Author: Cyndi Harles

Keto Peanut Butter Cookies

These Keto Peanut Butter Cookies are like no other. They burst with peanut butter flavor and are a delight to bite into. The cookies are thick, tender, rich, and fluffy, all at once. Seriously, you are going to love them. And if peanut butter cookies are your jam, these are a “must bake.”

Keto Peanut Butter Cookies - cooling on rack

5-Ingredient Low-Carb Keto Peanut Butter Cookies

This recipe features a keto yellow cake mix plus flour more ingredients for a five ingredient total. Yes, just 5 ingredients!

  • Keto-friendly yellow cake mix (King Arthur Baking Company)
  • Butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Egg
  • Peanuts

Since these Keto Peanut Butter Cookies are fun and easy to make, they make a great activity to do with kids, even toddler-aged aspiring bakers. Plus, the batch makes a huge quantity, especially if you use a tablespoon size scoop as we did. We suggest using over a cup of crushed salted peanuts to roll them in. As a result, the texture and mouthfeel when biting into them is both mouth-watering and memorable. Our batch made 64 cookies.

Our inspiration was King Arthur Baking Company‘s recipe for Keto-Friendly Salty-Sweet Peanut Butter Cookies, via Melanie Wanders. If you don’t already, sign up for the King Arthur Baking Company email list and follow their social media accounts. Their recipes are ideal for people with any level of baking experience.

Even if you don’t eat low-carb, you are still going to love these cookies. We estimate each cookie is 110 calories and just 3 net carbs per cookie.

Bake these winning cookies today. They haven’t won a blue ribbon at a state fair yet, that we know of, but we are convinced they are blue-ribbon-worthy, 100 percent!

Keto Peanut Butter Cookies

Are you a big fan of peanut butter? Be sure to try our 1st place winning cookie recipe from the 2022 Minnesota State Fair. It’s a sandwich cookie that is almost candy-like and has a creamy filling.

Enjoy –

Cyndi

 

Holiday Pumpkin Pie

This Holiday Pumpkin Pie recipe is a delightfully delicious creation. It features eggnog in the filling. Recipe credit goes to Loretta Greiner. She won a “Best New Entrant” award for it at the Iowa State Fair back in 2011. It makes the perfect addition to the dessert table. You can make it with your favorite pie crust recipe or use a pre-made one like Pillsbury. And if you’re looking for more holiday baking ideas, enter “holiday” into our search bar here.

 

Best Cream Pie Winner: Blackberry Mojito Cream Pie

This Blackberry Mojito Cream Pie won our best cream pie contest at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair. The award-winning pie combines a luscious key lime filling with a blackberry mint purée you swirl on top.

There’s a classic graham cracker crust at the bottom and homemade whipped cream on top. You finish this beauty with fresh blackberries and fresh mint as your garnishes. It makes for a striking presentation.

Blackberry Mojito Cream Pie

“Exceptional” was how the deciding judge described this creative key lime pie. And each slice is gorgeous.

Individual slice, creative cream pie

Melinda Chapel is the pie’s creator. She was bursting with pride upon learning she won.

Melinda says you can make the pie with fresh or frozen blackberries. We used fresh in our trial and loved the results. You’ll want to make the fruit purée in advance. You could also pre-make the graham cracker crust.

Sliced Blackberry Mojito Cream Pie

You muddle fresh mint leaves for the blackberry purée. Mint is also featured in the filling, which you make with fresh key lime juice steeped in mint leaves.  Sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks do the magic of sweetening and setting the filling. The result is nothing short of perfection.

Whole colorful pie: Blackberry Mojito Cream Pie

Run, don’t walk, to the grocery store for this winning recipe’s ingredients. And if you’re looking for more Minnesota State Fair winning creations, use the search option and enter “Minnesota,” from any page on our blog. The MN Blackout Cake has been especially popular.

-Cyndi

 

Best Sourdough Croissants (Cachitos)

Are you seeking the best sourdough croissants recipe? How about one that features chocolate and almond flavors? And one that has a great story behind them? Look no further. This best sourdough croissants recipe won our “best sourdough bread contest” at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair.

MN State Fair Winner Best Sourdough Croissants

They come from Guillermo Guardia, who tells us that in his home country of Peru, croissants are known as cachitos. Guillermo is a ceramics artist, art teacher and now, a blue ribbon winning sourdough baker.

