The Pillsbury Bake-off is like a mini test kitchen for the company's products.

When I attended last spring's Bake-off in Dallas, it was fun to roam the contest floor and taste-test recipes. Each finalist theoretically can make their recipe three times: one for display, one for the judges, and one for the press to sample.

If one ends up with burned edges or a cracked crust, that one usually becomes the sample.

Frankly, I had my doubts about the Loaded Baked Potato Pizza, made by Tracy Martinez of Cheyenne. Broccoli, sour cream and potatoes on a pizza? But I took notice when quite a few Food Network Challenge staffers kept coming back to nibble on more.

The pizza was better than I expected, accurately capturing the flavors of a baked potato stuffed with broccoli and cheese, sour cream and bacon. Martinez said that by putting it in a pizza, she was able to get her kids to eat their vegetables.

Since the Bake-off, I've tried the recipe a few times and modified it a bit. In Martinez's original recipe, you microwaved a potato, cooled and then peeled and cubed it. To streamline things, I used frozen diced hash browns O'Brien, the kind that doesn't have any added fat. Since the hash browns already contain onions and bell peppers, I was able to omit the green onions Martinez's recipe called for, too. The peppers just give the pizza more flavor and nutrition.

And instead of frying and chopping bacon, I used a jar of pre-cooked bacon pieces, light sour cream and ranch dressing, which saves a little fat and calories. I used frozen bread dough instead of a refrigerated pizza crust, mostly because I had it on hand. I also omitted the 1/2 cup of chopped, seeded tomato that Martinez called for; I might add it back in when tomatoes are in season.

Here's my version. You can find Martinez's version at www.bakeoff.com.

LOADED BAKED POTATO PIZZA

10 frozen uncooked white rolls, thawed

No-stick cooking spray

2 cups hash browns O'Brien, no fat added

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 10-ounce box frozen broccoli & cheese sauce

2/3 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon ranch dressing

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese blend

1 jar precooked bacon pieces

Heat oven to 375 F. Spray large cookie sheet or pizza stone with cooking spray. Pat thawed rolls together and roll and press into a 10-to-12-inch round pizza crust, or a 13-by-9-inch rectangle.

Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until crust is light golden brown. Remove from oven; set aside.

Meanwhile, place hash browns in a microwave-proof bowl, and cook, covered, 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Microwave broccoli & cheese sauce as directed on box. Empty from pouch into bowl with the hash browns.

In another small bowl, mix sour cream and ranch dressing. Spread mixture over pizza crust to within 1/2 inch of edges of crust. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese evenly over sour cream mixture. Sprinkle with bacon.

Spread broccoli and potato mixture evenly over bacon. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese evenly over potato mixture.

Bake 15-22 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheese melts. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.


E-mail: vphillips@desnews.com