Category Archives: Appetizer Recipes

Easy Bruschetta!

bruschetta1 thumb Easy Bruschetta!

One of my favorite things about summer is that the grad school world tends to loosen it’s belt a little bit.  Sure, we still work everyday, but the absence of class and post-semester tension release brings time for fun summer sports, trips to the terrace, and my favorite- barbeques!

But being completely honest, while I love the lazy summer afternoon barbeques, I often procrastinate in the hours before barbeques and am stuck with the age old question: what can I bring to the grill out that I can make last minute?  I loathe just going out to the store and buying something, because it is so much more fun when it is homemade!  But when time is of the essence, I am torn.  Anyone else run into this?

Well this summer, I gotcha covered and there will be no need to run to the store for that last minute chips and salsa!  Bruschetta is a super quick, tasty appetizer that is perfectly light for summer get togethers. It takes less than 15 minutes to throw together and you can make as much as you want for a group or keep it simple for yourself.   Most of the ingredients (tomatoes, onions, and basil) can be found at your local farmer’s market for pretty cheap too!  Here’s how it goes:

Bruschetta Ingredients (for one):

1 roma tomato chopped

1 slice white onion (~2 tbsp) chopped

2 leaves fresh basil, chopped

1 small clove of garlic, minced

dash of oregano

1-2 large slice Italian bread cut in half

Bruschetta Ingredients (for a party):

7 roma tomatoes, chopped.

1 medium white onion, chopped

1/2 cup chopped basil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. oregano

9-10 slices Italian bread, cut in half.

Directions (for all):

Slice Italian bread and place on a baking sheet.  Using the broiler setting on your oven, broil until top side is golden brown and flip to broil the other side.  This should take about 4-5 minutes for the first side (once oven has heated) and about 3 minutes for the second side.  WATCH CLOSELY AND OFTEN as different ovens heat differently!

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Chop all other ingredients and mix well with spices in a large mixing bowl. Refrigerate if serving later.  When ready to serve, scoop the mixture onto bread, and enjoy!

Makes 18-20 pieces/servings of bruschetta.

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I want to hear from you!  What are some of your favorite go-to dishes for summer barbeques?

Lighter Buffalo Chicken Dip

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The Green Bay Packer-less (still bitter) Superbowl is coming up and I know you all are thinking “what am I going to take to my Superbowl party besides the doritos locos tacos 12 pack?” ….please tell me you know what commercial I’m referring too?!

Anyway,  I’ll make it easy for you. If you love the taste of buffalo wings and want an easy and crowd pleasing appetizer, this is the dip for you!  I’ve adapted this recipe to make it “lighter” so I feel less guilty about indulging in it too. icon smile Lighter Buffalo Chicken Dip  I’ve made this for several potlucks and always get asked for the recipe. The best part though?  It takes literally 10 minutes to put together. 

But before we talk recipe, can we just have a timeout to watch the cutest video I’ve ever found on youtube?



Now that you are all warm and fuzzy and inspired to change the world, onto the recipe!!

Ingredients for Lighter Buffalo Chicken Dip

1 8 oz package  reduced fat cream cheese (softened)

1 1/2 cup cooked shredded chicken (or 2 cans chunk chicken)

1/2 cup light ranch dressing

1/2 cup frank’s red hot or frank’s red hot wing sauce

1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1 6 oz. package low-fat plain greek yogurt.

NOTE: This recipe yields about 5-6 servings.  If you are making this for a party, I would suggest doubling everything!



In a microwave safe bowl, combine all ingredients except chicken and cheese, mix until well combined and smooth.  Stir in chicken and cheese.  Microwave for 2-3 minutes, stir, and then microwave again for 1 minute (or until desired temperature is reached).  Serve with tortilla chips and veggies (bonus points to all of you for eating veggies with this and making your snacking HEALTHIER).


Combine all ingredients except chicken and cheese, mix until well combined and smooth. Stir in chicken and cheese. Heat in small dip crock pot on low for about 40 min – 1 hr to get it hot enough to serve.  If you are doubling the recipe and heating in a larger crock pot-heat on low for about 1 – 1.5 hours.   

NOTE: Cooking times will vary a little with different size/brand crock pots. 

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Happy Tuesday!

Thanksgiving Appetizer- Vegetable Turkey Platter!

Need a quick, cheap, and easy Thanksgiving appetizer that is a crowd pleaser?  Look no further!  Last year, I posted this turkey that we had at at our Thanksgiving…healthy and a hit! 

veggieturkeyplatter Thanksgiving Appetizer  Vegetable Turkey Platter!

Here’s what you need:

1 cucumber, sliced thinly

1/2 stalk of celery, cut into 2 small pieces about 3-4 inches

2 full peppers of any kind (I used 1/2 green, 1/2 yellow, 1/2 orange, 1/2 red for color but to save money you can just buy any 2!)

