By Ann Cipperly

On a recent perfect spring afternoon, the Lee County Farmer’s Federation Women’s Leadership Committee met for  its  annual Heritage Cooking Contest and sewing competition at the Mount Olive Primitive Baptist Church. The annual contest spotlights Alabama commodities and agricultural products. Each year the Women’s division selects a different category for the contest. Homemade candy was the featured theme this year.

Jackie Henderson won first place; Mary Richburg received second place and Jamie Lazenby placed third. Henderson  will compete in the state contest this fall.

Henderson has been making the winning Peanut Butter Easter Eggs for 20 years for her family. She has three children, four grandchildren and one great-grandson.

The Peanut Butter Easter Eggs recipe makes a delicious and attractive treat. A creamy filling is embellished with peanut butter and then coated with melted chocolate bark. The eggs can be made in different sizes and decorated as desired.

A member of the Women’s Leadership Committee for 18 years, Henderson also placed first in the quilt, pillow and patriotic lap blanket competition. She has been sewing for 65 years.

Mary Richburg, who is chairman of the Women’s group, prepared Salted Nut Butter Cups for the second-place winning entry. Mary selected this recipe since she is trying to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into the foods she prepares.

“The use of bananas in a candy recipe intrigued me,” said Mary. “I like the flavor combination of peanut butter, chocolate and banana. The filling texture was not as firm as I expected. The candy is best served the day it is prepared.”

Mary has been a member for over 16 years. She and her husband, Mahlon, have a hay production and registered Angus and SimAngus cattle operation. Mary enjoys canning and freezing vegetables in the summer months.

The Richburgs both taught in Auburn City Schools for 40 years. Mahlon taught agriscience at Auburn Junior High and Auburn High School, while Mary was an elementary school teacher and guidance counselor. They have two children, George and Katie.

Lazenby’s Simply Almond Chocolate received third place honors. This recipe is easy and goes together quickly. The chocolate is best placed in clear plastic bags or tins to give for gifts.

Lazenby has been involved in the Women’s Leadership Committee for many years and has placed numerous times in the cooking contest.  Lazenby and her husband Harry operated the La-Z-Bee for many years. They have three children and 10 grandchildren.

A different category is given each year for the annual Heritage Cooking Contest. Categories in past years have included pound cakes, soups, appetizers, pies, cookies and many others.

The Women’s Leadership Group donates to various charities. They have collected towels for Big House, donate to the Battered Women Shelter and the Veterans’ Association. They generally keep a project going all the time.

The Women’s Division was organized to promote agricultural products and commodities, as well as to provide an opportunity for women to participate actively in policy making.

Ann Whatley is secretary for the Lee County group and is on the board as a member at large for the Alabama Farmers Federation State Women’s Leadership Committee.

After winners were announced in the cooking and sewing competition, a light supper was served.

Following are the winning recipes along with a few others from the first-place winner and an assortment of other recipes from around the state. 

Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

First Place Winner

Jackie Henderson

1½ cups butter or margarine, softened

¾ cup crunchy peanut butter

1 ½ Tbsp. light corn syrup

½ tsp. vanilla extract

1 ½ to two 16-oz. pkg. powdered sugar, sifted

Half of a 24 oz. pkg. chocolate flavored candy coating

Decorator’s Frosting (recipe follows)

Combine butter, peanut butter, corn syrup and vanilla; mix at low speed of an electric mixer until mixture is smooth and well blended.

Gradually add powdered sugar until mixture is no longer sticky and can be handled with hands.

Divide mixture into six portions. Shape each portion into an oval shape with a flat bottom. Place portions on paper towels. Cover loosely and let sit at room temperature for 12 hours.

Place candy coating in top of a double boiler. Bring water to a boil; reduce heat to low. Let simmer until chocolate coating is melted.

Carefully dip bottom of each egg into coating. Place on wax paper. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Place eggs on a wire rack over wax paper. Spoon coating over eggs, letting excess drip on wax paper. (Excess candy coating can be reused by melting over simmering water.) Place coated eggs in refrigerator for 15 minutes or until firm.

Prepare Decorator Frosting and fill decorating bags. Decorate as desired. Makes six half pound eggs. Mixture can be shaped into smaller eggs.

Decorator Frosting

¼ cup shortening

2 cups sifted powdered sugar

3 Tbsp. milk

Paste food coloring, optional

Cream shortening in a mixing bowl; gradually add powdered sugar alternately with milk until desired consistency. Color portions of frosting with paste food coloring, if desired. 

