N.C. Mountain State Fair announces winners in five cooking contests (recipes included!)

Fletcher – The N.C. Mountain State Fair announced winners in its final five cooking contests held during the fair, which wrapped up its 10-day run at the WNC Agricultural Center on Sunday, September 17th.

In the N.C. Blueberry Council’s Sept. 14 contest, entries were required to include at least one cup of N.C. blueberries. Amy Braman of Transylvania County placed first with a recipe for “Blueberry Pesto,” which earned her a blue ribbon and $200. Susie Zuerner of Buncombe County placed second with her recipe for “Blueberry Orange Salsa.” The dish earned her $100. Carole Carter of Henderson County came in third with her “Blueberry Bacon Spinach Salad” recipe, and earned $75.

The N.C. Dairy Producers Association sponsored its “Delightful Dairy Dessert” contest Sept. 15. Lindsey Bryant of Henderson County won over the judges with her “Strawberries and Cream Dessert Dip.” The recipe earned her $100. Another Henderson County resident, Reginald Cordell, finished second and earned $75 for his “Cherry Lime Cottage Cheese Dessert Salad” recipe. In third place, Sharon Gates earned $50 for her recipe for “Triple Chocolate Tres Leches Cake.” Connie Pegg picked up an honorable mention and $25 for her “Caramel Apple Pie Cheesecake” recipe. Both Gates and Pegg are from Buncombe County.

In the N.C. Apple Growers Association’s Sept. 16 contest, Janet Cordell earned top honors and $100 for her “Roasted Triple Apple, Bacon, Brussels Sprouts Casserole.” Her husband, Reginald, earned $75 for his “Apple Pear Stuffing” recipe. The couple is from Henderson County. Sharon Gates took another third-place honor, and earned $50 for her “Apple Cheddar Casserole.” Sylvia Robinson, of Buncombe County, received an honorable mention and $25 for her “Stuffed Apples” recipe.

Also on Saturday, the fair hosted a live, Dutch oven cook-off in Heritage Circle. The event was sponsored by the Mast General Store and Lodge cookware company. In addition to gift cards to Mast General Store, each winner received a cast-iron Dutch oven. D’Nise Hefner and her team from Wake County came in first in the adult section. The four-person team prepared “Perky Tukey Chili,” as well as “Cheese and Jalapeño Rolls” for the competition, receiving a $100 gift card for its win. In the youth category, Abigail Young of Buncombe County finished first with her “Biscuits and Gravy Casserole,” and took home a $75 gift card. Josie Buckner, also of Buncombe County, placed second in the youth division with her dish, “French Toast Casserole,” earning her a $50 gift card.

The final cooking contest of the 2017 fair was the “Sweet Potato Tailgating Recipe Competition” sponsored by the N.C. SweetPotato Commission. Sharon Gates earned a blue ribbon and $250 for her “Friday Night Lights Thanksgiving Bites.” Justin Pegg finished second with his “Sweet Potato Rounds,” which earned the Buncombe County resident $175. Reginald Cordell of Henderson County placed third with a recipe for “Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Cookies” and earned $125. An honorable mention and $75 also was awarded to Susie Zuerner of Buncombe County for her “Sweet Potato Breakfast Frittata.”

Following is a list of the winning recipes in each competition:

BLUEBERRY PESTO

Blueberry Pesto - 1st Place
1st Place Winner – Amy Braman of Transylvania County

1 cup fresh N.C. blueberries
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons feta cheese
1/8 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon honey

Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender, and process until finely chopped. Pour into container and let stand for one hour before serving.

Serving suggestions: Can be served on a bagel with cream cheese, a turkey sandwich, as a condiment for roasted meats or paired with a cheese platter.

STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM DESSERT DIP

Strawberries and Cream - 1st Place Dairy
1st Place Winner: Lindsey Bryant of Henderson County

6 ounces Looking Glass Creamery Fromage soft cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup crush strawberries
1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups Mills River Creamery heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 box waffle cones, broken into chips

Blend Fromage cheese, cream cheese and powdered sugar together. Add strawberries and continue blending. Add extract and blend until smooth.

In a separate bowl, blend cream and sugar together until whipped firm. Fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve with broken waffle cones or any cookie.

