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2015 “Crockin’ It” winner

Winners of the “Crockin’ It” contest show off their certificates and ribbons. From left are Glenda Yarbrough, director of the Creative Living Center at the Alabama National Fair; Cathy Cartier, first place winner; Melissa Palmer, second place winner; Kayra White, third place winner; and Lenore Vickrey, editor of Alabama Living magazine.

Central EC member wins Crock’n It fair contest

All she needed to hear was “Sweet Home Alabama …”
Cathy Cartier hugs editor Lenore Vickrey after winning first place.

As soon she heard those three words, an exuberant Cathy Cartier gave a shout and ran down the aisle as she was announced as the winner of Alabama Living’s “Crockin’ It” crockpot cooking contest at the Alabama National Fair. She even gave magazine editor Lenore Vickrey a big hug on stage.

Cartier, who lives near Pine Level in north Autauga County and is a member of Central Alabama Electric Cooperative, was the first-place winner at the Creative Living Center for her “Sweet Home Alabama Stuffed Meatballs.”

She’d found a recipe for mozzarella stuffed meatballs online, but wanted to add her own magic touches. The contest instructions call for at least one Alabama-made product in each recipe entered, so Cartier added Conecuh sausage, some Alaga Hot Sauce and Sister Schubert’s dinner rolls to give it some “Sweet Home Alabama” flavor.

Believe it or not, it was a recipe she hadn’t made before the day of the competition.

“I tested them on a couple of people at work. They said, ‘these are good!’” And her friend Chris Dowing, who accompanied her to the contest, was the inspiration for adding the pork to the recipe.

Each contestant is scored not only on the taste of the food, but also the decorations of the entry’s place setting. Cartier wanted to play off a Southern, hometown theme, so she included blue pom poms and a small megaphone to pay tribute to Marbury High School, where her children went to school.

Cartier works at Maxwell AFB for the Air Force War Gaming Institute. After she won the $500 prize, Cartier said she planned to donate half her winnings to the Combined Federal Campaign, the workplace giving program of the federal government.


Sweet Home Alabama Stuffed Meatballs

Cathy Cartier, Deatsville
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound Conecuh Hickory Smoked Sausage Link, ground fine
  • 6 slices cooked and crumbled Zeigler bacon
  • 1 cup crumbled Sister Schubert’s day-old dinner rolls
  • ½ teaspoon Alaga Hot Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup parsley flakes
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 package whole mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 40-ounce bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s Original BBQ Sauce
Mix thoroughly all ingredients except mozzarella cheese and BBQ sauce. Take a spoonful of the meat mixture and form into a ball. Take a cube of mozzarella cheese and stuff it into the meatball. In a skillet, lightly brown the meatballs. Cover the bottom of the crockpot with BBQ sauce. Place some of the meatballs in the sauce. Repeat two or three times till all meatballs are in the pot. Set crockpot to high and cook for 2 to 2½ hours.

Second place, Melissa Palmer, Wetumpka

Taco Soup

    1 can whole corn

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 2 small cans roasted garlic tomato sauce
  • 1 package mild taco seasoning
  • 1 package Ranch Dip mix
  • 1 jar mild restaurant-style salsa
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 package Conecuh Sausage
  • ¼ cup Alaga Hot Sauce

Pour corn and both cans of beans in crockpot with the juice. Add tomato sauce, taco seasoning, Ranch mix and salsa. Brown ground beef and drain the grease; add to crockpot. Cut sausage into small pieces and brown in skillet. Drain grease and add to crockpot. Add hot sauce and stir. Cook on high for 2 hours. Serve with corn chips, cheese and sour cream.

Third place, Kayra White, Tallassee

Chicken Hashbrown Soup

    4 cups shredded chicken

  • 1 bag shredded hash browns
  • 1 cup Borden milk
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 2 blocks cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pour hash browns into crockpot and add the chicken. Pour milk, broth and soup over the chicken and add the cream cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. Stir occasionally.

Alabama’s Best Cake

Alabama Living also sponsors the annual “best cake” category at the Alabama National Fair.

This year’s winner is Peggy Simmons, Prattville

Terrific Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake
  • ¼ cup melted and cooled butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 7-8 fresh pineapple slices (reserve juice)
  • Fresh blueberries
  • ¼ cup pecan halves, lightly toasted
  • 3 eggs
  • Rum or water
  • ½ cup tasteless coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup Alaga Yellow Label corn syrup
  • 1 box cake mix of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt cake pan. Pour melted butter into cake pan; roll pan to allow butter to cover the sides for a couple of inches. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Line bottom and evenly around the edges with pineapple slices. Add Alaga syrup. Place one blueberry in each pineapple slice hole. Place pecan halves in open areas between pineapple slices.

Pour reserved pineapple juice into a measuring cup. Add enough water or rum to make one full cup. Add juice and eggs to bowl and beat together. Add cake mix and oil. Mix for about 2 minutes. Carefully pour into prepared pan. Bake 40-45 minutes. Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes. Invert cake onto heatproof plate. Cool completely before serving. Can be served with whipped cream.