homepage logo

Duo dominates team cooking contest

By Staff | Sep 18, 2009

Nancy Halbur and her 13-year-old granddaughter, Kennedy, like to serve cinnamon fruit biscuits with their award-winning pirate stew.

HALBUR – On a typical Friday night at Nancy Halbur’s home, you’ll find her in the kitchen, preparing favorite family recipes, assisted by her grandchildren who live nearby in Carroll County.

This summer, Halbur and her 13-year-old granddaughter, Kennedy, decided to challenge their culinary skills by entering the Iowa Farm Bureau’s Cookout Contest. Their original recipe for pirate stew earned them $150 and a trophy when they won the team title at the Iowa State Fair in August.

“I was so nervous, but I learned a lot about food safety and food preparation,” said Kennedy Halbur, a seventh-grade student at Carroll Middle School, who helped make the marinade and put the food on skewers.

While the contest was a first for Kennedy Halbur, (competitors have to be at least 13 to enter), it was the latest in a string of victories for Nancy Halbur, who won first place in the cookout contest in 1995 for her tropical turkey recipe and garnered more awards when she competed in the 1996 contest. Ironically, cooking hasn’t always one of Nancy Halbur’s skills.

“When we were first married, my husband, Tom, showed me how to make gravy,” said Halbur, a licensed practical nurse, who works in the surgery department at St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll.

Oatmeal jumbos are a favorite cookie with the Halbur family.

Halbur and her granddaughter began their 2009 culinary adventure by developing their pirate stew recipe back in March.

After fine-tuning it, they entered the Greene County Farm Bureau Cookout Contest at the Greene County Fair in July. This was the nearest event the pair could enter, since Carroll County does not host a Farm Bureau cookout contest.

Their victory in the team category qualified them to compete at the state fair, where they were judged not only on the taste, originality and appearance of their food, but their showmanship, as well.

To add extra flair, Halbur sewed aprons for the team and a pirate-themed matching headband for Kennedy.

“Although other people had big, fancy grills, we cooked on my rickety little old grill,” said Halbur, who noted that the Iowa Public Television camera crew filmed the pair for a segment on the Fair 2009 program. “It was fun to win and it was even more fun to compete as a team.”

Pirate stew

1/2 half head cabbage, shredded

3 carrots, sliced

1 head broccoli, cut up

1 sweet potato, cubed

1 onion, sliced

2 stalks celery, chopped

6 to 8 asparagus spears

1 cup apple cider

2 teaspoons chicken soup base

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon parsley

2 tablespoons sugar

1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks (use chunks on skewers, reserve juice)

Red peppers, cut up to use on skewers

3 chicken breasts


1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients for marinade. Lightly pound chicken breasts to a uniform thickness. Cut in 1.5-inch pieces. Marinate for several hours, or overnight

Prepare and mix all vegetables, except asparagus. Place in a 9-by-12-by-2-inch foil pan. Lay asparagus spears on top of vegetables. Mix apple cider, the balance of the pineapple juice and spices.

Pour over vegetables. Cover pan tightly with foil. Place on grill over medium heat for 45 to 50 minutes.

On skewers, alternate red pepper, pineapple chunks and chicken. Grill 12 minutes (3 minutes on each side). Remove peppers, pineapple and chicken from skewers and add to stew just before serving.

Grilled cherry tomatoes

The Halburs prepared this crowd-pleasing side dish at the state fair competition.

1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half

2 tablespoons butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

In a skillet, saute garlic and oregano in butter for about 2 minutes. Place tomatoes in a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 24 inches by 12 inches) and cover with sauted mixture.

Fold foil around the tomatoes and seal tightly. Grill, covered, over medium heat until heated through, approximately 6 minutes.

Cinnamon fruit biscuits

The Halburs added this sweet treat to enhance their cookout contest entry.

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tube (12 ounces) buttermilk biscuits

1/4 cup butter, melted

10 teaspoons strawberry preserves

Combine sugar and cinnamon. Dip the top and the sides of each biscuit in the melted butter; then dip in cinnamon sugar.

Place on ungreased baking sheet with the unbuttered side down. With the end of a wooden spoon handle, make a deep indentation in the center of each biscuit. Fill with one teaspoon of preserves. Bake at 375 degrees for 11 minutes.

Oatmeal jumbos

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 cups rolled oats

1 1/2 cups M&Ms or chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl, beat peanut butter and butter. Add sugars, baking powder and baking soda; beat until combined. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in oats and M&Ms or chocolate chips.

Drop one large tablespoon of dough four inches apart onto greased cookie sheets. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 11 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are brown.

Cool for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack for more cooling.

Kennedy’s favorite goulash

1 1/2 pounds hamburger

1 can tomato soup

1 to 2 tablespoons minced onion

1 teaspoon chili powder

Ketchup, mustard and brown sugar, to taste

2 cups uncooked macaroni

Velveeta cheese slices

Brown the hamburger and drain. Cook macaroni according to manufacturer’s directions and drain. In a bowl mix tomato soup, minced onion and chili powder.

Add some ketchup, mustard and brown sugar, to taste. Pour over the browned hamburger and heat through on the stove. Pour over cooked macaroni and stir.

Put in a 9-by-13-inch pan. Place slices of Velveeta cheese over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby by e-mail at yettergirl@yahoo.com.

Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page