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Slice of Life

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Savory toppings for dogs, burgers, brats

In the good ol’ days, school didn’t start until after Labor Day, and vacations and pool parties were planned right up until the day when we all trudged 10 miles (uphill both ways) to the UN-air conditioned halls of education.

With schools starting earlier and Labor Day being the first break, I find that, perhaps, you might agree that a celebratory barbecue is called for. What better way to end social summer with a flourish than to serve hot dogs and hamburgers with bunches and bunches of yummy toppings.

Keep the basic toppings for your burgers and dogs but tweak them: Relish, mustards of all kinds, ketchup, sauerkraut and onions are always appreciated, but add a kick by caramelizing the onions and adding jalapeno or horseradish to your ketchup. Try serving salsa, guacamole, chili, barbecue sauce or pizza sauce.

Use chopped olives, cooked bacon, cooked salami and these simple recipes for some savory toppings to help make this last official social summer meal one of the best ever.

Sweet Herbed Peppers

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 red and or yellow bell peppers, sliced thin

1 to 2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet, sauté the peppers, garlic and sugar in the olive oil. When they start to soften slightly, add the oregano, basil and thyme. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes and then remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Balsamic Glazed Onions

2 to 3 large sweet onions, sliced thin

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 to 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

In a skillet, heat the olive oil and add the onions and brown sugar. Cook until the onions are soft, then add the salt. Add the balsamic vinegar. Remove to cool. Serve hot or cold.

Classic Tzatziki

8 ounces Greek-style yogurt

1 large cucumber, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh dill to taste, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

In a large glass bowl, combine all the ingredients. Mix to combine, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour for the flavors to combine. Makes 2 cups.

Garlic and Pepper Ketchup

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced onion

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cup ketchup

Hot sauce to taste

In a skillet, sauté the garlic and onion in the olive oil. Cool and whisk in the ketchup and hot sauce. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Mixed Mushroom Topping

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 pounds sliced mushrooms, 2 to 3 kinds (mixed)

1 tablespoon white wine

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet, sauté the onions and mushrooms in the olive oil and wine. When they are soft and there is almost no liquid left in the pan, add the balsamic vinegar and paprika; season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 to 3 cups depending on how many mushrooms you use.

Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.