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Real Life Dinners: Fun, Fresh, Fast Dinners from the Creator of The Chic Site

Real Life Dinners: Fun, Fresh, Fast Dinners from the Creator of The Chic Site

by Rachel Hollis


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Fun, fresh, and fast recipes for family dinners from the founder of The Chic Site, a lifestyle website, and the author of Upscale Downhome and New York Times bestseller Girl, Wash Your Face.

Rachel Hollis's Real Life Dinners is a cookbook that fits into your real daily life.

Real life isn’t a series of stylized air-brushed photos. It's crazy, chaotic, beautiful, and funny, and it can knock you right off balance. But cooking and eating as a family has always been at real life's core. Making sure your family is fed makes a day a success, and truly taking the time to give them something wholesome and delicious is the ultimate pleasure.

Based on meals Hollis makes for her hungry husband, three sons, and baby daughter, Real Life Dinners bursts with over 80 photos and recipes including:

Breakfast Quesadillas
Toast Nine Ways
Freeze-Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches
Taco Tuesday
Crispy Sweet Potato Bake
Lemon-Pesto Chicken
Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup
Rach's Spice Blends

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250153234
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/05/2018
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 718,411
Product dimensions: 7.91(w) x 8.82(h) x 0.53(d)

About the Author

RACHEL HOLLIS is the founder of, where readers can find recipes, as well as party planning and lifestyle advice and the author of the New York Times bestseller Girl, Wash Your Face. She also founded the event planning firm Chic Events, and six years later Inc. magazine named her one of the top thirty entrepreneurs under thirty years of age. She is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and PopSugar, and she has appeared on The Rachael Ray Show, The Talk, Extra, and many more shows. She lives in Texas with her husband and four children.

Read an Excerpt



I must have been seven or eight years old--I can't be sure of my exact age, only the awareness that I was small enough that the milkshake felt almost illicit.

We'd been on a family road trip for what felt like weeks, but that's got to be a child's recollection ... no way my parents would suffer being trapped with four kids for that long. It was likely just a matter of days. At the end of a long day of traveling in our blue minivan, we pulled into the parking lot of a diner. This was incredible because we never, ever went out to a real restaurant. With four kids and a tight budget, dinner outside of our own kitchen was a rarity. This particular night is the first time I can remember eating at a restaurant in my whole life. I'm not saying it didn't happen very rarely. When a grandparent turned a new decade, I'm sure we went to the Olive Garden or something, but this particular night is my first restaurant memory. Even more startling, my mother told me I could order anything off the menu.

Anything, you guys.

We didn't have the money for anything ... even at Denny's. We had the money for a kid's plate you split with your sibling and water from the tap. Also, I didn't have anything kind of parents. I had you'll-eat-it-and-you'll-like-it kind of parents. This experience was unprecedented. The power felt awesome.

How would I ever choose? What would I ever choose?

I chose a chocolate milkshake and French fries ... for dinner. And she let me! My mother let me order that for dinner without batting an eyelash. Maybe she was feeling the magic of vacation. Maybe she was exhausted from trying to manage all of us kids and she'd just given up. Or maybe she was tippling from a flask in the glove compartment, who knows? All I know for sure is that the memory of having something for dinner that wasn't really dinner felt special ... felt so significant that I remember it twenty-eight years later. Pizza at three o'clock in the morning, or cake for breakfast (because, let's be honest, that's what doughnuts are!) or your favorite egg dish at suppertime. It feels special. It's also, at least for me, way easier to make breakfast than some elaborate dinner feast. We have "brinner" (that's breakfast for dinner, yo) at least once a week. Not so much the milkshake. It might bring all the boys to the yard, but it's yet to show up on our dining room table disguised as a meal.


Bacon? Yes. Lettuce? Okay, fine. Avocado? By the truckload! Tomato? To-mah-to! Egg? You went and added an egg? And then let it drip down the side of your sandwich like that scene in Spanglish where Adam Sandler makes a sandwich in the middle of the night that I'm still hungry for a decade later? Yes. Yes, I did! Y'all, I can't imagine you need me to convince you of the magic of this sandwich, but perhaps you just need me to remind you that a BLT is a great and easy option for dinner, and if you have the avocado or eggs handy, it's only going to add to the overall experience.


15 MIN Prep Time 15 MIN Cook Time4 SERVINGS Makes

1.Toast the bread in a toaster, or heat a skillet over medium heat with a touch of olive oil. Toast each piece of bread in the skillet until golden brown on one side.

