Traditional recipes

Perfect Cheese Stick Hacks for Your Party

Perfect Cheese Stick Hacks for Your Party

Turn a childhood snack into a great appetizer

Make a simple and flavorful appetizers for your next gathering.

When you were a kid, peeling off ribbons of string cheese was a glorious activity. But had you ever considered the possibility that those little childhood snacks would help you throw one tasty cocktail party? These perfectly shaped and portioned snacks roll into easy and delicious bites that are great to serve at any causal soirée. Don’t believe us? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Stuffed Crust Pizza

Get perfectly stuffed pizza crust by simply rolling the dough edges over this snack.

Surprise Meatballs

As you roll your ground beef for your meatballs, stick a nub of a cheese stick in the center and back for a surprising appetizer.

Easy Caprese-y

A few tomatoes, balsamic vinaigrette, and diced mozzarella string cheese could make for a light and refreshing appetizer salad.

Cheesey Turnovers

With pastry dough, roll-able cheese and a few herbs you’ll have a crusty turnover that is simply delicious!

Party Tip: How to Create the Perfect Cheese Plate

It's the go-to hors d'oeuvre at every holiday party: the cheese plate. It's easy, it's fast, and it's something everyone likes. You could just unwrap some Cracker Barrel and Laughing Cows, but that won't win over your party guests. It's pretty simple to turn that standard cheese plate into an impressive and satisfying assortment. All you need is to learn these tricks of the trade to create a plate with restaurant-quality pairings.

We asked Cathy Strange, Whole Foods Market's Global Cheese Buyer (a.k.a. the Big Cheese), to share her expert advice. Just in time for the holiday parties, here are her top tips for selecting, sourcing, and putting together a fabulous cheese plate.

What makes a balanced cheese assortment?
For every assortment, you should offer both a variety of styles &mdash fresh, aged, washed rind, bloomy rind, etc. &mdash and milk sources &mdash cow, goat, and sheep. Always include a cheese that everyone likes, such as Cheddar or Gouda, that is also appealing to any age of party guest.

How do you figure out how much cheese you need?
The standard rule is 2 ounces per serving. The more selections, the less cheese you would need.

What's the difference between a "hard" cheese and a "soft" cheese?
The hard category means that the cheese is aged longer and contains less moisture. These cheeses include Parmigiano Reggiano and aged Cheddars, and basically any cheese that is firm to the touch. Soft cheeses in this category include brie and fresh cheeses and are soft to the touch. They generally have a higher moisture and are younger cheeses.

What's the differences between cow, sheep, and goat cheese?
The biggest difference is flavor profile goat is a bit more acidic, sheep is sweeter, and cow is creamier. The other difference is the yield. In order of least yield to most yield, it's sheep, goat, and then cows.

Does price matter or can you find a good cheese that's also affordable?
Cheese is a creamy delight and there are great value options. The key is not to eat too much and purchase what you will be consuming in the next few days. The cost is dependent on the animal (yield), type of production (artisanal vs. industrial), and age. But there are great values in nice Cheddars and goudas.

Once you selected your cheese, how do you figure out what types of condiments would match with your cheese?
The creamier the product, the higher acidity the pairings. For example, berries go well with goat cheese, nuts with skins on are always great as they bring out the creaminess of cheese because the skins are bitter. I like the salty-and-sweet combination (as cheese is salty). Some of my favorites are moustardes (especially pear!), chutneys, jams. I love the Whole Foods Market Organic Fig and the Cherry Spread with creamy goat cheese and membrillo (quince paste) with harder saltier cheeses.

What are a few of your favorite cheese plates?
For the novice I would recommend: a young, fresh cheese such as the Whole Foods Market Organic Goat Log or the Humboldt Fog goat cheese paired with berries an aged Cheddar such as the Seaside or Kilaree with sliced apples then a hard cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano or Robusto Gouda with stone fruits (peaches, plums, or cherries). For the more experienced: the Bonhomme or Metropolitain Brie goes perfectly with champagne or sparkling wines a sheep milk cheese like Pecorino Romano or Pecorino Tuscano with a moustarde and the Fresh 365 Chevre. They all pair well with nuts.

Instead of bread or crackers do you have other ideas for carriers of cheese?
Lettuce fingers like endive, vegetable chips, flatbreads. The less flavor on the carrier, the more the flavor comes out in the cheese.

What's the best way to serve cheese for a holiday party?

I like offering cheeses in general presentation on a wooden cutting board. It's easy for your guests, it's a nice presentation, and it's easy to cut and serve.

How to assemble a charcuterie board:

  1. Start with the board. Cheese boards are typically assembled on a slate or wooden tray, which may be square, rectangular, or round. But if you don't already own one, don't feel like you need to go out and buy one. You can also use a plate, a cutting board, or even a baking sheet. Any flat surface will work.
  2. Select the cheeses. Try to include a variety of flavors and textures by selecting cheeses from different families (see below).
  3. Add some charcuterie. aka cured meats. Prosciutto, salami, sopressata, chorizo, or mortadella are all good options.
  4. Add some savory. Think olives, pickles, roasted peppers, artichokes, tapenades, almonds, cashews, or spicy mustards.
  5. Add some sweet. Think seasonal and dried fruits, candied nuts, preserves, honey, chutney, or even chocolate.
  6. Offer a variety of breads. Sliced baguette, bread sticks, and a variety of crackers in different shapes, sizes, and flavors.
  7. Finish it off with some garnishes. This is a great way to give your cheese board a seasonal touch. Use edible flowers, fresh herbs, or additional fruits to give your board the look and feel you want.

