Posted in daily, food, recipe, vegetable

“Aw, Shucks”-Style Spicy Parmesan Roasted Corn

Midweek, Musikfest 2015. Is anyone else exhausted yet? And I’ve only been there twice so far!

I blame work, as per my usual. This past weekend wasn’t too bad but Friday and Monday were busy busy busy. And as of 6 pm Monday I went right into “Do ALL The Things!” Vacation Mode, so I haven’t given myself a minute to relax and breathe. I slept in a bit this morning, and plan on heading to my parents’ this afternoon for some pool time and dinner. I’ll most likely skip ‘Festing tonight to save my energy for the rest of the week, including the Snoop Dogg show Saturday night.

When people talk about Musikfest, the conversation quickly goes from the big paid acts to all the amazing free acts to the beer to the food. Oh so much food. There’s succulent shish kabobs, tasty tacos, stuffed pretzels bigger than your head, ice cream sundaes bigger than your car, pickles on sticks, and – brand new this year! – fried butter. (Yes I tried it. Just a small bite. It was as horrible as you’d imagine.) But one of the foodie favorites of ‘Fest by far is Aw Shucks corn on the cob. Sweet corn on the cob, roasted over an open flame, dipped in melted butter, sprinkled liberally with a kicky southwestern spice mix and covered in parmesan cheese. There’s not enough adjectives to describe how freaking good this corn is. Everywhere around Musikfest you’ll see people walking around, ear of corn in one hand, light-up beer mug in the other, butter and spices covering their blissful faces.

Or maybe that’s just me.

In the past few years Aw Shucks has become so popular at area festivals and fairs that they have a permanent stand in the local AAA baseball stadium, so if you have a corn craving from April through August and there’s not some sort of fest going on, you can still get your fix.

Or you can just make it at home, like me.

I can hear you from here. “But Jenn! That’s not an ear of corn! YOUR BLOG IS FULL OF LIES.”

Oh calm down, kittens. As much fun as it is to eat corn on the cob, it’s also messy as all get out. The days I plan on partaking of Aw Shucks at ‘Fest I always take wet naps to clean up after. And a change of clothes. And sometimes a drop cloth. It takes dedication to eat that corn. It’s definitely not a dainty undertaking. My way, however, is much neater and less work to get to the good stuff.

First thing you’ll need is the Aw Shucks spice mix. The mix itself consists of granulated garlic, paprika, garlic salt, onion powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, so you can “try” to recreate it at home, but there’s mysterious “other spices” listed in the ingredients, so it’s doubtful you’d get just the right combination. The mix is available at all Aw Shucks stands, on their website, and at certain farm stands in the valley. Which brings us to our next ingredient – the corn, of course.

I picked up a dozen ears at Newhards Corn Shed in Coplay, just a short drive up Mauch Chunk Road off of the 15th St exit on Route 22. A great little farm stand, reminiscent of the places I always shopped at with my mom and grandmother growing up in the Poconos. Some of the best corn I’ve tasted, too. If you’re buying your corn at the grocery store instead of Newhards you’re doing it wrong.

A baker’s dozen will run you about $6.50. My only quibble is that they appear to only sell dozen and half dozen bags, so like it or not, you’re buying corn for a crowd.

Shuck, de-silk, rinse, and pat dry. Place corn on your grill on high heat and roast, turning every few minutes, for seven to ten minutes total, until the corn is toasted and brown. Even darker in spots won’t hurt in the least – it’ll just lend to that authentic “Aw, Shucks” flavor. Had I a charcoal grill this would have been even better, but charcoal intimidates the hell out of me.

Next, de-corn your cobs. I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is the method I learned from Rachael Ray – one small bowl inverted in the bottom of a much larger bowl, stand the ear of corn up on its end, and cut down each side of the cob. Corn goes into the larger bowl and not all over the floor, boom.

Like so.

Once all the corn is cut from the cobs (and you’ve removed the smaller bowl), add melted butter, spice mix, and grated parmesan cheese.

