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Appetizers

You lucky devil. You just found copycat recipes for all of your favorite famous foods! Bestselling author and TV host Todd Wilbur shows you how to easily duplicate the taste of iconic dishes and treats at home. See if Todd hacked your favorite appetizers here. New recipes added every week

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    Score: 3.83. Votes: 6

    Menu Description: "Crisp-fried tender onion strips served with a creamy horseradish dipping sauce."

    This signature appetizer from Applebee's is the chain's reaction to overwhelming success of Outback's Bloomin' Onion and Chili's Awesome Blossom. A Bloomin' Onion is sliced with a special device, but cloning Onion Peels requires only the most basic kitchen prep and tools: slice the onion with a knife, separate the slices, dip the slices in batter and fry. Just remember to make the essential horseradish dipping sauce in advance so that the ingredients can mingle in the fridge.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 3.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: "Joe's has crossed the border with our take on nachos. Tortilla strips piled high and topped with loads of crab dip, pico de gallo, cheese and black bean corn relish."

    If you're a nacho freak like me, you gotta love the unique crab nachos at Joe's Crab Shack. The restaurant chain creates this number one appetizer pick by slathering tortilla chips with their awesome crab dip and Jack cheese, and popping everything under the broiler. Once the cheese is melted and gooey, the nachos are topped with sliced lettuce, drizzled with the great avocado-lime dressing, and topped with pico de gallo and black bean corn relish. I've got clones here for the crab dip and the dressing, plus I'm including re-creations of the black bean corn relish and pico de gallo to finish off your homemade pile of nacho greatness. If you don't feel like making the pico from scratch, you can usually find a good premade version in your local market. This clone creates a bigger serving than the one from the restaurant chain, and there's nothing wrong with that.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Menu Description: "Fresh baked on premises, sliced into eight pieces, brushed with garlic butter, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella and basil, topped with chopped plum tomatoes and herbed olive oil." 

    In 1988, London-born restaurant mogul Robert Ian Earl joined with movie producer Keith Barrish and a gaggle of celebrities including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Demi Moore to start a Hollywood-themed restaurant that is on its way to becoming his most successful venture yet. In 1991, a gala star-studded affair in New York City celebrated the opening of the world's first Planet Hollywood.

    But even the coolest theme restaurant won't fly if the food doesn't please. Earl told Nation's Restaurant News, "People don't eat themes—no concept in the world can succeed for long unless it also delivers great food at the right price." Planet Hollywood features a menu of delicious dishes rivaling food from national chains that don't have a theme to lean on.

    The Pizza Bread appetizer comes highly recommended by Planet Hollywood servers. The "bread" is pizza dough, rolled thin, with a light layer of cheese, basil and tomato on top; then it's baked in a pizza oven at the restaurant. Since most of us don't have pizza ovens at home, this recipe has been designed for a conventional gas or electric oven.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    At the time I was writing this book there were two ways you could have your bacon and scallops at Red Lobster: wrapped and broiled, or grilled on a skewer. The former is a smaller portion to be served as an appetizer, while the grilled version is served as a main entree. I've included recipes to clone both versions.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    Menu Description: "Quickly-cooked spiced chicken served with cool lettuce cups."

    While working on the formula for P.F. Chang's Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps, I discovered that there were several ways I could improve the clone recipe for the Chicken Wraps that I published in Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2. I've now perfected the flavor of the stir-fry with the addition of mirin (a sweetened sake syrup) and oyster sauce, both of which you can find in your market where the Asian foods are stocked. The "special sauce" that you spoon over your wraps has also been tweaked and perfected. And fnally, after reducing the amount of chicken from two breasts fillets to just one, I think this new and improved version of P.F. Chang's most popular dish is the absolute best clone it can be. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    This is Applebee’s variation on the popular potato skins appetizer made famous by T.G.I. Friday’s. Many seem to prefer these to regular potato skins because of their south-of-the-border flair. The only problem is a serving has around 12 grams of fat (even more if you plop on some sour cream). And that’s for only three pieces. If you usually don’t stop there, you might be interested in this TSR version of the delicious dish, which cuts the fat by 66 percent. Now you can eat three times as much of these Mexican-style potato skin wedges for the same amount of fat as the real deal, thanks to reduced-fat cheese and fat-free sour cream.

    Nutrition facts 
    Serving size–3 pieces 
    Total servings–4 
    Calories per serving–246 (Original–390) 
    Fat per serving–4g (Original–12g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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    Menu Description: "Our flour tortilla is packed with sauteed chicken, sausage, bruschetta marinara, bacon and oozing with Monterey Jack cheese. We coat it with Parmesan, and pan-fry it to a crispy, golden brown, then drizzle it with balsamic glaze." 

    Italy meets Mexico in this new hit appetizer that combines a cheese-filled tortilla with ingredients you wouldn't usually find inside a quesadilla, including Friday's bruschetta marinara. Parmesan cheese is crusted on the outside of the tortilla, and the balsamic glaze drizzle is the perfect finishing touch. This is an awesome party dish appetizer since the whole recipe makes 4 quesadillas that can each be sliced into as many as 8 pieces.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    You've got to hand it to him. Alan Stillman thought that if he opened his own restaurant, it might be a great way to meet the flight attendants who lived in his New York City neighborhood. Not only did the dude follow through on his plan in 1965 with the first T.G.I. Friday's, but today the company is 387 units strong. 

    Friday's kitchen came up with a delicious blend of barbecue sauce and apple butter for coating the deep-fried chicken wings. For our reduced-fat clone, we'll re-create the same taste of the barbecue sauce, but we'll strip the skin from the chicken wings and bake the wings to cut the fat way down.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–3 pieces
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–150 (Original–235)
    Fat per serving–6 g (Original–16 g)

    Source: Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    Menu Description: "(Our most popular appetizer.) Parmesan, Cheddar & Monterey Jack cheeses, cilantro, onion, fresh dill & mashed potato lightly breaded and fried crispy topped with fresh cut chives. Served with herbed ranch salsa."

    This top-seller is a versatile side dish alternative to mashed potatoes, but also stands well on its own as an appetizer. With cilantro, green onion, and three different cheeses in there, the flavor is the bomb. When you add a crispy breading and some herbed ranch salsa drizzled over the top, it's clear why this is the most popular appetizer on the huge Claim Jumper menu. Try dropping a pinch or two of cayenne pepper into the herbed ranch salsa for an extra spicy boost.

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    Score: 4.33. Votes: 3

    Menu Description: "Our signature appetizer...jumbo lump blue crab meat, gulf shrimp and mushrooms, simmered in a Cajun cream sauce and served with toasted garlic bread. We make it here so you know it's good!"

    This dips rocks, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. According to the Margaritaville menu, it's the theme chain's signature appetizer. And what's not to like: delicious blue crab, little bay shrimp and sliced mushrooms are all swimming in a Cajun-style cream sauce, topped with melted Cheddar and Jack cheeses, and broiled until the cheese melts...yum. Serve up your clone with slices of freshly toasted buttery garlic bread and you've got a great party snack. The restaurant version is a tiny little serving that's barely enough for two, so I've supersized this clone recipe to make enough dip to satisfy The Brady Bunch.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur. 

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I'm Todd Wilbur,
Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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