Take Me Out to the Ballgame

[Before we talk wieners, let me first say thank you to those of you who read and commented on the previous post. It means a whole heck of a lot.]

I used to collect baseball cards. In fact, I had so many baseball cards that I needed a special “baseball card binder” to keep them in. In middle school, one of my favorite excursions was a trip to Atlanta, Georgia to watch the Braves play; John Smotlz was super-hot, and I dreamed nightly of autographed baseballs and season tickets. Sadly, I settled on going to one game, and before too long the shine had worn off, so to speak.

Apparently, when living in Chicago, being a mediocre baseball fan is unacceptable, or at least frowned upon.

But even though I’ve been in Chicago for 6 years, only 1 member of the Wetzel household has taken a true liking to baseball. And now, at the end of April, baseball season is well underway. That means exactly two things in this house: Hubs gets excited over the Cubs and their dubbing this season as “Year 1“, and I get excited about having an excuse to eat a Chicago Dog and a hat full of nachos. The way I see it, at least I’m excited about something, right?!

We introduced my friend, Katie, and my new friend, Jody, to the Chicago Dog on the Cubs’ opening day game in Chicago a couple of weeks ago (which, I might add, was a good game!). Given Katie’s pure hatred of all things mustard, she certainly didn’t experience a “true” Chicago dog, but I was also scolded as a result of my putting ketchup on my dog, a huge “no-no”, but since the stand was tomato-less, I thought it’d be a good sub for tomato flavor. Wrong answer; the right answer, you ask? Waiting for them to refill the tomatoes.

As it turns out, there is only one correct way, for the most part, to eat a Chicago dog. And last Friday (Hot Dog Night), we did it up, and we did it up right.

In addition to the perfect Chicago dog, I also found a recipe for Mexican hot dogs thanks to one of my favorite blogs, Homesick Texan. Which one is best, you ask? Oh, I don’t know. Once I finally began liking mustard (similar to the tomato issue – baby steps!), the Chicago dog really found its way into my heart, and since I now consider myself a Chicagoan (and yes, also a Southerner; it is possible to be both, I’ve decided), I do feel some loyalty to this delicacy. However, the Mexican dog was outta this world too. Despite the strangeness of putting mayo on a ‘dog, the fact that it was also wrapped in bacon was enough for me to throw caution to the wind, and I’m glad I did.

You could certainly make one or the other, if in fact you’ve become somewhat enamoured with the ‘dog, as I was last week. But I’m curious to know which one’s your favorite, if you do indeed make both, or even if you don’t and have an opinion already.

Bacon, chipotle mayo, jalapeno peppers, and if you’re gutsy – some pineapple salsa? Or tomatoes, onions, celery salt, and mustard, and if you’re gutsy – a handful of sport peppers? Unlike last week’s Cubs games, it may just be too close to call…

The Chicago Dog
Adapted from allrecipes.com; makes 8

If you want the most authentic Chicago Dog possible, you’d steam the buns and ‘dogs. I like to grill the ‘dogs to get a good char, and I know that’s not “how it’s done here in Chicago”. but this is my adaptation.

printable version

ingredients
8 all beef hot dogs
8 poppyseed hot dog buns
yellow mustard
sweet (neon) green pickle relish
onion, small dice, from about 1 small onion
tomato wedges, from about 2 Roma tomatoes
8 dill pickle spears
sport peppers
celery salt (1 part celery seed, 1 part kosher salt)

instructions
grill hot dogs to obtain good outer char.

place hot dog in bun. per allrecipes.com, pile on the toppings in this order: yellow mustard, sweet green pickle relish, onion, tomato wedges, pickle spear, sport peppers, and celery salt. The tomatoes should be nestled between the hot dog and the top of the bun. Place the pickle between the hot dog and the bottom of the bun. Don’t even think about ketchup!!

Mexican Hot Dogs with Chipotle Mayo and Pineapple Salsa
Adapted, barely, from Homesick Texan; makes 8

printable version

ingredients
8 all beef hot dogs
8 hot dog buns
8 slices of bacon
1 cup of refried beans, warmed
chipotle mayonnaise (recipe below)
pineapple salsa (recipe below)
pickled jalapeno slices
avocado, cut into wedges

instructions
wrap a piece of bacon around each hot dog. grill bacon-wrapped dog until bacon is crisp.

spoon beans and avocado into each bun. place bacon-wrapped hot dog in bun and then top with condiments.

Eggless  Chipotle Mayonnaise (David Leite’s recipe)

ingredients
1/3 c whole milk
1 t of lime juice
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 whole chipotle chiles from a can of chipotles en adobo
3/4 c of canola oil
Pinch of salt

instructions
in a blender, mix together the milk, lime juice, garlic and chipotle chile for 30 seconds or until well blended. with the blender on high, slowly drizzle in the oil a tablespoon at a time. The mixture should begin to thicken. Continue adding oil until it’s thick. Salt to taste. Will keep for five days in the refrigerator.

Pineapple Salsa

ingredients (use to taste)
pineapple, peeled and cored and small-diced
1 jalapeño chile, small-diced
red onion, small-diced
chopped cilantro
lime juice
salt and black pepper to taste

instructions
mix all ingredients together.

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Campfire Treats

I’m going to go on and clear the air here. What you will see on this post has nothing to do with New Year’s resolution #1, but everything to do with New Year’s resolution #6. I will also confess that batch number one was in fact made before the end of the last decade, if that counts for anything. Meaning, prior to those crazy resolutions I made.

