These recipes are winners at the State Fair

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 18, 2016

By Deirdre Parker Smith

Last week, we told you about some of the cooking contests at the State Fair, which runs through Sunday.

This week, we share recipes from the first three contests.

Sweet would be the keyword here. The chicken and waffles recipe may be gluten free, but the sugar is free-flowing.

And in one contest, the saltiness of pretzels helped to mellow out the winning peanut butter and jelly recipe.

For another bit of sweet, the sweet potatoes ended up in a savory chicken casserole.

If you try one of these recipes, let us know how it turns out.

Did you wonder how different a PB&J sandwich could be? Well, a contest at the State Fair picked a cookie bar for the event sponsored by the N.C. Peanut Growers Association.

Gail Fuller of Raleigh won $200 for her winning recipe.

PB&J Pretzel Bars

For the crust:

2 cups pretzels, crushed into small bits

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup butter, melted

3 Tbsp. sugar

For the peanut butter layer:

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

For the jelly layer:

12 ounces seedless raspberry jam (or your favorite jam or jelly)

For crumble topping:

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp.pretzels, crushed

2 Tbsp. peanuts, finely chopped

3 Tbsp. butter, cold and cubed

Use fresh peanuts to garnish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix together crushed pretzels, graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Press into the bottom of prepared pan. Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow crust to cool.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat together butter and peanut butter. Add in confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy and smooth. Spread over pretzel base and refrigerate 1 hour.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar and pretzels. Cut butter into mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Once peanut butter is chilled, spread jam over top and sprinkle crumble on top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crumble turns golden brown. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour. Cut into bars, garnish with fresh peanuts and enjoy. Makes 16 servings.

Peanut Butter Jelly Time Pie by James Dyczewski of Raleigh won second; third place went to Melissa Bentley of Zebulon for PB&J Dream Pie, and Craig Partin of Fuquay-Varina got an honorable mention for Peanut Butter Cayenne Cookies with Raspberry Jam Buttercream.

We’ll see if we can find those recipes, too. The last one sounds pretty interesting.

And here’s the winner in the Sweet Potato Recipe Contest, sponsored by the N.C. Sweet Potato Commission

Julia Truelove of Raleigh won for her hash casserole dish.

Sweet Potato & Chicken Hash Casserole

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded

2 10-oz. cans chicken breast chunks, drained

1 can cream of chicken soup

8 oz. sour cream

2 eggs

4 oz. crumbled blue cheese

1 cup Italian bread crumbs, divided

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 cup finely minced onion

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. talt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the soup, sour cream, eggs, blue cheese, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, rosemary, onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Fold in sweet potatoes and chicken. Spread into the prepared baking dish. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs with the butter and sprinkle over the top.

Bake for 1 hour; allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6-8.

Doris Mills of Cary won first place in the House-Autry Mills Chicken & Waffles Recipe Contest and was the gluten free winner, too, with her chicken and waffles recipe.

Gluten Free Cracker Jack Chicken and Waffles

Note: You may wish to marinate the chicken while you make the waffles.


1 cup gluten free flour blend

1 tsp. xanthan gum (omit if flour blend already contains it)

1/2 cup House-Autry plain corn meal

1/4 cup gluten free graham style cracker drumbs

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat your waffle iron.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and stir vigorously until well combined. Cook the waffles according to the instructions that came with your appliance.

Popcorn Chicken

1 cup buttermilk

1 pound boneless chicken, cut into bite-size pieces

Canola oil for frying, enough to submerge your chicken pieces

1 cup House-Autry Mills yellow corn meal

1/2 cup potato starch

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

In a medium-size bowl  marinate the chicken in the buttermilk for at least 30 minutes.

Preaheat oil to 350 degrees (in large frying pan or deep fryer).

In large bowl combine the dry ingredients.

Transfer the chicken to the corn meal mixture, draining away excess liquid first. Coat the chicken thoroughly.

Fry for about 3-4 minutes or until chicken reaches internal temperature of 160 degrees. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

Candy Coating

1 cup Spanish peanuts (salted)

4 Tbsp. butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

2 Tbsp. molasses

1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 250. Place peanuts in an oven proof dish and warm in oven.

Keep cooked waffles and chcken warm in oven while making the candy coating (waffles can be placed directly on oven racks).

In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine all remaining ingredients.

Stirring frequently, heat the mixture to about 240 degrees (use a candy thermometer to measure).

Remove the peanuts from the oven and stir them into the candy mixture.

Continue to heat the mixture to soft-crack stage, about 280 degrees (using candy thermometer).

Remove the waffles and chicken from the oven. Arrange the chicken on top of the waffles and drizzle the candy/peanut mixture over the top.

Allow to cool somewhat before serving.

Serves 4-5.