Aloha!

Hawaiian Hot Dog

Must. Not. Eat. Hand.

Must. Not. Eat. Hand.

So here’s a hot dog that’s so perfect for me that I’m genuinely surprised I’m not the one who came up with it.  I love pineapple.  I love red onion.  I love hot dogs.  Really, this one is hitting all of the high notes.  It’s also similar to a hot dog I had at my favorite hot dog place in Chicago, Chubby Weiners.  That restaurant holds the ignominious distinction of being where D and I had dinner on every presidential election day since we moved to the neighborhood.  Yeah, that’s only two elections.  And I think we maybe decided to go there on a non-election day once.  But still.  To me, this is the Election Day headquarters for our family.  Some of you who are familiar with the Chicago hot dog scene (and didn’t chuckle at that last phrase) will wonder why I didn’t pick Hot Doug’s.  Well, because my favorite hot dog place can’t be somewhere where I have to wait in line for an hour.  It just can’t.  And Hot Doug’s is closing, so I have to pick something else.  Why not Weiner’s Circle?  Because I’ve never been, and I don’t like confrontation.  I do, however, love this Conan O’Brien sketch  where Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and Jack MacBrayer go to Wiener’s Circle.  Well, now I have to try not to fall down a You Tube rabbit hole of Triumph videos.  Did you guys know he visited The Real Housewives of Atlanta?  It’s really hard not to click that.

Why am I spending all this time talking about local hot dogs instead of writing about the recipe?  Because it’s such a no-brainer.  It’s just delicious.  It’s also the kind of thing that you already know whether you’ll like it without me telling you anything.  Do you  like pineapple?  Welcome aboard.  That was quick.

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Space Coyote?

Spicy Chard with Ginger Sauté 

Find your soulmate, Homer.

Find your soulmate, Homer.

Kale with Tomato, Garlic, and Thyme Sauté

Kale turns out to be delicious once you boil the weird out of it.

Kale turns out to be delicious once you boil the weird out of it.

Beet Greens with Bacon

points for bacon and pasta...

points for bacon and pasta…

On page 22-23 of this magazine, there are four sautés.  They just kind of look like blobs of dark green stuff, so it’s difficult to tell at first glance what you’re supposed to do with the “in season winter greens” pictured.  Just eat them?  A quick glance at the under 100 calorie nutrition information for all of them should tell you that, no…you’ll starve.  In steps the bubble on page 23.  It states, “Enjoy the sautés as sides, toss with pasta for a main course (the chard’s great with Asian noodles), or serve on crostini.”  I said, “Ok, bubble.  I’ll buy it.”  So I made the kale, the beet greens, and the chard.

I’m going to get the less than awesome experiences out of the way first so I can end on a high note.  Ok.  The bubble said (and when has a bubble ever lied to me?) that the chard is great with Asian noodles.  I still had a good amount of rice noodles in the pantry from the beef salad way back when.  I asked for suggestions on how to get these things out of my house, internet, and the silence was deafening.  Deafening.  Either we are all at a loss for what to do with rice noodles or someone has the secret and she’s keeping it from me.  *narrows her eyes…*  Easy peasy, I’ll toss the spicy chard with ginger sauté with the rice noodles.  Here’s the important word in that recipe that you must pay attention to: “spicy.”  The recipe has two sliced jalapeños in it.  There’s no mention of seeding them, removing the ribs, or anything.  That’s two jalapeños and to balance that out?… chard and ginger.  Fun fact about chard and ginger: they do jack squat to cool down jalapeños.  I made this recipe as written and it was physically painful to eat.  And I love spicy food.  I put it on the rice noodles thinking, “Here we go.  The noodles will cool it down.”  Nope.  At this point, it was either throw it out or start doctoring it.

Paging Dr. P. Nutbutter!

I added a pretty considerable amount of peanut butter to the sauté.  Maybe a 1/4 cup.  It was still spicy, but not punishing.  As the final touch, I served it with diced mangoes and pineapple on the side.  Finally, after all that, we ate dinner.  Whew!

The upside: if you’re going to make this recipe, I highly recommend making a peanut butter-based sauce to put on top.  I added a 1/4 cup of peanut butter.  I could also see a mixture of peanut butter, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar, not unlike my beloved Sesame Noodles.  You will also want to serve this on noodles.  I also recommend serving it with a cooling side.  If I did this again, frankly, I would also use only one jalapeño and take out the seeds and ribs.  Or coat your mouth with wax like Homer does before he eats the Guatemalan insanity peppers.  Upside to that plan, you get to meet a space coyote.

