Prepare for fair time with seasonal meals

Making food on a stick and other fair treats will set the scene for these traditional August festivities

     Prepare for fair time this year by making at-home versions of some of your favorite fair foods.
    After all, the Ozaukee County Fair opens next week and the Wisconsin State Fair follows on its heels.
    Fair food is casual fare, the type you can eat while perusing the exhibits and visiting the midway. Sweet corn, burgers, brats and traditional summer treats are typical meals at these events, but a new phenomenon seems here to stay — deep fried or grilled foods on a stick, perfect for strolling crowds or children who seem to love anything served in bite-sized pieces.
    You can get just about anything on a stick, or so it seems. Deep-fried snacks such as Twinkies and candy bars join such mealtime entrees as spaghetti and meatballs  and shish kabobs and desserts like miniature pies on a stick.
    You can replicate the idea at home, although you can make it a more healthy meal by grilling the foods instead of deep frying them.
    For an entree, try making a deconstructed cheeseburger, fajita or your favorite sandwich. Grilled cheese sandwich wedges can be threaded onto a skewer and grilled, too.
    For an easy take on a classic meal, try meatballs on a stick. Depending on the type of meatball, a dipping sauce can enhance the flavor. Or make chicken nuggets on a stick with ranch dressing on the side.
    For a breakfast, place squares of French toast on a stick with fresh fruit or slices of ham or Canadian bacon between them. A little syrup can be served on the side.
    The final course can be dessert, as simple as grilled fruit on a stick or as extravagant as a Black Forest skewer with layers of cherries and cake dipped in melted chocolate. They can be enjoyed on their own or with a bowl of ice cream.
    Strawberry shortcake is another dessert that can easily be deconstructed. Just place a shortcake round on a skewer, add a dollop of whipped cream and a piece of strawberry. Top with another dollop of whipped cream and another shortcake round, chill and serve.
    Of course, not all fair foods come on a stick. There are plenty of finger foods that fall under the definition, from corn fritters to deep-fried mac and cheese shells to cream puffs.
    Following are recipes from

Gourmet Caramel Apples

4 large tart apples
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4-1/2 ounces white candy coating, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon shortening
1 11-ounce package caramel bits
2 tablespoons water
4 pretzel rods, coarsely crushed
1/2 cup Reese’s pieces

    Wash and thoroughly dry apples. Insert a craft stick into the top of each. Set aside.
    Place chocolate chips in separate microwave-safe bowls. Heat in a microwave until melted, then stir until smooth.
    In another microwave-safe bowl, melt candy coating and shortening; stir until smooth.
    Combine caramels and water in a microwave-safe bowl, then heat in a microwave until melted and stir until smooth. Dip apples into caramel and turn to coat. Immediately press pretzels and Reese’s pieces into sides of apples, then drizzle melted chocolate and candy coating over tops. Place on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper that’s been greased and  let stand until set.


Indiana Style Corn Dogs

1 cup flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Dash pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
12 hot dogs

    In a bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, mustard, paprika and pepper. Whisk in egg and milk just until blended. Transfer batter to a tall drinking glass.
    In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees. Insert skewers into hot dogs. Dip hot dogs into batter, allowing excess batter to drip off. Fry corn dogs, a few at a time, for two to three minutes, until golden brown, turning occasionally.
    Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.


Golden Corn Fritters

2-1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons grated onion
1 15-1/4 ounce can whole kernel corn, drained

    In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, parsley and salt.
    In another bowl, whisk eggs, milk, melted butter and onion until blended. Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Fold in corn.
    In an electric skillet or deep fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls, several at a time, into hot oil. Fry two to three minutes on each side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.


Deep Fried Candy Bars on a Stick

1-1/2 cups flour
4-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 fun-size Snickers and/or Milky Way candy bars, frozen
Confectioners’ sugar, optional

    Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon.
    In another bowl, whisk together egg, water, milk and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.
    In an electric skillet or deep fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees. Dip candy bars, a few at a time, into batter, then fry about 30 seconds per side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
    Insert skewers into bars. If desired, dust with confectioners’ sugar.



Frozen Chocolate Monkey Treats

3 medium bananas
6 ounces dark chocolate chips
2 teaspoons shortening
Toppings: chopped peanuts, toasted sweetened shredded coconut and/or colored jimmies

    Cut each banana into six pieces that are about 1 inch long. Insert a toothpick into each piece and transfer to a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze about one hour, until completely firm.
    In a microwave, melt chocolate and shortening, then stir until smooth. Dip banana pieces in chocolate mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Dip in toppings as desired, then place on baking sheet and freeze at least 30 minutes before serving.
    To toast coconut, bake in a shallow pan in a 350-degree oven for five to 10 minutes or cook in a skillet over low heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally.


Blackberry Lemonade

4 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 cup blackberries
1 to 2 drops blue food coloring, optional

    In a large saucepan, bring two cups water and sugar to a boil. Boil two minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, then stir in lemon juice, zest and remaining water. Cool slightly.
    In a blender, combine one cup lemon mixture and blackberries. Cover and process until blended. Strain and discard seeds. Pour blackberry mixture and remaining lemon mixture into a pitcher and stir well. Add food coloring if desired.
    Refrigerate until chilled. Serve in chilled glasses over ice.



Pizza on a Stick

8 ounces Italian turkey sausage links
2 cups whole fresh mushrooms
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
30 slices turkey pepperoni
1 13.8-ounce tube refrigerated pizza crust
1-1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1-1/4 cups pizza sauce, warmed

    In a large nonstick skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain. When cool enough to handle, cut sausage into 20 pieces.
    Alternately thread sausage, vegetables and pepperoni onto 10 metal or wooden skewers.
    Unroll pizza dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut widthwise into 1-inch-wide strips. Spiral-wrap dough strip around skewers, allowing vegetables and meats to peek through, securing both ends of the dough through the skewer.
    Repeat with remaining dough strips and skewers.
    Arrange kabobs on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until vegetables are tender and pizza crust is golden. Immediately sprinkle with cheese. Serve with pizza sauce.


