Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest Semi-Finals: Bacon Corncakes with Warm Maple Cream

The last couple of weeks I have been bursting at the seams to share something with you, but fearing I'd say the wrong thing and blow it, I've kept quiet up until now.  Well I am pleased to announce that a recipe creation of mine has made it to the semi-finalist voting round of the 46th Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest, which will be held November 10 - 12, 2013 in Las Vegas.

If you'll recall a couple of months ago I posted a Pillsbury Bake-Off recipe for Dilly Casserole Bread.  I mentioned at that time that the qualifying ingredients and categories had just been announced for the upcoming contest, but I was a bit worried because for the first time finalists would be determined by public voting.  Never having ever won a popularity contest in my life, I was (and still am) really skeptical if I could pull this one off, but after much consideration and a little bit of "what the heck", I bought some ingredients and got cooking.

I first got started in cooking contests back in 2004 when I got the call to participate in the 41st Bake-Off Contest.  I knew that I wanted to go, but I had no idea how much fun I was going to have.  The contest is well run and exciting and you are treated like a superstar, and to top it all off the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow is a check for $1 million dollars.  I landed up winning the Dinner Made Easy Category, $10,000 and was in the final four to win the million.  I didn't win the big prize but wasn't worried because I had no doubt that the next one belonged to me. 

The next contest I bought my qualifying ingredients and mixed and baked and stirred until I started to look like the dough boy, but there was no call for me that year.  Notification day I watched the forum of the cooking contest site I belong to light up with excitement. It seemed like everyone got the call but me.  I spent the next two days at the back of a dark closet with a bottle of vodka and a box of tissues nursing my wounds.  As the years and contests passed the rejection never did get any easier, but I never gave up.  It became painfully obvious to me that I had lost my Pillsbury mojo.  I was humbled in this same manner for the next three contests.

When this year's contest was announced I did my best but prepared for the worst yet again, and despite this fatalistic attitude, I came up with something that finally got me noticed.  Today the semi-finalist recipes have been posted on the Pillsbury site for voting and mine is up there vying for  attention and votes with the rest of them. 

There are 60 recipes in all for this first category called Amazing Doable Dinners, and only the top 33 will move on to finalist status.  So I bet you think this is where I ask you to pop on over to their site and vote for my recipe, and you are right.  I really hope you look over the 60 recipes and vote for my brilliant, clever, awesome and delicious breakfast for dinner recipe for Bacon Corncakes with Warm Maple Cream. 

While you're there be sure and look over the other recipes too.  You can vote for as many recipes as you'd like, but you can only vote for each recipe once per e-mail address from 12 noon, March 14th to the 28th.  I'm warning you now though, if my recipe doesn't make it, it is back to that dark closet with those tissues and that bottle of vodka.  Oh yeah, and you will have to hear lots and lots of whining and crying for months and months about what went wrong.

Breakfast for dinner was the theme of my entry into the Amazing Doable Dinners category of the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest with these Bacon Corncakes with Warm Maple Cream.  To see the recipe and cast your vote, CLICK HERE

After seeing the category names for this contest, I knew that I wanted to think out of the box and go for something unexpected and fun, kind of like the pancake suppers my mom used to make.  Remembering in the past that one of the qualifying ingredients was flour, and hoping that it would be the same this year, I set my eye on a pancake supper. 

When the ingredient list was published, thankfully there was my flour.  Knowing that I needed to use at least 1 more qualifying ingredient (this is where it really gets tough), and with a 7 ingredient limit I only had 6 more to play with, I needed to choose carefully and choose ingredients with flavor.  Then I had to figure out how to use one or more of them in a couple of important ways to stretch my ingredients to the max.


As I looked down the list further I knew from eating my grandmother's southern cooking that I could put corn in my pancakes and they would be good.  I then added a bit of bacon and some of the drippings for flavor and moisture, a touch of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk for hydration and sweetness, and an egg for fluffiness and texture.  What developed was a simply delicious corn cake with a sweet and slightly salty flavor that everyone (including my super picky son and his best bud) couldn't get enough of, and good thing because this turned out to be the Harris family's official dish of the 2012 - 2013 school holiday break.

Believe it or not after I perfected these simple pancakes I had two ingredients and the majority of a can of Eagle Brand left.  So, instead of topping them with plain old maple flavored syrup, I decided to blend the two together, coming up with what I believe is the perfect compliment to these pancakes.  The creaminess of the Eagle Brand seems to almost mellow the sweetness of the maple flavored syrup and really produces something special, which is exactly what this dish deserves.

If you'd like to see my entry, the recipe and hopefully vote for it,  CLICK HERE.  You never know you just might get inspired and decide to enter yourself.  There are two more categories to go.

Thank you so much for your support.  Finalists will be announced April 4th, and good or bad, you know you'll hear all about it.


Danielle D'Ambrosio said...

I voted. I'm so thrilled for you! I love the story and how you keep on trying; 2011 was my first attempt at PBO and I'm hoping for better fate this year ;) but at least I know that I can keep at it and have a good result!

Holly @ said...

As you know, Karen, I am SO excited for you! I honestly did a cheer when I saw your entry on the Pillsbury site today. I simply knew your name would be there and love the direction you took with this pancake dinner. Congratulations!!

Ansh| Spiceroots said...

Congratulations, Karen. I just knew we would be voting for you soon. Best of Luck! We will open the bottle of champagne together :D

Valerie S. said...

Your recipe will be one of the winners for this category. It looks fabulous and is very creative. I've never been to PBO but I'll keep trying. Success to you!

Katie Aungles said...

What a winning recipe - well done x

Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) said...

Yipeeeee! That's incredible news Karen. Heading over to vote. I think these pancakes sound incredible. Very inventive.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I can wait to say that I know the winner!

Mary Spilman said...

Gongrats!! I'll be popping on over to the site to vote for you right now. The thought of you in the closet makes me terribly sad.

Barb | Creative Culinary said...

Please remember that I knew you before you because famous, OK? Now off to vote and beg my friends to as well!

ally said...

Congrats, Karen!! I gotcha covered...voted...wish I could do it daily!! xo Ally