How to make Jamie Oliver’s ultimate cheese toastie

Oozy on the inside but topped with an impressive crunchy cheese crown – this sounds like our kind of toastie!

Jamie Oliver’s cheese toastie ingredients:

  • White bread
  • Butter, room temp
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Red Leicester cheese
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Jamie Oliver’s cheese toastie method:

  1. Cut your bread into two 1cm thick slices and butter on both sides.
  2. Use a box grater and use any cheese you love that melt nicely, Jamie uses Cheddar cheese and Red Leicester.
  3. Once the cheese is grated, pile a handful onto one slice of the buttered bread and top with the other. Give it a squeeze.
  4. Transfer the sandwich to a non-stick frying pan on a low to medium heat and cook for 3 mins on each side. Place some heavy items on top to weigh the sandwich down and squish it flat. Jamie uses a bottle of brown sauce and a jar.
  5. For the cheese crown, remove the toastie from the pan and sprinkle some more grated cheese over the base of the pan to create an even layer.
  6. Place the toastie on top. When you see the fat from the cheese oozing out in the pan, sprinkle over a pinch of cayenne pepper. Cook for around a minute and a half.
  7. Use a fish slice to get underneath the sandwich and the layer of cheese and hover in the pan for 30 seconds. This gives the cheese time to stiffen and form the crown.
  8. Sprinkle another small handful of cheese in the centre of the pan and place the sandwich on top. Cook for 30 seconds or so until the cheese has firmed up and is stuck to the base of the toastie.
  9. Allow the toastie to rest for a couple of minutes before eating as the cheese is very hot and oozy inside.
  10. Serve with brown sauce, ketchup or even mango chutney!

Jamie has chosen the classic white bloomer instead of anything fancier such as sourdough but this would also work well.

14 Foil-Packet Meals That Make Campfire Cooking a Breeze

Those with a creative eye know firsthand that inspiration is all around us. Whether you're energized by the earth tones of nature, a color-filled walk through a local farmer's market, or even by a quick scroll through Instagram, you never know what might spark a new creative project.

In the spirit of inspiring your next masterpiece, we're excited to partner with Bounty to fuel the next generation of artists and designers forward by launching a national design competition. We're calling on graphic designers to apply for a chance to see their work featured on a new Brit + Co and Bounty paper towel collection, set to launch in 2022.

Aside from the incredible exposure of having your illustrations on paper towels that'll be in stores across America next year, you'll also receive $5,000 for your art a scholarship for Selfmade, our 10-week entrepreneurship accelerator to take your design career to the next level (valued at $2,000) and a stand alone feature on Brit + Co spotlighting your artistry as a creator.

The Creatively You Design Competition launches Friday, May 21, 2021 and will be accepting submissions through Monday, June 7, 2021.


Who Should Apply: Women-identifying graphic designers and illustrators. (Due to medium limitations, we're not currently accepting design submissions from photographers or painters.)

What We're Looking For: Digital print and pattern designs that reflect your design aesthetic. Think optimistic, hopeful, bright — something you'd want to see inside your home.

How To Enter: Apply here, where you'll be asked to submit 2x original design files you own the rights to for consideration. Acceptable file formats include: .PNG, .JPG, .GIF, .SVG, .PSD, and .TIFF. Max file size 5GB. We'll also ask about your design inspiration and your personal info so we can keep in touch.

Artist Selection Process: Panelists from Brit + Co and P&G Bounty's creative teams will judge the submissions and select 50 finalists on June 11, 2021 who will receive a Selfmade scholarship for our summer 2021 session. Then, up to 8 artists will be selected from the finalists and notified on June 18, 2021. The chosen designers will be announced publicly in 2022 ahead of the product launch.

For any outstanding contest Qs, please see our main competition page. Good luck & happy creating!

What is a Perfect Cheese Board?

A good cheese board often consists of a variety of meats and cheeses and often fruit or nuts. In other words, it's "antipasto" which means “before the meal.” It's small bites of food to get you ready for the main meal. And when put together properly, a cheese board can be almost like a work of art.

Putting together a cheese board is probably one of the easiest things you can do when entertaining.

What Goes on a Cheese Board?

Cheese boards are simply colorful offerings of marinated vegetables, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, olives, deli meats and most importantly, a variety of different cheeses. However, it’s always best to keep things simple.

Here's a list of a few very popular items to include on your next party platter:

  • Cheese – mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan, cheddar are a few of our favorites. We love to use fresh mozzarella that’s been marinated as well.
  • Thinly sliced ham, Genoa salami or pepperoni.
  • Canned marinated artichokes.
  • Olives – look for an assortment. Our local supermarket has an olive bar that I love to use when putting together an antipasto platter or salad.
  • Peppers – marinated or just freshly sliced. Look for an assortment of colored peppers as well.
  • Fruit – keep it simple. Seedless grapes are usually the best.
  • Jams - lately I have been serving fig jam alongside my cheese boards. Jam goes great with cheese!
  • Bread or Crackers – try not to have too much if you’re serving your antipasto platter before the main meal. You don’t want your guests filling up too much so they’re no longer hunger for the main meal.
  • If you are serving bread, you can also offer a fruit or olive spread to use. Homemade French Bread would be perfect to serve alongside!
  • Don’t forget to keep your platter pretty. Use fresh basil leaves or rosemary to help bring the colors together for a beautiful platter.

