Chi-Chi's Sweet Corn Cake Reduced-Fat
A deserted Kroger grocery store in Richfield, Minnesota, was the site for the first Chi-Chi's in 1976. That was the year restaurateur Marno McDermott got together with ex-Green Bay Packer football player Max McGee to open the first of what would soon become a growing chain of Mexican food restaurants. Today, with around 100 restaurants found mostly in the Midwestern and Eastern states, Chi-Chi's has become famous for its large portions of food, and for the expression, "don't touch the plate, it's very hot!"
Alongside many of the entrees served at the restaurant is this sweet side dish. It's sort of like a combination of custard and cornbread, with corn and cornmeal in it. But the original is loaded with butter. That means if you eat just a very small scoop of the tasty corn cake you'll be putting away around a dozen grams of fat. By using light butter or margarine and substituting milk for the heavy cream, we knock those fat grams down to about half of the real thing served in the restaurant. Yet the flavor and texture is just as good.
Serving size–1 scoop
Calories per serving–125 (Original–185)
Fat per serving–6.5g (Original–13g)
Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) light butter or margarine, softened
- 1/3 cup masa harina
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Blend the butter or margarine in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the masa harina and water to the butter and beat until well combined.
3. Put the defrosted corn into a blender or food processor and, with short pulses, coarsely chop the corn on low speed. You want to leave several whole kernels of corn. Stir the chopped corn into the butter and masa harina mixture. Add the cornmeal to the mixture. Combine.
4. In another medium bowl, mix together the sugar, milk, salt, and baking powder. When the ingredients are well blended, pour the mixture into the other bowl and stir everything together by hand.
5. Pour the corn batter into an ungreased 8x8-inch baking pan. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Place this pan into a 13x9-inch pan filled one-third of the way up with hot water. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the corn cake is cooked through.
6. When the corn cake is done, remove the small pan from the larger pan and let sit for at least 10 minutes. To serve, scoop out each portion with an ice cream scoop or rounded spoon.
Serves 8 as a side dish.
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Steve Ellis used his Culinary Institute of America training to develop a simple menu for the first Chipotle Mexican Grill he opened in 1993 near the University of Denver. Today Chipotle has grown to more than 700 units, and the chain continues to serve a relatively limited selection (compared to other Mexican chains) of burritos, tacos, and salads that are made-to-order, with unprocessed and hormone-free ingredients.
Just as when ordering a burrito or taco, you get to choose the meat, beans, salsa, and cheese that will top your romaine lettuce salad. The finishing touch is an amazing house dressing that's made fresh every day. It's sweet, it's tangy, it's smoky, and it's packing some heat. It's also a quick recipe to duplicate with just a blender and a dozen common ingredients, including ground chipotle chile, which you can usually find near the ground cayenne. After you whip up my Chipotle Mexican Grill Chipotle-Honey Vinaigrette recipe below, let it chill out in the fridge for an hour or two. If you do, you'll have a perfect flavor match and enough dressing for at least 10 salads.
Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.
Outback makes their sauces and salad dressings from scratch every day following master formulas in a corporate cookbook. Now you've got a secret recipe of your own that will duplicate the taste of their hugely popular house honey mustard recipe. You'll need just three basic ingredients and only about two minutes of free time to make my Outback honey mustard dressing recipe.
Menu Description: "Our melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese pie with a tangy lemon topping."
Here's a great double-layered pie with lemon topping covering a creamy cheesecake filling. It's two great pies in one dessert. This creation has been huge seller for Marie Callender's, and I've heard nothing but raves from anyone who's tried it. Make the crust from scratch like the pros using this Marie Callender's lemon cream cheese pie recipe here, or take the easy route with a pre-made graham cracker crust found in the baking aisle. Either way it's pie heaven.
You're not in the mood for pumpkin pie, but you want to bake something with pumpkin in it for the holidays. Give this clone of the seasonal Mrs. Fields favorite a shot. You'll use pure canned pumpkin, plus there are pecans in there and chunks of white chocolate that can be chopped up from bars. Pull the cookies out when they're still soft in the middle and just slightly browned around the edges, and you'll produce 2 dozen perfectly baked pumpkin-pumped happy pucks.
Update 10/12/17: A more accurate measurement for the flour in this recipe is 14 ounces by weight. If you don't have a scale, add another 2 tablespoons to the 2 1/2 cups of flour called for in the recipe. Also, you may get better results if you bake the cookies at 325 degrees for 16 minutes, or until they are just beginning to turn light brown around the bottom edges.
Check out my other Mrs. Fields copycat recipes here.
Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.TRANSLATE with xEnglishTRANSLATE with
Exclusive signed copy. Todd Wilbur shares his best kept secrets for making knockoffs of your favorite drinks—right in your own kitchen and without spending a lot of money.
