More than 100 entries were judged in the 2010 National Peanut Festival Recipe Contest, but there were two that stood out. One of those became the Adult Grand Prize Winner and the other was named as the Student Grand Prize Winner.
Barbara Baxley of Midland City was named the overall adult winner for her Peanut Butter Taffy Apple Cookies. Jaycie Walker of Headland was the top student winner for her Awesome Peanut Butter Cake. Winners received cash and prizes that totaled more than $2,000.
The annual event is coordinated by the Alabama Peanut Producers Association and sponsored in part by APPA and the National Peanut Festival Association.
This year's contest featured a little bit of everything - from Peanut Butter Fudge and Chicken Peanut Wraps to a Peanut, Ham & Cheese Log and a Golden Peanut Corn Dog. The competition featured two divisions and five categories: cakes, miscellaneous, candies, cookies and pies.
Contestants came from all over the Wiregrass, covering Alabama, Florida and Georgia, to have their culinary creations judged by a 10-judge panel that included local restaurateurs as well as officials from college culinary programs.
"You really have to judge each one on its own, and you really can't compare," judge Mark Panichella, an instructor with the culinary management program at Chipola College in Marianna, Fla., told The Dothan Eagle. "Flavor, appearance and uniqueness ... can it be duplicated by someone at home? ... all go into choosing a winner."
Of course, March is National Peanut Month, a time to celebrate one of America's favorite foods. Roasted in the shell for a ballpark snack, ground into peanut butter or tossed in a salad or stir-fry, peanuts find their way into everything from breakfast to dessert. Coincidentally, March is also National Nutrition Month -- a great time to recognize the nutritional value of peanuts.
One serving of peanuts is a good source of protein, Vitamin E, Niacin, Folate,
Phosphorus and Magnesium. Peanuts are naturally cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat.
There are many claims about the origin of peanut butter. Africans ground peanuts into stews as early as the 15th century. The Chinese have crushed peanuts into creamy sauces for centuries. Civil War soldiers dined on peanut porridge. These uses, however, bore little resemblance to peanut butter as it
is known today. In 1890, an unknown St. Louis physician supposedly encouraged the owner of a food products company, George A. Bayle Jr., to process and package ground peanut paste as a nutritious protein substitute for people with poor teeth who couldn't chew meat. The physician apparently had experimented by grinding peanuts in his hand-cranked meat grinder. Bayle mechanized the process and began selling peanut butter out of barrels for about 6 cents per pound.
While peanut butter may not be as cheap these days, it's still a good, nutritious investment, particularly when used like in the recipes below.