Mix to combine. You don’t need additional salt or pepper — there’s more than enough in the spice mix and the parmesan cheese. Add the mixture to a casserole dish.

Grate some additional parmesan cheese and sprinkle just a touch more spice mix on top. Bake uncovered at 425 for approximately 15 minutes.

You can turn the broiler on for a minute or two to brown up the top if you like.

Almost as good as the original.

“Aw, Shucks”-Style Spicy Parmesan Roasted Corn

  • One dozen ears of corn, shucked and cleaned
  • 4 TB butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, with more for grating on top
  • 1/2-1 TB “Aw Shucks” spice mix, depending on your taste

Grill ears of corn over high heat for 7-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned and roasted. Remove corn from cobs. Stir in melted butter, parmesan cheese, and spice mix (Start with a smaller amount, and taste as you go to your desired spice level). Pour mixture into a casserole dish, top with additional grated cheese and sprinkle a bit more spice mixture on top. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, turning on the broiler at the end to brown and crisp the cheese on top, if desired. Remove from oven (duh) and serve. Makes an awesome side for steak or BBQ chicken.

Posted in daily, family, life

Weekend Off!

This past weekend was pretty great.

Let’s back up to the part where I actually get weekends off now. I don’t think I mentioned that my hours at Job Number Two finally changed — I was offered the chance to work weekend day shifts instead of the awful night shifts I had been doing — and I jumped at it. I offered to take every other weekend, Saturday and Sunday 7am-7pm. Which means every other weekend off.

Every. Other Weekend. Off. Kind of a big deal for me, honestly.

It also means working four to six shifts a month instead of two or three, and the added day shift crap that you have to deal with at a hospital, but more shifts also = more money, so we deal with the day shift crap, and did I mention every other weekend off?

Yeah. I’ve been pretty happy with this development.

However, much like when I was working three Saturday nights a month, I still have the tendency to fill these weekends off with all! The! Things!

Which brings us back to this past weekend. From the time I clocked out at the office Friday at 5pm until I went to bed Sunday night I was going, going, going. I had a blast all weekend but man, was I exhausted.

Saturday morning started bright and early, with a little house cleaning and food prep. I was having guests for dinner after an afternoon out so I wanted something that would take minimal effort once we got back to the house. Crockpot shredded chicken tacos fit the bill nicely. Still working on the recipe for those, by the way. A little bland for my tastes right now, when I figure them out I’ll be sure to post.

The afternoon was spent in retro dresses looking at classic cars in Macungie at Das Awkscht Fescht.

Cutest dress ever, yeah? Thanks, ModCloth! I enjoyed seeing all the different cars, too. I’m not the biggest car person, but classic cars are always fun.

After car-hopping (ha), we came back to the house to hang out a bit and enjoy the air conditioning, ate tacos and funfetti cake, and watched a little RuPaul’s Drag Race. Then I mowed the lawn at 8:30 at night because my dad was coming early the next morning and lord knows he would have had a conniption at the state of it, and fell asleep almost immediately after.

On Sunday Pops picked me up around 10 (see? good thing I mowed that lawn!) and we drove down to Philadelphia for some baseball. I bought the tickets as a Father’s Day gift and I’m almost glad the Phillies are having a terrible year because our seats were awesome.

Hashtag no zoom.

Before the game, we split a cheesesteak and some ice cream, walked around the park a couple times, and got to see Pat Burrell from about 40 feet away.

Hashtag yummy.

And during the game? We sweated our butts off. Hot as blazes, and since our seats were so close, we were in the sun all day.

But all the stretching during warm ups was worth it.

This guy.

And this guy. ❤

The Phillies lost to the Braves, unfortunately – they had won the first few games of the series but couldn’t pull out the sweep. After the long drive home and making sure my work clothes for the week were laundered, I collapsed into bed, exhausted but happy after one of my best, busiest weekends in a long time. I do have to work this weekend of course, but next week I’m off for seven entire days. I wonder what I could POSSIBLY do with all that time? 

Posted in daily, life, Local Flavor, Uncategorized

Semi-Review: Bean Bath Cafe, Bath PA.

