WFMW: Recipe Roundups

I love Pinterest. And I love looking for – and trying – new recipes. But sometimes? Sometimes Pinterest can be just teensy bit overwhelming! That’s why I love finding recipe roundups. One link and a bunch of recipes? SO much easier to deal with!!

And since I am always so glad to find recipe roundups on Pinterest, every once in a while I like to make them, too. Here are a few of my favorites (they might come in handy if you’re planning a Superbowl party!):

15 Lemon Chicken Recipes



26 Recipes for Your Next Picnic or Potluck



17 S'mores-Themed Recipes



40 Ideas for Make Your Own {Food} Bars



70+ Amazing Appetizers to Make Any Party a Hit



80+ Delicious Recipes for a Mexican Fiesta



From the many ways to make lemon chicken to and foods perfect for a BBQ to appetizers and Mexican food, recipe roundups work for me!

Do you ever get overwhelmed looking for new recipes on Pinterest? How do you feel about recipe roundups? Tell us in the comments!

Works for Me Wednesday :: Giving Up on Perfect

It’s time for Works for Me Wednesday. I can’t wait to see what tips you all have for us this week! If this is your first time linking up with WFMW here, PLEASE read the guidelines I shared in this post. Highlights include linking your specific post, not the front page of your blog, and making sure to include a link back to this site in your WFMW. Thank you!!

Turning Lemons into a Pink Lemonade Cake

Pink Lemonade Cake - an easy recipe for a delicious, gorgeous dessert!

Even though this series is about finding the bright spot in all kinds of circumstances, I can’t resist taking the lemon and lemonade parts literally.

At least a few times this month.

And by “few times” I mean once a week. Yes, that’s right. Though lemon is not actually my favorite flavor, I’m going to try and then share some kind of lemon recipe with you each Friday. And today I’m starting with one of the most fun recipes I’ve tried over the past few years.

I present to you . . . Pink Lemonade Cake.

Pink Lemonade Cake - an easy recipe for a delicious, gorgeous dessert!

It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

Well, don’t be deceived by my fancy photography. Here’s what it looked like shortly before I sliced it (and shortly after our company arrived, just to keep me honest):

Pink Frosting - Nailed it!

Cake decorating – NAILED IT!

Heh.

Let this be a lesson to all of us in thinking you’re too good for frosting out of a can. Or adding too much milk and thinking it’ll be okay and let’s just frost the cake anyway. Don’t be like me.

[But . . . um . . . look! Frosting disaster = LEMON. Story about giving up on perfect = LEMONADE CAKE. Yup.]

This cake really is easy to make and fun to look at. And, oh yeah! It tastes good, too! It’s great for baby showers, summer picnics, tea parties and little girl birthdays. Or anytime you want a pretty, pretty pink cake.

Pink Lemonade Cake - an easy recipe for a delicious, gorgeous dessert!

Pink Lemonade Cake

1 white cake mix
3 eggs
1 ¼ cup water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp pink lemonade mix
A few drops red food coloring

Frosting:
1 lb. powdered sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter
3 tbsp pink lemonade mix
pink sprinkles

Mix the cake ingredients as directed on the box, then add lemonade mix and food coloring to desired color. (My mix called for egg whites only, but I didn’t mess with that. And the cake was neither the wrong color nor the wrong consistency.) Pour batter into two greased round pans. Bake for 30 minutes on 350 degrees (or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean).

While the cakes cool (if you’re not also frantically picking toys off the floor and brushing cat hair off your couch), mix sugar, butter and mix together for frosting. I found that to be too stiff, so I added a few splashes of milk. Be careful with that. Don’t be like me. (And if you add too much milk, making the frosting runny, just add in more sugar.)

Place one cake on plate and frost the top. Add the second cake and frost the whole thing. Shake on a few sprinkles if you’d like. (And believe me, if you happen to have a small girl in your house, you’d like.) Keep covered in fridge and serve chilled.

It would probably look pretty to garnish with slices of lemon and/or strawberries. Which is why I bought a lemon and new carton of strawberries. Since rushing around to fix the gloppy frosting didn’t allow for such fanciness, though, I’m only guessing here.

What’s your favorite lemon recipe?