Perfect Cheese Board


  • Brie, 2 cups
  • Applewood Cheddar, 3 cups
  • Roast turkey, shredded, 3 cups
  • Mortadella or Italian Sausage, 2 cups
  • Fresh Cranberries
  • Sweet and Spicy Pecans
  • Clementine, peeled and segmented
  1. Place the brie in the center of your cheeseboard.
  2. Use the nut thins to form a half circle around the brie cheese, and then use the cranberry nut crackers to form the remaining half of the circle, then add a large pile of the cranberry crackers alongside.
  3. Place the applewood cheddar along one side of the board.
  4. Fan out the mortadella and place that and the roasted turkey along two other edges of the board, forming a rough triangle with the applewood cheddar.
  5. In remaining spaces on the board, add in the green pea snacks, fresh cranberries, and clementines.
  6. Add a generous pile of the sweet and spicy pecans, and then use extras to fill in any small spaces on the board.

How Far in Advance Should you Prepare a Cheese Board?

  • The last thing anyone needs is to be putting together the cheese board as your guests are standing around watching you. So what should you do?
  • I recommend prepping the different cheeses by cutting or slicing them earlier in the day. Place the cheeses in plastic containers or plastic bags in the refrigerator. Make sure to keep the different flavors of cheese separate. Otherwise, the cheeses will all start to taste alike.
  • You can even prep the meat ahead of time and store in plastic bags as well in the refrigerator. You can have the rest of the ingredients that don't need refrigeration in their packages near the board you are going to spread everything out on.
  • Around 30 minutes or so before guests begin to arrive, arrange everything on the board. Since cheese tastes better at room temperature, it's okay to put the cheeses and meats on the board a few minutes before you expect your guests.
  • Cover the board with plastic wrap and remove right before you're ready to serve.

Accessories Needed for a Perfect Cheese Board

  • You can find a huge collection of Cheese Boards in most stores these days. I have purchased a few from Amazon that I love.
  • What you may not know is you don't actually need a "board" to put your cheese, crackers and meat on! You can use a Marble Tray, Slate Tray or regular tray. Even a large platter will work. I love the color of this this aqua tray! Be creative!
  • It always helps to have cheese knives and forks available for your guests. are always a great idea to help you label the different cheese or meats used.

More Easy Appetizer Recipes:

How to Assemble the Perfect Fall Cheese Board

It&rsquos not a party unless there&rsquos a cheese board involved! This season, I&rsquom pulling out all the stops and breaking it down so we can all make the perfect fall cheese board.

While cheese is the most important part of all this, let&rsquos start with all the other festive things that we need before assembling.

Honey. I love to grab a chunk of honeycomb from my market. It pairs well with so many different cheeses&mdash-especially goat cheese!

Fresh fruit. This time of year I like to mix some kind of grapes with fresh figs. It feels very harvest-ish to me, and that&rsquos exactly what fall is all about!

Nuts. You can pick and choose based on your personal preference, but if you&rsquore like me, you&rsquoll add some Marcona almonds and candied walnuts to the cheese board. The almonds are savory and delicious and the walnuts have a little bit of sweetness to them from the candying process. They are a match made in cheese board heaven.

Olives. Because we need a little something briny. Castelvetrano olives are my olive of choice.

And finally, bread sticks and crackers. Grab a few different shapes, flavors and sizes to give the board some personality.

Okay, let&rsquos get into the cheese!

Aged cheese. I love an aged white cheddar. The little crystals that develop within the cheese during the aging process give it a little bit of a crunch, which perfectly complements what we have next!

Soft cheese. I like goat cheese for this. For the one pictured above, I just rolled it in some herbes de Provence and it was ready to go. This one is what you should absolutely try with the honey. It&rsquos a game-changer!

Blue cheese. Any blue will work. I love something that&rsquos a bit more mild and not completely overwhelming, since some people are opposed to blues. I always ask my cheesemonger what low intensity blues they have in stock, and more times than not, it goes over great with my guests. And if not, more for me!

Firm cheese. Like a Mimolette. I used this one for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it&rsquos freaking delicious. Second, it&rsquos orange and I like to give the cheese board some color, since most cheese is white. And third, it&rsquos a little bit sweet and a little bit nutty, and if you have any leftovers, it&rsquos delicious when tossed with some pasta.

Now all that&rsquos left is assembly! Grab a big board and then start arranging. I like to keep things looking bountiful, so I&rsquom all about presentation. Place the cheeses down first and then throw everything else around them. Things can hang off the board, they can be tucked into each other, you can add some of the fresh fruit when you need a colorful moment, and go to town. Voila! The perfect cheese board ready for all your fall entertaining!

Best Cheeses For A Cheese Board

There are so many terrific types of different cheeses! Select a range of textures and flavors to give your guests fun options.

Some of my favorites include:

  • Aged cheddar and colby jack cheese
  • Havarti and Gouda (different types)
  • Soft and creamy: Brie, Camembert, Burrata, Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella and Goat cheese or chèvre (spreadable)
  • Firm: Parmigiano Reggiano, Manchego, Gruyère, any Sartori BellaVitano is a must
  • Smoked: Smoked Gouda, Provolone, and Cheddar
  • Spicy: I love a cheese with a little heat. So, if you are feeling adventurous, pick up a Sriracha Gouda or Chipotle cheddar and enjoy!
  • Crumbly cheese: Blue cheese. You love it or hate it. Some people don’t like mixing blue cheese on the same board with other cheeses. I love it and will place it on my board next to crackers and prosciutto for example. Don’t place it on your board next to another cheese!

