Wednesday, January 30, 2013

6 Recipes You Need to Know About

If you're anything like me, you've pinned about a hundred recipes, tried about a dozen, and actualy liked a handful. Pinterest is a great source for inspiration, but it’s not always reliable when it comes to the likelihood of success implementing all that inspiration. Just because something was repinned 800 times doesn’t mean it’s good; it just means the cover photo looks good. The constant “liking” and “repinning” doesn’t hold much weight when it comes down to what that craft will actually look like, or what the recipe truly tastes like. Sometimes (and maybe more often than not) those bright and shiny pins can be pretty unrealistic (check out Pinterest Fail for proof that everything’s isn’t always as easy or delicious as it seems) And I’d like to say that you could rely on the descriptions for real information, but does anyone ever update those? I know I don’t! Unless it says something really crazy, I pretty much just let the “mmmmmmm, sooo gooooood!/this sauce is totally addicting!!/pinner says “I made this for my boyfriend’s parents and now we’re engaged!!!” tagline roll.

My friend Rachel is a genius (for lots of reasons), and actually has a Pinterest board dedicated to ideas she has Tried/Attempted/Printed/Used (yes, that’s the official board name. She’s thorough, and literal). When she tries things from Pinterest, she moves them over to this board and updates the description with details on how it really went. It's like the #showyourreal of pinning!

I’d love to be that organized, or diligent, but.....well....I’m just not. BUT- I do have a mental list of things I’ve tried, and a few of them are what I consider to be “must shares”. And so I must share them with you:

6 Recipes You Have to Know About...
(5 because they’re that awesome, and 1 because it’s that bad)

This is one of the easiest recipes ever...I was able to make them before work, and just pop them in the oven that night. Changes I made: 
  • I used 8oz of mushrooms- they came pre-sliced and packaged...not going to argue with that!
  • We didn’t have butter, so I just used olive oil for saute-ing.
  • I only used half and onion, because I’m a baby about onions and always think recipes have too much.
  • Dustin said he thought the cheese was a little overpowering (I don’t even understand that as a concept) so next time he’d skip the piece of provolone on the bottom (and probably add it on top of mine!)

Pizza crust- we often buy the giant eagle brand, and have been pretty happy with it. But we also recently tried the whole wheat pillsbury (comes in the exploding cardboard tube) and were surprisingly impressed with it. We’ve only made this in the winter, so we’ve made it in the oven, but grilling it would be delicious too! Oh- and you know I didn’t use the entire red onion. You do you.

This is one of those things where you don’t even really need the recipe (and you definitely don’t have to follow it exactly)’s more of an inspiration, and a reminder that “Yes. Taco salads are delicious! We should eat that tomorrow!” We make this all the time now, changing up what exactly is in it depending on what exactly we have. I’ve never made the dressing...Typically I either put a little bit of sour cream on the top, or a dash of Southwestern Ranch dressing. There’s so much going on with the ingredients it really doesn’t need much dressing.

Chesecake Brownies with Raspberries 
Cheesecake swirl brownies have been a staple of mine since long before the pinterest era. But for my birthday I wanted to do something special, so I searched for a new recipe and found this pretty picture:

Trouble is...the website is in Polish, and the measurements are in grams. SO- I improvised. 
I made a box of ghirardelli dark chocolate brownies, and then whipped up some cheesecake topping using my old tried and true recipe from (I found this back when they were RecipeZaar. Does anyone- besides Sarah, my college roommate- remember that?) It’s from 2001 and has 6 I’m sure it’s not taking the pinterest world by storm, but it’s so easy, and so good (heavenly, in fact). 
Typically I swirl the two together, but for this I just let it go. Then I threw on some raspberries, and put it in the oven. Done!
Tip: Make sure your cream cheese is all the way softened or it will be lumpy. I microwave it on about 20% power for a minute or two to speed it up.
Bonus tip: Eat them for breakfast. Heavenly!

I’ve made this twice now, and I love it, but it needs some adjustments. The amount of fruit they call for is completely overwhelming (It’s like a fruit cup with a dash of liquid) so I cut that in half, and I double the rosemary to give it a boost of flavor. Also- I don’t bother rolling the rosemary in sugar...It looks pretty, but comes off the minute you mix it, so it’s not worth it. And I had enough on hand to double the liquid ingredients, which still worked with the original amount of fruit. It’s easy to freshen it up after people have been serving it for a while. 

Adapted recipe: 
  • 1 apple
  • 1/2c cranberries (I buy it in a small bag...and still don’t use the whole thing.)
  • 1/2c white grape juice
  • 12oz club soda
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1/4c sugar (go a little light on this if you’re using non-alcoholic wine, which is much sweeter to start with)
  • 1 bottle Pinot Grigio (you can sub sparkling juice- white grape or apple...still delish)
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars

In life, there are a few sure things. Things I’ve come to trust in. The sun will rise every morning (kind of a technicality in Pittsburgh because we can’t always see it...but it does rise!) If I forget my umbrella, it will definitely rain. And pumpkin + cream cheese is always awesome.

AND THEN!? Something like this recipe comes around and shakes the foundation of everything I hold dear. I’m choosing not to link to pinterest here, because there about a hundred similar pins, that all point to the same thing: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Failure. How to recognize if you’re headed down the dark path of lies: the description mentions weight watchers points (ok...I should have maybe seen this coming), and the ingredients include angel food cake mix. If you see either of those things....just turn the other way. 
It was practically foaming......


If you’re interested in seeing what other random things I’m pinning, you can follow me here....(or click the handy “P” logo on the right sidebar)


  1. That sangria looks amazing - When can we have a party and drink that?

  2. I pinned those Philly Cheese steak stuffed bell papers and am happy to know they were a success! I will put them on the "front burner" to make soon!

  3. I love that Southwest Chopped Chicken Salad. And you are so right that the recipe is full of suggestions and doesn't have to be followed 100%. We don't use the dressing and it still tastes great.

    1. I'm a big fan of recipes I barely have to follow. Less chance for failure!

  4. I, too, have a similar board for recipes tried/pins tried or whatever I called it all due to Rachel and her excellent feedback after she tries a pin. I wanted a place in Pinterest I could go to quickly find those recipes I hold dear. (the panera mac and cheese is an absolute FAVORITE)
    As to the recipes you mentioned above, you had me at brownie. I've never made sangria but would try that recipe for sure!

    1. You good with your pinterest organization!
      I've wanted to try the panera mac....good to know you liked it!