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Agricultural Review

Winning pecan and beef recipes from the Mountain State Fair

Cooks at the Mountain State Fair created many mouth-watering dishes.

The N.C. Pecan Growers Association sponsored the “Anything Pecan” cooking contest. Entries were judged on taste, creativity and family appeal, and ease of preparation. All entries had to include at least one cup of pecans.

Barbara Creasman of Buncombe County won first place and $100 with her recipe for “Chewy Pecan Bars.” In second place, Sharon Gates of Buncombe County earned $50 for her “Pecan Gingerbread with Maple Cream Drizzle” recipe. Rheta Merrell of Rutherford County placed third and earned $25 for her “Just Peachy, Nutty and Healthy Bars” recipe.

The N.C. Cattleman’s Beef Council sponsored the “Chili, Not Just for Cowboys,” cooking contest. Entries had to include at least 3 ounces of beef per serving. Beef was the only meat ingredient allowed in each dish. Entries were judged on taste, creativity and appearance.

Rheta Merrell of Rutherford County won with her recipe for “End of the Trail Ride Steakhouse Chili.” Merrell earned a blue ribbon and $200 for her first-place finish. Buncombe County’s Susie Zuerner’s “Fall Harvest Chili” took second place and $150. Chris Capps of Henderson County earned third place and $100 for his “Blue Ridge Mountain Brisket Chili” recipe. In addition, Sonia Worley’s “Southwest Chili” recipe earned the Buncombe County resident an honorable mention.

Following are two winning recipes just in time for cooler temperatures.

Chewy Pecan Bars

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 16-ounce package light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 F. Blend butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour, blending well. Stir in maple extract and vanilla. Stir in pecans.

Pour batter into a greased 13x9x2-inch pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool. Cut into squares. Yields: 24-30 squares

End of the Trail Ride Steakhouse Chili

  • 1 pound beef chuck steak, cut into half-inch cubes
  • Water to cover beef
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 cup steak sauce
  • 1 16-ounce jar mild picante sauce
  • 1 16-ounce can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 15 1/2-ounce can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • Kernels from one large ear of corn, about 1/2 cup

Condiments: Green chilies, poblano chilies, pepper jack cheese, cheddar cheese, sour cream for toppings

Place beef in a 4-5 quart slow cooker and cover with water. Cook on low setting for 4 hours.

Add chili powder, cumin powder, steak sauce and picante sauce. Stir gently. Add pinto beans, kidney beans, tomatoes and corn. Stir again and cook on low setting for additional 4 hours. Just before serving, turn on high setting for 15 minutes. Top with desired condiments and serve with Johnny cakes.


NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Andrea Ashby, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3001; FAX: (919) 733-5047

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