Monthly Archives: May 2011

Barbecue Beef Sandwiches.

Happy Memorial Day! How do you celebrate? It seems to me that most Americans celebrate with MEAT — usually between two buns, & most often eaten outside.

The Munchkin participating in the family tradition 1 year ago

My husband’s family goes out to his Grandma’s house in Grantsville, Utah, & puts mums on the graves of their ancestors, then has a big delicious meal afterwards. I first took part in this tradition when we’d been dating for four months. I started recognizing last names on several of the graves, so I asked if they were descended from the same Clark I was (Clark, after all, isn’t an uncommon name, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if we weren’t). Turns out we’re fifth cousins. Awkward! Especially finding this out when you haven’t been dating for very long! But we laughed about it & later got married anyway… & got a big scare when we had to sign our marriage license, certifying that we were “not related within and not including the fifth degree of consanguinity” (neither of us had heard that last word before). Turns out it just means you’re not second cousins. Phew! In the clear! We’ve had a lot of laughs about that one as well.

She's probably going to kill me for posting this picture, but it's the most recent one I have of her!

Sorry, I digress. Back to Memorial Day. My family celebrates with a big cookout with friends. My mom is an amazing cook & lives all the way across the country in California, so this Memorial Day — which is also her birthday – I’m remembering her. Happy Birthday, Mom! I don’t want this to become a Mother’s Day post, rather than a Memorial Day one, so I’ll just say that how she’s able to do it all stumps me completely. She’s an amazing cook, gardens so well she practically has an orchard in the middle of LA County (& we always enjoyed the fruits of it — literally — at meals growing up), went to all of our concerts & band competitions & was a “band mom” for many years… & works full-time as an attorney downtown. I hope I can do half that without a demanding job! In short, she’s incredible, & so are her barbecue beef sandwiches. Since we don’t have a grill, this has become my big summer “cookout” dish. If you’re an apartment dweller like me, they can be yours too!

Syd’s Barbecue Beef Sandwiches

  • 3 1/2 lb. pot roast
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • a few Tbsp. oil
  • 1+ cup water
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp. vinegar (I use cider vinegar)
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce — not salsa (the best is “Homade” — actually spelled that way — sweet chili sauce in a squat glass jar, but I’ve only been able to find it out west, so I use the Heinz version plus a pinch of chili powder. Not perfect, but still good.)
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 dash (or 2) cinnamon
  • 1 dash (or 2) cloves
  • 1 dash garlic salt
  1. Brown both sides of the pot roast in a large pot (I use a Le Creuset Dutch Oven) in hot oil with the garlic & 1/4 of the onion. Add salt & pepper to taste & enough water to cover, then cover & braise on low 2-3 hours or until tender. (Slow cooker: After browning, transfer everything to slow cooker, add 1 cup water, & cook on  high 2-3 hours or low for 5.)
  2. Remove roast & shred, then return to pot or slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients, cover & simmer about 3 hours (slow cooker: high for about 2, low for about 4).
  3. Serve over rolls of choice at your next big get-together this summer!

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Chewy, Chunky Oatmeal Breakfast Bars.

First, I want to take a moment to give a Web shout-out to all of my dear friends (& readers!) in the Midwest & South. A possible tornado hit Bloomington, Indiana, where we spent three amazing years, & where The Munchkin was born. Reading my friends’ Facebook updates last night about tornado sirens, thunder, & hunkering down in the bathroom into the wee hours turned my stomach in knots. I’m just so grateful to know now that all of my friends are unharmed! I know that right now there are so many who aren’t so fortunate.

One of my fond memories of our time in Bloomington was an unlikely visiting teacher named Sue. (The LDS Church gives members the opportunity & responsibility to care for & serve one another by assigning them certain people to visit once a month & generally look out for.) I had never had a visiting teacher so different from me: I was a new mom; she was older & had no children. At first I had misgivings — how could we have anything in common to talk about? — but she served me so well at such a stressful time of my life that I knew it was meant to be.

One of those ways she served me was by bringing me these breakfast bars so I’d have a nutritious snack that was easy to munch on. They’re low in fat, high in protein & fiber, & seriously addictive!

