Thursday, August 10, 2017

Summer Grilling with Lightlife Smart Dogs!

It's very rare that I agree to do a sponsored post here on Just the Food. So rare, in fact, that this is the first one I have done in ten-plus years of blogging! Sure, I have received sample products and cookbooks to review over the years, but I have never done a completely sponsored post. Why? Because, for me, I have to REALLY be in love with a product for me to partner with them. When I was contacted by Lightlife Foods to participate in their summer grilling series featuring Smart Dogs, how could I say no?

I absolutely love summertime in the LBC. In sunny Southern California, and especially in Long Beach, summer means barbecue, hanging out with friends outdoors, and parties in the park. I barely cook inside, at all, from the minute the time change gives us longer days, in our house, we are all about the grill. So when Lightlife offered to send me a mini grill, tools, a cooler, condiments and enough moolah to grab all the Smart Dogs we would need to get through the entire summer...we were STOKED!

You see, I have a picky eater for a husband. (Ha! That is putting it mildly.) Basically, he only eats "yummy" foods, which means for most meals, he eats like a twelve year old. Veggie hot dogs, burgers, pizza, and mac and cheese are pretty much all he eats. And in the summertime, he turns into the grill master. Which means, I don't have to cook! Thanks, babe!

That leaves me time to get creative with the you will see below, I pulled out all the stops for these well dressed dogs. From classic combos with homemade pickles, ketchup, and mustard to bacon wrapped, (what?!) to an all out showstopper featuring inspirational cuisines from around the world, these Smart Dogs make the perfect canvas for creative cooks and grill masters everywhere.

Can we talk about buns? My eats-like-a-twelve-year-old likes the cheap-o white buns. But not me. A great hot dog, needs a great bun, and I cannot toot the horn of Pretzilla any more than I already do. Those pretzel buns are PERFECT! I also like my buns toasty. (Maybe even a little too toasty, lol.) I schmear the bun with a bit of vegan butter, or even vegan mayo, before throwing 'em on the grill face down to get that nice crisp grilled crustiness. It tastes great that way, but it also helps the bun hold up to all those saucy toppings!

The Classic Deluxe
I mean, really, you can't go wrong with the classics. There's a reason they are called classics, am I right? So, I kicked this one up a notch with home made spicy pickle spears!

All You Need for This is:
Vegan Mayo
Pickle Spears, store-bought or home made
Diced Onion

For the Spicy Garlic Pickles:
This recipe is so simple, you'll have your pickles all jarred up in about the time it takes to boil the water and slice the cucumbers. I wrote this recipe so that you could make 1 jar or 10 jars!

For the brine:
For each cup of water, use 1 tablespoon of fine sea salt

For each (16 ounce) jar of pickles you will need the following:
1 sterilized jar, with lid and ring
1 tablespoon (6 g) black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
1 to 2 pickling cucumbers, depending on size, cut in desired shapes to fit in your jar
4 garlic cloves, cut in half
1 bay leaf, broken into pieces
1 tablespoon (4 g) fresh dill
1 teaspoon dried red chile flakes (adjust according to heat preference...this measure makes for a very spicy pickle!)
Brine to fill the jar

Bring water and salt to boil. Boil until all salt is dissolved. Reduce to low, and simmer until ready to pour.
In a very dry pan, lightly toast the peppercorns and mustard seeds. Set aside.
Add cucumbers to jar.
Add garlic, bay leaf, dill, chile flakes, toasted peppercorns, and mustard seeds to the jar.
Pour hot brine to fill the jars, allowing 1/2-inch of space at the top.
Place lids and rings on the jars, and give it a good shake to distribute all of the ingredients.
Place upright and allow to cool. The lids should self seal as the brine cools creating a vacuum in the jars.
Place in a cool dark place for up to 1 week.

REMEMBER: These pickles should be refrigerated after the one week of fermenting, even if you don't open them right away.

Bacon Wrapped Western Dog
But, but, but…BACON! Oh, geez. If I hear that one, one more time, from someone saying they couldn’t go veg because they couldn’t give up bacon, I might just have to make them eat one of these vegan bacon wrapped hot dogs! Seriously, there are so many salty, smoky vegan versions of bacon these days made from everything from tempeh, to coconut, to rice paper, that there really is no reason for pigs to die for bacon-y goodness anymore. In this version I make good use of two Lightlife products, the Smart Dogs and the Smart Bacon. Ever since my days working at Whole Foods, I have loved Smart Bacon. I’m not ashamed to say, I would simply open the whole package and put it on the panini grill get it nice and crispy and make myself a very tasty BLT.

This bacon wrapped beauty sits on a bed of crisp, cool coleslaw and is smothered in home made barbecue sauce, shredded vegan cheddar (I used Parmela, because I like the way it tastes even without it being melted), and diced onions. You make make it easier on yourself and use your favorite store-bought BBQ sauce to save yourself some time.

