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.

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!

Bruleed Tapioca Pudding

Whenever pudding is on sale at the store, I grab some up for the kids. Typically the usual fare such as chocolate, vanilla, or the combination. Not too long ago, I decided to throw in the classic tapioca pudding to see if there were going to be any takers. There was one who had high interest, only due to the fact that the chocolate and vanilla puddings were already taken. When he asked me what it was, I said ‘pudding, try it’.  He tore into it, looking at it, nibbling on the spoon, much like we probably did as kids (I really liked tapioca pudding growing up, or any pudding besides butterscotch), but then he just scooped it up like there was no tomorrow.

That’s when I decided I would make a batch of my own tapioca pudding and get their take on it. Success? Yes, and with a gentle and awesome twist.

Bruleed Tapioca Pudding Recipe
Bruleed Tapioca Pudding Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of large tapioca pearls, soaked overnight in room temperature water
  • 2 1/12 cups of milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 whole eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • additional sugar
  • fresh blueberries, optional

Start by soaking the tapioca pearls in room temperature water, overnight.
The next day, drain the water from the tapioca, give a gentle rinse, and drain again. Reminds me of making sticky rice believe it or not.

Set aside, then warm up your milk. You do not want the milk to come to a boil, rather just before a boil is ideal, so keep an eye on it.

Once the milk is warmed through, add in the salt, and the tapioca pearls. Give a good stir, keeping an eye not to boil the milk. Once the milk begins to slightly bubble on the sides of the pot, reduce the heat to very low heat, and cook those tapioca pearls for 60 minutes, making sure the the milk never comes to a boil.

Bruleed Tapioca Pudding Recipe
Bruleed Tapioca Pudding Recipe

During this time, separate your egg yolks from the whites, making sure to reserve both.

Add the yolks to the bowl of sugar, and mix that together to form a nice paste. Now it is time to gently mix in some of the hot milk mixture to the sugar and yolk mixture. This is called tempering. The goal is to warm the yolks through without scrambling them. You can use a couple of tablespoons of that milk mixture, slowly, to achieve that process. Once you have that ready, add this mixture to the pot of milk and tapioca pearls and give a good stir.

Next, turn up the heat and give a good stir, cooking for about 15 minutes or until the tapioca thickens.

During this time, take those reserved egg whites and beat the crap out of them until you have nice, stiff egg whites. Once stiffened, slowly stir those into the cooked tapioca, adding the vanilla extract as well.

Pour into serving bowls, and place into the refrigerator to completely cool (unless you like warm tapioca, that’s your call).

Now the fun part, at least for me, and the kids. Add some fine sugar to the top of each tapioca bowl, get your kitchen brulee torch out, and caramelize the top of the sugar. Once done, add some blueberries (I used frozen for texture), and dig in.

Was this ever a fun treat? Heck yes! Did the kids love it? You betcha! Was it worth the time, effort, and expressions on their faces? Absolutely. If you are wanting to make some tapioca, give this one a try, especially bruleed as it was cool, refreshing, and delicious. Hope you enjoy!

Daikon Chips

Our farmer’s market recently opened and that is always a great thing. Granted, there is not a whole lot there, but things (in terms of produce) are slowly starting to appear, and that is even better. Fortunately I was able to make it to the market a couple of weeks back and as I really wanted to get some asparagus for that evening’s dinner, I ended up getting a nice daikon radish. When I got home I thought I would pickle the daikon, something I like to use in salads and probably more importantly in banh mi sandwiches, but as I had some time on my hand, I thought I would do something different. That’s when I remembered the food dehydrator, and that’s when the thought of daikon chips came into play.

Daikon Chips Recipe
Daikon Chips Recipe

Why daikon chips you might ask? Probably because I was thinking about the radish chips that I made that were really good, and seeing that the daikon is part of the radish family, then why not, right?

These daikon chips were way too easy to make, a bit funky, but a good snack to say the least.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large daikon, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp canola oil

Start by washing your daikon. Next, using a peeler, remove the peel. Using a mandoline, or a sharp knife, thinly slice the daikon. I went about a quarter inch thick, if that. Not paper thin, but pretty darn thin.

Add the sliced daikon to a bowl, and drizzle with about a one tablespoon of canola oil.

How to make daikon chips
How to make daikon chips

Mix the salt and paprika in a small bowl.

Sprinkle the seasoning over the daikon, tossing along the way. Try and make sure all of the daikon is lightly coated. Some will get coated more than others, and that is just perfectly fine.

Add the slices, being careful not to overlap, onto food dehydrator trays, and once set, turn on the dehydrator, and let it go until the chips are fully dry, about 6-8 hours depending on the thickness you sliced.

Store in a sealable bag and enjoy as a snack, or heck even put them on salads if you desire.

The daikon chips are a bit of a surprise. You will get questions right away as to what they are, and then biting down you get that mild radish flavor, with a bit of that earthy funk. Good funk, but you will know you are eating something other than a potato chip!

If you are looking for something new to make with your produce, or to use your food dehydrator, give these a shot. Next time I think I might try giving a bath in vinegar and water and make some good old vinegar and salt daikon chips. Hope you enjoy!