Food Hussy Road Trip: Ohio State Fair Food Bucket List!


When you hear the words "State Fair" - I'm pretty sure I know what comes to mind - FOOD!!!! (And maybe BUTTER COW - which is still a food!)


Well I just went to the Ohio State Fair for the first time this week - I got to cook in the Taste of Ohio building for my friends at the Ohio Pork Council! And after tasting so much great food - I decided to make it a little easier for my friends and give you a run down of the things you must eat!

A photo posted by Heather Johnson (@foodhussy) on

1. Bacon Wrapped Deep Fried Oreo - My first bite on the Midway was the Bacon Wrapped Deep Fried Oreo! I read about it and had to try it. I have had the bacon-free version before but this is a must-try. The bacon adds this savory fatty goodness to an already decadent treat. If you haven't had the deep-fried oreo before - the frying sort of melts in the frosting in the middle and makes it even better! Be warned though - if you order from the booth by the bulk candy - they give you two!!! So have a friend - for me - one was rich enough! (If you get the regular DFO - they give you 6!!)


A photo posted by ▪️Abbey Frøst || (@a.frostdesigns) on 

2. Lemon Shake Ups - Another thing any true Iowan would tell you - lemonade tastes better at the fair! (It's the same reason LaRosa's is better at Kings Island and I have no idea what it is! haha - but hey - just go with it!


3. Deep Fried Buckeye - Now while my first bite was of the oreo variety - there is nothing more Ohio than a buckeye - so why not eat it deep fried!!!

A photo posted by David Fowler (@theofficialdavidfowler) on

4. Funnel cake - a staple for every state fair attendee! Just remember to wear a white shirt if you're eating this one!


5. Pig Wings - In the Taste of Ohio building - there are booths for each of the Ohio "foods": eggs, poultry, beef, pork and wine. I hung with my pig people and they gave me what they call a "pig wing" - it's some sort of ham/shank area bone of goodness - which is why I loved it. At the time - I was really stuffed and took a bite and was like, "Yeah that's nice." Then I went home and my stomach settled and emptied a bit and I went to the lovely styrofoam container they sent home with me. And O.M.G. This was heavenly!!!! So yes - get the pig wings!!


6. Gator Kabobs - My husband loves gator and I'm super jealous that Lisa found these as I was searching the Midway for them. If you've never had gator - it tastes a bit like a chicken and a fish had a baby. It's got a chickeny texture but more the flavor of a white fish. So if you're adventurous - go for it! You'll be glad you did!

A photo posted by Robyn Jackson (@robyneggs) on


7. Corn - As an Iowan - no State Fair food list would be complete without corn. Do NOT get the corn unless it's the kind roasted in the husk and they hand it to you like this! Seriously - this is the only way to eat corn on the cob at the fair!

A photo posted by Wally Szczerbiak (@wallyball10) on


8. Donut Burger - These photos are everywhere! I've had a donut grilled cheese and it's amazing so I can guess that a Krispy Kreme burger would be just as good!!!! It seems odd - but again - go for it!

A photo posted by @ellengilliland on


9. Foot Long Corn Dog - Along the lines of the Funnel Cake - it's a must have. Don't go for the regular length dog - do it right!


10. And last - but not least - the Butter Cow! You can't actually eat this food - but it's still food! This actually originated at the Iowa State Fair in 1911 but I think Ohio does it justice. The Butter Cow is in the Dairy Building and has a great butter display honoring the World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers as well! 

I hope you'll enjoy the 2016 Ohio State Fair as much as I did! 

Food Hussy Recipe: Ribs 3-Ways with Local 12 & Montgomery Inn

We'll be making ribs Friday morning on Local 12 - and I wanted to introduce to three different ways to make 3 different types of ribs! It's time for some schooling!!! (All this was learned from my friends in the Pork world - especially the Ohio Pork Council!)

My friends at Montgomery Inn are going to help me out - so let's fill you in on the basics:

SPARERIBS BASICS

Spareribs come from the belly of the hog and are known for their delicious, meaty pork flavor. These ribs are the least meaty variety of ribs, but full of flavor. Spareribs are typically larger and heavier than back ribs.
St. Louis style ribs are spareribs with the sternum bone, cartilage and rib tips removed to create a rectangular-shaped rack. These often are the best type of ribs for recipes that require browning in a frying pan because the ribs are straight and flat.Ribs are commonly prepared with either “wet” or “dry.” Ribs rubbed with a mixture of herbs and spices are called dry ribs. Such rubs can be applied just before barbecuing. Ribs basted with sauces during the barbecuing process are called wet ribs. For best results, brush ribs generously during the last 30 minutes of cooking to prevent burning.
Montgomery Inn just started offering St Louis style spare ribs - these ribs are smoked!

