Food RoundupRecipes

Top 10 Recipes of 2018

The year has quickly come to a close and with a new one on the horizon, I thought it would be fun to share the 10 most popular recipes I posted in 2018 along with our family favorites. But first, I’d like to do a quick recap of our year. 

I should have known from the beginning that 2018 was going to be rough. The year started with our family being ill for almost an entire month (and coincidently that’s how it’s ending ?). Then on January 24th I received a phone call I had long been dreading- my dad had passed. The following months were kind of a blur. Grief combined with a struggling newborn made life feel pretty overwhelming. We eventually figured out our baby boy had a milk and soy protein intolerance. I went on a dairy-free (and soy-free) diet and so did Life Made Simple. 

Life started getting a little easier/normal late spring. We took a trip to Florida to visit family, then in June I flew to California to attend a Pinterest event. Over the summer we visited all sorts of museums, discovered all of the cool parks within a 20 mile radius, and took another trip to Florida where we spent two weeks at the beach- we had a blast! During the last few weeks of summer, my mom flew out to stay with us so that I could shoot a cookbook. It was a really tight deadline… two weeks or so? And my husband was traveling a lot for work, so having her here was a huge blessing! P.S. The cookbook is not mine (maybe someday) but as soon as the release date gets a little closer I’ll share all of the details!

In September our oldest started kindergarten and our second oldest started preschool. It took some time to get adjusted to our new routine, but now we love it! This fall we celebrated FOUR birthdays in our little family. I can’t believe how fast time is going by. In December I was able to reintroduce dairy into my diet again and it has been freeing! We’re slowly working on the little guy ??.

I’m still trying to figure out how to juggle being a mom and blogger. This year definitely had its ups and downs. It was stressful and tiring, but also joyful and fulfilling. I’ve definitely discovered more about myself and the kind of friend, mother, and wife I want to strive to become.

Thank you for your support and kindness over the past year. It truly has meant the world to our family! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2019! Happy New Year friends!! ?

P.S. I would love to learn more about you! Each year I do a reader survey to help me plan content and set goals. It takes about 5 minutes to complete.



10. Ham Fried Rice

Everyone loves a good take-out recipe they can make at home, and that tastes just as good as the real deal! This recipe is great with leftover holiday ham or with thick cut deli ham. It’s also a great way to clean out your veggie drawer and use up those odds and ends. FIND THE HAM FRIED RICE RECIPE HERE.

Ham Fried Rice |

9. Swedish Visiting Bars

I shared this post in September for OXO’s #goodcookie fundraiser. It’s a collaboration I look forward to every fall. I didn’t expect this recipe to go viral, but it did! These bars are so incredibly unique but absolutely delicious. If you love almond, you will LOVE these! FIND THE SWEDISH VISITING BARS HERE.

Swedish Visiting Cake Bars |

8. Perfect Vanilla Cake

It took me several years and then 3 final tests to get this recipe right, but like the recipe says, it’s perfect! If a layer cake isn’t your thing, it makes lovely cupcakes too! FIND THE PERFECT VANILLA CAKE RECIPE HERE.

Perfect Vanilla Cake |

7. Crispy Lemon Pepper Chicken

Looking for something different to make for dinner? MAKE THIS!! It’s so easy and so incredibly flavorful. It will impress even the pickiest of eaters. My kids and husband will devour it! FIND THE CRISPY LEMON PEPPER CHICKEN RECIPE HERE.

Crispy Lemon Pepper Chicken |

6. Chile Verde Tamale Casserole

I love a good tamale, but I don’t have the time to make them anymore. I’m guessing you don’t either. That’s when this recipe was born. A quick, easy and delicious casserole version. It will have you coming back for more, and more, and more! FIND THE CHILE VERDE TAMALE CASSEROLE RECIPE HERE.

Chile Verde Chicken Tamale Casserole |

5. Chicken Gnocchi Soup

I figured you guys loved my creamy sausage and tortellini soup so much, why not make a version with chicken and gnocchi?! About 80% of the soup recipes I have here on Life Made Simple can be made in 45 minutes or less, and this is one of them. It’s cozy and comforting- perfect for a cold winter day! FIND THE CHICKEN GNOCCHI SOUP RECIPE HERE.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup |

4. Easy Red Enchiladas

We make this recipe at least once a month and it never gets old! It will have you licking your plate clean, I promise! FIND THE EASY RED ENCHILADA RECIPE HERE.

Easy Red Enchiladas |

3. Instant Pot Brown Rice

There are three things I love making in my Instant Pot: shredded meat, beans, and rice. This no-fuss brown rice recipe is one you need in your arsenal! No babysitting required. Just rinse and toast, then set it and forget it. FIND THE INSTANT POT BROWN RICE RECIPE HERE.

Instant Pot Brown Rice |

2. How To Make Fruit Salad

I was a little surprised that this post, of all 122 recipes I shared this year, fell into the #2 spot! If you want to know how to make a killer fruit salad, make sure to hop on over and check out it out! FIND OUT HOW TO MAKE FRUIT SALAD HERE.

How To Make Fruit Salad |

1.  No Soak Instant Pot Pinto Beans

Never in a million years did I think, “hey, I bet this recipe is going to be super popular” when I posted it back in April. ?But look at it now! Honestly, I was just playing around with the idea of NOT soaking beans for forever and so I tested this recipe with pinto beans and black beans. They both turned out amazing. I *think* my mom wanted the recipe so I ended up taking a few pictures and popping it up on the blog so she could use it. ??‍♀️FIND THE NO SOAK INSTANT POT PINTO BEANS RECIPE HERE.