By his own admission, Guillermo is not really into cooking but loved baking bread in a bread making machine. When it suddenly broke one day, with dough in it. He took it out and worked with the dough for the first time and loved the experience.

It was fascinating to see the dough change and rise. It was magical. Since then, baking has become a stimulating and rewarding activity.

At some point I was baking almost every weekend, especially Sundays. I even named my sourdough starter Dominga, a Spanish female name for Sunday.

Baking and ceramics are somehow similar. Both use raw materials/ingredients that are mixed together with water and shaped by hand into something that is transformed by heat into something new. Because of  my art clay training, kneading and shaping the dough came naturally to me.

Guillermo started with sourdough baguettes, because they were his father’s favorite. Soon he was ready to tackle croissants. He noted, “I could use my clay skills with every key step, from laminating and rolling the dough to cutting and shaping it for the oven.”

His efforts paid off. The deciding judge on contest day said his croissants were “unbelievably good, beautiful, and perfect in every way.”

Congratulations Guillermo!

*Check back on this post as we hope to catch up with Guillermo in-person at some point and add some helpful technique photos. In the meantime, if you’re a fan of sourdough bread baking, give this recipe a try!

 

Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner: MN Blackout Cake

The Kowalski’s Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair was this phenomenal “MN Blackout Cake.”

With its three layers, pudding filling, chocolate drip, and decoration, this cake is a chocolate lover’s dream come true. It’s intense color and flavor are going to wow you, just like it did us and the judges.

Replicating it as we did, takes time, but every bite makes it worth the effort.

Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner MN Blackout Cake

Kudos to Michelle Seywerd who was the Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair with this inspired creation.

Michelle’s husband loves Guinness chocolate cake which was her first idea of what to enter. Then she recalled the notorious Brooklyn Blackout Cake. Michelle’s winning recipe is a twist on it. She used this recipe as her base and then adapted a Food Network pudding filling. She added the fun chocolate shards on top too. We were shocked to learn Michelle had barely baked a cookie before the pandemic but really got into it with her daughter, who was a toddler at the time. They started with basic baked goods, watched a lot of YouTube channels, and worked up to more challenging recipes. “It’s been quite a journey,” Michelle shared.

Decadently Dark Cake

In her own words, Michelle describes her MN Blackout Cake here:

A decadently dark cake perfect for the dark chocolate lover in your life! I created a twist on the classic Brooklyn Blackout Cake by featuring black cocoa. Black cocoa is used to give Oreos that distinct color and flavor. Here, I’ve featured chocolate in 4 ways –  layers of moist cocoa cake, filled with black cocoa pudding filling, dripping with a semi sweet chocolate ganache, and topped with intense dark chocolate shards. The result – the boldest and richest chocolate flavor possible without use of food coloring. Enjoy with a nice glass of cold milk! Thank you!

Baking Tips: Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner

Some random tips we got from Michelle and learned along the way, are these:

  • You’ll want to double the cake portion of the recipe if you want to recreate Michelle’s 3-layer version she won with at the fair. You’ll have an extra single layer that works great to taste and decorate separately. We did crushed salted peanuts on ours (4th unused layer) and loved it. You could also go for a 4 layer cake, but that’s mighty big.
  • If you opt to not double the cake and don’t want extra of the pudding filling, you’ll want to cut that recipe portion in half or do 2/3. The thick filling layer makes this cake a show stopper in our opinion. I would eat that pudding filling as a solo dessert. It’s that good.
  • We got our black cocoa from King Arthur and loved the results. Get yours here.
  • Using black cocoa over the buttered parchment helps the cake keep its intense color.

  • With chocolate drip, if you’re starting with a chocolate bar (versus chocolate chips), chop it into small pieces until they’re about the size of chocolate chips. You’ll get a smoother, more efficient melt.
  • If you can’t find 90% cacao chocolate, use 100% (2 ounces) and semi-sweet chocolate (1 ounce) as a substitute.
  • When we did the chocolate drip, we started with the edge. We worked by the spoonful for more control and to get the drizzle/drip look we wanted.
  • Michelle says this cake is not a fast one to make, but the payoff is totally worth it.