During the fall I was working on recipes with the aim of writing them up and posting them all in a timely manner. And the few dozen pictures still sitting on my camera can attest to that. Ah, well. Best laid plans, I s’pose. I figure now that the holidays are done and all my surgery madness is over, I can get back to posting on at least a semi-regular schedule. And lucky for me, I’ve got all this stuff saved! 

To ease in, I just wanted to share a visit I took to Bean Bath Cafe in…well, Bath, of course. I had been visiting with mom and dad and decided to take a different route home. I was hungry for lunch and remembered Bean Bath was on the way. I’d been wanting to check them out for a while. Located in a small strip mall on an almost empty stretch of 512, Bean Bath Cafe is one of those blink-and-you-miss-it kind of places. I know this because I did, and had to turn around to find it.

 

The cafe is clean and bright, with a modern, kind of surf-y decor. There’s a counter for to go orders and plenty of tables for customers that want to eat in. There’s a couple tables outside as well, but the day I went it was a tad too chilly and overcast to linger outside. 

 

I started with a cup of coffee, obviously, because why would you go to a cafe and not sample the coffee? This was a caramel macchiato, and it was pretty perfect. Not too strong, not too sweet. 

 

It took a few minutes of perusing the lunch menu for me to decide what I wanted, it’s pretty extensive. There’s a lot of southwestern inspired dishes, like the El Dorado omelet, Manteca steak wrap, multiple breakfast burritos, quesadillas, and migas. If I lived closer to the cafe, you can bet your ass I’d have had that migas at least a dozen times by now. I decided on the Pinky and the Brain, a sandwich with thinly sliced roasted chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato, slathered with a kicking chipotle mayo, served on a toasted chiabatta roll. It’s served with a pickle and a small side of fries. 

 

A tasty sandwich and an excellent choice for a late lunch on a random trip through the slate belt. I cannot recommend Bean Bath Cafe enough. If you have the chance (or the time to take a mini-road trip), put them on your to-do list, and be sure to invite me. The migas is calling my name. 

Bean Bath Cafe (website), hours vary, mainly 7 am – 2 pm

2425 Plaza Court Bath, PA 18014

(484)287-2326

Posted in daily, life, Local Flavor, parties and celebrations

Harvest Fest 2013: Brunch and More

I’m a bit behind in talking about this year’s Harvest Fest. Heck, I’m behind in talking about anything at ALL, I’ve been focused on stuff around the house and work and…other things I’ll talk about when I’m ready to. But anyway, Harvest Fest, aka The Best Fest in Bethlehem, Ever. I don’t know if it’s the smaller size, the smaller crowds, or the cooler weather, but Harvest Fest is definitely my favorite of all the events thrown by downtown Bethlehem. Oh, there’s also all the beer and tasty tasty soups.

But first, we brunched. We brunched our butts off.

I invited the usual suspects over for some pumpkin pancakes, bacon, and breakfast sausage.

I also had a few leftover pumpkin whoopie pies on hand, and of course some fresh fruit. It’s not brunch without a gigantic plate of fruit. I served strawberries, fresh pineapple, and a favorite this time of year – concord grapes. They taste like jelly!

For the pancakes, I used my regular recipe (minus the blueberries there, of course), and just added a cup of pureed pumpkin, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and some fresh ground nutmeg.

They’re a bit more moist than the plain pancakes, so give them another minute or so on the griddle before serving. To go with these pancakes, I had some spiked maple syrup that would make Mrs. Butterworth blush.

Just warm up the syrup (real maple syrup, not pancake syrup) in the microwave for a few seconds, stir in an ounce of good bourbon, and about a half teaspoon of vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract, if you can’t acquire it), and you’re in pancake heaven. Serve with your favorite breakfast meat and your friends may never want to leave.

It tastes better than it photographs, trust me.

And thankfully, we had a whole day at Harvest Fest to walk those pancakes off.

