Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tubby Tuesday: Milagros

Welcome to another edition of Tubby Tuesday!  It's been so much fun to share some places that we love to eat at--I take particular satisfaction when people actually have tried out the places we've recommended through ShareThePants.  So far, we have received only positive feedback on the recommended restaurants and I expect it to continue for this weeks visit to a place of miracles, an aptly named Mexican restaurant called Milagros.  

Located in the heart of Utah valley, Milagros is a Mexican restaurant with a nice twist to it.  It is located just above Winco on 800 North in Orem.  The establishment has been full or nearly full every time we have visited (during both lunch and dinner hours), yet we have only had to wait to be seated once--so briefly I washed my hands and we were ready to go to our table (miracle, no?).  

Milagros has one of the most interesting back stories I've ever heard.  The owner is surprisingly willing to share his journey in a pretty unvarnished manner which is kind of refreshing.  Once when we were at lunch, he visited our table and told us some of his experiences--he's a really nice guy.  The long and short of it is: they started Rosa's first, Bajio second, helped to build the Harley Davidson dealership (the beautiful building off of 1600 N in Orem), and then started Milagros.  

While I have enjoyed the other restaurants they've started, Milagros is a cut above.  It's pretty clear they learned from earlier experiences and this feels like a masterpiece.  On my first visit our waitress recommended the Queso Fundido as one of our appetizers.  It no sooner arrived at the table then no other queso dip would ever truly do it for me again.  Cheese + cream cheese + sour cream + chiles and spices + heaven (? my own recipe approximation)= queso fundido.  I have never failed to order it upon returning.  In fact, we have been known to make a run to Milagros solely for the queso fundido.  
The Best Ribs I've Ever Tasted 

Milagros also has the best ribs I have ever tasted!  I know what you're thinking: "ribs? at a mexican restaurant?" but they totally work with the menu and sides.  These ribs are AMAZING; they are marinated for 2 days in fruit juice, and then roasted for 8 hours.  Then when you order them they are sauced up and grilled.  They come in two varieties: honey bbq or spicy jalapeno bbq sauce (isn't it unnecessary to call a jalapeno sauce spicy?) and both are delicious.  The spicy jalapeno ribs are maybe a bit hot for anyone that is overly sensitive to spice.  

Another dish that I love is Barry's Pollo Fundido (anyone wanna take a wild stab as to why?).  It is basically a huge chicken burrito/chimichanga covered with ample amounts of queso fundido  (did you guess correctly?  If you did, give yourself a whole Tubby Tuesday point!).  The hardest part about eating at Milagros for me is deciding whether to get the ribs or the pollo fundido.

The sides are also great.  One of Nellie and I's favorite parts of Bajio was their sweet onion that you could have added to your order.  At Milagros they have taken the onion to a whole new level.  Instead of a few sections of onion, you can get a whole sweet onion deliciously caramelized and ready to dig into.  Knowing that onions don't float everyone's boat, I can't say you must try one, but be open to it, even if you don't like onions--otherwise you will never know for sure.  It would be a shame to not just try.  The borracho beans are also a great choice.  They are basically fancy baked beans.  I think they taste pretty good.  

While I already loved Milagros from my first visit, my respect grew when they sat us by the window to the kitchen.  Inside the kitchen is a cool old table where the elite diners get to sit (more on this later).  Above the stove, out of most customers' sight, runs a long shelf that contains some really great BYU memorabilia.  It always makes me happy to see things like that.  I love that it isn't really out for display in the restaurant, but something you have to look for.  On my last visit I found out that my favorite college football coach catches some meals at the VIP table on occasion.  I think Bronco has great taste!

Milagros is a Coke restaurant which is always a plus in Nellie and I's book.  Honestly my only complaint about Milagros is that they aren't open late enough.  I hear they may be open later, but last time I checked the closing time was about 9:00 pm, which is just a little early for us sometimes.  Overall I would implore you to visit Milagros, because Tubby Tuesday is all about making you happier one bite at a time.  Enjoy!
Milagros Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tubby Tuesday: Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory DIY: Fail

by Nell.

One of my all-time favorite flavor combination is caramel/apple.  Fall seems to be the "popular" season for enjoying these two together, and I see it in all kinds of candy, breads, drinks, and recently in a fabulous shake I had at Steak 'n Shake.  Yummers.  While cruising the grocery store the other day, I had a hankering for one of my favorite treats, the grasshopper carmel apple from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.  Alas, it no longer exists.  For some reason they told us last time we went in for one that they weren't allowed to make them any more.  Total bummer.  But I saw the giant bin of wrapped caramels at the grocery store and I thought, "Dude, I could make one.  It can't be that hard."

It took Trev and the kids a good chunk of time unwrapping all those caramels.  Why don't they just sell them unwrapped?  We melted it on the stove, and despite the high heat of the caramel, it didn't really "dip" on smooth, the way I envisioned.  More like gobbledy gook.  I decided not to worry too much--once I dipped it in chocolate, I was sure it would all smooth out.  Ha ha ha...the melted chocolate only emphasized the caramel bumps and lumps.  I was trying to think fast.  How could I save these ugly things?  I decided to mash up some oreos and sprinkle them on the chocolate.  That surely would mask my mistakes.  But all the oreos did was drip and drag the chocolate down the apple, causing it to pool at the base.  The ugliness was increasing exponentially by the second.