The best substitutes for Muenster cheese

The name Muenster is not related to the city of Münster in Germany, nor to the Irish province of Munster, but rather to the city of Munster in Alsace (which was a province of Germany at the time the cheese was brought into the United States by immigrants, but that is currently a French province).

Muenster should not be confused with Munster cheese , which is the original variety of cheese, made in France, in fact, this is cheese made from unpasteurized or pasteurized cow milk has a stronger flavor and it’s usually a bit softer than its American counterpart.

American Muenster has a pale color and a smooth texture , with an orange rind that is made from annatto and that is completely edible. The cheese has a very mild flavor and a smooth and soft texture . When it ages, it can develop a sharper flavor, with a more pungent aroma.

It has excellent melting properties , and its mild taste goes well with dishes where the cheese flavor is not the main component. It’s often used in grilled dishes (sandwiches and cheeseburgers) or as a pizza topping. It’s also used as an appetizer , eaten on its own.

Muenster cheese pairs really well with red wines (like pinot noir or merlot) and dry wines (like chardonnay or pinot grigio). It also pairs well with beer and different kinds of meat like beef or poultry. When eaten as a part of a cheese platter, it can go well with apples, dried fruits, grapes, and pears .

Here’s the list of the best Muenster cheese substitutes you can use in your recipes.

1. Port-Salut

Port-Salut is a type of semi-soft cheese that originates in France . It’s one of the oldest cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk, and it has a mellow, sweet flavor . It contains a high percentage of saturated fat but is a good source of protein and calcium .

Port-Salut has a lower price than other artisanal cheese and can be eaten on its own on a cheese platter. His mild flavor makes it a good Muenster substitute, and it also has similar melting properties , making it a good alternative when grilled cheese is required.

2. Monterey Jack

Monterey Jack is a cheese that originated in the United States, specifically in Monterey, California. It’s a semi-hard cheese, made from cow’s milk , known for its mild, sweet, and savory flavor.

It’s commonly used in different cuisines (such as Mexican and Spanish) for its flavor and its melting properties. Both of these characteristics, along with the fact that it’s widely available , make Monterey Jack a good Muenster cheese replacement.

There are different varieties of Monterey Jack , such as Dry Jack (which is an aged, harder version), Pepper Jack (which is flavored with pepper and different herbs), and Mixed Jack(Monterey Jack is mixed with other cheeses like Colby).

Your best bet, if you want a cheese similar to Muenster, is to stick with the less aged , more soft version.

3. Gouda

Gouda is one of the most popular cheeses in the world , typically made from cow’s milk, it has a semi-hard consistency , and it is characterized by an aromatic and sweet flavor and by a dense texture.

There are different types of Gouda that vary based on the aging of the cheese. The younger ones have a milder and lighter flavor , while the older ones can become very tangy. Aged Gouda is usually preferred when looking for a cheese to eat on its own.

When looking for a good substitute for Muenster cheese, it’s better to stick to a younger Gouda : it will have the same mild and light flavor and will turn much creamier when melted, making it a good Muenster cheese alternative in all those recipes that call for melting cheese.

4. Mozzarella

Mozzarella is an Italian cheese, widely known and one of the most popular cheeses in the world. Unlike other kinds of cheese, mozzarella is eaten fresh and not aged : this gives it a delicate flavor and a light aroma of cream. It is also a low-fat cheese, high in proteins and vitamins.

There are a lot of different varieties of mozzarella , but if you’re looking for a Munster cheese alternative, it’s better to stick to a low-moisture one sold specifically as a pizza topping.

This kind of mozzarella has a denser texture and a slightly more flavored taste . It melts perfectly and it’s a staple when making pizza because it doesn’t release water like other types of mozzarella. This makes it a perfect substitute for shredded Muenster cheese.

5. Havarti

Havarti is a semi-hard cheese , native to Denmark, with a springy texture and a pale yellow color . It’s made from cow’s milk and it’s well balanced and buttery , with a mild taste that makes it a good Muenster cheese alternative.

There are two different kinds of Havarti : the first one, made with whole pasteurized cow’s milk, and the cream Havarti , which has added cream.

Havarti is typically aged for three months and develops a nutty, sweet flavor. It’s a perfect cheese to eat on its own , but it still works perfectly well when melted . You can substitute it for Muenster both in a cheese platter and in a recipe that calls for melting cheese.

6. Provolone

Provolone is a traditional stretched-curd Italian cheese, largely available worldwide and well known for its versatility and flavor .

It’s made from cow’s milk and has a creamy interior and a semi-hard exterior . It usually comes in two varieties: provolone dolce (aged for three months, creamier and more delicate) and provolone piccante (aged for a longer time, sharper and stronger).

The variety that comes closer to the Muenster cheese flavor is the first one, provolone dolce, milder and with a delicate taste. It can be used to cook or as a grating cheese, eaten on its own, or as the main ingredient in a salad. Provolone also melts really well , so it can work as a Muenster substitute in sandwiches and cheeseburgers.