It was a great day, spent with some of my very favorite people. (For a more in depth write up, including all the skinny on some of the great beers that were served, try this write up by The El Vee.) At the end of the day, a few of us decided to sit down for a drink and a bite to eat at one of downtown Bethlehem’s newest restaurants, The Twisted Olive. We sat outside and ordered some appetizers and a few cocktails. I had the Forty-Niner, a tasty bourbon drink with honey and lavender, the aranchini (cheese filled risotto balls, breaded and fried? What’s not to love?), and one of the most interesting appetizers I’ve ever had, french onion soup dumplings. Caramelized, beefy onions, wrapped in a dumpling wrapper, topped with a crispy crouton and melted cheese. On. A. Stick.

And these are just appetizers. I’m coming back for that cioppino that I spied on the menu, dudes. Mark my words.

 

Hopefully before Harvest Fest 2014.

Posted in life, Local Flavor, parties and celebrations, Uncategorized

The Ridiculously Long Rest-Of-My-Summer Recap, or: Shit, I Forgot I Had A Blog.

So I seem to have fallen off a bit, haven’t I? Just your luck I’ve decided to do a quick(ish) (though probably not really, it is me we’re talking about here) recap on the rest of my summer. It all went pretty nicely until one sucky week in August. But I’ll get to that in a while.

Firstly: High Tea with my favorite ladies at Jessica’s Tea Room

A group of my nearest and dearest and I were trying to come up with a way to celebrate my friend Vanessa’s graduation from one school and acceptance (including a full scholarship, thank you very much) to another. I got the idea from a coworker to take her to Jessica’s Tea Room at the Weaversville Inn. It just seemed so fun and out of the ordinary, and Vanessa just happens to love a nice cup of tea. Perfect! We all got dressed up very fancily and surprised her with high tea on a gorgeous Saturday in June. The food was delicious, the tea was refreshing, the service was outstanding, and the company, as always, was the best ever.

Of course when we got there, we had iPhones at the ready. Because why do something if you’re not going to Instagram it immediately?

We all opted for High Tea service, which included a pot of tea (duh) for each (hot or iced), scones and banana bread, soup or small salad, choice of two finger sandwiches, entree, and dessert.

The finger sandwiches weren’t quite what we expected and were the one dull spot in an otherwise fantastic meal. A little too heavy, a little too much bread.

I opted for the turkey, bacon, and cheddar puff pastry blossom for my entree. It was simple yet delicious, and I’m going to be copying this at home very soon.

Grilled chicken salad with apples and dried cranberries.

Of course I have no shots of our actual tea. However! There were a variety of mini desserts offered to finish our meal, of which we each were able to choose two.

 

The desserts obviously are not made in house but the rest of the menu is, and the service and experience alone were enough for me to overlook a couple frozen mini eclairs. If you’re in the mood for something fun or different to do in the Valley, or even if you’re just feeling a little fancy, I highly recommend checking them out.

Secondly: Five Courses/Five Chefs Benefit for the Southside Bethlehem Film Festival

A friend is on the board of directors for the Southside Bethlehem Film Festival, and they scored a major benefit this year with a five course meal prepared by five different Lehigh Valley chefs, all hosted at Molinari’s on South 3rd Street. When I saw the list of chefs I jumped at the chance to go and was not disappointed.

Fist things first, however: LOOK AT MY PRETTY DRESS. LOOK AT IT.

Ahem. Would it kill you to smile, Jenn?

(Apologies for the following few pictures, all I had on me for the dinner was my iPhone, and by the end of the meal, the light was nonexistent.)

First course was foie gras (there’s always foie at these things, isn’t there?) with banana bread and some sort of fruit gastrique, by Tim Wildrick from Edge Restaurant.

I’m not the biggest fan of foie on its own, it’s a little too rich and fatty for me. Combined with the other elements of the dish, however, this was pretty tasty.

Our soup course was a work of art. Tortellini with morels and proscuitto, with the broth poured over it separately. This is a trick you’d usually see at Bolete, but this night was done by Chef Mike Joyce of Molinari’s.

 

I don’t remember everything that was in it, but I do remember it was delightful. (Have you gone to Molinari’s yet? You really should.)

