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 12 of 100 Days of Barbecue – S’mores Cones

California, Domestic, Uncategorized

When spaghetti and meatballs was requested, naturally I figured I’d just find a way to sneak in some barbecue. I’m pretty sure I figured it out actually. My plan was to make the sauce early in the day, as usual, and make the spaghetti shortly before we ate, also as usual and the meatballs are the part of the meal I’d do on the grill. My plan wasn’t to technically grill the meatballs really, but to cook them in my cast iron skillet on the grill. They’d get that smoky barbecue flavor, with no danger of falling though to the grill abyss. However, I’m a little freaked out about undercooked food. I like my steak with some pink, don’t get my wrong, but an undercooked meatball? Yuck! More importantly, my family may revolt on the whole 100 Days of Barbecue insanity if it resulted in gross meatballs. So I decided to precook the meatballs until I didn’t have to worry about them and theeeen put them in the skillet on the grill. I accidentally cooked them all the way through. Womp-womp. So, oh well? Overcooked meatballs are no good either, so I looked over my ‘desserts to grill’ list, and found these in the queue! Even better, I already had everything I needed!

The kids were all a little unsure about these since there was no marshmallow roasting going on, and as far as they are concerned that is a required step in s’more preparation. All I did was pour some mini marshmallows and chocolate chips in a sugar cone and wrap the whole situation up in tin foil. Then I put them on the grill for like 5 minutes. I didn’t even get the grill totally fired up because I only needed it to be hot enough to melt the chocolate and the marshmallow.



One of them was aaaaalmost on a little too long. It was in the middle and the marshmallows almost totally melted away. The other two were near perfect.

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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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Day 2 of 100 Days of Barbecue


Technically, today was day 3, but I will blog about that tomorrow morning hopefully. Tonight, I’ll write about yesterday’s dinner, our second night of barbecue.

It was a fairly plain peppercorn steak, with roasted potatoes with bacon and chives and corn. Grinding peppercorns made me miss my marble mortar and pestle and I added a replacement to my wish list. I used pink, white and black peppercorns on the steak though I’m pretty sure any peppercorns would work just fine. The steak was a London Broil, the type I used most often for this kind of dinner. The potatoes I always rub with olive oil before slicing a few stripes in them and wrapping them in tin foil. I cook them on the top shelf of the grill to avoid charring the skin, and I usually put them on while the grill is heating up so they are in there longer.


The real star of last night’s dinner was the dessert – the dessert I almost didn’t make! I had already made a batch of strawberry cupcakes for the kids, but the grown ups were not as into them as the kids so I also whipped up this pie. It was perfection, and is now my go-to for strawberry pies and tarts! It’s so so simple too!

6 cups cleaned and chopped strawberries
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg + splash of water for an egg wash

First, whip up a batch of pie crust. You can use store bought crust, but I really have to advise that you try to make it yourself. It’s usually so much flakier and getting good at making pie crust is pure magic.

Clean and cut up your strawberries, add the cornstarch and and salt and mix until the berries are coated. Then add the sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and mix again until the berries are coated.


Line your pie plate (9″ works well with this recipe) with your pie crust and pile in the strawberry filling. Now, you could nestle a pie bird in the middle, cover it with another sheet of pie crust and bake it off. Or, you could get a little fancy with the top crust. I really believe that if your filling is beautiful, you should show it off. I looked everywhere for my pastry cutter – everywhere. I’m starting to think that I didn’t bring it with me when we moved since now I can’t even find any pictures of cut crust strips in my California kitchens! I did what most full time moms would do and I repurposed a toy to do the job. Although in this case, it’s not really repurposing since I used a play doh cutter and essentially, they are do the same job. I went with a basket weave to look rustic, made a plain border and then brushed the crust with my egg wash before topping with a generous sprinkling of sugar for crunch and sparkle.

This is one of those pies that never looks ready when you check on it. I baked it for about 45 minutes and when I checked, the crust looked great but the filling was really wobbily. I left it for another 30 minutes and returned to the same thing. So I turned the oven off and left it in there for another 30 minutes. By then, my husband wanted to try a taste. I warned him that it was really gooey and he had a little taste. Then he had two pieces! I brought a few pieces to my neighbors, one had never had strawberry pie before and she loved it, the other was supposed to eat one piece and bring the other to his roommate. He ended up eating both of them and this morning there was none left. It’s that good.

