Tag: State Fair of Texas

Sugar-Free Coconut Icebox Cookies with Low-Sugar Cookie Dip

These Sugar-Free Coconut Icebox Cookies are buttery, delicious and made with just a handful of ingredients. They are easy to make and pair perfectly with a low-sugar cream cheese cookie dip

Sugar-Free Coconut Icebox Cookies dip closeup

Icebox cookies simply means you chill the dough after making it and before baking. We shaped ours into a long rectangle but you could do round or oval instead. Then you just “slice and bake” when you’re ready for some fresh-baked cookies. You can even freeze the dough to have on hand whenever a craving hits. 

A Short Ingredient List

For these sugar-free coconut icebox cookies, the short ingredient list includes flour, baking soda, salt, butter, and egg. Instead of sugar, you use a Splenda sweetener, like brown sugar or the new Magic Baker zero sugar baking blend (now available on Amazon and at Walmart or other stores). Then you can flavor the cookies like we did, with a coconut extract, or opt for your favorite flavoring. Personally, we are working our way through our favorite extracts, ranging from coconut and pumpkin spice, to cotton candy and citrus blends.

The cookie dip is such a fun idea, with the best part being you get to choose your cookie to frosting ratio. Or  you can frost each cookie instead. A tip with the dip/frosting is to make confectioners type sugar out of Splenda granulated sugar and cornstarch. And just like with the cookie dough, you can flavor the dip/frosting with your favorite flavoring.

“Low-To-No Sugar Showdown” Recipe Contest

We created this cookie to celebrate the first year of our Splenda Magic Baker “Low-To-No Sugar Showdown” and the upcoming contest at the State Fair of Texas. The fair runs Sep 30 to Oct 23 (2022), with the contest landing on Wednesday, October 5, 2022. The fair’s Creative Arts Building is where all their cooking contests happen and they have a terrific line-up. Hats off to all the aspiring blue ribbon bakers and amateur chefs there. We’re rooting for you! 

Whether or not you are competing, we invite you to bake these sugar-free coconut icebox cookies. Be sure to share and tag @BlueRibbonFoodies on Instagram and/or Facebook if you do! You never know when a giveaway will pop up.

And if you are at the State Fair of Texas please join us for all the ”Low-To-No Sugar Showdown” events. 

Splenda “Low-to-No Sugar Showdown” 10/5/2022

@ Contest Kitchen (Creative Arts Building)

  • 9am Entry Drop Off + Free Product Giveaway
  • 10:30am Judging
  • 12pm-ish Awards

@ Celebrity Chef Stage (Creative Arts Building)

  • 4:30pm Sponsor Showcase + Free Product Giveaway
  • Diabetes-Friendly Baking & Cooking
  • Featuring Andrea Luongo; Dieticians of Dallas

 

 

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

 

Splenda Low-To-No-Sugar-Showdown

New Splenda “Low-To-No Sugar Showdown” Recipe Contest Celebrates Sugar-Free Blue Ribbon Baking at State Fairs

$350 in Cash Awards for Top Winners in Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Texas, Arkansas; Bonus Prizes for Sugar-Free Bakers Nationally-

If you love cakes, cookies, pies, and other sweet treats but prefer them sugar-free or diabetes-friendly, check out the new Splenda “Low-To-No Sugar Showdown.” The state fair recipe contest series takes place this summer and fall at 5 prominent fairs.

  • Ohio State Fair  Runs 7/27/22 – 8/7/22   Judging 7/24/22 in Rhodes Center Building
  • Wisconsin State Fair   Runs 8/4/22 – 8/14/22   Judging 8/7/22 in Grand Champion Hall
  • Minnesota State Fair  Runs 8/25/22 – 9/5/22   Judging 8/20/22 in Creative Activities Building
  • State Fair of Texas  Runs 9/30/22 – 10/23/22   Judging 10/5/22 in Creative Arts Building
  • Arkansas State Fair  Runs 10/14/22 – 10/23/22   Judging 10/19/22 in Arts & Craft Center

Note: Most fairs require advance registration, which bakers do directly with each fair’s competition office. If you can’t compete at any of these fairs, you can still participate. See below.

The Low-Down on the “Low-To-No Sugar Showdown” (Product Giveaway!)

