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.

Spam and Avocado Toast

You know the buzz… Avocado toast. It’s all the rage, and to be honest, I can’t blame the rage. Avocado toast in itself is delicious, and avocados are typically on our counter during the week. So as I was sitting around one late morning, I noticed an avocado, a ripe one that was ready for the taking, and as I got up to look around to see what I could make with this lonely avocado, I decided I would do my spin on an avocado toast. Let me introduce to you the Spam and Avocado Toast recipe.

Spam and Avocado Toast Recipe
Spam and Avocado Toast Recipe

Now I know what you are probably thinking right now. Spam? Yes, spam. I’ve dabbled with spam over the years, and as some may frown on the idea of spam, I actually have grown to like it, especially when cooked properly. Properly, meaning nice and crispy. There are two reasons I decided to use spam in this recipe. One is that I did not have bacon (I know, I know…) and two, I had spam! This combination was actually really delicious, and if you did not know that it was spam, I think you would probably agree.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 piece of sturdy bread such as a whole wheat or 12 grain, toasted
  • 1 whole avocado, lightly mashed, or to your liking
  • 1/2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup, spam, cubed and cooked until crispy
  • 1/2 cup of cucumber, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste

Start by marinating your cucumber. To a bowl, add the sesame oil, chili flakes, soy sauce, and give a good mix.  Add the cucumbers, give a gentle stir, and set them to the side.

Now the spam. To a small skillet add the oil on medium to high heat. Let that oil come to temp for a minute then add in the cubed spam. Stir and cook the spam until it is nice and crispy.

Avocado Toast Recipe
Avocado Toast Recipe

During this time, get your avocado ready. To a small bowl, open that avocado, being careful not to slice open your palm (yep, people are doing it based on this whole avocado toast thing), and scoop it into the bowl. Use a fork and lightly mash it adding some salt and pepper to your taste.

Check that spam. Crisp? Cool. Remove it from from the heat and lets toast the bread.

Pop the slice of bread into the toaster and get it nice and golden brown. Toast it so it holds up to everything when you build the spam and avocado toast.

OK, lets build this baby. Take the slice of toast, spread on that avocado, layer on the on the cucumber (and only the cucumber) and crispy spam, and get ready to eat.

You tell me, but when you take a bite of this avocado toast, you will be blown away. That crunch and softness from the spam, the crispness and spice from the cucumber, and the creaminess from the avocado, all in a handheld bite sized form. Yep, I’m sold. It’s good, and good enough to have you questioning (possibly) why you haven’t been eating spam all of this time. Enjoy!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

I think I am pretty good at reading my wife. I know when she is hungry, upset, happy, anxious, and I think I have a pretty good idea of what she really loves to eat. She gets me to, but in so many different ways. I know that I am the cook in the house, but I think I am so much more than that. Sure yesterday I rocked out homemade crepes for my wife, a Thai curry fish recipe, as well as a Thai beef salad that I knew would be a bend to her knees on first taste, but I also think that I provide some other good things such as a great sense of humor, a good hug, and an emotion and discipline to guide my kids through their early times in life (and hopefully much longer than that). My wife has introduced me to things, or maybe reintroduced me to things, that I would have probably never had ever wanted again, and this recipe is one of those. It’s the classic spinach and artichoke dip.

This is one of those dips that she fell in love with back in the late 1980’s, or early 1990’s at the chain TGIF. It’s that iconic image when opening their menu back then. The spinach and artichoke dip. Heck, we even recall going out to eat there when I returned home (I wasn’t going to say no) and sure enough that was ordered as an appetizer.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Recipe
Spinach and Artichoke Dip Recipe

As I have been home or a couple of weeks, I have been purging things in my refrigerator and cupboard (and doing a pretty good job at it), and this was a perfect creation to use up a can of artichokes, cheese, breadcrumbs, mayo, sour cream, and a bag of spinach my kid was so gung ho to use up for lunch. Do you think he touched the spinach? No.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz can artichoke hearts, quartered, drained, chopped
  • 3 cups spinach leaves, cooked, strained, cooled, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated with microplane
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
  • crackers, bread, vegetables, or other dipping items that you desire

This recipe is way too easy. The hardest part is probably waiting. Waiting for the spinach to cook and cool, or the dip to be  cooked and ready. Seriously.

Start by adding the spinach to a pot. Add in the water and bring this to a medium heat. Basically cook down the spinach until softened, only a few minutes, then strain, press out all of the water, and let it cool.

During this time, get a mixing bowl. If you want to use your electric mixer feel free. Add in the chopped artichokes, half of the cheese, mayo, sour cream, garlic, and salt. Give this a good spin or mix. Yes, we are still waiting on that spinach to cool.

As we wait, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and get your casserole dish out. OK, now that the spinach is cooled, and chopped, toss this into the mixing bowl, and give another good mix.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Recipe
Spinach and Artichoke Dip Recipe

Scoop the mixture into the casserole dish, add the remaining cheese to lightly cover the top, then sprinkle on the breadcrumbs.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until that top is nice and golden and bubbly.

Get ready. You know that molten hot dip you know you shouldn’t dig into but can’t resist? Yeah, this is one of those.