2.For each sandwich, spread 1 slice with pesto, and the other slice with mayonnaise.

3.Next, layer each sandwich with bacon, tomato, lettuce, avocado slices, and top each one with an over-easy egg.

4.Finally, top each sandwich with the second slice of bread, and serve immediately.


5.Place all the ingredients listed into a blender or food processor in the order listed.

6.Blend on low or pulse until the pesto comes together, but is still a little chunky.

7.Transfer the pesto to an airtight container. Refrigerate and use within 3 days.


This idea came to me years ago upon remembering a breakfast pizza from Schwans. Did you guys ever order anything from Schwans? In my hometown you were super fancy if you got a delivery from those guys ... and my family was never going to be fancy, okay? I idolized that truck of frozen delicacies, one of which was a mini breakfast pizza. We remade it years later with our cool spin (shout-out to the cast-iron skillet!) and I'm happy to report that it's delicious enough that you could serve it to guests for dinner and they'd be ecstatic to receive Tater Tots on a pizza.


30 MIN Prep Time15 MIN Cook Time4-6 SERVINGS Makes

1.Preheat oven to 450°F. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven to preheat, as well. Take pizza dough out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2.Meanwhile, prepare remaining ingredients. Cook Tater Tots and applewood-smoked bacon. Slice Canadian bacon. Set aside until dough is ready.

3.Place 1½ tablespoons olive oil into 12inch cast-iron skillet. Place room-temperature pizza dough inside skillet. Pat into a disk using the palm of your hand.

4.Stretch dough out, starting from the center, rotating dough in the skillet to form an even 12inch circle. If the dough is still too elastic, cover lightly with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

5.Use remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil to coat the top of pizza dough. Place provolone cheese slices on top, followed by sliced Canadian bacon and applewood-smoked bacon. Arrange Tater Tots in such a way to allow room for cracked eggs.

6.Place skillet over the stove on medium heat, and cook for about 4 minutes. Prop the pizza up every other minute or so to check on the underside of the dough. After 4 minutes, the bottom of the pizza should be set and lightly golden brown in color. The oil should always be bubbling as this point.

7.Remove the skillet from the stove. Crack eggs onto the pizza. Season pizza with salt and black pepper. Place in oven for 8 to 10 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and melted, and the egg whites are cooked through. Let cool slightly in skillet before transferring to cutting board to cut into slices. Garnish with thinly snipped chives and chopped thyme.


I really appreciate quesadillas because I always have cheese and tortillas in my fridge. I really appreciate breakfast quesadillas because they're an easy way to add protein and excitement to a basic dish. In this instance we used chorizo, which adds incredible heat and depth of flavor, but you can feel free to swap it out for bacon, ham, or go meat-free!


15 MIN Prep Time 20 MIN Cook Time4 QUESADILLAS Makes

1.Mix together the ingredients for the pico de gallo, and set it aside to let the flavors blend together.

2.Heat a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the chorizo and sauté, breaking up the sausage with a spoon as it cooks. When the sausage is almost done, add the bell pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, corn, and sliced scallions. Cook until the veggies are crisp-tender, stirring often.

3.Whisk together the eggs and salt in a mediumsize bowl. Then add them to the pan with the chorizo and veggies. Stir constantly as the eggs scramble. When the eggs are set, remove the pan from the heat.

4.Heat a separate skillet over medium heat. Lay one tortilla in the bottom of the skillet, and spread about ½ cup filling over the top. Sprinkle with cheese and top with a second tortilla. Cook until the cheese begins to melt and the bottom tortilla has turned golden brown. Carefully flip the quesadilla and cook on the other side until the cheese is molten and the second side is golden brown.

5.Repeat the cooking process with the remaining ingredients until you have 4 whole quesadillas, keeping them warm in the oven as you go.

6.Serve the hot quesadillas cut into wedges, with the pico de gallo, avocado slices, and sour cream.


If you follow me on any social media platform, then you've heard me talk (ad nauseam) about how imperative it is to plan out meals in advance. Anyone who's in on the make-ahead game can appreciate the strata for just this reason. If you're not familiar with it, imagine a sort of fancy bread pudding. This strata is the perfect make-ahead dish because you can create it on Sunday, let it rest overnight, and then enjoy it on Monday night for dinner. It's also a great option for when you're entertaining guests.


20 MIN Prep Time 1¼ HOURS Cook Time8-10 SERVINGS Makes

1.Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add your choice of Italian sausage and the diced onion. Sauté while breaking up the sausage with a spoon. Cook until the sausage is cooked through and the onion has softened. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped spinach; stir the spinach in and let it wilt slightly as the pan cools.

2.Next, whisk together the milk, Zesty Italian seasoning, egg, salt, and black pepper until the eggs are completely blended into the milk. Stir in the fontina and Parmesan, and set the mixture aside.

3.Place the cubed bread into a 3½-quart baking dish, 12 x 8 x 3½ inches. Add the sausage spinach mixture and the halved cherry tomatoes, and stir to combine.

4.Pour the egg and cheese mixture evenly over the top of the bread cubes. Cover the dish and refrigerate 8 hours, or overnight.

5.When you're ready to bake the strata, preheat the oven to 350°F. When the oven is heated, place the baking dish in the oven and bake until the strata is golden brown, the eggs have set up, and it's puffed in the middle, about 1¼ hours.

6.Serve immediately.


This is a make-ahead winner and a great way to start your week. Whip up a bunch of burritos and get creative with your breakfast ingredients, then you can enjoy them for breakfast, lunch, or (our favorite!) dinner with only a quick dip in the microwave or oven.


25 MIN Prep Time25 MIN Cook Time16 BURRITOS Makes

1.Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and allow to heat through. Throw in the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally until browned. Add the eggs and cook until no longer runny. Season with salt and black pepper. Set aside.

2.Heat a small skillet over medium heat and sauté the bell peppers until soft.

3.Warm the tortillas on the stove in a dry skillet until pliable. Fill each one with the potato and egg mixture and top with bacon, sausage, peppers, and/or cheese.

4.Roll into a tight burrito. Wrap in foil and allow to cool down.

5.Store in the freezer and rewarm in the microwave (without the foil) or in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


Let's be honest, you guys ... if I wouldn't gain a thousand pounds by doing it, I would have McDonald's bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit for breakfast every day of my life. Sometimes I'd probably also have one as an afternoon snack. This recipe is my healthier at-home version. Sure, it doesn't come with that crispy hash brown, but it's pretty darn good and the fact that it's premade means it'll be so much easier to pull off when you are rushing out the door every morning.


10 MIN Prep Time10 MIN Cook Time in the oven4-5 MIN Cook Time in the microwave6 SANDWICHES Makes

1.Gather ingredients. Cook the eggs in a skillet with cooking spray, according to how you like them. Place on the bottoms of the English muffins and top with cheese.

2.Fill the sandwiches with desired toppings, if using, and then sandwich together. Wrap in wax or parchment paper and label for the week. Store in freezer until ready to eat.

3.To rewarm, unwrap sandwiches and place in a toaster oven, oven, or microwave. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes in toaster oven or oven, or about 4 to 5 minutes in microwave.


This shouldn't even be considered a breakfast recipe; this is brunch all the way. Imagine yourself sitting on the patio of a restaurant in Palm Springs with your best girlfriends. You've got a mimosa in your hand, or maybe one of those stacked Bloody Marys. What's on the menu today as you laugh and chat and live your best life? Huevos rancheros! Now, back in the reality of your kitchen, you can bring a little of that brunch fantasy into your everyday living. Mimosas are still strongly encouraged.


10 MIN Prep Time25 MIN Cook Time4-6 SERVINGS Makes

1.Preheat the oven to 375°F, and thinly slice the scallions, both the white and green parts. Reserve the white and green parts separately.

2.Place a medium-size saucepan over mediumhigh heat, and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and the white part of the scallions. Sauté until the onion begins to soften, about 1 minute. Then add the pinto beans, Fiesta Blend, and fire-roasted tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes before seasoning to taste with salt.

3.Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to a 9inch cast-iron pan. Line the pan with the corn tortillas, making sure they come up the sides.

4.Spread the pinto bean mixture over the top of the tortillas, and make 6 indents in the bean mixture to hold the eggs. Scatter the reserved green part of the scallions over the beans. Crack the eggs open and add to the pan, spacing them evenly, and then top with grated cheese.

5.Place the skillet in the oven, and bake until the whites have set, about 15 minutes.

6.When the eggs are done, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve with avocado slices.


Excerpted from "Real Life Dinners"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Rachel Hollis.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Table Manners 13

Kitchen Essentials 19

Rach's Spices 24

Breakfast for Dinner 27

Kid-Friendly Dinners 49

Make-Ahead Dinners 71

Dinner on the Grill 91

Soup for Dinner 113

Salad for Dinner 135

Sides for Dinner 157

My Favorite Dinners 177

Acknowledgments 203

Index 204

Customer Reviews