Planning your New Year's eve celebration

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - December 29, 2011

Others head for Penn's Landing and the great fireworks show at midnight. Still others hit a bar or restaurant for the evening, but many others spend the night at home with family and friends. If that's you, don't allow the menu to mean you'll miss your own party.

Action News visited The Village Belle on front street in Queen Village.

Owner/Chef Lou Campanaro turns out everything from snacks and desserts to full-course dinners nightly. He suggests that home cooks concentrate on finger food so guests can carry around the party rather than having to sit and dine.

Many of these can be prepared in advance, so when guests arrive you can enjoy their company and the treats you prepared. One item straight from his menu is "meatball sliders".

You prepare meatballs and tomato sauce as you usually would. Cut small rounds of Italian bread. Top a round with a meatball, add a dab of sauce and a sprinkle of grated cheese, then top with another bread round and skewer with a long sandwich-style toothpick.

The chef sautés mushrooms and serves them in miniature pastry cups. He makes s the cups from scratch but you can save time by choosing them frozen in your grocer's freezer.

New Year's Eve, The Village Belle will be serving luxurious lobster bisque. How do you make that finger-friendly? Ladle it into shot glasses! A splash of brandy an optional "plus". Deviled eggs are a popular hors d'ouvre easy to make your own. And the chef is proud of his "Italian Sushi". You take a sheet of soft dough, top it with favorite Italian cold cuts and cheese, then roll it up and slice it like sushi.

Virtually any appetizer you like can be transformed into bite-sized portable pieces...just use your imagination. And remember, if you like it, your guests probably will, too.

The Village Belle is open nightly for dinner and seating for nights prior to New Year's Eve are more likely to have openings.

The dining room has a large window facing north with an unmatched view of Penn's Landing...ideal for watching the fireworks without stepping out into the cold.

The restaurant is located at 757 South Front Street in Queen Village, between Christian and South Streets. You can visit them online or make a reservation at The Village Belle. You may also phone them at 215-551-2200.

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