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By Terri Hahn

Classic fair food comes on a stick


August 5, 2021

It's not hard to see why food on a stick is so popular at fairs around the country, including county fairs that are in full swing in the area and our very own Nebraska State Fair which opens later this month in Grand Island.

The portability factor makes these foods easy to hang onto and easy to eat while strolling the fairgrounds in search of the best exhibit or midway ride.

But the shear variety of foods that can be put on a stick boggles the mind. Who would have thought you could put a Caprese Salad on stick? Or that S'mores on a Stick may be an utterly delicious alternative if you don't have easy access to a campfire? pizza? No problem. Cinnamon rolls? Piece of ca ..., er, bread.

To celebrate the best fairs have to offer we present a selection of yummy food-on-a-stick recipes worthy of the fair - because everything is better on a stick, including the Good Life!

No menu of foods on a stick is complete without the one that probably started it all - the classic corn dog.

Classic Midway Corn Dogs

1 quart oil for deep frying

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1-pound package hot dogs (10 dogs)

Wooden sticks

Heat oil in a deep fryer to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and pour in the egg, buttermilk, and baking soda. Mix until everything is smooth and well blended.

Pat the hot dogs dry with paper towels. Insert wooden sticks into the ends. Dip the hot dogs in the batter one at a time, shaking off the excess. Deep-fry a few at a time in the hot oil until they are as brown as you like them. Drain on paper towels. Serve with a yellow salad mustard.

Makes 10 corn dogs.

Recipe from: Missouri State Fair

Not into corn bread? Try this variation instead:

Crescent Dog on a Stick

8 hot dogs

4 slices (3/4-ounce each) American cheese, cut into 6 strips.

One 8-ounce can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

8 wooden corn dog sticks

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Slit hot dogs to within 1/2 inch of ends; insert 3 strips of cheese into each slit. Separate dough into triangles. Wrap dough triangle around each hot dog. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, cheese side up. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown; remove and insert 1 stick in each crescent dog. Serve with mustard.

Makes 4 to 8 servings.

Recipe from: Pillsbury

These next three recipes are fair classics, courtesy of the Food Network.

Pizza on a Stick

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Baking time: 20 minutes

One 13.8-ounce package refrigerated pizza dough

All-purpose flour, for dusting

1 cup marinara sauce

1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

3/4 cup chopped pepperoni, black olives and/or mushrooms

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

2 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch of dried oregano

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Cut into 6-by-8-inch quarters, then cut each quarter in half diagonally to make 8 triangles.

Brush each triangle of dough with marinara sauce, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around; sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan (reserve some of the sauce and cheese for topping). Layer a few pieces of pepperoni, olives and/or mushrooms over the cheese, reserving a few pieces for topping. Slightly fold in the two far corners, then roll up the dough from the long side, like a burrito, until the filling is fully enclosed in a tube, pressing gently to seal.

Carefully insert a popsicle stick or wooden skewer into the center of each pizza roll and arrange on the prepared baking sheets. Brush the rolls with olive oil and more marinara sauce; sprinkle with garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes. Press any extra filling ingredients onto the rolls. Sprinkle with more mozzarella and parmesan. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe from: Food Network magazine,

Deep-Fried Snickers on a Stick

Preparation time: 25 minutes (plus 2 hours chilling time)

Cooking time: 8 minutes

4 large Snickers bars

1 cup cake flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 cup seltzer

Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Push each candy bar onto a skewer or popsicle stick; refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Whisk the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl. Whisk in the seltzer to make a smooth batter (about the consistency of pancake batter). Heat 4 to 6 inches of vegetable oil in a deep pot until a deep-fry thermometer registers 330 degrees F.

Hold the Snickers by the skewer and dip into the batter, turning to coat. Carefully place the Snickers in the hot oil (skewers and all); fry, turning as needed, until crisp, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Use tongs to remove each bar by the stick; drain on paper towels or a rack and serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe from: Food Network magazine,

While it's hard to beat pizza on a Stick or Deep-Fried Snickers on a Stick, sometimes we need a healthier option. Check out this recipe for Salad on a Stick, introduced at the Iowa State Fair.

