Blogging since 2009, I'm a 1950s housewife to the bone and I love to share what I've learned with others. I'm a lifelong foodie, raised with Sunday dinners at my grandmother's and daily scratch cooking in my childhood kitchen. I'm a nerdy homeschooling mama of 3, and a wife of 17 years.

I drink tea when I knit and coffee when I do everything else.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day!
Day 1 - Skirt Steak w/ Chimichurri
Day 2 - Top Sirloin w/ Homemade Rub
Day 3 -
Rib Eye w/ Herbed Butter
Day 4 - Rosemary Chicken
Day 5 - Top Sirloin Gyros
Day 6 - Kansas City Style Pork Chops
Day 7 - Steak and Mushroom Kebabs
Day 8 - Dad's Hamurgers, 2.0
Day 9 - Top Sirloin w/ Mushrooms
Day 10 - Kid's Lunch
Day 11 - Chicken Souvlaki
Day 12 - S'mores Cones
Day 13 - Short Ribs

Kitchen & Sewing Skills!
Intro - Syllabus
Lesson 1 - Running & Whipstitch
Lesson 2 - Cookies

Day 7 of 100 Days of Barbecue – Steak and Mushroom Kebabs

California, Domestic

We are officially one week into our 100 Days of Barbecue and we haven’t missed a day! We’ve also gotten into a pretty good routine with prepping the grill, and the clean up after as well.

This is the first kebab recipe I’ve made this year, though I have loads more coming up in the queue. Today’s recipe is more a how-to instruction guide than a typical recipe. This is a very basic meat + potatoes + veggies kebab, and I did it first to help illustrate an issue with grilling kebabs. Steak, potatoes and mushrooms all cook at very different lengths of time. If you put raw cubes of steak on a skewer with raw chunks of potato (even smallish chunks) with chunks of mushroom, you’d never have an evenly cooked kebab. Cooking time for the steak is going to vary greatly depending on personal preference, so I wont really go there but I will say that most people would like at least a little pink throughout and at the size of steak pieces on a kebab, that would not take long at all. The potatoes however, will take forever. Potatoes pretty much always take forever, you don’t want to cut them too small either because the potato to meat ratio will be all wonky. So there’s no way your potato bits are going to cook as fast as your steak bits. The mushrooms are sort of the outlier because of personal preference again however, not even the most well done mushroom is going to take as long as a piece of potato.

Ok, so how do we solve this? I don’t know how others have solved this, and kebabs with a mix of things on them are pretty common, so I’m sure there is a common solution, I chose to prepare the potatoes and steak beforehand.

Steak and Mushroom Kebabs

2lbs steak, your choice, cubed
3lbs potatoes, cubed
button mushrooms
1/2 cup olive oil
your favorite steak seasoning (I used pink and black peppercorns)
your favorite barbecue sauce (I used Stubbs)
salt and pepper to taste

I cubed, seasoned and prepared the potatoes before pre-roasting them. Once they were pretty much done, I took them out to put on the skewers. I only cooked the steak enough so that I wasn’t sliding a totally raw piece of beef onto a skewer with my pre-roasted potatoes and raw mushrooms. I cooked both the cubed potatoes and cubed steak in roasting pans, after they had been seasoned. I seasoned the steak with crushed peppercorns and olive oil, and I seasoned the potatoes with salt and pepper and olive oil (about 1/4 cup for each).

By the time the skewers hit the grill, all my attention was focused on the mushrooms. I knew the beef and potatoes would finish cooking by the time the mushrooms were done. Which, in my case, was about 10-15 minutes.

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Day 6 of 100 Days of Barbecue – Kansas City Style Pork Chops

California, Domestic

Once you start researching the different kinds of barbecue sauces there are, and where they come from and the traditional recipes they’re made from, it’s like information overload. Actually, it’s part information overload and part opinion overload. I’ve tried to get to the root of what makes certain sauces different from others. This is my take on the Kansas City style barbecue sauce.

I know that DIY barbecue sauce can seem like a really daunting task, but it’s actually incredibly simple, and so worth doing that you may never go back to store bought.

We don’t do a lot of pork chops, but I knew I wanted to include them in this 100 Days of Barbecue project because grilling pork chops is such a classic summer time event I couldn’t leave them out. All I did to these pork chops was brush the barbecue sauce on when I first put them on the grill and every time I turned them. Beware, this means more than an average lazy cleaning of your grill when you’re done.

Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce

3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper

This barbecue sauce starts with melted butter, so it’s got to be serious, right? Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then add everything else in and cook for about half an hour on low to medium-low. You want the sauce to thicken enough to spread nicely. Now you can either blend this in your blender or use an immersion blender. I’m madly in love with my Kitchen Aid immersion blender, so I went with that.