We invite you to re-create the magic of this MN Blackout Cake. Be sure to share on social media and tag @blueribbonfoodies. We want to see what you’re baking!

Enjoy!

-Cyndi

 

1st Place Creative Cookie at Minnesota State Fair

These Crispy Creamy Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies are a 2022 blue ribbon winner, a 1st Place creative cookie at the Minnesota State Fair.

Betsy Faber created these for one of the new 2022 special contests. Here’s what hers looked like. Perfection!

1st Place Creative Cookie Crispy Creamy Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Betsy won $100 in King Arthur Baking Company gift cards and lots of accolades.

These Crispy Creamy Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies are exceedingly delicious. The cookies themselves are candy-like and the filling is magical. They are said to blur the line between candy and cookie.

rispy Creamy Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies MN Best Cookie Winner

Recreate these award-winning cookies today! Be sure to follow the recipe because Betsy gives lots of tips and tricks. Here are a few we found to be extra important.

Using no oil peanut butter is key. You want a brand that is 100% peanuts. No sugar, oil or anything else added. Otherwise the oil makes them spread out to thinly. You want them thin and solid but definitely not brittle.

Crispy Creamy Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies - Best Cookie Winner 2022

Be sure not to overheat the “dough” part. It will harden once it’s heated by the time in the oven.

The dough really spreads out when in the oven so spread them out when baking.

Crispy Creamy Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies - Best Cookie Winner 2022

Admittedly, this cookie takes some finesse to make. We botched our first batch and had to chop them into chewy toffee cookie chunks. They ended up being a perfect mix-in for homemade ice cream.

Homemade Ice Cream - Blue Ribbon Group recipe

You are going to want to make these time and time again!

Enjoy!

-Cyndi

p.s. We updated this post with additional text and new photos after our testing activities.

Best Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

This Best Sweet Potato Pie recipe is an award-winning creation. It won best overall pie at the 2016 Iowa State Fair. One taste and you will know why it won. Recipe credit goes to Tanya Hardy. The pie is an all-time favorite of ours, locked forever in our memory because of its creamy consistency and fantastic flavor. Seriously, soooooooo creamy!

Best Sweet Potato Pie Recipe-Iowa State Fair Winner

The recipe calls for a pound of sweet potatoes, equating to about 2 cups mashed. Butter, sugar, milk and eggs account for its creamy deliciousness. The flavor comes from nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and vanilla.

The crust recipe calls for solid vegetable shortening as the fat and makes for a nice flaky crust. You can certainly make your own personal favorite crust recipe. Use pre-made dough or a pre-baked crust if that’s your thing. No judgement here.

You top and decorate the pie with homemade whipped cream and pecan halves or chopped pecans. Either way is delightful.

Best Sweet Potato Pie Recipe-Iowa State Fair Winner Best Sweet Potato Pie Recipe-Iowa State Fair Winner

Tanya won her bragging rights from the fair, as well as the pie division sponsors: Machine Shed Restaurants, Gold Medal Flour, and us, the Blue Ribbon Group, as one of the recipe contest organizers. Her recipe is unforgettable and quite easy to make. We had ours on the table within 3 hours, start to finish.

Best Sweet Potato Pie Recipe – Baking Tips

  • Plan for an hour for prep and three hours, start to finish.
  • Peel the potatoes right before you’re going to boil them.
  • Prepare the crust while the potatoes are boiling.
  • You can also boil the sweet potatoes ahead of time if desired.

Need a new recipe to help celebrate the holidays? Give this award-winning pie a try. And if you are looking for a pumpkin pie, be sure to also try this award-winning one. We hope you love both of these pies as much as we do!

Cyndi

Best Sweet Potato Pie Recipe-Iowa State Fair Winner

 

New Blue Ribbon Group Contests @ State Fair of Texas

Enter Our New Blue Ribbon Group Contests at the 2022 State Fair of Texas

Cash Prizes of $200, $100, $50 Offered in New Cooking & Baking Contests 

Dallas-Fort Worth, September  13, 2022 – Calling all Texas home cooks and hobby bakers! You’re invited to compete in our new Blue Ribbon Group Contests @ State Fair of Texas. Up for grabs is $350 in prizes in each of four contests/categories, plus bonus prizes and additional ways to win. Do you make great game day foods that are total crowd pleasers? How about some homemade low-sugar sweet-treats? If you do, then these new contests are for you!