A video posted by Heather Johnson (@foodhussy) on

COUNTRY-STYLE RIBS BASICS

Country-style ribs are cut from the sirloin or rib end of the pork loin. The meatiest variety of ribs, country-style ribs are sold either as “slabs” or in individual servings. These pork ribs are perfect for those who want to use a knife and fork.
Ribs are commonly prepared with either “wet” or “dry.” Ribs rubbed with a mixture of herbs and spices are called dry ribs. Such rubs can be applied just before barbecuing. Ribs basted with sauces during the barbecuing process are called wet ribs. For best results, brush ribs generously during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
I'm making these! They're in the oven right now! 

BABY BACK RIB BASICS

Back ribs originate from the blade and center section of the pork loin, which is known for the “finger meat” between the bones. Back ribs also are referred to as “baby” back ribs because they are smaller than spareribs. A rack typically weighs between 1½ and 1¾ pounds.

Ribs are commonly prepared with either “wet” or “dry” rub. Dry rubs consist of a mixture of herbs and spices, and such rubs can be applied just before barbecuing or grilling. Ribs basted with sauces during the grilling process are called wet ribs. For best results, brush ribs generously during the last 30 minutes of cooking to prevent burning.
These are Montgomery Inn's original style and they are grilled.
So now you know a little more about ribs and the best way to cook them. Here's my recipe for Country Style Ribs! 

Baked Country Style Ribs
* 1.5 lb country style ribs
* 1/2 cup chicken broth
* 1/2 bottle bbq sauce
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1 lemon, juiced
Instructions
* Foil line a baking pan and preheat oven to 350
* Place ribs in pan 
* Pour chicken broth around the ribs 
* Tightly cover the ribs and bake for 1 hour
* Mix bbq sauce, brown sugar and lemon juice
* After 1 hour, pour the new BBQ sauce on top of the ribs. Move the ribs around to be sure they are all covered. 
* Tightly cover again and bake for 1.5 hours
* Uncover the ribs, re-baste with sauce in pan and bake for an additional 30 minutes uncovered

Restaurant Review: Dining in Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg

This has been the week of Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg! I've shared about Dollywood & the Dixie Stampede as well as all the fun things there are to do! Well today - it's all about the food! 
I'll be sharing my favorite places to dine in Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg. There were hits, misses and everything in between - but I've got some great leads for you!

First - trout. Like Go-Karts and Dolly Parton - Trout IS Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg. We chose the Smoky Mountain Trout House for our dining experience.

It's a tiny little place - looks larger from the outside but it's super tiny and very tight. There is a server that's probably been there for 50 years and she's a hoot.

We got these pretty fantastic hush puppies to start with - so good! Then we got salads with our meals - they were better than average for sure (good ranch). I ordered the Smoked Whole Mountain Rainbow Trout served with bacon butter and sauteed mushrooms and onions ($20.95).

Why Should You Go? I wish I would have gotten a simple fried trout but all in all - it was surprisingly good. The decor is severely outdated and the tables are too close together. We felt the prices were a bit high as well - but it appears that's par for the course in a vacation town. That said - it's a quality product with ample servings.

Smoky Mountain Trout House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Another day we came back from some exhausting, heat-filled activity and we were STARVING. The boys decided they wanted pizza so we drove through town and came across Luigi's. We were actually looking for something else but it was so hot and we were so tired - when we saw this - we stopped there and went for it.

Parking in the lots near here ranges from $5-10 - the $5 lots are super small and few and far between. The $8 lots are pretty common - just don't do the $10 lot!

Luigi's wasn't busy but they were short-staffed the day we were there so it took a while to get our food. We considered stealing a leftover piece from the table next to us (they looked like clean people!!). But when the food came - it was worth it! The garlic knots were SO GOOD!!!! I dipped them in the garlic butter in the bottom of the pan - sooooo good! The pizza was good too.

Why Should You Go? It's really good! We loved it and because it's not flashy - and kind of on the end of the main drag - it's not as busy! This would be great for a to-go as well - you could call ahead and then just pull in front and pick it up. Get the garlic knots!!

Luigi's Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
If there's one pancake place - there are 100! Seriously - you can't throw a stick without hitting a pancake cabin! I demanded that we go to one - it was very difficult to twist the arms ;-)

We tried Flapjacks - which is on the front end of Gatlinburg. Actually there's a bunch of them in Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg - but this particular one was as you're coming into G.

