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McDonald’s Japan Gets Purple Sweet Potato Shakes

McDonald’s Japan Gets Purple Sweet Potato Shakes

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McDonald’s Japan mixes purple sweet potato milkshakes for fall

McDonald's Japan is rolling out pretty purple milkshakes for fall.

International fast food chains get the most interesting menu items, and this season McDonald’s Japan is rolling out one of the prettiest limited-time offerings in the form of a milkshake made with purple sweet potatoes.

According to RocketNews24, the chain’s new purple sweet potato milkshake is a seasonal Japanese twist on the classic vanilla milkshake. Purple sweet potatoes have a slightly richer flavor and denser texture than regular orange or yellow sweet potatoes, and the deep purple color gives the milkshake an appealing shade that seems perfectly suited to posting on Instagram.

The Purple Sweet Potato McShake will go on sale in Japan on September 10 and should stay on the menu until the end of October. A small shake will sell for 100 yen, or 95 cents. A medium one will run 195 yen, or $1.85. If you are not in Japan, check out our best sweet potato recipes for some interesting ways to use sweet potatoes yourself.

McChoco Potatoes – McDonalds Chocolate Fries in Japan

Several times a year, McDonalds Japan flexes its creative marketing muscles and brings us products that leave foreigners in Japan as well as the rest of the world scratching their collective heads. As collective heads are being scratched, loads of media and blog attention gets thrown McDonalds way. It’s pretty impressive.

Whether we’re talking squid ink black hamburger buns and cheese, purple sweet potato milk shakes, or World Cup inspired burgers, McDonalds knows how to get attention.

This time they’re back to their old tricks with the McChoco Potatoes! Basically, for a limited time at McDonalds locations throughout Japan you can get a large McDonalds French fries with the special Double Chocolate sauce. The fries come in a special McFry Potato Chocolate Sauce box, but several people have told me via social media that when they got their chocolate fries they came in a standard McDonalds French fry box. The fries will set you back 330 yen. The McDonalds staff in Kobe must have known that I was there representing so they of course gave me the official fries box!

I got mine at a McDonalds location in Sannomiya in Kobe, Japan. That particular location was quite full so there were no available seats for this intrepid food taster and JustJapanStuff “reporter” so I was forced to sit on a bench outside the restaurant for the entire world to bask in my glory.

I really wasn’t sure how this review would go. I am a big fan of salty snacks like potato chips. I also love plain French fries with salt and the concept of them being sweet just seemed repugnant to me. Since I thought the McChoco fries were an imminent disaster I ate about ¼ of them before I squirted on the chocolate sauce.

The sauce comes in a special squeeze packet that mixed both white and milk chocolate together. I slathered the fries in the chocolate sauce and dug in.

I was actually quite surprised. Although not a taste I would normally go for, the fries were actually ok. They were quite edible in fact. I could see that the chocolate/salty flavor would appeal to people.

Sitting on that bench watching the world go by in Kobe and the world watching me eat fries and video blog about them, I was relatively satisfied. At the same time I was a little disappointed because I was really looking forward to panning the McChoco Potatoes here on JustJapanStuff.

No to worry though, Japan won’t let this intrepid JustJapanStuff “reporter” down. Soon Japan will give me another bizarre food product I can mock with great vigor!

Pineapple-flavored McDonald’s shake

McDonald’s Japan’s “Summer Shake” series this year will start off with Okinawa Pineapple!

McDonld’s shakes are always a great way to cool down, and this summer in Japan, you’ll be able to do exactly that with their series of “Summer Shakes“, which will be released as part of their “By McSWEETS” line of products.

They’ll be kicking off the seasonal shake series with a refreshing pineapple flavor using 100% Okinawa grown pineapples. The cool drink infused with the rich sweetness and tang of pineapples should be perfect as the weather gets warmer in the coming months.

Okinawa, the islands in the south of Japan, is a major pineapple producing area for the country and is also known as a resort with beautiful beaches, which adds to the tropical image of the drink.

The Okinawa Pineapple shake will be available at McDonald’s locations across Japan from June 22 to mid-July for 120 yen in a small size and 200 yen in a medium size. And for those of you lucky enough to be on the tropical island this month, they’re now already selling the pineapple shake at the 33 McDonald’s locations in Okinawa, ahead of the rest of the country.

If you’re looking for cool, zesty sweetness this summer, this chilled, “drinkable dessert” could be the way to go — it may even transport you (if only momentarily in your imagination) to a beautiful resort on a southern island. And we’ll definitely be looking forward to seeing what shake flavors will follow in the series.