This dip is a crowd pleaser. It’s best served right out of the oven, scorching hot, or warmed. As much as my wife loves it, I will admit that I like it to in moderation. With that said, it’s a dip that is hard to walk away from. You might say things like ‘That’s it for me’, ‘I’m out’, ‘Get that away from me’, but one thing is for sure, I will find you coming back for another swipe of a veg, cracker, or chip. Yep, it’s that good. I hope you enjoy!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizers
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 14 oz can artichoke hearts, quartered, drained, chopped
  • 3 cups spinach leaves, cooked, strained, cooled, and chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated with microplane
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup fine bread crumbs
  • crackers, bread, vegetables, or other dipping items that you desire
Instructions
  1. Start by adding the spinach to a pot. Add in the water and bring this to a medium heat. Basically cook down the spinach until softened, only a few minutes, then strain, press out all of the water, and let it cool.
  2. During this time, get a mixing bowl. If you want to use your electric mixer feel free. Add in the chopped artichokes, half of the cheese, mayo, sour cream, garlic, and salt. Give this a good spin or mix. Yes, we are still waiting on that spinach to cool.
  3. As we wait, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and get your casserole dish out. OK, now that the spinach is cooled, and chopped, toss this into the mixing bowl, and give another good mix.
  4. Scoop the mixture into the casserole dish, add the remaining cheese to lightly cover the top, then sprinkle on the breadcrumbs.
  5. Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until that top is nice and golden and bubbly.
  6. Get ready. You know that molten hot dip you know you shouldn’t dig into but can’t resist? Yeah, this is one of those.

 

Mexican Potato Tacos (Tacos de Papa)

I know that recently Cinco de Mayo excites the gringos, but I could go for what everyone gets excited about that day, everyday. See, I may be like you and could seriously eat tacos, Tex Mex, or anything in between those (enchiladas, burritos, taquitos) on a regular basis. I’m not going to be shy about it. But in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, I decided to whip up some really easy, and excellent tacos. Tacos I knew my wife and kids have never had, and ones I have been wanting to make for years. Welcome tacos de papa, or Mexican Potato Tacos.

Mexican Potato Tacos Recipe
Mexican Potato Tacos Recipe

These tacos could probably compete with one of my all time favorites, tacos al pastor, and as you can see how much I love Mexican as well as Tex Mex food, well these come straight to top ten, and that’s no joke.

These are just way too easy to make and the result, however basic they may be, are so super satisfying that they have you thinking about leftovers for breakfast, or a gentle reheat in the oven for next day’s lunch.

Let’s get started.

  • 3 whole russet potatoes, cleaned, skins peeled and removed
  • 1 tsp salt, more to taste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin, to taste
  • 1 package sturdy corn tortillas
  • 1 cup of canola oil
  • crumbled queso fresco, optional
  • 2 whole serrano or jalapeno chili pepper, thinly sliced, optional
  • salsa verde, optional
  • optional sides (Mexican rice, refried beans, guacamole)

The focus here is really on the tacos. The fixings are up to you. I loaded my plate up Tex Mex style with all of the fixings because, hey that’s how I like to roll on my Mexican platter. The only thing it was missing was a great chile toreado!

Start by quartering your cleaned potatoes. You can go smaller if you want. I had some time on my hand so quartered worked fine by me. Add these to a pot of cold water, along with the garlic, one roughly chopped serrano chile, and add the teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until fork tender, about 40 minutes.

Once the potatoes are tender, drain, return them back to the pot on medium heat an and cook to remove any excess water.

Once the water is evaporated, you have a couple of options. My first option is to always use a potato ricer for my potatoes. If you don’t have one, use your favorite masher, heck even a couple of forks. You want the potatoes smooth, but if you like some texture, then heck by all means get some texture into those suckers. If you want to remove the garlic and chilies, then go for it. Me? I mash them into the potatoes. Once mashed, add some salt, cumin, pepper, butter, and milk. Give a good stir, taste, and adjust any salt or cumin if needed. Set aside to cool.

How to make Mexican Potato Tacos
How to make Mexican Potato Tacos

When you are ready to get these things going, heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add in the canola oil, and let it come to temperature for a couple of minutes.

Lightly heat up your corn tortillas in the microwave, or in a separate pan. The goal is to make them flexible for folding. Corn tortillas out of the bag are no bueno.

Once the oil is heated, and you have some workable corn tortillas, take a nice spoonful of the potato mixture and slather it into the tortilla. Fold the tortilla over, using the potato as the glue to pinch around the edges, and gently lay into the skillet. Repeat with a couple of more tacos. I think I fit about 3 tacos per cook.

Cook the tacos for a few minutes, then gently flip over to crisp the other side. Question? Can I spray these with cooking spray and place into a 375 degree oven, turning once and going that route? Yes, but I think the texture is slightly different. If you want to go that route, go for it. You can probably fit more on a baking sheet!

Mexican Potato Tacos (Tacos de Papa) Recipe
Mexican Potato Tacos (Tacos de Papa) Recipe

Once the tacos are cooked, remove and place on a paper lined sheet to let any excess oil drain. Now you have choices. You can carefully open these up and stuff them with things such as cheese, salsa, beans, or whatever you like, or you can roll like I did.

Add the Mexican potato tacos to a serving plate, lining them up nicely, and ladle on some warm salsa verde, shower with cheese, and lay around your fixings. I like mine spicy so I showered mine with more chilies.

Sure, I made the kids a batch of chili lime slow cooked chicken tacos as well (only thinking what I could use for leftovers the following days), but these Mexican potato tacos were it! I laid them on the table, not discussing much about them only that they were potato tacos (you should have seen their looks), and those were the only tacos I had on my plate.

I think that curiosity drove my wife, daughter, and one of my boys interest, and as soon as they took a bite they were totally sold!

Guess who had leftovers the following morning? Well, me of course (take one, lightly crisp it up in the oven while you make an over easy egg and place that on top (thank me later)), as well as my wife who I think took down another two for lunch.

Easy. Super delicious. Something that should be on every Mexican menu but I have yet to see nor order. Just saying. If you are looking for an awesome taco idea, give this one a shot. Hope you enjoy!