Have a Great Weekend.

What are you up to this weekend? We are having a little housewarming party tomorrow night (does anyone know any foolproof appetizers?), and I’m also going to spend lots of quiet time playing with the boys. Toby was a little overwhelmed at school this week—it’s a lot for little dudes!—so we’re going to play on the floor and just take it easy. Hope you have a good one, and here are a few links from around the web…

Great tiny bathroom makeover.

The best way to reheat leftover pizza.

What a pretty wreath.

This new guidebook made me laugh.

Cozy sweaters for fall (I really love the blue one).

A day in the life of a ballerina.

Maps that will surprise you.

Why I want my sons to see me naked.”

Anthony Bourdain’s brilliant travel tips.

How funny is this calendar?

At last! I got these fantastic tweezers and, after three decades, my brows finally look good.

What a touching story.

Iconic portraits recreated…with John Malkovich.

A baked potato party.

Finally, another BRAVO to the amazing women starting a revolution against campus sexual assault. (And what it’s like to lug around that mattress.)

(Instagram photo by Seth Smoot)

  1. This is belated, but maybe you can use it next time: medjool dates, with the pit taken out, stuffed with a walnut and sprinkled with powdered sugar. No bake, so yummy, and healthy minus the sugar!

    Also love this one though it’s a bit more effort: bruschettas with ricotta, sliced strawberries, basil, honey and sea salt OR with mascarpone, fresh fig, honey and sea salt. I use fresh baguettes sliced, brushed with xvoo, and toasted.

    Hope the party was fun! Still hoping to see you around the hood sometime soon!

  2. hii jo!
    so, i just finished reading this blog post, titled ‘how to support the bloggers you love’, and it got me thinking that i should write a quick comment to you about your wonderful blog. i LOVE your blog more than any of the other five or six that i follow. i especially like this friday links feature, which i like to click through first thing on a saturday morning before anyone else is up, and i can just sit on my couch with a cup of joe and foamy homemade almond milk. keep it up, you’re great!!

  3. THANK YOU so much for these appetizer suggestions!!!!!! we used them completely. we made the caprese salad on toothpicks (so good! little balls of mozzarella, plus a sprig of basil and a cherry tomato), and we also made crostini with gorgonzola and honey, crostini with ricotta, and bruschetta. we were also going to make those delicious-sounding crackers with apples and goat cheese, but we forgot to buy goat cheese so we scrapped those at the last minute! THANK YOU SO MUCH for these tips!!!

  4. I love your blog! You always have something neat to share. I’d appreciate it if you checked mine out:

  5. What’s with all the crew neck sweaters? Am I the only one who thinks I look like a sack of hammers in a crew neck?

  6. I’m late on this but last weekend we went to a football party and one of the girls brought a hot cheese dip for chips. It was cream cheese, shredded cheese, sour cream, and salsa. Pretty standard. BUT the game changer was that she baked the thing in a bread bowl, so when the dip was gone, and believe me it went fast, we ate the bread left over.

    Definitly worth the calories and a huge hit!

  7. I loved that article about the ballerina. The photos were beautiful and the article itself was very insightful.

    For an easy appetizer, I love hummus, veggies, and pita chips. :) Or maybe some sort of homemade dip.

  8. An assorted cheese board with fruit and crackers. Mini cupcakes. A package of frozen meatballs, heat with chili sauce, grape jelly and a little instant coffee. Serve with toothpicks. Always a winner.

  9. That guidebook made me laugh!

  10. Always look forward to your Friday link posts, as a grad student at Columbia extra happy to see you posting about Emma and what she is accomplishing on campus against sexual assault. Thanks Joanna! :)

  11. Foolproof app – Sesame Broccoli:
    For every stalk of fresh broccoli:
    2 Tbsp. sugar
    2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
    2 Tbsp. sesame oil (the thick, smelly true Chinese sesame oil)
    sesame seeds for garnish

    Three stalks is a good amount for an appetizer for 4-8 people. That means you would use six tablespoons of each of the marinade ingredients for that sized dish.

