5 Easy Dishes to Bring to a BBQ This Weekend

summer BBQ easy recipes

{ illustration: Kris Atomic }

People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child

The only thing I love more than spending quality time with our friends is spending quality time with our friends around some amazing food. Here are five crowd-pleasing recipes that are easy to whip up and take to a get-together, just in time for your Independence Day celebrations.

Skinny 7 Layer Taco Dip – This was a staple at every girls night in, lake day, birthday, and holiday for years in our group. Swap the sour cream for greek yogurt for an extra-creamy dip that packs protein.

The Pioneer Woman’s Fresh Corn and Avocado Salsa – I love making this light fresh salsa for a day in the sun. Sometimes I throw in a can of (rinsed) black beans to give it a little extra substance.

Cheesy Ranch Tater Tots – When my friend, Lauren, brings these to a gathering, it’s like Christmas morning. If you love your family and friends, you will make them these loaded tater tots.

Mini Lemon Blueberry Cheesecakes – You can alter this recipe with different cookie ‘crust’ and toppings. The cream cheese filling is super versatile and super yummy.

BBQ Chicken Cups – This recipe uses refrigerated canned biscuits, meat and cheese, and a cupcake pan to make savory little barbecue muffins. I usually use prepared BBQ pulled chicken or pork to save time, like Curly’s or Lloyd’s.

This and That

A Pretty Penny Summer Style Striped Dress Target Hat Hautelook Bag

{ Dress: Bar III (Macy’s, last year) CUTE ALTERNATIVE; Hat: Target; Bag: Hautelook }

If you’re looking for a super easy dessert to bring to a 4th of July BBQ this weekend, this ‘No Bake Banana Cream Cheesecake‘ served up in mason jars looks freakin’ delicious (and will probably make your family and friends think you’re some kind of Pinterest goddess).

While we’re on the subject of party food: PIZZA DIP.

I’m in a deep leather flip flop rut — I just love them so much! — and need to add some comfy sandals and/or flats to my summer rotation. Who What Wear shares ‘How to Score This Summer’s It-Shoe Styles On a Budget,’ and most of them are actually affordable!

‘The Moral Bucket List’ piece by David Brooks in the New York Times really inspired me. He discusses the disparity between ‘Resume Virtues’ and ‘Eulogy Virtues,’ and the struggle to strike a balance between the two in our current success-driven culture.

This 60-year old dance teacher shows her young pupils how it’s done!

Sarasota is one of our favorite places to visit, and the City recently installed ‘public pianos’ downtown. This viral video of homeless musician, Donald Gould, playing Styx’s ‘Come Sail Away’ is incredible. I did a little digging, and found out Gould played the clarinet in the US Marine Corps. When he completed his service, he studied music education at Spring Arbor University, until he ran out of money three semesters short of graduation and left school to support his family. Gould’s wife died suddenly in 1998, and in utter heartbroken devastation he turned to drugs, lost his son, and eventually found himself living on the streets in the Suncoast. All that to say: you never know someone’s story; take time to listen. Everyone has something beautiful to offer.

When in Doubt, Toss it Out: The Shelf Life of Cosmetics

Few things in life make me happier than an organized makeup drawer. So it’s weird that 75% of the time, mine is a disaster.

Besides clutter, my biggest challenge is knowing when to throw things out.

My frustration with the state of my stash boiled over recently, when I used a past-its-prime tinted sunscreen that made my face itch all day and, frankly, smelled a little funky.

When I got home — and after I scrubbed my face — I dumped the entire contents of my makeup and skin care collection on the floor and picked through every piece. With the help of this handy cosmetic shelf life chart,  I filled two small grocery bags with expired (or questionable) products.

I’m not going to lie: it hurt a little. It’s hard to say goodbye to the NARS ‘orgasm’ blush you dropped 30 bucks on and haven’t made a dent in over the last four years. But research shows that, after a while, cosmetics become a hotbed of microorganisms and bacteria that can exacerbate acne and lead to skin and eye infections. Ain’t nobody got time for that; throw it away!

Here are a few tips I picked up about keeping your cosmetics (and in turn, your skin) so fresh and so clean:

  • I store all my makeup and skin care in a tall vintage chest of drawers in our small master bathroom. They’re a great vertical storage solution if you’re short on space, and have the added benefit of protecting your products from sunlight and moisture, which can breakdown pigments and encourage bacterial growth. I love this mirrored chest of drawers from One Kings Lane.
  • I recently learned about the PAO, or ‘Period After Opening’ symbol, printed on the back of some cosmetics. It’s used on all products sold in Europe, but isn’t included on everything stateside. It’s a symbol of an open jar with a number inside, which represents the shelf life of the product after opening. For example, 6M means pitch it 6 months after opening; 12M, 12 months, etc.
  • Since it’s easy to lose track of time, I started writing the opening date on the back or bottom of my products with a Sharpie. This way, there’s no question about freshness.