In a last ditch effort to save the apples' aesthetics, I thought of a technique I've seen where you drizzle chocolate over the top, kind of like this:

I found this image on Pinterest, but it had no origin or information so I couldn't credit the photographer.

This is how we ended up:

So kind of like the same thing, right?  ;)  I give it a D+ for presentation.

Undeterred from their appearance, the kids were excited to try them anyway.

Scott opted for the "Apple-Free" version

As Birdie sat at the table making nummy-noises, she sighed and said, "These taste just like those one apples you used to love."

I smiled to myself.  Fail.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Framable Wall Art

By Nell.
Eva presented us with this today.  Once we deciphered her 1st grade language, we laughed so hard.
"I love everyone but Satan and Hannah Montana"

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


By Nell.  When Eva was an itty bit, I made her a doll we named "Lottie" which was short for "LaDiabla," Eva's angry alter-ego.  Her 2-year-old self loved that doll to death, and carted her around everywhere in her favorite pink boots--usually with a pair of tattered wings.  Lulu wears those same pink boots, now cracked and holey,  everywhere.  Recently she has latched on to Lottie and drags her around, which if Eva sees, raises holy heck in the house.  I decided this week that Lulu needs her own Lottie, and since it's her 3rd birthday on Saturday, I figured the timing was perfect.  I named her doll Betty because I love that name, and it's on Trev's "heck no" list for girl names.  Lu loves loves loves her.  I gave her to Lulu this morning and she was jumping up and down in excitement.  She caressed her hair and said, "Betty has puppy dog hair too!" which is how she has her hair done most days.  We had several errands to do this morning, and Betty came along too.  I loved catching a glimpse out of the corner of my eye of Lu adoring her and kissing her.  It makes the time involved worth every minute.  There's nothing better than having something you made be loved.  Moments like these make me feel fulfilled and content and happy with my chosen full-time job of motherhood.    

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tubby Tuesday: The Pie Pizzeria

Welcome to Tubby Tuesday where I introduce to you my favorite places to eat around the Wasatch Front.  Today marks the concluding entry in my best pizza trifecta.  As I have mentioned in other posts regarding pizza, I am always in the mood for pizza.  I love pizza and have immensely enjoyed eating pizza at different establishments around Utah.  Two weeks ago I wrote about ESTE Pizzeria which offers, in my opinion, the best New York style pizza around.  Last week I wrote about Sweet Home Chicago Pizzeria which has a wonderful stuffed pizza.  Today we are visiting the place I prefer above all others: The Pie Pizzeria.  

First of all, I'll admit that it's odd for me to love The Pie as much as I do.  Primarily because the original restaurant location is a mere number of steps away from the University of Utah campus.  Although my parents met as students at the U, I'm not the biggest Ute fan there is.  My first visit to The Pie was several years ago.  Located underground in a Cheers-like setting, it feels like stepping into another world.  The original location has brick walls that are covered in names, words, micro-graffiti and the effect is really awesome.  It's a decent sized restaurant and it's been pretty busy every time I have been there. 
The Wall at The Pie

A visit to The Pie at the wrong time can bring a long line to wait in, but they have always been fairly quick even when the crowd has been large.  The first recommendation I have is to order the cheese pull-aparts.  Filled to the gill inside with mozzarella cheese, there is ample stretching as you try to pull a piece off to devour.  Very simply made, they are the perfect appetizer to prepare you for some amazing pizza.  
Cheese Pull-a-parts...Delish

The pizza at The Pie is very filling.  I have never completed a pizza at the restaurant unless we were in a large party.  When Nellie and I go, we are lucky to finish four or five pieces between us.  This is because the pies are loaded with toppings, cheese, and are plenty greasy.  Although the load of grease might make you feel guilty, the pizzas taste wonderful.  

Their pepperoni pizza is simple: pepperoni hidden underneath ample cheese.  It is also one of my favorite pizzas around.  My favorite pizza at The Pie is the buffalo chicken pizza.  I have had buffalo chicken pizza from quite a few establishments and have never found one to rival The Pie's version.  Loaded with sliced chicken and buffalo sauce, covered in mozzarella cheese and topped with onions it's the perfect marriage of my two favorite football foods: pizza and wings.  I'm pretty sure I could eat this pizza all the time and never get tired of it.  
Buffalo Chicken Pizza.  You May Never Look at Pizza the Same Way Again

If you really want to have an adventure you have to try the ApocolyptDough for your pizza crust.  Mixed into the crust is a blend of hot spices that add wonderful flavor to your pie, I recommend it for the buffalo chicken pizza.  

The Pie serves Coke products, a plus for our family.  They also have some good salads and cinnamon dessert pies, if you have any room for them.  

