Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies


I normally use Paula Deen's Loaded Oatmeal Cookie recipe, but some times you just want to try something different.

So I went recipe hunting through a few cookbooks, and found another recipe in a church cookbook. It was much simpler than Paula's, and I quickly started whipping up the cookies! Church cookbooks are the best!

Oatmeal Cookies
1 1/4 cups butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
3 cups quick oats
1 cup raisins (or chocolate chips!)

Mix in order. Bake at 350 degrees. Bake for 9-10 minutes.

The verdict?
The dough was very thick and that made making dough balls pretty easy. The cookie had a very light taste as there wasn't any spices (ginger, cloves, cinnamon, allspice) that are normally in Oatmeal Raisin cookies. 

These were a hit with everyone in our family, and I thought the amount would have lasted at least three days, but they were all gone in 24 hours. Yes, they were a hit alright!
 

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Plan for Monday August 30



Last week we had two hit new recipes, including Crockpot Scalloped Potatoes and Ham, and also Sweet & Sour Chicken. These two recipe will be posted here soon!

This week, I'm trying to go less complicated, more healthy, and focusing more on using up all the great vegetables from my Produce Club.

Hamburgers and Oven Fries

Chicken Breasts, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, another veggie
Salmon Fillets, Green Rice (New), Carrots

Sunday After Church: Pork Loin in Crockpot, two veggies


I'm sharing this at I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Friday, August 27, 2010

Teriyaki Beef with Rice Noodles

 

Anything for a trip back to the Oriental grocery store for rice noodles! I had to restrain myself from buying a bottle of Pad Thai sauce (well that would have been helpful a few months ago) but stuck to buying just what I needed for this recipe.


These "Rice Sticks" had an added bonus of having English instructions on the back. Horrendous grammatical errors aside..."Soak thoroughly the Rice Sticks in hot water for about 3-5 minutes and then take it up"  the package directions were more accurate than the original recipe.

I know this looks complicated, but it's just a few extra steps!

Teriyaki Beef with Rice Noodles
recipe adapted from Pillsbury: Fast and Healthy Cookbook

12 oz uncooked rice sticks

Sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice or cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound boneless beef sirloin or eye of round steak, sliced (I like to partially freeze the steak to make the slicing easier...or just forget to thaw your steak and wahla!)
1 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 green onions, cut lengthwise into thin strips and crosswise into 1 inch pieces

Soak noodles for 3 to 5 minutes (or follow package directions) In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, dry mustard and garlic; mix well.

Toss beef slices with cornstarch. Heat large pan or wok with oil over high heat. Stirfry beef until just a little pink remains. Remove to a plate. Reduce heat to medium-high, add sauce mixture, heat thoroughly, stirring bits off bottom. Cook and stir until thickened. Add noodles and beef back to pan, heat through. Top with sliced green onions.

The verdict?
My husband loved this, my son enjoyed the noodles and steak, separately, and I think rice noodles are the bomb. My next rendition of this will include more veggies, as I'm always trying to work more veggies into dishes!

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tuscan Soup

Tuscan Soup
 
This recipe originally came into our house as a way to use up the remainder of a can of evaporated milk, but this past week, I received some swiss chard in my Produce Basket and I really wanted to put it into a soup. It's really not a great time for soup, being 105 degrees outside, but sometimes a craving is a craving!

This is also a great way to stretch 1/2 pound of sausage into a main dish. The recipe calls for spicy sausage, but I usually use regular sausage and add red pepper flakes to make it spicy. My husband even said the spice was one of his favorite parts. My son was surprisingly not bothered by the spice, but I think all he ate was broth and potatoes!

Tuscan Soup

adapted from allrecipes.com
Serves: 4

8 ounces spicy italian sausage (or regular sausage and 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
1 onion, chopped
 (about 1 cup)
6 cups chicken broth
 I used homemade
1 large potato cubed
 (about 2 cups)
1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and chopped (about 3 cups) or could any greens like kale or swiss chard
1/2 cup evaporated milk
 (could also use half & half or milk)
Salt to taste

Ground black pepper to taste



Remove skin from sausage and crumble into a large pot. Add chopped onion, and cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add stock and potatoes. Boil until potato is cooked. 
(I let the soup sit at a low simmer for a few hours at this point)

Right before getting ready to serve, add spinach. Continue boiling until spinach is lightly cooked. 
Remove soup from heat, stir in evaporated milk, and season to taste. Do not add any salt if using canned stock.

