US Food Safety Recalls and Tips
Tabelog Reviewer burgerdogboy

Making Hot Dog Recipes at Home – From Scratch!

Stuff it!  (Your own sausages).  It’s not that hard, I do it a couple times a year, though it is definitely an easier task if you have a partner or two helping.

I’m not going to go through the whole process here, you’ll have to decide whether to use all beef, beef and pork, or poultry as a meat base, and whether to grind it at home or purchase pre-ground meat.  There are simple manual stuffing tools (I sometimes use a modified caulking gun), or attachments for devices like KitchenAid mixers.  You’ll have to learn about and purchase casings, natural or made from collagen.

This article is just focused on the seasoning mix, a very traditional hot dog flavor.  Here are the ingredients for 20 pounds of franks, cut down the recipe proportionately for less meat.


4 Level tsp. INSTACURE #1 (add only if smoking the sausages) 
8 Tb. Paprika
12 Tb. Ground Mustard
2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp. Ground White Pepper 
2 tsp. Ground Celery Seeds
2 Tb. Mace
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
8 Tb. Salt
4 Cups Non-Fat Dry Milk or Soy Protein Concentrate
8 Tb. Powdered Dextrose
4 Cups of Ice Water

Mix the dry ingredients and crush as needed with a mortar and pestle, and then  you’re going to blend these ingredients into your meat mixture making sure it is thoroughly distributed throughout the slurry. You’ll be much happier if you allow the mix to sit in the frig overnight so that all the flavors fully take, but it’s not absolutely essential.

From there, you’ll embark on the stuffing part of the task, and either refrigerate the finished franks, freeze some, or put them on the smoker before storage for additional old world flavor.

Home stuffed wieners

hot dog recipes

Applegate Naturals Uncured Genoa Salami Review

I’m not sure how many consumers even know what the word “uncured” means when they see it on processed meat packages, like deli meats, hot dogs, ham and bacon.   I am also not sure where there is an “official” government definition, but I personally take it to mean free of the preservatives generally found in such products, like sodium nitrites and nitrates.

Often, in my reading, I have seen references to these types of meats being ‘cured’ by celery juice or celery juice powder, substances which contain nitrates naturally.  Uncured meats must be kept refrigerated or they will spoil.

Applegate Farms makes a living selling uncured, natural, and organic meat products from a variety of protein sources. They say they source their meat from sources that raise animals humanely and do not use antibiotics.

In addition to the products mentioned in the first sentence, Applegate Farms also markets poultry products, including chicken sausages and turkey “burgers.”  They are based in New Jersey and have been around 25 years or so.  On the packaging, their UPC code is also used as a “barn code” and tells you where the meat was sourced.  In the case of my purchase, Uncured Genoa Salami,” apparently the pork came from farms in South Dakota, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Ontario and Quebec.

The label says the pork was raised on “sustainable family farms in a stress-free environment that promotes natural behavior and socialization.”   Another thing I have no idea what it means, other than perhaps the piggies are allowed to socialize on Facebook prior being driven off to the kill zone.

After the piggies socialized, they went on a  (albeit brief) vacation to California, where (according to the USDA establishment number) they were manufactured into salami by Busseto Foods in Fresno, CA, decidedly a giant among pork producers.   In fact, their Genoa salami looks very similar to Applegate’s.

I’m one of those consumers that doesn’t really care if animals we’re going to kill are ‘raised humanely,” as it seems like a contradiction anyway.  At my age, I also don’t care about whether or not I ingest preservatives, maybe more of them will actually keep me on the planet a little longer.

What I care about, particularly with salami, is appearance, taste, texture and value.  Applegate meets the first three of those categories excellent, but at near $20 a pound, value isn’t at the top of their game.  But then, all meat is expensive now.  Seems to me like it dramatically shoots up weekly.

Bottom line, would I buy Applegate salami again? Yep.  It’s tasty, no matter how the piggies were raised or what they ‘et’ prior to my chowing down on them.

Postscript:   By coincidence, the following day I spotted Busseto’s product in another store, at the equivalent of $10 a pound.  Not organic, not uncured, but are those designators worth twice the price?  Not to me.

