Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How Do You Dress Your Dog?

Now, you may have thought from my title that I was wondering about the sweaters, Halloween costumes, tutus and other fun outfits that some people who have dogs are all about (some are rather avid fans, others do it to provide warmth to their dogs in the winter). But, you would have been wrong. I'm talking about Hot Dogs.

Did you know that July is National Hot Dog Month? (why do Mom's get a day and Hot Dog's get a month?) Here are some fun facts about hot dogs to get you started:

- Americans are expected to eat at least 7 billion hot dogs this summer, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council
- Ten percent of annual retail hot dog sales occur during July
- Sausage consumption is on the rise with sales reaching $2 billion in 2011

Want to learn more or test your knowledge? The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council has a trivia page you can check out here.

The hot dog is really a lot more versatile than many consider. When I was a kid, a plain dog with a little bit of ketchup was fine for me. Now, I prefer my plain dog to be dressed with stadium mustard. There is just something so satisfying about the flavor. But, I also like to dress it up too!

For a long time, adding some chili and cheese to it was a great way to enjoy a hot dog. Used to be that I reserved chili dog consumption to eating out, but now I know that I can simply use a can of Hormel chili (no beans variety for me) to create this flavor at home. (Turns out Saturday was National Chili Dog Day - but I didn't join in on the celebration!)

Then, a few years ago we found this local hot dog shop (okay, it's probably been closer to 10 years ago) that dresses their dogs in so many varieties that I would never have considered. It was here that I found another favorite - the Greek Hot Dog. Top your hot dog with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, kalamata olives, green onion and feta cheese. It is amazing how good that combination tastes.

Now, switch that dog up for some sausage - the standard variety or for even more range of flavor chicken sausage - and for me, at least, it opens up many additional ways to dress the sandwich. I am a big fan of topping my regular sausage with a bit of mustard and some sauerkraut. Or, topping it with some grilled onions and peppers.

Hosting a cookout? Why not keep the menu simple, and the possibilities endless by setting up a toppings bar. Fire up the grill and prepare for your guests some hot dogs, some smoked and some chicken sausage. You can go for some plain hot dog buns or get New England Style with their top split. For your toppings bar, use a variety of bowls to hold your toppings. I would include the following - ketchup, mustard, diced onions, pickle relish, chili, shredded cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, cucumbers, kalamata olives, green onions, jalapenos, salsa, grilled peppers and onions.

What other toppings would you include on your toppings bar?

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are mine or those of my family. I am completing this post as a participant in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program. Hormel Foods provided a thought starter and some of the information for this post.