Homemade In-n-Out Animal Fries

We haven’t been to Southern California in a little over 3 months now. That means that the In-n-Out withdrawal, the so-called “out-n-out,” has finally set in. Luckily for us, with AK‘s creativity and SP‘s methodicalness, we have a temporary solution until our next visit West. Or South. Wherever there’s burgers.


We’ve tried a few different ways of making what we miss most: animal style fries. People like the burgers and all, but for us, it’s all about that extremely saucy, super oniony fry mixture that gets our motors running. There are some serious bummer recipes out there that basically say that Thousand Island dressing is the same thing. They’re wrong. Here’s the closest we’ve come:


  • 1 cup Hellmann’s Light Mayo
  • 1/2 cup (or a little extra) Ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar

Basically you mix all of it and set it in the fridge for a couple hours for maximum impact. But making it looks a little funny.


Heinz for the appropriate taste.


Maaaayo. Maaaaaaaaaaaayo. Daylight come and me wanna make fries.




We relish making this sauce.


You can also add a bit of garlic powder if you want.


If you went to Kindergarten, you may remember that you get different colors when you mix stuff together.

Ok, so the sauce is made. The next important part is the umyum. This part is even more tricky than mixing the sauce because it requires patience, varying temperatures, and a keen eye. We’ll leave the eyeball part to AK.


White onion outperforms yellow onion in this mixture.


Dice. (Yes there’s yellow onion back there that we were going to use for our Sloppy Joes.)


A tbsp and a half of vegetable oil, and throw in the onions.


Leave it on super low heat, covered, for 30 minutes. For serious. Just leave it alone. SP STOP OPENING IT TO CHECK ON THEM!


After that 30 minutes, bring the heat up and stir for about 6-8 minutes. Then throw in 1/4-1/2 cup of water, leaving it on hot, and let the water cook out. This will help loosen any stubborn bits of umyum and help the flavor get a bit smoky.

Ok. Now it’s time to build our animal fries. We may be a bit sacrilegious because we aren’t using cheese, but then again, we can’t source In-n-Out fries either. So this can only be a temporary fix.


We used some Ore Ida “zesties.” They’re great seasoned fries to make in the oven and really good quality fries no matter the style you get. 


Get some of the umyums on there.




Served tonight alongside some homemade Untidy Josephs.

Please feel free to try the recipe and give us your feedback!

Man it feels good to type up some stuff again. Catch you on the flip-flop?


[FHCx328] National Espresso Day/National Cashew Day/National Eat a Cranberry Day


A bunch of small things today for the food holidays… First up, espresso. The OED does permit “expresso” as a “spelling variant.” It’s got a higher concentration than coffee, and is some fancy Italian process because normal coffee wasn’t good enough. Then again, SPAK aren’t in with coffee like other people are, so we just bought a thing with espresso in the name.

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Tastes like coffee.

Coffee beans leads us to nuts. Last time we had cashews we went sweet. Cashews are pretty good plain, and are a plentiful snack to have around the house. Cashew is not a portmanteau of a Catholic Jew, by the way, in case there was any confusion. Anyway, the real treat is AK‘s favorite – dill pickle flavored cashews. She loooooves them.


Last up is the cranberry stuff. And while we did make some tasty cranberry relish for yesterday’s celebration, we wanted to do something different. SP found this beautiful cranberry sauce at Kowalski’s which is terrific on crackers. LOOK AT THE BEAUTIFUL REDDISH PURPLE!


AK doesn’t like cranberries as a general rule (or many berries) because of their tartness. The poor, sensitive girl. However, that does mean we have a bunch leftover to bring to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

Speaking of which, tomorrow is National Turkey Day! …and National Sardines Day.


[FHCx327] National Cranberry Relish Day


Relish, not sauce. Relish is uncooked; that’s the main difference. This Thanksgiving-y food is classic for the berries that are actually in season (unlike some food holidays) and is often served alongside turkey. We used a recipe from Ocean Spray to make ours.


Cut up the orange and leave the peel on.


Food processor! Vrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!


Take the mush and pour some sugar on it.


Beautiful color.


SP put some on his turkey sandwich for lunch today.

Tomorrow is another multi-day: Cashew Day, Eat a Cranberry Day, and Espresso Day.


[FHCx317] National Pizza With Everything (Except Anchovies) Day/National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day


Everything?! Well, almost everything. For some reason, anchovies were left off of tonight’s menu by the powers that be. It wasn’t us. We’d eat anchovies.

We were able to swiftly pick up pizza at a local joint called Fresh Picked Pizza. They have all sorts of really tasty pizza, but we knew that we had one in mind to get fixed up for the evening.


Do note the lack of anchovies.


As a personal-size pizza, you can barely fit all those ingredients on there. Wonderful.

Today’s other holiday comes at a fortuitous time as AK is battling the Minnesotan common cold. (We’re sure SP will follow suit shortly.) Truly there is no better remedy for the insufferable symptoms quite like a homemade Chicken Soup. It warms the heart and soul and tummy. Thanks to SPom and SPad for always having the tastiest and most comforting chicken soup.