7. Cheddar

If you’re looking for a Muenster cheese substitute and you’re mainly interested in the melting properties of the cheese , cheddar can be a really good option.

Cheddar is a widely known and used cheese in a variety of recipes and dishes . It’s bright and mellow and has a particular taste that depends mainly on the age of the cheese.

A young Cheddar is smooth and soft, with a milder taste, while an older Cheddar becomes more crumbly and dry, acquiring more of a sharp taste with time. When looking for a Muenster cheese replacement, a mild Cheddar is your best option .

If you want something with a similar color to Muenster cheese, you can opt for white Cheddar . The only difference between white Cheddar and yellow Cheddar is food coloring, so it’s only a matter of aesthetic. A yellow Cheddar and a white Cheddar of the same age have virtually the same taste.

The melting qualities of this cheese make it a perfect substitute for Muenster cheese if you want something with the same mild flavor, that also melts really well.

8. Edam

Edam is a cheese made from cow’s milk, that originates in the northern regions of the Netherlands . It’s a widely used cheese, known for its mild and savory flavor and its versatility.

Edam is usually sold in small flat ended spheres with a light yellow interior and a coated exterior of red paraffin. Young Edam has a creamy texture and a mild taste, while older Edam is more intense in flavor and drier in texture.

Young Edam has a salty and nutty taste that resembles the same taste of Muenster: it works better as an alternative to Muenster on a cheese platter , where it goes well with fruit such as peaches, apricots, and cherries.

9. Brick Cheese

Brick cheese is another good option if you’re looking for a melting Muenster cheese substitute . Brick cheese comes from the United States, and it’s made in a brick-shaped form.

The color can range from pale yellow to white , and, when the cheese is young, it has a sweet and mild flavor . The flavor gets sharper and riper with age, but a younger brick cheese works better as a Muenster substitute.

Brick cheese has great melting properties , so it’s a perfect substitute when it comes to pizza or grilled recipes like sandwiches or hamburgers.

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.

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.

Anyone who loves Olive Garden is probably also a big fan of the bottomless basket of warm, garlicky breadsticks served before each meal at the huge Italian casual chain. My guess is that the breadsticks are proofed, and then sent to each restaurant where they are baked until golden brown, brushed with butter and sprinkled with garlic salt. Getting the bread just right for a good Olive Garden breadstick recipe was tricky—I tried several different amounts of yeast in all-purpose flour, but then settled on bread flour to give these breadsticks the same chewy bite as the originals. The two-stage rising process is also a crucial step in this much requested homemade Olive Garden breadstick recipe. Also check out our Olive Garden Italian salad dressing recipe.

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.

This clone 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.

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.

By sneaking around to the back of a HoneyBaked Ham store I witnessed the glazing process through an open door. The hams are delivered to each of the 300 HoneyBaked outlets already smoked, but without the glaze. It is only when the ham gets to your local HoneyBaked store that a special machine thin-slices the tender meat in a spiral fashion around the bone. Then, one at a time, each ham is then coated with the glaze—a blend that is similar to what might be used to make pumpkin pie. This sweet coating is then caramelized with a blowtorch by hand until the glaze bubbles and melts, turning golden brown. If needed, more of the coating is added, and the blowtorch is fired up until the glaze is just right. It's this careful process that turns the same size ham that costs 20 dollars in a supermarket into one that customers gladly shell out 3 to 4 times as much to share during the holiday season.

For this HoneyBaked Ham glaze copycat recipe, we will re-create the glaze that you can apply to a smoked/cooked bone-in ham of your choice. Look for a ham that is pre-sliced. Otherwise you'll have to slice it yourself with a sharp knife, then the glaze will be applied. To get the coating just right you must use a blowtorch. Get the kind that is used for creme brulee from almost any kitchen supply store. They're usually pretty cheap. And don't worry—I didn't leave out an ingredient. No honey is necessary to re-create this flavorful glaze.

At his candy factory In York, Pennsylvania, in the late 1930s, Henry C. Kessler first concocted this minty confection. The York Cone Company was originally established to make ice cream cones, but by the end of World War II the peppermint patty had become so popular that the company discontinued all other products. In 1972 the company was sold to Peter Paul, manufacturers of Almond Joy and Mounds. Cadbury USA purchased the firm in 1978, and in 1988 the York Peppermint Pattie became the property of Hershey USA.

Other chocolate-covered peppermints were manufactured before the York Peppermint Pattie came on the market, but Kessler's version was firm and crisp, while the competition was soft and gummy. One former employee and York resident remembered the final test the patty went through before it left the factory. "It was a snap test. If the candy didn't break clean in the middle, it was a second." For years, seconds were sold to visitors at the plant for fifty cents a pound.

I've created a ton of famous candy recipes. See if I hacked your favorites here.

You've got a hankerin' for pancakes or biscuits, but the recipe calls for Bisquick, and you're plum out. Not to worry. Now you can make a clone of the popular baking mix at home with just four simple ingredients. Store-bought Bisquick includes shortening, salt, flour, and leavening, so that's exactly what we need to duplicate it perfectly at home. This recipe makes about 6 cups of the stuff, which, just like the real thing, you can keep sealed up in a container in your pantry until it's flapjack time. When that time comes, just add milk and eggs for pancakes or waffles, or only milk if it's biscuits you want. You'll find all those recipes below in the "Tidbits."

