Brittany wrote this on 18 July 2016
Summer just wouldn’t be summer without hot dogs on the menu!
True, it isn’t a food you see on my blog that much, but I have a bit of a confession. I loooooove hot dogs. I really do. The good kind that are really meaty and snap a bit when you bite into them. Yeah. Those kind. Like the good state fair hot dogs of our youth. On a hot summer day when you have been playing hard and everyone is dirty and sweaty and you smell like sunshine, there are few things that taste as good as a really fantastic hot dog.
About a decade or so ago, when my husband was still in the Navy and were living in San Diego, I flew back to Minnesota to visit family and friends. Mike was deployed and I was keeping myself occupied with a long overdue trip home. I ended up taking a train down to central Illinois to see visit our best friends, and of course, Amtrak took me through Chicago. I had several hours to kill before my next departure and I was way past hungry. I kept seeing signs for authentic ‘Chicago Style’ hotdogs and followed my nose right to a booth. You guys. The man behind the counteract my hot dog in half lengthwise, and then fried it on the flattop! I had NEVER seen that before and thought it was so darn genius, I immediately doubled my order. The cook turns back to me and says, “You want a true Chicago dog?” I hesitated just a moment before reluctantly nodding. I had absolutely no clue what that actually meant, but figured, what the heck. You only live once.
I don’t actually remember all the specifics of what was on my hot dog that day, but the whole dill pickle spear and freshly chopped tomatoes stood out enough that I never forgot it. When he picked up a shaker and dusted my plate just before handing it over, I assumed it was pepper, and was surprised when my nose caught a whiff of the spice.
“Was that celery salt?” I asked.
He grinned. “Yeah.”
I looked at my plate and back up at him. “On my hot dogs?”
Now he looked mildly offended. “Yeah.”
I quickly smiled, not wanting to be a lame and bothersome tourist (too late) and chirped out a thank you. I had no idea at the time, but I was about to eat one of my favorite things ever. Sitting by myself in the corner of a little brick walled nook in the middle of Chicago’s Union Station, I ate-nay, inhaled-my first ever Chicago hotdog. The mix of flavors and textures was outrageously satisfying and I couldn’t believe I had been missing out on this my whole life. It made quite an impression and was neatly filed away in my memory as one of those special food moments we all have sprinkled throughout our lives.Fast forward to present day.
A craving for the fresh taste of that meal led me to an impromptu Chicago hot dog night. Now before you get all huffy about what goes on a traditionally classic Chicago dog, let me first say that everyone has an opinion about that. There doesn’t seem to be any single list of ingredients, although there are obviously a few main commonalities. A pickle spear. Chopped tomatoes instead of ketchup. Diced onion. And of course, celery salt. Some add special sauce, others add spicy mustard. For me, my version only covers the main flavors of my original experience. It is easy to recreate and hits the important points. Simple and so tasty, you won’t believe how you ever lived without it.
The best part? I can eat it here the Midlands of South Carolina. No train ticket needed.
How do YOU like your Chicago Style HotDogs?!
Chicago Style Hot Dogs
Do not-I repeat-please do NOT skip the celery salt. I promise it is worth it.
good bakery buns
dill pickle spears
chopped fresh tomatoes
Assemble your hot dog and sprinkle with the salt. Enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 2 July 2016
My parents were among the other great individuals out there that used to make ice cream the old fashioned way, at least once a summer, when we were kids.
You know what I mean. The wooden bucket with the crank and all the ice and salt you had to pack in around it? It was glorious and totally worth the water that leaked everywhere and the aching muscles that would result. There are few things as magical as watching the custard turn to ice cream. And on a hot summer day, there are few things as welcome!
As an adult with a family of my own, I enjoy continuing the tradition. Admittedly, I make use of the modern kitchen equipment available and no longer have to worry about frozen fingers or sore shoulders. I have several recipes in my blog archives and perhaps you have already tried this stellar vanilla ice cream or this dreamy and creamy strawberry ice cream. They truly are the best versions I have ever had.