    Cut the broccoli fleurettes into bite-sized pieces.
    Combine all ingredients into a bowl and stir until broccoli is well covered with marinade.
    Cover tightly because the smell is fairly strong, and marinate in refrigerator 4-6 hrs.
    Arrange on plate with heads of fleurettes up, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with toothpicks.

  12. I picked up on the Toby comment. My daughter’s ( first year- 4yr old class) Montessori teacher told me the kids all nap the first two weeks of school from sheer mental exhaustion of the newness of it all. It’s akin to the stress of us starting a new job and trying to remember all new the new names, rules, etc. A slightly earlier bedtime in those first two weeks is still my trick….and we are now at 5th grade! Because, OMG 5th graders are practically adults with huge responsibilities, at least in her mind!

  13. dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon.

  14. I love your ballet posts! Just gone back to adult ballet after 10 years away- my first love.

    Also re appetiser- mini pizzas! Get a sheet of puff pastry, and draw squares with your knife. then spoldoge tomato, a piece of basil, and mozarella (or whatever you like to put on pizza) Toby could even help you!



  15. Joanna!
    You seem to always post about ballet and dancers so I wanted to tell you about World Ballet Day! It is happening next wednesday and you get to watch 5 companies from the around the world dance live throughout the day.
    Here is the preview;

  16. I love making that feta dip you posted about months ago. Its great with pita chips and guests love it.

  17. Great links Joanna! The photographs were really interesting and a little weird. Love the J. Crew sweater and the magnolia wreath. I made a few wreaths years ago and actually sold them in a little shop in Malaga Cove. One was made with eucalyptus I found on the ground and another was made with dried hydrangeas. Thanks for the links and memories:) Have a great weekend! Jen

  18. I have become a fairly sophisticated cook, yet my go to party recipe is still my easiest.

    Restaurant Worthy Artichoke Dip
    1 cup of canned, baby artichokes, roughly chopped
    1 cup of mayo (I use Hellman’s)
    1 cup grated, high quality (don’t skimp!) parmesan

    Mix up in a pretty dish and bake at 350 until golden and bubbly- around 20 minutes. Serve with baguette bread to tear and dip with friends or with pita chips to a larger crowd.

    I get so embarrassed when a friend asks for the recipe- because 1. it’s so easy and 2. I have to say 1 cup of mayo out loud. However, this dish disappears in seconds and talk about foolproof!!

    Enjoy your weekend!

    xx Ariana

  19. the easiest, most divine appetizer, seriously — goat cheese log smothered in fig jam and served with a rosemary/raisin cracker (at tjs or whole foods). a hit every time, and takes two minutes to assemble. happiest housewarming!

  20. I have two go-tos:

    First is this Cheesecake Ball. Yep, you heard that right, a ball of cheesecake! It’s easy to make and guests always love that it’s served with chocolate cookie wafers. I’ve had folks beg me to make it!

    The other is unconventional too – it’s Bacon Wrapped Crackers with Parmesan cheese. You can make them ahead of time which will save you time. They look really innocent and basic but LOOK OUT! They are addictive and delicious.

  21. I’m hosting a monthly gathering of work colleagues at my house tonight, and I’m making a fig/gorgonzola/prosciutto pizza. Super easy: just fig preserves, crumbled gorgonzola and chopped prosciutto on top of store-bought pizza dough. You can top it with arugula for a fresh and peppery bite if desired. Super yummy!

  22. for easy appetizers I go with the standard cheese/fruit/crackers/salami and prosciutto trays or an assortment of crostini. smashed avocado with cracked pepper and sea salt is easy, so is tomato basil bruschetta. bacon, parsley and tomato is a good combo, as is goat cheese and thinly sliced pear…and pretty simple to prepare.

