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.

Chicken Pesto Panini and Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango: Let’s Picnic!

Every late spring/early summer, downtown Bethlehem holds a free outdoor concert series called Tunes At Twilight, and it’s one of my very favorite things to do in the Lehigh Valley. Great weather, great music, great company — all you need to do is bring a blanket, a beer or two, and let the good times roll.

Of course, I, being me, could never leave it at that. When I know I’ll be there with more than one friend I like to take a nice little picnic – even if it’s just bread and grapes and cheese – because, just like Monica on Friends, I am always the hostess. Tonight was no exception.

Can I get an amen?

Can I get an amen?

I don’t have actual recipes for these – I just sort of came up with them in my head and hoped for the best. And holy Hannah, did I get the best.

The sandwich was a grilled chicken panini. I grilled some chicken breasts last night, let them cool and sliced thinly. I had some Wegman’s store made pesto (found on the olive bar, seriously the best thing ever for a quick weeknight meal) and a jar of sun dried tomato spread. I spread the pesto on one half of a chiabatta baguette, and the sun dried tomato on the other half. Add the sliced chicken, a squeeze of balsamic glaze, thinly sliced smoked mozzarella, cook on the panini press until the bread toasts on the outside and the cheese gets ever so melty.

For the quinoa salad, I cooked the quinoa according to package directions and let cool.I added finely diced red onion, diced mango, canned black beans (drained and rinsed), the juice of two limes, finely chopped parsley, extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

I wrapped the sandwiches in parchment paper and portioned the quinoa salad into individual little containers so we didn’t have to fuss with plates and such, just forks and napkins.

Oh, and chocolate chunk cookies.

RIP, cookies. RIP.

RIP, cookies. RIP.

It was a fun night, with great friends. And possibly the greatest sandwich I ever put in my face hole.

And hippies.