(By the way, yes, I do recognize the fact that this makes 4 oatmeal recipes in a row here on Make Myself at Home. I seem to be on a bit of a kick lately. & I’m not the least bit sorry. Neither is My Husband The Volunteer Taste-Tester. Or The Munchkin, apparently…)

Sue’s Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 6 oz. fat-free vanilla yogurt (I used Yoplait Light Very Vanilla)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 Tbsp. skim milk
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil or applesauce (I used oil this time, only because I didn’t want to open a whole new applesauce container)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. vanilla (I just used 1/2 since I used Very Vanilla yogurt)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (or use just 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins &/or Craisins
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (or use 1 cup of all raisins/Craisins… but where’s the fun in that?)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 pan.
  2. In a large bowl combine sugars & wet ingredients.
  3. In another bowl combine flours, baking soda, salt, & cinnamon.
  4. Add flour mixture to wet mixture; stir well.
  5. Stir in oats, fruit, chips, & nuts.
  6. Spread dough into bottom of prepared pan.
  7. Bake 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Cool before cutting & enjoying.

Do you have any dishes that bring back fond memories of old friends or places you lived?

Tidy Mom


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My denim dilemma.

I’m a jeans girl. I live in them. But I’ve developed a problem lately. Since having The Munchkin, it seems that all my jeans are ripping at the knees! It would seem that all the crouching, kneeling, crawling, & knee-walking one does with a toddler is detrimental to denim. You think I’m exaggerating? Let’s take a look:

Pair number one: Guess Monterey straight. I’ve had these since before I was pregnant with The Munchkin. These were my FAVORITE JEANS EVER. When they started to wear at the knees, I bought…

Pair number two: GAP 1969 straight. (Seeing a pattern here? I go with what works, people.) After less than a month, both knees ripped. Like, Axl-Rose, we’re-back-in-the-’90s ripped. Right in the middle of the 5th Ave.-53rd St. subway station. I crouched down to talk to The Munchkin, & riiiiiiip. Audibly. In a subway station. Hey, at least it wasn’t the sides or something, right? So then I decided maybe Guess was the way to go after all &, upon trying & failing to find the exact pair from 3 years earlier, I got…

Pair number three: Guess Nicole cigarette. & yesterday I discovered that the right knee is threadbare in these too!

So as you can see above, I took the pair I liked least (the fabric doesn’t feel quite right, & besides, I’d had the least amount of time of the three to bond with them) & cut them off just above the rip to make some Bermudas. Generally I’m pretty opposed to cutoffs, but I was inspired by the bottom photo of this post by Mormon mommy blogger Natalie Holbrook, whose husband was in classes at NYU with my husband, & who’s way cooler & hipper (word?) than me, & is super nice besides. She rolled them up a bit at the knee to make them less cutoff-looking. Then I was in Nordstrom Rack yesterday & saw tons of denim Bermudas cut & sewn the same way — on purpose! So I must have something right. They look super cute on, but I’m not a fashionista, this is not a fashion blog, & my husband is not a fashion photographer, so I’m going to spare you the pain. But I feel pretty proud of myself nonetheless.

So, friends, here’s the denim dilemma (dilenimma?): I’ve taken care of one pair; what do I do to keep wearing the other two pairs of holey jeans without looking like I wish I were back in the ’90s? & how can I keep my future pairs of jeans from doing the same thing just as I’m getting attached?

works for me wednesday at we are that family

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As seen on The Birthday Blog!

My rainbow cupcake tutorial is being featured today on The Birthday Blog! Go check it out!

Don’t forget to check out the party I organized around these colorful babies!

I’ve definitely got birthday fever — The Munchkin turns 2 in a month, we’ve already bought her some (very Disney) presents, & we’re planning a (very Disney) birthday bash with 5 other birthday kids, if you can believe it! It’s going to be a blast!

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The Secret Weapon: Fudgy Wudgies.

While I’m off getting my husband graduated & gallivanting all over Manhattan like a tourist (a rain-soaked, caught-in-a-downpour-in-Times-Square-in-Chucks-that-have-yet-to-dry tourist), Momo has agreed to post my MOST FAVORITE recipe of hers. I never bought evaporated milk before she introduced me to these. They will change your life. I promise. (& maybe your pants size too.) (In a good way.)

