Saturday, May 28, 2011

Chili Dogs!

 Sometimes, dear readers, you just have to unleash your inner  junk food fanatic--that (not so) tiny corner of your psyche that would like to subsist year round on waffle fries and funnel cake. You know the one I mean. On such occasions, you could do substantially worse than to throw that fanatic a fat plate of messy, delicious chili dogs. If you're psycho, like I am, you will mitigate the unhealthiness of such a meal by using sprouted wheat hot dog buns and almost fat-free vegan chili. You can then make up for the lack of fat by dousing the whole thing with shredded vegan cheese. Then you will take another three steps back and serve them with a fresh, raw cabbage salad rather than cheese-fries or nachos. That's how it is when you try to have an adult conversation with your inner, screaming toddler. You're doing the right thing, and that toddler is howling its head off, demanding cheesy poofs. At such moments, you should just shut up and serve the chili dogs. Nobody, not even a petulant, psychically-insufferable rugrat, can talk with a mouth full of chili dog. Here's how it's done:

First, make the chili. You could, of course, just buy a can of chili. But I can almost guarantee that it won't be as good as what I'm about to describe. Also, canned chili is kinda 'spensive. And kind of crap. And it comes in a can, which is totally lame. Why not make your own?

Chili for Dogs

1 c tvp, dry
1 c lentils, dry
1 veggie broth cube--I could reasonably be accused of an over-reliance on these.
3 c water
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 8 oz can tomato sauce (shit! I was just making fun of cans)
2 T dried oregano
1 T chili powder
1 T chipotle chili powder (or less, if you're a bit of a ninny)

In a large pot, saute onion and pepper in a bit of olive oil until just translucent. Add spices, tvp, and lentils. Saute one minute more. Add broth cube, tomato sauce, and water and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and cover. Cook for about half an hour, checking frequently. As with the Mexican lentil recipe, the recipe for which is shockingly similar to the above, you may need to add a bit more water toward the end to keep it from sticking. Just go with the flow. You can't mess this up. It's impossible.

Hopefully, you started the chili no more than 45 minutes to an hour before you wanted to eat. If you decided to be a super chili-overachiever, and you thought you'd get out ahead of this whole chili dog affair by starting first thing in the morning, then at this point you'll need to cool the chili and reheat it before you want to eat. Try not to be too rough on yourself. We've all been there. About 15 minutes before you want to eat, preheat your oven to 450. You now need to assemble your chili dogs.

Chili Dogs!

1 pkg vegan hot dogs--I strongly recommend the Yves brand. I don't like the texture of Tofu Pups and the Lightlife brand products frequently contain egg whites, whereas Yves is reliable vegan. Support vegan businesses!

hot dog buns--Like I said, we used a sprouted variety, but any vegan kind will do.
Vegenaise--or your favorite egg- and dairy-free mayo
1 batch chili, obvs
shredded vegan cheese--I used Follow Your Heart because I had some left over from another recipe. I think you all know that my heart actually belongs to Daiya.
tabasco--This is really only necessary if you're making them for someone like C, who now eats freaking EVERYTHING with tabasco. I might bake some into his next birthday cake. That'll teach him.

Assemble. Split the buns open, with a knife if necessary, and arrange on a baking sheet. Let these heat up in the oven and toast slightly for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread the bottom buns with a smear of vegenaise and top with a hot dog. You could even use two hot dogs per bun if you wanted to be totally crazy. I also split the hot dogs length-wise to maximize the chili-to-hot dog ratio in each bite, but you do what you want. Slather the dogs in chili and sprinkle generously with cheese. Pop the dogs under your broiler for just a few minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Having enjoined you on multiple past occasions to watch anything you put under the broiler like a freaking hawk, I won't repeat those warnings here. Because you know how dangerous broilers can be. Really, turn your back for just one second and all of your labors could transform into a stinking, charred mess. But you know this.

We ate these with the aforementioned coleslaw because we're crazy for crucifers. If you aren't similarly hampered, perhaps some tater tots? C reminds me to mention that he particularly enjoyed his with some pickle relish. 

Next Up: Pictures from Bulgaria, whether you want to see them or not!

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