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Spicy dogs and chili and mustard and olives

I’ve talked probably more than I’d care to admit that I’m trying to lose a few pounds. Aren’t we all this time of year?

Anyway, and maybe fortunately or unfortunately, I find loopholes in Weight Watchers’ point system. Maybe they are not loopholes, but they are ideas of healthy deliciousness. In the case of one of my favorite foods, the hot dog, I made this kickass lunch the other day–two fat free white meat turkey franks (thank you Ballpark) on Brownberry white Italian bread, and made two kinds. One had a Kosciusko spicy brown mustard and a small amount of Tony Packo’s Hot Dog Sauce (this stuff is remarkable and by that I mean tasty as hell); and the other had a (literally) kickass Beaver Brand jalapeno mustard and some spicy That Pickle Guy muffalatta style olive salad.

First of all, these hot dogs are fantastic. They do not taste fat free in the least, they are delicious, and they are mild enough to let the other toppings shine. And since I’m eating these dogs like two or three times a week, I’ve become more interested in trying different mustards. Which makes it convenient that we have the National Mustard Museum here in Madison.

And hey, it’s almost lunch time and this post is making me hungry. And I think I know what I want for lunch!

Color your plate–hot dog edition

Have you heard about coloring your plate for maximum health benefits? That is, if you have bright colors like green (leafy vegetables/broccoli) and yellow/red (peppers) and white (potatoes/protein), you will have a healthy plate with lots of vitamins and minerals. That’s not always easy or optimal, but today I took a photo of my lunch, which, since I’m dieting, consisted of two fat free turkey hot dogs on white bread with varying condiments.

And after loading up on the colorful condiments, I thought, as my wife would say, that it was a “beautiful plate.” But of course, the colors were funky–neon green sweet relish, like the kind you get in Chicago; light green (sport peppers); red (hot pepper sandwich relish); yellow (chow chow); and dull yellow (spicy horseradish mustard); and light reddish/brown (hot dog); and white (bread). These were healthy versions of Chicago dogs, and while not as healthy as broccoli and sweet peppers, the lunch was not exactly unhealthy either.

So while dieting kind of sucks, it doesn’t have to. And it doesn’t have to have look boring either.

The Fourth–hot dog time

Last week I celebrated the 4th of July early with one of the synonymous food items for it–the hot dog. Specifically, I had a two-dog Chicago style dog rolled up in a tortilla. And really, this is a great way to have a dog with all those toppings, because you don’t have toppings all over your plate or the floor. It mostly all goes in your mouth. And also, it’s an easy way to slide two dogs into your bread vehicle.

So what goes on the Chicago? Any combo of this–yellow mustard, tomatoes, onions, sweet relish (neon green if you can find it), pickles, cucumber, hot peppers and celery salt. And it is best with all beef dogs, but that is not at all necessary. For me, I can’t eat raw onions without heartburn and bad breath, so I do myself and my wife a favor and omit those.

But really, you can also come up with all sorts of combos to top a dog. It’s the 4th, right? Also, the Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest is on ESPN, another tradition that we have–going to our local parade, and then watching the contest and eating a dog (or 50!). Have a great holiday everyone, and make sure to hand your keys to someone if you have too many (drinks that is, not hot dogs).

Foods I miss from…..New York

I have lived in four states in my lifetime, and now live in Madison, Wisconsin. If you are a foodie like me and have moved around a bit in your life like me, that means that when you move from one place to another, there are going to be regional food items you miss from your previous dwelling. This week, I will write about the items I miss about the places I’ve lived–New York (Long Island), Cleveland (Ohio) and Nashville. Here we go…

New York

Pizza, pizza, pizza. With all due respect to you people in Chicago who like your pizza to be a couple inches thick, and everyone else who thinks a large pizza is like 14 inches wide, there is nothing like real New York pizza. Not that it’s all the same, but generally you get a thin crust (not too thin), and the perfect blend of sauce and cheese, a sprinkling of oregano, and that’s it. You take a slice of that 16 to 18 inch pie, fold it in half, and eat like a sandwich. Oh, and don’t forget the shake of crushed red pepper.

Jamaican beef patties–They sell them in every pizza place in and around New York. They also sell them at Jamaican bakeries and in the frozen food section of the grocery store. They are like empanadas–savory and spicy, and with that trademark yellow crust.

Potato salad–If you have ever had the potato salad they sell in German delis in New York, you won’t ever get potato salad anywhere else. I can’t even attempt to make potato salad, ever, because nothing comes close. One question–how do they keep the potato salad looking so bright white and not off white/eggy like store bought salad in any other state?

Nathan’s hot dogs and fries–Well, you can buy Nathan’s hot dogs in most stores. But the fries. I’m not even sure what it is…it’s not like they are super crispy or anything. They are thick crinkle cut, not under cooked and not over cooked–but the perfect companion to a glob of ketchup.

Bagels–Okay so we have Gotham Bagels here in Madison, and they are real New York style bagels. But it’s not near my house, so I have to stock up when I drive past.

Deli sandwiches–Do you sense a theme here? Yes, I miss delis, and you would too if you moved away from New York. There is nothing like a sandwich on a hard kaiser roll–with real meat like roast beef, turkey or ham that was cooked there and sliced thin right there. The roast beef and turkey you get anywhere else is not the same–it’s typically injected with broth and other stuff to preserve it and make it taste processed. Ugh.

Hot Dog Friday (Tuesday): Mikey’s Buffalo Dog

Whew. I was on vacation last week, so my apologies for the lack of posts. But since I also did not post a hot dog recipe on June 17, here is one now. Then I’m going to give you a new one for 4th weekend.
I will also fill you in later this week on some of the food we had on vacation, including Tony Packo’s in Toledo and Michael Symon’s B Spot in Cleveland. And I’m pasting a photo below of a chili dog I had from one of those awesome dairy dip places that are all over the place in summer. Nothing beats a chili dog (or 2 or 4) on a hot day, followed by a thick shake.

But meanwhile, here is my Buffalo-style dog recipe…..

Mikey’s Buffalo Dog
I know, it seems like I have a buffalo chicken theme for just about every recipe. But that’s because I’m positively addicted to wing sauce, and the flavors that go along with wings—the sauce, blue cheese, and celery. And I know many of you are too! So it stands to reason that we just have to have a buffalo hot dog, right? Right. So here it is….

Ingredients
4 hot dogs, any kind
4 hot dog buns
1 cup Buffalo chicken hot sauce (I like Buffalo Wild Wings medium sauce)
1 cup cole slaw mix
2 small celery stalks, cut into match sticks
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup blue cheese
Juice of half a lemon
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions
Place dogs in a pot of boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes. Drain, and then add wing sauce to pot, and let dogs sit off heat in the wing sauce for a few minutes. Meanwhile, make the slaw. Combine cole slaw mix, celery, mayo, blue cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and stir to combine. To assemble, place dogs in buns and top evenly with the slaw. Drizzle with a little more wing sauce.

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