Weeknights are one of my favorite times to get together with friends. Not only is it an unexpected time to have a party, but the anticipation of a social event makes a middle-of-the-week workday so much more fun! I know, I know: the thought of cooking, hosting, and cleaning up sounds like a lot to tackle after work, and that’s why I’m a proponent of throwing an “appetizer party” — a gorgeous spread of store-bought or easy-to-prepare bites that look way more impressive than they actually are, and showcase the season’s ingredients at their finest. For the latest post in our series with Blue Diamond Almonds (did y’all catch our Waffle Bar Party?), I set a simple table on the patio with a few of my favorite snacks, then invited some friends to join me in celebrating a Monday for no other reason than the fact that it’s summer. Click through for the tips and recipes for everything I served!
*photos by Kate Zimmerman
*this post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds – thanks for supporting our partners!
My only rule for hors d’oeuvres? Keep ’em simple! I’m a major advocate of appetizers that are either assembled of high-quality store-bought ingredients or that can be prepared completely in advance (and bonus points if they fall into both categories!)
Over the years, I’ve built up a list of a few crowd-pleasing appetizers that I can prepare in literally five minutes flat, and what’s more, I can usually pull them together with ingredients that I always keep in my pantry or refrigerator. You’ll never catch me without a couple flavors of Blue Diamond Almonds, assorted olives, and popcorn that I can dress up with different seasonings. Why not experiment with your own little assortment of signature snacks? Before you know it you’ll be that hostess with the mostest that’s always ready for impromptu guests to stop by.
I love using endive leaves as little “boats” to hold yummy hors d’oeuvres ingredients! Plus, so many of my friends are gluten-free these days, it’s a nice way to serve something similar to crostini without the bread. You can make these up to an hour before the party and pop them in the fridge so they’re ready to go!
Click here for the recipe for my Endive Leaves with Goat Cheese, Figs, & Honey-Roasted Almonds!
I love to have at least one delicious bite ready to go right when guests arrive – it instantly makes guests feel comfortable and taken care of.
These Blue Diamond Sriracha Almonds are so addictive. They worked great with my menu, and I could see them going equally well with Asian or Mexican inspired flavors, like colorful spring rolls or a trio of exotic salsas.
This chilled soup with avocado, cucumber and mint was so vibrant and refreshing! To make it, I puréed 2 peeled cucumbers, 2 ripe avocados, zest and juice of 2 limes, and a few mint leaves in the blender. I added a touch of salt and agave, then served in little shot glasses for the most summery presentation.
Speaking of presentation, want to know a secret? When it comes to appetizers, how you arrange them is almost as important as what you’re serving! I’ve amassed a collection of stylish platters and serving bowls in materials ranging from delicate ceramic to rustic wood that fit whatever vibe I’m trying to create, plus lots of patterned napkins, interesting toothpicks and colorful little “accent” bowls for dipping sauces and discarded olive pits. It makes setting up for a party a snap, plus it gives me an excuse to keep adding to my collection of dishes whenever I stumble across something I love.
So what are you waiting for? All it takes to host a party on a weeknight is to put together a few of these perfect combos, arrange on your prettiest platter, and raise your glass to the fact that the simplest gatherings are often the most fun.