On his Food Network TV show Emeril Lagasse mentions "Essence" almost as much as "Bam!" and "Kick it up a notch!" He claims to put his special spice blend on "everything but ice cream." He suggests using it all your meats, veggies and pasta, and combining it with oil to use as a marinade. If you can't get your hands on the version that's sold in the bottle here's how to whip up a quick clone at home. (This recipe I created to clone the taste of the bottled product found in stores is different from the recipe in Emeril's cookbooks.)

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Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!

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.

Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!

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.

Some say it's the best off-the-shelf barbecue sauce in the business. That secret combination of molasses, liquid smoke, and spices makes this stuff irresistible on chicken, ribs, or a juicy hamburger. Keep it fresh for your next cookout by whipping up your own home clone batch from scratch.

Try more famous copycat sauce recipes here.

Look at what F. W. Rueckheim started. He was the guy who, back in the late 1800s, made candy-coated popcorn a national treasure with the invention of Cracker Jack. Now we've got Fiddle-Faddle, Screaming Yellow Zonkers, Crunch 'n Munch so many other candy-coated popcorns. Sure, these other varieties don't have the traditional prize inside the box, but let's face it, those prizes are pretty weak compared to what used to be found at the bottom of a box of Cracker Jack when I was a kid. And the old-fashioned molasses formula used on Cracker Jack just doesn't have the appeal of some of the other tantalizing candy coatings on popcorn today. Butter toffee is a good example, so that's what I've reverse-engineered for you here. It's a simple recipe that makes a finished product so tasty you'll have to beg someone to take it away from you before you finish the whole bowl by yourself. All you need is a candy thermometer, some microwave popcorn, and a few other basic ingredients to re-create a home version of popcorn heaven.

Menu Description: "Here they are in all their lip-smacking, award-winning glory: Buffalo, New York-style chicken wings spun in your favorite signature sauce."

Since Buffalo, New York was too far away, Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery satisfied their overwhelming craving in 1981 by opening a spicy chicken wing restaurant close to home in Kent, Ohio. With signature sauces and a festive atmosphere, the chain has now evolved from a college campus sports bar with wings to a family restaurant with over 300 units. While frying chicken wings is no real secret—simply drop them in hot shortening for about 10 minutes—the delicious spicy sauces make the wings special. There are 12 varieties of sauce available to coat your crispy chicken parts at the chain, and I'm presenting clones for the more traditional flavors. These sauces are very thick, almost like dressing or dip, so we'll use an emulsifying technique that will ensure a creamy final product where the oil won't separate from the other ingredients. Here is the chicken wing cooking and coating technique, followed by clones for the most popular sauces: Spicy Garlic, Medium and Hot. The sauce recipes might look the same at first, but each has slight variations make your sauce hotter or milder by adjusting the level of cayenne pepper. You can find Frank's pepper sauce by the other hot sauces in your market. If you can't find that brand, you can also use Crystal Louisiana hot sauce.

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.

Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

The real thing found in the deli section of your market is used on crackers, as a dip for raw vegetables, or even as a spread on sandwiches, burgers, and wraps. Now I've come up with an easy way to duplicate Rondele using a 12-ounce tub of whipped cream cheese—so you'll happily get three times the amount of the 4-ounce original! Just be sure when mixing your version that you don't over mix, or you will destroy the fluffiness of the whipped cheese. The Italian seasoning included here is a dried herb blend (usually marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, oregano, and basil) found near the other bottled herbs and spices in your market. I used McCormick brand for this Rondele garlic & herbs cheese spread clone recipe, but any brand should work fine. Since the herbs are dried, the flavor is more subtle than it would be with fresh herbs, even after the dried bits soak up moisture from the cheese. And that's just want we want for a good clone.

For many years this entree has been a top menu choice at Maggiano's, the 54-unit Italian chain from Brinker, the same company that operates Chili’s Grill & Bar. The $30 restaurant dish consists of three 2½-ounce tenderloin steaks, swimming in a fantastic balsamic cream sauce with sliced portobello mushrooms—but a home version of the signature dish is only seven easy steps away, and it won't hit you in the wallet as hard as the pricey original.

Cracking this dish required a perfect hack of the sauce, and that came quickly after obtaining some very reliable information from my incredibly helpful server/informant at a Las Vegas Maggiano’s. Let’s call him Skippy.

According to Skippy, the balsamic cream sauce is as simple as mixing a sweet balsamic glaze with the chain’s creamy alfredo sauce. So, I first got a sample of Maggiano’s alfredo sauce and figured out how to replicate it. Once that was done, I measured increments of balsamic glaze into the alfredo sauce until the color and flavor matched the original. The rest of the recipe was easy.

This recipe will make two servings of the dish and includes preparation for the tenderloins and sauce. If you’d like to complete the dish the way it’s served at the restaurant (as in the photo), add some garlic mashed potatoes on the side, using my hack for Olive Garden Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

Over the years I've hacked a bunch of items from Chili's menu, including their Fajitas, Baby Back Ribs, Salsa, Chili Queso, Southwestern Eggrolls, Chicken Crispers, Boneless Wings, and more, but it wasn’t until recently that I got the chance to work on a hack for the chain’s award-winning Original Chili. Why it took so long, I have no idea.

The chili served at Chili’s is a Texas-style con carne recipe, which traditionally means no beans and no tomato. You won’t find any beans in this recipe or chunks of tomato, but their chili does have a tomato base to boost flavor, so I’m adding that into the mix by including one 6-ounce can of tomato paste. As it turns out, that small can is just the right amount.

