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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 January 17, 2019

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

Listen carefully:

We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

1. Pray Daily

You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

3. Smile Often

Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

4. Organize Your Working Desk

A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

How do you do that? This is my formula:

First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

8. Go Exercise

Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

The Bottom Line

It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

More Resources About Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

Reference

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