. She and I are the same type of crazy. We like to dance and sing. By dancing, I obviously mean a thumb dance or that dance when you hold one hand at the side of your head while holding up your ankle and moving your leg around. When we order a cocktail at a bar we have to take a picture using the straws as a pair of walrus tusks. We have a series of photos with us looking like walruses. We love to act silly, like the time we wore the orange traffic cones we found out in front of a bar as our hats. When we are together, we are going to have some fun.

Any time she and the kids get here, the house comes alive with children, noise, fun and activity. Yes, it’s messy. Yes, it’s loud. Yes, some of the kids get a little crazy with excitement. It’s a lot of cooking and tons of cleaning too. Every little bit of it is so worth it. Last year we made a quick trip into the Goodwill Thrift Shop. I don’t remember why we wanted to go there. Maybe just to search for treasure.

Well, treasure is exactly what we found in the form of red leather pants. They were actually pleather pants and not leather at all. We found a pair that would fit each of the children. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any to fit the adults. We got home and forced the kids to wear them while holding musical instruments. It was hilarious. I can’t wait to show these photos at each of their weddings. The girls wore bikini tops and the boys were shirtless. Yes, it was very funny.

For New Year’s Eve, we cook loads of food, of course. We buy sparkling cider for the kids and champagne for us. The kids get sparklers and snaps and whatever other noisy thing we can find. I think one year it was pots and pans. Now that we are in Vegas, we drive up to the top of our neighborhood where we can see the strip and watch the fire works. Other times, we watch the ball drop on television. Most of the time someone falls asleep too early. Sometimes it’s an adult. Sometimes it’s a child. Every time, we have so much fun just being together as one big family. Julie and I usually discuss what our resolutions for the new year will be.

This year, I haven’t thought much about resolutions. I am feeling pretty good about exercising, my diet, writing, spending time with family (the usual resolution ideas). I can’t really think of what I would change. So, I think this year I will plan to continue doing what I am doing. I feel pretty good about the way things are going. I have been sticking to my mostly vegan or what I call “veganish” way of eating. Occasionally, I do splurge. I like that I allow myself to do this because I don’t think I would want to completely cut out delicious things. Today was one of those days where I made a pretty buttery and cheesy dish. Actually, the holidays in general have been wrought with splurging. I’m OK with that. I like to go wild when I have guests.

I love to make people special food. Not everyone wants to eat without fat. I have to admit that when I do use butter, it tastes so incredible. I just treat it like the treat that it is and use it sparingly. I made leek and goat cheese tartlets. I cooked the leeks in butter and used puff pastry. Then, I topped them off with a piece of goat cheese. They are very delicious and so easy to make. This is a perfect treat to feed a group of guests.

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