Either way, if you have a candy thermometer and a stand mixer, I bet you’ll have a hard time getting either of these recipes off your mind. If you are missing one of said tools, I’ll just say that it’s too bad Christmas just passed and neither were on your wishlist. Shame on you.

 

These little bite-size squares of heaven called marshmallows are officially my new addiction. Remember when I went on and on about how much I adore making caramel? Forget about it, just take it totally out of your mind. Marshmallows are way more fun – plus, you still get to heat up sugar until it’s oh-so-close to being caramel. And then, then, you get to take that 248-degree syrup and dump it into your stand mixer, turn it on high (high!) and watch it magically turn into smooth, silky, shiny marshmallow fluff – a fluff that is nothing short of life-changing.

This madness began back in the last decade (you know, soooooo 2009) when we decided to have a little NYE shindig. And let’s be honest, I love shindigs – especially when we’re hosting because it is the perfect excuse to make all sorts of lil’ nibblers. The little shindig turned into a Mexican Fiesta, and in addition to my insisting on making churros from scratch, (watch out, Xoco) I developed a huge, huge, hankerin’ for homemade marshmallows. And who knows why since I’d only eaten the store-bought (jet-puffed?!) ones, but when searching the world-wide-web for ideas, I found the Homesick Texan’s blog where she’d recently whipped up her own batch of marshmallows, with Mexican spices to boot. Clearly, marshmallows were born to be part of my NYE fiesta. Clearly.

Boys and girls, the fun just didn’t stop there though. Consider yourself forewarned – they truly are addictive. So, since I had another shindig to attend on Saturday, my eyes immediately wandered over to those pretty chocolate squishy squares and I knew right then and there that a Round 2 was in my (very near) future, no matter what resolution I made. They simply can’t be stopped, those marshmallows.

That being said, a recent version of Giada’s show came to mind where she’d made some cutesy orange marshmallows – done & done. Look at ’em – they are too pretty and too delicate to really contain those wicked calories, right? Right.

If truth be told, I may have to consider myself as being on somewhat of a “marshmallow kick”. But in an effort to make myself feel a tad less bad about it, I may even whip up a batch with Splenda, just to see if it works. We’ll see how that goes.

Splenda or not, you can bet the farm I’ll be having some more of these soon. Only next time, I’ll make them stick around long enough to either attend a pool party in a nice big mug of hot chocolate or get strung onto a wire hanger and roasted over the coals. Maybe even both.

Mexican Marshmallows*
Adapted from the Homesick Texan blog

printable recipe

ingredients
3 .25 oz envelopes of unflavored gelatin
2 c sugar
3/4 c corn syrup
4 oz of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
2 T of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ancho chile powder
1 t vanilla
1/2 c of powdered sugar
Water

must-haves
candy thermometer
stand mixer

instructions
Line your baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray

In the bottom of your mixer, mix the gelatin with a 1/2 cup of water. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and then stir in the cocoa powder. Add to the gelatin and beat until combined.

In a large pot, mix together the sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup of water. Insert the candy thermometer and turn the heat onto medium low. Without stirring, let the syrup cook until it reaches 248 degrees.

Remove from heat and slowly add sugar syrup to the gelatin/chocolate mixture. Add the salt, cinnamon and ancho chile powder and mix at high speed for 10 minutes or until it’s fluffy. Add the vanilla and pour marshmallow fluff into prepared pan.

Let it set for at least four hours. Remove marshmallow slab from the pan.

Cover both sides of slab with powdered sugar. With a sharp knife, cut marshmallow into squares using scissors or a sharp knife coated in cooking spray or powdered sugar.

Orange Marshmallows*
From Giada de Laurentiis through Giada at Home

printable recipe

ingredients
3 .25 oz envelopes of unflavored gelatin
2 c sugar
1/4 c evaporated milk
1 lg orange, zested
1 t vanilla
1/2 c of powdered sugar
Water
orange decorating sugar (optional)

must-haves
candy thermometer
stand mixer

instructions
Line your baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray

In the bottom of your mixer, mix the gelatin with a 1/2 cup of water. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

In a large pot, mix together the sugar, evaporated milk, and 1/4 cup of water. Insert the candy thermometer and turn the heat onto medium low. Without stirring, let the syrup cook until it reaches 248 degrees.

Remove from heat and slowly add sugar syrup to the gelatin mixture. Mix at high speed for 10 minutes or until it’s fluffy. Add the vanilla and orange zest and pour marshmallow fluff into prepared pan.

Let it set for at least four hours. Sprinkle top with orange sugar. Remove marshmallow slab from the pan and sprinkle bottom with orange sugar.

Cover both sides of slab with powdered sugar. With a sharp knife, cut marshmallow into squares using scissors or a sharp knife coated in cooking spray or powdered sugar.

*Contrary to some computers’ strange tints, these are NOT pink. Neither of them. Strangely enough, they are clearly white on my mac at home but do look pink on my work pc. wtf? either way, if you want them pink, just put a couple of drops of red food coloring in and it’ll do the trick!

Are you into marshmallows now, too? I’ll be making more! I’ve already tried out a couple of grapefruit recipes for the Iron Chef Battle and will soon have a listing on Etsy where I can make them for you! Let me know if you’re interested!