Flapjacks was fine - it was good - Tanner's pancake bear was cute the biscuits and gravy were fine. Everything was fine. Nothing was amazing - but that's ok - it was all good. Good service, good food, clean place. Definitely a solid place.

Why Should You Go? It's a good option - very solid experience - I'm sure it's very consistent as well and free parking!

Flapjacks Pancake Cabin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
My friend Amy recommended No Way Jose's as a great place to grab a drink and people watch. Well - we had a 13 year old with us - so sitting at the outside bar wasn't an option (he couldn't even go in that area???) - so we decided to just eat in as everybody was in the mood for Mexican food.

Our food was fine - not the best Mexican by any means - but it was okay. Tanner went for the fried ice cream because he was still full from lunch - and you know what - it was vacation so that's ok! Ice cream for dinner!

Why Should You Go? It is great people watching and right in the center of a bunch of activity - so go for drinks for sure!

No Way Jose's Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Larry kept going to Dunkin Donuts - we love it and they have donuts he can eat (no eggs) so it's a popular spot. We kept driving by Mad Dog's Creamery on our way to the cabin - so we decided to try it one morning. Well - unfortunately for Larry - all their donuts had eggs - so I got a couple since we were there.

Why Should You Go? The donuts were good and the shirts were fun - plus they have some cute dog stuff too including a dog bowl so pup can get a drink when you stop in! (Free Parking!)

Mad Dog Creamery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
We were heading to the white water rafting place and decided to grab lunch on the way and came across Hungry Bear BBQ (free parking!) looked good and was local - so we went for it.

We all got pulled pork - I added the coleslaw and then got mac & cheese and baked beans on the side. The pulled pork was really good - I didn't love the coleslaw. The baked beans and mac & cheese were good as well.

Why Should You Go? For me - this was one of the best restaurants on the trip - if not the best. The food was really affordable and pulled pork was tender and juicy. It's a little bit out of town but it's on the way to rafting - so go there too!

Hungry Bear BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Another night - the boys wanted seafood & steak - so off we went to find a steak house. We ended up at Bullfish Grill. (free parking - Pigeon Forge)

The fresh bread was good - I got bacon wrapped scallops. Really - they were awful. The scallops themselves were cooked ok but they tasted a little gritty and that awful sauce on top was not good. You don't need to cover up scallops with funky orange sauce!

Why Should You Go? Meh - I'd skip it - especially for the price. (steaks were between $25-30)

Bullfish Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Lastly we went to Atrium Pancakes - we were going to go mini-golfing in town and decided to eat first. So we asked for a reco from some people outside the mini-golf - there was a deli right next door. The lady quickly told us NOT to go to the deli - and to head to Atrium Pancakes just a block up. (Parking was like $2/hour by mini-golf)

Atrium Pancakes is a big ol' diner and they have like 20 kinds of pancakes!! Coconut Chocolate Chip, Raisin-Walnut, Caribbean!! (Those last ones have banana, walnut and coconut!) They also have a Baked Apple Pancake which is supposedly famous.

Nick got these potato rags - which were basically home fries killed with peppers, onions and lots of cheese. Oh my - they looked amazing! I got an omelet while Larry was on a meat mission with sausage and bacon.

Why Should You Go? This was our favorite breakfast place! We loved it and I would HIGHLY recommend it.

Atrium Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Road Trip: Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge Attractions

I was provided free admission to these attractions in exchange for a blog post. 
All opinions are my own. 

I'm in the swing of summer and really missing my vacation from last month! We went to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge (check out our awesome cabin!) and we had so much fun! There were so many activities between the two towns - it was hard to fit it all in! (Actually we didn't - but we sure tried!) 

First up was Ripley's - they have 8 attractions in Gatlinburg! Everything from an Aquarium to Mini Golf and a whole bunch in between.

We took an afternoon to visit the Ripley's Aquariums - the big bonus to this was the fact that it was INSIDE which meant air conditioning!

TRAVEL TIP: Visit in the evening! It's not near as busy!
Here's me and my buddy - it's memories like that that made the vacation one of the best ever.

There's a really large shark aquarium and it has a moving walkway that goes through a tunnel underneath the sharks.

There's also a bay where you can pet the little rays.

I saw dinner one night...

and little buddies getting hosed off outside!

All in all - if you've been to one aquarium - you've been to them all - they're very similar. But if you're not lucky enough to have one in your town - then it's a great stop!

