What I’ve Learned After Three Years…

It’s been a little over three years that I have written this blog. It’s been fun, challenging and educational all at the same time. It started out as a blog sharing my thoughts and opinions, but I soon found out that I didn’t have as many interesting and provocative thoughts as I would like and no on really cared about my opinions.

During that time I became very interested in cooking and baking. I never had a talent for it and was never mentored in the kitchen so I learned many things the hard way. I decided I would be a recipe critic and review recipes I found on Pinterest. I did that a few times on my blog but quickly got bored with the idea.

Then it dawned on me that if I’d never been mentored in the kitchen there were probably a lot more out there like me who were struggling and just not intuitive in the culinary arts.  So I basically decided to make that the focus of my blog. I never looked back.

A staple of my posts are my lessons learned while making or perfecting a recipe. There are so many things that are not included in recipes that writers simply think one knows. That is not the case. My goal is to share those tidbits that, if unknown, can make or break one’s success in the kitchen. So in sticking to my format, let me share my lessons learned writing this blog over the past three years. Here we go…

Lesson Learned 1 – Have a focus for your blog: Once I had a focus posting became much easier and my readership increased. And if you are looking for people to follow your blog you need to post regularly. The goal I have with my blog is to post one new recipe a week. Sometimes I fall short, especially around the holidays. But most of the time I achieve my goal. I decided the best way to approach my blog was by helping folks avoid viewing cooking and baking as…

funny-cooking-quotes

Lesson Learned 2 – Market your blog and be patient: There are several ways to market your blog. I am not interested in paying for that service so I try just a few simple methods to get more readership. Anytime I publish a new blog I’ve set up parameters to upload the blog to my Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts. I also have a Facebook page for the blog and I post links every time a new blog is published. I also use word of mouth as a tool. I happen to work part time in housewares retail and so I make sure my co-workers and even some customers hear about it. You never know who that connection will be that will get more readers to your blog.

Check out my Facebook page for this site. I could always use a few more “likes”. http://www.facebook.com/youbetchacanmakethis/

Lesson Learned 3 – Pictures, pictures, pictures: Your blog needs to be visually appealing as well or a new reader will immediately click off of your site. You heard the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words…” That couldn’t be more true. Don’t worry about needing expensive equipment. Every picture on this site was taken with an iPhone. Pictures tell a compelling story especially when it comes to cooking and baking.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Choose an eye catching featured image and incorporate as many pictures as makes sense. If you check out some of my posts you’ll see they have a minimum of 3 pictures. I also include the featured picture at the end of my blog. People who subscribe to my blog by email don’t see the featured picture as it is shown online and since that one is usually the best I want to make sure my subscribers get it to see it as well.

Strawberry & Raspberry Crumb Cake

Strawberry & Raspberry Crumb Cale

Plus, I don’t know about you but when I look at a recipe I want to see what the end product is supposed to look like. So make sure you use pictures. They are an effective tool.

Recipes on You Betcha Can Make This

Lesson Learned 4 – Never second guess what recipe will become popular: I remember when I posted the recipe for my cream cheese, bacon, spinach and scallion pinwheels. I thought to myself ” This is such a rudimentary recipe, everyone makes these so no one will be interested.” WRONG! This recipe is one of my most popular and it gets tons of hits especially around the holidays and Super Bowl. I almost didn’t publish that blog and now I know not to second guess myself. You never know what will be a hit with your readers.

Cream Cheese Bacon & Spinach Pinwheels

Cream Cheese Bacon, Spinach and Scallion Pinwheels

Conversely, when I posted the recipe below I thought it would be a big hit. And although it does get some face time, it wasn’t nearly as much as I’d expected. But I’ve also seen some of my recipes catch on at a later date. So, don’t give up hope. And don’t be afraid to post something simply because you think it will be of no interest. You may actually be surprised (as I certainly was) at the results.

Salmon and Cremini Mushroom Duxelle En Croute...

Salmon and Cremini Mushroom Duxelle En Croute…

Lesson Learned 5 – Take the time to proof read and edit your blog: I never post a blog the day I write it. I always come back the next day, reread it and incorporate edits. I’m always amazed to see my brilliant writing from the day before all of a sudden become not quite as brilliant. I also read my blog out loud. That way it slows down my reading and I catch typos or mistakes. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve left one ingredient out of a recipe. You certainly don’t want to post that. If you don’t take your writing seriously no on else will. So make sure when you post a blog you’re as grammatically correct and error free as you can possibly be. Also make sure that your blog flows and makes sense.

If you use these simple tricks chances are people will gravitate toward your blog. It takes time, so be patient. There was a point that I wondered if anyone was looking at my website. But now my stats assure me that they are. And it’s fun to know that people are looking at your site and trying your recipes.

So as we face the dawn of 2017 I look forward to another year of posting recipes. As always they will include any lessons learned so the newbies in the kitchen can become more proficient right out of the gate. I leave you with links to three of my personal favorites. May you all have a happy and healthy 2017!

Shepherds Pie Turkey Style...

