Chicago Style Hot Dog Tater Tots

Do you know that time when you are really craving something but you just don’t want to get up, go, and go get it? Yeah, it seems like I have been having those types of days lately. This past week I had a craving for this one, actually it was the craving for a Chicago style hot dog, but with french fries, and I was not about to get back in my car and head across town to go get them. That’s when I took things into my own hands, rummaged through my freezer and refrigerator, and just like that I came up with the great idea of Chicago style hot dog tater tots.

Sure, I’ve made pizza tots, bacon wrapped tots, and homemade tater tots to boot, but I’m not sure if anything compared to these Chicago style hot dog tater tots. It’s everything you love about a Chicago style hot dog, and fries, all in one delicious bite.

Chicago Style Hot Dog Tater Tots Recipe
Chicago Style Hot Dog Tater Tots Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole hot dogs, cooked and sliced in bites
  • 1 bag of your favorite tater tots
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 roma tomato, pulp removed, sliced
  • sport peppers, to your liking
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • your favorite pickles, to your liking
  • 1 tsp cajun seasoning, optional
  • 1 tsp black poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

If you want to use the funky neon green relish, by all means go for. That goes the same for yellow mustard, and as much as I love both of them, I omitted them from this particular recipe.

Feel free to adjust these ingredients based on how many people you are going to feed. This one in particular could probably feed two, but I was really, really hungry at the time and decided to go all in.

Start by lining a baking sheet with parchment paper, and preheat your oven to 425 degrees, or according to your instructions on your frozen tater tot bag.

Line the baking sheet with as much, or as little tater tots to your desire.

Cook the tater tots in the oven just until they begin to crisp up, about 15 minutes or so.

Chicago Style Hot Dog Tater Tots Recipe
Chicago Style Hot Dog Tater Tots Recipe

During this time, either boil, steam, or microwave the hot dogs, just until cooked.

After 15 minutes, remove the tater tots from the oven and add the onions to the top of the tots. Place back into the oven and cook an additional 5 minutes or so, just to lightly cook the onions.

Remove the tots from the oven, coat them sprinkle on the celery salt and cajun seasoning (I use Old Bay for the additional celery salt factor), top with the cheese, and the hot dogs, and place them back into the oven until the cheese is fully melted.

Once melted, remove, and top with the tomatoes, pickles, sport peppers, and shower everything with the poppy seeds. If you are wanting to use relish and mustard, by all means go for it.

Chicago Style Hot Dog Tater Tots Recipe
Chicago Style Hot Dog Tater Tots Recipe

These things are way too good, and are sure to be a real crowd pleaser. Not only did I save myself from a trip across town, but I also won in satisfying my hunger and craving for a Chicago style hot dog, with tater tots! Hope you enjoy.

Hibiscus Iced Tea

I love shopping at my local Mexican grocery store. I have said it before and I will always say it as to how much fun I have browsing the aisles. Granted I’m pretty much the only gringo roaming the aisles, but that is just ok by me. At my particular store, one of the end caps is loaded with dried chilies and an array of spices. There are things I have never heard of before, such as different dried flowers for cooking, but one recently grabbed my attention, and one that I knew. Hibiscus flowers.  These dark burgundy looking dried flowers were grabbing my attention, only to be brought home and turned into a refreshing tea, that I knew my wife and I would love.

Hibiscus Iced Tea Recipe
Hibiscus Iced Tea Recipe

If you are not familiar with hibiscus tea, don’t worry. This stuff is brewed all over the world, has a great taste, and is super easy to make.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz bag of dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 8-10 cups of water
  • Additional items could be lime, ginger, or allspice berries

Start by adding 5 cups of water, sugar, and cinnamon stick to a pot. Bring to a simmer, add in the dried hibiscus flowers, and let this steep for about 30 minutes.  If you want to explore with lime, ginger, or allspice berries, go ahead.

After 30 minutes. Strain the mixture, reserving the hibiscus concentrate. This is your base, so if you are wanting to use this right away, mix about equal parts of concentrate to cold water, served over ice. My batch was pretty much gone in one day due to everyone loving it so much.

Hibiscus Tea Recipe

This hibiscus iced tea is comparable to a blended cranberry juice flavor with that kick of cinnamon. Not only is it super refreshing to drink but it’s loaded with awesome health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, great for the liver, blood pressure, and it has anti-cancer properties, all of which my body probably needs.