You can re-create the delicious taste of America's most popular brand-name soft drinks, beverages, dessert drinks, mixers, and liqueurs by following Todd's easy, step-by-step instructions. If it comes in a glass, cup, bottle, or mug, it's here for you to clone at home.
Discover how to make your own versions of: Nestea, Cinnabon Icescape, Jamba Juice Smoothies, Orange Julius, Red Robin Jamaican Shake, Bailey's Irish Cream, Sonic Drive In Cream Pie Shakes, Dairy Queen Blizzard. Plus dozens of specialty drinks from T.G.I Friday's, Chili's, Hard Rock Cafe, Outback Steakhouse, Applebee's, House of Blues, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Claim Jumper, and many more from your favorite restaurant chains. Over 200 popular recipes in all!
Other books you may like: Even More Top Secret Recipes and Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3.
A&W Cream Soda
A&W Root Beer
Sonic Drive-In Cherry Limeade
Sonic Drive-In Strawberry Limeade
Sonic Drive-In Ocean Water
T.G.I. Friday's November Sea Breeze Fling
T.G.I. Friday's Strawberry Surprise Fling
Applebee's Bananaberry Freeze
Baskin-Robbins Peach Smoothie
Baskin-Robbins Strawberry Smoothie
Baskin-Robbins Strawberry Banana Smoothie
Baskin-Robbins Wild Berry Banana Smoothie
Jamba Juice Banana Berry
Jamba Juice Citrus Squeeze
Jamba Juice Cranberry Craze
Jamba Juice Orange-A-Peel
Jamba Juice Peach Pleasure
Jamba Juice Strawberries Wild
Orange Julius Pineapple Julius
Orange Julius Strawberry Julius
Red Robin Chillin Mango Smoothie
Red Robin Groovy Smoothies
Starbucks Tazoberry Tea
Starbucks Tazoberry Tea & Cream
T.G.I. Friday's Tropical Oasis Smoothie
Arby's Jamocha Shake
Baskin-Robbins B.R. Blast--Cappuccino
Baskin-Robbins B.R. Blast--Mocha
Cinnabon Icescapes--Mochalatta Chill
Dairy Queen Blizzard--Baby Ruth
Dairy Queen Blizzard--Banana Pudding
Dairy Queen Blizzard--Banana Split
Dairy Queen Blizzard--Berry Banana
Dairy Queen Blizzard--Chocolate Chip
Dairy Queen Blizzard--Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Dairy Queen Blizzard--Hawaiian
Dairy Queen Blizzard--Whopp'n' Wild
Dairy Queen Blizzard--Yukon Cruncher
Jack in the Box Oreo Cookie Shake
McDonald's McFlurry--Oreo Cookie
McDonald's Shamrock Shake
Sonic Drive-In Cream Pie Shakes--Banana
Sonic Drive-In Cream Pie Shakes--Chocolate
Sonic Drive-In Cream Pie Shakes--Coconut
Sonic Drive-In Cream Pie Shakes--Strawberry
Starbucks Frozen Frappuccino--Coffee
Starbucks Frozen Frappuccino--Caramel
Starbucks Frozen Frappuccino--Mocha Coconut
Arizona Green Tea w/Ginseng and Honey
Arizona Iced Tea w/Ginseng
Cinnabon Strawberry Lemonade
General Foods International Coffees--Cafe Vienna
General Foods International Coffees--French Vanilla Cafe
General Foods International Coffees--Hazelnut Belgian Cafe
General Foods International Coffees--Suisse Mocha
General Foods International Coffees--Viennese Chocolate Cafe
Hawaiian Punch Fruit Juicy Red
Hot Dog On A Stick Muscle Beach Lemonade
Minute Maid All Natural Lemonade
Nestea Natural Lemon Flavored Iced Tea
Red Robin Freckled lemonade
Red Robin Strawberry Ecstasy
7-Eleven Cherry Slurpee
Snapple Iced Tea--Cranberry Iced Tea
Snapple Iced Tea--Diet Lemon Iced Tea
Snapple Iced Tea--Lemon Iced Tea
Snapple Iced Tea--Orange Iced Tea
Snapple Iced Tea--Peach Iced Tea
Snapple Iced Tea--Raspberry Iced Tea
Yoo-Hoo Chocolate Drink
Spirits: Schnapps & Liqueurs
Bailey's Original Irish Cream
Dekuyper Thrilla Vanilla French Vanilla Liqueur
Grand Marnier Liqueur
Hiram Walker Annisette Liqueur
Hiram Walker Creme De Banana Liqueur
Hiram Walker Creme De Cacao Liqueur
Hiram Walker Creme De Menthe Liqueur
Hiram Walker Creme De Strawberry Liqueur
