Author: Cyndi Harles

Oatmeal Cookie Sliders

Oatmeal Cookie Sliders: chewy oatmeal cookies sandwich a creamy rich filling in this blue ribbon winning cookie from the Arkansas State Fair.

Oatmeal Cookie Sliders 2

Oatmeal cookies are a classic. The reason why is they are delicious and easy to make. So are these oatmeal cookie sliders.. I love it when winners put a fun spin on an quintessential cookie. A couple other all-time favorites are these “slider-like” sweet treats and these “twisted” peanut butter cookies.

Recipe credit goes to Rhonda Hull, who took first place for them back in 2014. One taste and you will agree: they are a winner! The mouth feel of these cookies are marvelous and you will not want to stop at one.



Toasted Pecan Honey Squares

These simple and scrumptious Toasted Pecan Honey Squares are a winning sweet treat. They come from Cheryl Adkins, a home baking exhibitor at the 2015 Ohio State Fair. She won second place for these shortbread cookie bars topped with a pecan-pie type “filling.” They recall the beauty of a classic pecan pie and remind us how tasty it is to add pecans to any dessert, like with this THIS cheesecake.

Toasted Pecan Honey Squares 2

With just 8 ingredients, you’ll have these out of the oven in no time!

The hardest part of this toasted pecan honey squares recipe is waiting long enough for them to cool. They are tender and chewy with just a touch gooey… and oh so good!



Coconut Cream Cookie Cups

You will be completely delighted with these easy and delicious Coconut Cream Cookie Cups. They have just three ingredients in the cookie dough (flour, sugar and butter) and four more in the filling, plus garnishes. We made them with a variety of toppings, including coconut, walnuts and macadamias. We tried a couple different sizes. The minis were adorable.

Mini Coconut Cream Cookie Cups

From our very first trial run, we simply loved the “just slightly sweet” cookie cup contrasted with the rich, creamy and sweet filling. With the first bite, you will be wowed.

You make the cups a bit thick, so they’re sturdy enough to hold a good size portion of the filling.

Cream cheese, whipped topping, powdered sugar, and coconut extract make up the filling.

Toasted coconut tops off the cookie and makes these coconut cream cookie cups a show stopper!

1 solo Coconut Cream Cookie Cup

Award-Winning Cookie!

Deb Gruber at the Great Allentown Fair won with these cookie cups back in 2013. If you follow this recipe, you will have a winning sweet treat on your hands too! And in your belly. They are 100% a crowd pleaser!

Deb originally titled her entry “Hawaiian Delights.” Coconut alone can give any recipe a tropical flair. If that’s a theme you love, be sure to try THIS epic pie sometime. Happy baking to you!



Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

The classic peanut butter cookie is reinvented with these Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies. Minnesota State Fair contester Loretta Ratajczyk created these. The simple but inventive additions of chocolate, chopped peanuts, and crushed vanilla wafers, paid off! Loretta won 1st place and blue ribbon bragging rights in our special cookie contest back in 2013 .

What also makes these peanut butter cookies so incredibly tasty is her addition of almond flavoring. Just wait until you try these! They are also easy and fun to make. In fact, my daughter Olivia enjoyed helping me this time around. Check out the steps below to see how we put together these award-winning cookies.

Step-By-Step: Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

While your oven warms up (set to 375 degrees F), mix together the sugars, butter, shortening, peanut butter, and egg.

Classic cookie ingredients

Here comes what I like to consider the “secret” ingredient- almond flavoring, instead of typical vanilla. Once the batter is mixed, add it in. It really gives the cookie a fantastic flavor. Next combine the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt to the mixture. Get everything mixed together and shape dough into walnut sized balls. Olivia was a fantastic helper during this step.

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies Olivia

Dip tops into sugar. Place sugared dough balls on a baking sheet, sugar side up. Crisscross tops with a fork. This step in making peanut butter cookies always makes me think of making them as a child. It’s classic.

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies Step 2

Bake 10-11 minutes, or until lightly-browned. Allow to set 5 minutes on cookie sheet. Remove and fully cool.