Shepherds Pie Turkey Style…

Artisan No Knead Bread

Artisan No Knead Bread

Iced Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Iced Cinnamon Chip Cookies

happy-new-year-2017-images

Advertisements

Holiday Recipe Compilation…

Whether you want to admit it or not, the holidays are upon us. And if you’re like me, I’m always doing research on different recipes to make for the holidays. That takes a lot of time. So in an effort to save you time searching through this blog for holiday recipes, I’m compiling some of my favorites for you. From sweet to savory and even including a home made holiday potpourri, this blog can serve as your clearinghouse for many of the holiday recipes I’ve chronicled in the past.

17 Favorite Holiday Recipes From You Betcha Can Make This!

All you need to do is click on the caption underneath the pictures and it will link you to the corresponding blog entry and recipe. I’m also including a few thoughts about each of them as many of them have been tried and true holiday recipes over the years. I hope you enjoy this little holiday gift from my house to yours.

SWEET RECIPES:

In my mind, this cake is the perfect holiday recipe. It’s easy to make, colorful and ever so delicious.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. This is my all time favorite Christmas cookie!!  You will need to  be on the look out for cinnamon chips. I can only find them in the stores over the holidays. You may want to buy a couple of extra bags and freeze them in case you want to make these during the year.

This is my second all time favorite Christmas cookie recipe! This cookie has three kinds of chocolate and has the consistency of a brownie. What more can you ask for?

They are also fun to decorate and look very fancy with not a lot of work. I’ve made this particular recipe for years and these cookies never stay around for very long. You simply have to try these.

As you’ll see, I love to bake with cranberries over the holidays. This cookie combines cranberries, oatmeal and white chocolate chips. A killer combo! They are absolutely yummy.

I don’t think I need to say much about these bars. The picture says it all. And I’ll clue you in, they taste as good as they look!

This one is my husband’s favorite! Once again, they look very fancy but in actuality they are very easy to make!

A festive cookie that is not only delicious but boasts the colors of the season.

I just made these for the first time last week and they will definitely become part of my holiday baking repertoire. And whenever you combine cranberries with oranges and walnuts, how can you miss?

These are very easy to make. I make them all year round. They turn out perfectly every single time.

These bars are absolute butterscotch decadence. Make sure you hide a few because let me tell you, they won’t last for long!

SAVORY RECIPES:

This is a quick and easy appetizer that boasts the colors of Christmas. It is one of my holiday go-to make ahead appetizer recipes.

It took me years to figure out how to make a perfect roast turkey. I finally nailed it!

I used to love my mother’s stuffing but sadly I never got the recipe from her. I’ve experimented with various versions and finally put together a recipe only second best to mom’s!

I absolutely love this recipe and make it all year long! It is the perfect side dish for a holiday meal.

I’m not a big fan of brussels sprouts but my husband loves them. I finally put together a recipe that even I enjoy!

Making home made cranberry sauce is so easy. Don’t buy the canned stuff. This is so much better!

HOLIDAY POTPOURRI:

Forget the scented candles. Make you own home made potpourri and simmer it on the stove for hours of wonderful smells in your kitchen!


There are a wealth of recipes on this blog and one might argue any or all of them are fit for the holidays. What I’ve included here are my favorites but I encourage you to check out my recipe index for many more great recipes.

Here’s to the start of a wonderful holiday season. I truly hope you enjoy these recipes!

The Elves Are In The Kitchen…

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

It’s December 3rd. There’s a winter storm warning, clouds are ominously thickening overhead, the temperature is dropping and so naturally my thoughts are turning toward holiday baking. Making holiday baked goodies is something I’ve done since I was in college. It started out as somewhat of a lark and has now turned into a hard-and-fast holiday tradition. The cookies have to be made somewhat early these days as a batch needs to be shipped to my aunt in Chicago, but making and freezing cookies is just as good as having them fresh. The challenge is deciding what the 2013 cookie menu will be?

There are a few things I know I cannot fool around with, these cookies must be made every year – no questions asked. Namely they are the chocolate dipped sugar cookies, the chocolate chip cookies and the triple chocolate brownie cookies. Over the past couple of years another cookie has almost worked it’s way into must-have tradition status, the cranberry oatmeal cookie.  It is quickly becoming a real favorite with family and friends. My personal favorite has not quite yet  caught on, that is the raspberry walnut bars but I’m sure before long it will become a holiday staple as well. And every year there is an unwritten law that at least one new cookie recipe must be attempted. That’s the law and it must be obeyed!

So with the weather promising that tomorrow will be a day indoors, it’s time to start baking – but before that comes the planning. What will the cookie gift plates consist of this year? At this point a preliminary list has been developed. It is always up for adjusting, except for the big must-have three, but it provides a starting point for the cookie onslaught. So here it is, the unveiling of the preliminary 2013 holiday cookie list (with more additions or exclusions to follow):

Chocolate Dipped Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Dipped Sugar Cookies

THE BIG THREE: (can you see a chocolate theme going on here?)