Tom Thumb “Blue Ribbon Recipe Round Up” (Game Day Themed Recipes/3 Categories) 10/2/2022

The first Texas Blue Ribbon Group contest is the Tom Thumb  “Blue Ribbon Recipe Round-Up” on Sunday, October 2. With a “Game Day Delights” theme, the Blue Ribbon Recipe Round-Up calls for crowd-pleasing appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. The event is essentially three contests in one. We want to see your best-tasting recipes that are perfect for parties! Each category/type has $350 in gift card prizes, including $200 for 1st Place, $100 for 2nd Place, and $50 for 3rd Place. Plus, bonus prizes will celebrate overall baking category winners (among the fair’s total contest line-up) and offer additional ways to win, even if you don’t compete at the fair.

Splenda Magic Baker™ “Low-To-No Sugar Showdown” (Creative Cookies) 10/5/2022

The second Texas Blue Ribbon Group contest is Wednesday, October 5, for the Splenda Magic Baker “Low-To-No Sugar Showdown.” This contest includes a free product giveaway – while supplies last – and calls for CREATIVE COOKIES that are low in sugar or sugar- free! Use any Splenda product, such as Splenda Magic Baker, a new zero-calorie, zero-sugar, plant-based sweetener that tastes and measures just like sugar. The product  is now available from Amazon, Walmart and other grocery stores.

Winner Selections

State Fair of Texas official judges (a varied panel of food professionals, local celebrities, and foodies) will decide each contest’s winners based on evaluating entries with this judging criteria:

  • Unique, innovative, creative recipe (35%)
  • Taste, flavor, aroma (30%)
  • Appearance, color, presentation (25%)
  • Texture, internal appearance (10%)

Extra Ways to Win

Be sure to follow Blue Ribbon Foodies on Instagram and/or Facebook or join our mailing list here for a chance to win one of our $25 gift card giveaways. Whether or not you are competing at the State Fair of Texas, we invite you to take part. We will offer random prizes and perks to our community members and followers throughout the 2022 state fair season, which for us, ends October 22, 2022.

Participation Tips/Guidelines – Blue Ribbon Group Contests @ State Fair of Texas

 All state fair recipe/cooking contest registration and judging goes through the State Fair of Texas Creative Arts Department.

  • Get all the competition details here (Jump to pages 19 & 26, for the Tom Thumb and Splenda Magic Baker contests)
  • Only Texas residents can win at the State Fair of Texas. Advance registration is recommended but not required.
  • When you are ready to register, follow this link (TX Registration Shortcut)

 

Special thanks to our 2022 Texas Contest Partners

 

No-Sugar Gourmet Banana Bread

This award-winning No-Sugar Gourmet Banana Bread took 1st place at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair. The Splenda Magic Baker “Low-To-No Sugar Showdown” recipe contest was new this year. It called for quick and delicious quick breads.

This blue ribbon winning bread comes from Gina Walker, who won $200 and some bigtime bragging rights.

No-Sugar Gourmet Banana Bread

Gina had never before competed in a recipe contest or at the State Fair. Gina was cheered on by a good friend who has diabetes. In fact, Gina says she never would have entered without her friend’s encouragement.

No-Sugar Gourmet Banana Bread

Baking Tips

Here are some great tips about this recipe:

  • Make sure you bananas are overly ripe, fragrant and flavorful. Gina likes to tuck hers in a dark cupboard until they’re blackened. She often freezes mashed portions of them to have on hand throughout the year
  • Also, don’t skip the coconut extract or orange juice.
  • And don’t be scared of the amount of baking powder the recipe calls for: 1 1/2 tablespoons. No, it is not a typo.

We have made this no-sugar gourmet banana bread numerous times and can attest to it’s deliciousness. For some reason, because of how all the ingredients work together, this bread comes out tasting fantastic every time.

The most recent time we baked it, we made mini loaves and added shredded unsweetened coconut. YUM! They make great gifts for friends and freeze well. And with a smear of peanut butter, a slice is even more magical, if that is possible!

Enjoy!

-Cyndi

Low Sugar Apple Coffee Cake

This Low Sugar Apple Coffee Cake comes from Billie Holterman-Schniepp, who won second place at the Minnesota State Fair, Splenda Magic Baker Contest.