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Chili's Fajita Salad Reduced-Fat copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur

Chili's Fajita Salad Reduced-Fat

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This big salad of mixed greens, fajita steak, pico de gallo, black beans, bell peppers, corn and guacamole comes slathered with two types of salad dressings plus fried tortilla chips, making the restaurant version a fat-filled fiesta.

The two dressings here are made fat-free, knocking the fat grams down to around a third of what you'd down in the original. There are several components here in this conversion, but this recipe makes four of the huge entree-size salads, and the results are worth the effort. This recipe clones the steak version of the salad, but you can also replace the beef with chicken.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size–1 salad
Total servings–4
Calories per serving–591 (Original–784)
Fat per serving–15g (Original–45g)

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

Get This

Marinade
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 large clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  •   
  • 4 sirloin steaks (approximately 4 ounces each)
Fat-Free Ranch Dressing
  • 1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • Pinch dried dillweed
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • Pinch ground black pepper
Fat-Free Santa Fe Dressing
  • 1/3 cup fat-free Catalina dressing
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
Pico De Gallo
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped Spanish onion
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced ( about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Southwestern Garnish
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 2/3 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Mixed Greens
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  •   
  • 2 cups crumbled baked corn tortilla chips
  • 1 cup guacamole
Do This

1. Prepare the marinade by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well. Add meat to marinade, cover, and chill for at least 4 hours.  Marinating overnight is even better.

2. While meat marinates, prepare the dressings and garnishes. Combine the ingredients for each of the dressings in separate small bowls. Stir well, then cover and chill. Hope you have some more small clean bowls, because you're going to need a few more for the garnishes. Combine the ingredients for each of the garnishes in separate bowls, then cover and chill these as well.

3. If you have some more room in the fridge, you may want to prepare your greens now by combining the lettuces with the carrot and cabbage in a large salad bowl. Cover this bowl and chill it until you are ready to assemble the salads. You may choose to save this step until you are ready to grill the meat.

4. When the meat has marinated, preheat your barbecue grill to high heat.

5. Grill the steaks for 5 to 7 minutes per side or until done.

6. While the meat is grilling, prepare the salad by tossing the mixed greens with the Santa Fe dressing in a large bowl.

7. Spoon approximately 1/8 of the greens into each of four plates.

8. Sprinkle 1/4 of the pico de gallo onto the greens on each plate, followed by 1/4 of the Southwestern garnish.

9. Spoon 1/4 of the remaining greens onto the salad on each plate.

10. Sprinkle 1/4 of the tortilla chips over the greens on each plate.

11. Drizzle the ranch dressing over the salads with a sweeping motion.  If you have an empty squirt bottle, such as an empty mustard or honey bottle, fill that with the dressing and use it to drizzle the dressing across the salad.

12. When the meat is done grilling, slice each steak into bite-size strips and arrange it over the top of each salad.

13. Spoon the guacamole onto the top of each of the sliced steaks and serve.

Serves 4 as an entree.

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    Exclusive signed copy. America's best copycat recipes! Save money and amaze your friends with all-new culinary carbon copies from the Clone Recipe King!

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    Chili's Nacho Burger

    Menu Description: "Nacho Ordinary Burger! Shredded lettuce, tortilla strips, chili queso and green onions. Served open faced w/sour cream, guacamole, jalapenos and pico de gallo."

    This hack includes recipes for popular garnishes and sides offered at Chili's: Chili's Chili Queso, Chili's Pico de Gallo, and Chili's Guacamole. Now, in this one recipe, you'll learn how to clone all three components from scratch. You then pile everything on a hamburger with some jalapenos, crunchy tortilla chips and chopped green onion, and serve it open-faced with extra guacamole and queso on the side. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.75 (votes: 4)
    BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse Avocado Egg Rolls

    Menu Description: "Crispy golden wontons wrap a tantalizing blend of avocados, cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, pine nuts, chipotle peppers and spices. Served with a sweet tamarind sauce."

