chili cheese dog fondue

IMG_2527[1].JPGThis was a huge hit with my son.  He loved the crescent dogs, he loved the chili cheese dip and he loved dipping the dogs into the dip.  What’s not to like?  I made this with him in mind. Really, it’s all about balancing the healthy with the occasional treats. My kids have never liked fast food.  They’re also strange creatures who don’t like potatoes all that much. Who doesn’t like potatoes?! They don’t like them baked or mashed, nor do they like hash browns or FRIES. They’ll eat fries but often they’ll skip ordering fries when we eat out.

Last summer, my kitchen was out of commission for almost 3 months due to a leak that caused major damage to our floors and cabinets.  We ate out almost the entire time and by the end, my kids were acting like they were being TORTURED.  They had to buy school lunches every day and sometimes we had access to the microwave and sometimes we had access to the stove top but it was sporadic at best. That’s when I realized that cooking meals 5-6 times a week really had an impact on how my kids eat and what they eat. Every night the whole family would chug water after eating out.  There’s so much sodium in restaurants and fast foods! They’d even ask to have cereal for dinner just to avoid having to eating out.  Also, not having a sink HUGELY impacts how and what I can cook (easily).

We learned a lot of lessons during that time with the biggest one being – don’t take home cooked meals for granted!  I still bring up those times to the kids once in a while and they groan when they remember.  What a privileged life, to be picky about the foods we eat and how much of it to eat.  I point this out to the kids to remind them that we live in a place where the food seems never-ending and the choices are limitless while other places do not have these luxuries. Back to the chili cheese dog fondue…I cook a lot at home but that doesn’t mean I always cook super healthy, balanced meals. As my husband tells the kids, even if we eat something “junky” at home, it’s still probably not as “junky” if we ate the same food out. We all acknowledge this around the table, that though it’s not a typical family meal, it’s a meal that is fun.  And so we dipped and shared and enjoyed our quick weeknight meal together, with hardly any dishes (win!).  Have fun!

Chili Cheese Dog Fondue
 recipe from Fake Ginger

Ingredients

2 cans crescent rolls
1 (16 ounce) package Lil Smokies
1 pound Velveeta
2 (15 ounce) cans chili without beans

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Unroll one can of crescent rolls and separate into 8 pieces according to perforations. Take each piece and cut into 3 smaller pieces. Roll a Lil Smokie in each piece and set on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining Lil Smokies. (You’ll have crescent rolls left over. Bake them and have a snack!)
  3. Bake for 13 – 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. While the Lil Smokies are baking, melt Velveeta and chili together in a fondue pot or a saucepan over very low heat. Stir frequently until all the Velveeta is melted.
  5. Serve hot fondue with the warm Lil Smokies.

My note:  Use whatever sausage you have – hot dog, smokies, polish sausage, smoked sausage!  As you can tell from my pictures I had smoked sausage so I cut them in thirds or so and wrapped them.  I also kept the crescent dogs whole and didn’t bother cutting the dough smaller like #2 because I didn’t use lil smokies!  It’s flexible 🙂

chicken and eggplant stir fry 

I love eggplant.  It’s one of my absolute favorite veggies.  I always order it when I go out because hubs doesn’t really like it and neither do my kids.  I especially like it at Chinese restaurants and have tried to make it at home like the Chinese restaurants…sadly, mine never came out the same. I asked my friend’s mom, who is an amazing cook (and Chinese), how to make Chinese-style eggplant and she straight up told me – you won’t do it at home because to get it the way you like, all soft and delicious, would take so much oil that you’d faint.  I was like,”Oil??? What?!?!” Um, yes… apparently the dish I like needs an insane amount of oil. So, no more Chinese restaurant eggplant! But this dish comes pretty darn close without all the oil.

Let me say something here.  I am a recipe girl, remember?  Also, I started really cooking as an adult.  I’d talk to people early on when I was just learning to cook and they’d say things like, “I never measure…” or “Just add until it tastes right.”  That was like a nightmare for me so I’d actually tune out.  I couldn’t imagine life without the safety and comfort of recipe measurements.  But sure enough, over time and with enough practice, I can now guesstimate ingredient quantities and season to taste without freaking out. This is one of those recipes.  I saw it somewhere but I’ve made it my own just by adding more seasonings to taste.  The trick is this (and it may be obvious but I’ll say it anyways) – start small.  You can always add but it’s so much harder to make things less salty or less sweet!  Be conservative and keep adding in small increments until you are more comfortable.  I will add some basic measurements but this dish is really by taste.  Also, it’s a perfect example of something that tastes amazing but looks so blah.

Another funny tidbit about this dish. When I made this there were leftovers which let me pack enough for me, hubs’ and daughter’s lunch. I made hub’s portion mostly chicken, mine mostly eggplant and daughter’s a balance but with a little more chicken than eggplant. When I picked her up from school, I asked how her lunch was and she said it was good except she wished there was more eggplant.  I said “Oh no! I purposely took all the eggplant because I thought you’d prefer more chicken!” She burst into tears (no joke) and said she LOVES the eggplant and now she has to wait until the next time I make it (which I already shared will probably be in a few months).  So, I guess this dish is tear-worthy!!!  🙂

Chicken and Eggplant Stir-fry

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
Salt and pepper
1 eggplants, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch thick plank like pieces
1 onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1-2 teaspoons sugar

*I added several shakes of gochugaru, korean pepper flakes, because I tend to add it to anything Asian but this is completely optional and I’ve done it many times without!

DIRECTIONS

Cut chicken breasts into 1-2 inch long pieces, however you like your stir fry to look.  I tend to make them long like the sliced onion, bell pepper and eggplant.

Heat wok on high heat.  Add oil to wok.  Then add garlic and ginger and cook about a minute or when the garlic starts to brown but NOT burn!  Add in chicken and cook a few minutes until almost cooked through.  Add in all the veggies.  Cook about 3-5 minutes until everything is cooked through.

Add soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar and if using, gochugaru.  Stir and mix until all the flavors are combined.  Serve over or with white rice!