I'm also sharing this recipe at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap, Mommy's Kitchen Potluck Sunday. and Eat at Home's Ingredient Spotlight: Broth. 

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Boxing up Treats to Travel



This is how I box up treats when I have to bring something to a get together: muffin cups! It makes it easy for everyone to grab their own piece, and keeps them from getting squished in the travels to where we're going. I brought these Rice Krispie Treats to a church meeting, and they were all eaten up!

I was inspired by Like Merchant Ships (she uses coffee filters, too) and The Food Librarian uses them, too.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Easy Black Bean & Corn Soup



This is a simple and healthy soup that could be whipped up from things in your pantry. I had everything on hand, and it flowed into our menu plan very easily without taking any money from the grocery budget that week.

The verdict?
If you were going to take a side of corn and a side of black beans, mix them up on your plate and eat it, that's what it would taste like...black beans and corn...that's it. It was very easy to put together: open some cans and heat them up.

I wasn't too impressed, my husband thought it was pretty good. The leftovers sat in our frig for a few days untouched, so I don't think I would make it again without jazzing it up with some salsa or more spice. My son picked out the beans to eat, so he was pretty happy.

Black Bean and Corn Soup

2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained, rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14.5 oz) can beef broth (or vegetable broth if you want vegetarian)
1 teaspoon cumin
3 teaspoons chili powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder.

Add all the ingredients to a Dutch oven or large saucepan; mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes to blend flavors.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Monday, August 23, 2010

Menu Plan for Monday August 23


 Last week the hit recipe was Tuscan Soup, and we also tried a new impromptu recipe for Muffin Tin Pizzas from the latest issue of Everyday Food. The reason it was so easy to swap in a new recipe was the stash of frozen pizza dough in my freezer. It's like dinnertime insurance! Both of these new recipes will be on this site this week.

This week is turning into a bit of a Pioneer Woman recipe week! I gave my husband the PW cookbook to look through, and he picked out two recipes that looked good to him.


Bowtie Lasagna, Zucchini, Salad
Sweet & Sour Chicken, (from Clean Eating) Rice
Chicken Spaghetti (it's going to be prepped in the frig for a busy afternoon)

Windy City Pizza (from Clean Eating) w/ sausage, mushrooms & veggies as toppings

Marlboro Man’s Sandwich, Salad to offset all that meat!

Sat: Out for Lunch, Light dinner
Sun: After Church, Crockpot Scalloped Potatoes & Ham, Salad & Veggie; Light Dinner



I'm also sharing this Menu Plan at I'm an Organizing Junkie!


Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Friday, August 20, 2010

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry


Any new style of crockpot recipe gets me excited, and one that can pull off a fun new flavor to work into my menu means I have to give it a try!


Crockpot Chicken Curry‬
recipe adapted from Frontier Kitchen
Serves 4

2 lbs. boneless chicken breast or chicken thighs, cut into 1/2" - 1" chunks.
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
Dash ground cayenne pepper
1 cup coconut milk, 1/4 cup reserved
Hot sauce, for individual tastes

Combine chicken, onion, curry powder, ginger, cayenne pepper and 3/4 cup of the coconut milk in a slow cooker. Stir to combine.


Cover and set to low for 4-5 hours. Give the curry a stir, and add the last 1/4 cup of coconut milk. Serve chicken curry over rice.

The verdict?
The texture of the dish straight out of the crockpot looked a little curdled, but a quick stir and the addition of the extra coconut milk did wonders for the look of the dish.

The taste was really mild, but I left out the cayenne powder, and boy, did it need that spice to round out the flavor of the dish. We ended up adding hot sauce at the table, and it was what it needed. This was easy to put together in the crockpot, and had a fun new flavor to shake up the weekly routine.

My husband and I really enjoyed the meal, and the leftovers the next day were just as good.

I'm sharing this at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Barefoot Contessa's Banana Sour Cream Pancakes

 
Another Saturday morning, another jonesing for pancakes. Forget that I have three boxes full of Eggo frozen pancakes in my freezer (every momma needs a break...plus they were 25 cents after coupons!) and a son who is in heaven if I let him stir the pancake batter.

