Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cheese Dog Logs

When we were little, my dad devised the ever magical cheese dog log. Today, I made them for community group, decided to document the process and share it with you.

Now, before you pass judgment, let me ask you a question: at a picnic or barbecue, have you ever eaten both a hot dog and a cheese burger? If you answered "yes," than this will not be any worse for your waste-line... because as you will see, there is no bun involved.

Enjoy, and even though these will not take you back to your own childhood, you may feel a little more carefree when you finish eating one.

1 hot dog per person (I use Hebrew National)
1/3 pound hamburger per person
cheddar cheese
large flour tortillas
barbecue sauce

Step one:
Slice your hot dogs in half lengthwise. Slice your cheese in long and thin slices. Your ingredients should look like this:

Step two:
On a piece of saran wrap, roll out a scant 1/3 pound of hamburger meat until it is about 6 inches long and 4-5 inches wide.  It should be thick enough that it will hold together when cooking, but thin enough to not be overwhelming.  

Step three:
Stack your hot dog and cheese in the middle of the meat.  Notice how there is extra hamburger meat at the end.  This will allow for a good seal to form around the cheese and hot dog.

Now, keeping the saran wrap on the outside, roll the hamburger meat around the hot dog as tightly as you can.   Notice the extra meat that will overlap.  This will also allow for a better seal.

Twist the ends of the saran wrap tightly.  Remove saran wrap.  If there are ANY gaps, mend them with small bits of hamburger meat.

Step four:
Grill the cheese dog logs over medium high to high heat, just as you would a hamburger.  Turn them occasionally to get a nice sear on as many sides as possible but don't fuss with them.  If some split open a little bit, that is okay, everyone will survive.  Remember that the meat is fairly thin and that if it looks done all the way around on the outside, it is done on the inside.  We don't need to kill this meat a second time.  As the end of the cooking process grows near (no more than 10-12 minutes) brush barbecue sauce over each one, allowing the sauce to glaze each log.

Step five:
Slightly warm a small bowl of barbecue sauce.  Warm your tortillas until soft.  Place a barbecued cheese dog log in the center of a tortilla, top with a couple spoonfuls of barbecue sauce and roll like a burrito.  Cut in half if desired.  Serve!

I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

White vs Original

I like using Balsamic vinegar in my food.  It is tangy, sweet, rich and just plain fabulous.  I have used it to glaze carrots in conjunction with maple syrup.  It is awesome on dates that have been wrapped in bacon and stuffed with blue cheese.  And of course, who hasn't dipped bread in balsamic and olive oil or dressed salad with it?

But have you tried white balsamic?  A little more mild, clear, and tangy and deeply flavored just the same.  White balsamic is now a staple in our cupboard and is just as versatile as it's darker cousin.  In fact, recently, while making possetts with blood oranges and kumquats instead of meyer lemons, it was a fantastic acid to add to the mix.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Chocolate Chip and Cherry Cookies

I made these delicious chocolate chip cookies tonight.  We have used this recipe often, and for these cookies I just tweaked it a bit by adding dried cherries.  With the amount I added, you get a tart twinge of cherry about every third bite or so. Delicious.


1/2 lb butter, 1 and 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup pressed brown sugar, 1/2 cup shortening

4 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp lemon juice

3 cups flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 cup oatmeal, 16-24 oz semi sweet chocolate chips to taste, 3/4 c chopped dried tart cherries

Preheat the oven to 325. 

Cream the first four ingredients for a minimum of 10 minutes.  Add the eggs, lemon and vanilla and mix.

Add the dry ingredients and mix briefly.  Add the chocolate, oats and cherries and fold in.

Bake cookies for 15-17 minutes. (I love using stoneware).

Enjoy warm or cooled, especially with a glass of milk.

Rustic Flat-bread Breakfast Sandwiches

Some people have this silly idea that I make everything from scratch all the time.

Nope.  Doesn't happen.  I don't think so.

I mean, really; I am a mom and a teacher.  I couldn't do everything from scratch all the time.

So here follows an example of a breakfast I made this morning using some convenient, pre-cooked foods in what might be slightly different applications.

We had refrigerated herbed pizza dough in the fridge, so I grilled it on the stove top.  I ended up slicing it horizontally because as it rose, it got a bit too thick.

Then I sliced up some leeks and harvested the rest of the chicken from one of those rotisserie chickens from the deli department that we had left over.  While sausage or bacon would have been yummy, the chicken was what we had.

Then I put some shredded cheese on my grilled flat bread,

fried an egg over easy with salt and pepper (gotta love the built in sauce).

I loaded it all onto the sandwich and finished with more grilled flat-bread.

What a yummy breakfast!

Oh, and Penelope had to have coffee this morning, (warm milk with a splash of my coffee) so I thought I'd share the picture of my two year old drinking coffee:

Have you done anything different with pre-made foods lately?  Or what is your favorite off the beaten track breakfast?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Long Time No Post: Yogurt "Cheese"

We eat a lot of cheese around our house.  It sits on the island in the afternoon and provides a delicious afternoon/early evening snack.  My two year old daughter loves the stuff, and I must admit, so do I.  Brie?  Please pass it my way.  Aged cheddar is delicious by itself or on a cracker.  Parmesean or any of its cousins packs a nice punch when I pop a sliver in my mouth.  Aged gouda is waaaaaay better than the fresh stuff (which isn't bad on its own).  Oh, and there are several varieties of blue cheese that often make an appearance.  Mmmm, yummy.  Oh, and yes, my two year old eats them all with a grin on her face and a cheese mustache.

Of late, we have started, or continued in some cases, making our own cheese.  I have been reminded of something:

Homemade cheese is delicious.

Tonight, I made a soft, afternoon yogurt cheese, and I'd love to share the steps with you.

First, mix about a cup (or more if you want) of greek yogurt (regular plain yogurt works too, but needs to drain for longer) with 1/2 tsp of salt and flavoring if you want.  Today, I used about a tsp of fresh chives.  Remember that if you use a dried herb, you want to use about half of what you'd want fresh.  I'd really recommend fresh herbs for your cheese though.

Then, spoon your mixture into 3-4 layers of cheesecloth laid in a mesh strainer over a bowl and allow to drain for about 3 hours minimum or longer if you wish.  The longer it drains, the firmer it will become.  If you want it to sit for longer, you can cover it and let it drain in the fridge.

This is what my cheese looked like right out of the cloth.  I did lightly squeeze it throughout the afternoon to help it along.

Here is a slightly closer view:

And here is my cheese an hour later.  Not much left!

I hope you get a chance to try this yogurt cheese, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.