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    I never thought dinner rolls were something I could get excited about before I dipped into the basket at Texas Roadhouse. The rolls are fresh out of the oven and they hit the table when you do, so there’s no waiting to tear into a magnificently gooey sweet roll topped with soft cinnamon butter. The first bite will make you think of a warm cinnamon roll, and you can’t stop eating it. And when the first roll’s gone, you are powerless to resist grabbing for another.

    Discovering the secret to making rolls at home that taste as good as the real ones involved making numerous batches of dough, each one sweeter than the last (sweetened with sugar, not honey—I checked), until a very sticky batch, proofed for 2 hours, produced exactly what I was looking for. You can make the dough with a stand mixer or a hand-held one, the only difference being that you must knead the dough by hand without a stand mixer. When working with the dough add a little bit of flour at a time to keep it from sticking, and just know that the dough will be less sticky and more workable after the first rise.

    Roll the dough out and measure it as specified here, and after a final proofing and a quick bake—plus a generous brushing of butter on the tops—you will produce dinner rolls that look and taste just like the best rolls I’ve had at any famous American dinner chain.

    Now, how 'bout a nice steak to go with your rolls? Check out these copycat recipes for famous entrees.

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    Extremely sour liquid candy in a spray bottle was first introduced to puckering mouths in Taiwan in 1975, and eventually came to the U.S. in 1993. The liquid candy is a basic formulation of sugar, flavoring, acids (for the sour), and glycerin, which makes it very easy to craft a home version—just measure and stir. For your own ultra-tart spray candy hack, you’ll need six ingredients and three re-usable small spray bottles.

    The sourness in the real thing comes from citric acid and malic acid, both of which are natural ingredients found in fruits and vegetables. Malic acid is a more intense sour and can be found at Whole Foods or online, while citric acid can be found in many stores, including Walmart. If you can’t track down malic acid, you can still make the recipe with just citric acid, by increasing the amount of citric to 1 tablespoon. The quality of the sour will be a little different, but I’m pretty sure no kids will complain about it.  

    The candy is flavored by unsweetened Kool-Aid mix, which is great because there are so many flavors to choose from. The real Warheads come in watermelon, green apple, sour cherry, and blue raspberry, but the blue raspberry Kool-Aid also has lemonade in it, so that one won’t taste quite the same as the real one. 

    To thicken your spray, you’ll need some glycerin. Glycerin—also a natural product—is developed from vegetable oil or animal fat and is often used in icing preparation. Glycerin helps thicken the liquid candy to make it syrupier, and it also adds sweetness. You’ll find glycerin where cake decorating supplies are sold, or online. 

    While you’re online, also look for three 2.7-ounce reusable spray bottles. That’s where I found mine. This recipe will fill each bottle all the way up, with a little left over for a partial refill.

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    For me, the most important component of a good crostata, or Italian baked tart, is a great crust. When cloning this top Olive Garden dessert, that's where I first focused my efforts, baking dozens of slightly different unfilled sugared crusts. Thankfully, flour is cheap. Once I had an easy, yet still delicious and flakey crust that was as good, if not better, than the real thing, I turned to the filling.

    Olive Garden uses Northern Spy apples in the crostata, which is a somewhat tart, firm apple, often used in pies. But they are hard to find. If you can’t find Northern Spy apples, I found that the much more common Granny Smiths work just fine here. When it came to cutting the apples I noted that the apple pieces in the real crostata have no uniformity—the apples appear to be sliced, then those slices are coarsely chopped resulting in a mixture of small and large apple pieces. We'll do the same here.

    After your crostatas have been baked to a golden brown, top each one with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle some caramel sauce over the top for a beautiful dessert no one will have the power to resist. 

    This recipe makes 4 crostatas, which is enough for 8 people to share. If you have crostatas left over, they can be stored in a covered container for a couple of days, then re-heated under a broiler until hot, just before serving.

    Want some more of my Olive Garden clone recipes? I've got a bunch right here.

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    America’s biggest coffee-house chain has come up with another way to sell us a seasonal pumpkin drink, and this one is pretty damn good. Cold brew coffee is mixed with vanilla syrup and ice, then a pumpkin spice flavored cream is layered on top. If it's in a clear glass you'll see the creamy topping slowly sinking to the bottom like a lava lamp, and the color of the drink will change to a light autumn brown.  

    To make our own version of this drink at home we start by making the secret pumpkin spice syrup from my Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe posted last year, but this time I’m adding an extra tablespoon of pumpkin. You’ll have plenty of this syrup left over to make several more drinks.

    The rest is easy. Grab your favorite cold brew coffee and mix it with some vanilla syrup (like this one from Torani). The cream topping is made by mixing cream with 2% milk in a blender, just until thick. After adding the pumpkin syrup, you pour the topping over your coffee and top it off with pumpkin spice.

    You've just hacked Starbucks new autumn-in-a-cup.

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    Crispy cauliflower appetizers are abundant at the chains these days, and not all of them are good enough to be clone-worthy, but CPK’s take on breaded cauliflower in buffalo wing sauce is one of the best I’ve had. The crispy florets are made gluten-free with rice flour and they are beautifully presented in a puddle of ranch dressing, sprinkled with Gorgonzola cheese, and topped with julienned celery and green onions.  