31 Days Lemonade Footer

This post is part of a 31 Days series. Make sure you don’t miss a single post by subscribing to this blog. Once you confirm your email subscription, you’ll be entered into an exclusive weekly drawing [during the month of October] for a Daily Grace pitcher from DaySpring.

26 Recipes for Your Next Picnic or BBQ

26 Recipes for Your Next Picnic or Potluck




Picnic.
Barbecue.
Cookout.
Grill out.
Hamburger fry.
Potluck at the park.

What do you call an outdoor gathering with food? I usually go with barbecue, although since I live in the (FINE. one of the?) BBQ capital, that can be a tad confusing.

Anyway.

Three of my friends and I have been trying to coordinate our husbands, children and schedules to get together for the first time in a long time. We’ve been trying to coordinate ourselves for weeks – and still, we don’t have a solid plan yet.

Full disclosure: this is mostly my fault. We had a plan for this weekend, and then my schedule got changed and got in the way. *SIGH* But before I messed it all up, we were debating between Mexican and burgers for the menu. And I was so excited for burgers. Because I was going to make a new salad for my friends!

[My friends love it when I try new recipes on them. Or maybe they don't. But they act like they do. They're good friends like that.]

Anyway. Again.

While I might not be making a new salad or attending a barbecue/cookout/picnic this weekend, YOU might be. And if you aren’t this weekend, then you definitely might be the week after – Labor Day weekend. So now’s the time to gather up some of those recipes to try, right?

I went through my favorite recipes – and my Pinterest boards, and then I asked a few friends for their favorite recipes for a picnic. So now without further ado – or additional anyways, here are more than 25 recipes for your next picnic or barbecue!

(And if your coming weekends are low-key, no problem. Just pin this for later!)

26 Recipes for Your Next Picnic or Potluck



For the main dish:

  • Bacon Burgers with Bacon Jam – If you’re of the opinion that bacon makes everything better, then these burgers are for you. And if you’re not, well, I don’t really know what to say to that.
  • Baked Chicken Taquitos – Hey look, we don’t HAVE to choose between Mexican and picnic menus! Seriously, though, these are delicious – and finger food is always good picnic food!
  • Meatball Skewers from Goodeness Gracious – These look so good! And, oh hey, it’s always a good thing to add some veggies to the mix, right?
  • Taco Salad Bags – I’ve linked to Dana’s taco salad bags before, because I think it’s such a great idea. And especially for a picnic with kids, this would be a great meal! (And yes…I do realize that I combined Mexican food and picnics again…it can’t be helped!)
  • Chicken Bacon Sub Sandwiches – My family members are picky enough that I would never presume to make the same sandwich for all of us (or one big one that can be cut up – those always look fun). But if I needed a main dish for a potluck picnic, I imagine a basket of these sandwiches from A Slob Comes Clean (or one of those big ones – hoagie, sub, what do YOU call it?) would be perfect.
  • Picnic Chicken – Because what’s a picnic without some fried chicken?
  • Slow Cooker Dr Pepper Pulled Pork – I’ve tried this and it IS really good. Grab a bag of buns, and you’ve got sandwiches!

Corn Casserole with Bacon



For the side dishes:

  • Loaded Baked Potato Salad – Hello? What is a potluck or picnic or cookout without a potato salad?!
  • Bacon Deviled Eggs – Ditto for deviled eggs, but why not add bacon? I hear it makes everything better…
  • Flag Fruit Kebabs – Why only make this for the 4th of July? Fruit is pretty and delicious any day of the year, you know!
  • Corn Casserole with Bacon – My brother’s recipe is perfect for any gathering. I mean, you wouldn’t want to make it for a small dinner of four. You’d be forced to eat it all. And that would just be … delicious … terrible. So make it for your barbecue. (Just make sure you’re at the front of the line!)
  • Beautiful Veggie Tray – It doesn’t take much extra time to arrange your veggies by color. I’m partial to the one I served at Annalyn’s Veggie Tales birthday party, but Pinterest also has tons of rainbow veggie trays for inspiration.
  • Watermelon on a Stick – Best. Popsicle. Ever.
  • Deviled Egg Pasta Salad – This is the recipe I was going to try. So it’s also the one I’m hoping to find a reason to try it soon anyway. {Who has a barbecue invitation for me?}
  • Ranch BLT Pasta Salad – This one from Cinnamon, Spice & Everything Nice looks really good, too. And what a delicious twist on the usual pasta salad!
  • Lemony Vegetable Quinoa Salad – Veggies and healthy grains? Well, yes, I do think this salad from Jessie is the perfect balance to some of these heavier dishes.
  • Slow Cooker Sweet & Tangy Baked Beans – I do love a touch of sweet in my baked beans, and Cris has a great recipe for making them in the Crock Pot.
  • Creamy Crock Pot Mac & Cheese – Recipes That Crock has a ton of great slow cooker recipes – and this mac & cheese would be perfect for a picnic or potluck.
  • Blue Ribbon Amish Dill Pickles – Shannan promises that a) you don’t need a canner and b) everyone will love these. I’M IN.