  • At each event, home-baking fairgoers receive a free 16 ounce bag of Splenda’s new plant-based, zero-calorie sweetener, Magic Baker (one per person, while supplies last).
  • All winning entries will feature Splenda Magic Baker or some other Splenda product.
  • Cookies, cakes, and diabetes-friendly desserts are among the varied themes at each showdown.
  • $350 in cash awards are up for grabs at each of the fairs.
  • 3 winners will receive cash prizes at each fair: 1st Place is $200, 2nd is $100, 3rd is $50.
  • Judges choose winners for being unique and creative, with great taste, flavor and aroma, as well as presentation and texture.
  • Look for a winning recipe collection on Blue Ribbon Group website and Blue Ribbon Foodies social media channels.

For contest details and complete competition guidelines, contact the fair’s entry office or the Blue Ribbon Group (here).

Bonus Prizes for Sugar-Free Baking Nationally

If you compete with a sugar-free/no added sugar recipe at ANY state fair (one of the above or other) and use Splenda, we invite you to share it with us for a chance to win a $25 gift card. To qualify, post before October 23, 2022 on social media — Facebook or Instagram, using #splenda, #lowtonosugar, #blueribbonfoodies, #blueribbonbaking, #statefair among your hashtags – and submit your sugar-free blue-ribbon-worthy baked good here. We will choose winning recipes (1 for each of 5 U.S. regions, if applicable) and feature them on our website and Blue Ribbon Foodies social media channels. Each baker with a winning recipe receives a $25 gift card.

Chocoholic Homemade Ice Cream

This Chocoholic Homemade Ice Cream will delight all of you chocolate lovers out there.

Dish of Chocoholic Homemade Ice Cream

The flavor is bold. Its intensity will wow your senses. Plus its soooo creamy and dreamy. Here’s what goes in it:

  • Egg yolks
  • Sugar
  • Heavy cream
  • Whole milk
  • Vanilla bean & extract
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Semisweet chocolate chips

That’s it! You won’t need an ice cream maker (but you can use one if you desire), or any special equipment or tools. Note this recipe doesn’t require sweetened condensed milk, which a lot of ice cream recipes do. By the way, they sound good to me as well (ones with sweetened condensed milk). I’ll make one of those next time around, for sure.

Easy to Make

My favorite characteristic of this decadent dessert, besides how it tastes, is how super simple it is to make. To get started, you whisk 6 egg yolks with sugar.

Yolks Sugar for Chocoholic Homemade Ice Cream

Then you add whole milk, cream, and a sliced vanilla bean, then slow cook it over low heat. Be sure to stir it constantly to avoid scorching and lumps.

Custard for Chocoholic Homemade Ice Cream

Together, the vanilla bean seeds and extract, give the custard a wonderful flavor and richness. 

As the last steps you mix in/melt chocolate chips and cocoa. I like to move the chilled custard from a bowl to a parchment-lined loaf pan. Then you stir it a couple times, just as it starts to freeze. I did these steps in the evening, then let it freeze overnight. The parchment made it easy to move the ice cream after the first servings to a sealable container. 

Chocoholic Scooped Homemade Ice Cream 6

Blue Ribbon Winner

Recipe credit goes to Jayson Aguilar. He won first place with it at the State Fair of Texas back in 2006. Dozens of people competed, but this creation stood out most to the judges. Intense flavor was one of the top judging criteria for the tasting panel of judges. One taste and you’ll know why this Chocoholic Homemade Ice Cream is a blue ribbon winner.

Chocolate Lover's Dream Ice Cream

Serving Tips

  • Put the frozen ice cream in the fridge about 30 minutes before you serve it. This results in nice rounded scoops. Since this ice cream recipe is a no churn version, the custard freezes rock hard. If you want it softened faster, set it on the counter for 5-10 minutes or more, depending how solid it has frozen. I prefer the fridge thaw as it softens more uniformly.
  • Serve with a berry dessert wine, or drizzle it over the ice cream, if desired, which is what the winner did when he presented it at the fair.
  • I also think it would work well with Kahlua or a sprinkling of salted nuts on top, i.e. almonds, peanuts, pistachios, or your favorite.
  • You could even mix in the nuts before it’s frozen or customize it with your favorite chocolate pairings. Peanut butter, pretzels, fresh berries are a few items that come to mind.

However you make it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

-Cyndi

 

 

Chocolate Parisian Macarons

These blue-ribbon-winning Chocolate Parisian Macarons feature a rich chocolate ganache filling between two delicate, airy cookies made with just 5 main ingredients: almond flour, egg whites, powdered sugar, salt, and unsweetened cocoa powder.