Hiram Walker Razz Attack Raspberry Schnapps
Hiram Walker Root Beer Schnapps
Kahlua Coffee Liqueur
Marie Brizard Watermelon Liqueur
Midori Melon Liqueur
Applebee's Bananaberry Split
Applebee's Blue Skies
Applebee's Perfect Margarita
Applebee's Summer Squeeze
Bahama Breeze Bahama Mama
Bahama Breeze Caribbean Magic
Bahama Breeze Malimbo Breeze
Bahama Breeze Verry Berry Good
Bennigan's Emerald Isle Iced Tea
Bennigan's Irish Coffee
Bennigan's O'Malley's Orange Cooler
Bennigan's Raspberry Road Iced Tea
Cheesecake Factory Caribbean Cooler
Cheesecake Factory Key Lime Martini
Cheesecake Factory J.W. Pink Lemonade
Cheesecake Factory Twilight Zone
Cheesecake Factory Tropical Martini
Chevys 100% Blue Agave Margarita
Chevys House Rocks Margarita
Chevys Lava Lamp Margarita
Chevys The Sunburn Margarita
Chevys Ultimate Orange Margarita
Chevys Watermelon Fresh Fruit Margarita (On the Rocks)
Chili's Calypso Cooler
Chili's Chambord 1800 Margarita
Chili's Jamaican Paradise
Chili's Mandrin Blush
Chili's Margarita Presidente
Chili's Tropical Sunburn
Chili's Twisted Lemonade
Claim Jumper Absolutely Electric Lemonade
Claim Jumper Bermuda Sunset
Claim Jumper Hawaiian Punch
Claim Jumper Mai Tai
Claim Jumper Otter Pop
Claim Jumper Root Beer Float
Claim Jumper Shark On The Beach
Claim Jumper Tropical Storm
Hard Rock Cafe The Hard Rock Hurricane
Hard Rock Cafe Lynchburg Lo--Rider
Hard Rock Cafe Shooters--Lemon Drop
Hard Rock Cafe Shooters--Purple Shooter
House of Blues Eve's Revenge Martini
House of Blues HOB Blue Martini
House of Blues HOB Cruiser
House of Blues Mo' Betta Blues
Joe's Crab Shack Joe Makin' Me Java
Joe's Crab Shack Joe's Ya Ya
Joe's Crab Shack Red Snapper
Joe's Crab Shack Secret Passion Punch
Joe's Crab Shack Shark Tooth
Joe's Crab Shack Swamp Moss
Olive Garden Chocolate Almond Amore
Olive Garden Italian Margarita
Olive Garden Strawberry Siciliano
Olive Garden Venetian Sunset
Outback Steakhouse Coral Reef 'Rita
Outback Steakhouse Don't Koala Me, I'll Koala You Cooler
Outback Steakhouse Great Barrier Punch
Outback Steakhouse Melbourne Cooler
Outback Steakhouse Wallaby Darned
P.F. Chang's Buddha's Dream
P.F. Chang's Heat Wave
P.F. Chang's Nutty Uncle Chang's Favorite
P.F. Chang's The Poolside
Planet Hollywood The Comet
Planet Hollywood Cool Running
Planet Hollywood Meet Jack Black
Planet Hollywood Shooters--Blue Hawaii
Planet Hollywood Shooters--Bubble Gum
Planet Hollywood Shooters--Grape Crush
Planet Hollywood Shooters--Peanut Butter & Jelly
Planet Hollywood Sweet Death Becomes Her
Planet Hollywoo0d Terminator
Red Lobster Bahama Mama
Red Lobster Butter-Tini Funtini
Red Lobster The Hawaiian Funtini
Red Lobster Red Passion Colada
Red Robin Absolut Lemonade
Red Robin Jamaican Shake
Red Robin Sand In Your Shorts
Red Robin T.N.T
T.G.I. Friday's Banana Split Blender Blaster
T.G.I. Friday's Electric Lemonade
T.G.I. Friday's Hawaiian Volcano
T.G.I. Friday's June Bug
T.G.I. Friday's Lights of Havana
T.G.I. Friday's Strawberry Shortcake Blender Blaster
Z'Tejas Z' Big Stick Margarita
Z'Tejas Famous Chambord Raspberry Margarita
Beau Rivage Bloody Mary Mix
Mara Simple Syrup
Mr. & Mrs. T Bloody Mary Mix
Mr. & Mrs. T Sweet & Sour Mix
Restaurant-Style Mai Tai Mix
Restaurant-Style Pina Colada Mix
Restaurant-Style Sweet & Sour Mix
Publicity stunt alert. For one day in 1997, St. Petersburg, Florida, became "St. Pitas-burg" to celebrate the introduction of Wendy's Fresh Stuffed Pita sandwiches. Over 40,000 balloons formed a giant pita sandwich at a local Wendy's restaurant, while local residents and Wendy's staff learned the "art of eating a pita" from pita eating experts.
