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Easy Family Recipes: Summer Appetizers
Rate this recipe for its simplicity in preparation
Healthy Food for Kids
I love summer food-it’s fresh, brightly colored and enticing. Most of all, bountiful fruit and vegetables speak of health and well-being. When Michelle Obama began to promote the new ‘serving plate’, replacing the old food pyramid, that so many of us were familiar with as children, the six vertical lines were recreated into four colorful divisions representing a dinner plate sitting on an equally colorful placemat. Who could relate to the pyramid anyway? I know I couldn’t. Apparently, neither could the First Lady, who touted the Department of Agriculture’s new nutritional icon for its simplicity and visual effects.
Bruschetta-a family favorite
Bruschetta: quick and easy appetizer
Currently, the ‘Choosemyplate’ campaign for healthy eating is celebrating its first birthday, having been created in June 2011. The website is filled with fun, printable material for parents to download and share with their kids, such as coloring pages. Family friendly recipes and healthy eating tips are also available on the site: www.choosemyplate.gov
As for Mrs. Obama, she has been an inspiration for parents everywhere campaigning to end child obesity through her ‘Let’s Move’ fitness activities, growing a White House garden, and promoting awareness of smart choices for the dinner plate.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to eat fruits and vegetables as appetizers:
Bruschetta-Bruschetta, (pronounced broo shet’ ah), is an Italian bread that is toasted, drizzled with olive oil and covered with chopped tomatoes. It’s simple to make and is a favorite ‘hold-you-over-until-dinner’ in our home.
Ingredients for Bruschetta
- 1 loaf Italian bread or French baguette, base of bruschetta
- 2-4 T light olive oil, enhances recipe
- 2-3 Plum or Roma tomatoes, for topping on bread
- 1 clove garlic, for flavor
- 1/4 tsp each oregano, thyme, basil, for seasoning
- dash pepper, freshly ground, for seasoning
- sprinkle parmesan cheese, (optional) for flavor
Easy steps to make Bruschetta
- Slice Italian or French bread into 12-18 pieces
- Brush with olive oil
- Toast under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until golden brown
- Mix seasonings together and set aside
- Chop tomatoes and place in small bowl with remainder (if any) of olive oil.
- Mince garlic and add to tomato mixture.
- Add seasonings and blend well
- Place on top of bread and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, (optional).
Bruschetta calorie and nutritional information
|Serving size: 1|
|Calories from Fat||72|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 8 g||12%|
|Saturated fat 1 g||5%|
|Carbohydrates 14 g||5%|
|Sugar 0 g|
|Fiber 0 g|
|Protein 2 g||4%|
|Cholesterol 0 mg|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
Porcelain serving platter
Steps to Prepare Tomato Mozzarella Cheese PlatterClick thumbnail to view full-size
Tomato and Mozzarella Platter
This flavorful appetizer of tomato and cheese is truly a well presented dish that displays the colors of the Italian flag: red, white and green! A perfect side dish to accompany a summer buffet your guests will enjoy the rich flavors of the smooth cheese combined with the juicy tomatoes. In the meantime, you will delight in the simplicity of the preparation of this dish.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: zero
Serves: 6-8 servings of 2 pieces each.
1-2 Beefsteak tomatoes (depends on how many guests are being served)
1 lb. mozzarella cheese
4 T Olive oil OR Italian dressing
1. Slice tomatoes to desired thickness, enough for 6-8 servings
2. Slice mozzarella to match number of tomato slices
3. Drizzle tomato-cheese presentation with olive oil or Italian dressing or vinaigrette
4. Garnish platter with basil leaves or, roll and chop fresh basil and sprinkle on top
Vegetables for a relish tray
Finger foods to include on a relish tray
Ever since I was a young girl attending my first party, I was entranced by the wonders of the relish tray-finger food that would meet the approval of kids of all ages. I still enjoy fixing and eating relishes set out on the table. It takes but a few moments, a bit of imagination and some creative ways to present the various tidbits that add a zing to any gathering. Here are some ideas and suggestions on preparation.
Cook Time: Prep time: 30-60 minutes depending on quantity of ingredients.
Serves: A family of 2 - 4 or a party of 18; vary your ingredients accordingly.
Olives-Black or green can be bought pitted or unpitted; Spanish-with the red pimento inside and Greek Kalamata are a few popular kind. Present in small bowls or a divided server or on toothpicks.
Celery sticks-with or without a side of dressing or dip, such as Ranch or Thousand Island
Carrot sticks-for a nice change of pace and a variation to the long line of the ‘stick’, slice the carrots into circles instead.
Baby corn-I buy this from the Asian or cultural food aisle in the grocery store and leave whole or cut into bite sized pieces-which is about half of the piece.
Mushrooms-there are many types of mushrooms, however, I usually choose a Button or White mushroom which has a good flavor and texture either alone or with a side of dip. Large white ‘shrooms’ can be stuffed.
Radish-if your family members or friends like something hot to crunch on, and for an added touch of color, set some whole or halved radishes on your relish tray.
Cucumber-can be sliced vertically or horizontally to make circles or sticks.
Zucchini- leave the outer skin on, after washing well, to add color to tray
Squash-yellow squash sticks, to accompany the zucchini sticks, is another brightly colored food.
Cauliflower-cut into little ‘flowerets’ and set between two brightly colored veggies.
Broccoli-cut into little ‘trees’; serve with vegetable dip or Ranch dressing.
Pepper-thinly sliced peppers are a great addition. They come in green, red, orange and yellow.
Tomato-grape or cherry tomatoes are already bite sized to pop into your mouth.
Basic Vegetable Dip
Cook Time: Prep Time = 10 minutes plus 2 hours to chill
Serves: 18 servings of 2 T each
1 C sour cream
1 C mayonnaise or salad dressing
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of red pepper
1 T. finely chopped onion
2 tsp. parsley flakes
Dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
1. Thoroughly blend sour cream and mayonnaise.
2. Add seasonings and onion-mix well.
3. Chill for two hours before serving.
Choose a variety of fruits to serve your familyClick thumbnail to view full-size
Best Fruit Kabob
Lovely displays of fresh fruit can enhance any gathering. Bowls of blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries can be set in ramekins for individual servings. A fruit kabob is simple to make and easy for guests to grab and go. My personal favorite is a platter of fresh strawberries served with chocolate sauce or powdered sugar for dipping. Of course, strawberries are sweet enough to eat alone as well. They can be accompanied on a platter with lush red or green grapes.
Best Fruit Kabob
Cook Time: Prep Time: 30-60 minutes depending on number of items and quantity.
Serves: 6-12 (Increase portions for larger groups)
12 wooden skewers
1 medium size cantaloupe, washed and cut into chunks
1 small seedless watermelon, washed and cut into chunks
1 quart of your local market strawberries
1 pineapple, sliced and cut into chunks
2 ripe mangos, peeled and cut into chunks
To make: place prepared fruit onto skewers in alternating pattern. Chill and serve.