As I arrived in my hotel room and saw an envelope with the Food Network logo on it and my name written across it with, I couldn't believe that two of my three biggest culinary dreams had come true. Now I just need to win the million dollars for the third to come true! —Melissa Stadler
Juliann Pelton put her Spicy Chicken Pizza Roll Up together from ingredients she already had in her kitchen. Her family and friends loved it so she put her recipe in the 46th Pillsbury Bake-Off contest.
Now she's in the running to win the $1 million grand prize at the contest in Las Vegas on Nov. 10-12.
Allred, who lives in Loomis, Calif., in the Loomis First Ward, Lincoln California Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been entering recipes in the Bake-Off contests for more than 10 years. This is the first time one of her recipes has been selected.
She believes in cooking healthy and simply with as many vegetables and whole grains as possible.
"This year's bake-off was very challenging, in that we could only use seven ingredients in our recipes, and the recipe had to be prepared in 30 minutes or less.
"I looked at the list of qualifying ingredients and tried to come up with different and unusual, yet easy, ways of using them. I ended up with a main-dish salad that is delicious, easy and versatile.
"The result is Balsamic Chicken Cranberry Panzanella, a bread salad using Pillsbury Pizza Crest as the bread,” Allred wrote in an email.
Allred, who is the mother of two grown children, is thinking the prize money would come in more than handy since her husband lost his job five months ago.
"Winning the Bake-Off would be a huge blessing," she said.
Stadler has had winning the Pillsbury Bake-Off on her bucket list since she was part of the 44th Bake-Off in 2010.
"After that incredible experience, I got the cooking contest bug and started entering a range of contests. I was having success at it and more importantly I was finding my passion for it," Stadler wrote in an email.
She won the Cooking Channel's Perfect 3 contest in 2011 with her "I Want To Marry You" cookie and was flown to New York to film a Food Network segment.
"As I arrived in my hotel room and saw an envelope with the Food Network logo on it and my name written across it with, I couldn't believe that two of my three biggest culinary dreams had come true. Now I just need to win the million dollars for the third to come true!"
She thinks her Chorizo Potato Puffy Tacos is the million-dollar recipe.
"Since I was living in San Antonio, Texas, at the time which is the home of the Puffy taco, I wanted to create one at home using Pillsbury biscuit dough. I am a sucker for Mexican food and wanted a ton of flavor yet could only use seven ingredients. I created a puffy taco using spicy chorizo paired with potatoes, onions, and peppers for big flavors. Then I added some freshness with tomatillo, avocado and cilantro salsa. I topped it with the salty goodness of cotija cheese and it was fantastic!
"I am a huge believer in being a creator in the kitchen. Food is so much fun to play with and I always tell people to use a recipe as a guide. Don't be afraid to add an ingredient or two."
Stadler lives in Gilbert, Ariz., in the Shamrock Farms Ward, Queen Creek Chandler Heights Stake, with her husband and four children.
All three women are finalists in the Amazing Doable Dinners category with recipes that take 30 minutes or less to prepare and use seven ingredients or less.
Pelton lives in Texas and is a member of the Katy 2nd Ward, Katy Texas Stake. Since she and her family are new in the ward, she’s not really known as a good cook yet, but the word is spreading quickly.
"When we were first married and didn't have much money, I just learned to cook with what was in the pantry. I learned to be more creative," she said in a telephone interview.
"I came up with this recipe one day after visiting family in Seattle. I had all the ingredients so I experimented. Then I said, 'Oh! This is good! I've got to enter this in a contest!'"
Pelton is also a cook who doesn't like to dirty a lot of dishes when she makes dinner. "One pot, one spoon, one cookie sheet — that's what I like," she said.
Stringham of the Morningside 3rd Ward, St. George Utah Morningside Stake, entered her Potato and Ham Mini Frittatas in the Quick Rise and Shine Breakfasts category. (See Wednesday's Family Mealtime page for more about Stringham and her recipe.)
Spicy Chicken Pizza Roll Up
Easy pizza crust takes on a new form rolled and baked around a bursting-with-flavor filling.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Makes: 6 servings
8 slices packaged precooked bacon
1 pound ground chicken
1 can (10 ounce) diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
2 teaspoons dry ranch dressing mix (from 1-ounce package)
1 can Pillsbury refrigerated classic pizza crust
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Italian cheese blend
1 tablespoon Crisco Pure Olive Oil
Heat oven to 375°F. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon; leave any drippings in skillet.
