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Behold the Copycat

by Cindy on June 9, 2014 · 2 comments

in Food

I’ve been writing a lot of ‘serious’ posts lately for Midlife Finance. That’s fine, of course. There’s merit in discussing ladies bagWarren Buffet and whether you can afford It. (Whatever ‘It‘ is.) But once in a while, you need to take things a little easier. Especially in summertime, when the air’s warm and you just want to lounge at the nearest restaurant patio, sipping [insert your favorite drink here] and eating [ditto]. 

     But it’s two weeks until you get paid — and your wallet isn’t listening to those cravings.

     Voila — behold the copycat. 

     Amazon is chock-full of books and ideas for copying your favorite dishes from restaurants — especially national chains. Some of the best are in Ron Douglas’ America’s Most-Wanted Recipes, including this one, the first in the series.

Douglas not only gives you the recipe, but a brief history of each restaurant’s start. (Fascinating.) He analyzes why each dish is known for its special savor, and gives its nutritional content. These recipes can be a little complicated — but that’s what makes them a good choice for planning ahead. (Parties, too.)

The Internet also has ideas for replicating the restaurant and coffeehouse food and drinks you love. TakeStarbucks’ Frappuccino, that icy coffee drink that goes down so smoothly on a hot, dusty afternoon.  It’s terrific, but the cost of those frosty cups adds up. Make it at home once in a while, and you’ll save a substantial amount of cash, while still indulging yourself. This version, from Food.com, is a good place to start.

‘STARBUCKS’-STYLE FRAPPUCCINO 

3/4 cup cold coffee (double-strength; leftovers work for this)

1 cup milk (full-fat is richer, but low-fat will work)

2 cups crushed ice

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons chocolate syrup

Blenderize; that’s it! Top with whipped cream and a drizzle of syrup, then sip slowly on a muggy day. Serves two.

Add a few of those tiny vanilla scones Starbucks specializes in, and your treat’s complete. You can copycat it yourself; the secret is vanilla pudding mix. (From Crazy for Crust)

     My summertime nemesis is Kentucky Fried Chicken’s original recipe fried chicken. Take a bucket of this crunchy treat out to your local park, and you’ve got a picnic supper worth lingering over. But if your budget is a little tight, try making it, instead, using a version of Copykat’s basic recipe.

‘KFC’-STYLE FRIED CHICKEN (a la ‘Copykat‘)

1 broiler fryer – cut up
3 cups water
1 tablespoon. salt
1 tsp. MSG*
2 tsp. onion powder
2 pkg. DRY instant chicken broth (or blenderize a few bouillon cubes, instead)

 2 tsp. seasoned salt
2 tsp. fines herbs**
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 cup flour

1. Cover chicken with mixture of water and salt. Chill in bowl for least 1 hour.
2. Combine herbs, onion powder, seasoned salt, instant chicken broth, and pepper in a blender and mix well. Place this mixture in a bowl. Add the flour to this bowl. Mix flour and seasonings well.
3. Remove chicken from water, and dip it into the flour mixture coat well. Place coated pieces on a plate for 5 minutes.
4. Melt enough shortening or salad oil to make 1 inch depth in a large skillet. Heat to 375 degrees. Fry chicken pieces turning once, every 5 minutes, be sure to cook chicken until done. Lift chicken out and drain on paper towels. Keep the chicken warm in the oven by placing it in the oven, and serve when all pieces are finished cooking.

*MSG, or Monosodium Glutamate, accents flavors — but some people are allergic to it. Leave out, if you’re not sure. (It’s also sold as ‘Accent.’) 

**’Fines herbs,’ a French mix, is sometimes hard to find. Substitute poultry seasoning, or if you really like those ‘eleven herbs and spices,’ use the mix given in the recipe below.

Copycat Recipe Guide’s version is more specific on herbs, but the other ingredient and general process is very similar — pressure fry (or deep fry) the chicken to get that crunchy, delickety coating.

Copycat Recipes has dozens of restaurant recipe look-alikes, ranging from the Melting Pot’s Swiss Fondue to Taco Bell’s Breakfast Wrap — and everything between.

     You need coleslaw, too. KFC’s coleslaw was one of the side dishes I craved most while pregnantfor both kids. And it’s surprisingly easy to emulate, thanks to Copy Cat Recipe Guide – a good source for other KFC recipes, including their potato wedges, buttermilk biscuitsand of course, fried chicken.

‘KFC’-STYLE COLESLAW

8 cups green cabbage, chopped

1/4 cup carrots, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped onion (I’d add 1/4 cup more)

3/4 cups mayonnaise  (or substitute 1/4 cup mayo and 1/2 cup buttermilk dressing)

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon each salt, pepper and paprika

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder

Mix the vegetables together in a bowl; mix the rest of the ingredients in a measuring cup, and pour over, stirring to blend. Let rest in your refrigerator for a few hours, to let the flavors develop. Serves 8 — if you’re not pregnant, that is.

Relax and enjoyyou can think about house-hunting later.

Use purple cabbage for a more colorful result

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Chad June 9, 2014 at 10:57 am

MLF,

This is an awesome way to save money if you’re constantly eating fast food or restaurant food. Especially the Frappuccino! Starbucks makes a killing. I have coworkers who go to SBX 3+ times a week. Insanity.

Reply

Cindy Brick June 13, 2014 at 7:31 pm

It doesn’t seem like much of a savings once — but substitute one of these copycat recipes for a trip to the restaurant (or the coffee place), once a week or even once a month. It really adds up!

Thanks for writing.

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