The preparation technique is simple: brown the beef, drain off the fat, then add some of the fat back to the empty pan to sauté the onions and peppers in. When those are done, you add the beef back to the pan along with the remaining ingredients and simmer for 1½ hours. That will be just long enough to braise the beef and tenderize it, and to thicken the chili to a perfect consistency.

When the chili’s done, top each serving with a cheddar/pepper Jack blend, and some crispy tortilla bits. Then pass out the spoons.

Check here more of my Chili's copycat recipes.

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.

It's shrimp, it's bacon, it's cheese what's not to like about this Red Lobster bacon-wrapped shrimp recipe? It's one of the groovy appetizers on the Red Lobster menu, and now you can re-create it at your crib. Find some large shrimp, a wooden skewer or toothpicks, and cook the bacon about halfway to done before you begin. Mix up clones of Red Lobster's top secret seasoning and cilantro-ranch dipping sauce, and you're minutes away from a great appetizer or party finger food dish. For other bacon-inspired dishes, try making Red Lobster's bacon-wrapped scallops recipe!

Cranberries, white chocolate chips, walnuts, and rolled oats get together in this recreation of a cookie that's not only great for the holidays but will also turn the regular days into something special. As with any proper Mrs. Fields cookie clone, these cookies will, at first, seem underdone when they come out of the oven. But when the cookies cool down you will have a couple dozen of the sweet treats with slightly crispy edges and soft, gooey centers.

Try my very first Top Secret Recipe: Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookie here.

Menu Description: "Spicy, shredded beef, braised with our own chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano."

The original Mexican dish barbacoa was traditionally prepared by cooking almost any kind of meat goat, fish, chicken, or cow cheek meat, to name just a few, in a pit covered with leaves over low heat for many hours, until tender. When the dish made its way into the United States via Texas the word transformed into "barbecue" and the preparation changed to incorporate above-ground techniques such as smoking and grilling. The good news is that we can recreate the beef barbacoa that Chipotle has made popular on its ginormous burritos without digging any holes in our backyard or tracking down a local source for fresh cow faces. After braising about 30 pounds of chuck roasts, I finally discovered the perfect Chipotle Mexican Grill barbacoa burrito copycat recipe with a taste-alike adobo sauce that fills your roast with flavor as it slowly cooks to a fork-tender delicacy on your stovetop over 5 to 6 hours. Part of the secret for great adobo sauce is toasting whole cumin seeds and cloves and then grinding them in a coffee grinder (measure the spices after grinding them). Since the braising process takes so long, start early in the day and get ready for a big dinner, because I've also included clones here for Chipotle's pico de gallo, pinto beans, and delicious cilantro-lime rice to make your burritos complete. You can add your choice of cheese, plus guacamole and sour cream for a super-deluxe clone version. If you prefer chicken burritos, head on over to my clone recipe for Qdoba Grilled Adobo Chicken.

Menu Description: "Our creamy cheesecake with chunks of white chocolate and swirls of imported seedless raspberries throughout. Baked in a chocolate crust and finished with white chocolate shavings and whipped cream."

Heres how to recreate a home version of the cheesecake that many claim is the best they've ever had. Raspberry preserves are the secret ingredient that is swirled into the cream cheese that's poured into a crumbled chocolate cookie crust. Yum. No wonder this cheesecake is the number one pick from the chain's massive list of cheesecake choices.

Texan David Pace had been selling 58 different varieties of jam, jellies, and sauces from the back of his liquor store in the 1940s when he came up with a recipe for a thick and spicy tomato-based sauce he dubbed "Picante." When sales of David's new sauce took off, he concentrated all his efforts on marketing his all-natural, preservative-free product, and designed the sauces famous hourglass-shaped jar (to keep it from tipping over). Now America's number one Mexican hot sauce brand, Pace Foods, makes it known that it still uses only fresh jalapeno peppers in the sauces, rather than the brined, less flavorful jalapenos—like those canned nacho slices. Each year all the fresh jalapenos used by the company weigh in at around 30 million pounds, and the nation gobbles up around 120 million pounds of the spicy sauces. Here's a simple recipe to make a kitchen copy of the medium heat-level Pace Picante Sauce, which was the first variety David created. The mild and hot versions were added in 1981, and you'll find clones for those at the bottom of the recipe in Tidbits.

Take a look at all the other famous sauces you can make at home here.

Even though it's now owned and produced by the Clorox Company, Original K.C. Masterpiece barbecue sauce is the same as when it was first created in good ole Kansas City, USA. This is the sauce that steals awards from all the other popular sauces on the market. Now it's sold in a variety of flavors. But this is the clone for the original, and you'll find it very easy to make. Just throw all of the ingredients in a saucepan, crank it up to a boil, then simmer for about an hour. Done deal. And just like the original Masterpiece, this stuff will make a work of art out of any of your grilled meats, or burgers and sandwiches, and as a dipping sauce or marinade.

Complete your cookout with this KFC Cole Slaw recipe.

When you check in at one of more than 250 hotels run by this U.S. chain, you are handed a bag from a warming oven that contains two soft and delicious chocolate chip cookies. This is a tradition that began in the early 80s using a recipe from a small bakery in Atlanta. All of the cookies are baked fresh every day on the hotel premises. The chain claims to give out about 29,000 cookies every day. Raves for the cookies from customers convinced the hotel chain to start selling tins of the cookies online. But if you've got an insatiable chocolate chip cookie urge that can't wait for a package to be delivered, you'll want to try this cloned version. Just be sure to get the cookies out of the oven when they are barely turning brown so that they are soft and chewy in the middle when cool.

