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Healthy Choice Traditional Pasta Sauce copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur

Healthy Choice Traditional Pasta Sauce

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It was a heart attack that inspired Charles M. Harper of ConAgra Foods to come up with a new product line. In 1988, the Healthy Choice brand introduced frozen dinners with reduced fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Hundreds of other products followed through the '90s, including this fat-free pasta sauce, which hit stores in 1992. It's a cinch to make and goes great on any pasta, pizza, or meatball sandwich.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size–1/2 cup
Total servings–5
Calories per servings–50
Fat per serving–0g

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

Get This

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  • 2 10 3/4-ounce cans tomato puree
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • 5 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch ground black pepper
Do This

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium/high heat and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until sauce is thick.

Makes 2 1/2 cups

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 5)
    No Pudge! Original Fat Free Fudge Brownie Mix

    In 1995 pediatric nurse Lindsay Frucci discovered a way to make chewy, fudgy brownies without any of fat. Today you can find her brownie mix boxes in thousands of grocery stores and specialty markets throughout the country. All you have to do is add some nonfat vanilla yogurt to the dry mix and bake. The brownies that emerge from your oven are good, but the mix can be pricey. One box of No Pudge! Fat Free Fudge Brownie Mix will set you back around four bucks, which seems like a lot when you consider that boxes of regular brownie mix from larger brands such as Pillsbury or Duncan Hines contain similar ingredients but sell for roughly half that. So I spent a week burning through gobs of cocoa, sugar, and flour in hopes of discovering an easy way to re-create that tasty No Pudge brownie mix at a fraction of the cost of even the cheapest brownie mix on the market. After much trial and error, I finally nailed it.

    I tried many batches with Hershey's and Nestle's cocoa, but eventually decided the best widely available unsweetened cocoa powder for the task is the stuff made by Ghirardelli. Before you assemble my No Pudge brownie recipe, you'll also want to track down baker's sugar, which is a superfine sugar, and some powdered egg whites (health foods stores or cake decorating suppliers carry this). Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and when you're ready to make the brownies, simply mix in 2/3 cup of nonfat vanilla yogurt, just like with the real thing. In 34 baking minutes (same as regular minutes, but they seem much longer) you'll have one plate of amazing fat-free chocolate brownies ready to eat.

    Click here for more famous cookie and brownie copycat recipes.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.85 (votes: 26)
    Stouffer's Macaroni & Cheese

    What is it about Stouffer's Macaroni & Cheese that makes it the number one choice for true mac & cheese maniacs? It's probably the simple recipe that includes wholesome ingredients like skim milk and real Cheddar cheese, without any preservatives or unpronounceable chemicals. The basic Stouffer's Mac and Cheese ingredients are great for kitchen cloners who want an easy fix that doesn't require much shopping. 

    I created my Stouffer's Macaroni and Cheese recipe to work as an exact duplicate of the actual product: a frozen dish that you heat up later in the oven. This way you'll get slightly browned macaroni & cheese that looks like it posed for the nicely lit photo on the Stouffer's box. Since you'll only need about 3/4 cup of uncooked elbow macaroni for each recipe, you can make several 4-person servings with just one 16-ounce box of macaroni, and then keep them all in the freezer until the days when your troops have their mac & cheese attacks. Be sure to use freshly shredded Cheddar cheese here, since it melts much better than pre-shredded cheese (and it's cheaper). Use a whisk to stir the sauce often as it thickens, so that you get a smooth—not lumpy or grainy—finished product. 

    If you're still hungry, check out my copycat recipes for famous entrées here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 8)
    Red Lobster Parrot Bay Coconut Shrimp

    Menu Description: "Jumbo butterflied shrimp hand-dipped in batter flavored with Captain Morgan Parrot Bay Rum & coconut flakes. Served with pina colada dipping sauce."

    Fans of this dish say the best part is the pina colada dipping sauce. And it's true. That sauce is so good you could eat it with a spoon. But the coconut shrimp is pretty awesome too, just on its own. Red Lobster's secret formula includes Captain Morgan's Parrot Bay rum, which sweetens the batter and adds a great coconut flavor (plus you can whip up a nice cocktail with it while you're cooking). Panko breadcrumbs—which give a nice crunch to the shrimp—can be found in the aisle of your market where all the Asian foods are parked. This secret recipe makes two times the size of a serving you get at the Lobster, so there should be enough for everyone. The real thing comes with salsa on the side in addition to the pina colada sauce, but you may not even want to include it.

