I’m not sure I have ever been more excited to say goodbye to a year and welcome the beginning of a new one. It will be a small party consisting of my husband, our two boys, our sweet pup Saturn, takeout from one of our favorite restaurants, pajamas and board games. It’s been a humbling year filled with lessons, challenges, revelations and heaping spoonfuls of perspective.

Eight years ago, I left restaurant life to start a family. I have teetered clumsily while attempting to find balance between my life as a mom and my old life as a chef. I’ve dabbled in a variety of culinary endeavors, and while I’m excited about the recent launch of our new online general store, along the way I have missed the simple joy of sharing food with others. I think this is why sharing recipes for the past 40 weeks has felt like an extraordinary gift. I love receiving your notes and emails and hearing about your cooking ideas, questions and triumphs. I love meeting you here, all of us in our home kitchens trying to find and make sparks of light and joy around the table where and when we can. I am so thankful.

This week, I want to toast you and your loved ones and share a festive recipe to ring in the new year. This punch calls for a dry sparkling wine as the base but is just as delicious without it if you want to use sparkling water instead. If you don’t have juniper berries, feel free to swap with dried currants or dried blueberries. In the same way, you could substitute rosemary for the pine needles.

When the clock strikes midnight, we will be clinking glasses filled with this sparkling delight (that is, if we are still awake).

Forest Punch

Makes: 8 servings; total time: 1 hour

For the simple syrup:

¼ cup sugar

½ cup water

2 teaspoons juniper berries

¼ cup pine needles

½ cup fresh cranberries, gently crushed

1 cinnamon stick

1 750 ml bottle of dry sparkling wine (like a brut), cold

1½ cups fresh pink grapefruit juice

¾ cups fresh orange juice

2 cups sparkling water, grapefruit or lemon flavor

2 teaspoons orange bitters

1 cup frozen cranberries

1 grapefruit, sliced thinly in rounds or quarters depending on if you want the garnish to be in your punch bowl or individual glasses.

Preparation: In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the sugar and water. Once the sugar is dissolved and simmering, add the juniper berries, pine needles, cranberries and cinnamon. Let simmer over very low heat for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let steep another 15 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and cool.

To assemble the punch, combine cooled syrup, sparkling wine, grapefruit juice, orange juice, sparkling water, bitters, cranberries and frozen cranberries. Pour into glasses or serve in a punch bowl. Enjoy!

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