Then there’s the beet greens with bacon, which has the opposite problem.  It’s pretty boring.  Maybe the problem is that I tried to make all of these sautees into main dishes when this one should really just be a side dish.

With that out of the way, we have an unqualified winner of a recipe to report: Kale with Tomato, Garlic, and Thyme.  This one is as quick and easy as it is delicious.  Sauté some veggies, boil some kale, boil some pasta (I think I might have used the same water), and toss it with salt, pepper, and oil.  C’mon!  Also, with the nice garlic and thyme, plus the intense green flavor of the kale, this prevents this recipe from becoming one of those dreaded Everyday Food pasta with no sauce recipes.

A nice Sunday dinner…

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Old-Bay Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Jan/Feb 2010, pg. 105

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Old-Bay is a great spice!  I had never heard of it until I lived on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and then it was in everything!  Now it’s a staple on our spice rack.

P and I don’t eat a lot of meat anymore so on Sunday’s we usually cook a larger cut of meat that will provide leftovers throughout the week.  This past Sunday we spatchcocked a chicken and grilled it.  For our sides we had steamed broccoli and old-bay roasted sweet potatoes.

A low stress, simple Sunday dinner.  Everything was delicious, especially the potatoes!  Sometimes old-bay can be overpowering, but the natural sweetness of the potatoes paired well with the amount of old-bay.  We had leftover chicken and potatoes, that we made into chicken salad for lunches and I used the potatoes in Monday’s dinner; black bean burgers.  I used the food processor to blend the black beans and potatoes, spices, and an egg.  The burgers were also delicious!

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The old-bay roasted sweet potatoes were great as a traditional side and an additional ingredient to black bean burgers.

Broiled Pineapple with Frozen Yogurt,  Jan/Feb. 2010, pg. 65

A lovely dessert!  It was simple and quick.  The broiled pineapple with frozen yogurt was a perfect last course to a Sunday dinner.  But nothing beats a fresh pineapple, no additions required for me to eat the whole thing in one day or one sitting.  It’s been known to happen.

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Winter (citrus) Wonderland

Roasted chicken with tangerines and olives

Sweet potatoes and pineapple

B is right, we do need to work on our photography.

B is right, we do need to work on our photography.

D made the chicken and I made the side.  He bought a whole chicken and cut it up for this purpose.  I’m always hesitant to do that.  I cut off the legs and wings, start feeling confident, then look at the football-shaped thing in front of me and start panicking.  What’s a breast look like?  Is that the chicken’s back?  Part of my worry stems from a long-running joke between D and his uncle about yella hammers (let’s just say “hillbillies”) liking to eat chicken backs.  I’ve always been worried I would serve D a chicken back, and he would die laughing and go call his uncle.  Alton Brown once had a show where he explained how to cut up a bird.  He said it was like a dinosaur.  That’s all I remember.  I don’t remember anything why being like a dinosaur is meaningful or helpful in any way.  So it’s a good thing D took care of it.  He said the only other prep was destuffing the green olives.  Also, “pro tip” from D: use the blunt end of a skewer to push the olive stuffing out.  He noted that if someone had a bird already cut up and pitted green olives, this would be an extremely easy recipe to prep.  It would just be cutting up those tangerines and tossing it.  Then you’d have thirty minutes of roast time to get a couple tablespoons of tangerine juice and some honey together.

The chicken was very tasty and moist.  The warm tangerines were very nice and sweet.  The olives were a little spicy, but that’s definitely because the former stuffing was spicy.  What kind of olives did we buy that had spicy stuffing?  Nowhere on the label does it say anything but “stuffed green olives.”  The whole thing is very nice leftover.  So when tangerines and other interesting citrus goes on sale in the winter, give this one a try.

The sweet potatoes and pineapple were good, but perhaps not as transcendent as I hoped.  You see, I love pineapple.  I love it the best of the best.  Sweet potatoes aren’t far down the list.  I think what actually kept this from being insanely good was the cayenne.  It was only 1/4 t for the entire pan, but it seemed like a little much.  It was a sharp spiciness and heat that I didn’t really want on my roasty pineapple and sweet potato, thank you.  I think a deeper, smokier taste like maybe cumin would have been better.  Or maybe chili powder, even.  Or just nothing.  Nothing would be good too.  My expectations may have been just a little high.  Or maybe I’m still obsessed with those twice-baked beauties…