Mock Pizza Hot Dog Salad

The Secrets of “The Stuff”

 

Mock Pizza Hot Dog Salad

The Stuff on hamburger buns, because we’re classy like that!

Because it’s the holidays and I love you, I’m about to let you in on a horrifying family secret. One that if you are brave enough to attempt for yourself, you will thank me for. In secret!

Okay. When my brother and I were little, our Grandma Benge used to make us something she called “Mock Pizza,” and BJ and I dubbed “The Stuff.” It was cheesy and melty and meaty and indescribably delicious—we couldn’t get enough of it, and we begged our mother to make it. For a long time she denied knowing anything about it, but our will (and appetite) was strong, and we wore her down.

Now usually, when I get to this part of the story, the listeners lean forward, ready to hear about some charmingly rustic, vintage recipe. That’s when I say,

“You take a pound of hot dogs, a pound of Velveeta, half a red onion, and mayonnaise, and grind them into a paste.” Looks of betrayal, panic, and revulsion soon follow.

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What? It’s delicious!

But trust me! Spread this, um, delightful concoction (a cousin to such delights as ham salad) on sliced French bread and put it under the broiler—or, to be super special, spread it on refrigerated crescent-roll dough, roll ’em up, and bake them according to package directions—and you will be rewarded with one of the most delicious treats you will ever be lucky enough to eat! It’s pure alchemy!

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Okay, this photo is a little gross. Just trust me!

The red onion is my innovation (my Grandma Benge used pimentos), but you could make your own adjustments: I imagine pickles, olives, and other add-ins would be very tasty!

The Stuff, aka Grandma Benge’s Mock Pizza

You need:

 

1 pound hot dogs (whatever your favorite is), cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound Velveeta, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/2-1 cup mayonnaise, to taste

Mix the first three ingredients in a bowl, then run it through the coarse setting of a meat grinder or pulse it in a food processor. You want it to be spreadable but not totally smooth. Stir in mayonnaise to taste!

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The Stuff ready for action! And the apocalypse.

To use: Spread on baguette slices, hamburger buns, etc., and place under the broiler. Broil until the cheese melts and it gets a little browned. Delicious!

Alternately, you can spread refrigerated crescent roll dough with The Stuff, roll them up, and bake according to package directions. Warning: let them cool a little so you don’t burn off the top of your mouth with molten meat-cheese paste.

Add this to your next holiday get-together and delight your guests! Maybe just don’t tell them what they’re eating!

Do you have secret special holiday family recipes to share? Post them below!

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Sarah’s Second Birthday Party

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Sarah’s Elephant Cake (tutorial from My Cake School linked below).

Sarah turns two today, but we celebrated her birthday this past weekend by inviting 40 of her closest friends over. I know that sounds extravagant for a kid’s birthday party, but one, we often have even more over for brunch (does that sound smug?), and two, at this age, the party is more for everyone else (all of our friends with kids). When she’s older, I’ll cut it down to her actual friends. Maybe.

The party was actually pretty simple to set up: I basically made a birthday cake and what I call TFAW food. When I worked for Things From Another World (the world’s finest online and brick-and-mortar comic book shop), I catered all of our signings. I started out with superhero-themed quinoa salads and fancy canapes. After being overloaded with leftovers (no one wants to eat quinoa at an Avengers signing), I ended up making simple food everyone likes–dips, fruit, veggies, and cheese–with a firm plan for anything left over.

This menu is simple, relatively inexpensive, and perfect for almost any casual gathering. The birthday cake is a bonus! If you’re not throwing a birthday party or just don’t want to make an elaborate cake, I suggest cupcakes or (even easier) brownies.

Sarah’s Second Birthday Menu

  • Elephant Cake: This tutorial was great, and not too difficult
  • Nathan Fillion’s Seven-Layer Bean Dip of the Gods: This is seriously delicious–I spread it in a 10″ x 15″ glass Pyrex dish, so it’s easy for people to dip through all the layers
  • Salsa and Tortilla Chips
  • Veggie Platter with Spinach Dip: My mother’s specialty
  • Fruit: I went with grapes and watermelon)
  • Cheese Platter with Crackers: Since this was a kid’s party, I kept it simple: a wedge of Brie, dilled havarti, some sharp cheddar, and string cheese

Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures because my phone died the morning of the party. We served lemonade, Arnold Palmers, flavored seltzer, and sparkling wine.

But as important as planning a menu is, it’s even more important to have an exit strategy for the leftovers. Here’s what I’ll be doing:

  • Cake: Gone, suckers!
  • Seven-layer dip: I made ersatz migas for breakfast the other morning with some tortilla chips thrown in. I’ll be adding taco meat and making burritos with the rest.
  • Veggies: The cut veggies have been going into my husband’s lunch, and Sarah and I have been snacking on the dip. Fortunately we didn’t have a lot left over–if there were more, I would have made “Free” French Vegetable soup.
  • Fruit: Lunches, breakfast
  • Cheese platter: If you know me at all, you know I have no problem taking care of extra cheese. The slices have been very convenient for sandwiches!

