New Year’s Appetizers + Hot Caprese Tomatoes

Phew. We made it through Christmas. And by made it through Christmas, I mean, where did it go? It was such a brief, shining moment. I don’t know if it was because it was on a Sunday and I didn’t score very many vacation days, but it seemed to come and go in a blink. It was a great time with my family. Playing games, watching movies and just relaxing. Oh – and eating. Did I mention the eating? We packed as much as possible into 2 days. A cherry/port glazed ham with baked sweet potatoes and French Silk pie, gruyere stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto, beef tenderloin with fresh green beans and French onion soup and fudge as far as the eye could see… It was a workout! I mean, washing the dishes was anyway…

We have one more holiday to celebrate before we begin our New Year’s diets! One more chance at some “fancy food.” One more chance to use those beautiful serving dishes that get pulled out of a cabinet one time a year. One more chance to clean the kitchen… LOL

This year, I think I will host a shindig at my place with just a few of my good friends. I am still working on the menu. I know the next day will include a decadent New Years’ Day brunch, though. I plan on making blueberry stuffed French toast, scrambled eggs with chorizo and potatoes and sliced tomatoes with homemade green salsa.

The Eve celebration will be an assortment of finger foods. I will probably use a few of my old faithful recipes. Shrimp bruschetta, Caramelized onion and brie quesadillas, antipasto skewers, Caribbean Dip in avocados… I think I will add a new one too. A baked Caprese tomato. A warm spin on the traditional Tomato, basil and mozzarella salad. Bite sized and easy to eat, it will be a familiar choice with a unique twist. Here is my recipe for this new addition. I hope your last holiday of the year finds you with people you love and have fun with. Happy celebrating!

Hot Caprese Tomatoes

1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 tub mozzarella pearls (medium size)
1 pkg fresh basil
Olive Oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

1. Wash the cherry tomatoes. Slice a very thin piece off of the bottom of each tomato to create a flat bottom that will hold the tomato up.
2. Cut the top off of each tomato and very carefully hollow them out discarding the insides. Sprinkle the tomato “shells” with salt and pepper.
3. Place a mozzarella “pearl” inside each tomato. (some might need more than one depending on the size)
4. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil.
5. Put the tomatoes under a low broiler for 6-10 minutes (depending on how hot your oven gets) Let the cheese and the top of the tomatoes start to turn golden brown.
6. While the tomatoes are broiling, wash the basil and roll several leaves into a tube. Thinly slice the basil making long, fine shreds. (called a chiffonade)
7. When the tomatoes are done, let them cool slightly (4-5 minutes). Move them onto a serving platter and drizzle the tops with balsamic vinegar and the basil chiffonade.
8. Serve! These look really pretty on bright white serving platters. You can serve them with crackers or slices of oven crisped salami too.

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