Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week #1 : Applebee's

I wanted to start each day of recipes off with the original nutritional information for each dish. Upon researching (or attempting to) the nutritional information for Applebee's, I was forced to contact their corporate office for their stats. This was their response:

"Thank you for contacting us regarding nutritional information. Like several other full service, sit-down restaurants, we do not make nutritional information available on a broad basis. Unlike fast-food restaurants that commonly provide this information, a greater percentage of our foods are hand-crafted, prepared on premise which can lead to variation.

We do value our guest's feedback and are reviewing opportunities of how we can make this information more broadly available. I will share your feedback with our Research and Development team.

Really? So your saying that the Weight Watcher items that you are offer do not fall under "hand-crafted" foods? Are they flown in directly from your corporate office where each meal is properly weighed and calculated? You can't just give us a ballpark number?

We should all be able to know what is going into our bodies. Hiding this information, probably due to unsightly caloric statistics, is ludicrous.

Instead of posting the actual nutritional information for each Applebee's Dish, I will give you the stats I came up with based on the recipes used in the Top Secrets Recipes

So screw you Applebee's, I'm making your "hand-crafted" menu at home.

Day #1

The first day should be simple. Exciting even.

Well that's how it started. And it ended with me imagining setting kitchen on fire. On purpose.

The cooking was straightforward. Almost, dare I say, easy. But presentation, photography, and making the food look as good as it tastes, is hard. So hard that it took me 5 times to "swirl chocolate syrup" in a damn wine glass (see Mud Slide recipe below). And it still didn't look good. I took over 100 pictures and I think maybe 5 are okay, the rest make me cringe. And really, how am I supposed to make steak and pilaf look good? All brown dish = disaster for the eyes.

Either way, here are my first day's results.

Remember, because Applebee's likes to keep secrets, the Original Applebee's Nutritional Information is based off the Top Secrets Recipe®.

Applebee's: Almond Rice Pilaf

2 tbsp Light I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
3/4 uncooked brown rice
2 1/4 cup chicken broth
pinch of salt
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup celery
1/4 cup onion
1 teaspoon dried parsley

1. Melt 1 tablespoon of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. Add rice to butter and brown over medium heat in saucepan.
2. Once lightly brown, add broth and salt to rice. Cover the pan and reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes, or until most of the broth is absorbed.
3. In skillet, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. Add almond and let brown for 1 - 2 minutes. Then add celery and onion.
4. Once celery and onion are softened and almonds are browned, add all to the rice. Add parsley. Cook for another 2 -3 minutes.

Serving Size: 4
Nutritional Information Per Serving: 196 calories, 6g fat, 21g carbs, and 5g protein
*Original Applebee's Nutritional Information Per Serving: 296 calories, 13g fat, 40g carbs, 6g protein

Applebee's Bourbon Street Steak:

2 4 ounce top sirloin steaks

Marinade -
2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
4 teaspoon chili powder
4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon oregano
2 cups water

Garlic Butter:
2 teaspoon Light I Can't Believe Its Not Butter
pinch of garlic powder

1 teaspoon
Light I Can't Believe Its Not Butter
2 cups sliced white onion
2 cups sliced mushrooms 1tbsp water

pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

1.Combine all ingredients for marinade in bowl. Cover and store steak in marinate bowl overnight.
2. If you have a grill, grill steak on each side for 3 - 5 minutes. If not use large skillet.
3. In skillet, melt 1 teaspoon of light butter. Add mushrooms, onions, water, salt and pepper in skillet. Saute for 3 - 5 minutes on medium heat.
4. In small bowl, melt 2 teaspoons of light butter with garlic powder in microwave for 15 - 20 seconds.
5. Once steak is done, top with sauteed veggies and garlic butter.

Serving Size: 2
Nutritional Information Per Serving: 226calories, 9g fat, 8g carbs, and 28g protein
*Original Applebee's Nutritional Information Per Serving: 694 calories, 45g fat, 8g carbs, 68g protein

Applebee's Mud Slide


1/2 cup light vanilla ice cream
1 ounce Kahlua
2 tbsp fat free cool whip
2 tbsp sugar free chocolate syrup


1. In blender, blend ice cream and Kahlua.
2. In small wine class, swirl chocolate syrup around inside of glass. (damn this step)
3. Pour drink into blender. Top with cool whip and a bit more chocolate syrup.

Serving Size: 1
Nutritional Information Per Serving: 231calories, 0g fat, 44g carbs, and 3g protein
*Original Applebee's Nutritional Information Per Serving: 827 calories, 30g fat, 111g carbs,12g protein

The Plan

While I was on my mini hiatus, I started to think. Probably too much. When your boyfriend leaves for a month, you have a limited amount of good friends, and have 2 rambunctious puppies that need several long walks a day to avoid them eating a third (yup, third) $80 Mac Power chord...you start to think. This lead to my conclusion that I need to stop thinking, and actually start doing.

So I came up with something that not only will challenge me and my healthy transformation cooking skills, but it will also give me something to focus on. A goal perhaps. Something that will keep my mind off my shitty job that tends to submerge me into the deep waters of depression. Something that will keep me from freaking out that I am almost 25 and have absolutely no idea as to what the hell I am doing with my life. And possibly something that will break my month long habit of restaurant, fast food, and take out meals.

Recreate all 150 recipes in the very popular cookbook "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2
: Amazing Clones of Famous Dishes From America's Favorite Restaurant Chains" by Todd Wilbur into lower calorie, healthy, yet still tasty and filling dishes.

Whether it be switching out high-calorie ingredients for lower ones or re-portioning the size of dishes to the actual serving sizes that we should be eating, my goal is to create the foods I crave without sacrificing my waistline.

Finish Goal Date:
Dec 31th, 09.
(yes, my therapist approved. barely.)

Wish me luck, because honestly, I have no idea what I just committed myself to.