I love to eat in restaurants, and I seem to love to eat in them more in the winter months when the weather is gloomy. There is always tons of cozy, comfort food choices on the menu, and spending a few hours out of the house can really brighten up a chilly day.

But what do you do when you’ve got a craving for something you’ve only had off a menu but don’t have the option of going out?  That’s where copykat recipes come in.

Copykat recipes are recipes that closely replicate a restaurant menu item. If you love the Chicken Pot Pie at White Spot, there’s a recipe online that copies it. Chances are you’ll find a recipe online that perfectly copies almost anything you’ve loved in a restaurant, and making it at home is as easy as getting together the necessary ingredients and spending some fun time in the kitchen.

There are more copykat recipes available for American restaurants than those we’d find in our backyard, so here are a few Canadian copykat recipes to try, and they’re all great winter comfort food dishes:

IHOP Cream Cheese Pancakes

I like to think of myself as a pancake connoisseur, and whenever I travel I have to find a place that serves pancakes to try something new. For the sheer fluffy factor and different pancake choices, I still love IHOP more than anywhere I’ve tried.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 tablespoons seedless strawberry jam
11/4 cups all-purpose flour
11/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 cups chopped frozen cheesecake
Cooking spray
Butter, confectioners’ sugar or whipped cream, for topping (optional)

 

Directions

 Mix the strawberries, jam and 2 tablespoons warm water in a bowl; set aside. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Pulse the flour, buttermilk, egg, vegetable oil, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheesecake pieces, keeping them whole.

Coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Working in batches, pour about 1/4 cup batter into the skillet for each pancake. Cook until bubbly on top, about 4 minutes, then flip and cook until the other side is golden brown, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the finished pancakes to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Serve the pancakes topped with the strawberry sauce; top with butter, confectioners’ sugar or whipped cream, if desired.

Olive Garden Copykat Breadsticks

Whenever I go to the Olive Garden it’s packed. Although I love to have the Eggplant while there, what brings me in is the salad and breadsticks. Try these at home, I swear they’re as good as the original. Best of all? You won’t have to wait for anyone to bring you another basket.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon yeast or one package instant yeast

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 1/2 cups flour + extra flour for dusting board

Buttery topping

4 tablespoons butter melted

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1/8 teaspoon oregano

 

Directions

Combine warm water, sugar, oil, and yeast in a large bowl of a mixer or a food processor. Add 4 1/2 cups of flour and salt and process until the dough forms a nice uniform ball. Place dough in a bowl that has been sprayed with non stick spray.

Cover bowl with a towel and allow to raise in a warm place. When the dough has doubled in size (this should take about an hour) place dough on a well floured board and roll out dough. Roll out dough into a large rectangle. Cut in half horizontally, and then cut vertical strips of dough about 1 1/2 inches thick. Roll the strips of dough into sticks. Place dough on a greased baking sheet, and allow them to rise until they have doubled in size (this should take about 45 minutes).

You should get between 20 and 24 bread sticks from this recipe.

Melt butter, and stir in Parmesan cheese and oregano. For best results rub the oregano between your fingers as you place it into the butter. This will help release the oils of the oregano and make it taste even better. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Just before baking bread sticks brush them with butter. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush any left over butter topping on these just before serving.

Copykat Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

If you’ve had Cinnabon you know that serve the most amazing Cinnamon rolls. You can recreate them at home by following this easy recipe.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup water

1/2 package 3.4-ounce instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoon milk

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups bread flour

2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1/4 cup raisins (optional)

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions

For the rolls, place melted butter, water, instant pudding, 1 cup milk, egg, granulated sugar, salt, flour and yeast in bread machine following manufacturer’s instructions. Set for dough cycle.
 

After completion of dough cycle, remove from machine and roll out to an approximate 17 x 10-inch rectangle.
 

For the filling, mix together brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread 1/2 cup softened butter over dough. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon mixture over top.
 

Roll tightly from long end, pinching edges closed when completely rolled. Slice rolled dough into 1/2-inch slices or larger if a larger bun is preferred.
 

Place into greased cake pans or a cookie sheet. If using cake pans, use three 9-inch pans. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden. Do not overbake.
 

For the frosting, combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup softened butter, confectioners sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon milk and vanilla extract. Spread on very warm rolls.

Moxie’s Lobster Grilled Cheese
Grilled cheese is one of those dishes you crave on a rainy day, but I always just tried the traditional cheese and white bread version. This past year I was amazed to discover the different types of grilled cheese you can find, and Moxie’s version is one of my favourites. You’ll need a good quality frying pan for golden grilled cheese. 

Ingredients:

1 lb Lobster, cooked, shelled and diced

¼ lb Brie, diced

¼ cup Mayonnaise

½ tsp Tarragon, chopped

2 Green Onions, sliced

1 Tbsp Grainy Mustard

1 clove Garlic, chopped

½ Lemon, juice

Salt & Pepper, to taste

8 slices Bread

4 slices Cheddar Cheese

Salted Butter, room temperature

 

Directions

Mix the lobster, brie, mayo, tarragon, green onions, grainy mustard, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Butter one side of each slice of bread and assemble sandwiches with the buttered sides of the bread facing out and fill with a slice of cheese and a quarter of the lobster mixture.

Grill until the bread is golden brown on both sides and the cheese is melted on the inside.

It’s been a weird month weather wise, and no matter where you are in Canada you’ve probably got a touch of the winter blues. Why not try a copykat recipe and liven things up in your kitchen? Making your own dishes at home means money in your pocket and a bit of family fun, so don’t be afraid to give them a try. 

If you have a favourite copykat recipe, be sure to share!