Source: Nikkei press release via

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- McDonald’s Japan welcomes autumn with Purple Sweet Potato McShake -- We try churros from McDonald’s Japan -- McDonald’s extra value meal made entirely out of cookies goes viral

McDonald’s Japan adds purple shakes to their menu

It was only a week ago that McDonald’s Japan introduced its new lineup of extra-matcha green tea dessert drinks. In the fast-paced world of Japanese sweets, though, you’ve always got to be getting ready for the next flavor, and, in this case, the next color.

So while the green tea items remain on the menu, they’ll soon be joined by purple McShakes. In the past, McDonald’s Japan has offered such fruity shake flavors as white peach and Hokkaido melon, which might have you thinking these are grape concoctions, but the star ingredient is something else entirely.

The new McShake is actually flavored with murasaki imo (literally “purple potato”), a type of Japanese sweet potato with a vibrant violet hue.

Murasaki imo are at their most delicious in autumn, which is why McDonald’s is unveiling the drink now (plus decorating the bottom of the cup with autumn leaves). As an added bit of seasonal appeal, it won’t be long until Halloween, a celebration Japan has embraced in a big way over the past few years and is locally associated with the color purple, like with the purple chocolate French fry sauce, purple pancakes, and purple potato salad we’ve seen in years past.

The Murasaki Imo McShakes are priced at 120 yen for a small and 200 yen for a medium. They’re scheduled to go on sale Sept 26 and will be available for a limited but unspecified time, but there’ll be at least a bit of overlap that’ll let you drink them on the same day as Starbucks’ crispy sweet potato Frappuccinos.

Source: McDonald’s via Japaaan

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- [Japan gets Häagen-Dazs Purple Potato ice cream for a limited time](Japan gets Häagen-Dazs Purple Potato ice cream for a limited time)

As the leaves start to turn brown in Japan, it’s time for its desserts to do so too.

When fall comes around, Japan doesn’t just cycle in its fall fashions, but new flavors for desserts too. Some of those are based on seasonal foodstuffs, such as sweet potato or chestnut, but the leaves changing from green to brown also gives an aesthetic reason for caramel-flavored sweets too, which brings us to McDonald’s Japan’s newest shake.

For this special treat, the fast food giant is partnering with Japanese confectioner Morinaga. While Morinaga has a number of popular products, one of its most beloved is its milk caramels, which first went on sale in 1903 and are the inspiration behind the McShake Morinaga Milk Caramel.

▼ One of the facetious ads for the new shake, in which executives from the two companies bicker over whether it should be called the Morinaga Milk Caramel Shake or the McShake Morinaga Flavor, as newly hired McDonald’s employee Michael simply says, “This tastes sooooo good.”

The McShake Morinaga Milk Caramel goes on sale September 21 and is scheduled to stick around until the middle of October. It’s priced at 120 yen (US$1.15) for a small or 200 yen for a medium, with a 50-yen discount if you also bring in a box of regular Morinaga Milk Caramels, with its iconic, retro design. In addition, customers who order the caramel shake on one of its first three days of availability will also receive a free piece of Morinaga Milk Caramel, so that they can compare the drink to its solid-state counterpart.

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s wondering how many more watermelons he can eat before they’re completely out of season.

The Ultimate Purple Sweet Potato Guide

There is no doubt that purple sweet potatoes have gained popularity—just open the pages of Eating Well, Martha Stewart Living, The Washington Post and O, The Oprah Magazine. Even journalist Dan Buettner, author of Blue Zones, credits these purple beauties with being part of the diet and lifestyle that has propelled the longevity of the centenarian Okinawa population. But not all varieties of purple sweet potatoes are created equal.

The four main types of purple-fleshed sweet potatoes consumed in the U.S. are Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, Okinawan sweet potatoes, Murasaki sweet potatoes and Charleston sweet potatoes. Ube (pronounced OO-beh) is available in concentrate form only, not as a fresh potato. Shoppers and foodies alike often confuse these varieties based on skin color, flesh color, different names and even incorrect internet images.

Take a look at what makes each variety different.

Stokes Purple ® Sweet Potatoes

Born in the U.S.A., Stokes Purple ® sweet potatoes originated in Stokes County, North Carolina. They’re now grown commercially in the perfectly sandy soil of central California. Available year-round, these sweet potatoes have purple-tinted skin with a deep purple flesh that intensifies when cooked.

