Whether you’re looking for something poolside and simple or a more elegant appetizer situation, these three recipes have you covered. I love July 4th, and to me, this is definitely a holiday you want to spend outside watching fireworks rather than inside prepping plates of appetizers. So I put together three of my favorite go-to appetizers (they’re either ridiculously simple or can be made ahead of time) for this fabulous holiday. Enjoy!

Watermelon Slices

This is…not really a recipe. But if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about hosting, it’s that if you garnish, people give you a lot more credit than you deserve. Garnishing is the best ROI on effort to accolades I’ve ever seen. This is essentially sliced watermelon with some business on top, but it looks effortful and elegant, and like you have strong opinions on things. It’s just enough effort for you to laugh, “Oh, it was nothing!” and really sell it. Enjoy this bright, delicious, raw, vegan, all the things non recipe.


Watermelon, sliced

Togarashi (or chili powder + salt)

1 lime wedge

Top the slices with togarashi and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy!

Bacon Jalapeno Pigs in a Blanket

Danger dogs are an LA staple, and probably one of my favorite things about late night dining in my city. The concept is simple: bacon wrapped hotdogs cooked on a griddle while onions and jalapeno brown in the bacon fat running off. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds. So, to channel some of that deliciousness into appetizer form, I simply dressed up the classic pigs in a blanket with some bacon and jalapeno. They’re delicious, they’re addictive, and you can enjoy them whenever – not just 2 a.m.


1 dozen little smokies (or other mini hotdogs)

6 bacon slices, cut into halves

1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (you’ll need 12 slices)

1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted

1 egg, for egg wash


Pre heat oven to 375F

Wrap each little smokie in a piece of bacon, securing with a toothpick. Lay them out on a baking sheet, lined with parchment. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the bacon is starting to crisp up. Remove and set aside.

Cut the puff pastry into 1 1/2 inch long strips (you want a little of the little smokies hanging out on each side), and then cut into 4 inch long segments. Remove the toothpicks from the bacon wrapped little smokies, top each one with a slice of jalapeno, and wrap up in puff pastry, hiding the seam on the bottom. If you’re freezing these for a future use, secure them with tooth picks and freeze in freezer bags.

Pre heat oven to 425F.

Remove the used parchment paper on the baking sheet and replace with a new one. Set the pigs in a blanket on the sheet.  Brush them with egg wash (beat the egg with one tablespoon water) and bake them for 12 to 15 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm with plenty of mustard.

Smashed Pea Crostini

This idea is an offshoot of my sister’s favorite soup: sweet pea soup with white truffle oil, white pepper, and a bit of crumbled pancetta (or bacon) on top. The smashed peas however, are even easier to make than the soup, as it does not require being pushed through a sieve for a velvety texture. If the peas are too smooth, it takes on a baby food quality that no one above the age of 3 would enjoy. It’s extremely simple, and is entirely focused on emphasizing the sweetness of the peas. As Amanda would say: it’s legit.


For 10-15 (Depending on the size of grilled bread slices)

1 bag frozen organic sweet peas (make sure they are sweet peas, rather than regular peas)

several drops white truffle oil (optional)

white pepper

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup fresh ricotta

crème fraiche or thin sour cream

1 baguette

1/4 cup olive oil


Fill a pot of water up halfway with water, and add the salt and sugar. Bring the water to a boil and cook the peas for 3 minutes. Drain the peas and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process. This maintains their beautiful color and texture. Take the peas and put it into the food processor (this make take more than one round) and blitz until the skins are broken, yet the peas are still distinguishable (i.e. Not baby food). In a bowl, use a spatula to incorporate the pea puree and the ricotta.  Add several drops of white truffle oil, and a small amount of finely ground white pepper. Taste and adjust accordingly.

Slice the bread in small rounds for hors d’oeuvres, or diagonal slices for bruschetta-style tapas. Drizzle the bread heavily in olive oil and grill, or toast in a 350 F oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Take the puree and smooth a small round on the grilled bread and drizzle on a small bit of crème fraiche. Simple and delicious, my favorite combination. Enjoy!