Sunday, January 9, 2011

Big Bucks!

I'm about to start my biennial pursuit of the elusive million dollar recipe.

Yes, people, it's that time again. The Pillsbury Bake-off. Let's get ready to CRUMBLE!!!! (Get it? That's the way the cookie... Oh, never mind.)

I was enraptured by the Bake-off years before I started contesting. It's the great equalizer. A good idea can make it to the top of the heap whether it comes from a 12-year-old boy, like the one who came up with Poppin' Barbecups, or a long-time contester, like Kurt Wait, who won the first million dollar pot with his Macadamia Fudge Torte. It's a contest that has given the collective American menu so many recipes that became iconic: Peanut Blossoms, Cherry Winks, French Silk Pie.

One of the staples on my mother's table was always Savory Crescent Chicken Squares. This was not only one of my favorite meals as a kid, but opened my eyes to how adaptable a recipe can be. The filling is great in the flaky pastry, but just as good on toast, crackers, a pizza crust, even tossed with hot pasta. Oh, and a handful of frozen peas makes it really pop.

So now my refrigerator is packed with Pillsbury doughs and crusts and Land O Lakes butter and eggs. Brownie mix and flour are sitting on my kitchen counter with Jif peanut butter, Smuckers jelly, Hershey's cocoa, and McCormick extracts.

Oh,'s that time again.

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