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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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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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