Winning Success: Then & Now

Dallas-Fort Worth native Racene Mendoza created this recipe to taste like the macrons of French patisseries. Mission accomplished! Perfected after an endless number of trial runs, the recipe led her to a 1st place win at the State Fair of Texas (Ghirardelli Chocolate Championship, 2011).

Fast forward 9 years and Racine has opened her own 100% vegan pastry shop in the Dallas area, Reverie Bakeshop. How delightful! We’re thrilled for her. If you find yourself in North Texas, be sure to stop in and support our fellow Blue Ribbon Foodie.

French Chocolate Macarons

I can’t get enough of sandwich cookies these days. Remember those homemade dulce de leche, caramel sandwich cookies? These macarons rank up there with that state fair winner from Iowa. Both are patisserie-level in quality. Bake macarons like a blue ribbon winner with Racine’s recipe below and our preparation tips.

-Cyndi

How to Win at Making Chocolate Parisian Macarons

Crystal–my niece and fellow blue ribbon foodie–is a macaron enthusiast. I mean, she obsesses–in a good way–about perfecting any batch she makes. She jumped at the opportunity to test-run and photograph Racine’s winning recipe. She took a deep dive into them. From Crystal:

Macarons are known for being tricky to make, but this recipe proves otherwise. The macaron shells require just five ingredients.

The great thing about these little cookies (besides the ease of making them) is that they aren’t overly sweet. The macaron shells are slightly sweet and have a subtle hint of chocolate. This works perfectly when paired with the rich chocolate ganache filling you make with Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips and heavy cream. The end result is a balanced flavor that will please any chocolate lover.

Macarons Made Easy – Tips & Tricks

Racine’s recipe is so easy to follow. Here are some highlights and general tips about making macarons that may prove helpful:

  • Find and use a printable macron template, free online, to trace onto parchment paper. Another option is a macron baking mat with a size guide: like this one at Sur la table. Having your macron shells all the same size helps to match each top and bottom together for each cookie.
  • The recipe notes how long it should take to do certain steps, and to take more time if needed. When making the meringue with the egg whites, salt, and sugar, it’s more important to achieve stiff peaks than it is to beat them for a specific amount of time.
  • Make sure you don’t over mix or under mix the batter. Once it starts to come together, there are three tests you can do.

 Test for Success

  • The Ribbon Test. Drop batter off of the spatula into the bowl. It should flow into a ribbon (some say it should flow like molten lava). If the batter falls off in clumps, that means you need to mix it a little more. Do another 3 or 4 folds and then do the ribbon test again.
  • The Figure 8 Test. When dropping the batter off the spatula, see if you can easily draw a figure 8 with the batter.
  • The 10 Second Test. Once the batter is flowing easily off of the spatula or you are able to draw a figure 8, watch how long the batter takes to incorporate back into itself. If it takes about 10 seconds, your batter is a good consistency.

The best tip about making macarons, however, is to just dive in,and have fun with the process. Remember that they will taste amazing no matter what! And you luckily have a great recipe to make the process easier!

-Crystal

 

Winning Ginger Sugar Cookies

These winning ginger sugar cookies are packed with flavor provided by ground cloves, cinnamon, molasses, butter, and of course ginger.  That combination of ingredients makes this cookie extra special and extra tasty.

Crispy & Chewy

Our test run of these winning ginger sugar cookies produced a delightful sweet treat that was both a little crispy on the outside and wonderfully chewy on the inside: a winning combination. And an added bonus? They are super easy to make. As the final step before baking, you roll them in sanding sugar for a sparkling finish.

State Fair of Texas Winner

Recipe credit goes to Karen Woo who won at the wonderful State Fair of Texas with them. Karen placed third, which is a big achievement given how popular baking contests are at this fair. If you love ginger, you will love this contest-winning cookie!

Got a Thing for Ginger?

Try these Citrus Ginger Pinchies too, a Minnesota State Fair one-of-a-kind blue ribbon winning cookie .

And don’t miss this Double Ginger Cake recipe. It will wow your taste buds and sweet tooth.

 

 

Blue Ribbon Biscuits

These Blue Ribbon Biscuits – made with buttermilk, butter, coconut oil, and baking powder – are based on a State Fair of Texas winning recipe. (Hey there Big Tex). Bake these and you’ll see how easy great biscuits are to make.

