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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I've Found the Secret Trick to Success!

My on and off again pursuit of homecooked pleasure has finally found a home. My home, to be specific. What has changed is finances. Apparently, the secret to stop eating out is to run out of surplus income. Like June and Lucy before me, I have finally found my coveted place in the kitchen. And quite frankly, I couldnt be happier!
I am proud to report that my family has not eaten out in almost two months. In that time, only three nights, I did not cook. Instead, we either ate left overs, or indulged in a reheated, frozen prepackaged meal. What I've learned during this time is that I love cooking even more than I thought. I make it simple by planning our meals two weeks in advance. I create a menu, itemize our shopping list, and prepurchase everything I need to make the meals. We've had everything from delicious Indian curries to spicy Thai salads and savory Mexican soups. There've been burgers and my now famous Torta Dogs - more on those later, sub sandwiches and meatloaf too. Tonight, linguine with meatballs and homemade marinara. Tomorrow, chicken pot pie (you know the one.) My family has found that the food we eat tastes better than the food we've bought. The flavors are more intense, the smells more aromatic, the cost - much cheaper! Our food budget allows us to eat like kings, while still managing to pay off more bills than we'd previously done before. I find our new culinary adventure exciting, and somehow, preparing us for the future as well. I look forward to coming here more often, and sharing my meals with you. So, from one friend to another, here's the recipe for my famous, delicious, Torta Dog. It takes hot dogs to a whole 'notha universe!

Torta Dogs (Mexican Torta Sandwich Inspired Hot Dogs)
Ingredients:
1 lb. sweet cherry/cocktail tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1/4 yellow onion
2 tbs. minced fresh cilantro
1 lime cut in half
(2) 1/2 tsp salt
2-4 jalapeno peppers
2 ripe avocados
4 large beef hotdogs (we use Wagyu beef dogs from our local butcher.)
4 strips of your favorite bacon (we like applewood smoked thick cut peppered bacon)
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 16 oz can of vegetarian refried beans
1/2 cup Best Foods/Hellman's mayo
4 hoagie buns
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese


In a food processor, blend the tomatoes, 1/2 tsp salt, garlic, onion, 1/2 lime, cilantro and 1-2 jalapeno peppers until smooth. I like to strain the excess juice through a wire mesh strainer to thicken the salsa. Set salsa aside. In a bowl, mash the two avocados with the 1-2 minced jalapenos (depending on how hot you want it!) 1/2 lime juice and 1/2 tsp of salt. Its ok if the guacamole is chunky. Set it aside. Place the hotdogs in a pot of water and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, take the hotdogs out and set to dry on a paper towel. Once they are cool enough to touch, wrap them in uncooked bacon, and if necessary, hold the bacon to the hotdog with toothpicks. In a nonstick skillet set to medium heat, add the extra virgin olive oil and then add the bacon wrapped dogs. Allow to brown on all sides, (about 3-5 minutes each side) until the bacon is crisp and the hotdogs are seared. Place on a place. Split your hoagie buns down the middle, careful not to completely separate the two halves. If they are cold, heat them up in the pan used to brown the hotdogs. For about 1 minute per side on medium heat. First spread one tablespoon of mayo on each side of each bun. Next, spread refried beans on one side of each bun. Spread guacamole on the opposite side of each bun. Place 1 tablespoon or more of salsa on the refried beans side of each bun. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese on each bun and then place the hotdog in the center. Serve immediately. The combination of ingredients may sound strange, but I promise you, you have never had a hotdog like this before. It tastes amazing!

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