My brother and I threw my parents a surprise anniversary party once, and much to my surprise, we somehow pulled it off. A cake, DJ, open bar, friends, family, the whole shebang. It was a big success, everyone had a great time, and I will probably never do it ever again.
Okay maybe, but I’m definitely going to need a few more years before I’m mentally prepared to endure the traumatic, life-sucking task that planning a huge party is. I really don’t know how people do it professionally. As much as I enjoy flipping through Martha Stewart magazines for recipes and corresponding decor, when it gets down to actually executing these things, it is really freakin’ stressful am I right?
Here’s what I picture in my head when thinking about hosting a party: whipping up appetizers and cookies the night before the party, while selecting the perfect playlist and hanging decorations so I’m prepared the next day. A few hours before, I’m putting on said playlist, pulling the cookies out of the oven, and arranging flowers, just before changing into my carefully curated hostess outfit.
Here’s what actually happened this weekend, when my roommate and I hosted a small holiday/birthday/housewarming get-together (three months after we moved in, by the way): leave work much later than expected, run through pouring rain to Trader Joe’s to pick up cheap wine and food, stop at Target to pick up festive Christmas sweaters, lug four extremely heavy bags on the subway and through pouring rain, let the dog out, go pick up a small Christmas tree at the place around the corner (not kidding), feebly attempt to decorate said tree in 15 minutes, change into jeans and festive Christmas sweater, fix hair (due to aforementioned pouring rain), throw on a random holiday Spotify radio, start preparing appetizers, and decide to skip making cookies when a friend shows up with a bag of holiday M&Ms.
I love the holidays, but they can be ridiculously stressful.
Solution? Idiot-proof appetizers. Also, a dress code that requires an ugly Christmas sweater and jeans. But let’s focus on the food. If you have the time to prepare and cook a full menu, I respect you. But if your party prep looks like somewhat like mine, (because who has the time?) then here’s an easy recipe to assemble last minute. It’s a crowd-pleaser, plus it’s red, green & white. That means – bonus – it basically acts as decor too.
Easy Tomato Basil & Mozzarella Appetizer
One package cherry tomatoes (about 1.5 pints)*
Two packages mini mozzarella cheese balls*
One package/large handful fresh basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Small box of wooden toothpicks
*You want the same amount of tomatoes and mozzarella balls, so depending on how they come it may vary, just shoot for the same amount
For the Balsamic Dipping Sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
Sea salt and pepper to taste
On a large plate or serving tray, assemble the apps by sliding a tomato, then a basil leaf, then a mozzarella ball on a toothpick. Repeat until you have used all the ingredients. Sprinkle salt and pepper over all. If you’re making the dipping sauce (this is essentially balsamic dressing), mix the ingredients together and place in a mini serving bowl in the center of the tray or to the side.
Easiest assembly ever, right? Just bought yourself some time, so get out of the kitchen, throw on your sweater, pour a glass of wine and enjoy the party.