Applegate Farms Uncured Genoa Salami


Applegate Farms Uncured Genoa Salami


Applegate Farms Salami

Bussseto Brand










Applegate Naturals Uncured Genoa Salami

White Castle Crispy Jalapeno Chicken Review

The last time I was in this particular White Castle was a day / night I made a major fundamental mistake – and I’m not talking about dining at White Castle, which is always a delight.  No, the last time through this outlet was the day Mrs. Burgerdogboy proposed we get married (after consuming 12 or 15 ounces of vodka).  It was a harbinger of things to come, and  I walked right past the giant flashing billboard with blinders on.

But hey, what fun would life be if one didn’t make critical mistakes every once and awhile?

But back to White Castle.

If there are two things that I would ordinarily eschew at any restaurant, it would be fried chicken patties, and anything that uses the name of a pepper in its description –  be it jalapeno, siracha, chipotle or ghost.  Very few chefs or menu planners no how to use peppers correctly, as a subtle undertone in a dish, and not as the primary flavor.  IMHO.

Once upon a time, decades ago, there was a fast food chicken sandwich I liked at #Hardees.  It was real chicken protein muscle, ample in size and doused with black pepper.  But these days, I am more apt to go for ‘fingers’ as evidenced by last year’s smackdown on ‘chicken fingers of the south.’

But back to White Castle.  A friend insisted we try the jalapeno chicken sliders, and so we did, and I have to say, they weren’t all that bad.   I did wonder if one would be able to tell the difference between the chicken and fish sliders, but wasn’t curious enough to conduct that test.   Would I order them sometime?  Surprisingly (to me) yes, I would.

Big kudos, too, to the Castle for having one of the most comprehensive selections of condiments around, in ample sized quantities. Above and beyond.

To read about White Castle’s origins, take a spin here.

You know what’s really funny?   As I was writing this, it occurred to me how much White Castle and Mrs Burgerdogboy have in common.  They’re both really cheap and easy, and are much more palatable when  drunk.

White Castle Chicken Slider Review

White Castle Chicken Slider


White Castle Chicken Slider Review

Condiment Selection


White Castle Chicken Slider Review

Condiment Selection

White Castle on Urbanspoon
White Castle Crispy Jalapeno Chicken Review

Bremer Lasagna Review

We can probably file this one under my heading of “things I’ve tried so you don’t have to.”   I have written about products from Aldi before, the large German based grocery corporation that also owns Trader Joes.  Aldi sell most their own label of foods, manufactured for them by the “big guys” but heavily discounted.  Shop only at Aldi and you can probably save 25-30% off your grocery bill.  Supplement your Aldi trips with getting your staples at dollar stores, and you’ll save even more.

I’m not much for frozen or canned pasta “meals”, but somebody dropped by an Aldi brand lasagna, which is branded “Bremers,” but according to the USDA plant number on the package, is made by Chicago’s “On-Cor.”  I shouldn’t be surprised, the packaging is very similar and the contents and dietary label are identical.

As always, I went with the oven style prep instead of microwaving, which took about 45 minutes.  Below are pix of the package, the frozen product, and the plated product (with added Parmesan) and the street in Chicago where the product was born.

How was it?  Surprisingly meatier than I expected, yet for some reason, I find all pre-prepared Italian and Mexican foods (especially Hormel Tamales) to have a slight “burn” to the tomato sauce which I personally find unappealing.  I can’t really identify the source of that discomfort for me, just has always been that way.

In any regards, would I buy it again?  Well, yes, over big name brands like Stouffers, it’s just a much better value.

But nobody, but nobody makes lasagna better than Mrs. BurgerDogBoy, unless she tries to slip in turkey Italian sausage.

Bremer Lasagna Review


Bremer Lasagna Review

(Added Parmesan)







bremer lasagna review

Video – Building the Perfect Chicago Hot Dog Recipe

Step by step, for the uninitiated…


Chicago hot dog recipe

Popeyes Cracked Pepper Shrimp Review

Rolled through the old ‘hood today, zipped thru (Louisiana fast) Popeye’s to try their LTO of Cracked Pepper Butterfly Shrimp with “blackened” tartar sauce.

