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Dips

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 6

    You won't find freezers, can openers, or microwave ovens at this national Mexican food chain. Since 1990 Baja Fresh has been serving up great food, made fresh with each order. As you're waiting for your food to come out, that's when you hit up the salsa bar, where you'll find several varieties of delicious fresh salsa, from hot to mild, ready to be spooned into little tubs that you can take to your table or to your car. One of the most popular selections is called Salsa Baja—its medium spiciness, smoky flavor, and deep black color make the salsa unique and mysterious. That is, until now, since I've got a Top Secret formula for you right here. But the recipe wasn't as easy to create as I first thought. I figured the tomatoes would have to be extremely blackened over a hot grill, but I wasn't sure how to get them dark enough to turn the salsa black without the tomatoes getting all mushy and falling apart on the barbecue.

    So, I went back to Baja Fresh before they opened to peer through the window to see if I could catch some hot salsa production action. I waited and waited. After several hours as the lunch rush was beginning to wind down and no fresh salsa was in the pipeline, it was time for extreme measures to get things moving. I went in and ordered 30 tubs of Salsa Baja to go, and that did it. I ended up with a big bag filled with 2 gallons of salsa (thankfully they poured those 8-ounce portions into bigger bowls), and the restaurant went immediately into "salsa red alert" to replenished the now-dwindling salsa reserve. It was perfect. As I was grabbing my bag of salsa, a dude come out from the kitchen with a huge box of tomatoes and placed them all on the grill. I ordered a giant Diet Pepsi and parked myself at a close table to watch the process. That's when I discovered the secret. For super-charred tomatoes they start with firm, chilled tomatoes, that aren't too big or too ripe. I also found out that the tomatoes must start roasting on the grill with the stem-side down. The rest was simple...

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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    I tweaked this world-famous hot artichoke and spinach dip for an appearance on The Dr. Oz Show. Now you can enjoy your favorite appetizer guilt-free. Using reduced-fat cream cheese and Greek yogurt, this recipe cuts the fat and calories of the original dish nearly in half. 

    Original                 Todd's
    488 calories          264 calories
     23g fat                  15g fat

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    Menu Description: "Smooth and spicy cheese dip. Served with unlimited crisp tortilla chips."

    Many who have tried the original say it's the best queso dip they've ever had, so I had to get on the case. Talking to a store manager I found out that the dip is made with American cheese and a little parmesan, but the rest of the ingredients were going to have to be determined in the underground lab. When I got down there—using the elevator hidden in a fake outhouse in the corner of a vacant lot—I immediately rinsed the dip in a strainer and discovered bits of spinach, onion and two kinds of peppers. The red pepper, which is responsible for the kick, appeared to be rehydrated dry peppers. It looks like they're red jalapenos, but since the red ones can be hard to find I chopped up some red Fresno peppers and the dip tasted great—full of flavor with a nice spicy kick. Just be sure to remove the inner membranes and seeds from the peppers before you mince them up, or your cool dip may end up packing a lot of heat.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.36. Votes: 11

    When Joe Tortorice and Rusty Coco opened the first Jason's Deli in Beaumont, Texas, in 1976, they could only dream of one day having more than 177 stores in 27 states. The original menu of 12 items has exploded to more than seventy-five, with many of the awesome sandwich selections paired up with a side order of assorted fruit and creamy liqueur fruit dipping sauce. The super-tasty sauce is easily cloned here with only three ingredients and can be customized for those of you watching the fat grams by substituting low-fat or fat-free sour cream. Serve this sauce along with a bowl of your favorite fresh fruit, such as pineapple, strawberries, grapes or whatever happens to be in season.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.88. Votes: 16

    This super simple salsa can be made in a pinch with a can of diced tomatoes, some canned jalapenos, fresh lime juice, onion, spices and a food processor or blender. Plus you can easily double the recipe by sending in a larger 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, and simply doubling up on all the other ingredients. Use this versatile salsa as a dip for tortilla chips or plop it down onto any dish that needs flavor assistance—from eggs to taco salads to wraps to fish. You can adjust the heat level to suit your taste by tweaking the amount of canned jalapenos in the mix.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.25. Votes: 4
    Along with your order from this 250-unit Western U.S. chain, comes a delicious, yet simple to clone, fat-free salsa. If you don’t have a food processor, never fear. You can also make the salsa by hand with a large, sharp knife and some steady-handed chopping. Keep your head down and watch the fingers.

    Nurtrition facts:
    Serving size–1oz
    Total servings–8
    Calories per serving–6
    Fat per serving–0g 
     
    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur. 
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    Menu Description: "Refried beans, cheddar cheese, guacamole, black olives, seasoned sour cream, green onions, tomatoes and cilantro. Served with tortilla chips and fresh salsa."

    When the first T.G.I. Friday's opened in New York City in 1965 as a meeting place for single adults, Newsweek and The Saturday Evening Post reported that it was the beginning of the "singles age." Today the restaurant's customers have matured, many are married, and they bring their children with them to the more than 300 Friday's across the country and around the world.

    The Nine-Layer Dip is an often requested appetizer on the T.G.I. Friday's menu. This dish will serve half a dozen people easily, so it's perfect for a small gathering. Don't worry if there's only a couple of you—leftovers can be refrigerated for a day or two. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Menu Description: "Parmesan and Romano cheeses blended with spinach, artichokes and sauteed onions & peppers. Served with Friday's red & white tortilla chips." 

    Many casual chains have their own version of spinach artichoke dip somewhere on the appetizer menu, but one of the most popular versions is found at this huge national chain. For our clone well use marinated artichoke hearts to contribute the slightly acidic flavor found in the original. The recipe here is a stovetop method, but you can also prepare a version of this dip entirely in your microwave using the technique at the bottom in Tidbits. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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