Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bake-Off Bender

Ok, I officially SUCK! This must be my personal worst...almost two weeks without a post? Friends, I grovel at your feet and beg your forgiveness most humbly. I don't even have great excuses, other than the fact that we've hit that CRAZY part of the semester. And this time around, all the typical stress has been exacerbated by the unthinkable...yet another snow day, IN MID-APRIL! That's right, last week Monday, both of the schools where I teach were cancelled, irrevocably screwing up my course schedules that have already been revised and revised. Truly, my Monday-Wednesday only classes may have to meet through July to finish everything at this point! ;-) And the ultimate irony is, here we are a week later, and it's 80 degrees! Nuts, just nuts.

But the real reason why I haven't been posting is not because I haven't been cooking. Oh no...I have been cooking up a storm, but nothing I could post about until now. Annually and perpetually, I chase that gossamer dream, the grandpappy of all cooking contests, the Pillsbury Bake-Off. I submitted 14 recipes this year, the most I have ever entered. Of course, I still suffer from a condition that all but guarantees that I will never get to compete at the Big Bake-Off--that is, my inability to make anything "quick and easy." Everything I make is far too involved, even when I try to take shortcuts, stemming from my overriding belief that most good food takes time. Not that I ever aspired to win the big bucks like my friend, Anna, did last year. I only ever wanted to make the finals one day; I secretly envision myself, marching in in my little gingham apron with my dear foodie friend, Kurt, there to cheer me on. And I can't even get on my soapbox about the eligible products this time. I truly think that this was one of the best years in a long time in terms of categories and ingredients. You could actually submit a recipe comprised of the basics like flour, eggs, sugar and butter or olive oil and not be forced to select from a strange hodgepodge of pre-fab products as in recent years. My only gripes were that, if it wasn't pizza or Mexican food, you were hard-pressed to enter a recipe for an entree, and while there were lots of ingredients for dessert, there was a noticeable dearth of things to make savory items out of, other than broccoli (in cheese sauce, though), corn (in butter sauce) and spinach. So your only solution was to make sure to include at least two tablespoons of olive oil in everything, which is generally not a problem for me! ;-)

So...here's what I came up with for this year's entries (accompanied by a handful of representative photos):

Breakfast and Brunches:

Monte Cristo Breakfast Pinwheels (Probably not exciting enough.)










Pesto Egg Pizza (Yummy, but something similar to this made the finals last year.)

Russian Braid (Yes, it's true. I used my powers for evil and made a shortcut Russenzopf with flaky cinnamon rolls as a base--the Bakerina would be rolling over in her grave if she were dead...and this might kill her. Tee hee.)













Simple Salmon En Croute (Love this one! Delish! It's all about using spinach.)

Pizza Creations:

Chicken Satay Pizza (Peanut butter was a eligible product that could be forced into savory service!)








Chicken Spanakopita Pizza with Greek Lemon-Garlic Sauce (Spinach, lots of spinach.)









Sausage and Spinach Calzones (Still more spinach.)








Entertaining Appetizers:

Good Times Roll-Ups (I'm not good with appetizers as you can tell from my single entry in this category, but these are great--little roll-up sandwiches with my favorite Italian meats and topped with chopped pickled olives and other veggies, inspired by the muffaletta in New Orleans. Yum!)

Old El Paso Mexican Favorites:

Blond Enchiladas (Cleverly fashioned from deli/rotisserie chicken.)

Krab and Corn Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Crema (Good name and tasty tacos.)

Pork Colorado Enchiladas (This recipe may have been the best out of everything I submitted...not fancy or clever, but really delicious.)

Sweet Treats:

Aztec Brownies with Mexican Chocolate Glaze (My favorite name for a recipe!)

Caramel Crunch Peanut Butter Silk Pie (Yes, another attempt at the layered pie that I've been trying to perfect, this time with a peanut butter layer in the middle. Trying to work that sweet and salty thang, ya know.)

Cherry Almond Crescent Pudding (The best dessert I make--adapted to work with crescent rolls--but housewives in the Heartland probably still wouldn't make it.)

So that explains my absence over the past couple of weeks, faithful readers. I will pledge to do better in the future, but as I have a conference in Nashville to attend this week and into next, and with finals upon us, I may well be lying to you! ;-)

1 comment:

Kristen said...

Ohhh...good luck! All of your entries look so good...especially the pizza!