Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Hot Dogs of Summer - Kraut Dog

It's summertime the time is right for Hot Dogs. My Hot Dog Series covers all the greatest hits including Kraut Dog, Mustard & Relish Dog, Chili Dog, plus the killer combos of Kraut & Chili Dog, Slaw & Chili Dog, and Relish & Chili Dog. Now that's a mouthful and they are all cheap of course. So keep checking back here for all the yummy recipes served with tasty text and scrumptious photos!

Okay let's be frank, anyone can make these, and maybe this Series is just a celebration of  America's favorite frankfurter or a reminder of the joys of dining simply.

Click on any photo to see larger.

These days it easy to make vegan versions using tofu dogs and vegan chili, so everyone can join in summertime patio Hot Dog partying.

 And the main ingredients of a Hot Dog are cheap of course, but that's not the only reason to like them. They are just a satisfying combination of flavors that you can build any way you like.

A package of Hot Dog Buns for about a buck? Check. I prefer regular white flour buns, but I often find whole wheat bun on sale too -- it's all good.

Meaty tube steak for a buck? If you know where to look and don't mind if they are a mix of beef, chicken, and pork. I always find them on sale at my local 99c only Store and Dollar Tree.

I mean, there is a texture taste difference - I find the typically mixed meat wieners a bit softer when you bite into them and with a milder meaty taste, while an all-beef wiener has more snap and thicker texture and an intense beef flavor. Depending on how my pocketbook is feeling I can work with any type of Hot Dog wieners.

Do you like your weenies steamed, sauteed, or grilled? I find it easiest to just steam mine in a pot with a basket and covered until they are hot and plump. This way you can walk away and get all the fixing ready while they cook - when you steam them you don't have to worry about burnt weenies.

How about the Hot Dog Buns? Well, at the last minute I will throw in a couple of buns on top of my steaming wieners, cover and give them a minute to soften. This works especially well if the buns are old and hard.

You do have to watch steaming buns as they can become soggy, although you can always let a soggy bun dry out for a couple of minutes if necessary.

 If I am barbequing then I will grill the wieners and add the buns at the finish line - same with sauteing in a frying pan on a stovetop.

I like Hot Dogs dress simply with mustard and sweet or sour pickle relish. I always can find jars for a buck.

My first Hot Dog of Summer is a Kraut Dog and it may be my favorite. The good thing about sauerkraut is that it lasts forever when bought in a can or jar. And once opened and stored in the refrigerator it has a long shelf-life. I've kept sauerkraut for more than 2 weeks in the fridge. It's hard to tell when it goes bad as it is so sour.

And to add sour to sour, I like mustard too! With a soft neutral bun and a beefy hot dog, it's a delicious combo of flavors I never get bored with.

Sauerkraut doesn't show up at my local 99c only Store every day, so when it does I usually get a few cans or jars to keep in the cupboard. I can't tell a difference between sauerkraut that is jarred or canned, I guess the salty brine overpowers any difference between cabbage and sauerkraut recipes.

My girlfriend spent time in Germany so she likes her sauerkraut heated up - I don't mind it right out of the can and at room temperature. I think we can both agree to drain and shake out the kraut before piling it on the wiener.

There's nothing to making a Kraut Dog really, just heat the tube steak and bun then load it up with kraut and mustard. You can make it your own way and leave out the mustard. My neighbor Bob likes his with ketchup...hmmm. I would add pickle relish for sure.

Here is the whole shebang, from bun to weenie. Just watch my Kraut Dog video below and try not to drool.
Kraut Dog - Video

Play it here, video runs 1 minute, 53 seconds.

So, how do you like to make yours? Leave a comment and let's compare Ha, ha, I couldn't resist. And check back for more simply delicious and cheap Hot Dogs. So load up the steamer basket or fire up the grill and get to cooking one of my yummy Hot Dog recipes!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Sign(s) of the Times During Coronavirus- Photos & Slideshow

With some training in Art & Design, I've always had an eye for street art and business signage. And there are unique and timely signs galore during this Coronavirus pandemic.

The warning signs are everywhere...literally.

Click on any photo to see larger.

As with any social upheaval, there is money to be made. My street corner entrepreneur set up shop a few weeks ago and is still going strong even now.

The grocery stores are still busy and people queue up to the entrances, staying about 6 feet apart waiting for their turn to shop. At Ralphs head-counting is done and limits are enforced to avoid overcrowding. And wearing a mask is required (I've seen customers walking up to the entrance sans mask, but sliding it on as they cross the threshold.)

 And with more checkers most of the checkout-lines are open. And marks on the floor are spaced 6 feet apart to keep the customers at a safe distance. Plastic shields are newly mounted at the cash registers to protect the employees.

But it's still an obstacle course in the shopping aisles, trying to stay a safe distance from each other - I find myself holding my breath passing anyone. Sometimes I'll just back up and wait until the fellow shopper exits the section I'm heading for.