    Avocado egg rolls or spring rolls seem to be increasing in popularity as an appetizer at casual chains, but they are a bit more of a high maintenance menu item than, say, southwestern egg rolls, or other spring roll variations. Since avocados are quick to oxidize and turn brown, these rolls must be made and served within a 2 to 12-hour timeframe. Also, cooks must be careful not to over fry the egg rolls or the avocado inside will become too hot, turn brown, and taste pretty gross. So, if you're planning to serve these later in the day, make them in the morning and let them chill out in your fridge until it's time to fry them up. You can also make the tamarind sauce early in the day and park it in the fridge. You'll need a little tamarind paste for this sauce, which can be found at Whole Foods or specialty stores. If you don't want to clone the sauce as served in the restaurant, you can always use your favorite sweet and/or spicy bottled dipping sauces. Creamy southwestern-style dipping sauces are also awesome on these. Enjoy our take on BJ's avocado egg rolls recipe!

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.
     

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    Chili's Quesadilla Explosion Salad

    Menu Description: "Fajita-marinated chicken, corn relish, mixed cheese, cilantro, diced tomato and crispy tortilla strips. Garnished with a chipotle-ranch drizzle and cheese quesadilla wedges. Served with our citrus-balsamic dressing."

    I'm a happy camper on a Saturday afternoon when diving into one of these big salads, served up with a Presidente Margarita to help relieve my hangover from a Friday night hoo-ha. For the last several years, this has been the go-to salad when you're dining at Chili's. The chicken marinade is delicious, the corn relish is a great touch, and the citrus-balsamic vinaigrette totally rocks. And where else can you get a salad that includes slices of cheese quesadilla on the side? I love it. If you're a fan of the original, this 4-serving clone will bring it home.

    Craving more of your favorite dishes from Chili's? See if I hacked your favorites here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    Chili's Cajun Ribeye

    Menu Description: "12 oz. ribeye steak seasoned with Cajun spices and topped with roasted herb jus and spicy Cajun butter."

    Three secret formulas must be hacked before we can consider this dish a complete culinary carbon copy of Chili's signature Cajun Ribeye. The Cajun seasoning, the herb jus and the Cajun butter comprise the flavorful hat trick that earns this dish its signature-item status. We'll make each component from scratch and everything is pretty easy. Sprinkle the seasoning on the steak before it's grilled, and then add the jus and herb butter just before serving. That's it. Rustle up some ribeyes from your favorite butcher, and fire up the grill. Once you've assembled these three simple secret recipes below, you're just minutes away from an impressive, flavor-filled steak.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.86 (votes: 14)
    Bonefish Grill Citrus Herb Vinaigrette

    There a are few decent bottled salad dressings out there, but there's nothing on the shelf that compares in taste to this homemade version of the house salad dressing from Bonefish Grill.  Not only that, it's a heck of a lot cheaper to make your own vinaigrette from scratch. And check out the easy steps: Mix everything together in a bowl, microwave for 1 minute, whisk to emulsify, then chill. If you're a salad lover, this is the clone for you. 

    You might also like my recipes for Bonefish's Bang Bang Shrimp.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.81 (votes: 16)
    Islands Tortilla Soup

    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.

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  • Score: 4.39 (votes: 54)
    Maid-Rite Loose Meat Sandwich

    It's been an Iowa tradition since 1926, and today this sandwich has a huge cult following. It's similar to a traditional hamburger, but the ground beef is not formed into a patty. Instead, the lightly seasoned meat lies uncompressed on a white bun, dressed with mustard, minced onion, and dill pickles. Since the meat is loose, the sandwich is always served with a spoon for scooping up the ground beef that will inevitably fall out.

    When this clone recipe for Maid-Rite was originally posted on our website several years ago, it elicited more e-mail than any recipe in the site's history. Numerous Midwesterners were keyboard-ready to insist that the clone was far from accurate without the inclusion of a few bizarre ingredients, the most common of which was Coca-Cola. One letter states: "You evidently have not ever had a Maid-Rite. The secret to the Maid-Rite is coke syrup. Without it you cannot come close to the taste." Another e-mail reads: "Having lived in the Midwest all of my life and knowing not only the owners of a Maid-Rite restaurant but also many people who worked there, I can tell you that one of the things you left out of your recipe is Coca-Cola. Not a lot, just enough to keep the meat moist."

