Category Archives: Recipes

Recipe Borrowing: “Lara Balls” & Kodiak Cakes

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I like to pat myself on the back for expanding my recipe repertoire (i.e. the meals I can comfortably fix for myself or for Ian and me), but I can’t take credit for devising many of them. Yesterday, I made Brittany’s healthy homemade Lara balls, and this morning I made Kodiak Cakes for Ian’s and my breakfast, idea courtesy of Courtney. Even though I won’t take credit for the ideas, I’ll still show you how I emulated what these fabulous ladies do. First up: Lara balls!

During Ian’s and my adventure at Fresh Market yesterday, I picked up the supplies for both the Lara balls and the Kodiak Cakes.

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First, I pulsed about one cup of whole, raw cashews in my food processor until they were thoroughly chopped.

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Then, I added about 2 cups of whole, pitted dates and about 3 tbsp of natural peanut butter and pulsed until the mixture was wholly chopped.

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I kept having to add PB because the mixture wouldn’t form into shapeable “balls” without more adhesive. When I was finally satisfied with the consistency, I formed the mixture into about 20 bite-sized balls and refrigerated them.

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Ian declared them “very rich,” but I have yet to try them. I sent him home with six of them. I am excited to have ready-made dessert or snacks for the next week or so! I love the idea of such a simple “recipe” with so few ingredients. As you all know, I’m all about easy and simple! 😉

Now for Kodiak Cakes! I had read about this flapjack/waffle mix on Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life multiple times, so I Googled where to find the mix in Virginia. I was ecstatic when I saw that the primary store that carries this product is Fresh Market. Helloooo, perfect Saturday! Sure enough, there it was, amidst the Bisquick and Krusteaz. (Is it just me, or is Krusteaz a gross name for pancake mix…?) Now, it’s amidst things in my pantry.

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As you can see from the directions, pancake prep is quite simple — perfect for busy mornings around here. The ingredient list is also quite impressive!

I added one cup of Cake mix with about three-quarters of a cup of water for thicker pancakes.

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And just like that, the mix is ready to be poured onto a hot griddle/skillet.

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“Kodiak Cakes are part of this balanced breakfast!”

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Ian and I both declared this “recipe” a keeper! The mix took less than a minute to whip up, and the pancakes cooked so quickly. We agreed that the whole grain ingredients are definitely noticeable in the taste, but it’s not an unpleasant taste. I can see myself whipping up batches of these mini-cakes on chilly mornings and enjoying them on my porch with a cup of hazelnut. Mmmmm!

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you this weekend in terms of “new” recipes. For faster picture updates on what I’m eating, feel free to check me out on Instagram — @annekendall.

I hope you have a sunny Sunday, and a great upcoming week! 🙂

P.S. Have you ever tried Kodiak Cakes (or another variety of whole-ingredient pancake mix)? Either way, what’s your favorite topping or mix-in for pancakes? Mine is a toss-up between blueberries and pecans!

Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

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Maybe this makes me an extreme nerd or a yuppie foodie, but one of my favorite activities of late is meal-planning!

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I’m so serious.

I look for time during the week when I can sit down to plan my Thursday grocery shopping trip and my meals for the week. Meal prep ahead of time not only saves me time and energy when I come home exhausted from Internship, it prevents me from making lazy meal choices (i.e. canned soup) when I’m ravenous after the gym. For example, the other night I was feeling extra productive, so I sliced and diced the veggies to marinate overnight that I knew I’d need for the following night’s stir fry dinner. When I came home later than expected the next afternoon and grudgingly still went to the gym, my growling tummy was beyond grateful that I had felt so in the mood for meal prep earlier! All I had to do was cook some brown rice, saute the veggies and presto: dinner.

This week, I’ve been feeling particularly excited about meal-planning, especially with Fresh Market opening so close to school! Yesterday morning was the grand opening, and people were shoving queuing at the unholy hour of 7:55. Uhhh… no thank you!

