Friday, April 29, 2011

Southern Boiled Peanuts

Boiled peanuts are a Southern tradition. The quick googled-research I found is that the history of boiled peanuts goes back to the Civil War, as peanuts were an important nutritional source for the food-scarce troops of the Confederacy. Because boiled peanuts were preserved by salt, they would not spoil in their packs for up to seven days.

I am a Northern transplant down to the South. The first place I ever had Boiled Peanuts was at a Pee Wee football game concession stand nine years ago. I'm sure there is not a Five Diamond rating on that fine establishment, but I really enjoyed them. I was also intimidated to make them myself, but after having them at a friend's birthday party last fall and chatting up the host (Thanks, Frank!), I realized they were not that hard!

Boiled peanuts seemed like the perfect snacky Super Bowl food, as they can sit warm in a slow cooker for a few hours. I also loved the process of boiling them, tasting a few, then boiling them more until they are the perfect soft texture. Anything that I can snack on while I make is much more fun for me! The shells get soggy and you pop out the soft peanuts inside to eat.

I also found in my research that you can freeze boiled peanuts. After I made my first batch of Boiled Peanuts, we had a LARGE quantity leftover, and I wish I would had known to freeze them. Next fall, I'm planning on cooking up some peanuts, then freezing them in smaller quantities as an easy snack to warm up for football 'grazing'.

I am sharing this recipe at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap!

Southern Boiled Peanuts
recipe adapted from the Fisher bag of peanuts

5 ounces kosher salt
1 gallon of water
2 pounds raw, natural peanuts (don't buy roasted)

In a large pot, combine the water and salt. Wash and submerge the in-shell peanuts in the water brine. There should be about twice as much water as peanuts, so add more water if you need to. Place a weighted plate on peanuts to keep them submerged. Soak overnight.

Remove weighted plate. Add water as needed to cover peanuts. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 4 hours. Test for taste and texture. Add cooking time in 15 minute increments for softer peanuts. To increase salt flavor, store leftovers in remaining brine.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oatmeal Pancakes


Pancakes are normally left for weekend breakfasts in our house, unless I can make them ahead and have them waiting in the freezer.  One Saturday morning, I was feeling pretty ambitious, so out came a new pancake recipe. I've never made Oatmeal Pancakes before, but this recipe seemed a lot easier than others that involved using a food processor or blender to pulverize the oats.

The batter was thinner than my usual recipe, so the pancakes themselves were a little flat, but still hearty and chewy. I've made these twice, and the second time I left the oat, soda and buttermilk mixture sit for a bit longer than the recommended five minutes (OK, so I emptied the dishwasher while making breakfast - multi-tasking!) and that seemed to make a more cohesive batter that was easier to work with.

The leftover pancakes were frozen (using this wax paper technique), and that left enough for a quick breakfast another day!

Oatmeal Pancakes
recipe adapted from The Duggar Family

2 cups quick oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten

Combine oats, soda. buttermilk. Let stand 5 min. In another bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, & sugar. Combine oat mixture, oil, & eggs. Add dry ingredients & stir till blended. Cook on lightly greased griddle or skillet. Yield 14-16 Pancakes.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Monday, April 25, 2011

The I Hate to Cook Cookbook: Spice Cookies

Around the blogosphere, I've heard of the infamous I Hate To Cook Cookbook by Peg Bracken. but hadn't seen a copy of it myself. When I was going through the cookbook section at my favorite thrift bookstore a few weeks ago, I came across a copy from 1965, and was excited to see what all the hub-bub was about.

So I bought it, and brought it home. (along with a few other cookbooks and a large stack of children's books) It is not a thick read, (my copy is only 144 pages) so I ended up reading the whole book in one afternoon and laughed through the whole thing. "but, more important, your husband won't take you out for enchiladas if he knows he can get good enchiladas at home."

And while these recipe do rely on a bit of convenience food (most of the recipes call for a can of "cream-of-something" soup) there is something to be said for just getting food on the table each night. Some nights it ain't pretty, but everyone ate somewhat-healthy and it was better than grabbing a take-out dinner from the Golden Arches.

While reading the cookbook, I marked a few recipes to try, and decided to make Spice Cookies that night. They were easy to put together, (my 3 year old did the majority of the stirring) and very tasty.