    On the flip side, I received comments such as this one from an Iowa fan who lived near Don Taylor's original Maid-Rite franchise: "The secret to the best Maid-Rite is the whole beef. Don had a butcher shop in his basement where he cut and ground all his beef. Some people still swear they added seasoning, but that is just not true. Not even pepper."

    Back in my lab, no matter how hard I examined the meat in the original product—which was shipped to me in dry ice directly from Don Taylor's original store in Marshalltown, Iowa—I could not detect Coca-Cola. There's no sweetness to the meat at all, although the buns themselves seem to include some sugar. When the buns are chewed with the meat, the sandwich does taste mildly sweet. I finally decided that Coca-Cola syrup is not part of the recipe. If it is added to the meat in the Maid-Rite stores, it's an insignificant amount that does not have any noticeable effect on the flavor.

    Also, the texture is important, so adding plenty of liquid to the simmering meat is crucial. This clone recipe requires 1 cup of water in addition to 1/4 cup of beef broth. By simmering the ground beef in this liquid for a couple hours the meat will tenderize and become infused with a little flavor, just like the real thing.

    When the liquid is gone, form the ground beef into a 1/2 cup measuring scoop, dump it onto the bottom of a plain hamburger bun, then add your choice of mustard, onions, and pickles. Adding ketchup is up to you, although it's not an ingredient found in Maid-Rite stores. Many say that back in the early days "hobos" would swipe the ketchup and mix it with water to make tomato soup. Free ketchup was nixed from the restaurants way back then, and the custom has been in place ever since.

    Just think of all the famous sandwiches you can make at home. I've hacked the Popeye's Chicken Sandwich, McDonald's Big Mac, Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich, and many more. See if I've duplicated your favorite here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.89 (votes: 44)
    Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup

    For two years after the first Olive Garden restaurant opened in 1982, operators were still tweaking the restaurant's physical appearance and the food that was served. Even the tomato sauce was changed as many as 25 times. It's that sort of dedication that creates fabulous dishes like this popular soup. It blends the flavors of potatoes, kale, and Italian sausage in a slightly spicy chicken and cream broth. 

    How about creating your own bottomless Olive Garden House Salad and Breadsticks? Find more of my Olive Garden clone recipes here!

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.83 (votes: 12)
    Hooters Buffalo Chicken Wings

    Menu Description: "Nearly world-famous. Often imitated, hardly ever duplicated."

    "Hooters is to chicken wings what McDonald's is to hamburgers," claims promotional material from the company. True, the six fun-loving Midwestern businessmen who started Hooters in Clearwater, Florida, on April Fool's Day in 1983 chose a classic recipe for chicken wings as their signature item. But while some might say it's the buffalo wings that are their favorite feature of the restaurant, others say it's the restaurant chain's trademark Hooters girls—waitresses casually attired in bright orange short-shorts and skin tight T-shirts.

    Today there are over 375 Hooters across the United States serving more than 200 tons of chicken wings every week. The original dish can be ordered in 10-, 20-, or 50-piece servings; or if you want to splurge, there's the "Gourmet Chicken Wing Dinner" featuring 20 wings and a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne, for only $125. To further enhance the Hooters experience when you serve these messy wings, throw a whole roll of paper towels on the table, rather than napkins, as they do in the restaurants.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 3)
    California Pizza Kitchen Sedona White Corn Tortilla Soup Low-Fat

    When you get a steaming bowl of great tortilla soup plopped down in front of you, it's tough to stop slurping until you hit bottom. California Pizza Kitchen has just such a soup, but the oil and fried tortilla chips jack up the fat. Never fear. We can now make this delicious white corn tortilla soup taste just as good as the original without most of the oil and fat. Fat-free chicken broth stands in well for the regular stuff, and baked corn tortilla chips give the soup its traditional taste and texture. You'll want to use a hand blender for this one, if you've got one. If not, a regular blender or food processor will work fine to purée the soup so that it has the smooth consistency of the original CPK tortilla soup, but with only a miniscule two grams of fat per serving.

