Bring the fun of dining out into your kitchen

Special to Lowcountry LifeSeptember 5, 2012 

Going out to eat is a wonderful pastime. Restaurants are meeting places for friends to visit and enjoy food at the same time.

Sometimes eating out can be a challenge when you're on a special diet or trying to count calories. Some will say that takes all the fun out of going out, but there has to be a plan for any kind of out-of-the-house activities. Here are a few tips:

  • Order sauces and gravy on the side.

  • Choose broiled or grilled instead of fried foods.

  • Order from the menu rather than the all-you-can-eat buffet.

  • If you have questions concerning how the food is prepared, feel free to ask.

  • Don't add salt to your food.

  • There are times when a dish is just so good that you want to try your luck at cooking it at home to skip going out to eat. But even the best cook can make a mess trying to duplicate a dish that was served at a restaurant. You might think you can substitute for a secret ingredient, but sometimes the recipe is needed.

    Todd Wilbur's "The Best of Top Secret Recipes" is a collection of clone recipes that are worth trying. You could have a contest to see if family members will know the real from the clone -- a fun activity for the young and the young at heart.

    Tony Roma's Original Baby Backs

    The famous barbecue ribs served at the restaurant have been judged the best in America at a national rib cook-off and have won more than 30 awards in state and national cook-offs. The secret to the tender, melt-in-your-mouth quality of the ribs at Tony Roma's is the slow cooking process.

    4 pounds baby back pork ribs or 4 pounds pork spare ribs

    Barbecue sauce

    Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Tear off aluminum foil to fit in broiler pan. Coat the ribs front and back with barbecue sauce. Place ribs onto foil lengthwise and wrap tightly.

    Place the ribs into the oven with the seam of the foil facing up. Cook for 2 to 2 hours or until you see the meat of the ribs shrinking back from the cut ends of the bones by about inch. This long cooking time will ensure that the meat will be very tender and fall off the bone.

    Remove the ribs from the foil and smother them with additional sauce. Serve ribs piping hot.

    The Sauces

    Combine all of the ingredients for the desired sauce in a saucepan over high heat. Use a whisk to blend the ingredients.

    When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered. In 30 to 45 minutes, when the mixture thickens, remove it from the heat. If you want a thicker sauce, heat it longer. If you make the sauce too thick, thin it with more vinegar.

    Tony Roma's Barbecue Sauce

    1 cup ketchup

    1 cup vinegar

    1/2 cup dark corn syrup

    2 teaspoon sugar

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

    1/4 teaspoon onion powder

    1/4 teaspoon Tabasco pepper sauce

    Five-Peppers Barbecue Sauce

    1 cup ketchup

    1 cup vinegar

    1/2 cup dark corn syrup

    2 tablespoons molasses

    1/2 tablespoon finely diced red bell pepper

    2 teaspoon sugar

    1 teaspoon liquid smoke

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

    1/2 teaspoon Tabasco pepper sauce

    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

    1/4 teaspoon onion powder

    Honey and Molasses Barbecue Sauce

    1 cup ketchup

    1 cup vinegar

    1/2 cup molasses

    1/2 cup honey

    1 teaspoon liquid smoke

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

    1/4 teaspoon Tabasco pepper sauce

    Hawaiian Punch Red Fruit Juice

    Real Hawaiian Punch contains only 5 percent fruit juice. Even though some of the ingredients in this clone are not pure fruit juice, this recipe still contains more fruit juice.

    Makes: 1 liter

    1 1/2 cups water

    1 cup pineapple juice

    3/4 cup Mauna Lai Paradise Passion guava/passion fruit blend

    1/4 teaspoon orange juice

    1/4 cup apple juice

    1/4 cup Kern's papaya nectar

    1/4 tablespoon Kern's apricot nectar

    3 tablespoons granulated sugar

    1/4 teaspoon red food coloring

    Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir until sugar is dissolved.

    Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at features@beaufortgazette.com.

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