My family never really celebrated the holidays and on the rare occasion that we did, the food was usually catered. The first Thanksgiving I ever cooked for my family was during my first year of college in 2004. Since then, I’ve cooked every holiday dinner and have hosted several other meals for family and friends. It was during these gatherings that I really learned to cook and developed a love for hosting parties.

By now I can cook my holiday dinners with my eyes closed and have a perfect routine set. But one thing I haven’t quite mastered are impromptu get togethers. I tend to go a little overboard sometimes with the planning and execution so impromptu dinner parties give me a bit of a panic attack. My somewhat controlling personality tends to get in the way, but since I’m trying to learn how to go with the flow and relax a bit, impromptu dinners are a must. (I was actually planning on having an “impromptu” BBQ later this month, but this real impromptu BBQ happened.)

On a random weekday, some friends and I decided to have a last minute BBQ and since I was pressed for time, I looked up recipes that could be made quickly and needed almost no attention. On the menu on my end were skirt steak, chimichurri sauce, tomato, corn, and avocado salad, and a peach and strawberry crumble with vanilla ice cream. Each friend also brought dishes, which helped immensely.

Tomato, Corn, and Avocado Salad
I love Martha Stewart and she seems to have the answer for everything so of course I would turn to her for a simple, quick, light side dish. Instead of grilling my own corn, I just used canned corn. (Recipe here).

Peach and Strawberry Crisp
I love that crisps and crumbles don’t need to be neat. It’s easy to bake and it can be made ahead and served at room temperature. I used Giada de Laurentiis’ recipe, but added more peaches, substituted the lemon juice for orange juice, and omitted the arrowroot. (Recipe here).

Chimichurri Sauce
I kicked it up a bit by adding a lot more garlic (to the point where I lost count) and added some red pepper flakes. (Recipe here).

Garlic Mashed Potato
Made by a friend.

Skirt Steak and Sausages
For most of my skirt steaks, I use a marinade recipe from Alton Brown. It’s simple, but the flavors are great and has a hint of sweetness. When it comes to marinade, I like to keep it very simple with just salt, pepper, and some kind of citrus, but even I love this sweeter marinade. (Recipe here).

Grilled Shrimp
Made by a friend.

Stuffed Mushrooms
Made by a friend.

A little bit of everything

I got through this last minute get together with no meltdowns or panic attacks and was surprisingly relaxed. It probably helped that everyone contributed and made the process so easy. If it’s one thing I learned, sometimes it’s okay to not plan everything down to the detail and just relax.

xox -

Joanna

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