Now that you're in the swing of things, try baking more famous cookies from my recipes here.

Update 1/13/17: I like to drop the baking temperature to 325 degrees F for a chewier (better) cookie. Cook for about the same amount of time, 16 to 18 minutes.

Update 4/10/20: In April, Hilton Hotels released the actual recipe for the DoubleTree Hotels Signature Cookie for the first time. You can open that recipe in another window to see how close the real recipe revealed in 2020 comes to this clone recipe I created in 2002.

Here's a great one for the holidays, or anytime you want, really. It's a mint chocolate brownie with peppermint buttercream frosting on top and creamy chocolate frosting on top of that. And to simplify the cloning process, we start with a common fudge brownie mix. By changing the required ingredients listed on the brownie mix box and modifying some steps, we can improve on the finished product. Rather than oil, use a stick of melted butter in your brownies for a richer, better flavor. And cook the brownies at a slightly lower temperature so that they come out moist and chewy. Since this recipe is for peppermint brownies, add just a bit of peppermint extract to the batter. The peppermint brownies from Starbucks have red and white frosting drizzled lightly across the top. To duplicate this easily you can buy premade red and white colored frostings that come in little cans with tips included.

Check out my other Starbucks copycat recipes here.

This soup happens to be one of Chili's most raved-about items, and the subject of many a recipe search here on the site. Part of the secret in crafting your clone is the addition of masa harina—a corn flour that you'll find in your supermarket near the other flours, or where all the Mexican foodstuffs are stocked.

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.

So, you need to make some buttery yellow cake, but you don't have any mix in the pantry. Or perhaps you love the moist and delicious cake made from a box, but aren't a big fan of all the polysyllabic preservatives and thickeners that come along for the ride. Here is the TSR way to make homemade yellow cake mix from scratch using basic baking ingredients. You can store the cloned dry mix in a sealed container for several weeks in a cabinet until you need it. Then, when you're ready to make the cake, simply add water, oil, and eggs to the mix in the exact measurements required by the original, then pour the batter into a pan and pop it in the oven. Done.

GrandMa's Cookie Company was founded back in 1914 by Foster Wheeler, but it wasn't until 1977 that the company introduced the popular Big Cookie. This large, soft cookie comes two to a pack and is offered in several varieties, including oatmeal raisin. Now you can bake up a couple batches of your own with this GrandMa's oatmeal raisin cookies copycat. Just be sure not to over bake these. You want the cookies soft and chewy when cool—just like a happy grandma would make. Be sure to take the cookies out of the oven when they are just beginning to turn light brown around the edges.

You might also like my copycat for GrandMa's Peanut Butter Big Cookies.

Update 1/13/17: For an improved GrandMa's Big Cookies recipe, replace the 1/2 cup shortening with 3/4 cup softened unsalted butter. Also, reduce baking soda to 1 1/2 teaspoons and cinnamon to 1/2 teaspoon. Raising the oven temperature a little—to 300 degrees F—will help with browning and still keep the cookies chewy. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.

Healthy Choice was one of the first low-fat brands to hit the stores. The Wall Street Journal reported in 1993, "When Healthy Choice dinners first arrived in stores, big competitors were caught off guard: nothing quite like it had ever been marketed on a large scale." But nowadays the competition ain't so lean. You'll find more than a dozen brands devoted to the same low-fat, healthy claims in stores, all fighting it out for shelf space and market share.

If you like your marinara sauce with big chunks of veggies in it, then this is the one you'll want to make. The canned tomatoes, plus fresh mushrooms, onion, and garlic make for a thicker sauce that works great over your favorite pasta dish.

Nutrition Facts
Servings size–1/2 cup
Total servings–5
Calories per serving–45
Fat per serving–0g

Here's a way to make plenty of hot sauce that tastes just like the stuff people are pouring over the tacos at Taco Bell. If you like it even hotter, check out my recipes for Taco Bell Diablo Sauce, Fire Border Sauce, and Lava Sauce.

Now that you've got your sauce, whatcha gonna slather it on? Find all your favorite Taco Bell copycat recipes here.

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.

Menu Description: "Dare to indulge with a white chocolate and walnut blondie under a scoop of ice cream and chopped walnuts. Served warm and topped at your table with a rich, sizzling maple butter sauce."

For Applebee's regulars, this dessert is a hands-down favorite. In a hot skillet comes a delicious slice of white chocolate and walnut cake—it's similar to a brownie in texture topped with a scoop of ice cream and warm maple butter sauce bubbling as it hits the pan. Commence with the salivating. To recreate this pile of pleasure at home you start by making the cake from scratch. For the white chocolate, get a couple of 4-ounce bars or one 8-ounce bar and chop it into chunks. White chocolate chunks work best in this Applebee's blondie copycat recipe, but you can certainly use white chocolate chips in a pinch. While the blondie cake is baking, whip up the sauce—it will be fluffy at first. When you're ready to serve the dessert, zap the sauce in the microwave until it's hot and creamy. Arrange the decadence in a hot skillet and serve it sizzling to happy, drooling mouths.

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.

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."

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