After I compared this recipe to the one I had in my cookbook binder, I was surprised to see how similar to was to the version I had been using probably from the big Betty Crocker Cookbook (or as the cookbook refers to as the "Big Fat Cookbook") but in keeping with fast and easy food, this recipe was written much more concise.

Elevator Lady's Spice Cookies
recipe adapted from The I Hate to Cook Cookbook

Mix together:
3/4 cup shortening (or butter)
1 cup sugar
1 egg, unbeaten
1/4 cup molasses

Then sift together and stir in:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon powdered cloves
3/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

Now mix it all together and form into walnut-sized balls. Put them two inches apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for ten to twelve minutes.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Friday, April 22, 2011

Homemade Taco Seasoning

I haven't bought taco seasoning in a few years, but I keep coming across recipes that use "1 packet taco seasoning" as an ingredient and didn't know how to convert that into regular spices from my cupboard.

This recipe gives clear instructions on how much to substitute, (3 tablespoons) and would be great to use in a pinch if you normally buy the seasoning packets, as I had all of the spices on hand.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
recipe adapted from A Few Shortcuts

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all the spices. Use 3 tablespoons as an equivalent to a packet of taco seasoning.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cheeseburger Macaroni

Quick weeknight meals don't have to be made from a box. This recipe proves it.

Not a high caliber culinary experience, but still a good, quick, and comforting meal. It was comparable to the packaged boxed stuff, (let's just call it Samburger Selper) but without that weird chemical aftertaste. It contained real food and I had all the ingredients on hand.

The original recipe was a little bit spicy for our tastes, so I revised the recipe below to the changes I would make next time. Not that my 3 year old was interested in trying it, (he is not interested in dishes where everything is mixed together) but the spice level could be adjusted to your family's palate to calm it down by reducing the taco seasoning, or crankin' it up by using Rotel for the tomatoes.

Cheeseburger Macaroni
recipe adapted from Kevin & Amanda's Recipes
Serves 4

1 lb ground beef
1 pkg taco seasoning
 (or 3 tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning)
1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups beef broth (or 2 cups water & 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce)

1 cup elbow macaroni

Cheese sauce:
2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

3/4 cup milk

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Brown the ground beef in a large skillet. Drain the meat and return to the skillet. Add taco seasoning, tomatoes, beef broth (or water and Worcestershire sauce) and macaroni. Heat to boiling, cover pan, and reduce heat to a simmer for 12 to 14 minutes or until macaroni is cooked through.

While the meat/macaroni is simmering, make the cheese sauce. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until smooth and let for a few minutes. Whisk in the milk and heat until thickened. Remove from the heat, and add the cheese, stirring until melted. Add the salt and pepper. Pour the sauce in with the fully cooked macaroni mixture. Stir to combine. It will thicken as it cools.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Monday, April 18, 2011

Barefoot Contessa Lemon Chicken

I keep reminding myself: TV is not real life. My cookie sheets have burnt on cooking spray. I buy bags of frozen chicken breasts. I don't have fresh herbs growing easily in my sun-drenched, always clean kitchen.

Because of that, I will be forever loyal to TV chefs that admit to some supposed low-brow culinary tactics: casseroles with cream-of soups (Paula Deen), pre-minced frozen onions & bottled garlic (Sandra Lee) but look to the masters for inspiration.

This originally came from Ina Garten as a roasted chicken dish with the pan juices as a sauce, but my life right now is a little more busy that than. I know that Ina recommends boneless, skin-on chicken breasts for all her chicken dishes and says in one easy breath "You can get your butcher to do it for you..."

Unfortuantely, my life right now involves literal sprints through the grocery store with 2 kids hanging on, so I don't have time to hang out by the meat counter, waiting patiently while my 3 year old grabs things from the cart and throws them at his baby brother in his car seat. So I buy frozen bags of chicken breasts and run for the grocery store exit as fast as the cart will go.

So I adapted it into a boneless skinless breast marinade, and it created a a very moist chicken that had surprisingly great flavor for the easy ingredients it involved. I will make this again!

Yes, that frozen hunk is chicken!