Exclusive to Frieda’s, these unique Stokes Purple ® sweet potatoes have a somewhat moist, moderately starchy texture and are mildly sweet with slight floral notes. They are a good source of vitamin C and contain a high level of anthocyanins—the antioxidant compound also found in blueberries that gives this potato its purple hue.

Some of our favorite ways to use Stokes Purple ® sweet potatoes include sweet potato pie, served as a crostini, or in stuffing, soups, curries and more!

Stokes Purple ® sweet potatoes are available at grocery stores nationwide and on our website at

Okinawan Sweet Potatoes

Believed to have come from the Aztecs of South America with the Spaniards to the Philippines and China in the 1490s, the plant of these sweet potatoes did not reach Japan until the 1600s. The initial planting was in Okinawa—the southern island of Japan—before they were cultivated throughout Japan, hence the name. Eventually these purple tubers ended up in Hawaii and became a part of the native menu—they are also known as Hawaiian sweet potatoes.

With a creamy, beige skin on the outside and bluish-purple flesh on the inside, these sweet potatoes are grown in Hawaii for the U.S. market. Okinawan sweet potatoes have a mildly sweet flavor with notes of honey and a dry, very starchy texture. According to The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner, consumption of these potatoes is correlated to living a longer life.

Murasaki Sweet Potatoes

Murasaki sweet potatoes (also known as Japanese sweet potatoes) first originated in Louisiana, developed by the Louisiana State University’s Sweet Potato Research Station in the early 2000s. Today they are primarily grown in California.

This sweet potato variety has reddish-purple skin with a flesh that is actually white. Their name comes from the Japanese word for purple because of the color of their skin. If you’re wondering what this looks like—check your phone! The sweet potato emoji is actually a Murasaki! Murasaki sweet potatoes have a sweet taste with notes of brown sugar and vanilla, and a very starchy, moist texture, making them good sweet potatoes for baked goods. They are a good substitute for the fresh ube variety given their level of sweetness, although they lack the beautiful purple color that ube is known for.

Charleston Sweet Potatoes

The Charleston sweet potato is not as widely available in grocery stores as some other varieties. Its purple flesh is slightly sweet with earthy notes but it is very dry and chalky in texture so it is commonly used in seasoned savory dishes as well as in Asian cuisine.

Ube (Purple Yam)

Ube is commonly used in desserts all over the world—in ice creams, tarts and even donuts! Also known as a purple yam, ube is a staple of the Filipino kitchen and is well-loved all over Asia as a dessert ingredient for its sweet and nutty flavor.

With all the attention on ube comes the confusion about this elusive yam. (Yes, a true yam!)

First of all, we have never seen ube available fresh in the States. Many people would argue that they indeed have bought some ube, but photographic proof usually shows they have purchased either Stokes Purple ® or Okinawan sweet potatoes (or sometimes even taro root, as it can be slightly pinkish on the inside).

You can blame the misconceptions on the plethora of information and imagery on the internet. If you search for an image of ube yourself, you’ll understand the conundrum. Only when you search for ube’s botanical name Dioscorea alata will you find ube’s true form: a tuber with brown, bark-like skin and flesh that ranges from white with purple specks to lilac.

Now, the ube that is used widely comes as a jam (Ube Halaya) or in a powder, extract, or frozen form. It turns out that preparing these true yams is labor intensive and that is why they’re commonly available in processed forms. Ube pops up in some unexpected places, including in McDonald’s ice cream in Asia and Yogurtland here in the U.S.

Now, go forth and explore all the majesty of purple sweet potatoes and let us know which ones you like best!

We’re getting the shakes just thinking about these delicious-sounding McShakes.

Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido is the site of the amazing Sapporo Snow Festival. But while Hokkaido spends much of the winter under a blanket/sculptures of ice and snow, its status as the largest prefecture in Japan, plus the one with the most arable land, means it’s also the source of many of the nation’s agricultural products.

While potatoes and corn are Hokkaido’s representatives vegetables, on the fruit side of things it’s the island’s melons that get Japanese foodies hearts’ all aflutter. But you won’t have to go all the way to Hokkaido to enjoy them, since later this month McDonald’s Japan will be releasing its new McShake Hokkaido Melon.

The company says its target for the dessert beverage is to recreate the luxurious sensation of biting into a slice of melon that’s had rich, creamy milk poured over it. True to its name, the shake’s ingredients include Hokkaido-grown melon, and in a bit of hometown favoritism, McDonald’s branches in Hokkaido will be the first to start offering them on March 17.

