Thursday, June 21, 2012

American Girl Theme Dinner - Julie's Hot Dog Roll Ups

We should probably own stock in American Girl Company!  My girls have been fans of the American Girl Company for several years.  They love to play with their dolls and create mini American Girl worlds up their bedrooms.  I could go on and on about how much I love American Girl!  I love all that American Girl has taught my girls about history, friendship, courage, determination, and being true to yourself. 

Over the years, we've read all the books about the historical characters, watched all the movies, poured over the magazines and catalog, and visited American Girl Place in Chicago 2 times.  Our girls have taken their American Girl dolls on vacation, to the store, around the neighborhood, on sleepovers, and various other places. 

On our first trip to American Girl Place several years ago, my oldest daughter brought along her first historical doll, Julie, the American Girl Doll from the 1970s.  While we were shopping, she stumbled across an American Girl cookbook, Julie's Cooking Studio.  The book contains several recipes that were popular from the 1970s, cooking tips, historical facts about the time period, table talker conversation starter cards, and a cookie cutter (to make Jello cutouts).  Many of the recipes were easy to fix and budget friendly, because Julie's mom had to go back to work after the divorce from her dad and Julie was often left to start dinner on her own.  My oldest bought the book with her own money, and planned out the first of many American Girl Theme Dinners to be served around our family table.

I wanted to share about this themed dinner in today's post for several reasons.  First, Eat at Home Cooks was having a recipe link up about Hot Dogs and Sausages.  I thought this might be kind of a fun post to share with others.  Secondly, I wanted to share this post because if you ask my kids what meal they remembered most from that summer, this meal of hot dogs, watermelon, and jello jigglers would be near the top.  Not because it was so fantastic and delicious, but because they had a hand in planning and making the dinner.  Sure, these hot dog roll ups have made repeat appearances on our dinner menu over the years, but the kids ALWAYS talk about the first time they made them with their American Girls sitting right there with us at the table.

I know it's easier to try to make dinner without the kids' help at times, but I know how important it is that they help me - both in the planning and the preparation.  So, I'm trying to include them more, especially during the summer months when we have more flexibility.  The girls like to plan "theme nights".  We have a whole collection of American Girl books that spark their creativity.  We also try to pick up a new cookbook at the library when we visit.  Just last week we found a Kids Cooking Crock Pot Cookbook, and the 8 year old has a few recipes tagged to try out next week.

So, here's the recipe for Hot Dog Roll Ups.  They remind me of Pigs in a Blanket, but not quite as greasy.  We like how the bread gets a little crunchy on the edges.  We usually hold the bread down around the dog with some toothpicks, but it doesn't make for a very glamorous photo.  (This photo was taken that first night we made the dinner before I started paying attention to food photo details)

A favorite in the 1970s or today. . .
Hot Dog Roll Ups is a kid friendly meal

Hot Dog Roll Ups

1 pkg hot dogs
3 Tbsp butter, melted
8 slices white bread (you can use wheat, too0
1 1/2 tsp mustard
4 slices American cheese
pickle relish (optional)
ketchup (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 375.
2.  Use a pastry brush to paint one side of the bread with the melted butter. (great job for the littlest one!)
3.  Place the bread, butter side down, on a cookie sheet.
4.  Spread about 1/4 tsp of mustard on top of each slice of bread. (if your kids HATE mustard, just leave this step out, but it does make them really good)
5.  Cut each cheese slice in half diagonally so you have 8 triangles. 
6. Place 1 cheese triangle on top of the mustard on each slice of bread.
7. Place a hot dog on top of each cheese triangle.
8. Fold the bread over the hot dog and fasten shut with 2 toothpicks.
9. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. 

Remove toothpicks before eating.  Top with pickle relish and ketchup if desired.

We completed our meal with Jello Jigglers, Watermelon, tossed salad, and Watergate Cake (another recipe from the cookbook).  Our conversation was sparked with questions like, "Julie bites her fingernails when she was worried. Do you have any nervous habits?" and "When Julie spent three weeks traveling in an old-fashioned covered wagon, she felt like Laura Ingalls.  If you could be any book character for 3 weeks, who would you be?" and "What's more fun: sleeping over at a friend's house or having a friend sleep over at your house? Why?"  The girls had their dolls right up at the table with us throughout dinner and had a great time planning our evening activities.  It was one of those evenings when I wished I could just stop time, so I spent every ounce trying to just soak it all in and then capture it on a scrapbook page so we can remember it for years to come.

Remembering this fun night has sparked my creativity.  I can't wait to share some details of the theme night I have in mind for the coming weeks. . . . Stay tuned!

What theme night dinner has been a big hit with your family?

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