    For the sauce, CPK chefs combine the flavor of traditional buffalo wings with sriracha and then sweeten it a bit. After a few tries, I came up with a hack that’s ridiculously easy, requiring only four ingredients. 

    The batter is even easier, with only three ingredients: rice flour, buttermilk and salt, and once your oil is hot enough, it takes under 3 minutes to cook the cauliflower to perfection. After a gentle toss in the secret sauce, you’re ready to plate your trendy appetizer.

    For your main course, check out my clone recipes for popular CPK pizzas, soups, and salads here.

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    The same slow-cooking technique is used to copy this yolk-less companion to the Bacon & Gruyere Sous Vide Egg Bites, but instead of bacon, this version comes with roasted red pepper, green onion, and spinach.

    Because there is no yolk, a little rice flour is used to help hold everything together. I suspect Starbucks chose rice flour to keep the product gluten-free, even though most people really don’t mind a little gluten, and gluten does a much better job of binding. I include the rice flour here but you can substitute with all-purpose wheat flour if gluten isn't a concern, and if you don’t feel like buying a whole bag of rice flour just to use 2 teaspoons out of it.  

    To get the same smooth texture in your egg bites as Starbucks be sure to blend the mixture until no bits of cheese can be felt when you rub some between your fingers. The recipe tastes best with full-fat cottage cheese, but you can still use low-fat cottage cheese if you feel like trimming some of the fat.

    Check out my other clone recipes for your favorite Starbucks drinks and baked goods here.

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    This delicious new appetizer from The Cheesecake Factory features four little sandwiches, each packing big flavor. Smoked pork belly is slathered with barbecue sauce, then stacked on soft slider buns with spicy sauce, creamy cole slaw, and crispy fried pickles. Smoked pork belly is the star, so you’ll either smoke some yourself using a smoker or use these tips here to smoke it in your grill. You need around 10 ounces of pork belly to get 6 ounces when smoked, or 1½ ounces per sandwich.       

    The cole slaw is easy, the spicy sauce is easy, the barbecue sauce is pre-made (bottled), and the fried pickles are a simple exercise in breading and frying that anyone can master. After the pork belly is perfectly smoked and fall-apart tender, stack everything on your favorite toasted soft slider rolls, and let the devouring begin.

    Click here for more clone recipes for Cheesecake Factory's famous cheesecakes, appetizers, entrees, soups and more! 

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    This new sauce was introduced in 2015 as a dipping sauce for The Colonel's Extra Crispy Tenders. It's an obvious knock-off inspired by the Worcestershire and mayo-based sauces made famous by the fried chicken tender chains Zaxby's and Raising Cane's. But KFC's version is a little different with the addition of pickle juice, mustard, and a little more sugar than the other recipes. Many say it's better than the popular dipping sauces that inspired it.

    Use this sauce for dipping baked frozen chicken strips or chicken tenders you make from scratch using my recipe for cloning KFC's Extra Crispy Tenders

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    The weather’s cooler, the days are shorter, and pumpkin spice lattes are back in style. When Fall arrives, it brings with it the traditional edibles we have come to expect. Usually, that’s something warm and/or orange and/or with squash in it. Panera’s top Fall release soup is all of the above. And its great taste inspired this new hack.

    On Panera’s ingredients statement for this soup, there is no specification for which types of squash are used. The ingredients mention only “squash,” so it’s possible there is more than one type of squash in it. Butternut squash has a great taste and rich orange color, so I think that’s an obvious choice, but I am also adding another flavorful squash to our pot: acorn squash. Its flesh is golden in color and tastes like pumpkin, but it’s sweeter and butterier. I found the blended color and flavor from the combination of both butternut squash and acorn squash worked perfectly here.

    The taste of the soup is completed with several spices including cinnamon, curry, and cardamom, plus ginger puree, honey, apple juice, and Neufchatel cheese. Just a little cream at the end gives the soup body and a smooth richness you will love.

    When the soup is thick, serve it hot with freshly toasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top, and share the season.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    The new Mac & Cheese at Chick-fil-A is baked fresh every day, and the recipe is more complex than you might expect from a fast food chicken chain. According to the official list of ingredients, the formula includes several different kinds of cheese including Parmesan, Romano and an award-winning hard cheese from Wisconsin called BellaVitano. The BellaVitano adds a subtle nuttiness to the mix and all three hard cheeses contribute heavy umami tones to compliment the bulkier blend of white and yellow Cheddars.

    Those five cheeses combine to make a great flavor, but the blend would melt into a greasy mess if it weren’t for the assistance of one more ubiquitous cheese: American. The benefit of American cheese—which makes up for its lack of flavor—is found in the sodium citrate it contains. This natural sodium salt is an emulsifier that keeps the fat in the cheese from separating (and it also happens to be useful in preventing kidney stones!). By first melting several slices of American cheese in the milk, we don’t have to mess with making a roux and bechamel sauce to create a perfectly smooth cheese sauce.

    As for cooking the macaroni, here’s another secret: don’t follow the directions on the box for al dente pasta, because you don’t want the pasta to be al dente, or slightly tough. You want to cook the elbow macaroni for 20 minutes so that it absorbs as much water as possible. This will ensure that the pasta won’t suck up liquid in the cheese sauce and the sauce will maintain its perfectly creamy consistency.      

    If you like this copycat Chick-fil-A mac and cheese recipe, click here for more Chick-fil-A clone recipes.

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