No Soak Instant Pot Pinto Beans |

P.S. If you think an Instant Pot isn’t for you, you are wrong! They come in a variety of sizes and they can be used for all sorts of recipes: appetizers, breads, casseroles, soups, main dishes, and even desserts. The Instant Pot may seem like a fad (and I’ll be honest, I was skeptical at first) but it isn’t going anywhere, and it makes life so much easier! I will continue to post Instant Pot recipes this coming year, so if you don’t want to miss out, go get yourself one!

10 Most Loved Recipes of 2018

(because these recipes shouldn’t be forgotten!)

10. Everything Bagel Pretzels

Some people love it, some people hate it. I happen to be obsessed with it! Everything bagel seasoning was such a huge trend this year, and I was happy to play along. I took my tried and true soft pretzel recipe and gave it a little makeover. The results were dangerously delicious! FIND THE EVERYTHING BAGEL RECIPE HERE.

Grabbing a soft, freshly baked everything bagel pretzel. |

9. Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Sliders

This past year I shared several shredded meat recipes made in the Instant Pot. This one was so easy and so delicious (and just happened to be dairy-free too). These sloppy sliders are made with homemade buns (optional but necessary for me) and a tangly homemade slaw. FIND THE INSTANT POT BUFFALO CHICKEN SLIDERS RECIPE HERE.

Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Sliders |

8. No-Bake S’mores Pie

Because sometimes when it’s 102 degrees out you just don’t feel like doing the whole bonfire thing OR turning on your oven. This cool, silky smooth pie was all I wanted to eat all summer long… but couldn’t for obvious reasons. ?FIND THE NO-BAKE S’MORES PIE RECIPE HERE.

No-Bake S'mores Pie |

7. Smoked Sausage and Lentil Soup

Yes, another lentil soup recipe. And I have no plans on stopping! This recipe is full of smoky sausage and loaded with hearty lentils. It has been on repeat during the past few months and I’m still not tired of it. FIND THE SMOKED SAUSAGE AND LENTIL SOUP RECIPE HERE.

6. Lemon Bundt Cake

If you’re wanting to make a show-stopper this spring, make this light and zesty cake. All you need is a classic bundt pan and a hand or stand mixer. It will have your guests coming back slice after slice! FIND THE LEMON BUNDT CAKE RECIPE HERE.

Lemon Bundt Cake |

5. Dad’s Smoked Cheddar Fajita Quesadillas

This is a recipe my mom made for my dad (sans chicken), and it just happened to become a favorite of mine. There’s something about adding SMOKED cheddar to a quesadilla that makes it 100x more delicious. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself! FIND THE RECIPE FOR DAD’S SMOKED CHEDDAR FAJITA QUESADILLAS HERE.

Dad's Smoked Cheddar Fajita Quesadillas |

4. The Best Peanut Butter Cookies

Speaking of my dad, these are the cookies that I posted on the day he died. He loved peanut butter cookies, and I’m positive he would have loved these. I guess I got my love for peanut butter from him! ??FIND THE RECIPE FOR THE BEST PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES HERE

The Best Peanut Butter Cookies |

3. Perfect Cous Cous

This may seem like a pretty boring post/recipe, but this recipe has changed our life. Ok, so maybe it’s not that amazing, but we always made the boxed stuff until I couldn’t eat it (darn soy). So I set out to make my own version with oil (you can use butter too). It’s easy and loaded with flavor. RECIPE FOR PERFECT COUS COUS HERE.

Perfect Cous Cous |

2. 6 Ingredient Rocky Road Cups

Yes, you read that right. SIX ingredients. That’s it! I survived on these little morsels of rocky road goodness this past year. I made them with coconut oil and Enjoy Life chocolate and kept them all to myself. ?Just kidding… I let my husband eat a few. FIND THE RECIPE FOR 6 INGREDIENT ROCKY ROAD CUPS HERE.

6 Ingredient Rocky Road Cups |

1. Pistachio Layer Cake

I made a few layered cakes this past year (seriously, a few ?) but they did not disappoint. This cake quickly became the most requested recipe for parties and gatherings. I mean, look at it, how could it not? It has three layers of soft, fluffy pistachio cake with a creamy mascarpone frosting in between. It’s absolutely divine! FIND THE PISTACHIO LAYER CAKE RECIPE HERE.

Taking a slice out of the pistachio layer cake with mascarpone frosting. |

There you go friends. Thanks for baking, cooking, and experimenting along with me. You guys are the best! See you soon ?

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  1. I love that you recapped your year. I like reading about your family in your blog posts.
    And ps. you have THE best recipes!!! ❤️

  2. Hi Natalie. Your blog is absolutely beautiful and the recipes look wonderful. I’m browsing through them as Dennie & I drive our grandson, Blake , up to a baseball prospect camp at University of Tennessee. I already forwarded the “red enchilada recipe” to the girls. I’m so impressed with the professional quality of your product  & that you can do it so beautifully with 3 little ones!!! Take care & tell Stephen best of luck with his sinus surgery. We’ll pray for successful surgery & a speedy recovery.
            With love, Aunt Susan