Chicago-Style Carrot Dogs

Oh, hey there! Summer is full swing over here and I’m absolutely loving it! Madison just shines in the summer. The lakes and pretty views, the bike trails, all the outdoor activities and concerts, the farmers’ markets…it’s just enough to make you forget the long winter you just endured. :) Please tell me the summer is still young and has only just begun! I hate the idea of the days already getting shorter and school supplies hitting the shelves once the 4th has passed. Nooo! I don’t even need the school supplies and it still makes me panic. Ha!

I won’t think about that yet, because we still have lots of fun summer activities coming up. But just looking at the past four weeks, we’ve also already managed to squeeze in a lot of fun! 

From a wonderful trip to Colorado to see family over Memorial Day weekend (these trips always make me wish we lived closer!)…

Strawberry picking (this made some delicious jam and strawberry crumble bars!)…

And ice cream by the lake on the UW Memorial Union Terrace (does this not just scream summer?!)…

To bike rides and relaxing on the Capital square grass, just chatting, sipping iced coffee, and people watching during the farmers’ market. Seriously, this is my kind of life. :)

Oh, and of course, it wouldn’t be a summer for me without at least one or two races. Yesterday I ran a new race to me (the Her Madison Half!) and came in the top 5 overall. I guess I’ve still got it in me. :)

(sorry, picture overload!)

And you know what else screams summer? Since we already said ice cream…HOT DOGS! Now, whether you like ’em or hate ’em, you can’t deny that it’s a quintessential summer food. I mean, it’s right up there with s’mores.

But sometimes, it’s fun to change up the classic a bit and see what happens. And that’s exactly what I did. Introducing: Chicago-Style Carrot Dogs! Yup, those are grilled-up carrots, slathered with all the toppings that would go on a Chicago hot dog. (Well, except for the ketchup. Sorry to any of you who are strongly passionate when it comes to no ketchup on Chicago hot dogs. We figured no Chicago hot dog is actually made with carrots either, so we’re just going with it. :))

And you know what happened when Philip and I put a marinated and grilled carrot into a hot dog bun?! It was a DEAD RINGER to the real deal! No joke. Here’s the story: I saw the recipe for carrot dogs, was extremely intrigued by it, and decided to try it out just so I could personally see what it actually tasted like. Philip and I both took the first bite with a little skepticism, but ultimately, we both agreed that they were actually really good!

In fact, they were so similar to the real thing that if we closed our eyes and didn’t know it was a carrot, we may have been fooled. I know you’re curious now, aren’t you? ;)

We probably all know hot dogs aren’t the best for us. They’re overly processed, made with who-knows-what, and just not something we want to be eating every day. So, if you feel like you or your kids have had one too many hot dogs this summer or you want a fun, new way to have a vegetable serving, this is an easy thing to throw on the grill!

Now, I’m not saying for you to trick your kiddo (or husband or wife or whomever) into eating a carrot dog by telling him or her it’s a hot dog. Just, no. This is just reinforcing their idea that they shouldn’t like the vegetable you’re trying to hide—I mean, why else would you be trying to hide it or call it something other than what it is? Instead, call it a carrot dog (because that’s what it is), make it fun, and see what happens.

Go ahead, be brave and marinate some carrots, throw them on the grill, and add this recipe to your list of new summer favorites. :) I hope they make a nice addition to all of your summer fun, too!

Chicago-Style Carrot Dogs

Makes 8 hot dogs

Ingredients:

  • 8 medium carrots, cut to fit the size of a hot dog bun
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • ⅓ cup cider vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    Bun & Topping Ideas: 
  • 8 whole-wheat hot dog buns
  • Dill pickle spears
  • Minced white onion or shallot
  • Chopped pepperoncini
  • Sweet relish
  • Yellow mustard

Directions:

  1. For ease, prepare the carrots the day before you plan on having them (or the morning of). Steam the carrots by bringing 2 inches of water to a boil in a large pot fitted with a steamer basket. Add carrots, cover and steam until barely tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, cook the carrots in the Instant Pot. I did this by pouring 1 cup of water into the Instant Pot and setting the carrots on the provided metal trivet (or use a steamer basket). Set the Instant Pot to MANUAL and set for 2 minutes. Do Quick Release to release the pressure once done. To ensure even cooking and tenderness, try to use carrots that are about the same size. Two minutes in the Instant Pot works well for medium-sized carrots. Larger carrots may need about 3 minutes.
  2. Prepare the marinade by combining the broth, vinegar, soy sauce, mustard, garlic powder and paprika in a sealable 1-gallon plastic bag. Add the carrots and refrigerate, keeping the carrots in a single layer, for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.
  3. Preheat the grill to high. Remove the carrots from the marinade (discard the marinade). Grill the carrots, turning once or twice, until they’re hot and have grill marks on all sides, about 5 minutes total.
  4. Serve the carrots in the hot dog buns with the works for toppings!

Adapted from: Eating Well 

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