Salted Nut Butter Cups

Second Place Winner

Mary Richburg

1 ripe medium banana

¼ cup peanut butter

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

2-3 Tbsp. kosher or sea salt

Two mini muffin pans

24 mini muffin pan liners

Line 2 mini muffin pans with paper or foil liners.

Mash 1 ripe banana with ¼ cup peanut butter. Other nut butters may be substituted.

Melt 12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate.

Drop scant teaspoon of chocolate into each liner, spreading if needed.

Spoon one teaspoon of peanut butter/banana mixture on top of chocolate.

Top with about 1 teaspoon chocolate, spreading to cover the peanut butter/banana mixture.

Sprinkle each cup with kosher or sea salt to taste.

Freeze until firm. Makes 24 pieces.

Simply Almond Chocolate

Third Place Winner

Jamie Lazenby

1 cup almonds, toasted

20 oz. pkg. chocolate almond bark

1 ½ Tbsp. shortening

Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.

Melt chocolate and shortening until smooth.

Add toasted almonds; stir until mixed.

Spread on parchment paper; chill. Break onto serving pieces.

Other Recipe Favorites From First-Place Winner Jackie Henderson

Berry Delicious Bread

Jackie Henderson

10 oz. pkg. frozen strawberries, thawed

3/4 cup sugar

2/3 cup oil

2 eggs

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. soda

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. cinnamon

3/4 cup chopped nuts


3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 to 2 drops red food coloring, optional

1 Tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bottom only of a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine strawberries, sugar, oil and eggs; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool upright in pan for 15 minutes; loosen edges. Remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.


In a small bowl, combine all glaze ingredients; mix until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cooled loaf.

Store tightly covered in refrigerator.

The Cheesy Bowl

Jackie Henderson

8 oz. block Colby-Jack cheese, shredded

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

2 (8 oz.) pkgs. bacon bits

1 ½ cups light mayonnaise

½ cup onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

26 oz. round loaf bread

Stir together all ingredients except bread; set aside. Hollow cut bread, reserving torn pieces. Spoon dip into bread; place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Serve with torn bread or sliced apples or chips. Makes 3½ cups.

Light mayonnaise produces a creamier dip. Do not substitute regular mayonnaise.

Cheesy Spinach and Bacon Dip

Jackie Henderson

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained

1 lb. (16 oz.) Velveeta pasteurized cheese product, cut into ½-inch cubes

4 oz. (1/2 of 8 oz. pkg.) cream cheese, cut up

1 can (10 oz.) Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies, not drained

8 slices bacon, crisply cooked, drained and crumbled

Combine ingredients in microwave bowl. Microwave on high 5 minutes or until Velveeta is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after 3 minutes. 

Here is a sampling of former winning recipes from around the state.

First Place State 2009

Chicken Salad Roll-Ups

Helen Summers, Marshall County

3 ½ cups cooked, chopped white chicken

½ cup mayonnaise

3 Tbsp. honey mustard

1 cup sweet pepper and apple relish

1 cup chopped seedless grapes

Salt and pepper to taste

Flour tortillas

Mix first four ingredients, salt and pepper; add grapes. Spoon onto tortillas, roll and slice. Garnish as desired.

Second Place State 2009

Game Day Appetizer Trio

Carol Knight, Randolph County

Easy Chicken Dip

2 (10 oz.) cans chunk chicken, drained

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese

¾ cup mayonnaise

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies

2 Tbsp. diced jalapeno peppers

1 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine all ingredients except Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray for about 20 minutes or until heated thoroughly. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and return to oven until cheese is bubbly. Serve with assorted crackers and focaccia bread.

Hot Chicken Dip

2 (10 oz.) cans chunk chicken, drained

8 oz. cream cheese

¾ cup hot wing sauce

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup ranch salad dressing

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a 9×13-inch pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Cook about 20 minutes or until heated thoroughly. Served with assorted crackers and focaccia bread.

Easy Chicken Biscuits

1 pkg. frozen tea biscuits (baked according to pkg. directions)

4 large boneless chicken breasts

8 oz. cream cheese

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish

Poppy seeds for garnish, optional

Cook and shred chicken breasts. Add cream cheese, mayonnaise and relish. Split biscuits and spoon chicken salad inside. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, if desired.

