My Nana is not really my Nana. She was an aunt who was very old. When we were kids we thought she was our grandmother so we called her Nana. She was my dad's sister, may she rest in peace. But I love remembering her non-cooking ways in her non-kitchen. It always gives me a good little giggle. Her best dish was what I called Nana's Weird Hot Dog Appetizer and I can't even imagine where she got this recipe!
Does anyone else have a relative who hosts holiday events, but they don't actually know how to cook?
There is a famous story about how Nana tried making chicken wings in a wok by just tossing them around with no oil or seasoning. Cooked on the outside, raw on the inside. The Spiral Ham Incident is a classic. You see, spiral hams are already cooked and sliced. You need only re-heat them on low for a short time before serving depending on the size. Nana put a spiral ham in a crockpot on high for six hours. When I say you couldn't cut the ham I am not exaggerating. We tried. With knives. Couldn't cut it. We were all looking at each other like, "We have no food on Christmas day. How did this happen?" Then there was the year she burnt a frozen Stouffer's vegetable lasagna... somehow. No Christmas dinner... again.
However, my culinarily-challenged Nana did make one thing with total perfection: a very strange hot dog appetizer that we looked forward to every year on Christmas Day. We always ate the appetizers assuming this would also be dinner, because there were one too many spiral-ham type incidents over the years. So: cheese and crackers, jumbo shrimp cocktail, and Nana's weird hot dog appetizer was often all we got on Christmas Day.
There were many years another aunt hosted - we called her Granny Annie. When we were kids we thought she was our other grandmother, but she was actually our aunt. She was another person who had no idea about cooking so she would have Christmas catered. Yes, tin trays of delicious food were delivered and it was a delight!
There Are Only Three Ingredients to Nana's Weird Hot Dog Appetizer
One bottle of Bulls-Eye BBQ Sauce (original), 1 jar of store brand grape jelly and Nathan's hot dogs. That is all you need. I'm not joking.
Put the BBQ sauce in a pot with the grape jelly and heat until it all melts together. That takes just 10 minutes. Add the chopped hot dogs to the BBQ/Jelly sauce. Cook another 15 minutes. Done. Nana always put the hot dogs in a large bowl and we served ourselves and ate with tiny forks.
This is a strangely delicious appetizer and everyone always loved it! For years, I wondered how she made that sauce. We all did. But one year, the curtain was accidentally pulled back and the secret revealed. I saw the empty BBQ sauce and jelly containers on the counter. There couldn't have been a more bewildered look on my face as I grappled with the reality of Nana's "gourmet" hot dog sauce.
But that is life. And that is family. It's an odd mix of love and bewilderment, bad cooks, spiral hams and Nana's weird hot dog appetizer.
If you'd like to continue the tradition of making gourmet hot dogs with an elegant sauce no one will ever know is BBQ sauce and jelly - throw the bottles away where no one will find them!
Need More Appetizer Ideas for Your Next Gathering?
- Brown Sugar Bacon Stick Brushed w/Maple Syrup
- Holiday Appetizers: Phyllo Cups FIVE Ways
- Apple Brie Crostini w/Pecans & Honey
- Stuffed Mushrooms w/Sausage, Panko & Cheddar
- Shrimp & Gorgonzola Dip with Pancetta and Herbed Crostini
- Crunchy Coconut Chicken Fingers
- Cute, Little Mac & Cheese Mini Muffins
- Honey, Butter Bourbon Shrimp
- Crispy Smashed Potatoes with all the Fixins'