The Odditorium is definitely ODD. 

They have fun, odd things for you to interact with - like a big fat man...

a Buddha whose belly you can rub...

a replica of the World's Tallest Man...

and the highlight for me - Eminem made of M&Ms!

There was also a room where you could do dances and stuff and the light would basically snap a picture of your shadow on the wall. I'm not sure that's really what the technology was but that's the best I can do.

There was a lot more to the Odditorium but it wasn't that interesting to us. If you like quirky things - check it out.

We also checked out Ripley's Haunted Adventures. It's on the main drag in Gatlinburg. You couldn't take pictures inside. For me it wasn't scary - but for the group behind us - it was terrifying. I'm not scared by fake objects - what gets me are real people jumping out at me. That said - for a building full of fake scary things and a scary story - it was pretty good. I did love watching it make Larry jump out of his skin a couple of times.

Last on our stop of the Ripley's tour was the Davy Crockett Mini Golf. We heard great things about the one that's on the side of a mountain but since we had free passes to this one - this one won!

A video posted by Heather Johnson (@foodhussy) on

And of course- my husband got a hole in one on the last hole. He's that guy. 

It's a good course - actually two courses (easy & a little less easy). It was fun - there were little animated critters on the course. They also sell drinks and snacks - which was great in the heat.

Thanks to Pigeon Forge Tourism we also got free Whitewater Rafting or Ziplining. I was SURE the boys would want to zipline but the minute I said "rafting" - they all went "YEAH!!!!" so rafting was the choice.

It's about 45 minutes from Gatlinburg but it's a pretty drive and worth it - this was the boys favorite thing from the trip.  There was a food "truck" of sorts in the parking lot so we could grab a bite and they sold water shoes (and anything else you could need) in the store. The water shoes were only $10 so they didn't even gouge you - which was nice!

It was gorgeous scenery - even in the heat. 

Now - Amy and I were being wusses so we let the boys do this one on their own. We didn't know that there were two routes - the adventurous one they went on and the wuss route for old people and children. We definitely realized we could have done the wuss route!

The boys had SO MUCH FUN - if you can't tell by the photo - their guide was a hoot! She was fantastic and they raved about her. We bought the zip drive of photos - it was like $25 for 1 pic or $35 for all 8 - so it was worth it. The pics were great!

And while the boys were rafting - we were drinking!! There's a winery across the road so we walked over for a tasting! Besties since 1976! (Dating myself there...)

Good Water Vineyard was nice - Amy took home a couple of bottles - I didn't love any of the wines but they were nice. They really had better reds - and I'm a white wine drinker... (This we paid for on our own.)

We had a fantastic time in and around Gatlinburg. Downtown Gatlinburg is a walking area - there are kind of the same stores every block or so - lots of airbrushing t-shirts, tattoo places, fireworks sales, cellphone cover stores, ticket sales, etc. There's also lots of food on a stick (footlong corn dogs!)! There are a few Moonshine places as well - we went to Old Smokey Moonshine - they have free tastings during the day (yes free booze). The parking fees are crazy - so if you aren't staying in downtown Gatlinburg and you drive there - plan to go for 1/2 day or more to get the most out of your parking $$. There's plenty to do - so you won't have any shortage of options. I truly enjoyed downtown Gatlinburg! They also have a trolley that stops all over - so if you're staying down there you can catch the trolley. 

A video posted by Heather Johnson (@foodhussy) on

Pigeon Forge Tourism also provided us tickets to try out The Track - one of the many Go-Kart facilities in Pigeon. We had a great time here - I found much more enjoyment as a passenger - the driving stressed me out. Everybody else liked the driving. We also did bumper boats with spray guns - that was a lot of fun too!

If you go to the Pigeon - I think it's pretty much mandatory that you go-kart and putt-putt - so we did both. They also have these "mountain coasters" but we couldn't fit them in. I even bought a pair of cowboy boots! There's a place that has buy 1 get 2 free - so Nick, Amy and I each got a pair - averaged out to $100 each - not bad!

This should get you started on your plan for Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg and if you have ANY questions - let me know!!!

Food Hussy Recipe: Mom's Peach Cobbler with #BakingActor

Recently my friend Will (Baking Actor) - who is an amazingly talented opera singer, actor and baker - asked me to join him for a YouTube video - so I jumped at the chance. We made my Mom's Peach Cobbler and it was delicious!


So take a peek and enjoy! And be sure to check out his other videos on YouTube!