Salad on a Stick

Preparation time: 10 minutes

2 carrots, thinly sliced diagonally

1 cucumber, thinly sliced diagonally

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cut into 2 1/2-inch chunks

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes

Blue cheese dressing, for serving (or dressing of your choice)

Thread the carrots, cucumber, lettuce and tomatoes onto 4 long wooden skewers, alternating the vegetables. Refrigerate; serve with the dressing.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe from: Food Network magazine,

A hit at state fairs everywhere, make this salty-sweet concoction at home. Some say bacon can't get any better, but we think chocolate makes everything better!

Chocolate-Covered Bacon

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Baking time: 20 minutes

12 thick-sliced bacon strips (about 1 pound)

12 wooden skewers (12 inches)

6 ounces white candy coating, chopped

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon shortening

Optional toppings: chopped dried apple chips, apricots and crystallized ginger, finely chopped pecans and pistachios, toasted coconut, kosher salt, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and coarsely ground black pepper

Thread each bacon strip onto a wooden skewer. Place on a rack in a large baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until crisp. Cool completely.

In a microwave, melt candy coating; stir until smooth. Combine chocolate chips and shortening; melt in a microwave and stir until smooth.

With pastry brushes, coat bacon on both sides with melted coatings. Top each strip as desired. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 1 dozen.

Makes 12 servings.

Recipe from: Taste of Home

These Caprese Sticks were quick to assemble. The combination of basil, tomato and mozzarella is kicked up with the addition of sun-dried tomatoes, a drizzle of good olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Caprese Sticks

12 cocktail picks or 6 chopsticks

1 cup small fresh mozzarella balls

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves

Sea salt and extra virgin olive oil (optional)

Arrange mozzarella balls, both kinds of tomatoes, and basil leaves onto cocktail picks, mixing and matching in varied combinations. Before serving, sprinkle with sea salt and a quick drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

Makes 12 cocktail-sized or 6 chopstick-sized skewers

Recipe from: "On a Stick," by Matt Armendariz;

Mini Cinnamon Rolls on a Stick

1 pound bread dough (master, brioche, challah, whole wheat, buttermilk or any of your favorites will work)

1/2 cup (or more) brown sugar

1-1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

Powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream, for the icing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease 24 mini muffin tins.

Roll out a dough so it's about 1/4-inch thick and as shaped as a rectangular as you can manage.

Sprinkle on a generous amount of brown sugar (about 1/2 cup) and sprinkle with about 1-1/2 tablespoons cinnamon. Make sure you get right to the edges, but leave about 1/2-inch clean space along one of the long edges. Roll the dough into a log starting at the long edge. Seal the log by pinching the dough along the seam.

Stretch the dough until it is just thicker than a broom stick.

Snip off 3/4-inch discs with a pair of kitchen scissors.

Place in a well greased mini-muffin tin. Let rise for about 45 minutes. Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from pan immediately before the caramel hardens. Pop them into wooden skewers and drizzle with icing (mix powdered sugar and cream until it is the consistency of cake batter.

Makes about 24 mini cinnamon rolls.

Recipe from: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day;

S'Mores Pops

No recipe for this dessert. Just a few notes:

- You will need a bag of jumbo marshmallows, crushed graham crackers and some melted chocolate.

- You can of course make these without roasting the marshmallows, but really, marshmallows taste so much carmaelized.

- Assembly: Stick a popsicle stick in one end and slowly turn the marshmallow 1/2 inch above the flame until golden. Dip the roasted marshmallow in melted chocolate and then roll it in crushed graham crackers. That's it - enjoy!

Recipe from:

Terri Hahn of Osceola has worked in food media for more than 30 years and has won numerous state and national awards for her writing. Email her at [email protected].


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