    Check out my other clone recipes for CPK soups, salads, and pizza here.

    Nutrition Facts
    :
    Serving size–1 1/2 cups
    Total servings–4
    Calories–260 (Original–305)
    Fat–2g (Original–14g)

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

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  • Score: 4.50 (votes: 2)
    Chili's Lettuce Wraps

    Menu Description: "Grilled Asian-spiced chicken w/carrots, water chestnuts, green onions & almonds. Served with crisp Bibb lettuce and sesame-ginger & peanut sauces for dipping."

    Chili's take on the appetizer made popular at P. F. Chang's Asian Bistro got diners across the country wrapping lettuce around chopped chicken. Now you can bring Chili's version of the Asian tacos home along with the mega-addictive sesame-ginger and peanut dipping sauces with my recipe for Chili's lettuce wraps.

    After you make the sauces and prepare the chicken, assemble the wraps by arranging some sliced chicken into the center of a leaf of butter lettuce, sprinkle on some shredded carrot, perhaps a few crunchy bean threads, add a little dipping sauce, and open wide.

    Find more of your favorite Chili's copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.65 (votes: 17)
    Chili's Chili Queso

    Menu Description: "Our appetizing cheese dip with seasoned beef. Served with warm tostada chips."

    Take your chips for a dip in this top-secret Chili's skillet queso copycat recipe that comes to your table in a small cast iron skillet along with a big bowl of tortilla chips. A popular recipe that's been circulating calls for combining Velveeta with Hormel no-bean chili. Sure, it's a good start, but there's more to Chili's spicy cheese dip than that. Toss a few other ingredients into the saucepan and after about 20 minutes you'll have a great dip for picnic, party, or game time.

    Now, what's for dinner? Check out my other Chili's copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.
     

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  • Score: 4.40 (votes: 15)
    Chili's Honey Mustard Dressing

    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 make your own version cheaply and quickly.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Olive Garden Italian Salad Dressing Fat-Free

    We love to eat salad because it seems so healthy. But add just a couple tablespoons of salad dressing and you've gone from no fat to lots of fat, before your main course has even hit the table. If the salad dressing is delicious, as is Olive Garden's, you might be pouring on more than just a couple tablespoons. Here's a way to eliminate the fat grams from the dressing, but keep all the flavor.

    We'll take out the oil, and add dry pectin to thicken the dressing, along with more water than used in the original version of this recipe. We can add a decent amount of Romano cheese and a single serving of the dressing still comes in under 1/2 gram of fat. Add some vinegar, a little corn syrup and lemon juice, some spices—mission accomplished.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–2 tablespoons
    Total servings–11
    Calories per serving–42 (Original–90)
    Fat per serving–0g (Original–8g)

    Click here for my original version of Olive Garden Salad Dressing

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur. 

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  • Score: 4.94 (votes: 34)
    Auntie Anne's Pretzels

    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 the secret underground laboratory, I've discovered a better solution for re-creating the delicious mall treats than any clone recipe out there. 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.

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  • Not rated yet
    Chevys Texas BBQ Wrap Reduced-Fat

    In the restaurant, these are made with red chili tortillas. Since those can be hard to find, especially in fat-free versions, well use plain flour fat-free tortillas. Except for the color, you can hardly tell the difference. You'll want to prepare several elements of this recipe ahead of time. The relish and slaw is best when made the day before, and the chicken will have to marinate for an hour or so before you grill it.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 wrap
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–515 (Original–644)
    Fat per serving–5g (Original–15g)

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

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  • Score: 4.14 (votes: 14)
    Applebee's Bourbon Street Steak

    Menu Description: "This succulent 10 oz. steak is jazzed up with Cajun spices and served with sauteed onions, mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes and garlic toast."