The Chicken Caesar Fresh Stuffed Pita was one of those pitas introduced on that glorious day. See if you can figure how to eat this clone version, made with much less fat, all on your own.
Serving size–1 sandwich
Calories per serving–283 (Original–490)
Fat per serving–5g (Original–18g)
Source: Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.
This delicious fall offering arrives frozen to each Starbucks store and is thawed out just before opening in the morning. The pumpkin cream cheese muffins were especially popular in the fall of 2008. According to my local Starbucks manager, a memo fired off to all stores warned of a shortage in the product and that inventory in most states would be depleted before the holidays arrived. That was enough information to get me quickly working on a seriously great Starbucks pumpkin cream cheese muffin recipe, and here you go.
First, sweeten some cream cheese and get it back in the fridge to firm up. It's much easier to work into the top of the muffins when it's cold. The pumpkin seeds that are sprinkled on top of each muffin get candied in a large skillet with brown sugar and cinnamon. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper muffin cups, add the muffin batter and some cream cheese, top with the candied pumpkins seeds, and then bake. Soon you'll have a dozen fresh clones of the amazing muffins, and you'll always be prepared for the next pumpkin cream cheese muffin shortage.
During the holiday months, you'd better get over to Starbucks bright and early if you want to sink your teeth into a delicious pumpkin scone. These orange triangles of happiness are made with real pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices, and they quickly vanish from the pastry case when fall rolls around. Each scone is generously coated with a plain glaze and then spiced icing is drizzled over the top. To get the crumbly texture cut cold butter into the dry ingredients, either with a pastry knife or by pulsing it in a food processor until all the butter chunks have been worked in.
Menu Description: "Made from scratch in our kitchens using fresh Grade A Fancy Russet potatoes, fresh chopped onion, natural Colby cheese and spices. Baked fresh all day long."
In the late sixties Dan Evins was a Shell Oil "jobber" looking for a new way to market gasoline. He wanted to create a special place that would arouse curiosity, and would pull travelers off the highways. In 1969 he opened the first Cracker Barrel just off Interstate 40 in Lebanon, Tennessee, offering gas, country-style food, and a selection of antiques for sale. Today there are over 529 stores in 41 states, with each restaurant still designed as a country rest stop and gift store. In fact, those stores which carry an average of 4,500 different items apiece have made Cracker Barrel the largest retailer of American-made finished crafts in the United States.
Those who know Cracker Barrel love the restaurant for its delicious home-style breakfasts. This casserole, made with hash brown-sliced potatoes, Colby cheese, milk, beef broth, and spices is served with many of the classic breakfast dishes at the restaurant. The recipe here is designed for a skillet that is also safe to put in the oven (so no plastic handles). If you don't have one of those, you can easily transfer the casserole to a baking dish after it is done cooking on the stove.
Menu Description: "Our famous pumpkin pie has just the right amount of spice."
The vittles from Marie Callender's have made an impression beyond the chain's West Coast roots with home-style packaged entrées and side dishes available in frozen food sections of supermarkets across the country. Pie making is where the chain excels. A fresh slice of a Marie Callender's pie is as close as you'll get to homemade heaven this side of Grandma's porch window. Creating a recipe for Marie Callender's Pumpkin Pie is an obvious selection, since the restaurant sells more pumpkin pies than any other, even in non-holiday months.
Creating my Marie Callender's Pumpkin Pie recipe was a perfect opportunity to improve on icky pumpkin pie recipes (like those found on cans of canned pumpkin, for example) in many ways. For one thing, there's no need to use canned evaporated milk when fresh whole milk and cream is so much better. And three eggs, versus two found in many recipes, will add to the richness and firmness of the cooked filling. After mixing the filling, we'll let it sit for a bit while waiting for the oven to preheat. This way it can come closer to room temperature, and the pie filling will bake more evenly. My recipe included here for the crust uses a chilled combination of butter and shortening for the perfect mix of flavor and flakiness.
Update 10/12/17: I made a few changes to improve this recipe. I increased the pumpkin to 19 ounces (or 2 1/2 cups) to better fill the crust. Get a large can of pumpkin. Also, I took the egg yolk out of the crust for a flakier and more tender finished product. Also, because of the additional filling, I've increased the baking time by 10 minutes to 60 to 70 minutes. If you find your crust getting too dark on top, use a pie crust shield or mold some foil around the top of the crust to prevent it from over-browning.
Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.
Other Mexican food chains such as Chi-Chi's and El Torito call it "Sweet Corn Cake." But at Chevys, the corn-filled, pudding-like stuff that's served with most entrees is known as "Tomalito." Masa harina is what's used to make tamales, and it can be found in your supermarket either with the corn meal and flour, or where the other Mexican/Spanish items are stocked. Everything else here is basic stuff. While other corn cake recipes may require canned corn or canned cream-style corn, Chevys "no cans in the kitchen" commandment requires that my Chevys Sweet Corn Tomalito recipe calls for fresh corn for a proper clone.