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies Step 3

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

While cookies are cooling, prepare the topping ingredients. Grind together the peanuts and vanilla wafers. I used a food processor for a finer texture. You could also put the ingredients in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second increments. Loretta has a great tip: to thin the chocolate she adds a generous tablespoon of solid shortening when melting the chocolate. Here is my toppings station.

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies Step 4

Dip half of each cookie in the melted chocolate. To apply the peanut and vanilla wafer topping, you can either dip the cookie into the mixture, or set the chocolate dipped cookie on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with topping. Refrigerate a few minutes for a quick set. I recommend this, because you won’t want to wait to bite into these cookies!

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies 2

Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

Another great winner’s tip is to save any leftover peanut/wafer mixture. It can be frozen and used for other desserts. Bonus!

Here’s Olivia proudly displaying her hard work:

Thank you Loretta for a wonderful recipe!


Note: This was previously published on our former website, Find another all-time favorite from our archives with this epic cookie here.

Coconut Peanut Butter Power Balls

Coconut Peanut Butter Power Balls: one taste of these and you will think you won the lottery. They are scrumptious and satisfying; perfect for midday snacks or noshing before a workout.

Coconut Peanut Butter Power Balls

They are also “no-bake,” come together in minutes and can easily be customized with your favorite ingredients.

You don’t even use a stovetop. You use one single bowl instead.

One could even consider these coconut peanut butter power balls a “healthy cookie.” We are fine with a loose definition of the term “cookie.”

These nutritious treats have wheat germ, flaxseed, oatmeal, and coconut oil. Vanilla, honey, maple syrup, and salt will round out all the flavor. Use unsweetened shredded coconut, zero-sugar chocolate chips, and peanut butter made only with peanuts, no oil or sugar added. That way, the recipe becomes a diabetes-friendly treat. You can feel good about eating them. Yay for guilt-free foods!

Preparation Tip

I often do the last mixing by hand, with either food gloves on or freshly washed hands. It helps to squeeze the “dough” tightly in your hand before shaping. You literally squish the “dough.” With this method, you get everything evenly distributed so you can taste all the ingredients in each bite.

I like to toast the coconut and vary up the shapes sometimes. Just be sure you use enough honey and coconut oil, so they can hold together and stay tender. You can also tailor the ingredients to your tastes as well, like add protein powder, chia seeds, and spice blends. Search for more variations on this creation by entering “power ball” in the search bar here, or anywhere else on the site.

I ate A LOT of no-bake cookies growing up. These “Power Balls” have that same chewy texture I love and crave. AND they help you power through the day as an on-the-go snack.

For a final tip. We invite you to come up with your own variation on this recipe. Then look for ways to “healthify” your favorite cookies, cakes, pies, and breads. Find some great tips here.


Rainbow Soba Noodle Salad

This rainbow soba noodle salad combines colorful produce (zucchini, yellow squash, snow peas, carrots, cabbage, and spring onions) with a flavorful ginger sesame dressing. It’s a winning recipe. In fact, we’ve been calling it one of our favorite “winner for dinner” creations.

Sensational Soba Noodles

I made this salad a few weeks ago after hitting a couple of my go-to farmer’s markets: the Lyndale Market, and Mill City farmer’s market. I got a boatload of vegetables plus these great buckwheat soba noodles from Dumpling & Strand, “Noodlers at Large.” Their artwork is awesome too.

These soba noodles are gluten-free and cook up in seconds, like 120 seconds. I really had only used them in one other recipe, a “fast food” one where I thawed some frozen peanut dipping sauce–I had made a quadruple batch last time around and put half cup portions in freezer bags–and simply mixed it in with some noodles and a tiny bit of water. It is like a 2 ingredient salad. Like I said: fast food.

