Now you know my hobby

Published 12:34 am Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A few of my out-of-town friends and I have a hobby that I thought you readers might be interested in. Two of the ladies are into it on a much larger scale than I, but I have to confess that I am beginning to really enjoy the “hunt” as much as them.

What are we hunting? Recipes of course. But not just any recipes they have to be dishes that we have tasted at restaurants. You know how you are sitting there eating and say to your dinner companion “mmmmm, I wish I could make this at home.” Well, lot’s of times you can’t but if you have some basic detective skills and good taste buds sometimes you can.

Here are a few that my friends have come up with. Remember these are not the exact version served in the restaurant but a mimic recipe. And if you have any that you would like to share please send them in.

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This first mimic recipe is one of my very favorite salads in the world. It very closely resembles the salad served at Outback Steak House.

Chopped Bleu Cheese Salad

Candied cinnamon pecans:

1/3 cup sliced-lengthwise pecans

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons butter, melted

Blue cheese vinaigrette:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white vinegar or champagne vinegar

1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese


3 cups chopped bibb lettuce

3 cups chopped redleaf lettuce

3 cups chopped iceberg lettuce

1 green onion, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Begin by candying the pecans. Break each pecan into three pieces. Mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar. Toss pecans with melted butter, then with the cinnamon/sugar mixture, tossing well. Put the nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 5 to 8 minutes, until sugar is caramelized. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, slide the parchment together with the nuts off the sheet to cool. When completely cool break apart.

Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients and set aside. Chop all your lettuces into bite-size pieces and add the green onion. Place in a large serving dish and add enough vinaigrette to coat. Toss well and sprinkle the pecan pieces on top.

I love anything that has chipotle in it. And when a national sandwich chain began offering a chipotle sauce on their sandwiches I had to get as close to it as I could. Here is the result of much debate among the four of us.

Southwest Chipotle Sauce

1 cup mayonnaise

4 teaspoons lime juice

2 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoon minced cilantro

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon. white vinegar

1 teaspoon. water

1/2 teaspoon p. salt

1/2 teaspoon. garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon. ground chipotle chile pepper

pinch cumin

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before using.

Spread this on a bun, layer on tomato slices, lettuce and grilled chicken. Also, this is a great dip for vegetables and chicken wings.

Christina Hall can be reached at