  23. BLT’ sliders on biscuits, add avocado slices…so easy and so delicious!!

  24. black olives marinated with olive oil, garlic, herbs de provence and feta(optional) :)

  25. Easy app: take a tube of prepared polenta. Slice thinly and lightly brown in oiled skillet. Top each slice with pesto, a tomato slice and freshly grated parm. Pretty and gluten free.

  26. My mom makes the best crostini. She just takes slices of a thin baguette and toasts them in the oven with a little gorgonzola sprinkled on top and then plates them and drizzles honey across them. It’s sweet and salty and warm and tasty! I’m going to try it soon with Mike’s Hot Honey (chili infused honey) for a little kick.

    I’m also a huge fan of slicing layering a basil leaf, mozzarella slice, and heirloom tomato slice and then just sprinkling some freshly cracked pepper on top. It’s healthy, fresh, tasty and requires no fuss. If you get a few different colored tomatoes, it is beautiful on a plain white plate.

  27. Parmesan cheese dressing (or make your own) soaked (but not watery) bread stuffed into large cooked pasta shells or rolled in phyllo dough…brown both a bit

    Happy House Warming!

  28. My new foolproof appetizer is Trader Joe’s Lentil Dip, super easy, delicious and only 4 ingredients!!! Trader Joes steamed lentils, Trader Joes Bruschetta (in a jar where the other Italian foods are), Feta Cheese (1/2 cup to 3/4 cup), Juice of half a lemon (a whole lemon if its tiny). You just mix it all together and serve with Pita Chips or Trader Joes black bean quinoa chips. Sooo Yummy, easy and cheap!!!!

  29. I always appreciate your end of the week roundup. I especially love the one about the mother who is letting her sons see her naked. It’s very empowering.

    Oh, and the pizza thing is genius! XO

  30. Joanna – you rock! Your Friday links are the best. Please never stop blogging.

  31. My fave is fruit+salty cheese+cured meat with a dipping sauce
    I love figs blue cheese prosciutto with balsamic
    Pineapple halloumi bacon with sriracha
    The possibilities are endless
    You could even make it a DIY for your guests

  32. I love all of Ina Garten’s cookbooks, but especially her newest, Make It Ahead. It’s perfect for entertaining!

    Hope you enjoy your weekend!

  33. Joanna – you rock! You have the best Friday links. Please never stop blogging!

  34. Prosciutto wrapped melon slices are always quick and easy. Strip or prosciutto, chunk of melon, toothpick to hold it together.

  35. For your party, pick up the latest Bon appetit! The theme is “party like your parents” – its great. Also, cheese balls. Everyone. Loves. Cheese. Balls (the fancy kind, not the neon orange kind)… Have fun!

  36. Have fun! I never throw a party without hummus and or cheese and their various accountrements. I also LOVE caprese skewers – a grape tomato, small piece of basil leaf and mozz pearl on a toothpick drizzled with balsamic, evoo and S&P. So easy and a huge hit!

  37. Aw – poor Toby! Give him lots of cuddles!

    Easiest appie that everyone thinks took way more effort than it did:
    take a can of crab, drain and flake, add a block of cream cheese. Mash together really well with a fork. You can warm it up or serve it as is on cracker – I swear this disappears in minutes. Have a great party!

  38. Pesto pizzas were always the kids’ appetizer to prepare (although everyone ate them) when I was younger. Slice a baguette into little discs, then top with a shmear of pesto, a slice of tomato, and some shredded mozzarella. Broil for a minute or so until the cheese is melted and enjoy! You just need to slice and man the oven, but Toby would rock at the assembly!

  39. Spread pesto (homemade or store bought) over goat cheese that you have smooshed into a serving tray. Serve with crackers

  40. Seriously you have to make Armadillo Heads. They’re jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon then baked. Delicious!

  41. My go-to is a crostini plate (seems to be everyone else’s too!). I use a french baguette, laughing cow cheese (I like swiss!), and then I top each with whatever I have in my fridge already: blueberries and honey, summer sausage, cucumber, etc. If I’m feeling extra ambitious, I put some strawberries in a casserole dish, drizzle them with balsamic vinegar and sugar and roast them before topping my crostini and cheese with them. People go nuts.

