Category Archives: Fake Outs {DIY Restaurant favorites}

Recipes that are knock offs of restaurant favorites that you can make at home!

DIY Acai ~ Homemade Bowl of Heaven

My first experience with acai was almost 9 years ago. I tried an acai smoothie at Hobee’s, a Bay Area restaurant where we’d often enjoy breakfast during our short stint living in Sunnyvale. It was nothing super special, as I remember, but the acai berries were shown in some studies to be richer in antioxidants than blueberries, blackberries, cranberries and other dark purple fruits, so I went with it for the alleged health benefits.

Fast forward to a couple years ago…I had an acai bowl while visiting the OC at Bowl of Heaven. It was, indeed, heaven and I couldn’t wait to find a place in the SCV where I could round up another one. Last summer I noticed Juice It Up had them and one day I treated myself to one while the kids were at VBS. Again, it was amazing, but not cheap {about $8} so I told myself it would be a definite once in awhile treat!

I had heard that Whole Foods sells the acai packs for homemade bowls and figured our local Sprouts would also carry them. Sure enough they do and last time I was there, I picked up a 4-pack. If I remember correctly, it was about $5 or $6. Each four pack will make 2 good size acai bowls or 4 smaller, but still satisfying, servings.


I order {The Mayan} when I go to Juice It Up and tried to recreate that at home with a couple modifications.

I used:

2 acai packs

1/2 cup chocolate soy milk

1 tbsp peanut butter

Blend that up in your blender. The texture is almost like that of frozen yogurt. If you want to make a smoothie, use 1 cup liquid instead.

I then topped the acai mixture with half a sliced banana, some hemp granola {also from Sprouts}, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of unsweetened coconut {from Ralphs}.



I must say that this homemade version will most definitely take care of those cravings at a fraction of the cost.


You can most certainly change up the liquid that you blend up and play around with the toppings ~ blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, Cutie orange segments, chopped nuts and even dried fruits would be delish!


I still need to blog our amazing summer vacation to NYC! Now that school is in session and I’ve had some time to get the house back in semi-order, I can hopefully sit down next week and relive our trip through a blog post. Can’t wait to share it with you.

As always, thanks for reading and we are a stone’s throw away from the weekend. Yay!


Put An Egg On It

Jay’s favorite Red Robin burger is the Royal Red Robin which is served with an egg atop the patty.

Personally, I prefer the Bonzai Burger….

Last Christmas my brother-in-law gave me The Meatball Shop’s cookbook. Apparently this is a hip joint where all the cool kids hang out in NYC’s Lower East Side.

Since we’re old, uncool, suburban soccer parents that live clear on the opposite corner of the country, we can still experience the hipness that is TMS in the privacy of our own cluttered, kids-running-amok environment.

I put Jay in charge of figuring out tonight’s dinner and he came across the “Steak ‘N’ Bacon Cheddar Balls” {every man’s dream!} saying that it reminded him of his precious RRR Burger…


I was a little skeptical of the egg on my burger and was going to skip it but, decided YOLO {you only live once} and gave it a shot.

It’s actually realllllly good!

Here is what you need:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

8 ounces bacon, diced {about 1 1/2 cups}

2 pounds 80% lean ground beef

6 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

3 large eggs

1/2 cup bread crumbs

2 teaspoons salt


Here is what you do:

Preheat the oven to 450*F. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a 9X13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon has browned and the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions and bacon to a plate and place in the refrigerator to cool.

Combine the ground beef, cooled bacon and onion mixture, cheddar, eggs, bread crumbs, and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.

Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs {about 1 1/2 inches or 2 dozen meatballs}, making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish. {I read the directions wrong and made 12 large meatballs and roasted a little longer ~ about 25-27 minutes}

Roast for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165*F.

Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

I placed one meatball sliced horizontally onto a toasted kaiser roll with some spinach on the bottom half and topped with a sunny side up egg, fresh ground pepper & Sriracha.

Served alongside was some zucchini that I tossed in olive oil, salt & pepper and some crushed red pepper and roasted at 400* for about 20-25 minutes.



This is a meal that probably should not be eaten more than once or twice a year. It was fun to experiment with the egg and try another meatball recipe from this book.

Since we have 9 huge meatballs left, I think we’ll have those with a salad or some other roasted or sautéed veggies and skip the egg and bun!

