This weekend is prime holiday party time. Everyone we know, Bryan and I included, are heading out at least one night this weekend to a holiday party. Being a guest at a holiday party is a great time; just bring a bottle of wine and get ready to enjoy yourself. Being a host of a holiday party is another thing altogether; you've got hours and hours of cleaning, organizing and last but certainly not least, food prep and cooking.
Fun and interesting company aside, I believe the difference between a good holiday party and a great holiday party revolves around three simple things:
- Food (Especially great appetizers)
- Music (A good mix of classic and contemporary holiday favorites)
- Lighting (Low lit, lots of candles, twinkling holiday lights, etc.
So here's my proposed solution to holiday party host(esses) without the time to prep and cook a ton of homemade appetizers. I always have a bunch of Trader Joe's appetizers in my freezer and have brought them out on many occasions: football watching parties, holiday parties, dinner parties, etc. They're a universal hit with guys, girls, kids, etc. Best of all, they're cheap, easy to make, fun to plate and require minimal, if any, prep time.
Feta Cheese & Caramelized Puff Pastry Bites
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes in oven
A great sweet & salty appetizer option.
The puff pastry is hot and buttery and
the salty feta cheese provides a perfect companion
to the sweetness of the caramelized onions.
Ham & Cheese Puff Pastry Bites
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes in oven
A great savory appetizer option with gooey cheesy and salty bits of ham. Yum!
Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Cook Time: 3 minutes in microwave
This is a sensation no matter when or where you serve it.
It's great presented in a bread bowl with water crackers
or toasted baguette slices. Five minutes and you're ready to go!
Cook Time: 5-7 minutes in oven
A great vegetarian option, puff pastry with Provencale-style vegetables. Savory blend of eggplant, red and yellow bell peppers, zucchini, etc.
Mini Meatballs, Soyaki Sauce & Pineapple Chunks
Cook Time: 20 minutes on stove top
Directions: Cook meatballs in nonstick pan until hot, add Soyaki sauce, pineapple chunks and let heat through. Serve with toothpicks.
*Alternative: Mini Meatball Sliders
Cook Time: 15 minutes on stovetop, 10 minutes assembly.
Directions: Heat meatballs in marinara sauce.
Toast or grill mini burger buns until they have a slight crisp.
Top individual meatballs with a tiny slice of mozzarella cheese and place on buns. You've got yourself mini meatball sandwiches!
Lemongrass Chicken Stix
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes in oven
Serve with Trader Joe's Sweet & Sour or Asian Peanut Sauce.
Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons
Cook Time: 3-5 minutes in microwave
Great when presented with Soy, Ponzu or Soyaki dipping sauces.
Want something cool to serve along with these hot little apps? Buy a variety of cheeses – my go-to's are Goat Cheese, Parmesan, Manchego and Smoked Gouda – set them up on a platter, throw some crackers or sliced baguette in a basket and you've got another delicious appetizer option. Want to get really creative? Make tiny signs designating which cheese is which, attach them to toothpicks and stick them in the appropriate cheese.
So load up your iPod with some wonderful holiday music, dim the lights, fire up the candles and set up a great bar with cocktail mixers, beer and wine. Add in these appetizers and you've got yourself a party!