1 bag baby carrots

What you do:

Place thinly sliced cumbers into a circle, layered on top of each other, in the center of a large serving plate.  Place celery below, cutting slits out for the talons.  Cut off the top of one pepper(for the face).  Then cut the remaining pepper in half, and thinly slice from there to create the scallops of the feathers around the cucumbers.  You can use part of the colored peppers for the face of the turkey (and then I used chocolate chips for eyes).  Place baby carrots around the top of the peppers, creating the outer layer of feathers.  Refrigerate until served!

I cannot believe Thanksgiving is less than 48 hours away.  I am so happy to be going home to see my family! 

What is your favorite Thanksgiving food?

Cyclone Salad

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And we’re back once again!  Happy Friday, all!  I have an awesome salad for you today, inspired my favorite team of all time, the Iowa State Cyclones. icon smile Cyclone Salad

My entire life we have been die-hard Iowa State fans at our house.  So it’s about time some Cyclone love made it into my cooking.  As I went about making this salad for a Fourth of July grill out, I had extra sunburst yellow tomatoes, so I decided to mix them in.  Looking at the finished product in all it’s gold and red cardinal awesomeness, I decided this shouldn’t be named chickpea and tomato salad….definitely a cyclone salad!   This is super easy dish to put together…perfect for grill outs, tailgates, potlucks, and I think even Iowa Hawkeye fans would think it’s delicious. icon smile Cyclone Salad

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Ingredients for Cyclone Salad:

1 pint red cherry tomatoes + 1 pint sunburst yellow cherry tomatoes (or you can just use all red if you want!)

2 cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained

5 cloves minced garlic

2/3 cup chopped fresh basil (about 40ish leaves)

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. honey

3 tbsp. olive oil

pinch of salt


Wash and halve cherry tomatoes and combine with garbanzo beans, garlic, and basil, mixing well.  Add in vinegars, honey, olive oil, and salt, mixing well once again.  Chill covered for at least 15-20 minutes before serving.  Easy, right?!

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Oh, and I’ll also have you know, that my roomate and I can work a grill now!

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The finished product.   Have a good weekend everyone! And when September rolls around, Go State!

Recipe adapted from Green Lite Bites.

Gobble Gobble!

Happy Turkey Day!  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday…family time, lots of laughs, counting blessings, EATING, and the black friday ads baby!  We had a great day as a family with my aunt and uncle who live nearby.  Always a good time when get together icon smile Gobble Gobble!  Here’s a little snapshot of how a holiday in our fam goes…

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This morning, I woke up to a busy kitchen.  While my parents were busy prepping the main part of the feast (Turkey, potatoes, and green bean casserole), I worked on this little guy.  Tom the turkey..a SUPER easy appetizer/veggie tray in the best shape possible for the occasion.   I’m not going to lie, this is probably my favorite thing I have EVER made and I am so pleased at how easy it was to make and actually turn out looking decent!

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This year we tried to cut down on our appetizers, as in the past we are usually full by the time we get to the big meal!  We had our turkey shaped veggie tray, dill dip, hummus, cheese, crackers, and sausage.  I opted for the cheese-cracker-sausage combo x approx. 10 (i can’t resist) and some peppers and hummus.  I was impressed at how healthy our appetizers were compared to past years and was proud of us!

Our thanksgiving menu rarely changes.  This year, it was Liz’s job to prepare the Snickers Salad.  It never leaves the menu because we cannot get enough of it!  You can find the recipe here.

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Dad usually does the turkey and stuffing…

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Our thanksgiving spread after a Packers win!  Credit to my mom for the green bean casserole and party potatoes (a Miller family tradition), I sadly didn’t get any pics of her working but she deserves so much credit!

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My thanksgiving plate…I limited myself to one serving of each yummy dish, and felt completely full by the end.  It only took my 23  years to figure out how to feel pleasant and not uncomfortable after feasting!

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A little wine please!  Cheap white zinfandel is another staple for all family holidays.  And yes, that is ketchup in the background.  My sister puts it on her turkey…weird? I would say yes, but I’m guilty of putting ketchup on unique things as well (like tacos, YUM).

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My mom also made dessert…her famous pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting!  Normally, we also overdo it with the desserts.  So, we decided on just one this year and i didn’t miss having the other ones at all!  I also appreciated the bars because I gave up chocolate for the month of November and it was nice to not be tempted!

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My wonderful family!  When I think of what I’m thankful for, they top the list.  I couldn’t be any luckier to have been supported, loved, pushed, and most of the time made fun of by them, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  I’m also incredibly thankful for the doctors, nurses, and specialists who have been helping my dad for the past few months battling his illness, as well as all of you who have prayed for our family.  We have a lot to be thankful for!

img 0631 thumb Gobble Gobble!