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March 10, 2011   Email to Friend 

Teresa Wilson

Little Miss National Peanut Festival Queen Alexa Rodgers from Geneva County samples Jaycie Walker's prize-winning cake.
More than 100 entries were judged in the National Peanut Festival Recipe Contest where winners received cash and prizes that totaled more than $2,000.

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.

The annual event is coordinated by the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, which sponsors the contest along with the National Peanut Festival Association.

This year's contest featured something for every palate -- 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 Alabama, Florida and Georgia, to have their culinary creations critiqued 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.' Those uses, however, bore little resemblance to today's peanut butter. 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¢ per pound.

While peanut butter may not be that inexpensive these days, it's still a good, nutritious investment -- particularly when used in the recipes like those below.

MARINATED PORK CHOPS WITH PEANUT PARSLEY PESTO 4 (6-ounce) boneless, center cut pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup tightly packed fresh parsley
1/2 cup lightly salted peanuts
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese

To make the pork chops: combine the pork chops, garlic, oil, mustard and lemon zest in a bowl; toss well to coat. Refrigerate 1 hour. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper and place on pan. Cook, until well marked and cooked through, 6-7 minutes per side. Transfer to serving plates and keep warm.

Meanwhile, combine the parsley, peanuts, basil, garlic and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Process until chopped, about 1 minute. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil until combined. Add the cheese and pulse to combine. To serve, top each pork chop with 2 tablespoons of the pesto. Refrigerate remaining 1/2 cup pesto in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Serve it as a spread on low-carb bruschetta or on a bowl of low-carb pasta.


1 package Duncan Hines milk chocolate brownie mix
1 stick melted butter
1 egg, beaten well
1 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts
1 box confectioner's sugar
2 eggs, beaten well
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely chopped nuts
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Combine brownie mix, butter and one egg. Mix well. Toss in peanuts. Mix well. Press into a buttered 9-by-13 inch pan. Combine confectioners sugar, two eggs, cream cheese, peanut butter and vanilla. Mix well. Pour onto brownie mix. Top with one cup of crushed peanuts. Bake 50 minutes on 300 degrees. Serves 4.

Cathy Carter, Wassau, Fla.
2009 National Peanut Festival Grand Prize -- Adult Division

4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup milk
8 ounces whipped topping, thawed
1 deep-dish chocolate flavored or graham cracker crust

In a large mixer bowl combine cream cheese and confectioners' sugar; mix well. Add peanut butter and mix. Slowly add milk and mix well. Fold in whipped topping. Pour into pie shell and cover. Freeze for at least 30 minutes. Drizzle each serving with chocolate syrup.

Lemon Peanut Crinkles 1 box Duncan Hines Cake mix (lemon)
1 egg
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 8 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
1 cup finely chopped honey roasted peanuts
1 cup Confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix cake mix (dry), Cool-whip, egg, and peanut butter. Add chopped peanuts. Dip by teaspoon and roll in a small ball. Roll ball in confectioners sugar. Place on well greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Editor's Note: For more recipes featuring peanuts, go to www.alpeanuts.com and click on the consumer link.

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