I grilled these pork chops for about 10 minutes. When you’re grilling (or even cooking something in the oven), remember that the meat will continue to cook once you’ve removed it from the heat. If you leave it on too long, it’ll overcook while it’s resting.

I served these with sweet potatoes and brown beans!

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Day 5 of 100 Days of Barbecue – Top Sirloin Gyros

California, Domestic, Uncategorized

I know better, I really do. Gyros are made with lamb, not beef. I know people make them with beef, but usually I would never be a part of such a travesty. However, I had already started preparing the sirloin, which was actually sliced very thin, when the suggestion came up and then we all very much wanted a gyro! I had already made the tzatziki, and we had enough pita bread, so that pretty much sealed the deal.

All I did to the meat was give it a little bath in olive oil with oregano and basil and a little garlic. I grilled it for about 10-15 minutes and once it had rested, I sliced it into strips and served it with fresh tomatoes, onions and tzatziki. So simple, and so good. I think the real recipe here is the tzatziki, though keep in mind that most people also use dill and I tend not to.

Beef Gyros with Tzatziki

thinly sliced top sirloin (or whatever other cut of beef you’d like)
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
3 cloves garlic, minced


For the tzatziki
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced very small
5 cloves garlic, minced

For the meat, I just whisked the oregano and basil into the oil and then placed the meat in the dish. There were so many pieces in the pack I had, so I flipped them over and made sure they were pretty evenly covered before I added the next one in. Then I sprinkled the garlic bits all over and mixed them all up a bit with a fork.


With the tzatziki the only ‘secret’ to it, is time. The earlier you make it in the day, the better it will be at dinner. A word of caution though, garlic gets stronger the longer it stands, so the next day it’ll be stronger (and in my opinion better), but the following day, it may be too strong for the average bear. ;)

If you like chunks of cucumber, you can go ahead and add them at the end. You really want to cut most of it really small and add all the juice from the cutting board as well. I often will take another 1/4 cucumber, peel it, and grate it on the smallest part of my grater to get some cucumber juice in there as well. The garlic, you can use the jarred minced garlic, or chop it yourself. If you’re using it from a jar, that liquid it’s floating in is good for flavor, so add a splash of that if you are so inclined.

Only 5 days into this project and I have so many fun ideas I can’t wait to try out!

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Day 4 of 100 Days of Barbecue – Rosemary Chicken

California, Domestic

Usually, when I roast chicken legs or thighs, I do it in my big roasting pan with root veggies, some oil and poultry seasoning and a generous heap of rosemary. Lately, I’ve been growing rosemary on my kitchen counter and it smells so good I want to put it in everything. My kitchen window is usually open if I’m in there cooking or baking so the breeze blows through my little plant and makes it even more inviting.

For the first three days of this little project, I’ve grilled beef so today I wanted to do something different and immediately knew I was going to use rosemary if I was going with chicken. This is hardly a recipe at all, all you’re really doing is marinating it in some olive oil with pepper, basil and a whole lot of rosemary. I used both fresh rosemary from my little kitchen plant and ground rosemary from the pantry for a bigger kick of flavor.

Rosemary Chicken

enough oil to cover your chicken in your chosen dish
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons basil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons ground rosemary

I grilled these chicken breasts for almost half an hour because I’m terrified of undercooked chicken. I personally wouldn’t grill them for any less time than that, but it really all depends on the thickness of the breasts as well.

I served this with corn and a rice pilaf because my mother is Greek so I pretty much always serve rosemary chicken with a rice pilaf.

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Day 3 of 100 Days of Barbecue – Rib Eye with Herbed Butter

California, Domestic

I didn’t fire up the grill on day 3 until almost 9pm because time flies at my bestie’s house. ;)

We didn’t let that get in the way of the 100 Days of Barbecue though! I had already been marinating the steaks all day, so they were ready to go when the kids and I got home. The time of night and our backyard lights made for some pretty pictures!

The marinade itself was very basic, but I figured since there was so much going on with the herbed butter, I didn’t want to complicate it too much. I used a base of canola oil, cracked black and pink peppercorns and a sprinkle of yesterday’s homemade rub. Important note, I did not rub this into the rib eyes, I literally just sprinkled it on top. There is a serious difference when it comes to flavor, so don’t rub it in!


Just like with all steaks, how long you grill it is 100% your personal preference. I left these on for a full 20 minutes, because that’s what my family requested and while they were a little more done than I’d normally aim for, there were still some pink pieces and it wasn’t tough at all.