The natural sweetness of the strawberries (and of course the sugar) make it sweet, but the natural tang of the strawberries and the lemon makes it a little tart as well. Great with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or all on it’s own!

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Watermelon-Lime Granita

Domestic, Healthy

I made this originally about a week ago, but it was the perfect dessert for the first day of 100 days of barbecuing so I went for it again yesterday with day 1. This time I knew what I was doing so it was even easier.

All you need is 1/2 a watermelon, a few limes and about 1/3 cup sugar – and space in your freezer.

Chop the watermelon into chunks small enough for your blender to deal with. I put the lime juice and the sugar in the blender first. The amount of sugar you use really depends on how watermelon-y or sweet you want the final product to be. I went with the suggested 1/3 cup and it was both watermelon-y and sweet so I think that’s a good amount. Very scientific.

Blend as much watermelon as you can and then pour out about 3/4 of it before adding more and blending that too. Leaving a little of the puree in the blender before adding more watermelon will help those chunks blend faster.


Pour this mixture into a 9 x 13 pan, or really as many smaller pans as you need to hold all of it and put it in the freezer. In about 4 hours, take it out of the freezer and use a spoon to scrape the top layer of frozen goodness off the block (or blocks), and just leave it there on top of the rest of it. It wont get all weird and freeze into a solid block again, I promise.

In about two hours, do this again, and then again and possibly once more. When you get to the last scraping, you’ll probably want to switch to a fork to break up the final chunks.

This stuff should be the official barbecue dessert. Of all barbecues. All the time. Until I fall in love with something else.

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Frozen Oreo Pie

Domestic, Kids

Oh. My. Goodness. I remember when we told our two oldest kids (12 and 7 at the time) that they could each choose one physical activity to do. We had decided to continue homeschooling and they needed some kind of organized physical fitness a few times a week. Each of them chose things that they not only came to love, but they came to be very dedicated to as well! Now we homeschool every week day, our oldest has classes 5-6 days a week with 3 private lessons on top of that, our tiny dancer has classes 5 days a week with 1-2 private lessons on top of that and we try to take a few afternoons a week for our littlest one to spend time with her buddies. Non stop action. This is why I stay up so late, so I can knit and talk to my husband and do nothing for a minute.

For now, though? For now, let’s forget about everything else and just make an Oreo pie.

I have made this entirely from scratch with homemade pudding and whipping cream and guess what? It doesn’t work! I KNOW!

Frozen Oreo Pie

via Kraft

1 1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
6 tablespoons melted butter
2 pkgs instant vanilla pudding
2 1/2 cups milk
8 oz thawed whipped topping
10-15 Oreos, chopped up or broken

Super simple. Just mix the cookie crumbs and butter in your pie plate and, once combined, smoosh the crust into the pie plate. Make sure it’s all over the bottom and up the side to form a good looking crust.

Mix the milk with half of the whipped topping and then mix that with the pudding mixes. Fold in Oreo cookie chunks.

Pour the filling into the crust and top with the rest of the whipped topping. Sprinkle more Oreo cookie chunks and crumbs on top. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

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Warm Chocolate Pudding

Domestic, Kids

I know that pumpkin and brown sugar generally take center stage in Thanksgiving desserts, maaaaaaybe something with apples too. None of our littles like pumpkin all that much, as far as I remember I didn’t like it much when I was a kid either. My granny always did Thanksgiving dinner and she always, always made sure there was something chocolaty for my sister and I to have for dessert. This chocolate pudding is served warm but instead of having a typical pudding skin on it, it bakes on top so you have a wonderful little layer of cake and then the warm pudding under it. So good – especially nice when it’s cold outside.

This recipe is another from Baking with Kids. All of the recipes in this book are well written and simple enough for small children to do with assistance either from an adult or an older child. Between our three, they can make these recipes by themselves and they love to be able to say they didn’t need any help. So sweet! It’s especially fun to have the littles involved in Thanksgiving dessert since the day is supposed to be about coming together as a family and celebrating what we are all thankful for – and most of the time, kids are shooed out of the kitchen!

Warm Chocolate Pudding

6 ramekins
5 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
5 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, ground

Warm Chocolate Pudding Warm Chocolate Pudding

First preheat your oven to 425, get a small helper to butter your ramekins, and then put your chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl. Set it over a pan of simmering water until it melts.