    This Cajun-style dish is named after the famous street in the French Quarter in New Orleans, so you won't need any booze for this recipe unless it's for you to drink while you're making it. Plan to make this dish 12 to 24 hours in advance, so the steaks have time to soak up the goodness. This marinating time will also give the meat tenderizer a chance to do its thing, but don't go longer than 24 hours or the protein fibers may become so tender that they turn mushy. I used McCormick brand tenderizer, which uses bromelian, a pineapple extract, to tenderize the meat. Lawry's (Adolph's) meat tenderizer, uses papain from papayas, to tenderize the proteins, but this brand also brings other spices into the mix and will alter the flavor of your finished product. Both of these tenderizers contain a lot of salt so we won't need to include salt in the marinade formula. 

    Try my copycat recipe for Applebee's almond rice pilaf as great side-dish.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

     

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 5)
    Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake

    Traditional white birthday cakes are pretty boring by themselves. Scoop a little ice cream onto the plate and I'll perk up a bit. But, hey baby, bring a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake to the party and I'll be the first one in line with my plastic fork. This 5000-unit ice cream chain stacks several varieties of pre-made ice cream cakes in its freezer, but I've discovered the most popular version, over and over again, is the one made from white cake with pralines and cream ice cream on top. So that's got to be the version we clone here. But don't think you're locked into this Todd Wilbur formula—you can use any flavor of cake and ice cream you fancy for your homemade masterpiece. Just be sure the ice cream you choose comes in a box. It should be a rectangular shape so that the ice cream layer stacks just right on the cake. You'll want a real sharp serrated knife to cut the ice cream in half while it's still in the box. And check this out: that white stuff that coats the cake is actually softened vanilla ice cream that's spread in a thin layer on the cake, and then re-frozen. After it sets up, you can decorate the cake any way you like with pre-made frosting in whatever color suits the festive occasion. So now you can learn how to make Baskin Robbins ice cream cake at home that looks and tastes exactly like those in the stores that cost around 30 bucks each!

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 9)
    P.F. Chang's Chang's Spicy Chicken

    Menu Description: "Lightly-dusted, stir-fried in a sweet Szechwan sauce."

    The delicious sweet-and-spicy secret sauce is what makes this dish one of P. F. Chang's top picks. Once the sauce is finished all you have to do is saute your chicken and combine. You'll want to cook up some white or brown rice, like at the restaurant. If you can't find straight chili sauce for this recipe, the more common chili sauce with garlic in it will work just as well.

    Check out my other P.F. Chang's clone recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 11)
    Chili's Southwestern Vegetable Soup

    If you like soup that's packed with veggies, that's low in fat, and has some Southwestern punch to it, this is the soup for you. Just toss all the ingredients in a pot and simmer. Garnish with some shredded cheese and crumbled tortillas, and warm up your insides.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 10)
    Roadhouse Grill Baby Back Ribs

    Menu Description: "Our award-winning Baby Back Ribs are slow-roasted, then basted with Jim Beam Bourbon BBQ Sauce and finished on our Mesquite grill."

    When your crew bites into these baby backs they'll savor meat so tender and juicy that it slides right off the bone. The slow braising cooks the ribs to perfection, while the quick grilling adds the finishing char and smoky flavor. But the most important component to any decent rack of ribs is a sauce that's filled with flavor, and this version of Roadhouse Grill's award-wining sauce is good stuff. I ordered the ribs naked (without sauce) so that I could see if there was any detectable rub added before cooking and I didn't find anything other than salt and a lot of coarse black pepper. So that's the way I designed the recipe, and it works.

    Now, how about a copycat Roadhouse Grill Roadhouse Rita to wash down those ribs.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.97 (votes: 33)
    P.F. Chang's Mongolian Beef

    Menu Description: "Quickly-cooked steak with scallions and garlic."

    Beef lovers go crazy over this one at the restaurant. Flank steak is cut into bite-sized chunks against the grain, then it's lightly dusted with potato starch (in our case we'll use cornstarch), flash-fried in oil, and doused with an amazing sweet soy garlic sauce. The beef comes out tender as can be, and the simple sauce sings to your taste buds. I designed this recipe to use a wok, but if you don't have one a saute pan will suffice (you may need to add more oil to the pan to cover the beef in the flash-frying step). P. F. Chang's secret sauce is what makes this dish so good, and it's versatile. If you don't dig beef, you can substitute with chicken. Or you can brush it on grilled salmon.

    I've cloned a lot of the best dishes from P.F. Chang's. Click here to see if I coped your favorite.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 3)
    Wendy's Garden Sensations Mandarin Chicken Salad & Sesame Dressing

    Of the four salads on Wendy's new Garden Sensations menu, this is the one that gets all the cloning requests. It's the sesame dressing that everyone's nuts about. The formula below gives you a nice 1 1/2 cups of the delicious stuff, so it'll fit perfectly into a standard dressing cruet. Once you've got your dressing made, building the rest of the salad is a breeze.

    Check out my other Wendy's clone recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Planters Fat-Free Fiddle Faddle

    For many years now, the monocled Mr. Peanut has been Planters nutty pitchman. The character was created in 1916 by a Virginia schoolboy, Anthony Gentile, who won $5 in a contest for drawing a "little peanut person." A commercial artist later added the top hat, cane, and monocle to make Mr. Peanut the stuffy socialite that he is today. But the character has not always been in the limelight. Planters adman Bill McDonough says, "Though Mr. Peanut has always been identified with the brand, over the years he has been dialed up or down to different degrees." In 1999, the company dialed up the polite-and-proper legume to capitalize on nostalgia for the older folks and the young buyers' craving for retro chic.

    Even though we think of Planters as the "nut company" you won't find a single nut, with or without monocle, in the fat-free version of Planters popular Fiddle Faddle. All you need to whip together this clone is a good low-fat microwave popcorn and a few other common ingredients. This recipe requires your microwave to help coat the popcorn with a thin, crunchy coating of the tasty candy mixture. Even though there is a small amount of fat in the recipe, it still comes out to less than 1 gram of fat per serving, so the final product can be called "fat-free."

    Check out some of our other clones for Cracker JackPoppycockScreaming Yellow Zonkers, and Crunch N' Munch

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 cup
    Total servings–12
    Calories per serving–114
    Fat per serving–0g

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

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  • Score: 4.75 (votes: 8)
    Taco Bell Chicken Fajita! Seasoning Mix

    A couple years ago Taco Bell and Kraft Foods got together to produce a line of products—everything from taco kits to salsas and spice mixes—all stamped with the familiar Taco Bell logo and available in supermarkets across the country. The idea was a winner, and now the Taco Bell line of products is among Kraft's top sellers. The clone of this mix, made with a combination of common spices and cornstarch, can be kept indefinitely until your brain's fajita-craving neurons begin firing. When you're set to cook, you'll need some chicken, a bell pepper, and an onion, then follow the same prep instructions you find on the package of the real thing.

    Top your fajitas off with one Taco Bell's famous sauces from my recipes here.

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.18 (votes: 28)
    Benihana Japanese Fried Rice

    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 entree, 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.

    This Benihana Japanese fried rice recipe will go well with just about any Japanese entree 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.

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  • Not rated yet
    Cheesecake Factory Bruschetta

    Menu Description: "Grilled Bread Topped with Fresh Chopped Tomato, Red Onion, Garlic, Basil and Olive Oil."

    In 1972, Oscar and Evelyn Overton moved from Detroit to Los Angeles to build a wholesale bakery that would sell cheesecakes and other high-quality desserts to local restaurants. Business was a booming success, but some restaurants balked at the high prices the bakery was charging for its desserts. So, in 1978, the couple's son David decided to open a restaurant of his own—the first Cheesecake Factory restaurant—in posh Beverly Hills. The restaurant was an immediate success and soon David started an expansion of the concept. Sure, the current total of 20 restaurants doesn't seem like a lot, but his handful of stores earns the chain more than $100 million in business each year. That's more than some chains with four times the number of outlets rake in. 

    Bruschetta is one of the top-selling appetizers at the restaurant chain. Bruschetta is toasted  bread flavored with garlic and olive oil, broiled until crispy, and then arranged around a pile of tomato-basil salad in vinaigrette. This salad is scooped onto the bruschetta, and then you open wide. This version makes five slices just like the dish served at the restaurant, but the recipe can be easily doubled. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.00 (votes: 4)
    Fatburger Original Burger

    Southern California—the birthplace of famous hamburgers from McDonalds, Carls Jr. and In-n-Out Burger—is home to another thriving burger chain that opened its first store in 1952. Lovie Yancey thought up the perfect name for the 1/3 pound burgers she sold at her Los Angeles burger joint: Fatburger. Now with over 41 units in California, Nevada, and moving into Washington and Arizona, Fatburger has become the food critic's favorite, winning "best burger in town" honors with regularity. The secret is the seasoned salt used on the beef patty. And there's no ketchup on the regular version, just mayo, mustard, and relish. Replace the ground beef with ground turkey and you've just cloned Fatburger's popular Turkeyburger. 

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.40 (votes: 5)
    Weight Watchers Smart Ones Banana Muffins

    This easy muffin clone is modeled after the low-fat product found in the freezer section of your market, from one of the first brands to make low-fat food hip and tasty. Muffins are notorious for their high fat content, but in this recipe mashed banana adds flavor and moistness to the muffins to replace the fat. Now you can satisfy a muffin craving without worrying about fat grams.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Applebee's Tijuana Philly Steak Sandwich

    Menu Description: "Lean shaved Philly steak folded into a grilled tortilla roll with Monterey Jack and Cheddar, sauteed mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, bacon and jalapenos."

    With the acquisition of 13 Rio Bravo cantinas in 1994, Applebee's made its move into the competitive "Mexican casual dining sector." Perhaps it's the company's interest in Mexican food that inspired this Philadelphia-Tijuana hybrid sandwich. The steak, cheese, mushrooms, and onions give the sandwich a Philly taste, while the tomatoes, bacon, jalapenos, and the tortilla take you across the border.

    I really like this newer addition to the menu, probably because I'm a big cheesesteak fan who also loves Mexican food. As you can see from this dish, Applebee's has a knack for breathing new life into old sandwich concepts. I hope you'll find this one worth a try.

    If you want to make a "lite" version, refer to the Tidbits at the bottom of the recipe.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.83 (votes: 6)
    Long John Silver's Batter-Dipped Fish

    Jerrico, Inc., the parent company for Long John Silver's Seafood Shoppes, got its start in 1929 as a six-stool hamburger stand called the White Tavern Shoppe. Jerrico was started by a man named Jerome Lederer, who watched Long John Silver's thirteen units dwindle in the shadow of World War II to just three units. Then, with determination, he began rebuilding. In 1946 Jerome launched a new restaurant called Jerry's and it was a booming success, with growth across the country. Then he took a chance on what would be his most successful venture in 1969, with the opening of the first Long John Silver's Fish 'n' Chips. The name was inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. In 1991 there were 1,450 Long John Silver Seafood Shoppes in thirty-seven states, Canada, and Singapore, with annual sales of more than $781 million. That means the company holds about 65 percent of the $1.2 billion quick-service seafood business.

    Make my McDonald's French Fries recipe for the classic fish 'n chips experience. 

    Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Kahlua Coffee Liqueur

    Kahlua may market itself as the coffee liqueur developed in Mexico, but many believe the brand originated in Turkey. Looking at the label, we can still see an Arabic archway under which a sombrero-wearing man rests. Old labels of the brand show this man wearing a turban and smoking a pipe. Even the name Kahlua is of Arabic origin. Regardless of where the drink came from, it dominates all other coffee liqueurs out there, including the very popular Tia Maria.

    Here's a greatly improved version of the clone recipe that appears in Top Secret Recipes. You'll find this recipe is easier to make, tastes better, and, just as with the first recipe, improves with age.

    You might also like my recipes for Bailey's Irish CreamAmaretto, and Grand Marnier. Find more copycat liqueur recipes here

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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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