Anyway, today I made my weekly trip to Kroger for staples, armed with my meal plan for the week and my grocery list. I am usually pretty good about sticking to my list and keeping “splurge” buys to a minimum. So, without further ado:

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Beverages: La Croix sparkling water ($4.49), lemonade mix — per Ian’s request ($1.89), O.N.E. coconut water — impulse buy ($2.99), Vita coconut water — impulse buy ($2.00), and organic milk ($3.69)

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Dairy: Chobani Greek yogurt and Chobani Flips (3/$4.00)… I misread the price tag and thought they were 10/$8.00

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Produce: bananas ($1.24), shredded lettuce ($2.99), seedless red grapes ($1.55), organic celery ($1.69), pomegranate ($2.49), cucumber ($0.75), green pepper ($0.77), Fuji apples ($3.29)

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Random: much-needed [and on-sale] highlighters ($1.29), brown rice ($2.49), organic seedless raisins ($3.49), Truvia natural sweetener ($3.99)

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Grand total: $55.83

I’m all set for the week with breakfast items I already had, fresh fruit for snacks and sides, meals for Ian’s visit this weekend, and five dinners! I’m still planning to drag bring Ian with me to Fresh Market on Saturday to explore, but I fully plan to have a list in my hand and a spending cap in my head. That place makes me giddy!

Now, on to equally as exciting stuff: I spent a little time playing around in the kitchen this afternoon, and I devised my own recipe for quick and easy Waldorf salad. I’m more than happy to share!

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Homemade Waldorf Salad
1 stalk celery
1 C plain Chobani Greek yogurt
handful of raisins
2-3 handfuls of red grapes
half of large Fuji apple
1/4 C whole almonds

Slice the celery, grapes, and apple into bite-sized pieces. Mix all solid ingredients together, then add yogurt. Stir until yogurt coats all ingredients evenly. Refrigerate for up to 5 days. Bon appetit!

Well, blends, I’m off to prep for a double-dose of class tonight. Have an excellent evening!

Stay tuned this weekend for a peek inside my OCD fridge, as well as my exploits at FM! 😉

P.S. I’d love to hear about YOUR meal prep and/or meal-planning! Do you measure portions out precisely? How far in advance do you cut perishable items? Do you cater your grocery shopping to portable foods for on-the-go? Let’s chat! 🙂

Feelin’ Saucy

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Yeah, I know, enough with the food puns already, A.K.! 😉

I’m in between binges of Dance Moms, but I’ve been itching to pop in and blog about a little trick I devised for those of us who live alone. For those of you ladies or gents who are married, cohabitating, or have roommates, this trick might not be of use to you. Nevertheless, sometimes it’s hard for anyone to use an entire jar of spaghetti sauce.

[Side note: my favorite clean spaghetti sauce involves a homemade concoction of EVOO, fresh garlic, sautéed yellow onion, diced tomatoes, Italian blend seasoning, and parsley. When I don’t have the time or energy to do homemade, I opt for a sauce that is low on sugar, packed with veggies, and has as many whole ingredients as possible. Prego Chunky Garden Tomato, Onion and Garlic is my favorite sauce du jour.]

No matter what variety of sauce I’m using, it’s rare for me to be able to cater the amount of sauce to a meal for one. I’m still learning just as much as I am experimenting! That said, I never know what to do with the other three-quarters of a jar of sauce. Finally, last week when I was craving no-yolk noodles, burger crumbles, and spaghetti sauce, I had a revelation: Why not freeze the leftover sauce in individual portions?! Ta daaaaa!

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I kept out the sauce I needed for the evening’s meal, froze one portion in the jar, and poured the rest into this muffin tin. I figure two cups’ worth of sauce will suffice for each spaghetti meal, and I won’t have to worry about cramming in meals to finish the jar of sauce before it goes bad.

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And voilà! Frozen spaghetti sauce, prepped and ready for a meal anytime.

I’m sincerely hoping that each cup of sauce will pop right out as easily as I’m imagining… I guess I’ll find out in the next week or so!

If you’ve ever frozen sauce in a manner like this, I’d love any tips or tricks you have for guaranteeing that the sauce will come right out of its container for heating. 

Have a saucy evening, blends! 😉

Mini Cheesecakes and a Mega Weekend

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I never meant to wait this long between posts. We got Internet back five days ago, but the past few days have been a very, very busy blur. Please pardon my extra-long post in advance…

Friday was Ian’s birthday, as well as the end of his first year of medical school, as well as the day my sister and her boyfriend flew in from a week visiting his grandparents in Florida. In addition to helping Ruth whip the house into tip-top shape for the weekend, we ran approximately 3.7 million errands. Friday afternoon, Ian and I drove all the way down to Once Upon a Vine downtown for a specially created four-pack of craft beers, Ian’s choice. I knew I could’ve picked out 4 beers for him to try and he would’ve probably loved them, but his favorite part of Once Upon a Vine is the experience 😉

Friday evening, Ruth and Ian and I met Mike, Caroline and Rob (the boyfriend) at Kobe in downtown Richmond for the most delicious hibachi I’ve ever tasted. (Granted, the only other time I’ve ever eaten hibachi-style Japanese food was on a field trip in Kindergarten.)