Road Trip: Pigeon Forge - Dixie Stampede & Dollywood

Thanks to Dollywood & Dixie Stampede for complimentary admission 
to their venues in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. 

Recently I visited Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg for the first time - it was so much fun and the cabin we stayed at was awesome! While we were there we also got to do quite a bit of fun stuff in the city! 

First up was the Dixie Stampede! Dixie Stampede is one of the performance complexes owned by Dolly Parton and it's in Pigeon Forge. Outside they have cast members in costume for you to pose with so I grabbed a quick pic...

There's ample parking and multiple shows each day. You can also usually find some discount coupons at stores in the area.

When you go in they take a pic of you and yours - and then you can purchase it later during dinner. Aren't we cute?! That's my best friend, her husband, their son and me and Lar.

TRAVEL TIP: Hit up the gift shop BEFORE the show! There's nobody in there - and you're just sitting and waiting to get in anyway!

Once inside - you'll head to a large communal area. They have some entertainment for you to listen to and they service drinks and light appetizers. (FYI: This is a family venue - no alcohol.)

We got fun drinks and some popcorn and nachos. The drinks come in fun cups that you can take home.

Once you go inside - you have a menu waiting for you...The chicken is a hint of things to come...

The arena is set up in a horseshoe with multiple levels - the staff is very efficient with everything - it's definitely impressive. Our server was great - he was on top of everything and had a great personality. He also helped with the allergen info - (biscuits = eggs - but everything else was good). Here's the overall menu:

creamy vegetable soup
homemade biscuit
rotisserie chicken
pork loin
corn on the cob
herb baked potato
apple turnover
soda, tea or coffee

Here's the thing with the food - there's no silverware - so you eat everything with your hands. So for soup - you just drink out of the cup. This soup is available in a dry mix in the shop and I got it for my mom - she loved it!

As for the food - it's ok - nothing is amazing - and actually the soup was probably my favorite dish of the night. The meat is a little dry. The apple turnover was really good and they'll send you home with a doggie bag if you need it.

The food though isn't the main draw - a friend of mine visited the area and found a lot of places that offer a meal with a show - it's a way to combine dinner & entertainment for one price which leads me to - the show! Cuz that's why you go!

The setup is that the crowd is split into the North and the South and they have a variety of competitions and shows where the performers compete and one side wins. There's a fair amount of singing, lots of animals and even more family fun.

Horses jumped through fire, princesses sang in a floating gazebo and baby pigs raced! The show is entertaining to say the least and the best part is all the competitions are quick so if one isn't your thing - another is just a few minutes away.

The meal goes throughout the show - apple turnover time is a good time!

There's even an audience participation bit - our server spotted my bff's hubby and thought he must have just looked as all-American as it gets and said, "Do you want to participate in a competition?" Um yes! We weren't actually sure if he was being serious - as the show neared it's end we thought - oh maybe he was joking - but nope! Near the end of the show he said, "Allright - let's go!"

We had been chatting with the server throughout the night - so he got to know our group pretty well - I think that led to Nick being chosen.

The show has a lot of Americana in it - as does most of Pigeon Forge. It's a fun show with lots of horses - and tricks - so I was happy. I would definitely recommend Dixie Stampede or Dolly's new Lumberjack Adventure show (acrobats, lumberjack games and lots more!)

We had a great time at the show - the shows are very family friendly and entertaining - it's a definite must-see if you're in Pigeon Forge.

And while we're in the world of Dolly Parton - let's talk Dollywood! We had so much to do in the week we were there and it was super hot - so we only had a half-day at Dollywood.

Dollywood is a theme park that also has performance areas and some of the story of Dolly's life. She's really done so much for this area - it's amazing - she's really helped make this a successful and thriving tourist destination.

We rode the train at Dollywood and a few roller coasters - it was about all we had time for. I even found a couple of coasters that didn't go upside down so I could ride them!

And every night ends in fireworks! So that's always a good way to end the night. I might have even danced with some very large costumed creatures! Luckily no video of that. And yes - I got in the Peyton Manning spirit with a UT hat! ;-)

Why Should You Go? I have to say - after visiting the "sister" city of Branson a few years back - Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg are where it's at. We had so much more fun in Tennessee!!! It's more updated and modern with a wider variety of things to do. And the contrast of Pigeon Forge (easy parking, mini golf & go carts, restaurants, shows) with Gatlinburg (shops, mountain coasters and walking) make for a great all around trip - then you throw in the mountains - it's perfection! You can really mix it up rather than being stuck with just one thing for a week.