Toast your buns and beat the game!

There are always more dogs than buns!

College baseball officially ended in my town today. It wasn’t a great season, and the only thing I have to show for it is tiny packages of odd wad hot dog buns that I can’t bring myself to throw away. I keep hearing my mother talk about the starving children in Africa.

Isn’t it a bit suspicious how the manufacturers of hot dogs and the hot dog bun makers can’t seem to get their acts together? There are typically ten dogs in a package, but only eight buns. Now, why is that? It’s a plot, that’s what it is. I blame the bun people – you must buy two packages of buns to service one 10-pack of dogs. They know full well six buns are destined to die of freezer burn if you save them at all. That’s just wrong.

I think I’ve beat the system. Here’s how. Save up those extras in zip lock bags and keep them in the freezer until you need an interesting accompaniment for a dinner party.

Thaw and pull the buns apart along the natural “fault” line. Slice each half into thirds lengthwise. For four buns or 24 “fingers,” melt about 1/2 – 3/4 cup butter and add 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning and 1 teaspoon garlic powder. I do it in a big skillet. Dip hot dog bun fingers in the mixture and roll them in freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Place on a greased cookie sheet and toast at 200 degrees for two hours. Store in airtight container. These are as good as puff pastry and everyone will want to know where you bought them. They would never dream they’re eating outdated leftovers.

They are wonderful to stack in a bowl like breadsticks to serve with salad.

Sara Noel of Frugal Village.com calls these dejected buns “reucipes (re-yoo’-uh-pees). She’s got lots of suggestions on what to do with them.

BANANA DOGS: She uses hot-dog buns to make banana dogs for the kids’ lunches. Spread them with peanut butter and put in a whole banana. Hamburger buns are great for breakfast sandwiches.

FRENCH TOAST: Separate the bun in half and cut each half into thirds and make French-toast sticks. They’re even better when you have leftover whole-wheat buns. The kids devour them and don’t have a clue they’re eating whole wheat. — nodmicks, e-mail

STRATA: Layer the cut-up buns with either cheese and meat or veggies of your choice. Mix eggs and milk, and pour over the top and bake.

GARLIC BREAD: Toast hot-dog buns and make garlic bread. Add cheese if you want.

SUBS: We fight over leftover buns at my house. I use them for sandwiches the next day. I usually make egg salad, tuna fish or peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. I’ve added cold cuts and cheese on them and toasted them in the oven, too. You can use them like sub rolls. I love them with chicken patties with leftover spaghetti sauce and melted cheese. — Yolanda K., e-mail

TOAST: I toast them in my toaster and either add butter, cinnamon and sugar to them or just butter and eat them with my eggs. — Mary, e-mail

CASSEROLE: I make a chili-dog casserole. I grease a baking pan, break up the hot-dog buns and cover the bottom of the pan with them. I slice up hot dogs and layer on top of the buns and then pour chili on top. Sprinkle on shredded cheese. Bake for half an hour at 350 F. Add mustard and onions, if you like. — Sue, e-mail

BREAD PUDDING: I freeze leftover buns until I have six and make bread pudding. I grease a small baking dish. Break the buns in half and put them in the bottom of the baking dish. Melt a stick of butter and pour it over the buns. Using a whisk, mix together 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1-1/2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of warmed milk. Pour over the top. Bake for half an hour at 350 F. — Lara B., e-mail

FREEZER SANDWICHES: My mom makes ham-and-cheese sandwiches. They’re spread with mustard, minced onion and poppy seeds. She wraps them in foil and freezes them until she needs a quick dinner. She pops them in the oven. They’re a family favorite. You could also try meatball or breakfast sandwiches.

BIND MEAT:
I let them dry out and rip them up and use them for stuffings or filler in meat loaf.

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