Alicia was one of my roommates my freshman year of college. She came to school armed with good looks, a fun personality and a Secret Weapon for catching boys: Fudgy Wudgies.  A delicious, buttery, oatmeal ‘n’ fudge bar cookie that almost no one can resist.

Luckily, Alicia and I became best friends and she shared the recipe with me. Then taught me how to cook. Now that we are both happily married she has agreed that the recipe for this Secret Weapon can now be shared for the greater good. Consider yourselves very lucky. I know I am to have such a wonderful friend and a bootleg copy of her family’s cookbook. Buddy, where would I be without you?

Alicia’s Fudgy Wudgies

(Fudgy refers to the gooey chocolatey filling and Wudgy refers to the oatmeal cookie component)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9″x13″ baking dish.

The Fudgy

Combine and melt in the microwave for 1 minute on high:

  • 1 package of semisweet chocolate chips (12 oz)
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk (in a pinch you can use reg milk)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter

Stir until smooth, then add 1 tsp vanilla.  Set aside.

Next step: the Wudgy

Cream until fluffy:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar

Beat in until well mixed:

  • 2 eggs

Add:

  • 1 tsp vanilla

Then gradually mix in:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Stir in:

  • 3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats (depends on your texture preference)

Spread 2/3 of the Wudgy mixture in the bottom of the pan. Spread Fudgy over the top (do not scrape the bowl completely clean, you will regret it).

Drop small chunks of Wudgy over the top, leaving some of the chocolate layer exposed.

You will probably have a little bit of Wudgy left over. Save it. Put Fudgy Wudgies in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Now for the best part: dip some of the leftover Wudgy into the Fudgy and eat. Repeat until you have cleaned both bowls.

Fudgy Wudgies take a while to cool and set up so that they can be cut without a fudgy landslide. Plan on at least an hour before cutting into bars, or longer if you are plating them to take to friends. Also plan on being the recipient of many compliments and/or offers of marriage.

Tidy Mom

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Wordless Wednesday: Signs of summer.

Okay, so it’s raining all week. (I love that every time we have visitors, the weather decides to have other plans.) But lately I’ve been finding reasons to hope that summer’s just around the bend…

Sandboxes & sunhats…

…& slicing into the first watermelon of the season.

So delicious!

Today I linked up with Wordless Wednesday 

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Sweet-n-Savory Meatballs.

This recipe is a copycat from The Lion House, a restaurant & historic site on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. I have very fond memories of visiting there with my Grandma & filling up on their delicious rolls, but always saving room for the chocolate silk pie!

My friend Mandy gave me this recipe, & she got it from somewhere else before that, but the first couple of times I made it, it didn’t taste quite the same as I remembered at The Lion House. So I’ve adjusted it a little; hopefully it’s a little closer to the real thing, which you should definitely try (or anything on their delicious menu) if you’re in the neighborhood.

For the meatballs:

  • 1 to 1 1/4 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats (not quick)
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • scant 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • a few shakes or grinds pepper

Combine ingredients in mixer bowl. Mix until well blended, but do not over-mix or the meat will get tough. Form into 24 or more balls, each about 1 1/2 inches, & place in baking dish. (For a family of 3-4, you can split the recipe in half: put half the meatballs in a foil pan, add the sauce [below], cover with foil, place in a Ziploc freezer bag, & freeze for later. Just put the foil pan in the fridge 24 hours before cooking to defrost, then cook as usual [below].)

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (not hickory)
  • 2 tsp. worcestershire sauce

Combine ingredients in large saucepan & bring to a boil while mixing well. (Mustard may not incorporate entirely.) Pour over meatballs in pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve over rice.

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The Perfect Oatmeal Raisin Cookie.

Oatmeal has a special place in my heart. Oats just make every recipe better, don’t they? Heartier, tastier, healthier (yes, I am still deluding myself on this one) — you just can’t go wrong with oats! This Martha Stewart recipe is no exception.