Next up, the most perfectly cooked scallop I’ve ever had over heirloom risotto with a pea puree, all by Chef Lee Chizmar of Bolete.

Chef Chizmar is a fricking genius, by the way.  You should head to Bolete, too, while you’re at it. Their tavern menu alone is outstanding.

On to the meat. Mmm, beef. Chef Domenic Lombardo from The Mint on West Broad knows his way around a steak.

That dry aged beef was outstanding. I’ve been lukewarm on The Mint in the past but I do believe this dish earned them a mulligan.

And finally…oh, my babies. Brace yourselves for this. This masterpiece of a dessert, by Alan Pitotti at Dolce Patisserie in Hellertown. Yes. Hellertown.

I remember lemon mousse. The fluffiest, most delicate lemon mousse. Tartly flavored, but not overly so. A strawberry sauce. And – on the right side of the plate – a chocolate pesto. I don’t know how he did it, I don’t understand how it all worked, but I’ll be damned if that wasn’t the most original, most outstanding dessert I’ve ever had. All of this food, of course, was accompanied by fantastic wines hand-picked by South Italy Imports. This meal was the single most amazing gastronomic experience of my life. Kudos to the Southside Bethlehem Film Festival for putting it all together, and thank you, thank you, thank you, to all the chefs who participated. It was a meal I won’t forget.

Thirdly: Haley’s High School Graduation

It’s really hard to think about the fact that it was just a little over 19 years ago that my baby cousin came into this world. She’s turned into an intelligent, strong willed, beautiful young woman and it’s been an absolute delight to watch her grow up. We’re all so proud of her and her accomplishments over the years.

Way to go, kid. I love ya.

Fourthly: Color Me Rad 5K and Musikfest 2013

In early August I volunteered to throw orange-tinted corn starch at people during the Musikfest Color Me Rad 5K. It was a fun, if exhausting, experience, even in the rain. However, given the crappy weather, the slippery, uneven ground conditions, and a shitty pair of sneakers, my ankle was not happy with me by the end of the morning. I could barely walk the rest of the day, which put the kibosh on my Musikfest plans for that evening.

As a matter of fact, pretty much ALL of Musikfest 2013 was shot to hell for me, between my inability to walk the first weekend and the worst summer cold ever during the week. I was able sneak over on the second Saturday for about 90 minutes before I started wheezing in the heat and humidity.

Ah, well. I got my Take-A-Taco, and that’s all that matters.

This made me so happy it was a little embarrassing. 

Fifthly: Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z Legends of Summer Tour at Hershey Park

When I heard that JT and Hova were going on tour together I knew I needed to see them, no matter where or how much it would cost. As luck would have it, the tour had a random stop in Hershey, PA, and I got my hands on a couple of pre-sale tickets. Great seats, great show, amazing night. Justin is a wonderful entertainer, and Jay-Z is just incredible live. I’m so very glad I got to catch this tour.

You get that sexy on, JT.

Sixthly: I have a new boyfriend, and his name is Gabriel.

Look what my friends Susan and Danny made!

Snuggly new babies are the best.

And, finally, the last part of my summer was also the best part. I always consider the weekend which I celebrate my birthday to be the “end” of summer. This past weekend I turned 38, and I was able to spend time with all of my favorite people during it.

There is always Hello Kitty when I have a birthday. 

Yes, I made my own red velvet cake for my birthday. You would too, for this cake. 

It started with burgers, beers, and birthday cake with friends on Friday night. I had to work a bit on Saturday morning, but I got to see my bestie the few hours I was there.

Saturday night I hit the casino to see Russell Brand on his Messiah Complex tour, and it was ‘unbelievably satisfying’. I even got close enough for a few good pictures.

Sigh.

Follow all this up with dinner and mini-golf with mom and dad on Sunday and I was a happy girl this weekend.

Have I mentioned how freaking much I love this dress?

He cheats. 

Looking back, I had a pretty great summer. There were definitely more good times than bad, and that’s all we can really ask for.

Plus I got a tiara, and who doesn’t need a tiara, really?