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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The power is yours!

Roasted chicken with celery root and onion

Roasted acorn squash with lemon and nutmeg

The dynamic duo...forgive the mixed superhero metaphor

The dynamic duo…forgive the mixed superhero metaphor

First, brace yourself for some early 90’s cartoon references.  

Ok, as for the recipe, let me say that these two are absolutely delicious recipes on their own.  I would definitely make them again.  

This is probably the American guy, Fire.

This is probably the American guy, Fire.

The chicken is great.  The celery root and onion make for a fine side dish, so you really don’t need to serve anything else.  My very best friend chicken fat makes another appearance, so you know I’m happy.  The red pepper flakes keep it from being too rich.  Nothing gets burned or weird.  

But no one has to be Heart.  That poor kid...

But no one has to be Heart. That poor kid…

The acorn squash is spectacular.  Nutmeg and acorn squash are a natural combo.  There’s something wonderfully fall-like about it.  I would make this as a side dish for Thanksgiving.  The lemon zest is interesting and bright.  It keeps the squash from dragging into that too rich territory that Thanksgiving sides often veer into.  

But that’s not what makes this a great meal.  It’s the combination of the two.  When their powers combine they create a delicious synergy…a Captain Planet of meat and veggies, if you will.  Look it up, kids.  Honestly, I don’t know why the magazine doesn’t suggest making them together.  They normally don’t miss an opportunity to show you how the recipes can go together.  From a cooking standpoint, they are both made in the oven at the same temperature.  That’s huge.  How many times have you looked at two recipes only to find out that one is cooked at 325 and the other at 400?  Too many times.  And the chicken cooks for a longer than the squash, but not by too much.  That gives you just enough time to prep the squash while the chicken starts cooking.  Then there’s the lemon  zest.  They both get lemon zest on top.  The lemon on the chicken connects the flavor to the lemon on the squash.  Finally, the squash acts as your starch for the meal, while the chicken takes care of the protein, fat (read: schmaltz for life!), and aromatics.  I recommend these on their own, but I really love them together.

My dad hated Captain Planet.  That just made us want to watch it more, even though we hated it too now that I think about it.

My dad hated Captain Planet. That just made us want to watch it more, even though we hated it too now that I think about it.

I just realized that I enjoyed the episodes of Captain Planet much more before actual Captain Planet showed up, so this isn’t a great metaphor for this meal.  I liked to see all of the ethnic stereotypes try and work it out for themselves.  It seemed like a cop out to have Captain Planet swoop in and fix things, even if he was sort of part of them…I guess.  Did he exist or were they imagining him as a way to explain their own actions?  Does anyone remember if other people could see him?  If you want to fall down a wikipedia rabbit hole, here it is.  All that aside, the powers of these recipes combined are greater than my confusion about the cartoons of my childhood.

Yogurt-cheese spread (with special appearance by the rest of the sandwich)

Steak sandwich wrap

ignore my scaly gator-hands...

ignore my scaly gator-hands…

This was the recipe that used the leftovers from the notorious steak of the bazillion peppercorns.  So the key to these sandwiches was definitely to pick off the peppercorns.  Once that’s done, everything else is pretty straightforward.  I made these on some of those little “sandwich thin” things, because I sent D to the store with a grocery list that said “flatbread.”  These are, indeed, flat pieces of bread.  D acknowledges that it was a mistake.  But the sandwich thins are good!  And sometimes wraps are a mess.

This is mostly just a straight-ahead steak sandwich with the exception of that yogurt spread.  It’s low-fat Greek yogurt and Parmesan cheese in equal parts.  This spread should be on all sandwiches.  It’s so good.  It’s got the creaminess and tang of mayo (close enough) with the saltiness of cheese.  I’d eat this spread on crackers.  I’d dip carrots in it.  Suffice it to say, I’d recommend it.

 

Spaghetti squash in the microwave(!)

Skirt steak with pickled onion and spaghetti squash*

20 minute meal with a side of heartburn

20 minute meal with a side of heartburn

This is a supposed one hour prep time recipe that can be made in about 20 minutes with the help of the microwave.  Yes, you can make spaghetti squash in the microwave.  I found some instructions online that had you cut the thing in half before you microwave it.  That seemed to defeat the purpose.  So this is what you do: Take the whole spaghetti squash and stab it with a big knife in many many places evenly spaced (you can’t play serial killer and really hack at it because it’ll roll…), place it in the microwave and heat for for 16 minutes (check it at 10, 12, and 14 minutes).  It will be done when you can stab it very easily with a paring knife.  Take it out of the microwave and cut it in half lengthwise.  You’ll need mitts.  The squash is so much easier to cut when it’s cooked than it is when it’s raw.  Scrape out the seeds and discard.  Do the spaghetti squash thing with a fork to get your strands.  My strands weren’t great, but I’m no good at that.  Done!  It’s not as tasty as roasted squash, but you can barely tell the difference.  This technique makes it so squash on a weekday is actually feasible.  Ok, it did explode a little even though I stabbed holes, but it wasn’t a very big mess.  I lost maybe an 1/8 of a cup of goo and seeds.  Combine the squash with 2 T olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

The skirt steak was tasty.  It’s not worth giving directions beyond cook steak in a skillet, tent it with foil.  I used montreal steak seasoning because Montreal steak seasoning>salt and pepper.  It was a little tough, but that’s a problem with most skirt steak.

The onions were delicious, but strong.  You take a red onion, slice it very thinly and marinate it with the juice and zest of 3 limes for at least 15 minutes.  This may actually be a job for that most dangerous utensil, the mandoline.  The onions kind of upset my stomach eating that many that raw.  The leftovers softened and mellowed quite a bit, luckily.  I ate them on a leftover turkey sandwich.

*all recipe information adapted from Everyday Food issue #47 November 2007 p. 136