The shakes make their way to other McDonald’s location nationwide a few days later, on March 22. As is the norm for special flavors in Japan, they’ll only be available for a limited time, and McDonald’s has laid out a rather narrow window of opportunity this time, as the Hokkaido Melon shake will exit the menu sometime in he first half of April. Thankfully, though, a small size costs just 120 yen (US$1.10) and a medium a mere 200 yen, making them perfect impulse buys to satisfy your seasonal sweet tooth.

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.

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.

In 1991 Kentucky Fried Chicken bigwigs decided to improve the image of America's third-largest fast-food chain. As a more health-conscious society began to affect sales of fried chicken, the company changed its name to KFC and introduced a lighter fare of skinless chicken.

In the last forty years KFC has experienced extraordinary growth. Five years after first franchising the business, Colonel Harland Sanders had 400 outlets in the United States and Canada. Four years later there were more than 600 franchises, including one in England, the first overseas outlet. In 1964 John Y. Brown, Jr., a young Louisville lawyer, and Jack Massey, a Nashville financier, bought the Colonel's business for $2 million. Only seven years later, in 1971 Heublein, Inc., bought the KFC Corporation for $275 million. Then in 1986, for a whopping $840 million, PepsiCo added KFC to its conglomerate, which now includes Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. That means PepsiCo owns more fast food outlets than any other company including McDonald's.

At each KFC restaurant, workers blend real buttermilk with a dry blend to create the well-known KFC buttermilk biscuits recipe that have made a popular menu item since their introduction in 1982. Pair these buttermilk biscuits with KFC's mac and cheese recipe and the famous KFC Original Recipe Chicken, and skip the drive-thru tonight!

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.

Once a regular menu item, these sweet, saucy wings are now added to the KFC menu on a "limited-time-only" basis in many markets. So how are we to get that sticky sauce all over our faces and hands during those many months when we are cruelly denied our Honey BBQ Wings? Now it's as easy as whipping up this KFC honey BBQ wings recipe that re-creates the crispy breading on the chicken wings, and the sweet-and-smoky honey BBQ sauce. "Limited-time-only" signs—we laugh at you.

How about some famous coleslaw or wedge potatoes? Check out my collection of KFC clone recipes here.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

Order an entree from America's largest seafood restaurant chain and you'll get a basket of some of the planet's tastiest garlic-cheese biscuits served up on the side. For many years this recipe has been the most-searched-for clone recipe on the Internet, according to Red Lobster. As a result, several versions are floating around, including one that was at one time printed right on the box of Bisquick baking mix.

The problem with making biscuits using Bisquick is that if you follow the directions from the box you don't end up with a very fluffy or flakey finished product, since most of the fat in the recipe comes from the shortening that's included in the mix. On its own, room temperature shortening does a poor job creating the light, airy texture you want from good biscuits, and it contributes little in the way of flavor. So, we'll invite some cold butter along on the trip -- with grated Cheddar cheese and a little garlic powder. Now you'll be well on your way to delicious Cheddar Bay. Wherever that is.

Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken and Biscuits has become the third-largest quick-service chicken chain in the world in the twenty-two years since its first store opened in New Orleans in 1972. (KFC has the number-one slot, followed by Church's Chicken). Since then, the chain has grown to 813 units, with many of them overseas in Germany, Japan, Jamaica, Honduras, Guam, and Korea.

Cayenne pepper and white pepper bring the heat to this crispy fried chicken hack.

Did you like this recipe? Get your hands on my secret recipe for Popeyes Chicken Sandwich and other Popeyes dishes here.

Menu Description: "Breaded chicken breast tossed in spicy wing sauce. Served with cool bleu cheese dressing."

This clone re-creates the piquant flavor of traditional Buffalo chicken wings, but the bones and skin are left back in Buffalo. That's because these "wings" are actually nuggets sliced from chicken breast fillets, then breaded and fried, and smothered with the same type of spicy wing sauce used on traditional wings. If you like the flavor of Buffalo wings, but wish you could use a fork, your spicy dreams have come true. Serve these up with some celery sticks and bleu cheese dressing on the side for dipping.

Try more of my Chili's copycat recipes here.

