There’s just something so magical and incredibly exciting when you see a carnival roll into town, isn’t there?! Especially when you live in small towns with nothing to do but watch the asphalt bubble in the heat.
Whether they were big, complete with circus animals and a double ferris wheel, or a small group traveling through with lots of games, kiddy rides and a pie eating contest, there was electricity in the air from the moment the word was out!
The town suddenly spray wide awake from it’s slow, lazy days of spring and summer slumber, and fascinated groups of kids came to watch the “carnies” put up the big-top tents.
Big or small, there were always lots of food vendors sure to bring their trucks, carts and magical machines that spun sugar into giant pink clouds of cotton candy, sweet swirls of dough into elephant ears, and my all-time favorite – – juicy hotdogs wrapped in a blanket of fried corn meal dough that we all know, love, and call, “corn dogs”!
Oh, those wonderful corn dogs on a stick, quickly battered and deep-fried to a deep golden brown, and drizzled with a little mustard….they even taste like a carnival, don’t they? 😀
Luckily, my husband shares the same love for them and had a hankering for some good, old-fashioned, homemade corn dogs, too! I could hardly wait to make them after such a long, cold winter that it truly felt like there was a carnival coming to town!
Funny how foods can invoke a feeling or a memory, and that something as simple of an item as “corn dogs” are, can create such excitement and sheer joy to be in the kitchen to play and just have pure, spontaneous fun!
And that I did! 😀 Childhood memories came flooding back and I couldn’t stop smiling all afternoon! I first came up with an exciting flavor idea that I knew I would love, my Jalapeño Ranch ones with a Chipotle Ranch Dipping Sauce, but had to think of a second unique and creative flavor for the hubs, since “spicy” and “hot” are not his thing!
I almost always have at least a little bit of bacon on hand, and thought that that would be perfect to add to the batter! Along with the Ranch and onion flavors going on, bacon sounded like the missing piece to the puzzle!
I first thought to add a little cheese to the batter, but wasn’t sure how it would do when fried. Sooooo, I decided it might be best to make a cheesy dipping sauce instead. Since mustard is our condiment of choice, usually, I simply added some spicy brown mustard to the EZ PZ cheese sauce and – – wah-lah! A very happy little family of flavors! Bacon, onion, Ranch, mustard and cheese. Hullo. 😀
After trying them both, honestly, I don’t know which ones I liked the best as they were both awesomely delicious!
So if you all are longing for some good, old-fashioned, fun “fair food” made homemade from scratch right in your own kitchen, these heavenly little treats-on-a-stick are sure to bring you and your family smiles by the miles, too! 😀
You can even cut the hot dogs into 1 1/2 – 2″ long pieces and skewer them with toothpicks for appetizers or kid-sized lunch bites!
Either way you serve them, everyone is sure to enjoy! Hope you give these a try soon! Have a wonderful day all! 😀
BACON ONION RANCH CORN DOGS with MUSTARD CHEESE DIPPING SAUCE
Makes 8 Corn Dogs
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbl. baking powder
1 Tbl. dry Hidden Valley Ranch Dip mix
1 beaten egg
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, *see easy sub below if none on hand
1 Tbl. vegetable oil
1/2 Tbl. honey
4-5 strips lean quality crisp-cooked bacon, sliced lengthwise and snipped into tiny pieces
1 tsp. dried minced onion
8 bamboo skewers, trimmed to size if necessary
8 hot dogs patted dry and lightly dusted with flour or cornstarch, I used Nathan’s All-Beef but any kind will work
lots of oil for frying
Mustard Cheese Sauce:
1 cup Cheese Whiz, diced Velveeta can also be used
1 1/2 Tbl. milk
1 1/2 Tbl. spicy brown mustard
1/4 tsp. sriracha sauce
In tall, medium-sized bowl, whisk together dry ingredients well. (First 5 ingredients.) Add beaten egg, buttermilk, oil, honey, bacon and minced onion. Set aside.
In large deep frying pan, pour oil into pan until about 1 1/2 – 2″ deep and no more than 2″ from the top. Heat over medium heat. *Do not get oil too hot!
While oil is heating, push skewers up through center of dogs leaving a small amount at the bottom to hold. Sprinkle lightly with flour or cornstarch (both work) and rub with hands to lightly coat. (*This keeps the batter from sliding off.)
When oil is hot, test by dropping a tiny amount of batter into pan. It should rise to the top and sizzle but not not fiercely and should not turn brown instantly. If it does your oil is too hot and you’ll need to turn it down. *On my cooktop, I found that keeping the heat right at medium-low was perfect, but all pans and stoves are different. Coat one dog well by dunking and spooning batter over and then quickly and gently place into oil. It should rise to the top and gently fry. Spin to keep coating even. If it looks like the oil is ok, add another. Don’t cook too many at once! I only did two at a time. Fry for 4-5 minutes until deep golden brown, spinning and turning to brown all sides. Remove with a large slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined rack placed over a baking sheet. Continue frying the rest adjusting heat as needed.
No need to place into an oven to keep warm, as they stay hot for quite awhile, but you can if you’d like. Serve hot with warm Mustard Cheese Dipping Sauce.
To make dipping sauce: Place ingredients into microwave-safe glass measuring pitcher. Microwave on HIGH for 30 second intervals, stirring in-between, until melted and creamy smooth.
*Buttermilk substitute: Add 2 Tbl. apple cider vinegar to a glass measuring pitcher. Fill the rest of the way up to 1 1/2 cups. Set aside for at least 5 minutes. Stir and use. Lemon juice and regular vinegar also work just fine.
**Variation: Cut hot dogs into 2″ pieces and skewer with toothpicks making appetizer or kid-sized corn “puppies”! Fry the same as usual.