Deep Fried Mac and Cheese Shells

2 cups uncooked small pasta shells
20 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
2 tablespoons butter
1 16-ounces package processed cheese, cubed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1-1/4 cups 2% milk
2 large eggs
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour

    Cook pastas separately according to package directions until al dente. Drain.
    In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add processed cheese, cheddar cheese, cream and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and cook, stirring, over low heat until blended. Remove from heat.
    In a large saucepan, combine small pasta shells and half the cheese mixture. Set aside. Stir 1 cup milk into remaining cheese mixture to create dipping sauce, keep warm.
    In a shallow bowl, whisk eggs with remaining milk. In another shallow bowl, mix bread crumbs with remaining Parmesan cheese. Place flour in a third shallow bowl. Fill each large shell with scant 1/4 cup pasta mixture. Dip in flour to coat all sides and shake off excess. Dip in egg mixture, then in bread crumb mixture, patting to help coating adhere.
    In an electric skillet or deep fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees. Fry shells, a few at a time, for one to two minutes per side, until dark golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with dipping sauce.



Beignets and Berries

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (120° to 130 degrees)
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 1/4 ounce package quick-rise yeast
1 large egg
3-1/4 to 3-3/4 cups flour
Confectioners’ sugar
Berries and whipped topping, optional

    Beat butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon until crumbly. Beat in 1/2 cup water and evaporated milk.
    In another bowl, dissolve yeast in remaining water, then add to milk mixture. Beat in egg until blended.
    Add 2 cups flour and mix until well blended. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. The dough will be sticky. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and refrigerate for four hours or overnight.
    Bring dough to room temperature. On a floured surface, roll dough into a 16-by-12-inch. rectangle. Cut into 2-inch squares.
    In an electric skillet or deep fryer, heat oil to 375degrees. Drop beignets, a few at a time, into hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about one minute per side. Drain on paper towels. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.
    If desired, serve with assorted berries and whipped topping.


Oven Fried Pickles

32 dill pickle slices
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons dill pickle juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill

    Let pickles stand on a paper towel about 15 minutes, until liquid is almost absorbed.
    In a shallow bowl, combine flour and salt. In another shallow bowl, whisk eggs, pickle juice, cayenne and garlic powder. Combine panko and dill in a third shallow bowl.
    Dip pickles in flour mixture to coat both sides and shake off excess. Dip in egg mixture, then in crumb mixture, patting to help coating adhere. Transfer to a greased wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet.
    Bake in a 500-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.


State Fair Cream Puffs

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    In a large saucepan, bring water, butter and salt to a boil over medium heat. Add flour all at once and stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from heat and let stand five minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and shiny.
    Drop 1/4 cupfuls 3 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Combine milk and egg yolk and brush over puffs. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. Place on wire racks and immediately cut a slit in each to allow steam to escape. Cool.
    In a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until almost stiff.
    Split cream puffs and discard soft dough from inside. Fill puffs with whipped cream just before serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Refrigerate leftovers.


Loaded Stuffed Potato Pancakes

2 cups mashed potatoes made with extra milk and butter
2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon minced chives
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup cream cheese, softened

    In a large bowl, combine mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese, flour, egg, chives, salt and pepper. In a shallow bowl, mix bread crumbs, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne.
    Shape two teaspoons cream cheese into a ball. Wrap 1/4 cup potato mixture around it to cover completely. Drop into crumb mixture. Gently coat and shape into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Repeat with remaining cream cheese and potato mixture.
In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees. Fry stuffed pancakes, a few at a time, for one to two minutes per side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.


Tacos on a Stick

1 envelope taco seasoning
1 cup tomato juice
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 pounds beef top sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium green pepper, cut into chunks
1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into chunks
1 large onion, cut into wedges
16 cherry tomatoes
Salsa con queso or sour cream, optional

    In a large resealable plastic bag, combine taco seasoning, tomato juice and oil. Mix well. Remove 1/2 cup for basting and refrigerate. Add beef to the bag, seal, turn to coat and refrigerate at least five hours.
    Drain and discard marinade from beef. On metal or soaked wooden skewers, alternately thread beef, peppers, onion and tomatoes. Grill, uncovered, over medium heat for three minutes per side. Baste with reserved marinade. Continue turning and basting for eight to10 minutes, until meat reaches desired doneness. If desired, serve with salsa con queso or sour cream.


No Fry Fried Ice Cream

1 quart vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups crushed cornflakes
Whipped cream and caramel ice cream topping, optional

    Using a 1/2-cup ice cream scoop, place eight scoops ice cream on a baking sheet. Freeze until firm, about one hour.
    Combine brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. Stir in cornflakes. Transfer to an ungreased 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan and bake in a 350-degree oven for four to six minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely.
    Roll ice cream balls in crumb mixture. Cover and freeze until firm, at least one hour. If desired, serve with toppings.



Maryland Corn Pops

8 medium ears sweet corn, husks removed
2 tablespoons canola oil
1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons seafood seasoning
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
Lime wedges, optional

    Brush all sides of corn with oil. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 10 t o 12 minutes, turning occasionally, until tender and lightly browned. Remove from grill and cool slightly.
    In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, garlic powder and pepper. Cut each ear of corn into thirds. Insert one corncob holder into each piece. Spread corn with mayonnaise mixture, then sprinkle with cheese, seafood seasoning and cilantro. If desired, serve with lime wedges.




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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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