Warm Chocolate Pudding Warm Chocolate Pudding
Warm Chocolate Pudding Warm Chocolate Pudding

Then have a small helper crack open the eggs into a mixing bowl and add the additional 2 egg yolks and sugar. The kids love using the kitchen power tools so this is the perfect time to let them use the mixer. Beat it until very light and foamy. Now add the ground almonds and whisk.

Warm Chocolate Pudding Warm Chocolate Pudding

With a slightly older helper, stir the melted chocolate mixture until smooth and pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Be sure to scrape the bowl and then whisk the mixture again, for about two minutes.

Warm Chocolate Pudding Warm Chocolate Pudding

Bake for about 10 minutes. You just want them to be a little puffed and still soft in the middle. They are so good warm from the oven (let the ramekins cool off first, duh), but they are also really good once they have cooled off.

Warm Chocolate Pudding
Warm Chocolate Pudding

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Vegan Chocolate Bites


Sometimes I come across a recipe that’s very vegany and it tastes like rocks and sticks and dirt. Usually, I’ll eat it anyway because I know it’s good for me and really, vegan kitchen fails can be pretty pricey!

This one though, it’s not at all like rocks or sticks or dirt! It’s actually sweet and sort of chocolatey! It’s also not pricey if you have most of these ingredients on hand and there are plenty of subs if you don’t. They’re also really, really, really easy to make. Just mix some stuff, then toss some stuff in the food processor, the combine both mixtures and shape into balls (or whatever).

Vegan Chocolate Bites
2 ripe bananas
4 tablespoons almond butter (any kind of nut butter will work really)
4 tablespoons agave (or sugar is fine too)
2 tablespoons wheat germ (or flax if you want)
1/2 cup raw oats
1 cup dates
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup raw cocoa

Vegan Chocolate Bites
Mash the bananas and mix with the almond butter, agave, wheat germ and oats.
Vegan Chocolate Bites
In the food processor, mix the rest of the ingredients until they’re all mashed together.

Vegan Chocolate Bites

Now just shape into balls and leave in the fridge for a few hours to set up. Voila!

Vegan Chocolate Bites
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Super Easy Apple Dumplings


Generally, when I come across a recipe that uses something premade in it, I shy away from it. Mostly because I’m a full blown bit of a kitchen snob. However, I’m madly in love with Miss Ree Drummond and she uses a very popular refrigerated dough in these dumplings so I went with it and honestly? They’re so so good, it doesn’t even matter. Also? This recipe is totally weird but I trusted it and my neighbors loved them too! In her description about these dumplings, The Pioneer Woman says she had to toss the rest of the tray after trying one (and then another and another). That’s pretty much what happened to me as well, but since we don’t live in the woods anymore I just packed up the rest and took them to my neighbors.

Ok so I classified this recipe as ‘totally weird’ because it involves two sticks of butter, refrigerator crescent roll dough AND a can of Mountain Dew. I know, right?! It feels so wrong, but it’s crazy amazing.

Super Easy Apple Dumplings

via The Pioneer Woman

2 Granny Smith Apples
2 8oz cans refrigerated crescent roll dough
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
cinnamon (enough to cover)
1 12oz can Mountain Dew

Super Easy Apple Dumplings

So first, butter up your baking pan and cut your apples into equal slices and wrap each one in a crescent roll segment. Arrange the wrapped apple slices in the buttered pan.

Super Easy Apple Dumplings

Make the first part of the sauce by melting the butter and adding the sugar and vanilla but don’t stir it much, you want it to have some sugar chunks. Now, pour the butter mixture all over the prepared apple crescents. Theeeeeen, put the Mountain Dew on it. I know, I know. Just just do it, I swear. It looks very, very wrong at this point. I was a little iffy about putting it in the oven, but I did. So glad I did. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 for about 30 – 45 minutes. Your house will smell alarmingly good.

Super Easy Apple Dumplings

Just look at this thing!! It’s runnier than you probably think it should be, but don’t worry about it. Lift them out one at a time and spoon some of the sauce over top.

Super Easy Apple Dumplings

The butter and the soda make the bottom of each dumpling soft and mushy in the best possible way. They are not crescent roll-esque at all – butter and soda and heat magically transformed them into dumplings. You can add some ice cream if you must, but the built in sauce is awesome enough!