ROASTED TRIPLE APPLE, BACON, BRUSSELS SPROUTS CASSEROLE

1st and 2nd Place Winners - Janet and Reginald Cordell
1st and 2nd Place Winners – Janet and Reginald Cordell of Henderson County

1 large Granny Smith apple
1 large Red Delicious apple
1 large Gala apple
4 slices applewood-smoked bacon, cut into bites
16 ounces fresh brussels sprouts
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon Butcher’s Block black pepper (available at Ingles)
2 teaspoons Modenaceti balsamic vinegar glaze (available at Ingles)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place bacon in a single layer in a 9×13 casserole dish and bake for 10 minutes, or until brown. Remove bacon from dish.

While bacon is cooking, wash, core and dice the Red Delicious and Gala apples into medium pieces. Wash, core and dice the Granny Smith apples into smaller pieces. Mix apples together in a bowl and set aside.

Add Brussels sprouts in a single layer to the casserole dish, sprinkle lightly with sea salt and pepper, and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and layer apples evenly in dish. Return to oven and roast an additional 15 minutes until apples and brussels sprouts are tender.

Place bacon, apples and sprouts into a bowl. Add vinegar and toss to combine all ingredients. Serve hot.

PERKY TURKEY CHILI

1st Place Winner - D’Nise Hefner and her team from Wake County
1st Place Winner – D’Nise Hefner and her team from Wake County

2-3 tablespoons cooking oil
2 pounds ground lean turkey
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Two 28-ounce cans of diced tomatoes undrained
1-2 teaspoons tomato paste
15-ounce can dark kidney beans undrained
2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups fresh corn, or small bag of frozen corn
1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired

Start enough charcoal to reach 325 degrees for your pot size, plus an extra six to eight coals. In 45 minutes, you will need to start the same amount of charcoal again for a fresh set of coals.

Place a little oil in bottom of 12-inch deep camp Dutch oven. Set on top of all coals. With oven on coals, brown turkey with onion and garlic.

Add remaining ingredients except for sweet potatoes and corn to the Dutch oven. Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes, repositioning the coals to maintain 325 degrees. Add extra coals as needed to maintain volume of charcoal as the briquettes dwindle.

Start second set of coals 45 minutes from when you started your first set. Do a total coal exchange with the second set of coals before beginning next step.

Add sweet potatoes and continue to simmer until cubes are just beginning to soften. Add corn and cook until the sweet potato cubes are just done. Remove Dutch oven from coals and serve.

1st Place Winning Crew
1st Place Winning Crew

BISCUITS AND GRAVY CASSEROLE

Gravy

1 pound sausage
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 1/2 cups milk

Biscuit

2 cups flour
1/2 cup lard
1/2-3/4 cup milk

Heat 29 coals. Place 10 on bottom and 19 on top to maintain a 400-degree temperature.

Melt butter in Dutch oven. Add sausage and cook until done. Remove from oven. In grease, add flour, salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute. Add milk, bring to a boil and let thicken.

For biscuits, mix flour and lard. Add milk slowly while mixing until dough is the consistency you like. Drop dough on top of gravy. Bake 25 minutes or until bread is done.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS THANKSGIVING BITES

1st Place Winner - Sharon Gates
1st Place Winner – Sharon Gates

2-3 large N.C. sweet potatoes
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 pound cooked, cubed turkey
3-ounce block cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 refrigerated pie crust
18-24 mini marshmallows

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Microwave sweet potatoes 5-7 minutes on high until fork tender. Peel and cube sweet potatoes. In a large bowl, mix together sweet potatoes, milk, maple syrup, butter and cinnamon. Using a hand mixer, puree sweet potato mixture. In a separate bowl, mix together cubed turkey, cream cheese, onion and cranberries.

Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray. Unroll pie crust. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out 6-8 rounds of dough a bit larger than the cups on your muffin pan. Line muffin cups with dough rounds. Spoon in turkey mixture evenly. Top each with a heaping spoonful of sweet potato puree.

Bake in oven 12-15 minutes until crust is golden brown and filling is heated throughout. Remove from oven, and add 3 marshmallows to the top of the sweet potato layer on each serving. Return to oven and bake an additional 2-3 minutes to brown the marshmallows.

Release

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