Add chicken to drippings; cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until no longer pink. Stir in tomatoes. Crumble bacon and add to skillet. Drain extra liquid if necessary; stir in dressing mix.
Unroll dough on nonstick cookie sheet; sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheese. Spread chicken mixture over cheese. Top with remaining 1 cup cheese. Starting on 1 long side, roll up; turn seam side down. Brush with olive oil.
Bake 23 to 27 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cover with foil to prevent overbrowning if necessary. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut on diagonal to serve.
Nutrition Information: 1 Serving (1 Serving), Calories 440 (Calories from Fat 190); Total Fat 21g (Saturated Fat 9g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 85mg; Sodium 1260mg; Total Carbohydrate 35g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 0g), Protein 26g
— Juliann Pelton, Katy, Texas, Pillsbury 46th Bake-Off Contest, Amazing Doable Dinners
Balsamic Chicken Cranberry Panzanella
Pizza crust bakes up to become the crusty bread in this easy flavorful take on Italian bread salad.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 servings (2½ cups)
1 can Pillsbury refrigerated classic pizza crust
3 tablespoons Crisco 100 percent Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 uncooked chicken breast tenders, cut into bite-size pieces (about 6 ounces)
1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
¾ cup sweetened dried cranberries
4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
¼ cup balsamic dressing
Heat oven to 400°F. Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Unroll dough on cookie sheet. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove to cooling rack; cool 5 minutes. Tear crust into bite-size pieces; set aside.
Meanwhile, in 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken, onion, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper; cook 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally or until chicken is no longer pink in center and onion starts to caramelize. Stir in cranberries; cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Place chicken mixture in large serving bowl. Keep warm. Wipe out skillet.
In same skillet, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil; heat over medium heat. Add bread pieces; sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook 2 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently until golden brown and toasted.
Add romaine, bread pieces and dressing to chicken mixture; toss well. Nutrition Information: 1 Serving (1 Serving); Calories 530 (Calories from Fat 170); Total Fat 19g (Saturated Fat 3g, Trans Fat 0g), Cholesterol 25mg; Sodium 1320mg; Total Carbohydrate 70g (Dietary Fiber 4g, Sugars 18g), Protein 18g
— Kalani Allred, Loomis, Calif., Pillsbury 46th Bake-Off Contest, Amazing Doable Dinners
Chorizo Potato Puffy Tacos
Pile on the freshness! These biscuit tacos are topped with a homemade tomatillo salsa and yummy cheese.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Makes: 8 servings (2 tacos each)
1 pound ground pork chorizo
1 bag (11.8 ounce) Green Giant Seasoned Steamers frozen backyard grilled potatoes
1 can Pillsbury Grands! Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (8 count)
3 medium tomatillos, quartered
2 large avocados, pitted, peeled and cubed
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
¾ cup crumbled Cotija (white Mexican) cheese or queso fresco cheese (3 ounces)
Heat oven to 350°F. In 10-inch skillet, cook chorizo 8 to10 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, microwave frozen potatoes for 5 minutes as directed on bag. Remove from bag and coarsely chop potatoes. Stir into chorizo. Keep warm.
Meanwhile, separate each biscuit into 2 layers. Press each layer into 4-inch round. Place on large ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until light golden brown, rotating cookie sheets after 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in food processor, place tomatillos, avocados, ½ cup of the cilantro, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cover; process 20 to 30 seconds or until smooth.
To assemble tacos, gently fold each biscuit in half. Fill each with ¼ cup chorizo mixture and 2 tablespoons salsa. Sprinkle with cheese and remaining cilantro.
Nutrition Information: 1 Serving (1 Serving); Calories 450 (Calories from Fat 230), Total Fat 26g (Saturated Fat 9g,Trans Fat 0g), Cholesterol 45mg; Sodium 1170mg; Total Carbohydrate 37g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 0g), Protein 17g
— Melissa Stadler, Gilbert, Ariz., Pillsbury 46th Bake-Off Contest, Amazing Doable Dinners
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.