El Pollo Loco, or "The Crazy Chicken," has been growing like mad since it crossed over the border into the United States from Mexico. Francisco Ochoa unknowingly started a food phenomenon internacional in 1975 when he took a family recipe for chicken marinade and opened a small roadside restaurante in Gusave, Mexico. He soon had 90 stores in 20 cities throughout Mexico. The first El Pollo Loco in the United States opened in Los Angeles in December 1980 and was an immediate success. It was only three years later that Ochoa got the attention of bigwigs at Dennys, Inc., who offered him $11.3 million for his U.S. operations. Ochoa took the deal, and El Pollo Loco grew from 17 to more than 200 outlets over the following decade.

Re-create the whole El Pollo Loco experience at home with my copycat recipes for avocado salsa, pinto beans, Spanish rice, and bbq black beans.

To copy Taco Bell's most famous burrito at home you first must assemble the meaty foundation of many of the chain's top-selling products: the spiced ground beef. Toss it and seven other tasty ingredients into a large flour tortilla and fold using the same technique as taught to new recruits to the chain. Add your favorite hot sauce for a bit of heat, or clone a Taco Bell hot sauce, such as the Taco Bell Fire Border Sauce with the clone recipe here.

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

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

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

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

The easy-melting, individually-wrapped Kraft Cheddar Singles are a perfect secret ingredient for this Panera Bread broccoli cheddar soup recipe that's served at this top soup stop. In this clone, fresh broccoli is first steamed, then diced into little bits before you combine it with chicken broth, half-and-half, shredded carrot, and onion. Now you're just 30 minutes away from soup spoon go-time.

Click here for more of my copycat Panera Bread recipes.

Since McDonald's doesn't sell onion rings, these crunchy, golden hoops from the world's number two restaurant chain are the most popular onion rings in the world. There are more than 12,000 Burger Kings in 61 countries these days, and after French fries, onion rings are the second-most popular companion to the chain's signature Whopper sandwich. Check out how simple it is to clone a whopping four dozen onion rings from one onion, using this triple-breading process. When frying, trans fat-free vegetable shortening makes for the best Burger King Onion Rings recipe, but you can get by fine using vegetable oil if that's the way you want to go.. (For a great dipping sauce—similar to Outback's Bloomin' Onion sauce—check out my clone recipe for Burger King's Zesty Onion Ring Dipping Sauce.)

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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.

Every brand of hummus I've tried over the years has been just so-so in taste and texture, until I discovered Sabra. Now this ultra-smooth hummus—which has been rated number one in a blind taste test—is the only hummus in my fridge, unless I've made this clone. Hummus is an awesome snack as a dip for vegetables or pita chips, since it's rich in protein, soluble fiber, potassium, and Vitamin E. The secret to duplicating Sabra's smooth and creamy quality is to let your food processor work the stuff over for a solid 10 minutes. Also, when getting your Sabra hummus ingredients ready, don't use all of the liquid from the can of garbanzo beans or the hummus will end up too runny. Strain off the liquid first, then measure only 1/2 cup back into the food processor. Sabra uses canola and/or soybean oil, but you may think olive oil tastes better. Look for a jar of sesame tahini in the aisle where all the international foods are parked, and while you're there find the citric acid, which may also go by the name "sour salt." The clone below will not have the proper acidic bite without this secret ingredient, and citric acid also works as a preservative to help the leftover hummus stay fresh and tasty.

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

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

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

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.

The talented chefs at Benihana cook food on hibachi grills with flair and charisma, treating the preparation like a tiny stage show. They juggle salt and pepper shakers, trim food with lightning speed, and flip the shrimp and mushrooms perfectly onto serving plates or into their tall chef's hat.

One of the side dishes that everyone seems to love is the fried rice. At Benihana this dish is prepared by chefs with precooked rice on open hibachi grills, and is ordered a la cart to complement any Benihana entree, including Hibachi Steak and Chicken. I like when the rice is thrown onto the hot hibachi grill and seems to come alive as it sizzles and dances around like a bunch of little jumping beans. Okay, so I'm easily amused.

This Benihana Japanese fried rice recipe will go well with just about any Japanese entree and can be partially prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until the rest of the meal is close to done.

With over 100 million dollars given to charity since 1982, Newman's Own products have become an American favorite. One variety of the brand's dressings that really stands out is this exceptional Caesar salad dressing, probably the best commercial Caesar dressing on the market. Part of the secret for this special recipe is the inclusion of Worcestershire sauce. Not only does Worcestershire give your dressing the perfect flavor and color of the original, but the sauce is made with a fishy ingredient that's crucial for a good Caesar dressing: anchovies.

Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

In 2007 America's number one Cajun-style restaurant celebrated its 35th birthday with 1,583 stores worldwide. But Popeyes didn't start out with the name that most people associate with a certain spinach-eating cartoon character. When Al Copeland opened his first Southern-fried chicken stand in New Orleans in 1972, it was called Chicken On The Run. The name was later changed to Popeyes after Gene Hackman's character in the movie The French Connection. In addition to great spicy fried chicken, Popeyes serves up wonderful Southern-style buttermilk biscuits that we can now easily duplicate to serve with a variety of home cooked meals. The secret is to cut cold butter into the mix with a pastry knife so that the biscuits turn out flaky and tender just like the originals.

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.

In the late 1800s Henry John Heinz established the slogan "57 Varieties," which you can still find printed on Heinz products even though the company now boasts over 5700 varieties in 200 countries. Today Heinz is the world's largest tomato producer, but interestingly the first product for the company that was launched in 1869 had nothing to do with tomatoes—it was grated horseradish. It wasn't until 1876 that ketchup was added to the growing company's product line.

Tomato is also an important ingredient in this Heinz 57 steak sauce recipe. But you'll find some interesting ingredients in there as well, such as raisin puree, malt vinegar, apple juice concentrate, and mustard. And don't worry if your version doesn't come out as brown as the original. Heinz uses a little caramel coloring in its product to give it that distinctive tint. It's just for looks though, so I've left that ingredient out of this clone recipe. The turmeric and yellow mustard will help tint this version a little bit like the color of the real deal.

Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

Here's a dish from a rapidly growing Chinese food chain that should satisfy anyone who loves the famous marinated bourbon chicken found in food courts across America. The sauce is the whole thing here, and it's quick to make right on your own stove-top. Just fire up the barbecue or indoor grill for the chicken and whip up a little white rice to serve on the side. Panda Express - now 370 restaurants strong - is the fastest-growing Asian food chain in the world. You'll find these tasty little quick-service food outlets in supermarkets, casinos, sports arenas, college campuses, and malls across the country passing out free samples for the asking.

Sliced chicken breast, romaine lettuce, pico de gallo, tortilla strips, and cotija cheese make up El Pollo Loco's Caesar Salad, but it is the fantastic creamy cilantro dressing recipe that gets the raves. Simply combine these basic ingredients in a blender and you'll soon have more than one cup of the delicious dressing cloned and ready to pour over any of your home salad creations.

You can also make El Pollo Loco Flame Broiled Chicken, pinto beans, Spanish rice and more. Find my copycat recipes here.

The automated process for creating Krispy Kreme doughnuts, developed in the 1950's, took the company many years to perfect. When you drive by your local Krispy Kreme store between 5:00 and 11:00 each day (both a.m. and p.m.) and see the "Hot Doughnuts Now" sign lit up, inside the store custom-made stainless steel machines are rolling. Doughnut batter is extruded into little doughnut shapes that ride up and down through a temperature and humidity controlled booth to activate the yeast. This creates the perfect amount of air in the dough that will yield a tender and fluffy finished product. When the doughnuts are perfectly puffed up, they're gently dumped into a moat of hot vegetable shortening where they float on one side until golden brown, and then the machine flips them over to cook the other side. When the doughnuts finish frying, they ride up a mesh conveyor belt and through a ribbon of white sugar glaze. If you're lucky enough to taste one of these doughnuts just as it comes around the corner from the glazing, you're in for a real treat—the warm circle of sweet doughy goodness practically melts in your mouth. It's this secret process that helped Krispy Kreme become the fastest-growing doughnut chain in the country.

As you can guess, the main ingredient in a Krispy Kreme doughnut is wheat flour, but there is also some added gluten, soy flour, malted barley flour, and modified food starch plus egg yolk, non-fat milk, flavoring, and yeast. I suspect a low-gluten flour, like cake flour, is probably used in the original mix to make the doughnuts tender, and then the manufacturer adds the additional gluten to give the doughnuts the perfect framework for rising. I tested many combinations of cake flour and wheat gluten, but found that the best texture resulted from cake flour combined with all-purpose flour. I also tried adding a little soy flour to the mix, but the soy gave the dough a strange taste and it didn't benefit the texture of the dough in any way. I excluded the malted barley flour and modified food starch from the Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut recipe since these are difficult ingredients to find. These exclusions didn't seem to matter because the real secret in making these doughnuts look and taste like the original lies primarily in careful handling of the dough.

The Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut recipe dough will be very sticky when first mixed together, and you should be careful not to over mix it or you will build up some tough gluten strands, and that will result in chewy doughnuts. You don't even need to touch the dough until it is finished with the first rising stage. After the dough rises for 30 to 45 minutes it will become easier to handle, but you will still need to flour your hands. Also, be sure to generously flour the surface you are working on when you gently roll out the dough for cutting. When each doughnut shape is cut from the dough, place it onto a small square of wax paper that has been lightly dusted with flour. Using wax paper will allow you to easily transport the doughnuts (after they rise) from the baking sheet to the hot shortening without deflating the dough. As long as you don't fry them too long—1 minute per side should be enough—you will have tender homemade doughnuts that will satisfy even the biggest Krispy Kreme fanatics.


Sweet potato is one of our family’s favorite roots and with good reason. A sweet potato is essentially the fleshy tubers of some varieties of the ipomoea genus that we like to employ in the kitchen for their natural sweetness and their aid in good health. Most people may not recognize that sweet potato belongs to the most popular genus of the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae). This makes it a very useful and ornamental vine that’s guaranteed to reward you with delicious and healthy edible roots at the end of each planting season.


Christmastime in New York is interesting and magical in its own way. Things are busier than usual (if you can imagine that being a possibility) and everyone tries to be a bit more cheerful despite the dampening weather’s influence. The markets are also different between thanksgiving and Christmastime. They feature produce you’re not likely to see year-round. This is where I discovered the purple passion sweet potato.


It was just after thanksgiving. I’d been picking up groceries in a market upstate when I happened on it. I was maneuvering my shopping basket and my person through dips, swirls and glides, trying to avoid some unfortunate collision with the many shoppers around me. My intent was to find some Japanese sweet potato, procure some spices and duck out of the crazy scene as quickly as I possibly could… but this wood nymph isn’t going to give up an opportunity to explore the strange and Strange was indeed piled into the basket next to the Japanese sweet potatoes I’d come for.


They were dark but smooth. They basically appeared to be Japanese sweet potatoes in shape but with the color of dark-night, St. Vincent purple yams (Dioscorea alata). I was intrigued so I bought a few along with my Japanese sweet potatoes (just in case the family and I decided we didn’t like ‘Strange’). I’ll tell you what though I do not regret it. I only wish I’d found it sooner! I first had it baked which was a good choice. It’s still my favorite method of cooking these sweet, dark tubers of perfection! I love how the color gets darker and richer with cooking. Actually, there’s nothing I don’t love about this plant and I’m elated to share it with you!


It’s been almost a decade since I fell in love with the purple passion sweet potatoes and our family continues to reap the benefits of growing and utilizing this beautiful, delicious, versatile morning glory plant. Like the Jamaican, the texture and flavor of the passion purple sweet potato is far superior to the more common orange varieties readily available in U.S. markets. Their texture makes them ideal candidates for pastries, creams, baking and punches and it’s very sweetly fragrant when cooked. You’ve got to try making some sweet potato ice-cream with this jewel! There is none to compare. Plus, its’ color improves from a sweet lilac to a rich, dark violet when cooked. This makes it a great addition to any table, providing contrast and appealing to the senses.


Isn’t it amazing how one root could come in so many variations? How many have you experienced: purple, red, orange, pink, gold, and white-flesh tubers? The purple passion sweet potato is an interesting variety. Thick, light-green vines produce heart-shaped, bright-green leaves with trumpet-like blooms of pink and violet popping up within the folds. The vines produce tubers that are generally much sweeter and firmer than any of the widely cultivated types on the global market. The tubers of this purple sweet potato are also usually more elongated that rounded which makes for perfect slices. The thin, dark skin gives way to firm, purple flesh that leaves you with endless possibilities for cooking, serving and enjoying.

Speaking of cooking, perhaps one of the best properties of this purple sweet potato is that like the Jamaican variety, it has the ability to hold its’ form when cooked. It has a nice, firm, even texture when boiled or used in pudding and shakes. You’ll learn that this variety is best used in cooking methods that require added moisture. Try using it for cookies, pies and ice-cream! I’ve used it as a substitute for the traditional Jamaican sweet potato pudding when there’s no Jamaican white or Japanese sweet potato at hand. This sweet potato makes excellent cookies, cakes, ice-cream, milkshake, punch, porridge, buns, and so much more! Seriously though, you’ve got to try the ice-cream!


Let’s not forget that the plant also has its’ host of uses. The sweet potato plant makes an elegant ornamental and it’s perfect for small spaces or short seasons. You can plant it in a hanging basket on your porch. You can even train your plants over a lattice, arch, gazebo, or swing in your garden or landscape. If you’re looking for elegant groundcover, you can plant it over that rocky bed, along your driveway or any awkward space in your home, school or office.