Abiding by this large Mexican food chain's "no cans in the kitchen" edict, we'll craft our clone of the delicious flan dessert with fresh whole milk, rather than canned sweetened condensed milk required by most flan recipes out there. The canned stuff has a bit of a funky taste to it anyway, plus it's much too sweet to be an accurate Chevys knockoff.
When you're ready to make my Chevys Flan recipe below, be sure to get some parchment paper. When laid over the top of the baking pan, the parchment paper helps the flan cook faster and more evenly than if left uncovered. Aluminum foil doesn't seem to work as well since it tends to reflect the heat away from the ramekins of sweet, creamy goodness.
In the early 90's Boston Chicken was rockin' it. The home meal replacement chain's stock was soaring and the lines were filled with hungry customers waiting to sink their teeth into a serving of the chain's delicious rotisserie chicken. The chain was so successful with chicken, the company quickly decided it was time to introduce other entrée selections, the first of which was a delicious barbecue sauce-covered ground sirloin meatloaf.
Offering the other entrées presented the company with a dilemma: what to do about the name. The bigwigs decided it was time to change the name to Boston Market, to reflect a wider menu. That meant replacing signs on hundreds of units and retooling the marketing campaigns. That name change, plus rapid expansion of the chain and growth of other similar home-style meal concepts, sent the company into a tailspin. By 1988, Boston Market's goose was cooked, and the company filed for bankruptcy. Soon McDonald's stepped in to purchase the company, with the idea of closing many of the stores for good, and slapping Golden Arches on the rest. But that plan was scrapped when, after selling many of the under-performing Boston Markets, the chain began to fly once again. Within a year of the acquisition Boston Market was profitable, and those meals with the home-cooked taste are still being served at over 700 Boston Market restaurants across the country.
Use my Boston Market Meatloaf recipe below to copy the same flavor of that first non-chicken dish, a delicious barbecue sauce-covered ground sirloin meatloaf. You might also like to try my Boston Market side-dish recipes here.
Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.
Early in 1997 Wendy's introduced its selection of cold "Fresh Stuffed" pita sandwiches—a nice change of pace from the typical fast food fare. Basically what you're getting is a small salad wrapped in a warm pita bread. You might be saying to yourself "That doesn't sound like much for 3 bucks!" Then I would say, "Perhaps, but what if you could make a clone yourself for a mere fraction of that?" You would say, "Cool, man! Lay it on me." And then I would say, "Here you go."
And now, since Wendy's took these cool little sandwiches off their menu, you can use my Wendy's Chicken Caesar Fresh Stuffed Pita recipe below and enjoy them at home.
While most restaurant chains attempt to keep their menus simple so as not to tax the kitchen, the Cheesecake Factory's menu contains more than 200 items on a 17-page menu. And at the end of the meal there are 40 cheesecakes to choose from for dessert, including the delicious Pumpkin Cheesecake hacked here for you.
Use an 8-inch springform pan for my Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe. If you don't have one, you should get one. They're indispensable for thick, gourmet cheesecake and several other scrumptious desserts. If you don't want to use a springform pan, this recipe will also work with two 9-inch pie plates. You'll just end up with two smaller cheesecakes.TRANSLATE with xEnglishTRANSLATE with
In 1991 Kentucky Fried Chicken bigwigs decided to improve the image of America's third-largest fast-food chain. As a more health-conscious society began to affect sales of fried chicken, the company changed its name to KFC and introduced a lighter fare of skinless chicken.
In the last forty years KFC has experienced extraordinary growth. Five years after first franchising the business, Colonel Harland Sanders had 400 outlets in the United States and Canada. Four years later there were more than 600 franchises, including one in England, the first overseas outlet. In 1964 John Y. Brown, Jr., a young Louisville lawyer, and Jack Massey, a Nashville financier, bought the Colonel's business for $2 million. Only seven years later, in 1971 Heublein, Inc., bought the KFC Corporation for $275 million. Then in 1986, for a whopping $840 million, PepsiCo added KFC to its conglomerate, which now includes Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. That means PepsiCo owns more fast food outlets than any other company including McDonald's.
At each KFC restaurant, workers blend real buttermilk with a dry blend to create the well-known KFC buttermilk biscuits recipe that have made a popular menu item since their introduction in 1982. Pair these buttermilk biscuits with my KFC mac and cheese recipe and the famous KFC Original Recipe Chicken to complete your meal.
Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.
The secret to cloning Chick fil-A's popular carrot raisin salad lies in proper carrot shredding technique. A standard shredder, like the type you might use to shred a hunk of cheddar cheese, creates a coarse shred that makes the salad taste much too "carroty." Instead, find yourself the type of fine shredder that is often used for Parmesan cheese. Sure, it'll take a little more elbow grease to reduce 5 or 6 carrots to ultra thin strips, but I guarantee you'll end up with a superior finished product that will help you forget all about the extra effort.