This time however, I imagined something with a bit more heat and a lighter, vinaigrette-type dressing. That’s how this rainbow soba noodle salad came to be. I love the chili oil in it. It goes great with the sesame oil/liquid aminos combo. Well, the salad turned out delish and was a BIG winner at dinner. I had hosted a potluck party. I marinated and cooked some tempeh to go on top of the soba salad. Together those two elements make a vegetarian main dish for some, and a hearty side dish for others. By the way, I’ll have to share the tempeh recipe another time. I wasn’t able to snap any photos this time around.

I will definitely be making this rainbow soba noodle salad time and time again. It was so easy and flavorful. I hope you enjoy it soon too, and that you enjoy the rest of your summer!



Best-Ever Chicken Satay

Without a doubt, this Best-Ever Chicken Satay recipe earns its title. The recipe makes the most delicious chicken I have ever tasted. Serve it with my spicy peanut sauce and you will think you have takeout from your favorite Thai restaurant.

Chicken Satay 2

I make this almost every week and have started making quadruple batches of the marinade to keep on hand. This has been going on for months. Plus, any time I serve it to family, friends or bring it to a potluck, it disappears fast. It’s my most requested recipe for everyday meals as well.

Step By Step

Check out this picture tutorial that walks you through making this best-ever chicken satay, step by step.

Chicken Satay Assembly 1

Fresh garlic. Fresh ginger. Fresh lime. Lemongrass. Pepper flakes. Curry. Cardamom. Such great flavors. Mix all that with some fish sauce, soy sauce, olive oil, and agave, and you got a completely delicious way to season your chicken. This is something you could make in bulk also and freeze. As a result, you’ll get dinner on the table fast. Tip: If you want to reduce the sodium, swap out the soy sauce and use liquid aminos instead. Bragg’s in my favorite. I also love the coconut version as well.

Chicken Satay Assembly 2

Once you have the marinade ready, you add it to your chicken. I like to use a sealable or disposable plastic bag. Glass and metal dishes work great also.

Chicken Satay Assembly 3

I usually let it marinade overnight but 30 minutes works too; then, it’s ready whenever you are.

Chicken Satay Assembly 4

This is where uniform size pays off. Cut the chicken breasts in matching sizes. As a result, each will bake at the same rate, all coming out tender and delicious.

Chicken Satay Assembly 5

You will definitely want to also make the spicy the peanut sauce shown below. Again, you will want to make this is bulk also. It is addictive, in a good way! Find the recipe here!

Chicken Satay 1




Pineapple Coconut Cream Pie

This Pineapple Coconut Cream Pie is a 1st place winning recipe from the State Fair of Texas. It’s an all-time favorite from our archives, from a 2016 pie contest. Bake like a blue ribbon winner with this recipe. You will wow your friends, family, and your taste buds.

If you have never made a pineapple coconut cream pie this is a terrific recipe to start with because it’s got a great crust recipe and straightforward instructions for the two layers.

Slice of Pineapple Coconut Cream Pie

We did a test run and absolutely loved its flavors and its texture. The crust ingredients come together nicely and nothing beats a homemade pie crust. This version uses butter flavored shortening. If you prefer a butter/lard crust, try this one here.

Tip: use a pre-made refrigerated pie crust if making your own sounds too intimidating. It’s okay if you need a time-saving shortcut.

The filling in this pineapple coconut cream pie is sweet, rich, fruity, thick, and lush. The meringue whips up in a easy breezy wonderful way. It is velvety and that’s a good thing.  The toasted top gives it a picture-perfect finishing touch.

Beautiful meringue atop a blue ribbon Pineapple Coconut Pie

Sue Rainey: Queen of the Crust

This award-winning recipe comes from Sue Rainey, a long time baking contest participant at the State Fair of Texas. Sue’s friends call her the “queen of the crust.” Baking is an art and her talents are plentiful.

Her top tips for perfect, flaky crusts: handle the dough as little as possible and use the least amount of flour you can when rolling it out. Sue also favors the intensity of vanilla from Mexico. She goes through giant bottles of it during her busiest baking times of the year: the State Fair of Texas and the year-end holidays.

Sue originally titled her creation “Paradise in Texas Coconut Pineapple Pie.” One taste and you’ll be in paradise yourself.




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 –



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.