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Hot dogs celebrate last of summer

Sadly, for those of us that love to cook outdoors for friends and family on lazy August afternoons, Labor Day heralds the end of social summer.

Kids are back in school, stores are stocking up on scarves and shovels and the ads on TV are starting to show the previews of the fall season. Oh, sure we can still barbecue until the first frost and swim for another couple of weeks, but the truly last “free” day we have off for the next couple of months is Labor Day.

I typically think of hot dogs as the go-to food of the day, and while I’m all for serving them “naked” with just the usual cast of condiments, chopped onions and tomatoes, perhaps this year the following gourmet and slightly off-the-beaten-track recipes will help you send the season off in style.

You can of course, use turkey dogs, Polish sausage or kielbasas or even brats if you so choose. Just remember, as you’re polishing off your fifth or sixth dog of the day there are only nine more months until Memorial Day when you can start the party all over again.

Reuben Hot Dogs

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup sauerkraut, drained

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2/3 cup white wine

4 split hot dog buns, toasted

1/3 cup Thousand Island dressing

4 slices Swiss cheese

4 hot dogs

In a skillet heat the oil and sauté the onions for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the sauerkraut, caraway, salt and pepper and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Add the wine and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Spread insides of buns with half of the dressing, then place 1 piece of cheese in each bun over the dressing.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grill hot dogs on grill or in a grill pan for about 4 or 5 minutes. Place the hot dogs in the buns and put them on a baking sheet. Spread the remaining dressing on top of the hot dogs and divide the sauerkraut between the hot dogs. Place in oven for 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Cheese & Mac Dogs

1/2 pound macaroni pasta

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons minced onions

3 tablespoons flour

1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon mustard powder

8 ounces grated cheddar cheese

8 hot dogs, toasted

8 hot dog buns

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta; cook and drain. In a sauce pan melt the butter. Sauté the onions for 3 minutes then whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the evaporated milk and milk and cook until thickened, stirring regularly. When thick, add in the mustard powder. Stir in the cheese until melted. Add the pasta into the cheese sauce and stir to combine.

While the sauce is cooking, grill the hot dog (you can also boil them if you like). Place a hot dog in a bun and top it with the pasta mixture. Serves 8.

Mango Dogs with Pineapple Mustard

8 polish sausage or jumbo hot dogs

8 hotdog buns, toasted

2 avocados, sliced

Mango Salsa:

1 large ripe mango, peeled and diced

1/2 a small red onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 chili pepper, seeded and minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

Pineapple Mustard:

2/3 cup chopped fresh pineapple

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon minced garlic clove

For the mustard: In a food processor combine the pineapple, mustard, honey and garlic. Process until smooth and then set it aside.

For the salsa: In a bowl combine the mango, onion, bell pepper, parsley and chili pepper. Mix to combine. Add the oil and salt and pepper to taste. Set the mixture aside.

Grill the sausages or hot dogs for 6 to 8 minutes until cooked throughout. Spread the mustard on the buns. Place the sausages on the buns and top with mango salsa and sliced avocado. Serves 8.

– Modified from Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.