If you are looking to impress some guests and help boost their immune system, why not give this hibiscus iced tea a try. It’s a winner! Hope you enjoy…

Baked Whole Trout

One of my kids recently turned 17. I know, I know… and yes that makes me feel a bit old to some degree, but yet I still feel like I’m 17 sometimes as well. When asked what he wanted to do for his birthday, the answer was a simple ‘hang out with family and grill out’. I’m a fan of that. So I figured I would come up with a menu that I knew he would love; everything from grilled Filipino meats, to Filipino pancit, and a few other things in between. As I was getting some of the ingredients, I figured I would throw in some whole trout, and something that I thought I would make on his birthday, probably on the smoker, but it ended up being too much work, and I had to use that trout the day I purchased it. Let’s call it a prelude to his birthday.

So instead of smoking the trout, I decided to stuff it and bake it whole. Wow was this baked whole trout not only super delicious, but really easy to make.

Baked Whole Trout Recipe
Baked Whole Trout Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 3 whole trout, gutted and rinsed
  • 1 whole lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup Italian leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

baked-whole-trout-ingredients

That’s it. Pretty simple. But do not stop there if you don’t want to. Feel free to use other fresh herbs, garlic, or butter inside if desired. Me, I wanted simple and to taste more of the fish.

Start by rinsing your fish and patting the inside and outside dry.

Using your knife, make a few slits on top of the skin, working from the top to the bottom.

Season the inside of the fishes with salt and pepper, and lay thinly slices of lemon inside of each one. Take some of the chopped parsley and add to the inside of the fishes as well. Take any remaining salt and season the outside of the fish.

Drizzle the olive oil over the fish, and place onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Take any remaining lemon and place onto the baking sheet to be squeezed over the fish after cooking.

Place into a 425 degree preheated oven and cook for about 20 minutes. The skin should crisp up a bit and the fish should be nice and moist.

Plate and serve, squeezing any additional lemon juice onto the fish.

The end result is great. It’s an awesome presentation on the table and gets everyone involved. Are there bones? You bet, so this is always a great exercise in how to remove bones, and playing caution when removing the filet from the bone.

The trout is super light, moist, and really refreshing to eat. Everyone enjoyed the trout, and something different than smoking it on the smoker. Hope you enjoy!

Filipino Imbaliktad

Recently the big kid turned 17. Seventee already, and yes he towers me. He’s a big high schooler, let’s just put it that way. So when questioning him what he would like to do for his special day, he just said ‘Let’s just get together here and have a barbecue’. I’m not sure if my wife and I finally rubbed off on him, but we did offer up other options, but his choice was a simple one. A small get together. So that’s where it started, but when asked what he would like to eat for his birthday, he initially said burgers and brats (a typical grilling fair), and that’s when I offered up Filipino food. I’m big into Filipino food, especially over the course of the last few years, and that is primarily due to the family members that surround me. My wife’s father is Filipino, as is her cousins, etc. So every chance I get, I’m going to try a new dish.

These dishes are not necessarily new, but they are packed with great flavor and super easy to make, in particular this recipe known as Imbaliktad.

Filipino Imbaliktad Recipe
Filipino Imbaliktad Recipe

This recipe is essentially a super quick stir fry, and almost reminds me of an American sukiyaki,  but with lots more flavor and a lot less time to cook.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of lean beef, cut into thin strips, room temperature
  • pork shanks, cooked and removed from bone (optional)
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 whole onion, coursely sliced
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns, lightly smashed
  • 2 tbsp distilled vinegar
  • 3 Thai chilies, or serranos, lightly smashed
  • 3 sprigs of green onions, coursely sliced
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • salt, to taste
  • Rice, cooked, optional
  • Cold beer, optional

Mix the sugar with the beef, and set it to the side to come up to room temperature.

Next, heat a large skillet, or wok on medium-high heat. Let this heat up for a couple of minutes before adding the oil. This recipe goes quick it is a perfect throw together stir fry.

OK, now add in the oil, then toss in the ginger, and garlic. Stir fry this for about 30 seconds, being careful not to brown the garlic. Add in the beef, turn up the heat to high, toss that beef around, and then let it sit and caramelize. Add in the black peppercorns, chili peppers, and give that a good toss. Cook for a minute or so, then add in the onion. I like my onions with a bit of crunch here, but if you want them softened, go for it just cook them a bit longer. Try to not overcook the beef as you want it tender. If you are using the cooked pork shanks, which I pressured cooked earlier in the day for some extra richness, remove whatever meat you can from the bone, and add to the stir fry at this time.

Filipino Imbaliktad Ingredients
Filipino Imbaliktad Ingredients

Now add in the vinegar, give another toss, season with some salt to your liking, then plate and shower with the green onions.

Dig in. Serve with a side of rice, a cold beer, and you are set to go. The only question you will probably ask yourself is why you were not cooking this any sooner, and why you did not make more of it. I mean it’s beef loaded with garlic, ginger, vinegar and some heat from the chilies. Everything I love in some of the Filipino recipes. Enjoy!