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Last summer I was waddling around, 8 months pregnant with a monster craving for my favorite Mexican joint.  It was one of those crazy cravings like I could kill someone if I didn’t get it.  So I huffed and puffed all the way down to this place only to find it was CLOSED!! OUT OF BUSINESS! BELLY UP! And I was about to join it, literally, with my back on the pavement and my swollen feet and belly pointing at the sky. I was horrified, hysterical, crying why why WHY???  Don’t they know never to come between a pregnant lady and her food?  There was nothing I could do but hoist myself back into the car and drive home, although I thought of driving straight through the front window.

We all have those restaurants we can’t live without, whether we are dining in or carrying out.  But sometimes those great places are just not on the menu for us.  Maybe we don’t have the energy to go out, maybe the place we really want has closed down in this economy or it is on the other side of the country.  Most likely of all, we just don’t have room in the budget for that kind of splurge.  The good new is, maybe we don’t have to give up on these treats entirely.  Here are some tips for faking those great dishes you crave.

The first place you can search is in your grocer’s freezer. Several popular restaurants are now packaging up some of their favorite dishes and sending them to grocery stores everywhere.  If you are jonesing for some T.G.I. Friday’s, Claim Jumper, Marie Calendars, or P.F. Chang’s swing by the frozen section. True, some dishes don’t live up to the “real” thing but some do and the others will do in a pinch.

There is also pretty great stuff in the dry goods isle from great eateries.  Macaroni Grill sells bottled pasta sauce and dry pasta for you to whip up fresh at home.  Taco Bell has made its sauces and seasonings available.  BBQ sauces from Tony Roma’s and Famous Dave’s will taste just as good, maybe better on ribs you dress at home.

Almost every great BBQ joint I have been to, and I have been to many (love me some ribs!) sell their signature sauces separate, usually right in the front of the restaurant.  One example is the world famous Corky’s BBQ in Memphis.  And it isn’t just sauce from BBQ joints.  Many restaurants are willing to sell you just their masterpieces, their prizewinners, what they are famous for.  You can get Fuddruckers buns, Brick Oven’s root beer, Claim Jumper’s baked goods like the huge Chocolate Motherload Cake and dinner rolls, all right out in front, easy to stop by and grab.

Snoop around at your local bookstores and possibly even the library.  Cookbooks have been assembled now with some of the most sought after dishes.  I have seen one with Olive Garden’s lasagna and breadsticks and another with Red Lobster’s greed-inducing cheddar biscuits.

Finally, don’t forget about the be all end all of information in this day and age: the internet.  You would be surprised to see how many websites out there have the info to do your own take out.  At-home-chefs have managed through trial and error or from past experience working at popular restaurants to figure out many of the recipes we all drool over. This is where I found the recipe for that chicken green chili stuffed quesadilla I desperately needed last summer.

In closing, remember that Seinfeld episode with the amazing soup that makes your knees buckle?  Then Elaine screwed it up for everyone?  In case you have heard the dreaded words “No Soup For You!”  No worries.  You’ve got it covered.  The recipes are in the armoire (or the internet).  Free yourself from the soup Nazi!

Share your own tips here.  Do you find it cheaper to make your restaurant favorites at home?  How do you “fake it” as you make it?

Article publié pour la première fois le 27/03/2012