Contests and Wins

Contests and Wins

Reversing The Curse of The Spurtle

I found myself in quite the quandary after my “Spar For The Spurtle” entry. My Entry  (click here to see my entry into Bob’s Red Mill Spar For the Spurtle Contest)

Being a lefty, I couldn’t help but to accidentally stir with my left hand. It’s easy to forget when you’re in the heat of cooking up a great recipe. But as you know, I’m superstitious.

I realized in the fury of my stir that I was violating the golden rule of all time: NEVER STIR A SPURTLE WITH YOUR LEFT HAND!

Why? Because legend has it that if you stir with your left hand, you will be cursed with the devil.

Remember, it was only last year that I found out my strange wooden porridge-stirring tool was actually called a “Spurtle” or sometimes called a “Theevil.” Look, it even has the word “evil” in it!

When I realized my mistake, I grabbed the salt and threw it over my left shoulder. The reason for doing this is to throw salt into the devils eyes to scare him away.

After I submitted my video, I noticed at the end, a silhouette of my husbands face was hovering in the reflection over my right shoulder. I took this as a sign that good spirits were on my side and I had corrected my wrongdoing. Certainly my husband is an angel and his presence on my right shoulder is reassuring.

I’ve waited and waited, nothing bad yet has occurred. Only I just found out, I was using the spurtle UPSIDE DOWN!

This can only mean one thing, a new legend has been created, by me! If by using the spurtle upside down, I was able to reverse the evil spirits, then south paw cooks everywhere will be able to stir porridge with their native hand.

I won’t know until the finalists are announced if I was able to change the legend- by stirring with the spurtle upside down. Stay tuned…. 🙂

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Contests and WinsVideos

Bob’s Red Mill Spar For The Spurtle II ~ Paradise Porridge Potstickers

Hi Friends!

I am a huge fan of Bob’s Red Mill products. I first started using them about 5 years ago when my daughter Ellie was diagnosed with Autism and we tried the gluten-free/casein-free diets. Bob’s offers so many varieties of cooking ingredients that are of the highest quality. That special diet didn’t seem to have any connection to Ellie’s autism, but I will never forget the challenge I faced as a mom trying to make delicious foods under those restrictions.

When I heard about Bob’s Spar For The Spurtle contest again this year, I knew I had to enter. Here are the details of the prize package, and the written recipe to follow for my entry! Enjoy~ and cross your fingers!

“Based on the video submissions, three finalists will be chosen to receive the ultimate trip for Bob’s Red Mill fans. The finalist prize package includes:

Roundtrip airfare to Portland, Oregon
Three-nights’ accommodations at a downtown Portland hotel
A tour of Bob’s Red Mill led by company founder Bob Moore
A gift basket filled with Bob’s Red Mill products, merchandise and olive oil from California Olive Ranch
$100 Bob’s Red Mill Gift Card
A spot in the live cook-off on August 10 for a chance at the Grand Prize
$100 for cook-off supplies

The winner of the live cook-off will receive the grand prize, which includes the following:

Round-trip airfare for two to Scotland to represent Bob’s Red Mill at the 19th annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship in October 2012
Two nights’ accommodations in Edinburgh, three nights’ accommodations in Carrbridge (for two)
Rail transportation between Edinburgh and Carrbridge (for two)
$2500 cash!”

Paradise Porridge Potstickers

1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats
2 1/2 cups filtered water, divided
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup natural dry-roasted macadamia nuts, chopped
1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Evaporated Cane Juice Sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 cup fresh ripe mango, peeled, seeded, fine diced
1 small ripe banana, no brown spots, fine diced
gyoza wrappers
3 Tbsp. canola oil

1/2 cup local honey
6 ounces fresh raspberries, sliced in half lengthwise
1 cup frozen coconut milk, coconut gelato, or vanilla ice cream

1. Soak 1/2 cup of Bob’s Steel Cut Oats in 1 cup filtered water (covered) overnight in the refrigerator.

2. In a heavy 3-quart pot, bring 1 1/2 cups filtered water to a rapid boil on high heat. Add salt.

3. Drain oats in cheesecloth-line colander over bowl. Reserve the oat-water. Stir oats into boiling water. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. In last two minutes, remove lid, increase heat to stir out moisture and oats become very thick. Remove from heat, pour into a large bowl and cool for two minutes.

4. Stir in nuts, Bob’s Red Mill Evaporated Cane Juice Sugar, nutmeg, mango, and banana.

5. Dampen the inner edges of wrappers with oat water. Place a tbs. of oat mixture on center of each wrapper, fold and pinch closed along the moistened edge with fingertips to make a moon shape. Dip in oat-water and shake excess.

6. Heat oil in a non-stick 12-inch fry pan to medium. Add the dumplings and cook until the bottoms are just light golden. Turn dumplings over and replace lid, cook another two minutes. Remove with slotted spatula onto serving plate.