Menu Description: “Four delicate crepes topped with sweet-tart lingonberries and lingonberry butter.”
Good crepes should be soft in the middle, crispy around the edges, buttery, custardy, a bit sweet, and slightly salty, and there are many ways to achieve all this. But to make crepes like those served at IHOP, the formula needs to be specific.
Over two days I made dozens of crepes with minor adjustments to all seven ingredients until I finally settled on the version here that best mirrors the look and taste of the delicious IHOP Swedish Crepes. You'll get ten tasty crepes using a 10-inch non-stick skillet, and the recipe is very easy.
Top them with my simple formula here for the lingonberry butter using bottled lingonberries and softened butter, and now your IHOP Swedish Crepe recipe hack is complete. If you like crepes, you’ll definitely love these.
I got lucky on the day I picked up a box of chow mein from this huge Chinese chain because they had just run out. This meant that I could watch from the sidelines as they whipped up a fresh batch in a giant wok over a high flame in the completely visible kitchen, and I was able to take plenty of mental notes. The whole dish took just a few minutes for the enthusiastic chef to prepare, and before I knew it I was out the door with a huge box of hot chow mein ready for hacking.
Just like the real Panda Express Chow Mein, the beauty in this re-creation is its simplicity. There are only seven ingredients, and the prep work is low-impact. I used dry chow mein noodles (also called Chinese stir fry noodles) which are easy to find and cheap, and dark soy sauce to get that great caramel color. And if you don’t have a wok for this, a large skillet with sloped sides for tossing will work just fine.
Starbucks’ Frappuccino, the most famous blended coffee drink in the world, is actually a clone of this blended concoction invented at the California-based chain, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. In the mid-80s, a store manager at the Westwood, California location mixed diet drink powder with ice, milk, and coffee in a blender and was pleasantly surprised by how delicious it was. They tweaked the recipe to include the chain’s chocolate powder instead of the diet powder, and a new hit product was born.
To make a clone of the popular Coffee Bean vanilla ice blended, we must first make the secret flavoring powder that starts with a base of dry coffee creamer. I recommend using superfine sugar (Baker’s sugar) and superfine salt (popcorn salt) if you can find them. The fine crystals will dissolve better in the cold drink. You’ll also need vanilla extract powder, which can be found online.
Once your secret powder is made, measure 1/3 cup of it into a blender with ice, cold espresso, and milk, and blend on high until smooth. In a matter of just a few minutes, you will have a 16-ounce re-creation of the original blended coffee drink now served at 1,200 Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf locations in 30 countries.
Craving something tasty to eat with this? Check out my hack for these copycat Starbucks petite vanilla scones.
A popular staple of any Chinese chain is fried rice, so it better be good, and the version served at Panda Express most certainly is. Here's my easy Panda Express Fried Rice recipe for when you need a stress-free, low-cost side for your entrées. But I do suggest that you cook the white rice several hours or even a day or two before you plan to make the finished dish. I found that the cooked rice called for in this recipe works best when it's cold.
As for a shortcut, bagged frozen peas and carrots will save you from the hassle of petite-dicing carrots since the carrots in those bags are the perfect size to produce an identical clone. And they're already cooked.
If you like sweet with a little bit of heat, and if you like salmon, then you'll love my Outback Steakhouse Firecracker Salmon recipe.
Grilled salmon is brushed with the restaurant's top secret Firecracker Sauce and then it's topped with simple-to-make mango salsa. Those fabulous formulas are all here, and I’ll also show you how to cook the salmon the same way the restaurant does for a perfectly awesome kitchen clone.
Samuel Bath Thomas immigrated from England to New York City and opened his first bakery there in 1880. That is where Thomas created skillet bread that would one day become the famous muffins known for their craggy texture when split in half. This hack for Thomas’ English Muffins uses a special kneading process to give the muffins the "nooks and crannies" they are famous for, making craters in the finished bread to better hold on to melted butter and jam.
I have seen several recipes that claim to re-create these muffins, but none produce the large air pockets that a proper Thomas' English Muffin recipe requires, in addition to great flavor and a perfectly cooked interior. To ensure proper nooks and crannies and muffins that are cooked all the way through, I've included some important steps.
The dough you'll make here is like a ciabatta dough in that it is very wet. So rather than kneading the dough, you stretch and fold it over several times on a well-oiled surface. Then, when the portioned-out dough has proofed on baking sheets for another 1½ to 2 hours, you par-bake the muffins.
After baking, the muffins are cooked on a griddle or in a pan until dark brown on both sides, then they must cool. This is the hardest part. The muffins will be too soft to open for at least four hours, and now you have to fight off the temptation to eat one. It’s hard, I know. The muffins smell great and you’ve waited all this time, but resist for now and your patience will be rewarded.