    Find more of your favorite Red Lobster copycat recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.81 (votes: 47)
    Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

    In early 1985, restaurateur Rich Komen felt there was a specialty niche in convenience-food service just waiting to be filled. His idea was to create an efficient outlet that could serve freshly made cinnamon rolls in shopping malls throughout the country. It took nine months for Komen and his staff to develop a cinnamon roll recipe he knew customers would consider the "freshest, gooiest, and most mouthwatering cinnamon roll ever tasted." The concept was tested for the first time in Seattle's Sea-Tac mall later that year, with workers mixing, proofing, rolling, and baking the rolls in full view of customers. Now, more than 626 outlets later, Cinnabon has become the fastest-growing cinnamon roll bakery in the world.

    Source: More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 5)
    Chi-Chi's Sweet Corn Cake

    Chi-Chi's cofounder Marno McDermott named his restaurant chain after his wife Chi Chi. He claims the name is quite memorable as it translates in Spanish into something like "hooters" in English. The Minneapolis Star quoted McDermott in 1977 shortly after the first Chi-Chi's opened in Richfield, Minneapolis, "English-speaking patrons remember it because it's catchy. And the Spanish-speaking customers are amused. Either way, it doesn't hurt business."

    One of the side dishes included with several of the entrees at Chi-Chi's is the Sweet Corn Cake. It's sort of like cornbread, but much softer, almost like corn pudding. You'll find it goes well with just about any Mexican dish. The recipe requires a bain marie, or water bath—a baking technique commonly used to keep custards from cracking or curdling. This is done by baking the corn cake in another larger pan filled with a little hot water.

    Try more of my Chi-Chi's copycat recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.71 (votes: 28)
    Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole

    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.

    Love Cracker Barrel? Check out my other clone recipes here.

    Source Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

     

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  • Score: 4.88 (votes: 17)
    Chili's Salsa

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

    Now, what's for dinner? Check out some copycat entrees from your favorite restaurants here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Kraft Shake 'N Bake Original

    Need a recipe that copies Shake 'N Bake in a pinch? Here's the TSR solution for a quick clone that will give you the same texture and flavor of Kraft Shake 'N Bake using very common ingredients. You may notice the color is a bit different in this clone when compared to the real thing. That's because this recipe doesn't include beet powder—a hard to find ingredient that lends a red/orange tint to the original. But after you sink your teeth into the chicken baked the same way as described on the Shake 'N Bake box you'll swear it's the same stuff. When you're ready to get shaking and baking, use this breading on 2 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces or on 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. 

    Ooooh, now what side dish will you prepare? 

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.65 (votes: 26)
    Boston Market Meatloaf

    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. So successful was the chain with chicken, that the company quickly decided it was time to introduce other entree selections, the first of which was a delicious barbecue sauce-covered ground sirloin meatloaf. But offering the other entrees 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.

    How about some of those famous Boston Market side-dishes to go with your copycat  meatloaf recipe? I've cloned all the best ones 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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  • Score: 4.70 (votes: 20)
    McDonald's French Fries

    They're the world's most famous French fries, responsible for one-third of all U.S. French fry sales, and many say they're the best. These fried spud strips are so popular that Burger King even changed its own recipe to better compete with the secret formula from Mickey D's. One-quarter of all meals served today in American restaurants come with fries; a fact that thrills restaurateurs since fries are the most profitable menu item in the food industry. Proper preparation steps were developed by McDonald's to minimize in-store preparation time, while producing a fry that is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. This clone requires a two-step frying process to replicate the same qualities: the fries are par-fried, frozen, then fried once more to crispy just before serving. Be sure to use a slicer to cut the fries for a consistent thickness (1/4-inch is perfect) and for a cooking result that will make them just like the real thing. As for the rumor that you must soak the fries in sugar water to help them turn golden brown, I also found that not to be necessary. If the potatoes have properly developed they contain enough sugar on their own to make a good clone with great color.

    Now, how about a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder to go with those fries? Click here for a list of all my McDonald's copycat recipes. 

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 14)
    Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage

    Before he became America's sausage king, Jimmy Dean was known for crooning the country hit "Big Bad John." That song came out in 1962 and sold more than 8 million copies. His singing success launched a television career on ABC with The Jimmy Dean Show, where Roy Clark, Patsy Cline, and Roger Miller got their big breaks. The TV exposure led to acting roles for Jimmy, as a regular on Daniel Boone, and in feature films, including his debut in the James Bond flick Diamonds are Forever. Realizing that steady income from an acting and singing career can be undependable, Jimmy invested his show-biz money in a hog farm. In 1968 the Jimmy Dean Meat Company developed the special recipe for sausage that has now become a household name. Today the company is part of the Sara Lee Corporation, and Jimmy retired as company spokesman in 2004.

    My Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage recipe re-creates three varieties of the famous roll sausage that you form into patties and cook in a skillet. Use ground pork found at the supermarket—make it lean pork if you like—or grind some up yourself if you have a meat grinder.