Banana Sour Cream Pancakes
recipe from Barefoot Contessa Family Style

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
2 extra large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I didn't have)
Unsalted butter
2 ripe banana, diced, plus extra for serving
Pure maple syrup

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan. Distribute a rounded tablespoon of bananas on each pancake Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute, until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with sliced bananas, butter and maple syrup.



The verdict?
I have found the perfect compromise between Edna Mae's Sour Cream Pancakes and Light and Fluffy Pancakes. The pancakes were light, but still moist, and very high and fluffy. I could have left the banana out of them, but still great with the addition.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Delivering a Meal


I brought a meal to a family from our church who just had a baby. Normally I am drawn to deliver real comfort food, but it's been so hot here,  a lighter meal seemed a little more welcoming than cranking on the oven.

Ham & Poppy Seed Buns
Ranch Pasta Salad (a combination of Orzo Greek Pasta Salad and Homemade Ranch Dressing)
The Best Ever Chocolate Cookies

The best boxes I've found for dropping off meals are from the Dollar Tree. The smaller boxes I used for this are usually by the wedding favor section.



Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Salmon & Egg Salad



One lonely salmon fillet was hiding in my freezer...the rest of the package it belonged to got used up weeks ago. That's why I at least do a "freezer dig and scan" before I do menu planning - there are some widow and orphans ingredients hiding in the back that need to be used up.

Salmon & Egg Salad
recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

4 eggs
1/8 cup celery, chopped
1/8 cup red onion, chopped
3 ounces diced smoked salmon
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon Old Bay
salt and pepper to taste

Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil; cover, remove from heat, and let eggs stand in hot water for 13 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, peel and chop.
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, celery, onion, salmon and mayonnaise. Season with Old Bay, salt and pepper. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow flavors to combine.



The verdict?
This tasted like Egg Salad with a little Salmon thrown in.  I love Egg Salad, so I could eat it with even much more questionable add-ins thrown in. My son ate the bread OFF the Egg Salad, and he normally gobbles it up. Who knows with a 2 year old!

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Monday, August 16, 2010

Menu Plan for Monday August 16th

Last week, the Slow Cooker Steak Fajitas were a big hit, and I had planned for the leftovers to roll into 2 other meals. We ate it for lunches all weekend, so it did accomplish the 3 meal plan, but wasn't exactly what I planned. Oh well, it was a great new recipe!

This week starts the beginning of "Birthday Season" in our house. We have all three of our birthdays within a month, so we eat lots of specially requested meals, bake at least three desserts, and host family. It's also the last year all of our family's birthdays will be in this month, The newest little addition to our family will arrive in January and actually gets his or her own time for a birthday!

Each person gets to pick a Birthday Meal to eat at home, but I'm lucky enough this year my husband offered to take me out for my birthday as well! For my meal at home, I'm making my Mom's spaghetti sauce. This is one of the meals I requested for my birthday when I was growing up, and I'm totally in the mood for it again.


My Birthday Lunch Out: (Crazy Buffet for locals!)

My Birthday Meal: Sharon's Spaghetti, Spaghetti Noodles, Roasted Green Beans
Chocolate Caramel Brownies


Roasted Veggie Pizza (Pioneer Woman’s Crust)


Tuscan Soup with Swiss Chard
 Chicken Enchiliadas, Refried Beans (make big batch for freezer), Salad

Drumsticks or Whole Chicken, Sweet Potatoes, Asparagus

Beef meal of the week... Maybe Bowtie Lasagna? Veggie or Salad


I'm also sharing this at I'm An Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.
Stop over there for hundreds of menu plans!

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Friday, August 13, 2010

Slow Cooker Steak Fajitas



New slow cooker recipes make me happy, and I'll try just about anything once. My family will also eat Mexican food without complaint, so this sounded like a perfect fit.

Slow Cooker Steak Fajitas
recipe adapted from Stone Gable

3/4 cup prepared chunky style salsa
1 TBS tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 lb. flank steak

1 large onions, peeled , cut in half and sliced into half moons
2 bell peppers (green or another color), sliced
Sprinkle of chili powder & cumin
Juice of 1 lime

Combine salsa, tomato paste, garlic cloves, juice of 1 lime, salt and pepper in a bowl.
Put flank steak in slow cooker sprayed with nonstick spray and cover with liquid mixture. Gently lift the flank steak up to make sure all sides and bottom are coated with liquid. Cover and cook on low 4 hours or on high for 2 hours.
Combine onions and peppers in a bowl and sprinkle with chili powder and cumin. Lay the onions and peppers on top of steak, and continue cooking for 4 hours on low or High for 2 hours. (You can also add your onions and peppers at the beginning and let the whole crock cook the full 6-8 hours on Low) Total cooking time is 6-8 hours on Low, or 4 hours on High.



Take meat out of slow cooker and cover with foil to rest for 10 minutes. Cut across the grain in 1/2 inch thicknesses or shred (I sliced mine for the first meal, but shredded it later). Sprinkle juice from the last lime on top of steak.


To serve, place a couple strips of flank steak on a flour tortilla, add onions and peppers and some of the juice.


The verdict?
This was a huge hit at our house! I made it on Friday night, and we ate the leftovers for Saturday lunch and Sunday lunch. I was glad I only cooked the onions and peppers for 4 hours, because they were perfectly tender without being goopy and over cooked. I debated cooking the onions and peppers in a foil packet on top of the meat, but I was glad all the flavors could mingle and the peppers could pick up some of the sauce from the meat.

The meat was very flavorful, and next time I'll shred it right from the beginning, as it was easier to "arrange" than the strips. This will be repeated at our house!

I am also sharing this at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap and Mommy's Kitchen Potluck Sunday.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Roasted Broccoli...with a little help from my Facebook friends

I posted this on Creatively Domestic's Facebook page one night...

 and got some great ideas! 


The ideas ranged from roasting it, tossing it with lemon juice or shredded Parmesan cheese. Also an ideas was adding it into a fritata or quiche. I decided to go with Roasted Broccoli, and continuing with my "keep the heat down" mantra lately, I roasted the veggies in the toaster oven. It worked out really well.



Roasted Broccoli


1-2 pounds fresh broccoli, trimmed down to bite size pieces
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt & Pepper
sprinkle of Mrs. Dash

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Put broccoli in a pan. Drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle seasonings over the broccoli.  Toss with your hands until they are all coated with the seasonings. Spread out in a single layer and slide your pan into the oven. Roast for 20-25 minutes and stir once or twice.


 Don't forget to join Creatively Domestic on Facebook!


Creatively Domestic

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Salmon Cakes

 

We have been eating a lot of more salmon in our meal plans lately. Mostly for the fact that I'm pregnant (surprise! Baby #2 due in January) and my fish choices have become incredibly difficult due to the mercury content. I have a hard time remembering how many servings of random fish products I've had in a week, so I just stick eating things that I know have a low mercury risk.

Removing skin, bones and dark meat from a can of salmon is not for the squeamish. If you don't like touching raw chicken, you will not enjoy removing the "gunk" from canned salmon. But, it's worth it to me in that I can get my main protein for the meal (6 salmon patties) for only $2.00 a can.

The verdict?
This was better than our other version of Salmon Patties, and these patties are sturdy enough to really hold their own on a bun. I also liked that this recipe involved no other highly processed ingredients. (crushed crackers, bread crumbs, or chili sauce) Keepin' it clean!

Salmon Cakes

1 (15 or 16 oz) can red salmon, undrained
2 eggs
3/4 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 teaspoon salt
14 teaspoon pepper

Place salmon and liquid from can in medium bowl; remove and discard any dark skin and large bones. Add all remaining ingredients; mix thoroughly. Shape mixture into 6 patties, 1/2 inch thick.
Spray large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until thoroughly cooked and set. (The original recipe included a recipe for Dill Sauce, but we went trailer park and dipped it in some Homemade Ranch)


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Creatively Domestic is now mobile!

Creatively Domestic is now available on your Blackberry, Android phone, Ipod, and other mobile devices!


Jim 'N Nick's Coleslaw


I have found a whoping ONE recipe to try out of a year's subscription to Bon Appetit. It's a pretty low percentage, but I guess our styles don't jive. That being said, I still love to oogle and push new ingredients around in my head. When I saw this seemingly uncomplicated recipe with a new twist on coleslaw, I ripped that page out and tried it the next week.

Jim 'N Nick's Coleslaw
recipe adapted from Bon Appetit and Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q

1 2 pound head of green cabbage, quartered, cored, cut crosswise into 1/8 inch thick slices (about 14 cups)
1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 cup grated peeled carrots
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup mayonnaise

Place cabbage in large bowl. Add vinegar and sugar; toss to coat. Cover and let stand 30 minutes. Toss cabbage mixture well; cover and let stand 30 minutes longer. Drain cabbage. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)


Transfer drained cabbage to another large bowl. Add carrots, green onions, and mayonnaise; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


The verdict?
This was very light and tangy. The low amount of mayo in the recipe made it feel alot healthier. I had some later in the day (what can I say, coleslaw at 10 pm is a great nightcap) and it still was crisp and non-goopy. (technical term, there!)

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Monday, August 9, 2010

Menu Plan for August 9th

I am trying something new this week: Making one big roast, then purposefully planning that into other meals. I'm not the best at planning leftovers, I sometimes get distracted by a shiny new recipe and forget about the "leftovers" in the frig. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I also just started compiling a list of freezer meals. I won't be actually putting the meals together until after Thanksgiving, but getting organized now makes me feel more on the ball.  I'd love if you could share some of your family's favorites!

Here's what we're eating for the week:

Black Bean & Corn Soup (New!) 
with leftover Foccacia & Salad

Steak Meal #1 Slow Cooker Steak Fajitas (new!) with Flour Tortillas & all the toppings
Steak Meal #2: Leftover Steak turned into Fajita Taco Salad w/ Sour Cream Salsa Salad Dressing
Steak Meal #3: Nachos w/ Steak as a Topping, Nacho Cheese, Toppings

Crockpot Chicken Curry , Rice, Broccoli & Carrots

Slow Cooker Sticky Chicken Drumsticks w/ Spaghetti Squash, another veggie

Eggplant Parmesan (maybe Crockpot Version?) w/ Pasta, Salad or Veggie

I'm sharing this at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Better Blogging: Search Engine Optimization

Taking a break from all the food and cooking posts, here's an article written by my I.T. department, i.e. my husband. I started this blog as a side hobby almost two years ago, but it has slowly become a hobby for my husband as well. So, "my" blog has transitioned into "our" blog...and I couldn't be prouder of all the hard work he has done.  This is a *brief* overview of everything he analyzes and I am so glad he leaves me to analyze the recipes!

I guess after two years of being involved in the blogosphere, a behind the scenes post on how it has been accomplished up to this point is necessary. My first piece of advice would be to stop working “in” your blog and start working “on” your blog.  Good content and your love for food has done a fantastic job getting you to this point, now it’s time to play in the big leagues where page views, visitors, time on the site, bound rate and a million other things matter to how fast you can be discovered. 

How do you want to profit from your blog?   Think about it.  Are you selling a book, advertising, newsletters, eBooks, recipe cards, or other?  You need to direct people to the exact location of the item you are selling and there are many ways to do that. We get advertising revenue through Foodbuzz and have found that Google is by far our biggest resource for new readers.  They are only good for one hit wonders, meaning that you probably are not going to get a subscriber from a Google Search.   Which may be perfect for you if you are selling books or articles, but our business plan is to provide good content a few times a week and have return visitors again and again, making our advertising revenue go up.  

Don’t forget about Google….  Did you know how much money you would make if you were the number one search result for “recipe”?  (By the way it’s allrecipes.com)  Well, 68 million people per month search for the word recipe and it averages $.00065 per click.  That’s about $40,000 per month from Google alone.  Now you’re not going to beat allrecipes.com out for the number one position and you probably shouldn’t try, but maybe you will have a better chance at a two or three word keyword.   Let’s try “family cooking”, searched 165,000 times per month, or “vegetarian recipes” (823,000 times per month).   If you have a few moments to learn about keywords try using Google Keyword Tool.  



You can search both your blog url and any keyword option you would like.   By searching your blog url you will be able to determine which keywords are already your strong point and if you notice a pattern it may be as simple as using the same keyword terms more often in your blog.

The second feature is to use the keyword search option and the reason why I like to use this is because it will return alternate keywords for every keyword entered.  For example searching:  “chicken salad” will return “chicken salad sandwich” or “chicken of the sea” each with a different level of popularity.  If you do this for your recipes, you can start picking better blog titles that lead to greater Google search results.

If you are selecting an identity for your blog (i.e. Creatively Domestic -  Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking)  where Simple Cooking & Easy Cooking are the keywords and we use them EVERYWHERE. You want to make sure that your competitors are within your reach.  It’s back to the allrecipes.com scenario, where it wouldn’t be smart to compete against them on the keyword “recipe”.  So in order to pick keywords where you will be able to compete and hopefully win, you need to run a Google Search for your keywords. 

Rank My Page….   In order to complete this step you need to install an addon to Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome that shows page ranks on your browser window.  

After Google returns the results, open the top 3 selections (underneath the paid advertising) and check to find their page ranks.  (10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest)  It takes a LONG time to get up to 10.  Allrecipes.com is only 7 and I wouldn’t compete with them.  If these websites have less than a 4 as a page rank, then those keywords will be of benefit to you.   Remember:  Everyone starts at 1 and it takes a long time to grow your page rank and your blog.

Increase your page rank -   Google bases its page ranking mainly on backlinks.  A backlink is a link to your blog on someone else’s blog or website.  It tells Google that your blog is relative to this topic and thus important, the more important you become, the higher your page rank will be. There are a few ways to get back links:

 1. Comment! Comment! Comment! – But you have to remember to put your backlink in the comment.  Oh, and Google doesn’t know what www.creativelydomestic.com is, so don’t use it! They only know the code 



2. Buttons - Not Just A Pretty Picture.  The cleanest way to get backlinks is to share your button.   We’ve created an entire page on our blog to just my friend’s buttons.   If you are interested in sharing your button please send us an email at creativelydomestic[at]gmail[dot]com and we will gladly swap buttons with you. 



In addition we've even added have a widget on my homepage to allow you to add my button to your blog. Please feel free use the code below to add my button to your blog or even to modify the code for your own use.
3. Guest Posts – While my wife has only done one to date, we have just created a goal to do one guest post per month. So if anyone is interested in having her do a guest post, please send us an email at creativelydomestic[at]gmail[dot]com. The benefit of doing a guest post is that you get exposure on a blog with larger traffic then your own and hopefully that leads to more subscribes, sales, and clicks on your own blog and a few backlinks. 

Facebook is a wonderful thing – About 6 months ago we started Creatively Domestic Facebook Page with 4 fans and now we have over 700.  The biggest benefit for my wife's creativity is that sometimes she doesn’t want to write a whole post on a subject matter and only wants to blab a few short sentences. Facebook is that release for her.  It’s also a huge social network that is the 2nd largest resource for new links for our blog.  We love our Facebook Fans and appreciate how loyal they have been to us and our blog.   See what the fuss is all about and join the Creatively Domestic Facebook Page Today!


Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Friday, August 6, 2010

Meatloaf in the Crockpot




The ability to make meatloaf without turning on the oven would open up a new list of foods to my summer cooking list, so when I saw this at A Year of Crockpotting, I knew I would give it a try.

Meatloaf in the Crockpot
technique adapted from A Year of Crockpotting

Your favorite meatloaf recipe
OR
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup quick oats
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons minced celery
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 egg
 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup (or less) milk
Ketchup for garnish on top of meatloaf

Combine all ingredients, except milk. Add milk, a little at a time, until it is a smoother consistency, but not goopy.
You can use a 6 quart crock with a meatloaf pan inside it, or if your meatloaf pan won't fit, use a 4 quart and put the meat directly into the crock. (which is what I did) Spray the crock with non-stick spray, and either put your meatloaf pan or meatloaf itself into the cooker.


Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8.  Let the meat sit for about 30 minutes before you slice and serve.

I cooked mine on Low for 3 hours 30 minutes, and the temp was at 170, so I turned it off and let it set for about an hour, until we ate after 5:30.

The verdict?
This worked really well. The meatloaf ended up resting in the crockpot for almost an hour, so it was the perfect consistency to remove from the crock and slice on a cutting board. My husband said it was the best meatloaf he's ever had, which of course, is the best compliment I could ever ask for.

I don't know what percentage fat my meat was because it was from my local farm, but it must have been pretty lean, because I didn't have a lot of fat floating. This was great for leftovers the next day, so it's a great technique that I'll use again.

I'm also sharing this recipe at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

This recipe is now included in my Creatively Domestic's Freezer Meals ebook for sale on Amazon. To view this recipe and many others, please visit (and buy if you're interested) from that site.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Home Fried Potatoes

 
First of all, isn't that plate great? Makes even fried potatoes look kooky and hip and trendy. Gotta love HomeGoods.

We are still moving through the "healthy" recipes we picked out a few weeks ago. I jumped all over the chance to have potatoes in any form, let alone fried!