Super Easy Apple Dumplings
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Baking With Kids – Sticky Toffee Pudding

Domestic, Kids

This is a hit or miss when it comes to the kids actually eating it at the end, but Miss Wee One #3 really liked making it. Some of our friends in the 10 and over crowd liked it, all the adults who tried it loved it, but none of the littlest ones liked it very much. Except for the syrup. Oh my. It so good, I made extra to give to a friend that loves caramel because it has that caramel taste to it (it’s only one ingredient away from the Amish caramel I make). I haven’t tried yet, but I’d imagine it would be perfect on everything from ice cream to apple slices.

I think the syrup is the main attraction here and it really takes the date cake over the top, but the cake itself is pretty good. It is a spice cake dotted with dates which really make or brake loving this or not. If you’re into them, it’s a win. If you’re not, just leave them out!

Baking With Kids - Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding via Baking with Kids

1 cup pitted, chopped dates
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs
1 2/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup light cream

Preheat to 350, and pour the boiling water over the chopped dates. Add the baking soda and let it sit for a while.

Mix the sugar, butter and vanilla until well combined. Whisk the eggs on their own to break them up and then add them to the sugar/butter mixture one at a time. Make sure it’s well mixed each time.

Baking With Kids - Sticky Toffee Pudding
Here’s the water/dates/baking soda ready to roll.
Baking With Kids - Sticky Toffee Pudding
Sift the baking powder with the flour and add to the egg/butter/sugar mixture, then add the water and date mixture and mix it up!
Bake for about 45 minutes.
Baking With Kids - Sticky Toffee Pudding
Make the syrup while the cake is baking by heating brown sugar, butter and cream until it starts to bubble and crystallize at the edges.

Baking With Kids - Sticky Toffee Pudding
Once the cake is ready, chop it up however you like and then drown it in the syrup. Voila!

Baking With Kids - Sticky Toffee Pudding
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Strawberry Shortcake


It started with beautiful strawberries. Huge, bright, lovely strawberries that inspired me to whip up a strawberry shortcake. For a split second, I thought of making an angel food cake with this but if I’m honest, as natural as angel food cake is to pair with fruit, I don’t really love it all that much. My husband doesn’t hate it but he’s not crazy over it either so I went with a pound cake.

I’ve been using Alton Brown’s pound cake recipe for about 4 years and it’s never gone wrong.

Strawberry Shortcake
Pound Cake via Alton Brown

16 ounces unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
16 ounces cake flour
16 ounces sugar
9 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat to 350 and grease and flour three 9″ cake pans, or one 9″ x 13″ cake pan or a bundt or whatever makes you happy, in this case I went with fou4 9: cake pans (only three were used so I covered the fourth in whipped cream and strawberries and brought them to my neighbor). Cream the butter and the sugar, then add the eggs one at a time. Be sure to scrape down the sides with a spatula and then add the vanilla and salt.

Now very slowly add the flour, with the mixer on low, until it is all incorporated. Then pour into your prepared cake pan and bake for about an hour.

While it’s baking, prepare your whipping cream and strawberries! Wash, hull and chop your strawberries into smallish pieces. If you prefer bigger chunks, go for it. When I make whipped cream for dipping fruit in, or for something like this when it’s acting as a frosting, I always use the one pint carton. I whip it into oblivion with 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar and about 1 or 2 teaspoons of vanilla. I used 2 teaspoons when I made it for this cake and I also added 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar for a slightly different texture from the standard whipping cream we are always dipping strawberries in.

Strawberry Shortcake

Once the cakes have cooled, flip one out onto a plate (or whatever you’re serving from) and slater it in a layer of whipping cream. Then sprinkle the bits of strawberry on top, but do a whole lot of sprinkling. You’re going to want a lot of strawberries in this. Add the second cake carefully and slater that with a (not so) healthy helping of whipping cream as well, and then again with the generous sprinkling of the strawberries. I opted not to cover the top of the cake as well, you can always add a dollop of whipped cream and more strawberries on the side for anyone who wants more.

Strawberry Shortcake

This really does taste even better if you pop it in the fridge for a bit before you’re ready to serve it. The whipping cream softens up the cake juuuust enough that it’s got a nice texture but not enough that it’s soggy and because the cake is so sturdy it can also absorb some of the strawberry juice and still hold it’s shape. So good!!

Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Shortcake
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