While enjoying today's family time and feasting, table talk often turns to menus, swapping recipes and banter of New Year's Eve parties and plans, especially since the latter is less than a week away.
While Christmas Day is about family gathered around the table to share a sit-down meal and remember the blessings that abound, New Year's Eve parties traditionally include a buffet menu plan.
And among the most popular quick bites enjoyed by guests since the 1950s are tiny cocktail weenies, usually served bathed in a zesty sauce.
My academic neighbor across the hall from my office at Valparaiso University is Dr. Lanie Steinwart, assistant professor for our Department of Communication and she also serves as the faculty adviser for our yearbook The Beacon. My first year of teaching at Valparaiso University was in 1996 and at our annual holiday faculity parties and carry-ins, Lanie always brought a favorite story to accompany her delicious cocktail weenie recipe.
So as a Christmas gift to me and to my readers, she finally agreed to share both this entertaining story and the recipe, just in time for others to serve up to welcome 2014 at next week's New Year's Eve Parties.
"Phil -- Here is the story about the cocktail dogs we were discussing last week. During my youth, my mom always made delicious mini cocktail hot dogs in a BBQ sauce from a recipe she got from a neighbor. When I was married, she hand copied the recipe on a card for me. I began making the dogs, partly because they were easy: just three ingredients in the sauce--onions, brown sugar, and Jack Daniels Whiskey. I frequently brought them to carry-ins at work, where I had many college students working for me over the years. They were often the first thing finished off at the buffet table enjoyed from the simmering crockpot they were served up in. Some years later, back at my mom's house for Christmas, I was delighted to find them on her buffet table. 'Mom?' I asked, 'How come your sauce, for these little hot dogs, is so much more red than mine?' She answered with: 'Well, I suppose it's the ketchup that makes the sauce red.' "
" 'Ketchup? What ketchup?' I asked. It turns out, that the 'real' recipe calls for equal parts Jack Daniels AND ketchup along with the onions and brown sugar. I had to show her that she'd left the ketchup off the card she wrote out for me so many years earlier. And for all those years, I'd been serving my student workers these little hot dogs cooked in little other than pure alcohol and sugar. No wonder these snacks were so popular!"
I still chuckle every time I hear this story. It definitely brings a big smile, as does Lanie's recipe for her mini cocktail weenies in whiskey. So for today, here is the "real" recipe for this dish, perfect to ring in the new year. Or, as I can attest, along with so many students from the past, her omitted ingredient version is also a boozy bite guests will quickly finish off in the "spirit" of the season.
See you next year!
Lanie's REAL Cocktail Mini Hot Dog Recipe
1 pound all-beef hot dogs, cut into sixths (or mini cocktail weenies)
3/4 cup Jack Daniels Whiskey
3/4 cup ketchup (which is apparently optional)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped onions (or less if desired)
DIRECTIONS: Combine all of the ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes. (A slow cooker on low setting can also be used, heating the above for at least 2 hours prior to serving.) Serve the whiskey weenies warm with toothpicks. (Lanie likes to use her electric fondue pot, set on low.) Serves 8 to 10 party guests or 2 to 3 college students.