Smart Bacon Wrapped Smart Dogs:
I'm not going to lie, this is a little tricky, but totally worth the effort!
1 package Jumbo Smart Dogs
1 package Smart Bacon

Carefully separate the slices of Smart Bacon.
Starting at the end of the hot dog, pin the bacon to the dog with a toothpick, wrap at an angle and secure with another toothpick, trying to get it so that the toothpicks all align on one side of the dog. This will help when grilling, as not to burn the toothpicks.
It takes about three slices to completely wrap a jumbo dog.
Place on the grill and cook until browned and crispy. You can rotate the dogs, so that the toothpicks are never facing the flame. (CLICK HERE for a photo, so you can see how I did it.)
Once the bacon is cooked enough, you can remove the toothpicks and get that last side.

Sweet Peppercorn Coleslaw:
1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded
1 1/2 cups (162 g) shredded carrots
1/2 cup (80 g) raisins or dried cranberries, optional
1/2 cup (120 ml) plain soymilk
2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice
1/2 cup (112 g) vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coursely ground or cracked
1 tablespoon (2 g) fresh chopped fennel leaf
1 tablespoon (13 g) sugar
salt to taste

Toss together the cabbage, carrots, and dried fruit, if using, in a large mixing bowl.
To make the dressing, add soymilk to a small mixing bowl. Stir in lemon juice and allow to sit for a few minutes. It will curdle and become like buttermilk.
Whisk in the remaining ingredients.
Toss dressing with the slaw and serve immediately.

Yield: 8 servings

Orange Chipotle Barbecue Sauce:
2 tablespoons (30 g) extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion (about 6 ounces, 168 g), roughly chopped
1 tablespoon (15 g) minced garlic
24 ounces (672 g) tomato sauce
6 ounces (168 g) tomato paste
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh orange juice
1/2 cup (110 g) brown sugar, tightly packed
1/4 cup (80 g) grape jelly (NOT JAM! JELLY! This is my Gramma Jo’s secret ingredient!)
2 tablespoons (12 g) ground chipotle powder

In a stock pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium high heat.
Add onion and garlic and saute until transluscent and fragrant, and just beginning to brown.
Add in remaining ingredients and stir. Bring to a simmer.
Cover and reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and serve as you would any barbecue sauce.
If not using right away, place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
Should last at least a week in the fridge, or freeze for later use.

Yield: About 4 cups

The Ultimate Typhoon Spicy Rice Bowl Neo Deluxe Fusion Dog
Growing up in Southern California, mostly in the Long Beach area, has been a godsend when it comes to a diverse and vibrant food culture. My tastebuds are constantly amazed, inspired, and delighted with the many types of cuisines made by the locals here. Long Beach, alone, boasts dozens of mom and pop Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Cambodian, and Indian restaurants and markets. (I could literally list hundreds of restaurants here, from Mexican, to Italian, to Middle Eastern, to Southern BBQ, but you would soon be jealous of what my fine city has to offer, so for the sake of this post, I am gonna stick with the cuisines that inspired this dog.)

Add to that the growing popularity of food trucks, pop-up eateries, and food fairs. And just up the street in Watts, places like Roy Choi's Locol are blending flavor profiles together in unique and exciting ways that just scream with SoCal flavor. This over-dressed dog takes its cues from them. My hats off to you, you amazing folks, bringing us the best food, at the best prices, with the least amount of snobbery on the west coast!

This bad-girl sits on a bed of sweet sticky sushi rice and is dressed with avocado, a pickled pepper and radish relish, spicy sushi sauce, shredded nori, cilantro, and sesame seeds. This pup eats like a meal, so bring your appetite!

Sweet Sticky Sushi Rice:
1 cup (180 g) dry sushi rice
2 cups (470 ml) water
1 tablespoon (15 ml) rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) agave
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in your rice cooker.
If you don't have a rice cooker, follow the instructions on your package of rice, adding the vinegar and agave to the water.

Quick Pickled Pepper and Radish Relish:
6 to 8 red radishes, sliced into thin half moons
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 medium white onion, julienned
3 tablespoons (11 g) fresh chopped dill
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 cup (235 ml) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) white vinegar
1 tablespoon (18 g) salt
1 tablespoon (13 g) sugar

Add all ingredients to a resealable bag, or a container with a tight fitting lid. Give it a good shake to mix it all up and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Creamy Sesame Sriracha Sauce
Also known as Spicy Sushi Sauce, this delicious sauce is traditionally made by mixing mayonnaise with sesame oil and SriRacha. The easiest way to veganize it is to just sub vegan mayo. The following is a recipe to make it from scratch.

12 ounces (340 g) soft silken tofu
1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) sesame oil
1 tablespoon (15 g) minced garlic
3 tablespoons (45 ml) SriRacha
2 tablespoons (30 ml) rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Add all ingredients to a blender and puree until silky smooth.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Should last at least 2 weeks in the fridge.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups (600 ml)

Over Dressed Dog Assembly Instructions:
Spread about a 1/2-inch thick layer of rice on the toasted bun.
Place Smart Dog in the center.
Lay slices of avocado on one side and pile the relish on the other.
Drizzle all sorts of that Sesame Sriracha Sauce up on top, then sprinkle with cilantro, shredded nori, and sesame seeds.


Kelly C said...

Wow you made some beautiful dogs! I can't wait to try your amazing flavour combos!

Unknown said...

yes, yes, yes! I want to come over and try each one!!!

Joni Marie Newman said...

Thanks <3

Joni Marie Newman said...


2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni