Category: contest creations

Culinary Adventures of a State Fair Judge

Culinary Adventures @ NC State Fair with Lisa Prince

I always have such fun each year judging at the NC State Fair! Enjoy this tale…. “Culinary Adventures of a State Fair Judge”

 

Read… Culinary Adventures of a State Fair Judge Carolina Country Mag October 2017

I do declare! I had no idea until today I’d never shared this here on my blog.  So here you go.

This week, the NC State Fair opens… and I love the fair!  For a longggg time, I have had the fun opportunity to judge several of the daily cooking contests each year.  How lucky am I?  

Each day of the fair, there is a different cooking contest, most sponsored by one of our many awesome agricultural commodities here in North Carolina… and with pretty darn good prize money. I sometimes think I should give up judging and enter some of my recipes, but the annual “get-together” of old friends, colleagues in the world of us few home economists, local TV celebs and friends at the NC Department of Agriculture keeps me going back to my judges chair.

Since I’ve included all the goodies in my story, I’ll leave it at that.  So do hop over to Carolina Country Magazine, where you can read my article I wrote for them a couple of years ago.  I encourage you to enter next year. Just google “NC State Fair Daily Special Cooking Contests” about July or August. Get in your kitchen… fine tune your recipe(s) and enter!  Just make sure to read the rules and criteria of each carefully… because if you don’t adhere to that, your dish will be put aside and disqualified!
This year, I’ll be judging NC Vegetables… Apples, Pork and Beef!  Taste buds in training this week. 

So… get your fair on this week!  I hope to run into you there. 

Sometimes you win… sometimes you lose! This time, I have a winner~ with Aunt Nellie’s!

Aunt Nellie’s Bacon & Rosemary Roasted Pears n’Onions… kissed with Cinnamon Honey ~ Aunt Nellie’s 2018 State Fair Cooking Contest ~ 3rd Place Sides/Salads Winner


I love entering cooking contests.  There’s rarely a win with so much great competition out there, but it’s fun coming up with ideas and getting in my kitchen to make what’s in my head come to life. But… every now and then, I end up with a winner, like my Aunt Nellie’s Bacon & Rosemary Roasted Pears n’Onions… kissed with Cinnamon Honey  

Aunt Nellie’s 2018 State Fair Contest Winners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few months back, friend Lisa Prince, who knows my passion for both entering and judging cooking contests, sent me a note about Aunt Nellie’s “State Fair” Cooking Contest.  In case you don’t know, Aunt Nellie’s is a 90 year old company born in Wisconsin.  Their products now include six varieties of glass-packed beets, onions, three bean salad, and red cabbage.  Turns out, Aunt Nellie Jones (yep, there really was an Aunt Nellie) was a Home Economist like me… at the University of Wisconsin! And I didn’t realize until recently their first product was peas. 

The contest had 5 categories, and I spent a ton of time (not to mention money) creating, testing, styling and photographing a recipe for each category.  Of course, I surely was hoping for something more, (don’t we all?!?), but grateful for my 3rd place win in the “Sides and Salads” category.  The prize was $25 and a box full of Aunt Nellie’s products.  And I was very pleased with how this and all my recipes turned out. So maybe I will find other contests where I can tweak them and enter somewhere else since my entries are now the property of Aunt Nellie’s.  That is the downside of most contests. Their fine print in rules usually states that entries become the property of the company where you entered… they can publish, use, and even change the name of it!  

BUT… for those of you that don’t know but may be interested, recipes cannot be copyrighted. Processes to make a recipe can be, as are head notes/descriptives, but the recipe itself… nope. Anybody can take anybody else’s recipe and call it their own! But there is usually a way I can make revisions to a recipe to turn it into something else.  And like others, I sometimes get inspiration for a new recipe from another I run across. My goal is to always create something that hasn’t yet been done 1 or 100 ways. That can be challenging, but most ideas in my crazy head are unique.
I don’t know I will do that (revamp) with my Aunt Nellie’s entries… but I did come up with a few mighty fine recipes and it would be a shame not to share some day!

The Aunt Nellie’s categories were…
Appetizers, Salads/Sides, Soups, Main Dishes and Desserts/Sweets. 

So… one of these days, if I tweak my other entries, I’ll share those too.  And since most contests prohibit entries that have been previously published, I’ll refrain from sharing them now in case I tweak to enter somewhere else.  For now, I will enjoy this win as I’m sure there were hundreds, if not more, entries in the contest, and to be one of 15 is an accomplishment I’m tickled to enjoy!  I “beet” out a many a fine cook for this honor and am excited to share with you… be sure not to miss my recipe down below.

I do hope you will pick up some Aunt Nellie’s Onions and make this really easy recipe and if you do, come over to my facebook community and tell me all about it!

Aunt Nellie’s Bacon & Rosemary Roasted Pears n’Onions… kissed with Cinnamon Honey
We all love tasty speedy side dishes and this one can be thrown together in the time it takes to preheat your oven. This rustic sweet and savory combo is perfect alongside roasted meats. Roast a pork tenderloin at the same time for a complete supper. Or, turn it into a warm wilted salad by drizzling in a bit of balsamic vinegar when done and while hot, tossing with a big bowl of fresh spinach. No matter how you serve it, it’s sure to please… especially when BACON is involved! 
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: roasted pears and onions, bacon, aunt nellie's
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 8 sliced bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 4 pears, unpeeled-cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 large red onion, peeled, quartered and sliced
  • 1 15-ounce jar Aunt Nellie's Holland-Style Onions, drained
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, crumbled with fingers
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Scatter pieces of bacon on large roasting pan and place in oven while preheating.  
  2. Prepare pears and red onion and place into large mixing bowl. Stir in drained onions and rosemary.
  3. Once oven has heated and bacon fat has started rendering, remove and pour bacon and drippings over pear mixture. Toss to coat well. Spread out onto hot pan and roast for about 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes, until onions and pears are caramelized and bacon is cooked. 
  4. Combine honey and cinnamon.

  5. Once this roasted goodness is removed from the oven, drizzle with the cinnamon honey. Scatter with toasted pine nuts and blue cheese. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Another Serving Suggestion: 

For a rustic salad, while warm, toss the pear and onion mixture into a big bowl of fresh spinach to “wilt,” drizzle with the cinnamon honey and some great balsamic vinegar.  Scatter with the pine nuts and blue cheese. Also great alongside roasted chicken, turkey, pork or grilled steaks!

 

 

 

 

 

OINKERS Biscuits Recipe… a little south in YOUR mouth Barbecue Sandwich Biscuit Bites with BBQ Gravy Dip

Oinkers!! …“South In Your Mouth” skillet Barbecue Drop Biscuits
with BBQ Gravy Dip   ©Wendy L. Perry, Inc.
(feel free to publish and share with credit please)

OINKERS… Best Southern Biscuit Winning Recipe

Recipe By:  Wendy Perry

Yield:    About 4 dozen snack-size biscuits.

For the whole Biscuit Day story… scroll on down below this post!

It’s tailgate time, and all across America, particularly around the south, that means it’s time to EAT…BARBECUE!  Stadium parking lots are bustling with football fanatics who need tasty, yet quick and easy treats for themselves and guests.  BBQ restaurants thrive and the long lines of “tailgate traffic” waiting for drive-through BBQ has already begun.  BUT, if you swing by your local BBQ establishment the day or two before game day, you can toss these biscuits up faster than you can sit in that line on your way to the game… and grin as you zip on past those folks on your way to your pigskin party! Oinkers! are the perfect nibbler to pair with your favorite cold beverage and much easier to juggle than a sandwich, not to mention way more fun to eat. These are great warm or at room temp too… (just be sure to throw in your cooler during game time for safe post-game bites, IF you have any left.)  Instead of messy BBQ sandwiches, surprise your tailgaters with these tasty alternatives… with bread, bbq, slaw and sauce IN the biscuit bite…with some BBQ Dip’n Gravy on the side!  Great for skillet camping too!  Happy Fall Y’all… and GO (insert fav Team here)!

 

OINKERS

Biscuit Ingredients

 

2 cups NC’s Midstate Mills Southern Biscuit® Formula L Biscuit Mix
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vinegar based BBQ Sauce (eastern NC Style-I use George’s)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 pinch salt
few dashes black pepper
few shakes hot sauce (NC’s Texas Pete preferred)
1 1/4 cups  firmly packed eastern NC barbecue, snipped with scissors if in big pieces
2/3 cups chopped slaw (yours or purchased)

BBQ Gravy Ingredients

1 bottle of your favorite vinegar based BBQ Sauce-I use 1/2 George’s original and 1/2 George’s Special sauces
1 Tablespoon brown sugar (if using a BBQ sauce that has no sweetener)
OR…use one of our many great “Western NC Style BBQ” sauces for a thicker dip!

 

To make BISCUITS:
Preheat oven to 425.  Place cast iron skillet into oven to preheat.

In mixing bowl, combine all biscuit ingredients.  Gently fold mixture until blended.  Drop by heaping teaspoon size mounds onto hot greased cast-iron skillet. Mounds should be near, but not touching each other.  Quickly place skillet back into oven.  Bake about 9 minutes until tops are lightly browned.

To make GRAVY:

Pour 1 bottle of your favorite vinegar based BBQ sauce into heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Bring to a boil; reduce to rolling simmer and continue cooking until reduced into thick sauce.  Or, use your own recipe and reduce as well.  If you use a sauce with little to no sweetener in the ingredients, add about 1 tablespoon per bottle (or per 1-2 cups of sauce) of any one of the following:

  • Honey
  • Brown sugar
  • Molasses

Serve biscuits, warm or at room temp, with BBQ Gravy in bowl for dip’n!

 

©Wendy L. Perry, Inc. (feel free to publish and share with credit please

For printable recipe, click here!

THE non-baker ‘cued up 1st Place in “Best Southern Biscuit®” Contest

1st Place Biscuits – Midstate Mills “Best Southern Biscuit” Recipe Contest *OINKERS!* Barbecue Biscuit Bites with BBQ Gravy Dip

The world’s slowest blogger and quintessential non-baker took home 1st Place last week in the 1st Annual “Best Southern Biscuit®” Contest at the 2nd Annual Midstate Mills Biscuit Day over in Newton, NC!  Come along and experience the day, the WHOLE day… in this Culinary Adventurist’s “Southern Biscuit Day” journey.  This is a story about biscuits, yet so much more… living a delicious life with obsessed old foodie friends… sharing food,  fellowship and culinary history with new ones… making new culinary memories with all those folks… and being blessed enough to live another day to tell about it to folks like you here reading this tale.  Fix yourself a jar of sweet tea and come on along…

Wendy & Jody tour the mill…

My friend Jody Currin of Mrs. Picky’s Biskits and Marmalades (and 3rd place winner of this year’s International Biscuit Festival) and I never miss a beat when we set out on our next adventure… and we weren’t about to disturb that trend on this trek…we meet the most interesting folk along our way at the backroads junktique and antique stores we swerve into!  And we see some of the dangdest things… I just have to share this quick sighting here before moving on to biscuits… because in all my galavanting, NEVER have I seen a drive-up window at a hoochie coochie lingerie establishment, until now… and even though it was dark-thirty when we left our hotel and headed to Biscuit Day (just 9 miles away because we were both so giddy and ‘cited to go there and because Jody beds down at 8pm and is up by 4am!), I insisted Jody stop the truck so as to photograph this unusual phenomenon!  Turns out the fellow at the hotel desk was intrigued as well to see the installation of a drive up window when they all knew there at the hotel what kind of store was soon to open… so in Hickory, NC, one can peruse the online store of this here place, order… and just drive up…never needing to grace the inside of said store! 
Now don’t that just beat all???
And here’s proof… Hoochie Coochie Drive Thru Window!

So…on to BISCUITS!

Downtown Newton, NC was all aflutter as folks from Midstate Mills were busy sharing their biscuits with town folk and others like us who made the pilgrimage… to b.i.s.c.u.i.t.s. ~ Lotsa Midstate Mills biscuits… these filled with Neese’s Country Sausage! About 1600 biscuits were devoured and on hand to fill them were folks from Neese’s… and that cute and bubbly Andrea Neese you see in their TV commercials… and also a sister Home Economist!

Andrea and her folks were cook’n up sausage, liver mush (that went first!) and bacon as the perfect fill’n for all those biscuits! 


Sooooo…
as Midstate Mills Baking Expert Belinda Ellis started talking about all the entries and announced 3rd, then 2nd place winners, she started hinting around at the winning recipe…  said that at first glance of the recipe and ingredients, she thought them to be rather odd… and quite frankly, didn’t look very appealing. BUT, having made them and other recipe entries for her panel of chefs and foodies to try, my “OINKERS” quickly disappeared and they asked her to make MORE! When she started saying that this recipe included chopped barbecue, slaw and Eastern NC vinegar-based BBQ sauce in their Southern Biscuit Formula L mix,

Wendy with Belinda Ellis, Midstate Mills Baking Expert and big old PRIZE!

I turned to Jody (professional biscuit maker!) and said something to the effect of… “OMG, that’s MY recipe!” Having a reputation for being THE non-baker amongst my cheffy friends, not only did this increase my giddyness level, I just HAD to snicker a little… what better poster child for the product and how easy it is to create with it than with little old ME throw’n together creative (and winning)  biscuit concoctions??

In addition to being totally surprised by this accolade, I met the greatest folks in Newton… Midstate Mills is now welcoming its 4th generation into this family business… and from the founder’s granddaughter Cindy Gabriel

to her siblings 

to other folks like John Craig, who produces the International Biscuit Festival in Nashville, TN, the people were just the “butter on the biscuit!” I also had a fun chat with Tim and Jan

about their Southern Fresh Show on the RFD-TV Network… a culinary and gardening show filmed entirely here in North Carolina! Their show airs on Mondays at 4:30EST, so tune in…

Biscuit makers are a friendly lot and hearing the stories shared at MM’s 2nd Annual Biscuit Day by well-seasoned ladies and gents there was very humbling and I felt like I should relinquish the win to those more experienced than me-self… their Biscuit Tales need to be preserved as does the art of biscuit making!

As the festival concluded we enjoyed lunch across the street at Callahan’s Cafe where I satisfied my cheeseburger craving and Jody (and I) enjoyed the house special “Chicken Pie.” We then strolled a block away where a few of us were treated to a tour of the lab, testing kitchen and mill by yet another sibling… where I was outfitted with my “Tour de Couture”  loverly paper shoes (since this flip-flop wear’n gal didn’t have any “closed toe touring shoes” in her bag)! 

As our day ended and we headed back eastward and home, our journey couldn’t simply end there… and somewhere ‘tween Greensboro and Liberty, sumthin’ happened to Jody’s truck… smoke was fly’n out the tail end like an oven full of burnt biscuits…so as we’re so good at doing, swerved OFF the highway onto a side road, jumped out of the truck and scurried up the hill (till we heard a fierce barking dog). Possible Exploding Truck Fire?… or dog bite in the rumpus… tough decision! We thought for sure the truck was on fire… and at this writing I’m not sure what it ’twas… but we met the kindest locals on the side of that road in the THREE HOURS we spent there… SO typical of fellow North Carolinians… and this story just wouldn’t be complete without thanking these strangers…

First, Highway Patrol Officer Pike, whose family owns the farm up the road where the annual Liberty Antique Sales are held… and who hung with us (and our diesel splattering there to the left) until he had to tear off and chase a drunk driver somebody was tailing down that road… and who also managed to move the truck out of the middle of the road (since after we jumped out and made our get-away, it wouldn’t crank again)…. then, this fellow in the bright green shirt who works for the Town of Liberty, (name unknown) whose daughter came by right after our “incident” happened and sent him to help us… and some time (a lotta time) later…  Mr. Tow Truck Driver there with me… a most welcomed sight, second only to Jody’s hubby Mike arriving from an hour and a half away in Erwin to take us Biscuit Queens homeward bound!  And never one far away from cookbooks… Jody managed to snap a shot of me…during our ‘detour’ home… “ditchside,” reviewing cookbooks for the “Carolina Cooking” features section for the beautimous Our State Magazine where I do food styling and recipe development… with hundreds of books to review to make just the right selections  this gal NEVER leaves home with out a sack o’ cookbooks!  ‘Cause I was a Girl Scout…always prepared!!

Reflections… Winning this contest is such an honor I will forever cherish and is a ‘culinary feather in my cap’ I feel so blessed to have… but with such a wondermous product as Midstate Mill’s Biscuit Mix (just one of their many great goodies), anybody, and I mean ANYbody can make biscuits… fast as you can open a can and bang it on the counter before your oven is pre-heated! Go get yourself some today and see what fun biscuits you can stir up… and while you’re at it, find a kiddo and let them help!

This product is PERFECT for getting little ones involved in the kitchen… and it’s high time we all do that…
teach a child to cook and show them what REAL food is all about!

Now, go make some biscuits y’all  Printable recipe right here…

…gone to the dogs! Homemade “Frosty Pet nICE Cream” treats!

My sweet Chamblee’s resting place….

Four years ago today, my sweet Speagle Chamblee crossed the rainbow bridge.

As I sat here looking at our pictures in this heat wave, and having seen a friend post pictures on facebook last night of commercially sold pet “ice cream,” I came to realize I’d never posted this pet recipe here on my blog! 

On a last minute thought, I threw this together several years ago and entered it into the NC Sweet Potato Festival Contest “Miscellaneous” category where it won 2nd place!  (It seems the last minute recipes I “throw together” are the ones that do best in contests.) 

Frosty Pet “nICE Cream” Treats!

My sweet Chamblee was my guinea pig, and he did love my sweet potato “nIce Cream” treats. And guess what?  They are people friendly too.  So while making them for your fur babies, you can lick the bowl and spoon. This is a perfect recipe to get your kiddos involved in the kitchen. They will love these healthy snacks and feel so proud they made them for their furry best friends too.

Now being the North Carolina made foods evangelical that I am, y’all know I used NC made peanut butter (lots to choose from so use your favorite or quickly and easily make your own)…. and of course North Carolina Sweet Potatoes…. these grown just a few miles down the road!  

So without further ado…. I will leave you with a little bit of my stroll down memory lane today of Chamblee…. who was by my side for 15 years.  

My sweet Speagle Chamblee…. I miss him so.

And I think since I keep packets of baked sweet potato in my freezer (you DO do that don’t you?), in his memory, I will make my sweet little June Bug some today…. also a Speagle!  

 

My sweet Speagle girl June Bug… I love her so!

 

Y’all have a “nICE” week… stay cool, and treat your babies to some “nICE Cream” treats too!  A fun thing to do inside the air conditioning on a hotttt summer’s day.

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Frosty Pet “nICE Cream”
These freshly made treats are so much better for your doggie friends than the store bought versions and can be made with ingredients you probably already have on hand. My Speagle, Chamblee, loved these on hot summer days, or about any day for that matter. He’s in doggie heaven now and my new Speagle girlie June Bug loves them too! Exact measurements are not required, making them easy for children to make for their furry friends (and themselves too). Being a ‘local foods evangelist’ I always use NC commodities and products whenever possible. For this recipe, I used North Carolina sweet taters from a local farm, local Franklin Co. honey and peanut butter made in Eastern North Carolina!
Servings: 5 doggie treats
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • about 1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato
  • about 1 cup nonfat yogurt SEE NOTES
  • about 1/2 cup peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
  • 1 squirt honey adult dogs only
  • a few crumbled sweet potato chips, optional garnish
Instructions
  1. Throw everything into a small bowl and stir together until well mixed. Portion out into small custard cups; cover and freeze. Remove from freezer a few minutes before serving to soften.  
Recipe Notes

NOTE:  Chamblee l.o.v.e.d. spicy hot potato chips (and so does June Bug), so if I have some on hand, I sometimes crush a couple of chips and/or sweet potato chips on top of his nICE Cream... making him his own little nICE Cream Sundae!

BE SURE THE YOGURT YOU -- -- USE IS FREE OF SWEETENERS, NATURAL OR ARTIFICIAL!

***  There are many people foods that are not safe for your pets.  Before adding ingredients you might like in your nICE Cream to your pooch’s, be sure to look at safe pet food lists.  The last thing you want to do is harm your baby with a treat.