If you’re hosting a Fourth of July party or just taking a dish to a friend’s, here are 11 tried-and-true recipes that will not let you down this holiday weekend. Throw the ultimate Fourth of July party with this foolproof menu! :)

Top 20 Most Popular Recipes of 2013: Perfect Pulled Pork

1. Perfect Pulled Pork

What Fourth of July celebration is complete with out the perfect pulled pork? This recipe is a tried-and-true favorite. It’s one of the oldest and most popular recipes on our entire site. It always gets requested by friends and neighbors whenever we have a get-together coming up! It’s just so simple and easy and impossible to mess up. You can’t go wrong with this perfect pulled pork — it’s always the star of the show! :)

Southern Skillet Corn. 11 Recipes for the Perfect Backyard Summer BBQ.

2. Southern Skillet Corn

This Southern Skillet Corn is the perfect side dish for pulled pork. It’s creamy and dreamy, but still has a fresh crisp bite to it. The best of both worlds. It’s so easy to whip up. For party-planning ease, you can make it ahead of time and just reheat it in the skillet right before serving.

Ultimate BBQ Baked Beans Recipe -- 11 Recipes for the Perfect Backyard Summer BBQ.

3. Ultimate Baked Beans

These baked beans are a Fourth of July MUST have. They’re absolutely bursting with flavor AND they’re topped with bacon. They go fabulously with corn and pulled pork.

Summer Roasted Vegetables -- 11 Recipes for the Perfect Backyard Summer BBQ.

4. Summer Roasted Vegetables

Another great side dish option would be these Summer Roasted Vegetables. They’re sweet, crisp, and a real crowd-pleaser. They would also make a great slaw for the pulled pork!

Sweet Honey & Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins -- 11 Recipes for the Perfect Backyard Summer BBQ.

5. Sweet Honey & Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins

No southern BBQ is complete without cornbread. I like my cornbread in muffin form — they’re easier for everyone to grab their own, and these muffins stay super moist. You will LOVE these sweet cornbread muffins!

Restaurant-Style Cinnamon Honey Butter. 11 Recipes for the Perfect Backyard Summer BBQ.

6. Cinnamon Honey Butter

You might also want to consider making some of this restaurant-style Cinnamon Honey Butter to serve with the cornbread. It will be a HUGE hit! You can make this days ahead of time and keep in the fridge until the party.

Easy Homemade Ice Cream Without a Machine -- 11 Recipes for the Perfect Backyard Summer BBQ.

7. Easy Homemade Ice Cream

It’s just not the Fourth of July without Homemade Ice Cream! This recipe is perfect because you don’t even need a machine. That’s right, you can make decadently creamy ice cream with no ice cream maker required. Plus you can add any flavors and toppings you want to create your own ultimate homemade ice cream flavor.

Funnel Cake Fries! 11 Recipes for the Perfect Backyard Summer BBQ.

8. Funnel Cake Fries

Classic Funnel Cake just screams summer and Fourth of July. Try this fun twist on funnel cake with marshmallow fluff dipping sauce for your Fourth of July party. It’s easier for everyone to just grab and munch on fries, and it’s less messy that trying to wield a massive funnel cake. These little fries are so much fun!

Use Ritz crackers instead of grahams for the perfect salty sweet s'more!!

9. Gourmet S’mores

Summer nights are BEGGING for s’mores to be made. What’s more perfect than toasting marshmallows under the summer sky while watching an amazing fireworks show?? Throw the s’mores party that everyone will be talking about for years to come. This post will give you ideas for all the most fun, must-have toppings and accessories for an unforgettable gourmet s’mores party.

Top 20 Most Popular Recipes of 2013: Chess Squares

10. Chess Squares

For a little something sweet, you can’t go wrong with these classic southern Chess Squares. This recipe is a Pinterest legend. It’s been pinned over a million times! These bars have been favorite of mine for years. They are a definite crowd-pleaser and will no doubt be a hit at any gathering you take them to.

Strawberry Shortcake Doughnut Muffins. 11 Recipes for the Perfect Backyard Summer BBQ.

