- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The coldest, bleakest month of the year is trying enough, with dipping temperatures and little sunshine. It can wreak havoc on your bank account, too. Paying the holiday bills is a part of January at our house, and so is getting back to simple, low-cost dinners.

It’s funny that as our menus become less costly, my children enjoy them more. Tacos in soft and crispy shells are a favorite, as are hot dogs wrapped in that convenient cornmeal-twist dough from the supermarket.

My children helped me create this recipe, which they eagerly dunk in mustard and ketchup, and they named it, too.

Hot dogs vary in flavor, with the better dogs commanding higher prices. We like the beef hot dogs for this recipe. Perhaps you’ve got some homemade vegetable soup in the freezer to thaw and heat. Or, in a pinch, you can open a can. Serve fruit alongside and cookies for dessert.

If company is coming, cut the hot dogs in half crosswise, wrap one strip of dough around each half, and pile these little swirly dogs on a platter around bowls of ketchup and mustard.

Five time-shaving ways to cook hot dogs:

• Slice one to two hot dogs and add, along with a sliced onion and a couple of tablespoons barbecue sauce, to your favorite can of baked beans. Bake at 375 degrees until bubbly.

• Split hot dogs lengthwise, nearly cutting all the way through. Cover them in the shredded cheese of your choice (cheddar or a pepper-scented Jack), broil until the cheese is bubbly and the hot dogs have heated through, and serve on buns.

• Whip up this easy chili-dog pie: Pour two cans (15 ounces each) of chili into a 2-quart baking dish. Top with 6 hot dogs, sliced lengthwise. Whisk together 1 cup self-rising cornmeal mix, cup milk, 1 egg and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Pour this over the hot dog mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese; bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

• Top warmed hot dogs with delicious pan-toasted sauerkraut. Drain your favorite sauerkraut and add to a skillet with a little melted butter. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sauerkraut cooks and browns. As it cooks, add a spoonful or two of sugar to sweeten it and help browning.

• To make a grilled-sausage medley, buy a variety of sausages from the supermarket, grill them and serve with different mustards and hot bread.

Short-on-time-and-money menu

Swirly dogs

Canned soup of your choice (or homemade)

Apple and pear slices

Chocolate chip cookies

Swirly dogs

The preparation time is 12 minutes, and the cooking time is 16 to 18 minutes.

1 11-ounce package refrigerated corn-bread-twist dough

8 beef hot dogs

Ketchup and yellow mustard, for serving

Unroll the package of dough, and separate it to form 16 strips. Depending on the size of the hot dogs, you’ll need up to 2 strips of dough for each hot dog.

Start wrapping at one end of a hot dog using 1 strip of dough and, when it runs out, overlap it with a second piece of dough so that the pieces stick together. The dough will spiral around the hot dog and not completely cover it. Place the wrapped hot dog on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining hot dogs and dough.

Bake hot dogs on a rack in the center of a preheated 375-degree oven until they sizzle and the dough is light golden brown, 16 to 18 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and, using a metal spatula, transfer hot dogs to plates. Serve hot dogs at once with ketchup and yellow mustard. Makes 4 to 8 servings.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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