Lemon Chicken Breast
recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?
Serves 4

1/4 cup good olive oil 

3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves) 

1/3 cup dry white wine, chicken broth or water
1 lemon, zested, then juiced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano 

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Warm the olive oil in a microwave for 30 seconds, add the garlic and let it warm for a few minutes. Add the white wine or broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and salt and pour into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. 

Top with chicken breasts, turning to coat. You may marinade this up to 8 hours.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 400 degrees, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mushroom Stroganoff


Whenever I get a large amount of mushrooms from my Produce Club, I know exactly what I want to make with them: Mushroom Stroganoff.

I have a different recipe for Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff on this blog and I've already mentioned that it was one of my favorite dishes while I was growing up, so I'm always looking for the next great recipe variation.

My 3 year old is not a fan of this recipe. The test of wills over mushrooms has already happened in this house, and it didn't end well for anyone. So now, he has to take one bite of the mushrooms, but is welcome to get stuffed on pasta...I'm just not going to fight him on it anymore! But the adults really like it, and it is a great meatless dish!

I'm sharing this at Eat at Home's Ingredient Spotlight: Mushrooms.

Mushroom Stroganoff
from You on a Diet Cookbook
Serves: 4

1/2 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

8 ounces portobello mushrooms, sliced

2 cups beef broth (use vegetable broth or water to make it vegetarian)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
 (leave out for vegetarian)
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped

Salt and pepper
8 ounces whole wheat pasta

Mix the sour cream and flour together in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside. In a large skillet, sauté the onion in the olive oil over low heat until soft. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the mushrooms. Sauté until the mushrooms brown. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a large bowl. Turn the heat up to high and add the broth and worcestershire sauce to the skillet. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid by 30%. Set the heat to low and add the mushrooms and onions. 
Add sour cream and flour mixture to skillet, stirring well. Add parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over noodles.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Collard's to friends with gardens!

I tried a garden one year, and while I did get some tomatoes, zucchini, and green beans, it felt like so much work that I have since given up on the idea. My parents always had gardens when I was growing up, so I know the basics, but, sheesh, I felt overwhelmed. Every year, I think "Maybe some containers with herbs in them...I can handle that much!"...well that never happens.

But friends with gardens are the best. My friends Greg and Sarah have a ginormous garden, and they gave me two HUGE heads of collards. Greg also gave me a great basic recipe (a.k.a. teach the Yankee girl how to cook Southern food) while he was filling my whole trunk full of the greens. When we got home, my husband somehow got them all to fit into our garage frig.

So that afternoon, I started my biggest pot simmering and dove right in. And they turned out great - just like the restaurant greens I order out! I feel my Northern roots slowly evolving into a Southern taste palate! My husband and I enjoyed them, and my 3 year old took his "no thank you" bite, and there were still a ton leftover.

While doing my research for a recipe, I saw many recommendations that cooked collards freeze well. So I put a small amount in the freezer to test after dinner, and the next day, the thawed greens had the same texture and flavor as the refrigerated ones. My next step will be to cook all the remaining greens (a head and a half!) with this same recipe, split them up into side-dish portions and freeze. A frozen portion would also work well tossed into a soup.

Collard Greens
recipe adapted from

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 slices bacon (or use 2 tablespoons bacon grease)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoon sugar
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 pound fresh collard greens, stems removed, leaves cut into 2-inch pieces

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon, and cook until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, crumble and return to the pan. Add onion, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until just fragrant. Add collard greens, and fry until they start to wilt. Pour in chicken broth, and season with salt, pepper, vinegar, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, or until greens are tender.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fudge Frosting for Brownies

Bake Sales are a tricky thing for me. I always make my best recipes and go over-the-top with the desserts and presentation...but then I have to give them all away! I volunteered to bring Brownies for my son's Preschool Carnival Bake Sale, and I wanted them to be reaaaaaalllllly good. It's not for my ego, it's for the school, right?

I wanted a frosting that would set stiff, so I didn't have to deal with goopy frosting on a hot day. The only "trick" to this frosting is to pour it over hot brownies so that the frosting adheres to the brownies - if they are cold or room temp, the frosting will pop off in a chunk once they cool. I started the frosting in a saucepan on the stove in the last 5 minutes of the brownies baking, so the brownies came almost straight from the oven to being frosted.

I chilled the frosted brownies in their pan overnight, and they sliced up cleanly the next day. I had to package the individual slices into baggies for the Bake Sale, and the frosting did not get all smudgy in the bag. Victory! The pieces that I had were almost over-the-top sweet, and I would hesitate to make them as a weekly snack for our family, but for a Bake Sale, they were fantastic! By the time we got to the Carnival, they were all sold out.

Prepare your favorite brownie recipe (I made Delicious Brownies) or mix up your favorite box mix (no one will notice beneath this decadent frosting!) and get ready for the compliments!

Brownie Fudge Frosting
recipe adapted from

6 tablespoons milk
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
1 dash vanilla extract

Combine the milk, butter, and sugar together in a saucepan and bring to a boil; allow to cook at a rolling boil for 30 seconds and immediately remove from heat. Add the chocolate chips and vanilla to the milk mixture and stir until the chips are completely melted. Pour immediately over warm brownies. Makes enough for a 9 x 13 pan.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Friday, April 8, 2011

Grilled Italian Potatoes

I like cooking all of my dinner in the same place. Put it all; main dish, veggie, and starch, in the oven, on the grill, or in the crockpot. It simplifies cooking and uses each appliance more efficiently.

So one night when I had planned grilled shrimp skewers, I wanted some sort of veggie or starch to wrap in foil and throw on the grill. I had seen this addition of Italian salad dressing around the web at a few different places, and thought it would work great. Any flavor of salad dressing would work great here, I just wanted to use up the last few dribbles from my Italian bottle.

I precooked the potato because I am very cautious of too-hard potatoes coming from foil packets - I've be known on a few occasions to take my foil packet potatoes from the grill, dump them in a bowl and microwave (don't microwave 'em straight in the foil, people!) but I despise microwaving grilled food.

I consider it a deadly sin to microwave steaks or chicken from the grill, as my husband will attest to the many hissy fits I've thrown other the years when he brings it up as a hail mary to speed up dinner. It takes all that wonderful texture and flavor that the grill gives and trashes long story short, I precooked the potato for a few minutes, then diced it up to finish on the grill.

Grilled Italian Potatoes
Serves 4 as a side dish

1 large potato, large diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons bottled Italian salad dressing, or more to taste

Spray a large piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray. Pile the diced potatoes onto the foil, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, then drizzle salad dressing over potatoes. Fold over the foil and seal edges to create a foil packet. Put in the grill while you are preheating it for your main dish, and grill for approx 30 mins, rotating the packet a few times during cooking process.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Free Download: Laundry Stain Cheat Sheet

As I've had a child, and now children, I'm surprised at all the random things I am praying comes out in the laundry. I designed this to hang on the inside of my laundry cabinet, and thought you might need the help, too! Also includes a recipe for Homemade OxyClean.

You can download the jpg through Pinterest through the link below:

Visit my Free Downloads page for other downloads!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Vinegar & Water: The cheap & versatile cleaner!

I recently had to replace my vinegar cleaning bottle, as somehow it worked its way into my backyard and got pulverized against the fence. Don't know which 3 year old to blame for that, but I have a pretty good idea.

I bought a spray bottle at the dollar store (or recycle an empty bottle that you already have) and combine half vinegar, half water. I've seen recipes for it to be diluted down to 1/3 vinegar, 2/3 water, also, but I like the easy math of half 'n half.

As I was labeling and refilling a new spray bottle, I thought of how many things I use my cleaner for:


kitchen counters

hardwood floors/tile floors
(Make sure not to saturate the hardwood)

Inside & out of all kitchen appliances 
(Frig, dishwasher, microwave - who wants to microwave their food in a cloud of 409?)

Bathroom mirrors, sinks, floors, shower doors 
(I use my favorite scrubbing mixture for the shower/tub)
Anything else around the house that needs a quick cleanup!

I buy my vinegar in bulk (2 gallons at a time from Sams), so it's dirt cheap and non-toxic, and I can use it around my kids to allow them to "help" clean. Looking back on it now, the "teaching" is probably the basis for what lead to the destruction of my other bottle, but a new 99 cent bottle is not the end of the world to get my kiddos excited to clean!

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking