Sunday, November 17, 2013

The 46th Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest: Million Dollar Loaded Potato Pinwheels and My Eagle Brand Signature Recipe Award Winner

Well, after months and months, it is all over. The fabulous 46th Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest has now come and gone and it is time to get back to normal. Even though I didn't win the much sought after and dreamed about million dollar grand prize, I am thrilled to say that my Amazing Doable Dinners recipe for Bacon Corncakes with Warm Maple Cream won the $5,000 Eagle Brand Signature Recipe Award and the golden Doughboy statuette that goes along with it.

I am going to be really honest here when I admit that at the time when host Padma Lakshmi called my name for this award, I was just a tad bit disappointed for a fleeting moment. I know that makes me sound like I am an ungrateful brat, but fact is once you win one of the sponsored prizes, you are out of the running for the big one, so I had to take a few minutes to come to terms with that.

Please don't get me wrong, I am so honored to have been a part of this exciting contest and to have been selected as the winner of this prize. I am also very aware that 93 other finalists went home without a check or a golden Doughboy, but winning the grand prize is like winning the only gold medal at the Olympics, and letting go of that dream takes a moment or two to process.

Now, any shred of disappointment is long gone and I have a hard time leaving my award at home to go to the grocery store.  This is without a doubt one of my most favorite all time recipes. Akin to the Something From Nothing recipes that I post here, I am proud of the fact that I came up with a really delicious main dish using only 6 out of the 7 allowed ingredients. I am also very honored that nine food professionals that were vetted and approved by General Mills liked my recipe enough to honor it with this prize.

As the Bake-Off Contest rules state at present, you can only compete in this contest three times and then you are out, forever. Since this was my second time, I'm already brainstorming for something genius for my third and final trip. If I don't feel like I can win with any of my ideas, I'm going to pass on entering until I can come up with something that I deem to be a contender.

I've got my fingers crossed that someday they'll do away with this three times rule and just let the best recipes compete no matter how many times the writer has made it through, although I read yesterday that one of this year's judges believes that this rule is in place to keep prolific contesters from taking over the event.

I do understand that line of thinking, but I'd like to make the point that even though I have been very lucky to compete in many contests, it took me nine years to go back to the Bake-Off for the second time. I think that makes it apparent that even though I might be able to write a good recipe, I don't possess any special knowledge that gives me an advantage over anyone else.

Despite the fact that I had high hopes for my own recipe, you have to just trust that the judges chose the best one for the grand prize and move on.  In case you are not aware, first time finalist Glori Spriggs, not a seasoned contester, won for her Loaded Potato Pinwheels from the Simple Sweets and Starters category.

Way back in 2004 when my Dinner Made Easy category winning recipe for Inside Out Taco Salad Wraps was passed over in favor of the Oats and Honey Granola Pie for the million, I didn't have a blog to hash it all over and talk it out. Maybe if I had been writing one, I would have been more inspired to prepare the winning recipe and review it. To this day I haven't made that pie, but there is no doubt in my mind that it must be delicious.

Since I now have a platform to discuss my feelings about things, I thought I would make the big winner and hopefully tell you all how wonderful it is. As always, I pride myself in honest and unbiased opinions on anything I review here, and this recipe is no exception.

Before I get to my review, I have to preface my statement with the fact that I take reviewing someone else's recipe very seriously. I carefully prepare it exactly the way it was written, being careful not to make any changes or substitutions which might alter the intended flavor or consistency.

I do this because in the past I have had to bounce back from some pretty negative comments about some of my own beloved creations. Some of them were deserved, but some of them were made after the reviewer obviously misread and improperly prepared the recipe.

Now while this year's winning recipe looks pretty good, I have to be honest and say that it is just OK in my opinion. The stuffed baked potato flavors are pleasant, but seem to be slightly overshadowed by a strong bell pepper flavor from the Green Giant frozen potatoes that form the base of the recipe's stuffing.

Add some grated cheese and bacon, wrap it up in the familiar flavor of Pillsbury's Crescent dough, top it with a dab of sour cream and a sprinkling of green onion and more bacon, and there you have it. Nothing earth shattering or life changing, just a simple little nibble that I don't know if I'll be adding to my appetizer rotation anytime soon.

On the upside, this recipe is easy to make, it looks pretty on the plate, yields 28 nice size pieces and the ingredients (some I found on sale) only cost me about $7.00.  Even though it isn't exactly my cup of tea, I'm attaching the recipe below just in case you'd like to make it too. Since everyone's tastes are different, you might make it and love it as much as the judges.

Loaded Potato Pinwheels

1 bag (11.8 ounce) Green Giant Seasoned Steamers frozen backyard grilled potatoes
1 - 1/2 cups (5 ounces) finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cooked real bacon bits (from a jar or package)
3 tablespoons milk
1 can Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations refrigerated seamless dough sheet
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion tops (3 medium)

Heat oven to 350 F.  Spray large cookie sheets with Crisco Original No-Stick Cooking Spray.

Microwave frozen potatoes 3 to 4 minutes to thaw. In a medium bowl, with fork, mash potatoes leaving some small pieces.  Stir in cheese, 1/3 cup of the bacon bits and the milk until well blended.

Unroll dough on cutting board; press into 14 x 8-inch rectangle. Cut into 2 rectangles, 14 x 4-inch each. Spread half of the potato mixture on one rectangle to with in 1/4-inch of long edges. Starting at one long side, tightly roll up dough, pinch seams to seal.  Using serrated knife, cut roll into 14 slices. Place slices cut side up, on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Bake 17 to 21 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to serving plate.

Top each pinwheel with sour cream, remaining bacon bits and the green onions. Serve warm.

The next Pillsbury Bake-Off is already gearing up and I can't encourage you enough to start thinking about what you can create. Pillsbury really knows how to put on a fun party. 

For more information, rules and winners lists, please visit their site by CLICKING HERE. You never know, I just might be reviewing your million dollar winning recipe here next year, and like Glori Spriggs you can cry all the way to the bank! Until then, here's a few images from the competition in Las Vegas.

The group finalist photo.

The Bake-Off Contest floor, ready to go.

No introduction needed.

Padma Lakshmi hosting the awards dinner.

Newly minted millionaire, Glori Spriggs (Center).

Finalist, Christine Wilson (front) and her daughter, Donna Fogel (middle), made up two of the four mothers and daughters to participate at this year's Bake-Off Contest.

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