If you're a frequent visitor, then my High School Diet Series is familiar to you. In a nutshell, Los Angeles Unified School District has taken on the herculean task of feeding students and parents since the Covid-19 shutdown. I hear this will go on thru the summer.

The free food program is called Grab & Go. You just follow the signs into the High School and drive or walk up to tables set up in a couple outdoor areas for a bag of breakfast and lunch meals. Now it's High School fare so my expectations aren't too high. I've had Pop-Tarts to Bean & Cheese Burritos (their Mexican fare is, on the whole, pretty darn tasty.) 

I don't go every day and this summer Series is a fun way to see what teenagers are fed these days - boy I've never had so much chocolate milk in my life. But I have created a hack for that - I call it a Black Appalachian!

Around here in my food world, restaurants and fast-food joints are hit hard. I hope they can hold on and make a comeback. After offering to-go only they are starting to open up for regular sitdown service with state-mandated health guidelines (click here to see them.) 

Well, until there is a vaccine for Covid-19, I don't think things will truly come back to business as usual. But it is important to support your local businesses safely - right now when they need it the most.

Nothing's gonna stop me from documenting during these pandemic times, and yes I'm careful keeping my distance and wearing a mask (despite the naysayers - hey, I'll stick with what the majority of health professions recommend on this one.)

Below is my Sign(s)of the Times Slideshow with a bunch of street signage during this time of Pandemic...for the record.

Stay safe and keep your distance!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Father's Day Recipes

I know what guys like to eat, I know what guys want. So get out your notebook, or bookmark this page for a slew of recipes that Fathers everywhere will enjoy.

My own dad would make us kids a breakfast of Biscuits & Country Gravy with Sausage. Here is a simple version where I substitute homemade Buttermilk Biscuits with plain old canned Biscuits, and all the ingredients come from my local Dollar Tree. But I sometimes find Homemade-style Buttermilk Biscuits at a Ralphs chain grocery bakery department, 4 biscuits for 99 cents!

Hey, if you're feeling ambitious then look up a recipe and make your own Buttermilk Biscuits, or go the easy route and watch my video below.

I've had my father-in-law, Bob, over for lunch and dinner. He's a real meat and potatoes type of guy. So what's on the menu for his Father's Day? First off, I would make him a good old, Old World Anglo-Saxon, hearty Shepherd's Pie (recipe here.)

This most British of dishes is literally made with meat and potatoes. It's a one-pot meal and simplicity defined. Just make your favorite mashed potatoes (or follow my recipe) and spread it over a beefy, tomato paste and Worcestershire-flavored stew, which also includes: ground meat (I used cheap ground turkey,) onion, carrots, and peas. And you finish it off in the oven until piping hot. In my video recipe above, cheap beef shank is used.

After that meal your Dad may be put in a food coma, so make sure he has his favorite spot on the couch ready, including a foot cushion and TV remote controller.

For more meaty meals to serve your Dad (or Husband) just click on any of the following recipes: Chicken Satay with Peanut SauceSausage and Sauerkraut with BeerPulled PorkChicken Fried Steak & GravyHomemade Deli PastramiChicken StroganoffRoast Cuban PorkMeatloafCarnitas (Mexican-style pork,) Baked Lasagna with Ground ChickenSweet, and Sour PorkMint Roasted ChickenSteak Carne AsadaPork Bourguignon, and BBQ Chicken.

My Louisiana niece, Candyse, is a new mother. You've seen her in a couple of my Mom's cooking videos. I even made one with her husband, and proud papa to newborn Ava, Chef Tony. He's the face (creating a bunch of cooking videos) and the main chef for BBQ Guys. When I asked him what Cajun dish he wanted to cook for this blog, he chose a classic Cajun dish - Crawfish Etouffee (written recipe here.) Check out the talented Chef Tony in action in my video below.

Dad's definitely like seafood, so give Chef Tony's rich flavorful stew a try for one of the main men in your life. Other seafood entrees I would recommend are (click on any name to see): Fish and ChipsScallop RollsFish Tacos, Fish Veracruz, a rich Portabella Crab RockefellerCoconut Crusted Fish & Mango SalsaScallops and Snow Peas Stir Fryand Salmon Olympia.

My sister Brenda is married to Rich and he is the Dad to 2 of my nephews, who've put many hours at the grill in various Louisiana restaurants. I always have a good time making cooking videos with them whenever I visit Cajun country, like Chef Zakk's Blackened Fish and Sweet Potato Hash right here.

My oldest nephew, Chef Matt, has a nickname for me.

He also has a cute kid named Miles and he's a handful. If you are thinking of being a dad to a boy then you want to check out my video below of Miles First Bite to see what's in store!

Click on the following recipe names if you would like to cook a Cajun-inspired meal for Father's Day, including Zakk's Cajun Style Pasta Primavera and Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato HashMom's Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo and JambalayaMatt's Alligator Po'Boy Sandwich, and Shrimp and Grits.

