It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We often need reminders of this! I made the mistake of going to Costco today to pick up a few things (mixed nuts, sparkling water, and purified water) and was slammed with a holiday hurricane of stressed out shoppers charging through the aisles and grabbing samples by the handfuls! There was no joy and the samplers were far from jolly. It just felt like rush, rush rush! As I left the store I managed to get out of the packed parking lot dodging cars vying for my spot and got into bumper to bumper traffic. By the time I got home, I just wanted to relax! What is it about the holidays that makes everyone so crazy?
The atmosphere at the store was hectic, and the samples were overly complicated, standardly boring pre-frozen pastry type appetizers. I felt bloated just looking at them! I was in charge of bringing an app to our family Christmas, but wanted to do something fresh + simple that would be tasty and also leave everyone light on their feet. Plus, it had to fit in with my party-dish rules:
1) Affordable– So you can spend the savings on a kick-ass grab bag gift
2) Healthy– to balance out all the 7 layer cheese dips and sugar coated sugar cookies
3) Simple– these aren’t the Top Chef finals
4) Festive– ‘Tis the season!
I started googling holiday-themed dishes and was disappointed with the results: overly-rich or food-dye sugary options. Dr. Mark Hyman wrote a great article about how to get through the holidays without feeling sick and gaining weight while eating at restaurants. There was a ton of great advice in there and it inspired me to create my new favorite holiday recipe!
Reminding me of my mom’s holiday cranberry wreath, hung over our fireplace each year, the “Caprese Christmas Wreath” is simple with just 3 ingredients, costs less than $10 and takes about 10 minutes to assemble- start to finish. Plus its really cute and was the first to go at my last party!
10.5 oz cherry tomatoes
2 oz. organic fresh basil leaves, stems removed
8 oz. fresh mozzarella pearls packed in water, drained
(optional) Balsamic vinegar for dip
1) Using a strainer, thoroughly rinse the fresh basil leaves under warm running water and pat dry with paper towels. Repeat with cherry tomatoes.
2) Arrange the basil leaves, stem facing in, around the edges of a plate. The plate size will determine how large your “wreath” will be.
3) Grab those toothpicks! Spear 1 mozzarella pearl, next add a basil leaf (torn or folded in half), followed by a cherry tomato. Make sure the toothpick does not poke the cherry tomato through and come out the other end. Repeat.
4) Using the Caprese toothpicks, start assembling a ring on top of the basil you laid out on the plate (exposed toothpick side facing inward). Once you’ve created a circle, start the next ring, just inside of the first one. (Our plate allowed for 2 rings, before all the exposed toothpick parts were touching in the center).
5) Tear any leftover basil into pieces and use to cover the exposed toothpicks in the center of the wreath. Top the torn basil pieces with additional mozzarella pearls.
Place additional toothpicks next to your Caprese Christmas Wreath for guests to use. This appetizer is great on its own, or complimented with balsamic vinegar as a dip option.
We wish you a HAPPY + HEALTHY Holiday season!
Live your WHOLE life,
Shannon + Meg
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