While we were at Primary Childrens with Birdie, I went to pick up a pizza from their take out location, just around the corner from their original location.  The employee noticed my parents badge and told me that they could deliver to PCMC for free.  He asked how we were doing and really seemed to care.  In a hard time in our lives one guy who was very genuine really touched my heart.  It made me like The Pie that much more.  

The Pie has locations in Midvale, Ogden and South Jordan also.  I have not visited the Midvale or Ogden locations, but have been to the South Jordan location quite a few times and the pizza is of identical quality there.  

Don't go on a full stomach, don't go on anything but a completely empty stomach, but go.  You will love the pizza, and if you don't, you can always bring me a slice or two.  

I hope you've enjoyed my tour of pizza.  To me, The Pie, Este, and Sweet Home Chicago represent the best pizza that Utah has to offer.  If you have any suggestions that I have overlooked, feel free to comment below. 

The Pie Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I Want The Ugly Crap!

Yesterday I came home to find my loved ones around the computer.  Seated on Nellie's lap was Lulu, the soon to be birthday girl.  They were online shopping for a Pillow Pet for Eleanor's birthday courtesy of her Nana and Papa.  Lulu has been hauling her siblings "Perry the Platypus" and "Dumbo" pillow pets around and it was clear that it was time for her to have her very own pillow that becomes a pet.

If you aren't familiar with Pillow Pets they come in many cute varieties as pictured below:
There are also Disney pillow pets:
Then there is the ugliest pillow pet they make:

Which one do you think Lulu had her heart set on?  That is right, the ugly multi-colored unicorn pillow pet that looks more like a bad joke than anything else.  Can you imagine if a piece of brightly colored candy got caught in its mange?  You'd never be able to find it again.  Like camouflage for kid colored gunk.  Nellie was trying to suggest the zebra, but Lulu was determined to have her first choice.  I piped up from the back "that looks uglier than crap," to which she emphatically replied "I want the ugly crap!!"

We laughed and laughed and in the end Nellie, in a bit of mothering magic, convinced her to pick the butterfly.  With the decision made, the window was closed out before she could change her mind.  Heaven forbid she got her own way and we had an ugly toy in the house.  Not sure why we fought it.  Funny the battles you choose with a soon-to-be 3 year old.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tubby Tuesday: Sweet Home Chicago

Tubby Tuesday is here again.  Time to get your foodie on!  As I noted last week, I am in the midst of sharing my favorite pizza places in Utah.  Certainly I'm no food expert, except that I love food.  Tubby Tuesday is a chance for me to share with others the restaurants and foods that make me happy.  Some of them are well-known places.  Others are more obscure.  Judging from my social circles I would say todays TT featured restaurant is more of the latter category: Sweet Home Chicago.  

Located on the east side of Draper (1442 East Draper Parkway), SHC certainly doesn't look like much outside or inside.  The first thing I noticed was the abundance of Chicago memorabilia around the joint.  Reminders of championships past for Chicago based sports teams abound.  The menu is simple, yet complex.  They have a number a specialty pizzas with windy city names like: The Chicago Transit Authority or The Ditka (wondering why they don't have a 'Da Bears pizza won't make them create one).  In ordering your pie you really have one choice to make.  Do you want a thin crust -or- do you want one of the best pizza pies you have ever eaten and hence want to get a stuffed pizza?  As you can tell, this is really not a question at all.  

My favorite pizza (hence the one I will heartily recommend) is The Don.  It's a classic meat-lovers type of pizza with the added beauty of green peppers and mushrooms.  On top of a generous helping of toppings and cheese is another sheet of dough covered in a wonderful pizza sauce and some Parmesan cheese.  The resulting pie is a masterpiece in your mouth.  The sweet sauce is the first thing you taste, followed by a poetic mixture of meats and flavors.  Eating multiple slices is a challenge for most, but don't skimp and order a smaller size.  This is a pizza that I always want to take home with me.  Leftover stuffed pizzas are almost as good as straight from the oven pizzas.

Not as amazing (again it's hard to be this amazing) is the thin crust pizza.  To be sure, I'm not really a thin-crust aficionado, therefore I'm not fully qualified to state this opinion.  It's good pizza, but it isn't super-memorable.  Last time we ordered a thin crust pizza, I ate five or six slices before my stomach even detected that anything had been added to it.  In other words, a lot goes a little way.  
The menu also features a lovely Italian salad that has a sweet Italian dressing on it.  It is delectable and easy to love.  The cheese bread is also worthwhile, but you may want to forego adding anything to your meal in fear that you won't have enough of an appetite for the main event.  

The staff at SHC is wonderful.  After you order you can watch the goings-on in the kitchen as there are windows where you can watch them make, toss, and dress the pizza in your sight.  We have never been in the restaurant when there was much of a crowd, a normal red-flag, but it's always been spot on.  

Take the drive east on 123rd south until you find this pizza treasure on the south side of the road.  You will thank me later.  Tubby on.  

*Update: Unfortunately Sweet Home Chicago could not overcome a bad location and is now closed.  
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