Summer Fun and Carnival Eats

Welcome  Is it me, or is there something a bit mesmerizing about a carnival or fair in the summer.  Maybe it’s all the flashing lights and bright colors.  Maybe it’s the bells and squeals of delight coming from the midway.  Or maybe it’s the smells…every sort of delectable aroma imaginable wafting from the vendor stands.  No doubt, for many of us, it’s just not summer until we’ve sunk our teeth into a crispy sweet funnel cake or enjoyed the fruity freeze of a snow cone.  Well it’s officially summer, so let’s get to it!  So many concessions, so little time!

Food For Thought  It probably comes as no surprise that I enjoy watching the Cooking Channel and Food Network.  One of the shows my family gets a kick out of is Carnival Eats.  Talk about a diverse range of foods!  Of course, we throw in our commentary along the way, too.  We say things like, “Oh, that’s so bad, but I’d eat it!”  Or, “Who orders something healthy at a fair?”  The interesting thing about this show is we see lots of different food items (of little nutritional benefit!) but without the recipes.  So when my family and I see something that looks particularly intriguing or yummy, we get to work on coming up with a re-creation in our own kitchen.

Just like an artist or designer, those of us who create through cooking are looking for inspiration everywhere!  One of the recent episodes featured something called S’mores Cobbler.  If you read A Summer S’mores Spectacular, you know I have a deep love for this iconic summer treat.  I started by doing a little online research.  Every s’mores cobbler I could find on the web used a chocolate cake mix and chocolate pudding mix, or was more like a s’mores poke cake.  This was not the type of dessert we had seen on the episode, which used an actual cobbler base.  Time to get innovative, so we made our own recipe that closely resembled the dessert we saw on Carnival Eats.  I’m going to share that recipe, and a few notes today.

Since it is Two-for-Tuesday, I have to include a second carnival-inspired recipe today.  It was a tough call.  I LOVE funnel cake, but I have yet to get the same light and airy texture at home, so that won’t work.  I like gyros and sloppy burgers, too, but we can talk about those any day.  So what else is synonymous with fair food?  The Corn Dog!  This is another one of those foods that I don’t really seek out unless it’s in the right setting, like a carnival.  But my kid loves corn dogs, anytime, anywhere!  I don’t have a deep fryer, nor do I want one, so the classic carnival corn dog is not an option.  I decided to give a home-spin on the corn dog by making corn dog muffins.  There are online recipes for similar muffins, but I had to work the recipe until I came up with something we liked, as the recipes I tried lacked structure or appearance.  The ones I came up with also make a great portable lunch for back-to-school time.

Today’s Recipes  Without further ado, let’s get to our own carnival eats today!

Corn Dog Muffins (makes 1 dozen muffins)

  • 1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 4 regular hot dogs
  • ketchup and mustard, for serving

 

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a regular 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.  In medium bowl, combine corn muffin mix, egg, milk, and honey.  Cut the hot dogs into thirds or fourths, depending on the size of your muffin cups.  Drop the cut hot dogs into muffin batter, stirring to coat.  Using a scoop or tablespoon, scoop each coated hot dog piece out of the batter and place in the center of each of the muffin cups.  Using the same scoop, divide the remaining batter between each of the muffin cups, filling in around the hot dog pieces.

Bake muffins at 425 for 18-20 minutes.  Serve with ketchup and mustard, if desired.

 

A few notes about the S’mores Cobbler:  It is VERY sweet!  I baked this in a 9-inch square pan and it is plenty, because a small piece of this goes a long way.  When you cut the cobbler, spray a knife with nonstick spray to get through the sticky marshmallow layer more easily.  When broiling, watch closely!  It takes LESS than 30 seconds to get the marshmallows toasted; in a matter of a second or two, they will be in flames in your oven!  I kept my graham crackers whole for this recipe, but I wonder if coarsely crushing them first would make for easier slicing later…hmmm, something to try!  Also, I used the “giant” marshmallows that were left over from our s’mores spectacular.  Mini-marshmallows could possibly be a better option, here.  Play around with it!  I remember when I watched the episode of carnival eats, they served this cobbler a la mode with ice cream, hot fudge, and crushed graham crackers.  This dish is so incredibly sweet that we passed on any additional items to go with it.

S’mores Cobbler (serves 9-12)

  • 4-5 whole graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 4 TBS butter
  • 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 8 giant marshmallows, halved (I use kitchen sheers for this)
  • 2 TBS hot fudge sauce, if desired

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Line the bottom of the pan with graham crackers, breaking in half or quarters if necessary.  Top graham crackers with the two kinds of chocolate chips.

In microwave-safe bowl, melt butter.  Add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and milk, stirring until just combined.  Spread cobbler batter evenly over the chips.  Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.  Top with marshmallow halves and place under broiler for 20 seconds.  They should be just golden on top.  Remove from oven and press down on marshmallows slightly with the back of a spoon.  Drizzle with hot fudge sauce, if desired.

 

Today’s Scripture  Ecclesiastes 2:24 (ESV)  “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God…”

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