    But tonight I’m going to a friend’s house and I’m bringing my lazy-girl party appetizer: Taco Dip. A block of cream cheese, a jar of salsa, a bag of shredded cheese. Layered in that order in a pie plate or casserole dish. Baked or microwaved and served with chips. Fool. Proof.

    Have fun tonight!!

  42. For something sweet:
    -Madeleine cookies cut in half,
    -Smear with soft mild goat cheese
    -Top with thin slices of ripe strawberry.
    Tossing the strawberries in honey or sugar is optional.
    Guaranteed crowd pleaser.

  43. The “Why I want my sons to see me naked” post is brilliant. She will raise gentlemen, I am sure of it!

  44. Thank you for another roundup of intrigue! You lead me to find this wild video of Ashley dancing…on the beach!

  45. Joanna,
    I am looking for a good app myself. So far, I have a caramelized onion, sliced apples and sliced brie pizza. I wish Whole foods was here in Europe. They have the best pizza dough.
    Have fun and share any recipes with us please.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  46. Here’s a good one that everyone loves: Take a block of cream cheese and pour Pickapeppa sauce (it’s a Jamaican sauce found with Worcestershire, A-1, etc) and serve with Triscuits. Fancy, no. But there’s never any left and it couldn’t be easier! Also: champagne.

  47. Whenever I am asked to bring an appetizer to a get together, I always make Bacon, Ranch, and Cheese dip. It’s the easiest thing in the world, seriously. You combine 16 oz. of sour cream, 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 1 packet of Ranch seasoning, and 3 oz. of real bacon pieces. Stir that all up together in a bowl, and let it cool in the fridge. Serve cold with your choice of chips or crackers. Men always ask me to double the recipe after they’ve tasted this dip once! Enjoy!

  48. My go-to app is “hummus dump”

    put a container of original flavored hummus on a plate, chop up vegetables (usually use cucumbers and bell peppers) sprinkle feta on top, and for the kick, add banana peppers and pour some of the pepper juice over top

    everyone always loves it!

  49. I always make a hummus app that is everyone’s favorite.
    Dump any original flavored hummus on a plate and chop up vegetables to put on top (I usually do cucumbers and bell peppers), sprinkle feta on top, and for the kick, add some banana peppers and pour some of the pepper juice on top

    definitely fool proof!

  50. Sweet pepper relish (or hot, if you like it spicy) mixed with cream cheese, to taste. I usually go with a couple big spoonfuls of relish to one tub of the cheese. Serve with crackers or bread!

  51. My mom has a great recipe for spinach balls. Sounds weird but they’re SO buttery and delicious. It’s sautéed onions, spinach, butter, and croutons, rolled in a ball and baked :)

  52. Thanks for the weekly roundup. I love looking through your links and getting more insight on different things going on during the week.

    A very easy to make and easy to eat appetizer is bacon wrapped dates (many recipes online)- 2 ingredients only. Hope your party goes flawlessley.

  53. My husband makes bacon-wrapped dates and they are always a hit and so easy. Caprese skewers are one of my favorites.

  54. Just go to Smitten Kitchen, Deb has the most amazing, easy, use-what-you-got recipes in the whole world.

  55. Trader Joe’s frozen apps are fool-proof and crowd pleasing…I always get spanakopita, onion tarts, and the pastry pups (hot dogs in puff pastry). People go crazy over them!

  56. Two of my favorite easy, fool-proof appetizers:

    Goat-cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon: Slice an opening in medjool dates (remove pits if not already pitted), fill with soft goat cheese, wrap in 1/3 of a strip of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Make as many as you’d like to serve, place on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until bacon is crispy on the edges (usually around 15 minutes, and you can turn them halfway).

    Sun-dried tomato/olive tapenade:Combine jar of sun-dried tomatoes and jar of kalamata olives (pitted) in food processor, process to a rough paste. Serve with flatbread crackers.

    Have fun!

  57. For my recent housewarming, I made this Mark Bittman ground lamb and chickpeas. It’s so easy and delicious, and you can make it ahead of time. Just keep it warm in a slow cooker or on low heat in a dutch oven until your guests arrive. You can use any ground meat, but lamb is extra special. You pile the lamb and chickpeas onto crispy flatbreads, and I served it with a Greek yogurt tzatziki sauce, hummus and baba ganoush.

  58. Bacon-wrapped dates are my go-to party appetizer – so easy, but they look so fancy. Always a hit! :)

    Slice pitted dates in half. Scoop a small amount of goat cheese inside and close the halves of the dates (like a little jacket). Wrap a half slice of bacon around the outside of the date and secure with a toothpick. Arrange on a baking sheet with foil to catch grease. Bake until bacon is browned and crisp – approx. 375 deg., 30-40 min.


  59. I’ve got an absolutely delicious appetizer for you that is so easy! Buy a package of pitted dates; a package of bacon and some goat cheese. Slice the dates down one side and stuff with a little cheese. Cut the package of bacon in half, and wrap the stuffed dates in bacon. Broil 5 minutes on each side or until bacon is cooked. Seriously, these are beyond good. So easy and so tasty. Depending on how many people you have you may want to make 2 bacon packages worth; when I last made them, I ate 15 myself :) Recipe is from the book “bread & wine” by Shauna Niequist.

  60. If you won’t be inviting too many vegetarians/vegans, pigs in a blanket are pretty foolproof and always the first to go at most parties I go to!

  61. Foolproof apps:
    – freshly popped popcorn
    – unexpected cheddar from Trader Joes
    – cured meats

  62. Veggie pizza (crescent rolls with cream cheese/mayo/sour cream topped with different veggies– you can find it on allrecipes — it is ALWAYS a hit! and is SO SO easy!).

  63. This appetizer is a huge crowd pleaser from the Barefoot Contessa’s Foolproof cookbook

    Tomato crostini with whipped feta
    6 oz good feta, crumbled
    2 oz cream cheese at room temp
    2/3 cup good olive oil, divided
    2 tbl lemon juice
    salt and pepper
    2 tbl minced shallots (2 shallots)
    2 tsp minced garlic (2 cloves)
    2 tbl red wine vinegar
    2 pounds ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes, 1/2 inch diced
    3 tbl julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving
    20-25 baguette slices, 1/2 inch thick, toasted
    2 tbl toasted pine nuts

    For the whipped feta: place the feta and cream cheese in a food processor, pulse until cheeses are mixed. Add 1/3 cup of olive oil, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and process until smooth.

    For the tomatoes, up to an hour before serving, combine the shallots, garlic and vinegar in a medium bowl, set aside for 5 minutes. whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in basil and taste for seasonings.

    To assemble: spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostinis on a plate and scatter toasted pine nuts over them. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.

    Favorite group dessert:

    Have fun!


  64. I love reading through these links, doling them out over the course of a Friday.

    As for easy appetizers (aside from the cheese plate), I love to put out snack mix! Just combine a bunch of different snack foods (kettle corn, pretzels, some kind of cheesy cracker, and something spicy like chile almonds) in a bowl and put it out. It’s a little fancier than just dumping out a bag of chex mix but it’s just as popular.

  65. I have never gone wrong with simple bruschetta appetizer! (buy a baguette, buy some fresh bruschetta mix from the deli, buy some grated parmesan) – slice, assemble, a few minutes to broil in the oven and done! I always want to eat it all myself though.

  66. Hummus is the best foolproof appy. Pita chips & hummus, in SoCal, Fresh&Easy’s hummus is the best when I don’t have time to make my own. But whenever there is hummus and an olive tray I am like, thats my jam!