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For his birthday “party” and end-of-M1 celebration, Ian chose to sit around the fire pit at my parents’ house with a few friends and sip his $4-apiece craft beers. Hey, that’s easy. I’m down!

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Saturday was all work and all play! My family hosted an engagement party for a friend I have literally known all my life, whom our mothers refer to as each other’s “first friend,” and his lovely fiancée. I love an excuse to experiment in the kitchen. Culinary whiz that I am I somehow managed to create a spicy cheese ring accented by strawberry jelly and toasted pecans; fudgy brownies with a secret ingredient (sour cream!); chopped, sliced and diced veggie and fruit trays; and miniature cheesecakes with impromptu garnishes. (By strawberry leaves* I mean the cut-off top of each strawberry, carefully removed so that each ring of leaves is still in an intact circle.) Here is the recipe I used:

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 3 hours, 20 minutes (including refrigerating)
Makes 18 servings

What You’ll Need
1 C graham cracker crumbs
3/4 C + 2 tbsp sugar, divided
4 tbsp butter or margarine, melted
3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 C Cool Whip
1 C blueberries
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 C diced strawberries + strawberry leaves*
handful mini chocolate chips

What You’ll Do
– Preheat oven to 325°.
– Mix graham cracker crumbs, 2 tbsp sugar and butter until blended; press onto bottoms of 18 paper-lined muffin pan cups.
– Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crusts.
– Bake 25-30 minutes or until centers are almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 2 hours.
– Top cheesecakes with a dollop of Cool Whip.
– Garnish half of cheesecakes with diced strawberries, strawberry leaf, and chocolate chip. Garnish other half with blueberries and lemon zest.

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They sure as heck were delicious, but I never promised they’d be healthy! While cooking, I refrained from BLTs (bites, licks, and tastes).

My mom truly is an incredible cook, and she created this lavish spread for Scott’s and Chelsea’s guests. At this point, I didn’t refrain from sampling anything 😉

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Sunday morning, Ian, Caroline, Rob and I were up early to head to King’s Dominion. The high for the day was supposed to be in the low 80s and there was a 40-50% chance of rain all day, but we decided to take our chances. The park was open 10:30-8:00, the public schools weren’t out for the summer yet, it was an overcast day, the water park wasn’t open yet, and it was a Sunday. With the odds stacked in our favor, we set out at 8:45.

We arrived well before the park opened, parked so close to the gates it was almost ridiculous, and blazed through security. In exchange for a 30-minute wait by the Eiffel Tower, we were able to ride in the front row of every coaster with a maximum of a 15-minute wait for any given ride. I think we rode the Volcano twice, Outer Limits once, Intimidator 305 twice, Backlot Stunt Coaster three times, the Ricochet once, the Avalanche once, the Dominator three times,

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and even a few smaller rides, like the Triple Spin and the Flying Eagle — all in just 6 hours. With so few people in the park, the lines were ridiculously short. Even though I was sweating like a crackhead because of the humidity, I cannot emphasize enough how perfectly we planned our trip yesterday. For four adrenaline junkies, we rode coasters until we literally couldn’t ride them anymore.

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And today, I finally got to sleep in, and I finally got a chance to blog. This weekend was a surreal blur, but it was completely perfect. And with that, I’m off to help prepare chicken fajitas and margs!

What were you up to over the weekend?!

“Squashing” the Competition

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I’ve been wanting to try spaghetti squash for quite awhile now. Just a few things were holding me back: (1) I couldn’t garner much interest in it and (2) I didn’t have a single clue how to work with spaghetti squash.

After my repeated and persistent requests, Ruth happened across a spaghetti-meets-spaghetti-squash recipe in one of her myriad magazines. The recipe called for mixing (what I would consider to be rather ample portions of) whole wheat spaghetti with half of a large spaghetti squash. We decided to cut out the middle man, so to speak, and go hardcore — spaghetti squash only.

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We also decided that even for our virgin attempt at working with the stuff, we didn’t want to use premade spaghetti sauce. Two regular Julia Childses right here 😉 I minced a few cloves of garlic, sautéed it with diced onion and diced tomatoes in EVOO, and added a dash of oregano and Italian seasoning to form a “sauce” of sorts.

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Obviously, I don’t know how the original recipe would have tasted. I’ll be honest, though, I’m glad we allowed our stomachs to guide us in the pursuit of whole, fresh ingredients.

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If you have never worked with spaghetti squash, I have two recommendations. One, be sure that you have poked enough holes in the damn thing if you will be microwaving it…

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Ours not only split down the middle, it exploded sweet-smelling strands across every possible centimeter of the microwave.

