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Kicking off Independence Day festivities with these hot 4th of July appetizers can really get the fun times going. While some of us consider making finger foods a waste of time, thinking about how many hungry guests will be arriving with barbecue on the mind will make it worth the effort. Quite naturally, potato chips, an assortment dips and soda will only hold the hungry mob off for so long!

Besides, who wants to munch on carrot and celery sticks all afternoon while the aroma of grilling steaks and ribs fill the air? This is when the coin phrase "Can we eat yet?" becomes unnerving! If you want to really keep your guest and chef happily sated until the main course is ready, try some great tasting 4th of July appetizer recipes.

Patriotic Pops

On this holiday, we can break the rules for having dessert before dinner. The 4th of July can be a pretty hot day, especially for those grilling out in the sun. Keep everyone cool and happy with red, white and blue pops. These pops can typically be bought pre-made at the store.

DIRECTIONS: To make yourself, simply pour red, white and blue colored juices into an ice tray, and then freeze with popsicle sticks stuck in! It's one of the easiest and fun appetizers you can make during Independence Day, and a treat you can get the kids involved in making too!

Avocado Angel Eggs

Instead of the traditional deviled eggs try Avocado Angel eggs for a little taste of heaven!

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DIRECTIONS: Using one dozen large eggs to serve up to 24 guests, hard boil the eggs and let stand to cool. Then cut each egg lengthwise exposing the yolk. Remove and chop the yolk. Next combine three ripe California Avocados (peeled and pitted of course) with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1-2 cloves of very finely chopped garlic, green onions or shallots, and red, yellow and green bell peppers. Add a teaspoon of black pepper and a half teaspoon of salt. Once the avocado mixture is complete, fill the egg halves and garnish with the chopped yolk and bacon bits. Yum!

Pigs in a Blanket

Pigs in a blanket are by far the most common finger food served at nearly every family function or gathering. However, making BBQ Pigs in a blanket are fun and a slight change of pace.

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DIRECTIONS: First grill the hot dogs (using three 10 packs for 60 pigs in a blanket is ideal.) Next, all you'll need is a couple of cans of old fashion butter biscuits or croissants and your favorite BBQ sauce. Cut the hot dogs in half then taking a half slice of cheese wrap the half dogs with the cheese and biscuit. Place the prepared dogs on a cookie sheet and place in a preheated oven at 300 degrees and for 10-15 minutes or until the biscuit or croissants are plump and golden brown. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and drizzle with BBQ sauce also served on the side with mustard and mayo. Serve hot or cold these are great 4th of July appetizers!

Cheesy Meat Balls Puffs

Have a little nutrition with your finger foods for the 4th of July. Try these cheesy meat ball puffs! These are loads of fun to make and eat. All you need is your choice in meats. Be it crab, tuna, shredded or pâté beef, chicken or pork...you can select one or more meat fillings to give your guest a true treat!

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DIRECTIONS: Simply prepare the meat filling to your liking the night before. Then using a can or two of butter biscuits, flatten the precut batter and cut into smaller circles. Take a tablespoon of the meat filling and a pinch of graded American cheese. Roll into balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake in the oven at the appropriate temperature until golden brown. Once the meat balls are done, sprinkle them with cheese and bacon bits to create the best July Fourth appetizers!

pizza-grilling

When you're making a homemade pizza, it can be difficult to get that woodfired oven taste from the conventional gas or electric oven that you probably have in your kitchen. However, grilling pizza on your barbecue can indeed achieve that bubbly, slightly charred crust and taste that will rival any restaurant with a wood-burning oven, and now is the perfect time of year to try it. 

Grilled Pizza Ideas

There are lots of great recipes you can search for on the internet for making your own pizza dough. If you decide to go the route of making your own dough, make a double batch of dough so that you can freeze it for later use when you’re in a hurry. If you do two rises of yeast dough you can freeze it between the first and second rise, then just take it out of the freezer, oil it and let it rise a second time.

Make It A Pizza Party

A fun party tip is to prepare individual size pizza dough portions for guests to make their own pizza. Select the toppings, place them in bowls and everyone can make exactly the kind of pizza they want. If you want to expand out from the list of traditional toppings for grilled pizza, prepare caramelized onions or grilled veggies ahead of time to have for toppings. Pop open a can of artichoke hearts and put out some feta cheese. You can grill some sliced chicken or pre-cooked Italian sausage. Fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and fresh basil make a wonderful fresh grilled pizza.

