Hot Dogs with Horseradish & Half Sour Slaw

We’ve been opting to cook outside the kitchen and grill on the roof of my apartment complex – and much more lately with the end of summer calling.

Hot dogs have always been my go-to beloved grilling meat. To be specific, Oscar Meier Weiners. This is not a time to be health-conscious folks – it’s a time to enjoy yourself and savor that sulfite-packed meat product you know you want so badly.

Hot dogs are typically not too filling either, so you can fit lots of other grilled meats in your belly. And don’t forget all the best side dishes – my favorites are the classic potato salad, pasta salad and corn on the cob.

(For a spicy, delicious twist on potato salad, try Hankerings’ Spicy Dill Pickle Potato Salad.)

Chicago-style hot dogs throw a speared pickle on top, along with the other musts: sweet relish, white onion, tomatoes, celery salt and peppers.

Now I love the pickle spear concept – I really do. But it can be unwieldy and makes the bun a bit soggy. A slaw creates a much more approachable bite to get through. It’s also a refreshing, cold counterpoint to the grilled dog.

This slaw pulls together the mustard and pickle elements, and the dash of mayo brings yummy richness to the sauce. Horseradish adds some heat. The cabbage does its job adding a much-needed crunch factor. It’s also a super-cinch to make, and flexible depending on the flavors you’d like to amplify, or add.

One steadfast recommendation is to seek out half sour pickles, which can usually be found at your local deli or the refrigerated section of your grocery store. Their flavor is so underrated and incredibly delicious in this recipe.

If you’re a pickle fanatic like me, you’ll enjoy this topping more than you can imagine – and if you have extra, it’d be perfect to add to burgers. Or in my case, great for sneaking bites of on its own!

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

F o r  t h e  H o t  D o g s

  • 2 Oscar Meier Weiner hot dogs
  • 2 hot dog buns (If you can find them, brioche hot dog buns are delicious)

F o r  t h e  H o r s e r a d i s h  &  H a l f – S o u r  S l a w

  • 1 large half-sour pickle, cut into one inch shreds
  • 1 / 3 cup cabbage, shredded
  • 1 1 / 2 tablespoons Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Fresh dill, for garnish

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. To make the slaw, combine all the slaw ingredients and set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes until the mixture is chilled through.
  2. Turn on the grill, setting it to your preferred temperature.
  3. Slice shallow slits down the hot dogs to allow the more of the surface of hot dog to get crispy.
  4. Put the hot dogs on the grill, cooking until the casing is blistered and lightly blackened. Toast the buns as well, if preferred.
  5. Put the hot dogs in the buns, topping each hot dog with half the slaw. Garnish with fresh dill, if desired. Serve immediately.

Smoky Jalapeno Cheddar Soup

Another rainy day, another bowl of bubbling hot spicy soup. There’s not much else to do when it’s pouring out, and who doesn’t love an excuse to stay at home and cook all day?

I bought too many jalapenos and wanted to find a way to make them the centerpiece of a soup. So here we are – with jalapeno two ways – fresh and smoked.

Smoked jalapenos, if you’re not already familiar, are called chipotle peppers. You can find them canned in their sauce in any grocery store.

Chipotle, as it so happens, is also the namesake of my favorite fast food restaurant. As in, “If you were going to die tomorrow, what would you eat?” – my answer would be Chipotle.  No really – I ate Chipotle 4 to 5 days a week in high school for two years.

The flavor of chipotle is smoky, incredibly hot, and very addictive. I keep bags of it frozen in my freezer. Throw it in anything Tex-Mex – it’s like the Tex-Mex equivalent of barbecue sauce, incredibly versatile.

Your start to this soup is a roux, much like any chowder. It creates a thicker, stewy feel to the soup. I bet chicken and beans would be great in here as well if you wanted to bulk it up a bit, but I’m happiest when I get the full flavor of the cheese and the spices.

What’s your favorite go-to rainy day soup?

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 2 / 3 quart whole milk
  • 1 1 / 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 / 2 small onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper, minced (from the can)
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle pepper sauce (from the can)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Once melted, add the flour, stirring for a couple minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. Add the milk, whisking until there’s no visible clumps of flour. Continue to cook on medium heat until it thickens and the mixture coats a spoon.
  2. In a separate saute pan drizzled with olive oil, add the onion, jalapenos, garlic, chipotle peppers, chipotle pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Saute for 15 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent.
  3. Once the vegetables are tender, add them to the soup. Then add the cheese, and stir until completely incorporated. Serve, garnishing with additional jalapeno slices and a drizzle of extra chipotle pepper sauce, if desired.

Hankerings’ (Not-So-Secret) Ranch Dressing Recipe

If someone were to ask me, “what’s the best salad dressing you ever had?” – I’d actually have an answer for them.

I was sitting at a local bar in New Jersey’s Long Beach Island called the Black Whale, where I was told that I “had to order the house salad.”

For reasons I’m sure you can understand, I had my doubts that this salad would be any good.

The house salad ended up being a house salad. But the house-made ranch dressing they served with it blew my mind.  It came in a glass bottle that the bartenders kept within arm’s reach in the ice machine.

I should’ve known then – when they gave me enough ranch dressing to last a family of four six months – that there was a reason they bring an entire carafe of dressing for a small plate of leaves. Within a matter of minutes, the salad heap was dwindling, but I was still pouring.

I couldn’t have enough of this dressing.

I asked the waitress to see if the chef could do me a huge solid and share the recipe with me.

She came back without a recipe, letting me know the secret was a whole lot of garlic – but not just one type of garlic. There’s fresh and roasted garlic.

So after some drawn-out, nitpicky trial and error, I have created a dressing that tastes nearly identical to what I had at the Black Whale. And I’m very happy about it.

As a self-proclaimed neutral with a capital “N” on salads, it doesn’t mean I can’t still love the dressing we pour over them.

I’ll be posting several more salad dressing recipes in the coming weeks – be sure to check back & see what new concoctions I’ve managed to whip up. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Makes 1 1 / 2 pints.

  • 1 / 2 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • 1 / 3 cup whole milk
  • 1 / 4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 garlic bulb + 2 cloves garlic
  • Olive oil

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to *400.
  2. Cut the garlic bulb in half, rub with olive oil, and place in foil on a sheet pan or the oven rack. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes, until the garlic flesh is browned but not burnt.
  3. Once cooled, squeeze out the garlic cloves from half the bulb, discarding the skins. Since you already put in all the work, save the remaining half of the roasted garlic.
  4. Put the roasted garlic and all the remaining ingredients in a food processor, whirring until all the herbs & garlic cloves are completely emulsified.
  5. Set in the fridge for as long as possible so the flavors can mingle with each other. The dressing will last 7 to 10 days in the fridge.

Overstuffed Olive & Pimento Cheese Sandwich

I was big on dirty martinis from an early (note: legal) age.

This olive juice craze gave rise to many abandoned, juiceless jars of olives. I began to look for recipes to use up this massive surplus. In little time I was routinely making batches of – you guessed it – pimento cheese dip – that included the olives as well as the pimentos inside.

I have historically relied on Southern cooking tradition in assuming there are few acceptable ways to serve pimento cheese.

On crackers.

In a sandwich.

But even with its alleged limited applications, I would list pimento cheese as one of my top desert island foods. When you’d eat it with a spoon, that’s when you know.

The other reason to love pimento cheese so much? There’s barely any ingredients! So it’s an ideal whip-together-at-the-last-minute dish made of things you very likely have in your fridge right now.

So as a service to both you and I, I put my head to paper and came up with a list to get me ruminating on how I can justify eating more of it, for those occasions when I make it in alarmingly huge quantities.

  • Mixed into macaroni and cheese
  • Stuffed in enchiladas
  • Mixed into broccoli cheddar soup
  • Mixed into mashed potatoes
  • Topping fries
  • Mixed into a soufflé
  • Topping a burger
  • Mixed into risotto
  • On pizza
  • On a Philly cheesesteak
  • Mixed into cream cheese
  • Stuffed in chicken breasts
  • Mixed into grits
  • Rolled in panko breadcrumbs and fried
  • Mixed into scrambled eggs
  • Mixed into pasta carbonara
  • Stuffed in homemade ravioli
  • Melted inside quesadillas

Let me know if you have, want to, or will give any of these a try. I’d love to hear what the results were!

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 1.

  • 2 slices white bread
  • 6 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 oz. pimento-stuffed olives, minced

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Combine ingredients in a bowl. Put mixture between two sandwich slices.
  2. Cut in half.
  3. You’re DONE! EAT!

Spicy Dill Pickle Potato Salad

Good old, classic American potato salad doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

It’s gotten a bad rap for being bland, unexciting and outdated. But I think it belongs right at the top of the list with the other star members of the comfort food group.

With potatoes and mayonnaise acting as ingredients number one and two in this dish, potato salad lends itself to flavor-boosting ingredients.

I’ve seen variations like bacon-ranch potato salad, green goddess potato salad, cobb potato salad, and tons of other ingenious recipes on Pinterest. This gives me hope that potato salad has officially made a comeback and is here to stay.

This spicy and pickle-infested variation of potato salad checks two important boxes for me: spice and brine.

I always find ways to sneak pickled vegetables, capers, olives or cured salty fish into dishes that lack a “salt & vinegar” vibe. Does anyone else do this?

Quick-pickled red onion and habanero peppers, along with a hefty amount of spicy dill pickles, juice included, do a good job of cutting through gloopiness and high fat content of the mayonnaise dressing. I also used Peewee potatoes, which are ultra-velvety and the perfect size for biting into.

Once it’s all had a chance to meld together in the fridge, you can’t go wrong with the combination of the mayonnaise tang, zippy pickles with their garlicky juice, and a flaming hot pickled habanero bite. If these potatoes were potato chips, they would be McClure’s Pickles Spicy Pickle Kettle Potato Chips.

I didn’t go homestyle with this recipe, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have a place in my heart for the usual stuff. It’s instinctual food that serves a purpose. Like when you mechanically grab that pre-made container in the grocery store on your way to the cash register.

Sometimes, you just need the predictability that potato salad provides. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 4.

  • 2 lbs. Peewee potatoes, cut in half, or 2 lbs. Yukon Gold if you can’t find Peewee potatoes, cut in small cubes
  • 6 spears McClure’s Spicy Pickles, small diced, plus 4 tablespoons juice
  • 1 habanero, minced
  • 1 / 4 red onion, small diced
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 / 2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 / 2 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of sugar

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Heat the vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small saucepan until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour into a bowl. Add the diced onion and minced habanero and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Cut the Peewee potatoes in half. Bring a large pot to boil, adding a tablespoon of salt. Add the potatoes, and boil for 15 minutes or so, until the potatoes are fork-tender. Strain the potatoes and cover with a clean dish towel to steam while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, add the mayonnaise, sour cream, 5 spears’ worth of diced pickles, pickle juice, 3 tablespoons dill, and pinches of salt, pepper and sugar. Add the potatoes and combine. Once 30 minutes have passed, add the pickled peppers, discarding the brining liquid.
  4. Once all the ingredients have been thoroughly combined, taste for seasonings, garnish with the fresh dill & pickles, and let sit in fridge for as long as possible so the sauce has a chance to seep into the potatoes.
  5. Serve chilled.