This blog is a compilation of all me and my husband's favorite recipes. Most are simple and easy to make. Please leave feedback if clarification is needed, if you like adding something else to the recipe, how you do it differently, etc. I would LOVE feedback! And mostly, I just hope you can enjoy eating some yummy food!!

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Bean Chip Dip

Just in time for New Years! This is a variation of a seven layer bean dip. I don't care for guacamole so I leave that out. And the dip is WAY better with the taco seasoning in it.

2 cans refried beans
1 16 oz. tub sour cream
1 taco seasoning package
shredded mexican blend cheese
1 small can cut olives
1 tomato
green onions

Notes / Directions
Spread refried beans out onto a large pizza pan. Mix sour cream with taco seasoning and spread on top of beans. Spread cheese over the top and sprinkle on olives, tomato, and green onions. Serve with tortilla chips.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

I don't know why these cookies are so blasted good. They are the perfect balance between gooey and crisp and fluffy. Maybe it's the pudding? I don't know. I've never tried making them without the pudding. Whenever I make these for people, they always want the recipe. They really are the best chocolate chip cookies and I'm not just saying that!

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour
1-2 cups chocolate chips

Notes / Directions
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Add other ingredients and mix well. Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rachel Lindsey Photography

Just look at how far my photography has come in the last year and a half!!

I've learned a TON about food photography. Like, don't use crazy red back drops and kitchen lighting. But I'm a photographer in training. I keep telling my husband that it's just a matter of time and money! If you're interested in seeing some of my other photography, I have a photography blog Rachel Lindsey Photography. I've been working on all types of photography. It's extremely satisfying.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Ritz

Salted Caramel or just Chocolate?? You choose! 

I'm feeling really proud because I was the genius behind these! Well, sort of. I saw chocolate covered Ritz at the store and decided to make them myself and then my genius was to dip them in caramel first! They are absolutely divine and so incredibly easy. It's like dipping pretzels.

1 box Ritz crackers
24 oz. chocolate almond bark
1 bag caramel cubes
2 tablespoons whole milk
sea salt

Notes / Directions
Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and grease it (only if you're doing caramel). Heat caramel in microwave at 30 second intervals, pulling it out to stir it in between. If it starts to bubble, pull it out immediately and stir. Overcooking the caramel will make it extremely chewy. Dip Ritz crackers, gently scrape excess caramel, and place on greased wax paper. Place in fridge for 5-10 minutes until they are hard. In the meantime, melt chocolate in microwave for a minute. Stir and put back in microwave until melted through. Dip Ritz and place back on cookie sheet. As the chocolate first begins to harden, sprinkle with sea salt. If this step is done too soon, it will sink into the chocolate. If it's done too late, it won't stick at all.

Want to make it easier? Just dip in chocolate and forget the caramel!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Children's Felt Nativity

My oldest child is now 3 and I'm so excited about this Christmas because he can finally start to understand the nativity scene. I wanted him to have something that he could touch and explore with as he learned who all the different characters were and why they were special. I made my first nativity using the pattern on Stay At Home Educator but it wasn't quite complete or accurate so I've remade the patterns. You'll find them at the end of this post. And for those of you who don't want to make it, you're in luck! I've made one extra! Buy it here!

There are really only 5 things you need to make it: felt, embroidery floss, felt glue, scissors, and a needle. If you don't shop the sales or use coupons, it'll cost about $20. I paid about $8 for all of my supplies. Here's your list of stuff to buy at the craft store:

Felt (buy 1 of each except for brown): grey, green, black, cream, light blue, gold, royal blue, tan, maroon, white, and buy 2 browns.
Embroidery floss (contrasting colors): white, cream, black, light green, dark green, light brown, tan, and yellow
Large white felt background
Felt glue

*Note: I wanted the embroidery floss to stand out on my characters and trees so I chose lighter and brighter colors than the felt

Let me give you a few tips before you start sewing and cutting away. I double backed everything. Meaning that there are 2 layers of felt on every piece so that it would be more durable. Because felt stretches and moves a little bit as you sew, I recommend cutting out the top layer, stitching it onto the bottom layer, and THEN cutting it out. Take my sheep for example:

Notice the little tiny white trim around the legs? I cut out the top layer, laid it on top of a second layer of cream, placed the legs and head where I wanted them, stitched around it, glued the legs and head into place, and THEN I cut it out. This is the process that I recommend.

I recommend getting the wisemen completely sewn and glued together before you cut the body figures out. You'll notice on my pattern that the wisemen have heads attached to their bodies and that they don't have a top. That was intentional. Just cut around their heads and crowns after they are all glued together. (Eyes are just knots)

On the characters with head robes, recommend cutting out all the pieces and then sewing them together because the head robes serve as a double backing and you want them to be stitched on. I hope that makes sense.

I made a little slit so that I could tuck the top of the head in. If I made them hair, I just glued it on as an after thought. (I stitched the manger on and glued the hay on)

The background was by far the most time consuming. If you're sick of hand stitching, maybe it'd be better just to glue it on.

Lastly, cut the second layer of the star a little bit bigger, it just looks better!

Here's the Pattern! Happy sewing!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Basil Pesto

Adapted from PaleoLeap

2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
to taste salt and pepper

Notes / Directions:
Put basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until well chopped. Add olive oil, parmesan, and lemon juice pulse gently just until combined. Remove from food processor and add salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately or freeze left overs.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Apple Crostata

This is like an apple pie, but it's not an apple pie. It's a delicious pastry!

For the Pastry:
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons canola oil
2-4 tablespoons milk

For the Filling:
3 large apples
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1 small box Vanilla cook and serve pudding
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 allspice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

Notes / Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

For the pastry, mix dry ingredients together. Add oil and 1 tablespoon of milk. Mix together quickly until it just starts to come together, add a tablespoon at a time until the dough is moist, not dry and crumbly. Avoid over-mixing.

Place between sheets of plastic wrap and roll into an 11 inch circle. Place on a greased cookie sheet.

For the filling, peel, core, and cut the apples into 8ths. Cut each wedge into 3 chunks. Toss the chunks with the orange zest. Cover the tart dough with the apple chunks leaving a 1-1/2 inch border.

Combine dry filling ingredients. Cut in butter until the mixture is crumble. Rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together. Sprinkle evenly on the apples. Gently fold the border over the apples to enclose the dough, pleating it to make a circle.

Bake the crostata for 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*If you don't have pudding, or you want it a little more tart and less flavorful, use 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup sugar instead.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ham and Corn Chowder

My friend made me some yummy ham and corn chowder and I enjoyed the left overs so much! Feeling inspired from her chowder, I started making my roux and created what I thought would be delicious. Turns out, I nailed it. No offense to the author of that other recipe, but mine is WAY better. And during this time of year, it just really hits the spot. Serve it with with some yummy rolls. Bam.

3 medium potatoes, diced
2 cups water
6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
2 cups cooked ham, diced
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

Notes / Directions
Bring water to a boil. Boil potatoes for 3-5 minutes (skip this step if you plan on leaving chowder in the crockpot for 4+ hours). Pour water and potatoes into a crockpot. In a large skillet, cook bacon. Set aside and crumble. Sauté onions in bacon grease and add to the crockpot. In the same skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour with a fork until well combined and bubbly. Slowly stir in milk making sure to get rid of all lumps. Continue stirring for 4-5 minutes until mixture thickens. Pour into crockpot and stir well. Add ham, corn, and seasonings. Stir and place a lid on the crockpot. Cook for about 2 hours on high until potatoes are soft.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ritz Crackers and Cream Cheese

Ever since I was a little kid my mom made these for me and my siblings. It's just Ritz crackers with cream cheese in the middle. I have no idea where she got the idea from, but they are absolutely amazing. On our long road trips my mom would make these and pass them around the car until we were completely out of crackers.

Now I've started making them for my kids. My 3 year old calls them cookies because they look like the white oreo cookies, to a kid anyway. And my 1 year old who will eat practically nothing, loves these too! So every now and again, this is what our lunch or dinner looks like:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pineapple Bacon Baked Beans

Why do I love these beans? Because they are so flavorful and sweet and yummy and everyone in my family will eat them!! And that's saying something because I have got the world's most pickiest 1 year old. If it's not bread, it goes in and comes straight back out. So I love these beans. I buy precooked bacon and just brown it a little so that it's crisper for crumbling. I'll be honest. I kind of hate cooking bacon. So that's my little cheat.


1 BIG can Bush original baked beans, drained
1 small can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 1/2 celery stalks, chopped
1-2 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 pound bacon strips, crumbled

Notes / Directions

Cook in crockpot on high 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blueberry Muffins

My little 2 year old was given blueberries somewhere, I have no idea where.  But one day that's all he was asking for so I went out on  limb and bought a huge box of them at Costco. I've never really bought fresh blueberries so what the heck was I to do with all those blueberries?! We had pancakes and blueberries, salads with blueberries, and blueberries. Wow there were so many blueberries! So I decided to make muffins. I've never made blueberry muffins from scratch and now I'm sitting here scratching my head wondering WHY??? They were absolutely delightful. I will never make them from a box again.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups blueberries

Notes / Directions
Combine butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add milk. Mix dry ingredients together, then add to batter. Mix until just moistened. Fold in blueberries (fresh or frozen). Pour into prepared muffin tins. Sprinkle tops with sugar. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden on top.

Makes 12 muffins.

*Instead of milk I used almond coconut milk and it was delicious.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chicken Divan

I grew up eating this stuff.  I know, weird.  Kids don't like broccoli.  But this one did!!!  This was a family favorite and every kid ate it and rejoiced.  It had been a long time since I had made this stuff so I decided it was time to cook some up with my left over rotisserie chicken from Costco.  It was a good call.

My 2 year old is one of the world's pickiest eaters, especially when it came to green things.  He used to eat a LOT of eggs.  He just loved them!  Until the day I used food coloring to make them green....  He would have NOTHING to do with them once they were green so I felt like this meal might be a long shot.  Broccoli is just scary.  And chicken is weird, unless it DQ chicken and then that's all he ever wants.

He tried a bite, and another, and another, and another!!!  SUCCESS!!!  I can die happy now.  My kid likes Chicken Divan.

3 large broccoli heads (3-5 cups of florets)
1 large chicken breast (I use rotisserie chicken)
2 small cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice (you can use less, I like the tang)
2 dinner rolls or 1 cup cornflakes

Notes / Directions
Cut broccoli into bite sized florets, using the stems as well, and steam for 5-6 minutes.  Put broccoli into a 9x13 pan.  Tear chunks of chicken and layer on top of the broccoli.  In a sauce pan, combine cream of chicken soup, mayonnaise, and lemon juice and heat up on medium high heat.  Stir constantly to prevent it from burning and sputtering everywhere.  Once the sauce is nice and hot, add cheese and stir up.  Pour ontop of broccoli and chicken.  Break up dinner rolls over the top of the casserole or sprinkle corn flakes on top.  Cook for 20-25 minutes at 425, until hot and bubbly.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Creamy Spinach Rissoto

Adapted from Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan

3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup Arborio rice
6-10 oz spinach 
1 tbs butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 pound mushrooms, chopped
1/4 pound Gruyere, Emmenthal, Swiss or even Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup half and half or cream 

Notes / Directions:
In a medium saucepan, bring 3 1/4 cups broth to boil. Stir in the rice. Cover and simmer until almost all of the broth has been absorbed (about 20-25 minutes). Turn off heat and let rice continue cooking on its own. Coarsely chop spinach and set aside. Melt butter in saucepan and sauté onions, garlic, and mushrooms about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Add cheese and cream to the rice and stir well, it should be nice and creamy.  Pour in a little more cream if necessary. Add onions, garlic, and mushrooms to the rice and stir.  Gently toss in spinach.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

Adapted from Food.com

4 cups whole wheat flour (or 2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 cups all-purpose flour)
1 tablespoon yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

Notes / Directions
Sift together 2 cups of flour and yeast.  Stir in water and salt.  Mix well.  Gradually add 2 cups of flour, just until dough isn't sticky anymore (there may be remainder flour).  Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes.  Form dough into 10 balls.  On a floured surface, roll out each ball until about 1/4 inch thick.  Pat flour onto both sides so that it doesn't stick and set aside.  Let rise for 30 minutes, until dough looks slightly raised.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Turn dough upside down onto cookie sheet and cook for 5 minutes.  When they come out, they will be extremely puffed up.  Allow them to cool until they are warm and gently press flat.  Store in an airtight container.

*During the kneading process, you can add whatever herbs or spices you'd like.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Banana Bread

I got this recipe from a lady that I lived next door to my whole life. I'm still yet to find a recipe that I like better than hers. She makes the best banana breadHer biggest secret was to use incredibly ripe bananas, like almost rotten bananas. I still can't quite figure out why her big loaves turn out different than mine but they do. So I stick to mini loaves which turn out great.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 bananas (the browner, the better)
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vinegar

Notes / Directions
Cream butter, sugar, and eggs. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Mix till smooth. In a separate bowl, mash bananas. Stir them into batter. Measure milk and add vinegar, mix a little before adding to batter. Grease 4 mini loaf pans and pour in equal amounts of batter to each pan. Cook at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
*You can make 2 regular sized loaves with this same recipe. Cooking time is the same.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

French Onion Rice

3/4 cup butter
2 cups rice
1/4 cup wild rice
2 cans french onion soup
1 teaspoon salt
3 cans water
chicken tenders

Notes / Directions
Preheat oven to 350.  In a skillet, melt butter and add white rice.  Stir over medium heat until the rice is browned.  Dump into a large dutch oven.  Add wild rice, french onion soup, salt, and water.  Place chicken tenders on top and cover with lid.  Cook in the oven for an hour or until rice is fully cooked.

Candied Pecans

During the holidays these pecans were sitting out on a dish at my orthodontist.  It took a lot of self control to not eat the whole dish!  So instead, I pestered the receptionist for a few months until I got the recipe.  My orthodontist, Dr. Chan, makes these every year at Christmas time.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

2 egg whites
3/4 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 tablespoon water
1 pound pecan halves (4 cups)
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Notes / Directions
Preheat oven to 250.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a mixing bowl, hip together egg whites, vanilla, and water until it is nice and frothy.  Stir in pecans until evenly coated.  In a large ziploc bag, mix sugar, salt and cinnamon.  Add pecans and seal shut.  Shake and toss until pecans are completely dusted.  Pour out onto baking sheet and cook for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Let cool and enjoy!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Savory Ham and Gruyere Cookies

 Adapted from Delish

1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped black forest ham
1 1/2 cups finely shredded gruyere cheese, divided

Notes / Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a sauce pan, bring butter, salt, and water to a boil.  Reduce heat and quickly stir in flour.  Continue stirring until a film starts to form on the bottom of the pan, about 30 seconds.  Transfer dough into a bowl and allow to cool for a minute.  Stir in eggs one at a time, making sure each is well incorporated before adding the next.  Stir in pepper, ham, and 1 cup of cheese.  Scoop dough out into a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch star on it.

Grease 2 cookie sheets and squeeze dough out in 1 1/2 inch circles, leaving 1/2 inch between each cookie.  Place cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, rotating sheets half way, until golden brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of gruyere cheese on top.  Cook for 3 more minutes or until cheese is fully melted.  Serve warm.
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