7. Drizzle on the honey. Garnish with raspberries and one small scoop of frozen dessert.

Makes about 30 dumplings

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Contests and Wins

Truth and Dare: Beans For Breakfast (Grand Prize Winner)

Update 3/29/12 (“So after MUCH careful consideration and “breakfastability” testing, we have decided that the winner is The Vintage Cook and her Blackberry & Cinnamon-Adzuki Cheese Blintzes. Congratulations! We loved your transformation of the beans and their application in this dish. There is a great mixture of flavors and textures with the adzuki bean paste, ricotta cheese, and crepes…and the whipped cream blended with cinnamon and adzuki paste sounds heavenly. “)


The Truth: I’ve never made beans for breakfast.

The Dare: Marx Foods sent me a box of beans, and told me to make breakfast.

The Truth: I love this kind of challenge!

Finally, my beloved beans arrived.

beanscornedbeef 001


The white ones were Marrow beans. I immediately thought, SOUP. I’ll experiment with them last.

The little red ones were Adzuki beans, I thought, OH Yes…sounds exotic.

The yellow ones were Canary beans, aka, Mayacoba Beans. I’m thinking Lemon, how about you?

So I started the soaking.

………went to bed,

and waited a little longer. Finally, an idea!

beanscornedbeef 007


My first entry into the Bloggers Beans for Breakfast is…..

Blackberry & Cinnamon-Adzuki Cheese Blintzes


It’s amazing how far one cup of dried beans goes. After I soaked and cooked them, it rendered about three cups which is more than I needed for my recipe ideas. With the Adzuki beans, I made a tasty cinnamon paste filling. I ended up finding many uses for the remaining paste. I used 1/4 cup of it in a brew pot of masala tea, I filled french toast with it, and even tried it out in some cider. It was delicious in all of those and you couldn’t even tell there were beans in it. The girls loved the recipe creations, and my youngest even claims to hate beans. She never knew!

Blackberry & Cinnamon-Adzuki Cheese Blintzes

For the Cinnamon-Adzuki paste:

1 cup dried Adzuki beans
1cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons fine quality ground cinnamon (to taste)

Rinse and soak beans overnight. Drain and add 4 cups new water with beans in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to med-low and cook for 2 hours or until water is cooked down to almost creamy. Add beans with creamy reduction to food processor or blender. Pulse until beans are completely smooth. Add brown sugar and cinnamon. Pulse until well combined. Place back in pot and cook and stir on medium until texture is rubbery thick, stir in vanilla. Cover and chill until cold.

For the crepes:

6 eggs
2 cups milk
2 cups flour
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pulse the eggs, milk, flour, water, and salt until smooth. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes. Prepare the filling.

For the Adzuki cheese:

1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup prepared cinnamon-adzuki paste
8 oz. cream cheese
1 egg yolk

With a spoon, gently stir ricotta, prepared cinnamon-adzuki, cream cheese and yolk together until blended. Cover and chill.



For the Cinnamon-Adzuki Whipped Cream Topping:


1 cup cold heavy cream
1 Tablespoons prepared Cinnamon-adzuki paste

In mixing bowl, beat cream on medium speed until soft peak forms. Add the paste and continue beating until completely incorporated. Cover and chill.


beansforbreakfast 107 beansforbreakfast 102




For the Blackberry Topping:

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
1/2 cup seedless blackberry preserves

1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 ½ cup fresh blackberries (if your berries are tart, mash a little)

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat 2 Tbs. of the butter, preserves and syrup until just melted, about 1 minute. Stir. Fold blackberries into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.

To Make the crepes:

Coat a 10 or12-inch nonstick pan with non-stick cooking spray, and bring it to med-high heat.

Pour in about 1/3 cup of thin batter, tilting the pan to spread batter evenly. When the crepe just begins to golden on each side, turn it out onto a large flat surface with parchment or waxed paper. Let cool.

Place 1 heaping  tablespoon of Adzuki-cheese filling in the middle of the crepe. Fold the sides toward the center, then tightly fold/roll up. Heat remaining butter in skillet over med-high heat. Fry on seam side down first, and then on each side until golden. Serve with blackberry sauce and the whipped cream. Serves 6.

About Beans

One cup of cooked beans (or two-thirds of a can) provides about 12 grams of fiber — nearly half the recommended daily dose of 21 to 25 grams per day for adult women (30 to 38 grams for adult men). Beans are the protein-rich superfood. It is recommended by health professionals that we increase our bean consumption from one to three cups a week! How many of us get our one cup?

High in fiber and antioxidants, they may aid in disease prevention, too.The beans Marx Foods sent to me were incredible. Here is a little about the three types of beans, and you’ll see why they are so special. visit to order on-line.

