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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

Easy to make and disappears quickly

Easy to make and disappears quickly

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:

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.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

12 min

2 min

14 min

6-8 servings of 2 pieces per person

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

  1. Slice Italian or French bread into 12-18 pieces
  2. Brush with olive oil
  3. Toast under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until golden brown
  4. Mix seasonings together and set aside
  5. Chop tomatoes and place in small bowl with remainder (if any) of olive oil.
  6. Mince garlic and add to tomato mixture.
  7. Add seasonings and blend well
  8. Place on top of bread and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, (optional).

Italian Recipes

Porcelain serving platter

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.

Cook Time:

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)

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1 lb. mozzarella cheese

4 T Olive oil OR Italian dressing

Fresh basil

To Make:

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

Use a variety of peppers for color

Use a variety of peppers for color

Broccoli 'trees' please many young children.

Broccoli 'trees' please many young children.

A variety of bite sized vegetables is appealing and easy for kids to handle.

A variety of bite sized vegetables is appealing and easy for kids to handle.

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.

Kid Friendly Recipes

Gardening Resources

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)

To Make:

1. Thoroughly blend sour cream and mayonnaise.

2. Add seasonings and onion-mix well.

3. Chill for two hours before serving.

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.


Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on July 07, 2014:

Au fait - who would have thought that something this simple would look so great and taste good too! Hope the 4th was a great celebration for you.

Hi Rebecca-tomatoes and mozzarella are a refreshing combo to serve in the summer. Simple, too. Thanks for stopping by.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on June 30, 2014:

Nice ideas for snacking! Tomatoes with mozzarella slices sounds like a good combination. Thanks!

C E Clark from North Texas on June 30, 2014:

These appetizers all look great for the upcoming 4th celebrations (or any time) if people are planning get togethers or picnics in their backyard before going off to the fireworks. Yummy and healthful! Pinning to Awesome Hubpages, voted up, BAUI, and will share with followers.

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on October 13, 2012:

Thanks Elle for reading and commenting. :) I love any kind of tomato-especially straight off the vine and warmed by the sun.

ElleBee on October 12, 2012:

Happy to see some great tomato recipes! I love my tomatoes. Bruschetta & with mozarella are definitely great ways to eat them. I htink my favorite is plain grape tomatoes straight from the container :)

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on October 06, 2012:

Hello ishwaryaa22-thanks for your enthusiastic feedback! I love cooking and presenting food like this to my family and friends. We just had bruschetta last night, as a matter of fact. And, I added a butternut squash soup and homemade apple pie. Yum!

Thanks for the congrats and share. Enjoy your weekend.

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on October 06, 2012:

A delicious bunch of recipe ideas! I once made similiar appetizers but instead of Italian bread, I used light crackers. After reading your engaging hub, I will buy Italian bruschetta from local organic imported food markets. I like using garden-fresh vegetables & fruits! An engaging hub! Belated Congrats! Way to go!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Awesome. Voted up, shared & pinned

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on August 15, 2012:

We're approaching Hurricane Season, before our winter. I'm not looking forward to either one!

Mary from Cronulla NSW on August 14, 2012:

Yes its still chilly down under this time of the are welcome...always good to drop by for an interesting read...cheers

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on August 14, 2012:

Hi Mary-I forgot where you are living-our summer is waning, so I will be enjoying the harvest season soon. Thanks for reading and commenting. I love fresh veggies, too. :)

Mary from Cronulla NSW on August 14, 2012:

Theses are such great fresh appetizer ideas Denise...I love raw vegies and will be glad to see our summer arrive for them to be plentiful...cheers

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on August 07, 2012:

LOL you remember some of our family dinners? I think there was a movie (Mermaids?) with Cher as the mother who was constantly fixing 'appetizers' as family meals and it always reminds me of the movie when I get into this mode. But, they are not difficult to make, are very nutritious and just plain fun for a change of pace!


cardelean from Michigan on August 07, 2012:

Yummy! It looks like all of these delicious appetizers would be a fun dinner one night! Great recipes and great ideas.

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on July 16, 2012:

Hi Docmo-thanks for reading and commenting about the lovely and easy summer appetizers. They are all healthy, though, I promise! But, the one I am working on right now will be a real diet killer! It's pie...and NOT pi.

Mohan Kumar from UK on July 16, 2012:

These will come in really handy for our summer parties and get togethers. I'm a complete fan of bruschetta and love it with fresh tomato and mozarella or a pesto twist. these useful recipes are delicious. Its nto good for my diet, though Denise. If you keep producing these yummy recipes it wont do my tummy much good!

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on July 03, 2012:

Kristen-thanks for reading and giving such great feedback. I have been aware of the "choosemyplate" campaign since it began, partly due to the health component and being a nurse, partly because I am so interested in what Michelle has offered this country as First Lady. Thank you for the 'congrats'-I was so very surprised!

Vespawoolf-Thank you for the congrats and your comments. Enjoy!

Hello How-to...I appreciate the 'luck'. I was quite taken aback, actually. The hub that took the least amount of time to put together for the contest, go figure! hahaha. I'm glad you liked the quick food ideas! Have fun with them.

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on July 03, 2012:

Hello Simone-I'm so glad that this hub gave you a look at a healthy version of an appetizer! Thanks for your feedback!

Hi Klara-Thanks! I haven't been on the computer much and Cara broke the news to me. :)

L M Reid from Ireland on June 30, 2012:

Great ideas for quick and easy summer food. Good luck with the competition and congrats on getting this far

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on June 29, 2012:

What a bunch of great ideas! Congrats on placing in the contest.