Blue Ribbon Biscuits - Best Buttermilk Biscuits

Back in 2015, Krysabelle Gilbert of Lindale, Texas made these blue ribbon biscuits and won “best of show.” She called them “Butter ’em up Biscuits” and they won out of 27 entries in her division. Nice work!

Most Popular Baking Categories at Fairs

Baked goods that year, as always, were a popular competition category. (You may recall the Texas winning Lemon Chess Pie from 2015 on our sister site; also yum). It was a big year. Check out what was entered at the State Fair of Texas that year overall. These were all made at home by amateur bakers, aka hobby bakers, people who don’t earn a living baking.

  • 231 cookies
  • 189 cakes
  • 169 pies
  • 158 breads

Whew! That is a lot of baking! It is also so inspiring.

Home-Baked is Best

Whenever I make home-made biscuits, from scratch, I ask myself, “why don’t I make these more often?!” So, when I had leftover buttermilk from another recipe, I dug out this blue ribbon biscuit recipe, a classic. With just 7 ingredients, all staples in my pantry, and 40 minutes to spare, it was game on.

I greased the pan with butter and measured out my portion for the dough. Then I realized I didn’t have any shortening on hand. (So much for a stacked pantry…) No worries though. I love baking with coconut oil and had plenty of that. I simply replaced the shortening with the same amount of coconut oil.

Overall, I ended up increasing the butter and coconut oil “shortening” amounts from  Krysabelle’s version. After combining those two ingredients into the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt and sugar), I added the buttermilk and egg.  I mixed it just until it was combined. That was something Krysabelle emphasized. Don’t overmix. If you want a tender fluffy biscuit, just follow that rule. Other than that, biscuit dough is hard to mess it up. I like that in a recipe.

Anyway, within 15 minutes, my biscuits were ready for the oven.

Blue Ribbon Biscuits - Dough in pan

When they came out, 13 minutes later, they smelled and looked amazing. I let them sit a couple minutes. Then, with oversize spatulas, I moved the entire batch out of the pan and onto a wire rack. I waited a long 5 or so minutes, then smothered one with jam to eat. Delicious!

Blue Ribbon Biscuits with Jelly

Great for Brunch Buffets

I hope you try your hand at these soon too. They work great on a buffet table or for a biscuit bar where people can build their own savory (gravy or sandwiches) or go the sweet route with various jams and jellies.

If you want to round out a Texas State Fair winning recipe theme with your brunch. Search the blog for “Texas” and you’ll find a few options, both sweet and savory.

-Cyndi

 

Spicy Chicken Hand Pies

These Spicy Chicken Hand Pies are portable and packed with fantastic flavors. The savory chicken filling is seasoned with curry powder, allspice, jalapenos, onions, and garlic. Recipe credit goes to Pamela Woodberry, who says the savory pies are Jamaican-style, made with a recipe handed down from her mother.  The aromas alone will make your mouth water. They did ours. Pamela won top honors at the 2013 State Fair of Texas with this culinary creation. It was a family-themed contest supported by the Bisquick baking brand.

Pamela Woodberry

We loved how Pam paired the spicy chicken hand pie with the sweetness of a fruit chutney dipping sauce. A beloved chutney of ours is Stonewall Kitchen’s mango chutney. Serve it with your favorite.

Spicy Chicken Hand Pies – Preparation Tips

Here are a few preparation tips for those of you making these spicy chicken hand pies:

  • If you don’t have Bisquick on hand, make you’re own with just four ingredients: flour, vegetable shortening, baking soda, and salt.
  • You can double or triple the homemade Bisquick mix to use for other recipes like these bruschetta-themed biscuits.
  • Got extra homemade mix? Refrigerate it. Put a date on it and use it within 3 months.
  • In a rush? Using a rotisserie chicken for the filling is a great time saver. Simply remove the skin and bones, then dice or shred the chicken.
  • If you’re hot for heat i.e. a big fan of spiciness, feel free to up the cayenne, curry powder, and jalapenos to fit your taste and tolerance.
  • You can freeze any leftover pies. Cover in plastic wrap. Place in a freezer bag, removing any extra air, and freeze.
  • To serve leftover pies, thaw in fridge, remove plastic wrap, and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Warm them in pre-heated 300 degree oven until  heated all the way through, about 10 minutes. Shortcut version of this is to thaw and heat in microwave. However, the crust is much tastier with the oven method.

Jamaican Style Chicken Hand Pies

Definitely give this recipe a try. You will wow your friends and family with them!

-Crystal & Cyndi