Since SP moved out of his parents’ house, seeing a huge container of chicken soup like this is not infrequent.


With carrots and matzo balls of course.

We feel comforted by our comfort foods.

Tomorrow is National Indian Pudding Day!


[FHCx247] National Welsh Rarebit Day/International Bacon Day


We know Harley Morenstein would probably be spending today bathing in a tub full of bacon. Bacon is amazing. If we had our way, we would be eating the bacon at Manny’s Steakhouse every day. It looks like this:

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They make it with Nueske’s pork belly. Bacon may be hyped up everywhere you go, and the words “applewood smoked” have started to just look like the word “the” as far as prevalence, but it has good reason. Today we had some at lunch at Mill Valley Kitchen.

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Alright. Raise your hand if you can name more than two Welsh foods. That’s what we thought. We don’t mean to be offensive. The UK has given us foods like Fish n Chips. Or has it? (Spoiler alert: Spanish Jews brought fried fish to England in the 17th century.)

Welsh Rarebit is one of those foods that people might know the name but not what it is. No it’s not Rabbit. Common misconception, as that was originally the name of the food. And the word “rarebit” has no other use in the English language than for Welsh Rarebit. It’s basically just a cheese sauce. It’s good! We used Alton Brown’s recipe.

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2 Tbsp butter

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Whisk in 2 tbsp of flour, then dijon mustard, worcestershire, salt, pepper, and a half cup of some Porter beer.

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Look at it go!

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Add 3/4 cup heavy cream

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Slowly whisk in some shredded cheddar (shreddar)

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Pour over toast! We ate it with steak.

A sentence that was said after dinner: “What else can we put this cheese sauce on?”


  1. Graham cracker was pretty good, actually.
  2. Marshmallow was not.
  3. Crackers were excellent, as you could imagine.

Tomorrow is National Macadamia Nut Day!



[FHCx234] National Spumoni Day



Ice cream wasn’t good enough for the Italians. Not only did they have to add fruit and nuts to ice cream (which is fair — we’ll do similarly on Banana Split Day this Thursday) but they have to have the official spumoni flavors: cherry, pistachio, and chocolate. Not exaaaactly an Italian flag but pretty much.

To celebrate spumoni, we went to a super old school Italian joint near downtown St. Paul, DeGidio’s. It’s right over by Mancini’s where we got our filet mignon. Classic Italian food, still feels like a mafia club, and the patrons all look like Vincent Gardenia.


You want some spumoni?

After our beautiful meal of…

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Baked goat cheese in red sauce

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and Spicy Penne Arrabiata

(The above shared with the lovely SParents of course)

We got around to our delicious dessert.

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AK was in Italian heaven. A great way to spend a Sunday night!

Tomorrow is National Pecan Torte Day and National Eat A Peach Day.


[FHCx158] National Applesauce Cake Day

Applesauce… cake? Yes!


When you get into cooking at home, and you’ve started to get a hang of it, the first real way to branch out is to look at what to substitute. If you’ve watched Chopped, you’ll know what we’re talking about. In baking, you have a hell of a lot of options. One of the more common, but still intriguing, ones is using applesauce. It creates a lot of moisture and cooks well, so you can use significantly less butter and oil and eggs. Here’s our recipe for Applesauce Cake:

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Cream together 1/3 cup light butter, 2/3 cup sugar

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1 cup of applesauce and beat it in!

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Add 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract. You can also add nuts/raisins if you like.

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Put it into a greased/sprayed pan

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Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes

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It turned out pretty well! As SPiel said, the smell was even better than the taste. It has a comforting apple-cinnamon scent and flavor. The inside is really fluffy because the moisture from the applesauce kept the cake from falling flat and dense in the process of baking. It’s very simple, very light, and very tasty!

Tomorrow is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day! (Yesssssssss!)


[FHCx126] National Enchilada Day/National Hoagie Day/Totally Chipotle Day


Whether you’re of the mindset of Cinco de Mayo,


or Cinco de Cuatro,


we’ve got you covered. After all, what better way to celebrate an inauthentically Mexican “holiday” with inauthentically Mexican food?

Today we mashed up all three holidays into one, and we’ve made something truly beautiful. It’s also very low calorie, and VERY tasty. So have at it!

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First up, the enchilada sauce. This puppy is 5 calories for 2 Tbsp. That’s reeeeally low for sauces like this. Plus, it’s got the Chipotle we need for Totally Chipotle Day!

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Next: The “tortillas.” These 60 calorie wraps are amazing. They are really the only ones we’ve tasted that are even worthwhile substituting for regular tortillas.

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Brush very lightly with olive oil, and bake at 300F for about 3 minutes.

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This is some Tyson Grilled & Ready Chicken, shredded up and mixed with a bit of the sauce.

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A little bit of Sargento 2%-milk 4-cheese Mexican Blend…

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About 1/4 cup of chicken…

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Roll it up and place it in a 9×9 pan that has 3/4 cup of the enchilada sauce at the bottom.

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Cover with the rest of the sauce and the cheese.