These are our travel staple: any time we’re headed on a road trip, I make up a batch the day before & they keep us going forever. In fact, we had two Indiana-Utah road trips in six months that went awry — in Wyoming both times — & these cookies sustained us in countless mechanic’s shops & in the middle of the I-80 median for hours! (Let’s just say that a new car & a new undercarriage on the new car later, we’ve come to the conclusion that either Wyoming hates us, or their mechanics love us. No offense meant to anyone out there who hails from Wyoming — we’ve just had exceptionally bad luck driving through it.)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 sticks butter, room temp
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups rolled oats (not steel-cut or quick-cooking)
  • 1 cup raisins
  1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl & set aside.
  2. Cream together butter & sugars. Add vanilla, milk, & eggs; blend well.
  3. Add flour mixture; beat until just combined.
  4. Remove the bowl from the mixer (or, if you’re weak like me… just don’t); stir in the oats & raisins.
  5. Refrigerate dough until firm — 2 hours to overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
  7. Scoop out about 2 Tbsp. of dough & shape it into a ball. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing the balls 3 inches apart. Press down with your palm to flatten to a 2-inch diameter.
  8. Bake until golden but still quite soft in the center. If you’re doing 2 cookie sheets at once, bake 16-18 minutes, rotating pans between shelves halfway through. If baking just 1 cookie sheet, bake just 14 minutes.
  9. Cool on wire racks.

What are your favorite road trip staples?

Tidy Mom

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Looking forward to a visit from Grandma & Grandpa.

My Husband The Almost-Grad’s family has been planning their visit for his graduation for months. That can be hard on a Munchkin who doesn’t understand the concept of time just yet, especially since she hasn’t seen these grandparents in almost a year, aside from our weekly Skype conversations. For weeks she’s been talking about “Gamma” & “Gapa,” “white boat” (the Hudson ferry), & “pinky cuppies” (pink Magnolia cupcakes). So as the day of their arrival has drawn near, I made her a paper chain to count down the days.

Every morning she gets so excited to pull off a new link & watch the chain grow shorter.

But I decided to add a new twist, to help her get excited about more things we’ll be doing with the grandparents than just boats & cuppies. Every time we pull a link off, we write the number of days that are left (you can see that for some of them I wasn’t awake enough yet to count…) & something she’s excited about for their visit.

Yes, the boat & cuppies are on there, & for the first several days we had to help her quite a bit to think of things, but over the last several days she’s started to verbalize more, stringing more words together: “ha-cops, pwanes… wwwwwon [with finger making a #1] moosem” (there are helicopters & planes at one museum, the Intrepid) & “dice bones” (dinosaur bones) at the other, the American Museum of Natural History. Plus, this morning she thought of one all on her own: “hand hand… Gapa” (hold hands with Grandpa). Yes, we’re all very excited to see them & go to the museum, the park, & Commencement. But this exercise has produced the remarkable unintended consequence of enhancing her verbal skills!

How do you help your kids get excited about big events like visits from family?

works for me wednesday at we are that family

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Mother’s Day in real life.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms, grandmas, moms-to-be, & women with a mother heart out there! I had every intention of posting something delicious that even your husband could make to spoil you with today, but then this happened:

This is how I spent the whole weekend, from our 5th anniversary on Friday (well, strictly speaking, I spent it awake starting at 3:45am with an ear-infected Munchkin & then attempting to recuperate for the rest of the day while My Husband The Soon-To-Be-LLM-Graduate took a final & The Munchkin watched more Disney movies than is healthy for a person her size) to Mother’s Day today. I’m still exhausted & hacking like a 4-pack-a-day smoker, but I think the worst may be over & I’ll be back to posting delicious recipes & fun crafts soon!

(I will say that My Husband The Also Sick & Studying For Finals But Still Thoughtful & Romantic did buy me two types of flowers to celebrate both occasions, made us lunch & “brinner” with The Munchkin’s help today, & has been showering me with love & concern all weekend. So Mother’s Day was a success in that regard.)

I hope that Mother’s Day was healthier & happier for you! How did you celebrate?

P.S.: If it wasn’t as happy as you’d hoped, do yourself a favor & try to track down the “Mother’s Day” episode of Season 1 of “The Middle” for a good laugh. (If you do find it online for free somewhere, give me the link! I couldn’t find it anywhere!)

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