The real star of this dinner is the herbed butter. I can’t give a recipe for it with any authority because it’s just butter and whatever herbs you love. I used a lot of rosemary, thyme and basil. You can either use a spatula to mush the herbs into your butter or you can melt the butter and add the herbed to the melted butter. To finish the steak off, you have two options. You can either finish cooking the steak in a pool of the butter in a cast iron skillet on the grill OR you can just pour the melted butter over the steak at the table. I opted for the second choice because no one else was interested in the butter on their steak so it wasn’t really practical for me to do that. It was fantastic, but I bet it would be even better cooked in the butter.

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Day 2 of 100 Days of Barbecue – Top Sirloin with Homemade Rub

California, Domestic

Day 2 was pretty easy because it’s my husband’s absolute favorite barbecue dinner and I’ve made it so many times over the years I’ve lost count. Top Sirloin with my homemade rub, baked potatoes with chives and parm and a caesar salad. I actually hadn’t made it since we moved back to California, so he was so happy when he saw me working on it this morning.

Making a dry rub or a paste yourself is one of those things that seems like too much work until you just do it. It does require a lot of ingredients, so you can either do it and create a well stoked pantry at the same time or you can buy some of these spices here and there until you have collected them all. Also look for spice blends that cost the same as one jar but have three or four spices in them (like an ‘Italian blend’ will have oregano and basil, for example). I just literally whisk all of these together in roughly equal parts with the exception of cayenne pepper and cumin, for those two I use much less. Their flavors can be overwhelming and while I do think they add to the overall flavor of the finished spice mix (or I just wouldn’t use them), you really don’t need much. The garlic though, I use fresh and I slather it on the steak with the back of a spoon.
sea salt
black pepper
dill seed
red pepper flakes
dehydrated onion flakes
celery seed
cayenne pepper (just a pinch)
dry mustard
cumin (just a pinch)

Other than these spices (or mixes or a prepared dry rub) you’ll need…

enough canola oil to almost cover your steak in whatever dish you’re marinating it in
3 teaspoons minced garlic
top sirloin steak


I always start by pouring some canola oil in the dish I’m using, and then placing the steak on top to see where the oil level is. I don’t really want the steak swimming in it, because it’s just not necessary, but I do want to make sure it’s getting enough. Then I flip the steak so there is oil on the topside, and I gently rub a very small amount of the spice mixture onto the steak. I use the back of a spoon to spread about half the garlic over it and then I flip it over and do the same. I usually check on it every few hours, sprinkle more spice mix on it, flip it, and do it again.


Now, you fire up your grill. For years we used gas grills, but I am so obsessed with our new Weber charcoal grill. One of our neighbors has one and he was always experimenting with flavors by adding different kinds of wood chips to his charcoal. We decided that since we needed a new grill anyway, we’d get the best charcoal grill we could find and really get into it. More on that later this summer, right now I am still getting the hang of heating all my coals evenly and getting them to hold a flame. I was way better today than yesterday, so I’m making progress.

How long you cook your steak is entirely up to personal preference, of course. If you like it very rare, you will not need to cook it long at all, and if you like it very well done it’ll be on there longer. Totally up to you. We usually cook until medium rare and then take it out to rest. Remember that meat will continue cooking for a little while from the inside out after you’ve removed it from the heat. Catch it just before you think it’s ready and by the time you cut it, it will be.

Serve with whatever sides strike your fancy! I always serve it with baked potatoes and a ceaser, but I usually also have corn on the cob as well. I couldn’t find any this week!


Day 1 of 100 Days of Barbecue – Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

California, Domestic

I have attempted to do this crazy summer of barbecue idea before, and I failed. However, the last time I tried I was an overscheduled dance mom and this time around I am a pretty laid back homebody so I think it’ll work.

The recipe that kicked off this project was the humble skirt steak, in a really simple marinade with a fresh chimichurri sauce and potatoes. I made the marinade earlier in the day and let it sit for a few hours before getting it on the grill. I made the chimichurri at the same time, so that hung out in the fridge for a while before we ate too.

Very simple, but so good.

Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup orange juice
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine
4 chopped cloves garlic
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup fresh parsley
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 onion
3 chopped cloves garlic
juice of 1 lime
salt & pepper to taste

The marinade comes together so simply. All you need to do is whisk it all together! Find an appropriately shallow pan for your steak and marinade then pour the marinade over the steak, cover and pop in the fridge. The longer the better. Ideally, a skirt steak would be marinated overnight, I only did this for a few hours today.

The chimichurri is just as simple, but you’ll be using a food processor (or something like it). I almost used my Ninja for this, but there were two cups of greens and it would barely fit. I went with the food processor for space. Just load it all in and pulse until it is as creamy as you’d like. Some prefer it to be a little thicker, some like it really smooth. I like it somewhere in the middle, so that’s what I went with.