Eight shrimp, fries and a biscuit for $4.99.  The shrimp, like Popeye’s chicken, were diminutive in size, but no matter, as it’s Mrs Burgerdogboy’s fast food of choice, especially the red beans and rice (large).  She was AWOL for my visit today, so I passed on the beans, but amped up the order by adding a side of green beans.


Big news from Popeyes this week;  as I have written about before, the genius of founder Al Copeland was that when he sold the chain, he kept the recipes and a contract to make the ‘secret ingredients’ seasoning and sides and sides.  He had a separate company that did those tasks called “Diversified Seasonings.”   Al passed away a couple years ago, and this week, the heirs sold the recipes and secrets to the Popeye’s parent….for  a cool $43 million.

Compare and contrast the marketing photo and the real deal.  Bottom pic is the dippin’ sauce.

Popeyes Shrimp Review


Popeyes Shrimp Review


Popeyes Shrimp Review
Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen on Urbanspoon
Popeyes Cracked Pepper Shrimp Review

Crystal Lake, IL – Andys Family Restaurant Review

Andy's Crystal LakeLanding at O’Hare after an overnight flight from Honolulu, I was starving.  Why didn’t I eat on the plane?  Conked out on the new lie flat seat/beds in first class, very comfy, a little too comfy.

Was heading from Chicago to Madison, so I thought I’d stop en route and get a tasty breakfast on the back roads, and my back road of choice to Madison is US 14, so I hit Andy’s Family Restaurant in Crystal Lake, IL.

Over ordered, not a surprise, went with the Chicken Fried Steak and eggs, the place was jammed, but service was prompt and friendly, they have had lots of practice, this place has been around for years.

Played “butter Jenga” while I was waiting, scarfed the meal and hit the road.  Great place.

Andy's Crystal Lake

Andy's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Andys Family Restaurant Review

Trails End Resort – Hayward, WI

Well known for a few things, including the American Birkebinder cross country ski race, annual world lumberjack contests, and a nearby former hide out of Al Capone, the ville of Hayward, Wisconsin is nestled among pines and birches on rolling hills in Northwestern Wisconsin.   Numerous lakes dot the landscape and it’s a regular fisherman’s paradise.

Trail’s End Resort is on nearby Lake Couderay, has cabins and boats for rent, camp sites and a nice lodge bar (“Michelle’s”) that features live music, (like Todd Eckart) that serves lunch and dinner daily with an emphasis on house made items from local ingredients.

Entrees enjoyed  included the rib dinner and a thin crust bacon-topped pizza.  Both got raves.  The ribs are massaged with a house-made rub before being slow-smoked and finished on the grill;  many of the meats served at Trails End (including the bacon) are from the  provider 6th Street Market, in nearby Ashland, WI, who have been cranking out specialty meats and sausages for 25 years.

Trails End Hayward WI

Bacon Pizza

Trails End Hayward WI

Rib Dinner

Todd Eckart Music

Todd Wows the Crowd

Here’s their full menu.
Trail's End Lodge on Urbanspoon
Trails End Resort

Good & Delish Frozen Pizza Review

The “full name” of the product is Good & Delish Rising Crust Extra Thick Pepperoni frozen pizza.  Good & Delish is one of Walgreen’s in-house brands for food products, the other is Nice!  Not sure why they need two brands, as there doesn’t seem to be any segment specific reason for one or the other.

Seldom is the day I even stop at a Walgreen’s, I just think they are too spendy.  But I stopped today simply because “it was there,” I s needed one or two things, and on short trips, I hate to make multiple stops.  Getting lazy, I guess.

I have been on the hunt for a new brand of frozen pizza, Walgreens probably wouldn’t have it, but I figured I’d peek anyway, and sho nuff, no soap.  But they did have their house brand pies at $4.99 for 29 ounces, and that’s a pretty good value, so I figured “what they hey”, and brought one home.  I have reviewed other Walgreen’s products before, notably their frozen cheeseburger.

Never been a fan of rising crust pizzas, but when you think about it, it’s quite an achievement, isn’t it?   The Walgreen’s pie was a straight forward affair, 20 minutes at 400; the ingredients were typical, but the pepperoni was “pork, beef, and chicken,” a formulation I try and stay away from.   But I was committed now.