When the muffins have had their rest, split them with a fork and toast them as you would any English muffin.
Check out all my top secret recipes for famous bread here.
The most popular recipe circulating on the internet and among Food Network chefs who claim it as their own makes decent marshmallows, but the ubiquitous formula won’t pass as a hack for America’s favorite marshmallows, Jet-Puffed. I know this for sure because my eleven-year-old daughter says so, and she’s the House Marshmallow Expert (HME).
According to our HME, the internet recipe makes marshmallows that are too sweet, and they don't have the right flavor. After testing the sweetness for myself I decided she was right, so I reduced the sugar for my Jet-Puffed Marshmallow recipe. I also adjusted the flavor by adding more vanilla, and after another taste test, my batch of fresh marshmallows got the HME seal of approval.
But the shape was still wrong.
One thing you’ll notice about homemade marshmallow recipes is that they all make cubic marshmallows, which are hand-sliced from one sheet of marshmallow that has set up in a square pan. But Jet-Puffed Marshmallows aren’t cubes, they’re cylindrical, and I wanted marshmallows like that. So, borrowing a technique for cornstarch molds used by candy manufacturers, I came up with a way you can make cylindrical marshmallows just like the big boys do. All you need is cornstarch and a muffin pan. You’ll find instructions for cylindrical marshmallows at the bottom of the recipe in the Tidbits if you want to give the more authentic shape a try.
Regardless of what shape you decide to make, a stand mixer and a candy thermometer will help you turn out the best-ever homemade marshmallows—which, by the way, make fantastic s'mores.TRANSLATE with xEnglishTRANSLATE with
The entire process for making this soup which Islands serves in "bottomless bowls" takes as long as 3 hours, but don't let that discourage you. Most of that time is spent waiting for the chicken to roast (up to 90 minutes -- although you can save time by using a precooked chicken, see Tidbits) and letting the soup simmer (1 hour). The actual work involved is minimal -- most of your time is spent chopping the vegetable ingredients. This recipe produces soup with an awesome flavor and texture since you'll be making fresh chicken stock from the carcass of the roasted chicken. As for the fried tortilla strip garnish that tops the soup, you can go the hard way or the easy way on that step. The hard way makes the very best Islands tortilla soup recipe and it's really not that hard: Simply slice corn tortillas into strips, fry the strips real quick, then toss the fried strips with a custom seasoning blend. The easy way is to grab a bag of the new habanero-flavored Doritos, which happen to be similar in spiciness to the strips used at the restaurant. Simply crumble a few of these chips over the top of your bowl of soup, and dive in.
One of America's favorite casual chains brings us a popular salad dressing that you can't buy in stores. Instead, buy these six simple ingredients at a store and use my Chili's Honey Mustard Salad Dressing recipe below to make your own version cheaply and quickly.
Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.
The number two Mexican fast food chain nicely duplicates the delicious fish tacos you'd find in coastal towns south of the border: two corn tortillas wrapped around a fried halibut fillet that's topped with cabbage, fresh salsa, and a creamy "secret sauce." It's practically impossible to eat just one—they're that good. And, thanks to the availability of breaded frozen fish sticks in just about every market, a home version of Del Taco Crispy Fish Tacos is stupidly simple. If you can't find crispy halibut sticks in your local store, the more common breaded pollock will work just fine here. You can also use frozen fish portions that are grilled if you're not into the breaded (fried) stuff. The real recipe at Del Taco comes with two thin corn tortillas, but sometimes the only available corn tortillas in consumer markets are the thicker ones. If that's the case, you'll need just one per taco.
Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.
Menu Description: “An extra generous pecan brownie is crowned with rich vanilla ice cream, drizzled with our classic warm chocolate sauce and finished with chocolate shavings and whipped cream. A chocolate lover’s dream.”
The gluten-free brownie under the ice cream and homemade whipped cream is a flourless chocolate pecan cake cut into squares. Once the brownie is baked, it is chilled and sliced, then each serving is nuked for about 45 seconds until gooey hot. The fun really starts when you load a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the hot brownie and then drizzle some warm fudge sauce over the top. Outback cooks make the sauce from scratch each day, but it tastes similar to Hershey’s Hot Fudge Topping that you can get in just about any market. The homemade whipped cream formula here is easy and better than anything that comes out of a can. Put it all together with my Outback Chocolate Thunder from Down Under recipe below.
Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.
The first Auntie Anne's pretzel store opened in 1988 in the heart of pretzel country—a Pennsylvanian Amish farmers' market. Over 500 stores later, Auntie Anne's is one of the most requested secret clone recipes around, especially on the internet.