Be mindful that the sweet potato is a creeper vine so if it is potted, I’d suggest putting it in a large hanging basket. They require very little attention once the right conditions are provided. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that they love warmth. Sweet potatoes thrive in warmer regions. Just provide rich, breathable soil and irrigation. Be sure there’s allowance for water runoff. The roots do not like to be waterlogged as this may cause root rot.

Plant your sweet potato slips at least a foot apart and watch them dance into maturity. Here’s the best part! You can harvest your sweet potato in as little as three months! This makes it perfect for those of us who live in temperate regions with only a few months of warmer weather. You can add this sweet potato plant to your garden this season and enjoy all the benefits. Our honey bees find the flowers very attractive so if you’ve an apiary, its’ presence will only serve to aid your production. If your plants are producing a profusion of flowers it’s usually a good indicator that they’re mature. I like to harvest by hand and not with tools as that can damage the sweet potato tubers. You can protect your hands with gloves as you unearth your treasures.


Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A. They are also a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6, potassium, dietary fiber, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and phosphorus. The antioxidant known as anthocyanin is the pigment which is responsible for the brilliant purple color of the flesh. It is the same pigment that gives blueberries, red grapes and red cabbage their color.

The purple sweet potato actually has 150 percent more antioxidants than blueberries! What does all this mean for you really? You can boost your energy levels, skin health, and brain power just by eating sweet potatoes. The ipomoea tuber can also help in treating obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, colon and prostate cancer, infertility, constipation, inflammation and eye conditions.

If you’re a diabetic, this bit is for you. Sweet potatoes have a medium glycemic index. As a result, I would not encourage diabetics to consume large amounts in a single meal. According to Medical New Today, recent research suggests sweet potatoes may reduce episodes of low blood sugar and insulin resistance in people with diabetes. The fiber in sweet potatoes makes a big difference too. Studies have shown that type 1 diabetics who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. One medium sweet potato provides about 6 grams of fiber (skin on).

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 21-25 grams of fiber per day for women and 30-38 grams per day for men, which most people do not reach. Consult your nutritionist or healthcare provider about incorporating sweet potatoes into your diet while protecting your health. Boiling seems to be associated with lower glycemic index values than baking, frying or roasting.

The Japan-exclusive dessert drink is topped with a traditional snack that’s been loved by Japanese people for generations.

Japan’s love of fresh produce isn’t limited to just fruits. Foodies get excited about seasonal vegetables too, and with autumn here, it’s sweet potato’s time to shine.

Sweet potatoes are so popular that they’re also the main ingredient in imo kempi, a traditional Japanese snack of fried bits of sweet potato coated with a sugary glaze. Imo kempi are sort of an old-school snack, with a mix of sweet and salty flavors that please the palates of young and old alike, but right now you can also find them at Starbucks.

This month, the Crispy Sweet Potato Frappuccino became the latest Japan-exclusive Frappuccino, and like the name promises, it’s a dessert drink with some significant crunch. The beverage comes topped with the customary Frappuccino swirl of whipped cream, but mixed into it are imo kempi chunks.

The Frappuccino itself is milk-based, enhanced with a sweet potato sauce that’s flavorful and delicious, providing a legitimate sweet potato taste without becoming overly buttery or cloying. The real star here, though, are the imo kempi, which double-team your taste buds with their salty sweetness and stimulate your jaw with their crispy texture.

▼ If they’re too crispy, you can always soften them up a bit by stirring them into the drink itself and letting the sweet potato Frappuccino seep into them.

▼ The Crispy Sweet Potato Frappuccino: A drink you can enjoy with a spoon

But Starbucks didn’t go to all the trouble of producing its sweet potato sauce and in-house kenpi for just a single menu item. Also new to the lineup are Sweet Potato Lattes, in both hot and cold versions. These use the same imo kempi and sweet potato sauce as the Frappuccino, but team them with coffee instead. The unprecedented combination works surprisingly well, with the pleasant bitterness of the espresso drawing out even more of the sweet potato flavor.

The Crispy Sweet Potato Frappuccino is priced at 580 yen (US$5.20) for a tall, while the lattes start at a slightly less expensive 440 for a short. However, even though Japan will be enjoying actual sweet potatoes for the next few months, trying Starbucks’ sweet potato drinks requires a bit more urgency, as they’re available only until September 30.

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