THE PRELIMINARY MENU:

THE ON-THE-FENCE MENU:

  • Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
  • Spritz Cookies
  • Any Other Cookie Recipe I See As I Skim Pinterest or Facebook

So there you have it.  It took me two hours and two different grocery stores to amass all of the ingredients I’ll need but at least I have a solid plan for tomorrow, snow or no snow.  As I continue on my holiday baking journey I will post pictures of the cookies along with the recipes and any lessons I’ve learned along the way while making them. Up to this point, the biggest lessons I’ve learned deal with how to adjust these cookie recipes for high altitude. I won’t share those tips unless you ask for them. With over 30 years of making some of these cookies I’d say I have many of them down pat. Some I personally like more than others and I’ll share those opinions along the way. One thing never changes, though, and that is the joy of this time of year and the fun that I have making holiday cookies.

Raspberry Walnut Bars

Raspberry Walnut Bars

Fall – When Ovens End Their Hibernation…

What is it about Fall weather that makes you want to fire up the oven? The manner in which you cook totally changes from Summer’s outdoor grill mode to Fall’s indoor nesting and baking mode. And for me that usually means heavy duty oven time. Think about it. You move away from grilling chicken and steak to making pot roast and casseroles. And I think that is what I most appreciate about Fall – bringing all those marvelous smells back into the house. And if a Fall day also happens to be a rainy day, well then it is an absolute must to fire up the oven!

And so it was yesterday, that killer combination of Fall and rain and I knew I just had to make something. There were only two givens – one, it had to smell wonderful when it was cooking and two, it had to be a recipe I had not tried before. That doesn’t narrow the playing field very much but I happen to love endless possibilities. But how to proceed… hmm…

Then it struck me. My husband and I recently returned from a trip from Santa Fe, New Mexico. While we were there we stayed at a bed and breakfast and each morning my husband would have an English Muffin and a piece of coffee cake. My husband is not a sweets eater but he often talked about how much he enjoyed the coffee cake. The coffee cake had a cream cheese filling and so as I thought about what I would bake I began to think in that vein.

The finished product

The finished product

So off I went to one of my favorite sites on the web, Pinterest, in search of a cream cheese coffee cake recipe. Lo and behold I found one on a website called Bake or Break and like that my decision was made. There was no turning back, I succumbed to the trappings of Fall weather and rain by making a cinnamon cream cheese coffee cake.

As you can see the finished product was great and it tasted divine. I encourage you to try it. Here are some things I learned when making it:  1.) Be aware that it does take some time to prepare because basically you are making three separate things from scratch, the crumb topping, the cream cheese swirl and the cake. 2.) The cake mixture is much thicker than you might think – I poured it into the prepared pan and literally had to spread it out by hand in order for it to fit the entire pan. I thought this might make the cake tough, but it was not. 3.) Be very mindful of the cooking time – it helps to know your oven on this and really on almost everything else you bake. The recipe says to cook it at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Mine was done at 40 and could maybe have been in for even a few minutes less.

But anyway it turned out great – so much so that even though it takes a little more time to prepare it is definitely worth making in my opinion. My husband loved it, my co-workers are getting a treat today, and a newly formed cooking group that I just joined (something for a future blog) will be getting samples of it tomorrow night. So enjoy the coffee cake, it is definitely worth the work. Happy Fall baking!

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake Recipe

I’m Definitely In A Pickle…

About this time of year I begin to panic about using all of the bounty that comes out of my garden. It pains me to think that after taking all the time and effort to grow something that I will not use it just because I have much more than can be consumed within a short timeframe. So, what to do, what to do…

Before today I’ve never ventured into the world of pickling because I always thought it would be too difficult or too time consuming. Wrong… I searched and searched for something that would be easy, allow me to use some of the massive amounts of cucumbers coming out of my garden, did not involve boiling jars on the stove and could render something delicious and fast – and finally I found it and with a few tweaks made the recipe my own. So here’s an easy recipe for refrigerated dill pickled cucumbers that after five days gives you something delightful, crisp and definitely “dilly”.

Pickles Cucumbers with Garlic, Peppers and Onion.

Pickled Cucumbers with Garlic, Peppers and Onion.

Pickled Cucumbers With Garlic, Peppers and Onion

  • Servings: 2 quart jars
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium sized cucumbers per quart sized jar

Sweet Pepper (any color)

Red Onion

2 cloves of garlic per jar

1 teaspoon dill weed

1-2 sprigs of fresh dill

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon mustard seed

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

DIRECTIONS:

1. With a fork, score the outside of the cucumbers from the tip to the base. Cut them into 1/8-1/4 inch rounds. Slice the red onion and pepper into strips. Remove the skin from the garlic.

2. On the bottom a sealable mason jar place the garlic cloves, dill weed and fresh dill.

3. Layer the cucumbers, onion and peppers into the jar making sure to pack it tightly.

4. In a bowl mix together the apple cider vinegar, water, salt and mustard seed.

5. Pour mixture into jar making sure that everything in the jar is covered.

6. Seal the jar and let stand in the refrigerator for 5 days. Once the jar is opened, make sure to use it within one week.

Fresh, Crisp Pickled Cucumbers

Fresh, Crisp Pickled Cucumbers