11. Strawberry Shortcake Doughnut Muffins

For a traditional red, white, and blue dessert, these Strawberry Shortcake Doughnut Muffins are a total show-stopper. I made these one year for our neighbors Fourth of July party and now I have to make them every year because they get SO many requests!! No one will be able to stop talking about these over-the-top doughnut muffins! :)

How to Take Photos of Fireworks

And last but not least, make sure you’re prepared to take jaw-dropping fireworks photos this weekend with my How to Take Fireworks Photos tutorial.

What are you making this weekend? :) Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!! xoxo

11 Spectacular Recipes for the ULTIMATE Fourth of July Menu!!

More from Amanda:
facebook | pinterest | instagram | twitter

See More Posts About: Recipes
Share: Facebook Twitter Stumble4 Comments

In honor of the Fourth of July, here are three ways to perfectly capture the magic of fireworks — with your DSLR, Point & Shoot, or iPhone! Fireworks shows don’t last long, so make sure you’re prepared with the perfect settings for fireworks photos in any situation.



Perfect Settings for Fireworks Photos

Here are my go-to settings for taking pictures of fireworks with my DSLR. You’ll also need a tripod or something steady you can set your camera on and still have it pointing up at the sky.

  • Set the ISO to 100. Night photos can get grainy pretty easily, so I always try to use as low of an ISO as possible.
  • Put the camera on a tripod or something steady so that it won’t move at all.
  • Put the camera in Shutter Priority mode (TV for Canon, S for Nikon). Set the shutter speed anywhere from 15-30 seconds. That means after you press the button, it won’t be done taking the picture for 15-30 seconds. The camera cannot move at all during this time. You can play around with this number depending on how you’d like your fireworks to look. Thirty seconds may be too many fireworks in the photo, 15 seconds may not be enough.
  • Use the two-second self timer — I do this to avoid accidentally shaking the camera when taking the photo. If you bump the camera at all, the fireworks will look shaky.

Extra Credit

For a refresher course on Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, and Focusing, be sure to read A Quick Guide to Understanding Your DSLR.

For more DSLR tutorials, like What Lens Should I Choose? and What Settings Should I Use? Check out the Photography Tutorials category of Kevin & Amanda.

If you’ll be posting your action photos online, be sure to use this tutorial to fully optimize and sharpen your images for web-sized viewing: Saving and Sizing Your Images for Blogging

In most cases, you can change all of these settings from the screen on the back of your camera. If you can’t figure out how to change a certain setting, try checking the manual.


Point & Shoot

How to take Fireworks Photos with a Point & Shoot

Most point & shoot cameras have a fireworks setting. I took these using the Fireworks setting on my Sony DSC RX100M III. It’s my new favorite pocket-sized travel camera. I take it with me everywhere when I don’t want to lug around my DSLR. I used it for all the photos on our San Francisco and New York trips. It is SO nice. It really makes it seem like a vacation when I don’t have to carry my huge camera around. And it takes amazing fireworks photos! I didn’t even use a tripod for these. It was literally just point and shoot.

If your camera doesn’t have a fireworks setting, you can try to trick the camera into keeping the shutter open for longer. When you hear the firework launch, just before it bursts while the sky is still dark, press the shutter button and hold the camera as still as possible. The darkness of the sky should cause your camera to keep the shutter open longer, capturing the streaks of the fireworks.



How to Take Fireworks Photos with your iPhone

There are two ways you can take fireworks photos with your phone.

First is with an app. My favorite app for slow-shutter photos is Slow Shutter ($0.99 for iPhone only). You’ll need a steady surface to set the phone on — you can’t hand-hold the phone and take the photo with Slow Shutter or your fireworks will turn out shaky. Usually I just prop the phone up against a cup or something.

With the Slow Shutter app, you can set the shutter speed as long as you want — 4 seconds, 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 60 seconds, or longer. I usually do 4-8 seconds. I used the Slow Shutter app to take the top left and bottom right photos in the collage above.

The second way to take fireworks photos with your phone is by video. For the top right and bottom left photos, I took a video of the fireworks, then watched the video until I got to the perfect “burst”, paused it, and took a screenshot. You can do this without an app, but I REALLY like the Perfect Pic app for saving photos from video. You can easily scroll through the video frame-by-frame to make sure you pause it right at the perfect burst.

You can even save a high-resolution image from the video so you could print it out if you wanted. Perfect Pic is free to download and try, but if you want to save the high-resolution version, it’s a $1.99 in-app purchase. I believe you can upload to Facebook for free though.
Perfect Settings for Fireworks Photos

Hope this helps with your firework photography this weekend! Have a happy and safe holiday friends!! xoxo

More from Amanda:
facebook | pinterest | instagram | twitter

See More Posts About: Photography Tutorials
Share: Facebook Twitter Stumble5 Comments

Thursday Things!

Hey guys! Let’s chat! :)

Summer Maxi Dresses!

1. How CUTE are these bright summer maxi dresses??! I am in love! I seriously LIVE in maxi dresses. They’re so comfy, yet they look like you dressed up. You can throw on a cardigan if you get cold, plus they hide the fact that I haven’t shaved this month. Here are the links from left to right: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4.

2. Have you seen this egg timer?! This handy little egg will tell you exactly when your eggs are perfectly boiled. You drop it in the water and it changes colors as your egg reaches certain stages — soft boiled, medium boiled, and hard boiled. Since it goes by temperature (and not just guessing by time) you know precisely when your eggs are done. Would make a great gift for anyone who boils eggs!

3. If you’re following me on Instagram, you may have noticed that Kevin and I are in the south of France this week. Next week I’ll be spending a week on the French Riviera with my friend Sommer. We’ll be in Monte Carlo, Nice, Cannes, and Saint-Tropez. If you have any recommendations for us, I’d love to try them! Should I place a bet in Monte Carlo?? :)

Stylish (modest!) bathing suits!

4. Speaking of the beach, I ordered a couple new bathing suits from Zappos for the trip. The one on the left is a fun vintage-style two-piece with a high-waisted bottom. I normally don’t wear two-pieces in public — I’m strictly a tankini-only girl. (Let’s be real, one-pieces are just too hard to go to the bathroom in.) But I fell victim to this new high-waisted bikini bottom craze. I LOVE the extra coverage this one gives — it’s actually very flattering around the tummy area — and is modest enough for my taste to wear in public.

The tankini top in the middle was a little more expensive than I usually like to spend on bathing suits. I originally thought it came with the bottoms too, but no, it’s just the top. I almost sent it back, but is really pretty and actually well made. The cups are molded and give great support instead of just those inserts that get all bunched up after the first wash and are impossible to wrangle back into their original shape. The straps are adjustable too. I ended up keeping it because it’s really hard to find cute, well-made, flattering tankini tops with adjustable over-the-shoulder straps (as opposed to the ones that tie behind the neck).

The black duo on the right is a mashup of high-waisted bottoms from Zappos and a top from Urban Outfitters. The top has removable straps which I will for sure be wearing. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but the bottoms are ruched, making the tummy area extra flattering.

5. Are you watching anything fun for summer? We started House of Cards on Netflix after all our regular season shows ended. If you’re watching anything good I would love some recommendations. :D

6. Do you use the Beauty Blender? I am OBSESSED with this sponge for putting on makeup. I am 100% in love with it. My makeup goes on so smooth and even, and I only use a pea-sized amount. Love it.

7. How CUTE is this little Pocket Dress?? And only $12 with free shipping!

8. A few weeks ago I started reading Still Alice on one of my flights. Then I noticed they had the movie on the plane, so I started watching it. You guys. I BAWLED my EYES OUT. ON. THE. PLANE. At first I did that thing where you tilt your head back and start blinking really hard to hold back the tears, but oh no. It was like trying to plug a fire hydrant. I was a blubbering mess. It was pretty embarrassing.

9. On a happier note, the day we got back from San Francisco, this was waiting for us in our backyard:

Backyard Rainbow Pool

10. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway from Tourism Western Australia, Virgin Australia, and Down Under Answers to win a trip for two to Australia and attend the Margaret River Gourmet Escape!! I am so excited for you guys. I hope you win!! :)

Until next time!! xoxo

More from Amanda:
facebook | pinterest | instagram | twitter

See More Posts About: FashionLife, Fun, Talk!
Share: Facebook Twitter Stumble11 Comments