I think it’s safe to say that you could file this recipe away for Father’s Day and make almost any man happy with it.

Enjoy your Veteran’s Day!

The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude. ~ Jeff Miller

Don’t Be Without In N Out ~ DIY Double Double, Animal Style

Have you never experienced an In N Out love affair? Or know the goodness that is INO, but moved to a place where the big yellow arrow doesn’t exist?

You can replicate their famous burger in your own kitchen and you know what? It comes darn close to the real thing….almost like you were sitting in a booth wearing an INO paper hat and eating it out of the little red tray with some of their crispy, natural fries on the side.


Jay came across this recipe on Flickr and casually forwarded it to me. I immediately put it on the 3-day weekend menu plan.


serves two 1/4-pound burgers

  • 1/2 pound fresh beef chuck with plenty of fat, cut into 1-inch cubes {I just used 1 pound 85% ground beef. I was NOT trying to grind or process my own meat ~ read steps 1-4 below!}
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2 soft Hamburger buns, preferably Arnold brand {I used plain ol Ralphs hamburger buns}
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 dill pickles chips
  • 2 quarter-inch-thick slices ripe tomato
  • 2 leaves fresh iceberg lettuce, white core section removed, torn to bun-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 4 slices deli-cut American Cheese

Procedures {Note: Instead of steps 1, 2, 3 & 4, I just used 1 pound of ground beef and formed 8 thin patties like it says in step 8}

  1. If using a meat grinder: Place feed shaft, blade, and 1/4-inch die of meat grinder in freezer until well-chilled. Meanwhile, place meat chunks on rimmed baking sheet, leaving space between each piece and place in freezer for 10 minutes until meat is firm.
  2. Combine meat in large bowl and toss to combine. Grind meat and refrigerate immediately until ready for use. Handle as gently as possible. Proceed with step three below.
  3. If using a food processor: Place bowl and blade of food processor in freezer until well-chilled. Meanwhile, place meat chunks on rimmed baking sheet, leaving space between each piece, and place in freezer for 10 minutes until meat is firm, but not frozen.
  4. Combine meat in large bowl and toss to combine. Working in two batches, place meat cubes in food processor and pulse until medium-fine grind is achieved, about 8 to 10 one-second pulses, scraping down processor bowl as necessary. Refrigerate ground meat immediately until ready for use. Handle as gently as possible.
  5. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt to skillet. Reduce heat to medium low, and cook, tossing and stirring occasionally until onions are well browned, about 15 minutes. Once onions begin to sizzle heavily and appear dry, add 1 tablespoon water to skillet and stir. Continue cooking until water evaporates and onions start sizzling again. Repeat process, adding 1 tablespoon of water with each iteration until onions are meltingly soft and dark brown, about 3 times total. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  6. Make the sauce: Combine mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, sugar, and vinegar in small bowl. Stir to combine.
  7. Place closed buns in preheated oven for 2 minutes until slightly darkened and crisped. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in 12-inch non-stick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat until shimmering. Open buns and add face-down to skillet. Toast until dark brown around the edges, about 1 minute total. {I just lightly toasted the buns}
  8. Form ground beef into four 2-ounce patties, using damp hands to press each into a patty about 3/16ths of an inch thick and 4 inches wide. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil to pan, swirl to coat, and heat over medium-high heat until lightly smoking. Add burger patties and cook without moving until well browned and crusty on first side, about 2 1/2 minutes. While they are cooking, spread 1 tablespoon mustard on raw side of each patty with a spoon. Meanwhile, top each bottom bun with up half of spread, 4 slices pickles, 1 slice tomato, and lettuce. Flip patties with a thin spatula so mustard side is down and continue to cook for 1 minute. Top each patty with a slice of cheese. Divide onion mixture evenly between two patties. Place the other two patties directly on top of the onions, sandwiching them between the beef. Transfer patty stacks to bottom bun. Top with top bun, and serve immediately.


I have to say that it came real close to the real thing…my bun got all gooey from the sauce and I had tomato and grilled onions falling all over the place!

I roasted up some sweet potato slices to go with.

The only time consuming part was maybe caramelizing the onions ~ took about 20 minutes.

This recipe certainly won’t stop us from going to In N Out, but it was fun to try and see how they compared to everyone’s favorite burger.




And we certainly can’t forget this picture from under the criss-crossed palm trees…


{Kapri & Holden ~ October ’12}