However, I don’t always have time to make my way through all the steps. Don’t get me wrong! It is absolutely worth it to cook the custard, mix, chill, churn, and freeze a standard ice cream recipe. It is’t complicated, but it can be a bit time consuming.
When I am hankering for homemade ice cream and am limited on time, this no-churn version is what I make. Plain vanilla has three ingredients-THREE-and can be mixed up and freezing in a matter of minutes.
How is this possible, you ask? One, special, scrumptious, ingredient.
Sweetened. Condensed. Milk. Boom!
It adds sweetness, richness, texture, all in one step. It is the key to making a creamy, rich ice cream without the egg custard and without the hassle. Mix in whatever you like and you have yourself a pretty darn awesome treat with very little effort.
This weekend, I am using this recipe to throw a little neighborhood ice cream social. Stir in patriotic themed fruits or sprinkles, or just go for it and pile on the candy bits. But whatever you choose, enjoy it. Summer days fly by fast, much like they did when we were kids. Don’t forget to add a little magic to them.
Want the recipe for Easy No-Churn Ice Cream?! Click here to see it posted over on the Columbia City Moms Blog!
Brittany wrote this on 21 June 2016
Ok friends. Here is the deal. This breakfast dish is da bomb. Do people still say that…?
Do you need another fruit and bread breakfast bake recipe? Definitely. If you were sitting across from me right now and we were chatting over a cup of coffee (you, no doubt with a trendy Americano, and me, sipping a non-fat frosted spicy mayan mocha, no whip) I would lean forward, look you in the eye and declare earnestly, “You have GOT to try this.” And because you have been making my recipes for years now, you trust my judgement and take my advice. Right? RIGHT? Exactly. Just trust me.The above picture is from the Brittany’s Pantry instagram feed, where I documented the bazillions of times I tested this recipe.
I have always loved a good breakfast dish that I can just throw in the oven. I host playdates at my house several times a month and this recipe has been tested again and again, adjusting it and trouble shooting the process. Thankfully, no one seemed to mind having to eat it over and over until I got the recipe juuuuuuuuust right. As with most recipes that contain cream cheese, it is the addition of that tangy goodness that makes this so…gaaaaaaaaaaaah. Rich and creamy, it stops just before it gets to dessert status. Not overly sweet, this really IS a good addition to a breakfast or brunch menu. It is always a breeze to throw together-my kids get the job of tearing up the croissants and it sits in the fridge all night and is ready to pop in the oven in the morning. Breakfast. BOOM!
Are you planning for company Fourth of July weekend? The addition of strawberries with the blueberries makes this perfect for a patriotic brunch! I have been meaning to try this with diced fresh peaches (a local staple here in South Carolina) but haven’t deviated from blueberries yet. As you can imagine, this would be wonderful for family/holiday mornings, or any time you need to bring something with you in the morning. Flaky. Creamy. Lovely. All good adjectives for food.
Cream Cheese Blueberry Breakfast Bake
Recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
I buy croissants when they are a day old and a little cheaper. Into my freezer they go until I need them for a recipe like this. Or to make this dessert. FYI, raspberries tend to be a bit too juicy for this dish, but still taste great. Give them a try if you like!
6-7 large croissants
2 c blueberries, diced strawberries, or blackberries (fresh or frozen)
2-8 oz packages cream cheese (I use the 1/3 less fat version) softened at room temp for a bit
1 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 c milk
zest of 1 lemon, optional
Lightly spray or butter a 9X13 inch baking pan and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Tear the croissants into one inch pieces or so and place in the baking dish. As I mentioned above, I let my kids do this part. The size of the pieces doesn’t matter much so it is impossible to screw up! Sprinkle fruit evenly over the top of the bread. In a separate, medium size bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla, and then the eggs, beating thoroughly after each one. You want to take it slow so that the mixture stays smooth and creamy. Any chunks will sit on the top of the pan and bake up dry and kinda weird. Slowly whisk in the milk and zest and pour evenly over the croissants. Let sit on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown and set in the middle. OR, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, let it sit on the counter while the oven preheats and bake as directed. After baking, let it sit for a few minutes to set, then scoop and enjoy! Leftovers are awesome cold the next day!