Do you have any go-to party food? Post below!

My Mom’s Famous Spinach Dip

Every time I throw a party, my lovely, thoughtful mother asks what she can bring, and I always say, “A vegetable platter would be great!” This is for two reasons: one, my mom makes a beautiful vegetable platter–the way she cuts and arranges the veggies is gorgeous. Two, she always makes her famous spinach dip, which everyone loves. It’s rich and creamy and zesty and fresh-tasting, plus the spinach lets you feel healthy.

My mom wants to make sure I tell you it’s from Cookery for Entertaining by Marlene Sorosky. The book is out of print, but that cover is etched in my memory for all time. One day I will make that watermelon whale! Ahem. Back to the recipe.

My Mom’s Famous Spinach Dip

Makes 3 1/2 cups

1 pint sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 package Knorr dry leek soup mix, about ½ cup (I always use the whole thing)
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon dry dill
1 teaspoon dry Italian salad dressing mix

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine all ingredients until blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve, or up to two days. Serve dip with assorted raw vegetables.

This truly is a superb dip, perfect for veggies, crackers, bread, or your fingers. Don’t ask how I know the last one. Make it for your next party!

Quiche

Yes You Can: Make a Big-Ass Quiche

Quiche

This is not my quiche. My quiches are eaten too quickly for pictures. This is Martha Stewart’s quiche!

Fact: quiche is the best food you can make. It’s all the best things about an omelet, but with lots of cream and pie crust. You can eat it for breakfast. You can eat it for lunch. Dinner? Serve it with a salad. It’s delicious cold, warm, or at room temperature. Plus, it can contain almost any kind of leftover meat, vegetable, or cheese in your fridge. You must make quiche now!

Note: My son Sid just asked me, “What about mac and cheese?” So I must amend my earlier statement: quiche is the second best food you can make. But you should still make it.

When I need a large brunch dish or appetizers for a crowd, I like to take a page from Martha Stewart (O Captain! My Captain!) and make a big-ass quiche in a cookie sheet. It’s easy, tasty, and versatile. You can cut it into three-inch pieces for a luncheon, or one-inch pieces for a cocktail party.

Since I prefer to make up my own quiches (or use up veggies, meat, and cheeses in my fridge), I’ve developed my own rule of thumb for fillings: about 2 cups of sauteed vegetables/meat/seafood, plus 1-2 cups grated cheese. You can further adjust this to your taste: for example, you don’t need cheese (but why not?). So let’s get it started!

Large Quantity Pate Brisee–From The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook

You need:

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/2 to 1/4 cup ice water.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Flatten dough into a large rectangle and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour.

Roll pastry on a floured board until it’s about 2 inches wider and longer than your cookie sheet. Press into the pan, folding down the edges and fluting them. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice; bake for 15 minutes. Remove weights and foil, prick crust all over with a fork. Return to the oven and bake 15-20 minutes, until light golden brown.

Now get ready for filling!

Big-Ass Quiche Filling–Adapted From Martha Stewart’s Entertaining Cookbook

You need:

3 cups heavy cream
9 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 large pinch nutmeg
Pepper to taste
About 2 cups of sauteed veggies, meat, seafood–whatever you like
1-2 cups shredded/crumbled cheese
Fresh herbs of your choice

Whisk the cream, eggs, salt, nutmeg, and pepper in a large bowl. Sprinkle your veggies/meat/seafood into your cooked crust. Cover with cheese. Carefully pour the cream and egg mixture over your filling in a slow stream (so you don’t disturb your filling ingredients). Bake at 350 degrees until puffed and golden, about 35-40 minutes.

Filling Ideas

Red, White, and Blue Quiche

One pint cherry tomatoes, halved
One large white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
About 6 oz gruyere cheese, grated
Crumbled blue cheese, to taste
Fresh chopped basil, to taste

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add peppers, onions, and garlic. Saute until tender, adding salt and pepper to taste. Proceed with recipe above.

Quiche Lorraine

1 1/2 cups cooked bacon, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 cups gruyere cheese, grated

Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil (or bacon grease, if you’ve cooked the bacon that day). Proceed with recipe above.

Sausage and Apples Got the Blues Quiche

1 lb bulk breakfast sausage
2 large apples, cored and chopped
1/2 to 1 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 to 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Fresh thyme, to taste

Saute the sausage in a frying pan, adding the apples when halfway cooked. Sprinkle with thyme when apples are tender but not falling apart. Proceed with recipe above.

Lox of Love Quiche

1 1/2 cups Nova lox, chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1 lb cream cheese, at room temperature
Fresh chives, snipped with scissors

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned.

Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and stir in the capers, chives to taste, lemon zest, 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle the lox over your cooked crust, and top with the onions and cherry tomatoes. Dot with cream cheese. 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half. Proceed with recipe above.

So there you have it! I encourage you to go rogue and use my general guidelines to make your wildest quiche fantasies come true (come on, everyone has at least one, right?), or to utilize all the leftover goodies in your fridge and pantry.

So what’s your quiche fantasy? Mine involves eating in the bathtub.