Two, whether you are baking or microwaving the squash, it will be hot when you remove it from the heat source. I used a combination of forks and tongs to remove the seeds, scrape the “spaghetti” from the rind, and remove the strands. The scraping is the easy part; the removal of the strands is a little more complicated. While the rind and the strands are hot, use a hot mitt or clean dish towel to brace the squash while you scrape and remove the strands. Almost the entire squash is usable, so this is what makes the removal a bit difficult.

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One large spaghetti squash makes enough strands for 3-4 people, equivalent to servings of pasta. The “spaghetti” was flavorful and healthy without being overly filling — definitely a keeper! 🙂

Have you ever tried spaghetti squash? If so, what did you do with it?

Jumping on the Melted Snowman Bandwagon

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Since everybody else this winter has been making melted snowman cookies… obviously, I needed to make them, too. I’ve seen them on blogs galore, and they are so stinkin’ cute!

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I started by baking 24 store-bought sugar cookies until they were just barely ready — I am not a fan of overdone cookies. The chewier, the better.

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While they were baking, I worked on the marshmallow heads. For each cookie, I made one large marshmallow a simple face.

The very second the cookies were just cool enough to be touched without mussing the dough, I began working with a mix of room-temperature vanilla frosting and glazing with melted vanilla frosting. I found it easiest to spread the mixture with a brush to look like snow. I wanted the melted snow to look smooth like fondant, but I’m not much of a gourmand. (Yet!)

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Of course, I tested one “body” out while I was frosting to see whether the colored icing would melt too much; it worked perfectly! The faces on the marshmallows didn’t slide down, the buttons and scarves and such didn’t melt into food-coloring puddles, and they really looked like melted snowmen!

Mom suggested I use coconut to look like freshly fallen snow, so Dad adorned 8 of the cookies with coconut flakes and nothing more. We decided on a “less is more” philosophy for the cookies farthest right. I tried my best to have no two snowmen be identical. Dad and I even attempted to make little frosting neckties, bowties, feet, and scarves flapping in the… wind?

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Bear with me — I’m still learning how to use the Nikon I got for my birthday. But I’m happy as a clam, my hands smell like Betty Crocker frosting, our kitchen smells like sugar cookies and holiday cheer, and I am way. too. excited. to share these cookies with my extended family tomorrow at the annual Grady family Christmas gathering!

I know there are hordes of recipes out there to make these cookies more decorative and to make the frosting smoother and more snow-like, but as much as I’m a recipe-follower, sometimes I like to experiment in the kitchen. I haven’t actually tried a cookie, but I’m sure these will be a big hit — especially with the little ones. It always makes my heart sing when tinkering with a recipe or wingin’ it works out for me 😉

Have a marvelous weekend, blends!

Veggie Delight Dinner

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This morning, Mom and I were trying to decide what we should have for dinner tonight before she and Dad headed out to VCU’s winter concert. Oh, what am I up to, you ask? Well, I stayed home tonight to complete my very last assignment of the semester — a take-home exam. It enthralls me to no end to miss family events in order to complete schoolwork. Please note my sarcasm here. Truth be told, the exam will be available today through next Friday; I’m just that type-A nerd who can’t wait to get it over with!

Anywho…

We decided on roasted brussels sprouts, baked sweet potato “chips,” and popcorn shrimp! The shrimp required zero effort, but I’m excited to tell you about the special way we prepared the sprouts and the sweet potatoes.

Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1. Rinse brussels sprouts and remove tough stems.
2. Slice “thinly.”
3. Toss sprouts with 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1/8 tsp. thyme, 1 clove minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Spread the sprouts evenly throughout a large glass baking dish.
5. Roast for 20 minutes on 450°.
6. Toss with 2 tsp. red wine vinegar and coarsely grated Parmesan cheese.
7. Serve!
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Baked Sweet Potato Chips
1. Rinse and peel two large sweet potatoes.
2. Slice thinly.
3. Melt margarine and whisk thoroughly with brown sugar to form a thin sauce.
4. Drizzle potatoes with sauce.
5. Bake on 425° for 20 minutes.
6. Serve!
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As my mom and I were meandering through Ukrop’s today, I said to her, “You know, I think I’m more interested in vegetables now than when I was a vegetarian.” Thankfully, my immediate family is very into eating well. One of my cardinal meal rules is to try to fill my plate with fifty percent veggies. I’d say tonight’s dinner fit the bill 🙂 Man, am I stuffed!

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