How To Grill Your Pizza

If you decide you want to make pizza grilling an easier meal, pre-made pizza dough is available at many stores. Trader Joe’s and other grocery stores carry whole wheat and herb-flavored dough. Buy a jar of pizza sauce (or any kind of red pasta sauce that you like) and purchase pre-shredded mozzarella.

When it comes time to get ready to grill the pizza, the first step is to press out or roll out your dough. For the culinary adventurers, you can even try tossing the pizza dough. Have all of your ingredients prepared. Make sure to precook toppings such as sausage, chicken, or veggies prior to getting the grill ready.

After you have all of your ingredients laid out and your pizza dough shaped, place the dough on the grill until one side starts to puff up and get crispy and slightly charred. Take the dough off the grill and place the ingredients on the cooked side of the pizza dough. Then place the uncooked side on the grill until the crust is cooked to your taste.

Some pizza grillers suggest that you put your cheese on the bottom and sauce on the top so that the cheese is sure to melt. Other grillers say you can just assemble grilled pizza in the same order as you would traditionally get the pizza at the restaurant. Try out different methods to see what works best on your grill. Get the whole family and your guests involved in the pizza grilling process for guaranteed fun at your next party!

5-top-beach-hairstyles

One of life’s great mysteries is how on earth models and celebrities get perfect, beach waves even after being in the heat, sand and sun all day at the beach. Ideally, tousled and wavy summer hair would come easy after spending all day drying out and then getting wet again. But our hair usually ends up looking more like the washed-up seaweed clusters than sun-streaked waves of unrealistic glory we imagined.

Here are five alternative ways of wearing your hair at the beach. Sure, you can still go for the “I’ve just hopped off my yacht” waves, but here are some pretty, simple and attainable hairstyles for the beach.

Best Hairstyles to Rock at the Beach

Sun Hat

Sometimes that whole beach hair thing just isn’t doable. Let’s face it; heat and sweat and humidity aren’t exactly ideal conditions for doing hair. A floppy, straw sun hat keeps your part from getting burnt and your locks from getting tangled. Find a beach hat that will keep its shape even after getting wet or crunched in your beach bag. 

Salt Spray

Find a salt spray at a drug store to spritz in your hair and help get loose, beachy waves. Comb your hair with a wide-toothed comb immediately after getting out of the water. Towel dry hair and divide it into sections before spraying salt spray onto the middle and ends. Putting salt on hair mimics what the ocean water is supposed to do, even if you're just at a lake or pool!

Fishtail Braid

Channel your inner mermaid. This tight fishtail braid will stay in all day both in the sand and surf. Divide your hair into two sections and fold an outside piece of hair to the inside of the opposite section. Join the new piece into the old half and hold between your thumb and forefinger. Secure with a rubber band.

'50s Style Scarf

Tie your hair up in a tight bun at the top of your head and secure with an elastic. Find a patterned scarf or bandana to tie around your hairline with the knotting it at the top. If you get hot, go dip the scarf in water, wring it out and tie it back around your head to keep cool and keep frizzy fly-aways under control.

Double French Braid

French braid down both sides of your head after getting in the water. Make sure to braid as far down as possible and then tie both braids with an elastic. Once your hair dries, untie the braids to get wavy, full beach hair. 


17638 Girl scratching mosquito bite

Mosquitoes are causing problems for humans all around the globe. Their bites are an itchy and annoying part of summer, but these tiny pests also can carry potentially deadly diseases. Malaria kills about 450,000 people a year, mainly in Africa and South Asia. While malaria might not be a threat to the United States, mosquitoes in North America do carry other diseases, like West Nile virus, Dengue, Yellow Fever, Encephalitis and now the Zika virus. 

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According to the CDC, the Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 in Uganda. It hadn't been widely diagnosed until 2015 when it spread to Brazil and became a public health emergency. Cases documented in America have been linked only to travelers returning from infected countries, but it is very likely that the virus will continue to spread north from South and Central America and eventually make its way to the United States. West Nile, on the other hand, has been reported in all 48 continental states, with 2,060 confirmed human cases in 2015. Of those, 119 people died. It also affects wildlife and pets, including birds, dogs and horses. 

The difficult thing about the West Nile and Zika viruses is that many people who contract these diseases are asymptomatic or show signs similar to other viruses like the flu. So what can you do to protect yourself and your family from the mosquitoes that carry these and other diseases? Home improvement expert Bob Vila talks about the steps you can take in and around your home:

Also check out this great infographic from the National Pest Management Association to help check your yard for mosquito breeding grounds:

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