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9 Delectable Recipes To Make For An Appetizer

9 Delectable Recipes To Make For An Appetizer

1. Caprese Skewers

Note: If you love caprese anything (mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, basil), this is the appetizer for you.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • cherry or grape tomatoes, slice in half
  • mini mozzarella cheese balls (could use regular sized ball, and cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • fresh basil leaves
  • salt & pepper
  • toothpicks

Directions:

  • Bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a saucepan, lower heat to medium and simmer until the consistency starts to look like the thinner version of maple syrup (which should take 10-15 minutes).
    • Note: This is called balsamic reduction.
  • Pour into a bowl and let it cool down.
  • Cut tomatoes in half.
  • Thread a small (1/2 inch) mozzarella cheese ball, a basil leaf (fold in half if large) and half of a tomato on a toothpick.
  • Sprinkle with salt & pepper, then drizzle cooled balsamic reduction on top.

2. Hot Corn Dip (derived from Gina Marie’s Kitchen, recipe is as follows).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded chedder cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Montery Jack
  • 2 tbs chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced small
  • 1 small can (4oz) diced green chilies, undrained
  • 1/2 cup Mayo
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 11oz can of corn, drained
  • 1 small tomato
  • 2 tbs cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbs green onions, sliced thin

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix the cheeses, chiptole and green peppers, mayo, garlic powder and corn together. Pour into an oven safe dish.
  • Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly
  • Top with diced tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

3. Greek Avocado Vegetable Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup plain fat-free Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • vegetables for dipping

Directions:

  • Put the yogurt, avocados, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice in a blender or food processor (or you can put all in a bowl and use an immersion blender).
  • Mix until smooth.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Scrape dip into a serving bowl and serve with cut up vegetables.

4. Hot Pizza Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • sliced pepperoni (chopped) or previously cooked sausage (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 small can black olives (optional)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (like Prego or even better… homemade authentic sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
  • chips, sliced baguette or breadsticks for dipping

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix cream cheese and Italian seasoning in a baking pan, then spread it so that it covers the entire bottom of the pan (it doesn’t have to be perfect).
  • Combine mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses; sprinkle half over the cream cheese.
  • Optional: If you’re adding meat to the dip, add the cut-up sausage or chopped pepperoni.
  • Top with the pizza sauce, remaining half of the cheese mixture, green pepper and black olives.
  • Put in oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese mixture melts.
  • Serve with tortilla chips, sliced baguette or breadsticks.

5. Stuffed Mushrooms

Note: You can literally play around with the type of meat you put in this- it could be crabmeat, hot italian sausage or whatever floats your boat.

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Ingredients:

  • 24 ounces, White Button Mushrooms
  • 1/3 pound Hot Pork Sausage or the meat of your choice (chorizo sausage, mild Italian sausage, ground turkey, beef, etc).
  • ½ whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped spinach (optional)
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts, minced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 8 ounces, Cream Cheese
  • 1 whole Egg Yolk
  • ¾ cups Parmesan Cheese, Grated
  • 1/3 cup Dry White Wine
  • Salt And Pepper (to Taste)

Directions:

  • Wipe off or wash mushrooms in cold water. Pop out stems and throw them away.
  • Chop mushroom stems finely and set aside.
  • Brown and crumble meat into smaller pieces. Set aside on a plate to cool.
  • Add onions, peppers, and garlic to the same skillet. Cook for 2 minutes over medium low heat.
  • Pour in wine to deglaze pan, allow liquid to evaporate.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. Set mixture aside on a plate to cool.
  • In a bowl, combine cream cheese and egg yolk. Stir together with Parmesan cheese. Add cooled sausage. Stir mixture together and refrigerate for 5 minutes so the mixture becomes firmer and easier to put in the mushrooms.
  • Smear mixture into the cavity of each mushroom, creating a sizable mound over the top.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley and scallions.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let the mushrooms cool down before serving so people don’t burn their mouths.

6. Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Note: I have a few tips for you while making this. First tip is to wear gloves while handling the jalapenos. Second tip is to make sure you get all of the seeds out of the jalapenos unless you want your mouth to be literally on fire all day.

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Ingredients:

  • 15 jalapeno poppers (this will make 30 jalapeno poppers)
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1-2 packages bacon (can pick turkey bacon if you’d like, but I personally think the recipe tastes better with regular bacon and I’m a turkey bacon lover).
  • toothpicks
  • non-stick parchment paper
  • cooking sheets

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Get 1-2 cooking sheets, cover them with parchment paper.
  • Put on your gloves, cut each jalapeno in half, spoon out the seeds and everything, rinse off the jalapenos to ensure that there are no seeds left over (unless you like your mouth being singed, then leave a few seeds in each one).
  • Spoon cream cheese in each jalapeno half.
  • Wrap each cream cheese filled jalapeno half with a slice of bacon (depending on the length of the bacon, it might have to be half of a slice of bacon). Hold the bacon wrapped with a toothpick.
  • Place jalapeno poppers on cooking sheets, make sure there is at least 1/2- 1 inch space between each popper.
  • Cook poppers for 15-20 minutes.
  • Let poppers cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. The heat tends to stay in the poppers for at least 10 minutes, so wait before serving.

7. Cold Crab Dip

Note: Ketchup and horseradish sauce together make…. cocktail sauce! Yum.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg cream cheese
  • 1 can crabmeat
  • 1/2 cup horseradish sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • wheat thins for dipping

Directions:

  • Take out the entire package of cream cheese and place it in the center of a plate.
  • Add the crab meat, after you drain it, on top of the cream cheese.

8. Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 2 avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1/2 lime, juiced… or just use 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
  • A dash of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced (you can play around with the amount of diced onions, depending on how much you like onions).
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced (depending on how much you love garlic).
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional).
  • Chips for dipping

Directions:

  • Mash everything together in a bowl with a fork (start with avocados first, end with the diced tomatoes). Yummm.

9. Taco Cups

Note: This can be used for a dinner idea as well, depending on how many people you’re making it for and how many taco cups you’re making. Again, you can tweak the recipe to your liking, add or subtract things you normally add to tacos.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages wonton wrappers
  • meat of your choice: 1 package ground turkey or ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 2 cupcake trays or 2 mini muffin tins (this is way easier to eat in one bite as an appetizer than with cupcake trays)
  • 1 package shredded Mexican cheese
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced (optional)
  • green onions (optional)
  • sour cream

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Brown the meat in a large skillet.
  • Drain the fat
  • Add taco seasoning to the meat according to the directions on the package.
  • Season the meat with the taco seasoning according to package directions.
  • Using a mini muffin tin, line the wells with wonton wrappers, so the wrappers are shaped into little cups inside the wells.
  • Fill each wonton wrapper section about half full with taco meat.
  • Add the cheese on top.
  • Bake for 8 minutes, or until wrappers are slightly turning brown.
  • Serve with additional toppings… whatever you like.
  • Bam! Approximately around 30 cups of delicious taco cups.

Featured photo credit: Hot Corn Dip/Gina Marie via ginamarieskitchen.files.wordpress.com

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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