Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

How To Make Hot Dogs

print recipe card posted in Appetizers and Snacks, Lunch by Kathy Maister

Hot dogs  cooked in the microwave oven are a quick and easy snack, lunch or dinner.  (Fenway Franks are my favorite but turkey dogs are also pretty great as well!)

Let me begin by stressing that all microwaves have different strengths. They range in power from 500 watts to over 1500 watts. Just inside the frame of your microwave door there should be a label indicating the strength of your microwave.

Knowing the strength of your microwave is very important. Otherwise you may be following cooking directions exactly and still end up with burnt popcorn or an under cooked baked potato! I have an 850 watt microwave oven. All of my directions are based on that wattage.  (Here is a great microwave wattage conversion chart.)

Hot dogs are already cooked when you buy them. All you need to do is heat them up. Place 1 to 4 hot dogs on a paper plate or a microwave-safe dish with a paper towel. (If you are cooking more than 4 hot dogs, do it in stages.)

With the tip of a sharp knife, pierce the hot dog three times; on one end, in the middle, and on the other end. You only need to break the skin. This allows the steam to escape so they don’t explode!

Cover the hot dogs with another paper towel.

Cook on high for 35 seconds. That should be enough to heat them through, but you may have to add another 10-15 seconds.

Remove the hot dogs from the microwave.

Wrap the bun in a paper towel and zap it for about 15 seconds.

You only want to warm the bun. If you over cook the bun in the microwave it will get very hard and chewy as it cools.

I don’t recommend putting the hot dog in the bun and heating everything at once. The steam from hot dog makes the bun very soggy.

For a real treat try toasting the hot dog bun under the broiler. It will make the bun a bit firmer and able to hold all the extras you’re going to pile on!

I like my hot dogs with ketchup, mustard and relish…hold the onions please!

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Chicken Salad with Grapes

print recipe card posted in Lunch, Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces by Kathy Maister

Chicken (or turkey) salad is often what people made when they had leftovers. Not any more! It’s so easy and versatile it could end up as your signature dish . Like any salad, choose the added ingredients according to your taste.

To make this chicken salad you will need:

  • 10 oz. chicken
  • 1 cup of seedless grapes
  • ½ cup nuts
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper

You can roast your own chicken or buy an already-cooked chicken.

I like nice chunks of chicken in my salad. Start by chopping up the chicken into slightly larger than ½ inch chunks. (Not mashed up the way tuna salad ends up looking.) Put the chicken into a medium size mixing bowl.

Rinse the grapes under cool water and let them dry. Cut the grapes in half. It is a lot easier to stab them with a fork if they are cut in half. If you have bought grapes with seeds (pips) you need to pick them out. It’s a very tedious task, so be sure to buy seedless grapes.

Walnuts add a great texture and flavor to this salad. Add ½ cup of to the bowl. It is not necessary to chop them.

About ½ cup of mayonnaise will bind the salad together. Mix that in.

Give it a taste and see if it needs some salt and pepper.

Put the salad in a serving bowl and garnish with some fresh parsley and a small bunch of grapes.

There are tons of variations you can make with chicken salad.

I often mix in ½ teaspoon of curry powder to the mayonnaise before adding it to the salad.

Chopped green onion also works well with the sweetness of the grapes.

If you didn’t have grapes, you could try adding raisins or dried cranberries to the mix.

You could substitute pecans, or cashews or actually any nut for the walnuts.

If you don’t like nuts, try some chopped celery or drained and chopped water chestnuts to give your chicken salad a nice crunch.

What’s your favorite addition to Chicken Salad?


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Salmon Quesadillas

print recipe card posted in Lunch by Kathy Maister

Quesadillas are flour tortillas filled with a few savory ingredients. This salmon quesadilla is great for breakfast lunch or dinner!

It also has a bit of elegance and sophistication because of the wonderful combination of ingredients which are:

  • 2 -8 inch flour tortillas
  • 3 tablespoons of herbed cream cheese spread
  • 1 ounce of smoked salmon
  • 2 teaspoons of capers
  • 1/8 teaspoon of dried dill

  • Start with the 8 inch size flour tortillas. The bigger ones are just too difficult to try and flip.
  • Buy your favorite brand of soft herbed cream cheese.
  • One 4 ounce package of smoked salmon will make 4 quesadillas. Salmon is a bit expensive but a small amount goes a long way.
  • An extra sprinkle of dried dill (1/8 teaspoon) is nice but not essential.

The one unusual ingredient is capers. They are sold in a jar and are found in the grocery store near all the condiments. They are packed in a salty brine and should be drained and rinsed. They add a tangy flavor to these quesadillas which goes really well with the salmon.

Spread 1 ½ Tablespoon of the herbed cheese on one flour tortilla. You really don’t want to put too much filling in the quesadillas or they will fall apart when you try to eat them.

Lay the tortilla in a non stick fry pan, cheese side up. Chop one ounce of smoked salmon and sprinkle it on top of the cheese.

Sprinkle the capers on top of the salmon and then add the dried dill. (Left over capers are great on a salad.)

Spread 1 ½ Tablespoons of the herbed cheese on the other tortilla.

Place the tortilla, cheese side down, in the pan. It now looks like a sandwich.

Place the pan on the stove and set it to medium heat. It will take about 1 ½ – 2 minutes for the cheese to melt and the tortilla to get lightly toasted. (If you want you can brush a bit of butter or oil on the grilled side of the tortilla to give it a nicely browned and crispy finish. It’s not really necessary)

Using a spatula, flip the quesadilla and cook that side for about another 1 ½ minutes until is it lightly browned.

Slide the whole thing onto a cutting board.

With a big kitchen knife slice it, the way you would a pizza, in half, then quarters, then 1/8s.


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