    Check out more of my famous breakfast food clone recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)
    Great American Cookies White Chunk Macadamia

    When Arthur Karp shared his grandmother's favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe with Michael Coles, the business partners knew they had a hit on their hands. They opened their first Great American Cookies store in 1977 in The Perimeter Mall in Atlanta, Georgia. Now with more than 350 stores in the chain, these cookies have quickly become a favorite, just begging to be cloned. The chain bakes the cookies in convection ovens at the low temperature of 280 degrees for around 16 to 17 minutes. But since most of us don't have convection ovens and may have a hard time getting the oven temperature to this odd setting, I have made some adjustments. Just be sure, when you remove the cookies from the oven, that they appear undercooked and only slightly browned around the edges. This will give the cookies the perfect chewy texture when they cool.

    You might also like my recipe for Great American Snickerdoodles

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

     

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Big Boy Cream of Broccoli Soup

    Menu Description: "Our famous Big Boy soups and chili are made fresh daily from fresh vegetables, pure cream and only the finest ingredients."

    In 1936, Bob Wian had to make the painful decision to sell his cherished 1933 DeSoto roadster to buy a ten-stool lunch counter from a pair of elderly ladies in Glendale, California. He named his new restaurant Bob's Pantry, and went to work behind the counter himself. Receipts form his first day totaled only twelve dollars. But with the creation of a new hamburger just the next year, and a name change to Bob's Big Boy, business took off. Within three years Bob had expanded his first store and built another location in Los Angeles. In 1948 Bob Wian was voted mayor of Glendale.

    A cup of broccoli soup makes a great first course or a nice partner to a sandwich. I first designed this recipe using frozen broccoli, but the frozen stuff just isn't as tasty as a big bunch of firm, fresh broccoli. So go shopping, and get chopping. 

    Served in a large bowl, this soup can be a small meal in itself, or serve four as an appetizer that you can pair with my Bob's Big Boy Double Decker Hamburger.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.here. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.25 (votes: 4)
    Hershey's PayDay Candy Bar

    In December of 1996, Hershey Foods snagged the U.S. operations of Leaf Brands for a pretty penny. This added several well known candies to Hershey's already impressive roster, including Good & Plenty, Jolly Rancher, Milk Duds, Whoppers, Heath, and this delicious peanut roll, which we can finally clone at home. The center is sort of a white fudge that we can make by combining a few ingredients on the stove, then getting the mixture up to just the right temperature using a candy thermometer (you've got one, right?). Once cool, this candy center is coated with a thin layer of caramel, then quickly rolled over roasted peanuts. Looks just like the real thing! This recipe will make eight candy bars. But it's up to you to make the dental appointment.

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 2.00 (votes: 1)
    Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese

    It's time to clone America's best-selling brand of instant macaroni & cheese. This recipe is for the "Deluxe" variety of this popular product—that is, the one that comes with an envelope of thick cheese sauce, rather than the dry, powdered cheese. I think the "Deluxe" version is the better tasting of the two. Use my recipe to make creamy macaroni and cheese that tastes like Kraft's Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese at a fraction of the price of the real thing.

    Try more of my copycat recipes from Kraft here.

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Kenny Rogers Roasters Corn Muffins

    He knows when to hold 'em, he knows when to fold 'em. And lately hes been folding 'em quite a bit as Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurants across the country have bolted their doors for lack of interest. But that doesn't mean that Kenny didn't know how to make awesome corn muffins. And since it's hard to find a Kenny Rogers Roasters outlet these days, the only way to taste these great corn muffins now is to use my Kenny Rogers Roasters Corn Muffins recipe below and make them for yourself at home. 

    If you like your corn muffins sweeter, check out my clone recipe for Famous Dave's Corn Muffins.

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    KFC Tender Roast Chicken

    Tender Roast chicken was introduced in 1996 after KFC axed Rotisserie Gold, its short-lived, whole-roasted chicken product that was meant to compete with home meal replacement chains like Boston Market and Kenny Rogers Roasters. Although it's not fried, as are the other KFC chicken offerings, six ounces of Tender Roast still has approximately 7.6 grams of fat when the skin is left on. That's why we're going to strip it all off. But not so fast. We'll keep that skin on through most of the baking process, so that the meat stays nice and juicy. Then, once the skin is peeled away, we can sprinkle the tasty spice blend over the juicy chicken and let it finish baking.

    Click here to try more of my KFC copycat recipes. 

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–6 ounces
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–206 (Original–338)
    Fat per serving–7.6g (Original–17.4g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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I'm Todd Wilbur, Chronic Food Hacker

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.

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