If your Dad (or Husband) likes it raw then I have the perfect recipes for you, my Sushi Video Series, that includes a Spicy Tuna Handroll and Nigiri Tuna Sushi (but if he's squeamish of raw fish, I have a colorful California Roll made with cooked krab, here.)

I break it all down for you with easy-to-follow sushi rolling GIF illustrations and a Sushi Rice recipe as well. Click here to get started or click on any recipe name above.

I worked with a vegetarian Dad. We're Facebook friends so I am enjoying his latest posts featuring his high school daughter who just graduated. She even once posted about making a Mushroom Risotto for his birthday. Well, I don't know her recipe, but if it's good enough for her Pops then is good enough for all my Dad blog readers - click here to see my own Mushroom Risotto recipe.

I like to cooking with mushrooms as you can see by all the following recipes - go ahead and click on one: Mushroom Nigiri SushiMushroom Soup, a Portabella Mushroom & Bell Pepper Burger, and my Portabella Mushroom Fries video below.

Here is some other vegetarian dishes your noshing Husband, Dad or Grandad will enjoy, so click on any following recipe name: Denise's Eggplant BurgerBorschtBlack Bean and Corn SaladBaba GanoushCarrot Nigiri SushiPasta SaladStuffed TomatoesSaag Paneer (creamy India-style spinach,) FalafelSteamed ArtichokeMs Patti's Red Beans and Rice, Eggplant Parmesan,  Braised Romaine Lettuce HeartsPasta with Cashews & GarlicVeggies in Cream with PastaTomato and Basil BruschettaEggplant HummusSnow Peas with Tofu and Ramen Stir FryVeggie Curry with LentilsBaked Pasta with Califlower and CheeseVeggie TempuraFrench Onion Soup, and Pear & Spinach Salad with a Creamy Herb Dressing.

If your Dad has a sweet tooth and his fave dessert is a pie, then watch my Mom's Homemade Cherry Pie recipe video below and give it a go.

And finally, if you are an LA local (or just visiting,) and looking for a restaurant to take your Father too, then check out my ongoing nighttime restaurant video series. You'll get menu highlights of a dozen or so restaurants in each of my unique Restaurant Nocturnes videos. I go out at night to bring you a culinary cross-section of dining, both high end and low. So just play the video below to see my latest compilation, Restaurant Nocturnes XIII. And click here, then scroll down to the end of the post to activate links to all the other ones (thirteen videos so far.)

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Cherry Season - Recipes & Reviews

Cherries start to show up for 99 cents per pound at my local Latin market right about now! They are my fave fruit and I like them plain or .... well, just read on to see what I do with a bag of Cherries.

My love affair with Cherries really heated up when I began to visit relatives in Central California and remember getting fresh Cherries from an orchard tree. While Washington produces the most Cherries, California is in a tight race with Oregon for second place. 

You can read the health benefits of fresh Cherries here. I find they are less perishable than strawberries and last longer like grapes.

The only hindrance to consuming a Cherry is the easily discarded stem and stubbornly buried center seed. Cherries are large enough to slice around the seed, twist and separate, then pry out the seed.

If you have a metal straw then push it through the opposite end of the stem and out pops the seed. (You can use a plastic straw as shown in my GIF below, but it will start to buckle after a few cherries. 

The easiest and quickest Cherry Recipe is to just add a few slices to your favorite plain (or mildly flavored) yummy yogurt. 

It's an early morning light breakfast or on a warm afternoon a cool snack for relaxing in the patio. My video below shows how I do it:

Cherries & Yogurt Recipe

I like pancakes in the morning, especially on weekends. I use a generic pancake mix from my 99c only Store and Dollar Tree, and always add a little fresh fruit, especially cherries. 

You can mix the sliced cherries in the pancake batter or sprinkle on a hot pan first then pour on the batter.

Cherry Pancake Recipe

My Mom has a Cherry Pie to die for. She used to bake 'em up when we were kids, and she makes a mean one even now.

There's nothing better than the smell of a baking fruit pie in the oven and watching the crust brown through the oven window.

And my brother from another daddy, the Swamp Chef, crawled out of the bayou to get Mom to show us how she does it!

This is a 2 crust pie and she uses cherries from the can, that's the old school way. Of course, I know where to find canned Cherries the cheapest!

So pull up an extra chair and invite the whole family to watch Mom and the Swamp Chef show you a homemade Cherry Pie Recipe video..oh, boy!

I crave Cherry flavor for sweet Craisins from my local Dollar Tree

Craisins are dried cranberries, and they're very similar to grape raisins. And real Cherry juice is used, plus cane sugar for a bit too much sweetness. I can eat them by the handful or just add to breakfast cereal or hot oatmeal.

And finally, I'm still a fan of sickly-sweet Chocolate Covered Cherries. There is something so pleasing, almost magical, combining a Maraschino Cherry and creme in a shell of chocolate.

And I can still find 5-count boxes for the right price at my local  99c only Store and Dollar Tree.

So if you are wondering how they rate on my Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best? Just check out my video review right here.

Enjoy Cherry Season the 99 Cent Chef way!

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