Many of the copycat Auntie Anne's soft pretzel recipes passed around the Web require bread flour, and some use honey as a sweetener. But by studying the Auntie Anne's home pretzel-making kit in my secret underground laboratory, I've created a better Auntie Anne's copycat recipe with a superior way to re-create the delicious mall treats at home. For the best quality dough, you just need all-purpose flour. And powdered sugar works great to perfectly sweeten the dough. Now you just have to decide if you want to make the more traditional salted pretzels, or the sweet cinnamon sugar-coated kind. Decisions, decisions.
Find more of my copycat recipes for famous muffins, bagels, and rolls here.
Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.
Try my improved version in Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step.
To copy the Taco Bell Burrito Supreme at home, you first must assemble the meaty foundation of many of the chain's top-selling products: the spiced ground beef. Toss it and seven other tasty ingredients into a large flour tortilla and fold using the same technique as taught to new recruits to the chain. Add your favorite hot sauce for a bit of heat, or clone Taco Bell Mild, Hot, Fire Border, Diablo, Baja, or Lava sauce with my recipes here.
If those cute little cookie peddlers aren't posted outside the market, it may be tough to get your hands on these thin mint cookies—the most popular cookies sold by the Girl Scouts every spring. One out of every four boxes of cookies sold by the girls is Thin Mints.
My Girl Scout cookie thin mint recipe uses an improved version of the chocolate wafers created for my Oreo cookie clone in the second TSR book, More Top Secret Recipes. That recipe creates 108 cookie wafers, so when you're done dipping, you'll have the equivalent of three boxes of the Girl Scout Cookies favorite. That's why you bought those extra cookie sheets, right? You could, of course, reduce this recipe by baking only one-third of the cookie dough for the wafers and then reducing the coating ingredients by one-third, giving you a total of 36 cookies. But that may not be enough to last you until next spring.
Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.
Update 11/16/17: You can make an even better clone using a chocolate product that wasn't available when I created this recipe. Rather than using the semi-sweet chocolate chips combined with shortening and peppermint for coating the cookies, use Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers. You will need 2 10-ounce bags of the chips, mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract (and no shortening). Melt the chocolate the same way, and dip the cookies as instructed.
The talented chefs at Benihana cook food on hibachi grills with flair and charisma, treating the preparation like a tiny stage show. They juggle salt and pepper shakers, trim food with lightning speed, and flip the shrimp and mushrooms perfectly onto serving plates or into their tall chef's hat.
One of the side dishes that everyone seems to love is the fried rice. At Benihana this dish is prepared by chefs with precooked rice on open hibachi grills, and is ordered a la cart to complement any Benihana entrée, including Hibachi Steak and Chicken. I like when the rice is thrown onto the hot hibachi grill and seems to come alive as it sizzles and dances around like a bunch of little jumping beans. Okay, so I'm easily amused.
My Benihana Japanese fried rice recipe will go well with just about any Japanese entrée, and can be partially prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until the rest of the meal is close to done.
Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.
Roll a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream in homemade candied pecans. Surround the ice cream with warm cinnamon apples and drizzle caramel over the top. Sprinkle fresh cinnamon-butter croutons on the dessert and you've got an irresistible copy of Outback Steakhouse Cinnamon Apple Oblivion that will make your diet cry "uncle!"
For the croutons, the restaurant uses leftover Honey Wheat Bushman Bread (the clone is here). If you don't have plans to make the bread from scratch, you can use any sweet bread from the store, such as Hawaiian Sweet Bread or Pillsbury Honey White Bread.
I jumped at the chance to get another crack at hacking one of America's most famous chocolate chip cookies when I was faced with the challenge for my show, Top Secret Recipe. After all, this was the very first recipe I cloned over twenty-five years ago, and I've learned many new tricks for replicating the famous foodstuffs since then. Getting the chance to improve on my old secret recipes with new information was a golden opportunity to craft the best Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookie clone recipe ever revealed. So I hopped on a plane and headed to Salt Lake City to meet with Tim Casey, president and CEO of Mrs. Fields Cookies.
Tim showed me around the flavoring labs and test kitchens of Mrs. Fields HQ. I watched cookie dough being mixed, noting the oven temperature and length of time the cookies were baked. I was also able to discover one important trick I missed in my first recipe: after the dough was portioned out onto baking sheets, it was frozen. This way, when the cookies were baked, they came out crispy on the edges and soft and gooey in the middle. It made a huge difference!
The company was understandably vague on the specifics of the proprietary vanilla and chocolate chips they use in the cookies, but I discovered through taste tests that Madagascar vanilla extract and high-quality chocolate chips such as those made by Guittard (or even Ghirardelli) are the way to go.
Mission accomplished! What follows is my much-improved re-hack of the classic recipe that started it all, and perhaps one of the best chocolate chip cookies to ever come out of your oven.
Source: Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step by Todd Wilbur.
For over 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.