26 Recipes for Your Next Picnic or Potluck



For the desserts:

  • Mini Fruit Pizzas – It’s a cookie. But it’s covered in fruit. Can you say “guilt-free dessert” … and “just one more”?!
  • Pink Lemonade Cake (or Cupcakes) – They’re pretty and tangy and sweet and fun. What more do you need?
  • Monster Cookies – I love these flourless cookies for any get-together or gathering. Or breakfast.
  • Eclairs in a Jar – I know I just made s’mores in a jar. And I promise I’m not going crazy with this food-in-a-jar trend. But … eclairs … IN A JAR! I’m definitely making these soon.
  • Butterfinger Cake – Jessie shared this recipe a while ago, and I completely forgot about it until I looked at some of my Pinterest boards. I’ve already re-pinned it so it’s at the top of my board and my memory!
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Campfire Burritos – It’s like a Reese’s. From the grill. In our mouths. Y-U-M.
  • Anything to do with S’mores – Of course.

What do you like taking – or eating! – to picnics?

28 SIMPLE After-School Snack Ideas

snack apples

We have a snack problem at our house. Namely, we like them too much. And by “we,” I mostly mean my six-year-old, but she learned it from me. [Cue the commercial flashback now: "I learned it from watching you, okay?!"] Given the choice between three meals and all-day snacking, we’d both choose the snacks, hands down.

And it’s not that snacks are bad – except when they are. Except when they are high-calorie and less-than-filling. Except when we eat them at the wrong times – like right before dinner or bedtime. Snacks can also be bad – or at least annoying – when I’m trying to think of something healthy and filling to give Annalyn right after school. So in an attempt to be a little more organized – and a lot more healthy – we sat down and made a list of simple after-school snacks I’ll keep on hand this year.

It took my daughter and me about five minutes to come up with this list, and several of the foods are already in our fridge or pantry. But not everyone is so fortunate.

Snacks are a problem at other houses, but not for the same reasons. For the 16 million kids living in poverty, finding nutritious snacks can be a challenge. And since kids who eat healthy foods are better equipped to succeed in school, this is a big deal. That’s why I was excited to learn that Champions for Kids has a SIMPLE Giving program to address this issue.

To ensure children have access to nutritious snacks, Champions for Kids is teaming up with Dole, Emerald, Kellogg Company and Walmart. You can participate by simply purchasing and donating snack food items at your local participating Walmart from August 1-18. If your Walmart store is participating, simply purchase breakfast foods and place them in the purple donation bins at the front of the store after checkout. (To see a list of participating stores, click here.) All of the donations go to children in the school district where the Walmart store is located!

28 SIMPLE After-School Snack Ideas | givinguponperfect.com

Now, for our list of SIMPLE after-school snack ideas. We bought a bunch of these foods earlier in the week in preparation for school starting today – and grabbed a few extras to drop in the SIMPLE Giving box on our way out the door!

  • Apples (sometimes with peanut butter)
  • Bananas
  • Clementines or mandarin oranges
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe or other fresh, seasonal fruit
  • Applesauce cups
  • Canned pineapple, mandarin oranges or other fruit
  • Dried fruit like raisins, banana chips, craisins or apple chips
  • Yogurt-covered raisins
  • Carrots (with ranch or veggie dip)
  • Celery (with peanut butter and raisins if I’m real ambitious)
  • Slices of red or green peppers
  • Edamame (not in our house, if I’m being honest, but maybe yours)
  • Pretzels
  • Goldfish
  • Wheat Thins or Cheez-Its
  • Graham crackers
  • Dry cereal (usually Cheerios, but Golden Grahams are a family favorite, too)
  • Granola bars (I prefer the ones with extra fiber and/or protein so they last)
  • Pepperoni slices (or lunch meat roll-ups)
  • Almonds (or other nuts) (Walmart has several flavors and I love them all!)
  • Yogurt tubes
  • Pudding cups
  • Cheese sticks

What are YOUR favorite (simple, healthy) snacks?

——————-

About Champions for Kids

Champions for Kids makes it simple to give children in local communities the resources they need to thrive and seeks to ignite generational change by fostering a habit of giving among youth and parents in America. The core values of Champions for Kids are simple, yet profound, and drive their efforts to mobilize millions to help children — All children should have: Someone who cares; a Place to belong; Hope for tomorrow and provisions for their journey. All children.

I’m participating in this program on behalf of Champions for Kids and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

Family Recipe: Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownies

Chocolate Chunk Fudge Brownies | GivingUpOnPerfect.com

You all were so welcoming to my brother this spring when he shared his recipe for Corn Casserole with Bacon. So it only made sense to ask him to write about his ah-maze-ing brownie recipe. I was even going to make a little joke about “brownie points.”

Then I read his rant post (originally titled “Brownies with a Side of Soapbox”). Hrmmm. Well, I hope you’ll be welcoming all the same. But just know if you come to my house, I’m gonna make brownies from a box. And you’re gonna like it.

P.S. If you like your recipe straightforward and free of humorous commentary, scroll on down to the bottom. But you’re missing out, just so you know.

————————–

I have recently become aware of some shocking – nay, alarming – news that has rocked me to the core. Word on the street is that some people in this world use mixes to make things like cakes and brownies. Did you audibly gasp??!! I don’t want to say where I heard this, or mention names of people like friends, family, or the owner of this blog, but I wanted you all to be aware of this massive problem.

Imagine me holding a candle, standing in front of a black curtain, and some sad Sarah McLachlan music playing in the background: I’d like you to join me in helping people who only use sugary, powdered box mixes found on the baking aisle of most supermarkets. These quick cooks don’t know any better, and need OUR help. [dramatic pause for effect] To give to this important cause, please search your heart and wallet to send a check or spare change to the address below. Together we’ll beat this brownie epidemic. Pandemic? They bake in a pan…well, whatever.

Maybe that’s going a bit far.

How about I just show you a fantastic (and super simple) brownie recipe that will either a.) change your life forever, and force you to forget those easy box brownie mixes in the back of your pantry, or b.) give you something humorous to read while you use your finger like a Fun Dip stick to get all that brownie powder out of the bottom of the cellophane wrapper…because you don’t want to waste it if you’re going to start making brownies from scratch. Right? RIGHT??

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and quickly changed it to fit what I like about brownies. Originally, they were called “Ooey Gooey Brownies,” and after following the recipe to the letter the first time, I found they really meant to call them “Chocolate Bricks.” Also, “ooey” isn’t a word. I prefer a more cake-like brownie that melts in my mouth, and doesn’t take a jack hammer to cut.

So, I modified and added and changed and redid and remixed and gained 10 pounds trying brownies and then ate more because I was depressed about gaining 10 pounds of brownie weight and baked and finally…FINALLY came to the perfect combination of light, yet substantial, chocolate-y goodness.

Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownies | GivingUpOnPerfect.com

To begin, take a cue from Rachael Ray. If she’s taught us anything (other than the fact people need a faster way to say Extra Virgin Olive Oil) it’s that we should collect all of our ingredients together before making a recipe. This really is my secret to baking goodies from scratch so quickly. I don’t have to revisit the fridge or cabinet 12 times to pick up each and every ingredient. And since I’m trying to convince you to make scratch brownies, the faster I can whip this up for you, the better. You’ll need:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1

2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

3

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips

4

Is there anything better than a big, honkin’ pile of chocolate? Maybe a big pile of bacon, but for that, you’ll have to revisit this recipe. Those are all the ingredients. That’s it.

Do I have any converts to the scratch recipe yet? The thing about this is there really aren’t THAT many ingredients. It’s quite a basic, straightforward sort of thing that really shouldn’t take more time to put together than a box mix. I mean, it takes 5 minutes just to rip those dumb cellophane wrappers open. In those same 5 minutes, you could be halfway through this recipe!

Okay. Now you have all of your ingredients together, I’ve climbed off my soapbox, and we’re ready to move ahead.

Go over and preheat your oven to 350. My oven takes about 10 minutes to preheat, and by the time it beeps to tell me it has finished heating up I have everything mixed. Grab your favorite bowl and mixer…or stand mixer with paddle attachment, if you’re one of those fancy people. Toss in the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Cream these things until they are light and fluffy, and sort of look like scrambled eggs.

5

Now add the eggs. Use those upper arm muscles and aerate the sugar, butter, egg mixture. This will add lightness to the brownies later. Of course, don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is combined completely.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Use a fork to give it a quick whisk and get out all those flour lumps Martha Stewart has been warning us about since the mid ‘80s.

Next, add the dry ingredients to the wet ones.

Warning: because I’ve tested this recipe for you (feel free to thank me later for my sacrifice of eating batches and batches of brownies before writing up this recipe), I know that if you go at the flour, cocoa mixture in the butter, sugar, eggs with the mixer on high you’ll end up putting a lovely, fine dusting of cocoa powder over everything in your kitchen. I recommend mixing the dry ingredients into the wet ones with a rubber spatula first. After the dry is wet you can attack it all with the mixer and add more air into the thick batter.

Last, but most importantly, add in your chocolate chips and mix everything together with a rubber spatula. Don’t use the mixer here, because the chocolate chips are delicate and sensitive, and will fall apart like THAT relative at most family functions.

I use the two different kinds of chocolate chips, but if you want all milk chocolate chips…go for it. It’s your diet buster, not mine. I’ve even entertained the thought that a cup of white chocolate chips could replace one cup of the other. Or peanut butter chips. Or butterscotch chips. Whatever you want to use will be fine with me. I won’t show up at your door and reprimand you for being creative. That’s not how I roll.

Once everything is mixed thoroughly, place the batter in a buttered and parchment papered 9×9 inch pan. Smooth the top, and squish the batter into the corners. It will be thick, but manageable, and suddenly this became a shampoo commercial. Some of you may recognize this as the corn pan. I promise, I’ve washed it since then.

9

Place the brownies in the oven on the middle rack and bake on 350F for 35-40 minutes. I bake mine for exactly 37 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking. I’ve baked them for less time and they come out very “gooey” and don’t stick together out of the pan. I’ve baked them for more time and they come out tough. It’s a Russian roulette sort of thing, but I trust you’ll find the perfect time for them in your oven.

Once the brownies have baked, remove them from the oven and place on a cooling rack. An upside down mini muffin tin works well if you are cooling rack-less. This is the most difficult step: let them cool in the pan for AT LEAST 30 minutes, up to an hour.

These will be the longest moments of your life, but well worth the wait.

The brownies need to set up before you remove them from the pan, and will crumble if you don’t give them some time (again, I know this from experience. It’s been a tough journey, you guys.). Once out of the pan, cut them however you like. Make 16 squares or 9 rectangles. I can usually eat 2 or 3…or 4, 1-inch squares at a time, but as my sister and I have discussed, most people would probably stop at one.

10

I hope you enjoy this recipe. It’s truly life-changing and tastes amazing without all the weird, powdered ingredients in a box mix. They’re easy to throw together and well worth the effort. You won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chunk Fudge Brownies | GivingUpOnPerfect.com

CHOCOLATE CHUNK BROWNIES

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35-40 minutes
Yield: 9-16 brownies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and parchment paper a 9×9 inch pan.
  2.  In a large bowl, using a mixer, cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla.
  3.  Add eggs and mix well to combine.
  4.  In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt with a fork.
  5.  Add flour, cocoa mixture to butter, sugar, eggs. Mix well to combine.
  6.  Stir chocolate chips in with a rubber spatula. It will be thick.
  7.  Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  8.  Remove brownies from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes on a cooling rack.
  9.  Using parchment paper sling, take brownies out of the pan and cut. Serve with plenty of milk.

All right, spill it – who else uses a mix to make their brownies like I (Mary) do?

P.S. I used James’s recipe to make brownies last night. Because, I don’t know, quality control? {Sure. We’ll go with that.} And, for the record, a) it really didn’t take much longer than whipping up a box mix and b) they are outrageously good. Annalyn said it was like having a chocolate factory in her mouth. (Though I added my own twist by accidentally-on-purpose undercooking them. Mmmm….gooey….)