Marinated Cheese Squares

Tracy Bentley, Shelby County

½ cup canola oil

½ cup white wine vinegar

4 oz. pimentos

2 green onions, chopped

1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

1 Tbsp. dried dill weed

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

1 Tbsp. Vidalia onions, chopped

1 Tbsp. bell peppers, chopped

½ cup parsley, chopped

8 oz. cream cheese

16 oz. cheddar cheese

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine oil, wine vinegar, pimentos, onions, garlic, sugar, oregano, dill weed, green onions, bell pepper, parsley, salt and pepper. Shake vigorously to blend. Set aside.

Slice the cheddar cheese into half lengthwise. Cut crosswise into ¼-inch to form squares. Repeat with cream cheese.

Arrange squares alternately in a shallow baking dish with slices standing on edge. You can arrange them in one or two rows, depending on the dish. Pour marinade over cheese slices; cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours overnight.

Serve with crackers.

Chicken Drumettes

Nancy Reid, Russell County

1 lb. drumettes

¾ cup hot sauce (Frank’s Louisiana or sauce of your choice)

1 ½ tsp. cornstarch

½ cup butter

Whisk hot sauce, cornstarch and butter together in small saucepan. Cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes until sauce thickens. Toss drumettes in half of sauce; spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, then toss in remaining sauce and serve. Let cool slightly before eating.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Lillian Slay, Chambers County

1 lb. mushrooms, rinsed and dried

1 Tbsp. canola oil

1 ½ oz. bacon bits

¼ lb. fully cooked ham, ground

1 medium tomato, finely chopped

1 cup onion and garlic croutons, crushed

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. minced parsley

½ tsp. dried oregano

½ tsp. Creole seasonings

Pimento, if desired

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove stems from mushrooms; chop and sauté in canola oil over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Place caps aside. Mix cooked stems with remaining ingredients. Stuff caps. Garnish with pimento if desired. Place stuffing side up in lightly greased jelly roll baking pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Cool on rack or paper towels.

Fiesta Tater Skins

Connie Sewell, Etowah County

8-10 baking potatoes

1 lb. ground beef

1 pkg. taco seasonings

1 tomato, peeled and chopped

1 pkg. shredded taco (Mexican) cheese blend

Scrub potatoes, bake and let cool. Brown meat; drain fat and add taco seasoning. Cut potatoes in half and scoop out pulp to within ¼ -inch of skins. Set aside additional potato pulp for another recipe.

Top potato skins with meat mixture, chopped tomatoes, ripe olives and grated cheese. Place in 350-degree oven until cheese melts, about 10 minutes.


8 oz. carton sour cream

½ cup chunky salsa

1 Tbsp. taco seasoning

Mix sour cream, salsa and 1 Tbsp. taco seasonings to make a dipping sauce for potato skins.

Picante-Goat Cheese Appetizer

Sharon Bridges, Limestone County

4 Tbsp. butter

1 cup crushed Ritz or Townhouse crackers

6 oz. goat cheese

2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese

3 eggs

¼ cup self-rising flour

½ tsp. salt

1 cup sour cream

¼ cup picante sauce

½ cup chopped green onions

¼ cup chopped tamed jalapeno peppers

¾ cup chopped pecans, toasted

Hot sauce to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter bottom and sides of 10-inch spring form pan. Mix melted butter and crumbled crackers together; press in bottom of pan. In a bowl, blend together cream cheese, goat cheese, eggs, flour, salt, sour cream, picante sauce and hot sauce. Fold in ½ cup pecans, jalapenos and onions. Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Add remaining ¼ cup pecans on top and cook 30 additional minutes. Place on a dish and surround cheesecake appetizer with crackers.

Delicious Vegetable Appetizer

Delores Mount, Crenshaw County

1 pkg. Pillsbury crescent rolls

½ cup mayonnaise

8 oz. cheese, softened

1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix

¼ cup bell pepper, finely chopped

1 cup cauliflower, finely chopped

1 cup broccoli, finely chopped

1 cup tomatoes, finely chopped

½ cup carrots, finely chopped

Unroll crescent rolls. Spread on a 11 x 16-inch baking pan sealing the perforations. Bake 12 to 15 minutes in 300-degree oven. While this cools, use a quart bowl to mix mayonnaise, cream cheese and ranch dressing until smooth. Spread mixture over baked pastry. In a quart bowl, mix vegetables, except tomatoes, and spread on top of cream cheese mixture. Press down lightly. Place tomatoes on top. Chill and cut into squares.