The box has the “Real Cheese” (which indicates the topping is a bon afide dairy product)emblem on it, and a Federal Inspection seal, but without the customary “establishment number,” so I can’t tell you who makes these pizzas for Walgreens.

Upon taking it from the oven, the first thing I noticed was some “shiny pools” on top of the pie, which surprised me, since the pepperoni had the combination ingredients.  Pure pork or pure beef or both I would have thought had a higher content of fat.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best US made frozen pizza I have ever consumed, for me, this pie is about a six. All of the ingredients are VERY mild in flavor, the “Boboli-like” crust is good, crispy and chewy at the same time, and the pepperoni, had some heft to it, due to its thickness.

Would I buy it again?  If the circumstances were right, probably.


Walgreen's Frozen Pizza

In the Box


Walgreens Frozen Pizza Review

Out of the Box – Frozen



Walgreens Frozen Pizza Review

Out of the Oven

Good & Delish Frozen Pizza Review

Dennys Review

Once a year, I stop in at Denny’s to see how things are going; I’ve undoubtedly had at least two of the worst meals I’ve ever paid for at Denny’s, but I keep rooting for them for a couple reasons, one is that most of them are franchisees, and I try and cheer on entrepreneurs of all ilks, and secondly because a friend of mine just bought 75 of them, and he’s a lot smarter than me, so I figure he must see an upside.

At least two of the bad experiences I have had at Denny’s I have been accompanied by Mrs. Burgerdogboy, and this week I returned to the spot where we shared one of our very first meals eever.

The last time I was at this location the experience was tainted in a good way by thinking I was in love, so the restaurant experience didn’t matter; I was also hobbling around Portland with crutches and a cast, courtesy of Hurricane Katrina.

This time I was not so handicapped, in either regard.

I’m pleased that a lot of things have changed, the restaurant was cleaner, the service affable, and I ordered a cheeseburger and fries, thinking a straight-forward entree would be a good test of the menu and kitchen.

The burger menu has been greatly enhanced, with a host of specialty burgers as well as a “build your own” menu with a substantial number of toppings, including picking your patty and bun:

 Beef Patty, Grilled Seasoned Chicken Breast, Turkey Patty, Veggie Patty. Find Your Base: Sesame Seed Bun, Cheddar Bun, Whole Wheat Bun, Grilled Potato Bread. Say Cheese: American, Swiss , Cheddar, Pepper Jack. Choose Your Toppings: Grilled Onions, Spinach, Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onions, Pickles, Mayo, Chipotle Sauce, Bourbon Sauce, BBQ Sauce, Ranch, Jalapeños, Pico de Gallo. Premium Toppings (requires additional cost): Sautéed Mushrooms, Hash Browns, Bacon, Onion Tanglers™, Fried Egg, Chili, Fresh Avocado,  Jalapeño Bottle Caps.

It’s a list comparable to any of the current niche burger joints, and a worthy one.  Sandwiches and entrees are accompanied by a choice of sides, including Denny’s “odd” new fries, which they proclaim to be “Waffle cut,”  which I think actually means “waffle extruded,”  a fry made from a potato slurry mixture and forced out of a mold frying to freezing and frying.  But they were better than most extruded fries I have consumed.  Other side choices include hash browns, seasonal fruit or dippable vegetables.

The patty was clearly hand-formed and had a great beef taste.  A third pound, at least.  My one beef about the beef at Denny’s?  You have two choices of “doneness,” according to the server, medium well and well. Period.

Those two levels of cooking are not anywhere near my personal preference, but I have to say, it was OK.  Medium well didn’t mean completely dried out as it does at most restaurants.

Denny’s menu is full of ‘doneness’ cautionary statements, including about eggs.   They’ve added a couple of ‘premium’ steaks to the menu, not sure if they can only be cooked to the same levels as the burgers or not.

In any case, my conclusion is that Denny’s new burger menu is comparable to any fast casual competitor, and is every bit as good as Fuddrucker’s or Red Robin.

Full menu and restaurant locator online.

Denny's Review

Burger & Fries


Denny's on Urbanspoon

Dennys Review

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