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Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes! Enchiladas are done!

Okay. So you’re gonna think we’re crazy, but stick with us. This is about to get seriously amazing. As if those enchiladas weren’t super tasty enough…

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Fry up some onions and peppers with some salt, pepper, and cayenne first. We’ll need them.

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Toast a hoagie roll. We used Pepperidge Farms.

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These little guacs are terrific. Very tasty, preportioned, and low calorie!

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Spread some of dat on dere.

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Onions and peppers.

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Enchilada – this is one enchilada out of the 8, cut in half.

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A totally chipotle enchilada hoagie!

My god it was amazing. And we have leftovers! Enchiladas make for great leftovers. AK‘s favorite part was the chicken and cheese inside of the enchiladas. SP loved picking the whole thing up and stuffing it in his face.

Here at SPAK, we say, “You’re welcome.” Go out and enjoy your enchiladas!

Tomorrow is Crepes Suzette Day, Beverage Day, and International No Diet Day.



[FHCx76] National Artichoke Hearts Day!

Eat your heart out!


SPAK are often asked where we get our sources for these food holidays. Since we are a good couple and can cite our sources, here’s a few of the places we’ve gotten them:




Between the many online sources, it took a lot of cross-referencing to confirm dates. For example, this Friday is Lacy Oatmeal Cookie Day, not to be confused with Oatmeal Cookie Day that happens later in the year. But some sources just don’t read carefully enough to post the nuances like that.

One of our print sources comes from Steff Deschenes and her book, Eat the Year (2014). Though sometimes she’ll write about one of the days while we celebrate both, it’s fun to see what tidbits she picks up! Today we learned about mafioso Ciro Terranova, a.k.a., The Artichoke King. Apparently this guy bought up all of the artichokes being shipped from the west coast to NYC, and then sold them at a huge profit margin. He used violence to coerce producers into being a part of his scheme. Fiendish!

While we thought about making entire artichokes to celebrate today, we instead took the opportunity to make some homemade pizza with artichoke hearts.

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These Green Mill pizza crusts are amazing. And super low calorie. A definite do-again for homemade pizza.

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All the bits that will go on our pizza!

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If you haven’t had artichoke hearts on pizza, let today be the day you try it! Again, homemade strikes again for healthier option. This should be essentially the same as your average 12″ pizza from Domino’s or Pizza Hut. But you could literally eat two of these pizzas that we made, and it would still be fewer calories than your regular chain pizza. Go SPAK!

Tomorrow is National Corned Beef and Cabbage Day! I think there’s some sort of Catholic holiday that goes along with that…….


Our Declaration of Rib-Dependence

Well, imaginary blog audience (blogdience?)… we, SPAK, have made a terrible mistake. The two of us try to be thorough planners, but this one just sneaked by us. Surely it’ll be difficult to forgive, considering that we’ve violated your trust, but hopefully you’ll find it in your hearts and grant us this one trespass:

We accidentally celebrated a food holiday 6 months before the start of our food holiday challenge.

It really was an accident! While trying to determine what to eat with the family on 4th of July weekend, SP thought it would be a great time for ribs. So, the plans went into motion: St. Louis-style pork ribs, garlicky roasted Brussels sprouts, barbecue baked beans, homemade apple sauce, and coleslaw, all prepared lovingly by SPom and SPad (with SP‘s signature BBQ sauce). So it turns out, it’s not just National Barbecued Spare Ribs Day — it’s also National Grilling Month and National Baked Bean Month.

SPad picked up the St. Louis-style spare ribs from Von Hanson’s Meats. The St. Louis style means removing the sternum and excess cartilage to make a more rectangular shaped rib rack. This is ideal because it makes a uniformly sized, deliciously meaty rib. The dry rub is made from a mess of brown sugar and paprika with all sorts of special spices, most of which also comprise the dry ingredients of SP‘s BBQ sauce. We can’t reveal ALL the secrets of SPad‘s ribs, but let’s just say there’s a bottle of beer involved. Wiiiink.

Racks on racks.

Racks on racks.

We are primed and ready to scale Meat Mountain.

We are primed and ready to scale Meat Mountain.

Rib, meet sauce.

Rib, meet sauce.

Lots of people talk about how the best BBQ should be consumed without sauce. Those people are usually Texans. From Missouri northward, sauce is boss. A few years ago, SP spent his summer experimenting with various recipes looking for what he thought were the best elements of a masterful barbecue sauce. We don’t want to offend anybody with strong sauce convictions, but SP‘s favorite kind of barbecue sauce is not mustardy or watery or vinegary. It’s ketchup-based, sweet, tangy, smoky, and spicy. AK tends to agree. Essentially, it’s a cross between southern and midwestern flavors.

Pronounced "sowse."

Here’s the audio: glub glub glub glub. Also pictured: sprout.

Lastly but not leastly, some barbecue chicken for your consideration:

Chicken lickin'.

Chicken lickin’.

Later, you better believe we’re finally getting to those Colossal Brownie Sundae leftovers. Merry Independence to all, and to all a good night!