Then, as I was warming up the barbecue, we made s’mores. I have used gas grills for the last 17 years and this year, I really wanted to try out charcoal. It really is so much more work than gas, but the flavor you get from it is so much better. We’re going to need a fire pit though because this was not a great technique for roasting marshmallows!

Once the grill was ready to go, I brought the steak out and put it on. How long you grill it really depends on your personal preference. My husband is a medium well, and our oldest is more of a medium rare and the rest of us land somewhere in the middle. Thankfully, I ended up with a decent variety of doneness in this steak for everyone to be happy in less than 20 minutes.

We have so much chimichurri left over! We’ll eat it over the weekend with chips and pita bread I’m sure, but my bestie also suggested eating it with toast, scrambled eggs and quesadillas! She’s a genius, as usual.

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Oh my gosh you guys!

I have been so busy working on a log redesign behind the scenes, and in the middle of all of that, we moved back to LA from Salt Lake, so it’s been a hectic time around here. Beautifully hectic, but busy!

We are totally unpacked and getting back into the swing of things, with only four weeks left of school and maybe just a few weeks left of work to do, I’ve been working on the new blog every night after the kids are in bed. I’m almost done! I’m aiming to be done this weekend.

I have been vlogging again though! I have vlogged every day this week so far over on You Tube, and that needs a matching facelift but will only take a few minutes to fix once the blog is done.

Excited to share these changes with you and thankful for your patience. You’ll find dead links here and there, and you’ll find blog posts have been removed. In an attempt to keep everything organized some posts got lost in the shuffle, but there are plenty more where they came from. ;)

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Baking With Kids Chocolate Cupcakes


I usually choose a cookbook every January to cook and bake my way through over the year. This year my youngest, Daphne, asked if she could pick one to work through as well! I told her that her brother and sister have baked their way through kid’s cookbooks and she chose one they used years ago! It’s called Baking With Kids and it’s been a family favorite for about 10 years now!

This is the first recipe she made from it this year, a simple scratch chocolate cupcake with a fudgy topping.

Chocolate Cupcakes – from Baking With Kids

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup granulated sugar
7 tablespoons soft butter
2 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk

Fudgy Topping
3 1/2 oz chocolate (Daphne picked semi sweet, use your preference)
1 tablespoon golden or light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter

One of the things I really love about this cookbook is that it can reliably be used to teach kids to bake and cook because it follows the simple kitchen formulas you need to remember to really learn what you’re doing. This recipe follows the standard cupcake formula perfectly; whisk dry, add wet, spoon into bakewear. Bake. Voila!

Start by whisking the flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa and sugar together. Then add the butter, mix, add eggs, mix, add milk and mix again.


Spoon into cupcake liners and bake for 20 minute sat 350.

While they’re baking, mix the chocolate, corn syrup and butter in a heat safe bowl over a pan of simmering water till melted.

Let the cupcakes cool for at least 10 minutes before you frost them.

Voila! Frost with your fudgy topping (or don’t, they’re great plain too)!
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Periodic Table Battleship


What a neat idea this is! I believe original credit for this game should go to Karyn over at Teach Beside Me. There are a lot of cute and fun educational ideas in the subscriber section of her blog, totally worth a look!

When I first came across this idea, it was just a photo someone had shared on my Facebook with no instructions. So when we tried it out, I used my favorite printable of the periodic table we have been using. It involved coloring in every square and I think that’s great practice for the kids (& me too) so that’s what we did.

Essentially, all you need are four laminated copies of the periodic table, 2 file folders, a paper clip and dry erase markers. Just attach the two file folders together at the top with the paperclip, and secure two of the periodic tables there as well. The other two periodic tables just sit on the open part of the file folder.

There are official rules to this game, you know, like in regular Battleship. When playing with younger children, you can be a little looser with the rules. I just let the kids circle an equal number of ‘battleships’ of equal sizes. So to start, they each went with three battleships, one was 2 x 1, one was 2 x 3 and one was 2 x 2. If you’ve never played before, you mark where your own battleships are on the periodic table that’s laying on the open part of the file folder. Then you guess where the other person’s battleships are by calling out elements. Each time your guess ‘hits’ or ‘misses’ the other person’s battleships, you mark it on the other table on your side. Whoever locates and ‘sinks’ all the other people’s battleships, wins!

The periodic table is something that is usually introduced when kids are in 3rd grade or older. You can introduce it sooner with games like this! You can play the game the way it was intended, or have younger kids just pick a few elements and guess! There are lots of other fun games to play to engage younger kids in learning the periodic table, you just have to get creative – and have a look around!

Here’s a picture of the version we made!

Karyn’s original version is great! The printables are on her subscriber page and there are some details on her blog over here –

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