Home Fried Potatoes
recipe adapted from Low Fat, Low Cholesterol Cookbook, 2nd Edition
Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes or baking potatoes, unpeeled, cooked and quartered (or diced)
1/2 cup onions, chopped (I used green)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste

In a large, heavy nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute potatoes on one side for 3 to 4 minutes.


Turn potatoes, add onions, and saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in remaining spices. cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

The verdict?
These are definitely the "healthy" version of fried potatoes, and less crisp because of it, but the flavor from the spices made up for it. I cheated and added another tablespoon of vegetable oil after I turned the potatoes so they would get a little more crispy.

I boiled the potatoes earlier in the day, so the side dish came together very quickly for dinner. I really liked the spice mixture, and these tasted great with our Crockpot Meatloaf. (recipe coming tomorrow!) The next time I make them, I will probably add more oil and fry these babies up a little more...I guess I'm not that healthy!


Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mineral Oil on Kitchen Wood Items

One little kitchen tip I have used often is to rub mineral oil into all my wood pieces. It really makes my cutting boards and wood spoons pop back to life.

From the nice people at Wikipedia...
"[Mineral oil] will prevent absorption of food odors and ease cleaning, as well as maintain the integrity of the wood, which is otherwise subjected to repeated wetting and drying in the course of use. The oil fills small surface cracks that may otherwise harbor bacteria."

I even goobed up some of the handles of a few spatulas that I have totally been mistreating since college. I even feel like I've brought my smaller cutting board back to life after being ran through the dishwasher a few too many times in college, also. What can I say, I didn't take care of my kitchen items those days. But, I'm surprised they are still functional and holding court in my kitchen.

I bought a tiny bottle of mineral oil from Bed Bath & Beyond once, but the most reasonable place I've found mineral oil is at Ikea.

Also as a total side note, I used mineral oil a few weeks ago to get off some sticker residue on a glass pitcher I bought from Goodwill. It worked better than a Magic Eraser, alcohol and regular strength elbow grease. What a great find!

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Slow Cooker BBQ Apricot Chicken


I have had such great results with my Slow Cooker Sticky Chicken Drumsticks, so I've been on the hunt for more chicken drumstick recipes.

Slow Cooker BBQ Apricot Chicken
recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens: The Ultimate Slow Cooker Book

2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken drumsticks, skinned if desired
1 cup bottled barbecue sauce
1/3 apricot or peach preserves
2 teaspoons yellow mustard

Place chicken in a 3 1/2 or 4 quart slow cooker. For sauce, in a small bowl combine barbecue sauce, preserves and mustard. Pour over the chicken. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 8 hours or on high heat setting for 3 to 4 hours. Serve.

The verdict?
eh........it was okay. When I mixed up the sauce, it smelled so zesty but sweet, but after cooking in the crockpot, the sauce was missing all those wonderful undertones. The chicken was over cooked and falling apart to the point of irritating.

The next time I might cook the chicken separately and spoon the sauce over the chicken at the very end. The sauce might make a showing on our table again, but the chicken portion of the recipe won't.

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Monday, August 2, 2010

Menu Plan for Monday August 2

I finally got organized and picked up a Produce Basket from my local farm, and it made menu planning so much easier. I got a gorgeous assortment of lettuce, like red leaf, green leaf, and romaine, so Big Salad night it is!

The lady who puts together the basket (Hi Bev!) also knows that our family likes (or at least will try) any veggies, so she also threw in some okra, yellow tomatoes, and orange cubanelle peppers. Fun things to introduce to a semi-picky 2-year old!

We are also still working our way through the new healthy recipes we picked out two weeks ago.


Big Salad w/ Avocado & Garbanzos, Foccacia

Salmon Cakes with Dill Sauce, Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli

Teriyaki Beef Noodles, (New!) Sugar Snap Peas & Carrots

Black Beans and Yellow Rice (New), Okra & Tomatoes
(I am trying a new twist on my husband's favorite Black Beans from a local restaurant) 

 (Making double for family that just had a baby :)

Saturday: Lunch Out, Dinner is usually Clean Out The Frig

I made a batch of Pioneer Woman's Ranch Dressing,
and it has been great over all the lettuce we received.

 Check out other Meal Plans at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Creatively Domestic featured on Dear Dr. Moz


Creatively Domestic has been featured on Dear Dr. Moz! Stop on over there and check out all the neat baby news, baby blogs, baby gear and baby shower gifts!


Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking