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.

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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….)

80+ Delicious Recipes for a Mexican Fiesta

80+ Delicious Recipes for a Mexican Fiesta | givinguponperfect.com



Over the past few months Annalyn has found a new favorite hobby: interviewing me. Of course, yes, that’s just a fancy way of saying she asks me inane questions, over and over, day after day, scribbling my answers in notebooks and on backs of coloring sheets after being told for the forty-seventh time to SOUND IT OUT.

I’m not sure if this reflects her desire to become a writer, a journalist, a detective or a scientist. Knowing her, it’s some mish-mash of all of the above – and then some. Regardless, the girl loves asking me questions. And she especially loves asking about my favorites. What’s my favorite color, my favorite baby name, my favorite kid (see how she slips THAT in?), my favorite number, my favorite type of cloud.

And always, always – what’s my favorite food? Always, always, I tell her Mexican food. Occasionally she’ll ask for specifics so I say burritos or nachos, but I am steadfast in my love for Mexican food.

No surprise there, right? After all, my love of everything wrapped in a tortilla or piled on chips-made-of-tortilla is well-documented around these parts. And when you combine that with my love of lists, it was just a matter of time before I compiled my favorite Mexican food recipes into one epic post, wasn’t it?

So here we are with an incredible roundup of recipes and HOLY GUACAOMOLE, you all. I just ate lunch, but after looking at these posts, I AM STARVING. And the only thing that will satisfy me will surely have a pepper, a tomato and a whole lot of cheese.

Mexican Food Recipe Roundup

Just as I did when writing my appetizer recipe roundup, I struggled to categorize these posts. I mean, you have authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex. You have tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, quesadillas and more. You have chicken and beef – and don’t forget pork! You have dips and casseroles and pizzas and soups. And SO MANY chicken enchilada-themed foods. (A close second in that themed category is jalapeno popper. Apparently the people of the internet love jalapeno popper-themed foods – and I can’t blame them!)

In the end I split these recipes up the way they made sense to me, even though many of them could fit into more than one category. That means you must scroll all the way through so you don’t miss any cheesy, spicy, Mexican goodness!

Enjoy!

salsa



Dips

Mmmmm…dips! Dips are my favorite part of any meal, but especially a Mexican fiesta kind of meal! And you know what I found when I was rounding up these delicious recipes? SOME DIPS can even be healthy. Yeah. It’s true.

Case in point? Cowboy Caviar from Down South Saving, Guacamole Salsa from Sublime Reflection, and this vegan recipe for Sweet Potato Seven Layer Dip from Namely Marly. And just look at all the servings of veggies you can get with Jen’s Pico de Gallo, Shannan’s Zucchini & Corn Salsa and Homemade Salsa, and my Restaurant Style Salsa (courtesy of a Pioneer Woman recipe).

See? TOTALLY HEALTHY.

Chili-Bean-Cheese-Queso-2



Now, if you’re craving something creamier or cheesier (or both), I’ve got you covered in that department, too. Try any of these – or all of them!

Finally (for dips, that is), we’ve got a couple of quasi-famous jalapeno popper-themed dips. My Jalapeno Popper Dip has been raved about and requested and, to be honest, copied far and wide. Or at least as far and wide as my friends reach. Because this dip? IS DELICIOUS. But don’t stop there. Make sure you give Dani’s {locally} famous Fritos Jalapeno Poppers, too!

Carne Asada Nachos in skillet



Nachos

If I had to pick one appetizer to have every day for the rest of my life, nachos would win, hands down. That’s because the possibilities are endless with nachos. Nachos can be made so many different ways! Chicken, beef, veggies, shredded cheese, crumbled cheese, liquid cheese. (Yeah. Liquid cheese. You cannot make me feel bad about loving liquid cheese.)

The funny thing is that despite the bajillions of ways to fix nachos, I didn’t actually have a lot of recipes pinned and bookmarked. Apparently I think I can figure it out on my own. (Then why do I end up with a bag of chips and jar of store queso so often? Hmmm….)

ANYWAY. Amy and I both made our nachos with chicken: Chicken Salsa Nachos (hers) and Chicken Nachos (mine). And Stephanie turned it up a LOT of notches with steak in her Carne Asada Skillet Nachos.

(Heh. Nacho notches. That’s funny. To me. Anyway. Moving on. Again.)

Not-Refried-Beans



Cooking Tips

And then there were the posts that didn’t necessarily fit into a recipe category but seem absolutely requisite before preparing a Mexican fiesta. So, I present to you how-tos and shortcuts to make you an even finer Mexican chef than you already were:

Smothered Bean & Rice Burritos



Burritos

Burritos are probably my favorite of all when it comes to Mexican food. One day I confessed here that I’d had a burrito FOR EVERY MEAL. No joke. And no surprise since, as I found when I perused the interwebs for recipes, you can pretty much throw anything inside a tortilla and call it a burrito. (Or an enchilada. I think we may all be a little fuzzy on what distinguishes the two foods these days. But that’s a topic for another day.) Here are just a few varieties:

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Tacos & Taco-Related Foods

In the past couple of years I’ve started eating tacos. Before that, I refused. Tacos are messy, and I don’t like to get messy. But somewhere along the way, tacos won me over. They’re still messy, but I deal with it. I don’t necessarily have to, though, because there are plenty of non-messy ways to enjoy tacos.

For example, in a Taco Casserole or a Crescent Roll Taco Ring. And Taco Salad Bags are a genius way to make tacos less messy and portable! Oh, and this one! I just know Oven Tacos would be less messy than regular ones, and I have been wanting to try them since I first spotted them on Pinterest. Amy’s Taco Sandwich sounds like it might be less messy, but since it’s basically a tostada with a lid, I’m pretty sure I’d make a mess out of it anyway. (A delicious mess, but a mess nonetheless.)

Here are a few other types of tacos to try:

Slow-Cooker-Enchiladas.V



Enchiladas

Now it’s time to talk enchiladas. I think (THINK) the difference between burritos and enchiladas is the kind of tortilla used and the sauce on top. Or maybe burritos originally weren’t covered in a sauce. I don’t know. But I actually don’t like enchilada sauce OR corn tortillas, so I’m glad for the blurring of Mexican food definitions. Some of these are more traditional than others, but I think you’ll find an enchilada here you’ll like!

(I know. I said I don’t like enchiladas and then throw three recipes at you. In my defense none of them use corn tortillas OR red sauce…)

And then in the almost-a-category-but-not-quite, I found three delicious-looking recipes for chicken enchilada-related foods. They all look great!

Tlayudas



Main Dishes

As it turns out, not every Mexican dish comes wrapped in, stuffed in or piled on a tortilla. And sometimes we can turn an Italian dish into a Mexican one by swapping a few ingredients (or more than a few). What am I talking about? Just some Southwest Chicken Spaghetti, Chicken Enchilada Lasagna (another chicken enchilada food!), or pizza – either this Layered Mexican Pizza or the slightly fancier Tlayuda: Mexican Pizza.

DSC_0041



Or you can just southwesternize your chicken dishes:

mexican corn



Side Dishes and/or Appetizers

You know what I love about Mexican food? I mean, aside from the cheese and the spice (fine. the very medium-not-hot spice)? The carbs. Yep. Look at these side dishes (or appetizers, depending on your menu)! Rice and corn and bread and more corn. Yay for starchy goodness! :)

corn salad 2



Salads

Oh yeah. It’s not all carbs! Salads! There are Mexican salads! Southwestern salads! Vegetables!

Oh, except this Beefy Frito Taco Salad isnt exactly healthy (but talk about comfort food, am I right?). And I guess Southwest Pasta Salad is pretty carbalicious. But hello? Lisa put all sorts of veggies in there!

Which is good, since . . . all three of the other kinda-sorta healthy salads have corn. Just like those starchy sides. But we call them salads. You hear me? SALADS.

DSC_0008



Soups

Spicy soups. Topped with chips and cheese and maybe a dollop of sour cream. Need I say more?

Fine, I’ll say that there are about a gajillion ways to make taco soup. Here are three:

And you can’t forget the chili recipes. My personal favorites are this Crock Pot Chili and this White Chicken Chili. Finally, I love making this Chicken Enchilada Soup (it’s great for freezing in individual servings for lunches!), and I can’t wait to try this Jalapeno Popper Chicken Soup and this Mexican White Queso Soup.

IMG_5721-Grilled-Mexican-Hot-Chocolate-Sandwiches-PMC



Drinks & Dessert

Obviously you can drink water or soda or whatever your usual beverage of choice is. But my friend Jo-Lynne has two drink recipes that go perfectly with any Mexican meal. Try her Ultimate Margarita or The Best Mojito for your next fiesta! (Or if you don’t care to drink or serve alcoholic drinks, Six Sisters Stuff has a gorgeous Strawberry Lemonade Slush that would be great, too!!)

And wait – don’t stuff yourself too much with all the main dishes and side dishes and spicy dishes and mild dishes. There’s still dessert to be had!

If you’ve been craving a grilled cheese sandwich, minus the cheese with a whopping helping of chocolate, then don’t miss these Grilled Mexican Hot Chocolate Sandwiches from The Vegan Crew. Or if you need chocolate but want something less gooey and bit more portable, try my Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies. Or, FINE, if you need a little fruit to balance out your delicious fiesta, try Apple Nachos or Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips. Yum.

Well, that’s all, folks! What’s YOUR favorite Mexican food to make (or eat)?

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Need more help planning your fiesta? Get my ebook, Plan a Fabulous Party {Without Losing Your Mind}, for just $1.99 with the code PARTYRECIPES. It’s part how-to and part manifesto for avoiding any crazy party-planning meltdowns, and it will absolutely help you plan a fabulous party – with your sanity intact!

Starting the Day Right with Breakfast at Home

When I was pregnant I ate a plain bagel with plain cream cheese nearly every day. But then I had a baby. And we put our house back on the market after using the services of a professional stager, who insisted that my toaster needs to be stored somewhere other than on my counter.

So mornings got harder and my toaster got put away and UGH, BREAKFAST.

I’ve mentioned before that a certain fast food place – the one that serves the best breakfast burritos – was built WAY TOO CLOSE to my house a couple years ago. And on those hard mornings when pulling out my toaster from underneath the counter just seems too difficult, I stop there. Even though I don’t really love those breakfast burritos anymore. {Yes, even though getting my toaster out is not actually that complicated.}

I realize it’s a terrible habit, and I need to stop. But until today I hadn’t found a great alternative.

[There's no need to list alternatives for me at this point. I'm aware of things like getting up earlier or rebelling against the stager's advice and - gasp! - leaving my toaster on the counter or nuking some instant oatmeal. The point is I wanted something exactly like the breakfast burrito, except not. I wanted not-expensive, fast, easy and tasty. And cheesy. No, I'm not demanding at all...]

Today I tried a Tyson® Day Starts™ breakfast sandwich – the egg, sausage and cheese flatbread, to be specific. Eggs, sausage and cheese – very similar to my beloved burritos, see?

Tyson Day Starts (2)

Now, I’m not going to lie. The Tyson® Day Starts™ sandwiches cost more than the fast food version I’ve been eating. But it is worth it.

While I’m not opposed to liquid cheese (who do I think I am? the Queen of somewhere? PLEASE.), the Tyson® Day Starts™ sandwiches actually have REAL cheese. And based on my stomach’s reaction, sausage that is more REAL than that used in that other breakfast choice, as well. The flatbread sandwich was really good.

It took me just two minutes to zap it in the microwave (and one minute to let it cool down again), and it was ready to eat. In my house. At my table. Like a civilized person.

Even better and more important? MY DAUGHTER LIKED IT. Yep, my typically picky daughter who refuses to eat anything that looks like a breakfast burrito (WHERE did she come from anyway?) liked her Tyson® Day Starts™ sandwich a lot.

Tyson Day Starts (3)

See? Well, I know. That’s a goofy face, but what would YOU do if your mom told you she was going to record you eating breakfast before you’ve even had the chance to watch a full episode of PAW Patrol or, you know, comb your hair?

Now, in case you’re wondering why I love breakfast burritos – or flatbreads – so much, it’s not because of my obsession with Mexican food. No, it’s because of the way one food item can contain several food groups and a whole lot of protein. Plus, you can hold them with one hand so the other is free to drive the car, feed the baby or aim the remote.

Because breakfast is not our sit-down-and-chat meal. And mornings are cuh-razy. (Or, in the case of the two adults who live here, cuh-ranky.) So having a quick, filling meal that’s going to stick with us (and taste better than anything we can get in a drive-thru)? Winning.

Tyson Day Starts (1)

Tyson® Day Starts™ breakfast sandwiches offer a protein-rich way to start the day with high quality ingredients like real cheeses, zesty vegetables, fresh eggs, and quality Tyson® sausage, ham and chicken. And they’re available in seven varieties, including biscuit sandwiches, breakfast flatbreads and wrapped omelets.

If you want to try them out for yourself, visit Tyson.com to download a $1 off coupon and check the product locator tool to find out where Tyson® Day Starts™ products are sold at a store near you.

What’s your favorite breakfast food for a busy morning?

 
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

70+ Appetizer Recipes to Make Any Party a Hit

Amazing Appetizers

Some people go for the game. Others, the commercials. At times the dispute between the two groups can be even more heated than the one between the two teams actually playing the game. (Or maybe that’s just around here, where our team hasn’t made it past the playoffs in about a billion years…)

But the one thing we can all agree on? THE FOOD!

Yep, the Superbowl is just around the corner. And that means it’s time to start planning a menu. (After all, with the Velveeta shortage going on, you can’t very well rely on the same old Ro-Tel dip!) Whether you’re taking it easy at home this year, hosting a big party or taking a favorite dish or two to a friend’s house, this is the perfect time to try out a new recipe.

Lucky for you, I’ve rounded up more than 70 of the tastiest recipes that are guaranteed to make you – and your delicious dishes – a hit at any party!

Scroll on down through this massive list of recipes as you plan your party menu. Pick and choose – or go ahead and PIN ALL THE THINGS! I’ve tried to make it a bit easier for you to navigate this treasure trove of snacks and apps by dividing them into categories: Dips, Meat, Pinwheels & Sandwiches, Pizza, Snack Mixes, Sweets and Veggies.

[Side note: It should be noted that some party foods - actually, LOTS of party foods - can be categorized more than one way. I mean, what's a blogger to do with FRUIT SALSA? Or a VEGGIE-BASED DIP? And does bacon go under the meat category...or should it be a category of its own??? So, just keep that in mind when you judge my categories, mmmkay?]

Dips

Dips definitely win the battle for most popular type of party snack! I know they’re mine. It doesn’t matter if I’m dipping with chips or crackers or veggies or pretzels, I LOVE DIPS. {Okay, that’s not quite true. I love dips, true – but given the choice, I will pick chips or crackers as my dip vehicle Every. Single. Time.}

Crock Pot Cheesy Bean Dip

Most of these dips are baked – or, a few, microwaved. But a few, like this Cheesy Bean Dip from Recipes That Crock, make party prep even easier by being cooked in the Crock Pot. Ruth from Living Well Spending Less has three great party dips, just in case you have one of those handy triple slow cookers!

I’m no gluten expert, so it’s possible lots of these recipes qualify in that category. But I know for sure that Jo-Lynne’s Buffalo Chicken Dip and Jessie’s {famous and reportedly “magically delicious”} Mexican Corn Dip are officially gluten-free.

Irresistible Beer Cheese Dip

I haven’t tried this Irresistible Beer Cheese Dip from Whatcha Makin’ Now…but I want to. Scooping it up with pretzels might just even make me like pretzels a little more! Jen has a yummy-looking beer cheese dip at Balancing Beauty & Bedlam, too.

Speaking of variations on a dip theme, I found a couple different spin dip recipes for you to choose from as well! Mandy shared a Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Dip at Sugar Bee Crafts, and Alecia posted an Easy Spinach Artichoke Dip at Detours in Life. It’s your choice – easy or cheesy!

Don’t worry! There’s plenty of variety to be found in the World o’ Dips. Check out these option:

And then there are some of my favorite kind of dips – the Mexican or southwestern variety. Mmmm…spicy…and cheesy…and spicy…

Mini 7-Layer Dip Cups

How cute and clever are these individual cups of seven-layer dip?! Love what Marcie calls Mini Taco Dip Cups over at Simply Real Moms! It might seem like the Taco Dip at Random Crafty Georgia Girl would be the same type of dip, but this one has lettuce on top…like a taco. I guess if you had to, you could just make them both and see which version you like better. What a hardship THAT would be, right?

Tacos aren’t the only Mexican dip game in town, of course. We’ve got cheesy dips (3-Ingredient Chip Dip from Coffee with Us 3, Chili Bean Cheese Queso from Dine & Dish and don’t miss Summer’s Super Manly Cheese Dip at Dirty Floor Diaries). We’ve got salsas (Guacamole Salsa from Sublime Reflection and Restaurant-Style Salsa from yours truly here at Giving Up on Perfect). And we’ve got variations on jalapeno poppers – my personal favorite (Fritos Jalapeno Poppers from Stay at Work Housewife and my super famous [well, kind of] Jalapeno Popper Dip)!

Meat {featuring bacon}

As I mentioned earlier with so many party snacks featuring bacon in one way or another, I wasn’t sure if it should be its own category. In the end I included them with the other meat dishes for simplicity’s sake. (But then, you know, decided to over-explain to keep things interesting. Or complicated. Whatever.)

roasted shrimp cocktail

Mix things up a bit with a seafood dish. Try Bevin’s Roasted Shrimp Cocktail from Who Needs a Cape – and instantly class up your shindig! Another couple of great dishes to add to your repetoire? Bacon-Wrapped Water Chesnuts from Whatcha Makin’ Now and Marinated Cheese from Joyful Scribblings (no, not technically a meat, but one delicious-looking protein!).

Then again, if your party is a little more laidback (like all my parties are!), you might want to try Stefanie’s Bacon & Brown Sugar Little Smokies, Becky’s Ham & Pickle Roll-Ups or Deviled Eggs from One TIPsy Chick. And don’t forget the slow cooker recipes! Christie has a great recipe for meatballs at Saving Said Simply, and Cris shares one for Buffalo Chicken Wings at Recipes That Crock. (And if buffalo sauce is your thing, don’t miss Becky’s Boneless Baked Buffalo Bites from Love to be in the Kitchen!)

Beer-Candied Bacon

If you really are looking for all bacon, all the time (like my husband is…all the time), I must suggest this Beer-Candied Bacon I made for last year’s Superbowl party. Next up on my list of Bacon Recipes to Try? (You doubt that I have such a list? Psh.) Bacon Jam from Coordinately Yours – yum!

And loosely related to the bacon-fest apps are Mini Sausage Balls from Hoosier Homemade (hello? it’s pork!) and these Baked Chicken Taquitos from right here at Giving Up on Perfect (there’s bacon in with that chicken!).

Mexican Pinwheels

Pinwheels & Sandwiches

If you want something a little more substantial – but still appetizer-sized – then pinwheels and sliders are what you need! I love making Mexican Pinwheels, similar to these from Who Needs a Cape. But wait, there’s more! Check out these dishes that pack a punch:

Waffle-Iron-Pizza-Pockets-So-Easy-from-ASlobComesClean.com_

Pizza

And then there are all the many amazing-looking pizza-themed appetizers. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE makes me hungry! (And Dana’s Pizza Snowballs – not to be confused with those fun Waffle Iron Pizza Pockets up above – inspired my own Pizza Poppers. They are SO GOOD, and I will be forever grateful for that!) A few other pizza party snacks:

Chex Mix for a Crowd

Snack Mixes

No party is complete without a big bowl of snack mix, right? And Connie has a quadrupled recipe of Chex Mix at Smockity Frocks – gluten-free, to boot and it will feed any crowd! Try one (or all! I won’t judge!) of these other recipes for a few other snacky options:

chocolate-chip-dip

Sweet

See what I mean? How am I supposed to categorize a sweet dip? Actually, this Chocolate Chip Dip from Amy’s Finer Things looks so good, I kind of want to put it in its own category called, I Must Eat This NOW.

And then there are the fruit salsas: Strawberry & Mango Salsa from Little Family Adventure and Grilled Peach & Chipotle Salsa from A Spicy Perspective. So confusing. And so delicious! (And healthy! These recipes are SO win-win!)

Luckily, Julie’s Easy Apple Crisp at Coordinately Yours is a slam dunk sweet treat, and so are the three recipes I’m sharing from my blog:

Bacon-Tomato-Cups

Veggies

I have to admit I was surprised to realize that, after dips, the category with the most recipes was veggies. Now, sure, some of them might be covered and smothered with some sort of less-than-healthy goodness, but still! Veggies! We’re so healthy, you guys!

For BLT lovers, Robin Dance’s Bacon Tomato Cups look delicious – and Jessie has a non-baked option with her BLT Bites over at Vanderbilt Wife. And for more pop-in-your-mouth veggie snacks, try these:

sweet potato fries

Now, we can debate the health value or vegetable qualifications of potatoes all day long. But you just take a look at these ah-maze-ing recipes and tell me you don’t want to count them as your veggie intake for the day? #ilovepotatoes

But, okay, fine. FINE! If you need something more straight-up vegetable on your buffet table, you’ll want to make some delicious Caprese Skewers from A Lovely Life and a big bowl of Cowboy Caviar from Down South Saving. And, you know what? While you’re at it? Whip up a batch of Cumin & Charred Corn Guacamole from What’s Gaby Cooking. Avocados have the good kind of fat, right?!

So what’ll it be? A table full of dips? Healthy fruit and veggie dishes? ONE OF EVERYTHING?! (Now that’s my kind of party!) Whatever you choose, it’s bound to be delicious. Enjoy!

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Monday Morning Mmmm: Bacon Burgers

Good news! That weekend I was going to make jam? Well, I did make jam . . . just not the chipotle strawberry kind I had in mind. Instead, I made bacon onion balsamic jam to top bacon burgers.

It really worked out for the best. I mean, what was I really going to do with several jars of chipotle strawberry jam? (Gifts. I was going to give them as gifts. So, friends who would have received those jars, um, sorry about that.) Instead, I served up these fancy burgers to my small group for a barbecue several weeks ago.

I found the recipe from Smells Like Home on Pinterest (of course). When we decided to hold an end-of-summer get-together for our small group, I knew it was the perfect time to try them out. (I also made Loaded Baked Potato Salad and S’mores Rice Krispy Treats. So. Much. Delicious!)

Unless my friends were just being nice, the Bacon Burgers with Bacon Jam were a huge hit! Even Mark – whose first response to the bacon jam was a delightful, “What IS that?!?” – loved them. He ate them at the barbecue AND for leftovers later that weekend. And for a guy who doesn’t love leftovers, that is saying something!

Bacon Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam

For the Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam:
4 slices bacon, sliced into ½-inch wide pieces
1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced (about 1 ½ cups)
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup water

For the Burgers:
2 slices bacon, finely diced
1 ¼ pounds lean ground beef
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
4 hamburger buns
Sliced cheese (optional. technically. but why not?)

Start with the jam. Cook the bacon (either in a pan on the stove or in the oven, MY preferred method).

As you let the browned but not crispy bacon drain on a paper towel, add a couple tablespoons of bacon grease to a pan. Add the onions and saute. Cover and cook for two minutes, then add a splash of water. Scrape any pieces stuck to the bottom of the pan, stir and cover to cook for about 10 more minutes until soft. Next, mix in the vinegar, mustard and water, then add back in the bacon. Simmer until sauce thickens.

Now, the burgers. Mix together the beef, Worcestshire sauce, salt and pepper. Shape into patties and grill. Put burgers on buns (buttered and grilled if you’re really feeling adventurous), top with cheese (fine. this is optional. whatever.) and bacon jam. Share with your family and friends if you want them to be super impressed. And stuffed.

In theory, you could make – and serve – these things separately. Bacon burgers with normal toppings OR regular burgers with bacon jam. If you’re wimpy about your bacon-infused meals.

(Which, I must confess, I was. After cooking onions all day – for the potato salad and the jam – this pregnant lady couldn’t handle eating any. In fact, my kitchen smelled a bit like onions all weekend, and I just about came unglued. Mark assured me that what I made was delicious and the onion weirdness was only because I’m prego.)

ANYWAY.

How do you like your burgers? Plain? Fancy? Stuffed with bacon?

P.S. Stay tuned for another post later today with a couple of fun announcements!