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on June 29, 2012:

I'm so glad to read this and learn about the 'choose my plate' campaign. I absolutely love bruschetta, anything with chopped tomato really. All the appetizers certainly are not only healthy and colorful but look delicious. I especially love the idea of the fruit kebab. Congratulations on winning one of the recipe contest's weekly prizes!

klarawieck on June 29, 2012:

Congrats, Denise! You deserve it!

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on June 29, 2012:

Goodness me... I never really like eating appetizers since they're usually greasy and fattening and spoil my appetite, but these are quite different! I love how healthy and fresh they are- plus they look delicious. Thanks for these great ideas.

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on June 28, 2012:

Hi How to ...thanks for your feedback. (I love appetizers and have a visual of Cher in a movie I believe was entitled 'Mermaids'? where she gave her kids appetizers as meals ALL THE TIME! I was trying to remember if that movie was about me when I was raising my girls, haha. Anyway, thanks for the twitter share and 5 stars. Appetizers are as much fun preparing and 'anticipating' sitting down with, as they are eating them. :)

L M Reid from Ireland on June 28, 2012:

A very interesting variety of quick and easy foods to prepare for the summer. They look tasty so might try a few soon.

Shared on twitter and voted 5 stars

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on June 28, 2012:

Hi algarveview-thanks for your feedback. Enjoy the fruit kabobs. There is so much wonderful fresh fruit to choose from during the summer. And, thanks for the vote and share! :)

Joana e Bruno from Algarve, Portugal on June 27, 2012:

Hello, Denise, really great healthy recipes... They are easy to do, delicious and refreshing... I do the Bruschetta quite often and also the tomato and mozzarella platter, but I never tried the other two... Bet the kids will love it, especially the fruit kabob... Voted up, useful and sharing!

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on June 26, 2012:

Ok-now I'm curious...what did you eat? haha!

Joshua Zerbini from Pennsylvania on June 26, 2012:

Haha, you are welcome anytime! :)

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on June 26, 2012:

Hi B.Malin-lucky you that you have such an accessability to fresh fruits and veggies...not so in my small town here in NC. But, the farmer's have a local stand so that helps.

Josh-glad the photos made your mouthwater. Hope you go out and satisfy your craving, haha Thanks for commenting.

Vellur-thanks for the vote up. I hope you satisfied that hunger by now, LOL

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on June 26, 2012:

Klara-thanks for the great idea ... now, if I can only find an audience and sponsor, haha.

Hi Carrie-my kids loved anything they could poke a toothpick in to put in their mouths. Thanks for your comment.

Pamela-you've got to give the bruschetta a whirl-not difficult at all and very wholesome.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on June 25, 2012:

Awesome recipes. Great summer appetizers, now am hungry. Voted up.

Joshua Zerbini from Pennsylvania on June 25, 2012:

This looks amazing Denise! So mouthwatering and delicious-looking! You are making me hungry, this is cruel and not fair! :) Thanks for the share and not keeping it to yourself! :)

b. Malin on June 25, 2012:

Wonderful, Mouthwatering Ideas Denise, and so Easy to do and Tempting to try! I've always liked Bruschetta, so thanks for the Recipe! I'm always able to get lots of Fresh Fruits and Vegetable, for we have a Fantastic Market that only carries those Items, brought in daily, and are Cheap...Don't know how they do it, but the Public Benefits!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 25, 2012:

Thanks for that wonderful recipe. I like bruschetta but have never made it, but I will now. As for fruits, we serve a lot of fruit, especially in the summer and the kabobs are a great idea.

carriethomson from United Kingdom on June 25, 2012:

thanks for the beautiful idea of making yummy recipes for kids......i am really going to try for of little nephew and sure he will enjoy that star shaped ..........

klarawieck on June 25, 2012:

Yum! I'm hungry now, Denise. These are great and easy recipes that kids will surely love. Parents will appreciate not having to spend the entire day cooking, too. So when are you going to start your own cooking show? :D

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on June 25, 2012:

Thanks Danette. I like that idea. I used to do the same with the girls-just fix little appetizers we all liked. Remember the parties mom and dad would have down in the basement and us sneaking to try to get some treats? Thank gosh for the booze! It put everyone in a jolly mood, haha.

Danette Watt from Illinois on June 25, 2012:

Yum, all that fruit looks great! We used to have what I called "party food" for dinner once in a while when the kids were younger. Since I had some nice appetizer recipes but never had a party, I just made them for us! Voted 5 starts for ease and summer.

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on June 25, 2012:

Hi Frank-thanks for reading and commenting. I do simple and easy for the convenience of myself, haha ESpecially in the summer. Outside of a bit of prep there's really nothing to these recipes!

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on June 25, 2012:

Denise thanks for the recipe. I love easy.. i know you had to put alot into this hub to make it easier for guys like me..LOL bless you for that Frank

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on June 25, 2012:

LOL Good morning, Kelley-hadn't considered a fruit kabob breakfast, but you're right! That sounds very good. I'll have to bring some to work with me on Tuesday. Thanks for stopping by and for the vote and STARS! :)

kelleyward on June 25, 2012:

Thanks for sharing these fantastic ideas. I'd forgotten about the fruit kabobs for the kids. We use to make these all the time. I'm off to make one for breakfast! Voted up and give 5 stars! Kelley

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