“The Mayacoba, or Canary Bean, was named after a small village in Mexico where this new version of an old Incan food product was “re-invented”. They have a unique taste and it is said that they will not give the consumer the usual digestive reaction that other beans can give. Mayacoba Beans are yellow and about the size of a pinto bean.”

Marrow beans are large, plump white beans which have a distinctive creamy texture and a flavor which reminds some people of meat. “Marrow beans (aka Marrowfat beans) are large, egg-shaped heirloom white beans with a creamy texture and a flavor many people consider bacon-esque.”

Adzuki Beans are “small, dried, reddish brown beans, with a white ridge along one side. They are grown in Thailand and China. Azuki beans have a nutty flavor, and are commonly used in Japanese dishes. An Adzuki bean, when boiled down to sugar makes a sweet paste as anko and is used as fillings in cakes and sweet meats. They are known to be low in fat and high in protein.”


*Special Note: Be aware that undercooked beans can be distressing for the intestinal tract. I cooked all of my beans very well, and did not experience any side effects. 😀

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Contests and Wins

A 2nd Place Win For me in BookTrib’s Best of the West Holiday Cookie Contest

fall 015 is “The first and only book-o-sphere”. I’m happy to be a small part of it all.

So close again! I’m quite flattered though to win a $40.00 Visa Gift Card for my absolute favorite Holiday cookie. Actually, I’ve run so many variations on this cookie, I’m not sure which combination of fruit and nuts I like the best. The template for the cookie has been in my family for years. My mom always called them “Italian Wedding Cookies”, but that is NOT what they are. They are an Italian cookie, but I can’t remember the name. Do you know? If so, please post a comment!

The usual component is a butter-pastry, with a walnut, brown sugar filling, and then dusted with powdered sugar. A few years ago, I made a variation on the recipe when I appeared on Jayni’s Kitchen for a holiday cookie show. I called them “Cherry Pecan Crescents.” That recipe later appeared in her cookbook.

Although the actual entry pictured above is “Orange-Cran Cherry & Spiced Walnut Cookies”, I’m going to provide for you the other. They look the same. Feel free to experiment with your fillings. The possibilities are endless!

(Note: Good quality butter is the quintessential ingredient to any baked item. 🙂 Land O’Lakes works great too!

Cherry Pecan Crescents


1 cup unsalted Plugra European butter, softened

1/2 cup sour cream

2 egg yolks, lightly beaten (reserve whites)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling


2 1/4 cups chopped pecans

3/4 cup dried cherries

2/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest, finely grated

1 teaspoon cherry flavored extract

Powdered sugar for dusting

Dough: In a large mixing bowl, blend the softened butter, sour cream and egg yolks using a wooden spoon. Gradually add the flour, stirring with a spoon to incorporate. Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Divide the dough in half, making two 5-inch disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

In a food processor, pulse the nuts and cherries until fine, about 1 minute. Add the sugar, salt, milk, lemon zest and cherry extract and pulse a few time to blend. Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly beat the reserved egg whites with a wire whisk or fork and set aside. Dust a rolling pin and a clean work surface with flour. Roll out the dough until very thin (as for pie crust). Cut circles using a 2 or 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter. Fill each circle with about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the nut filling. Lightly brush the inner edges of the dough circles with the egg white and fold the dough over the filling to seal. Press the edges with fork. Place the crescents on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until light gold. Remove and cool on a baking rack.

When completely cool, lightly dust the crescents with powdered sugar and store in the refrigerator. Makes about 5 dozen.

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Contests and Wins

This Is What Pillsbury Bake-Off Dreams Are Made Of

The first time I entered the “PBO” (as us cooking competitors call it) was back around 1992 or 1994. That was before computers were a household appliance. I snail-mailed in a crab appetizer. When the grocery store booklet of finalists came out, I noticed one of the recipes was only two ingredients different than mine. That’s when it hit me that I was really close, but not close enough. Maybe someday.

In 2007, when I began entering cooking contests, there were so many contests to enter, I really wasn’t that invested in “THE BIG ONE”. A million dollars seemed out of reach, but a salad bowl and a cookbook seemed reasonable.

Well this it, PBO is the big one, and this year, I tried really hard. I’m dreaming of that chance at a million dollars, but somehow it’s not about winning money, it’s more about coming full circle in my passion. When I can say “I went to the Pillsbury Bake-Off,” I will know I’ve achieved greatness in this cooking contest hobby. It’s an honor just to be selected as a finalist. I submitted 14 recipes, although in retrospect, I see only about half are worthy of the crown, or at least a walk down the runway. So let’s just say I have 7 chances.

The contest has changed up a bit. 90 finalists will be notified in September, but for now there are 20 tentative finalists who must compete in on-line voting.

I’m ecstatic to hear my friend Linda Bibbo received the email. Her recipe is up for voting soon. However, we don’t know what the recipe is, that’s top secret information. Ironically, this is the second time she has been selected for the “You Be The Judge” voting segment. Most of us dream of getting that email or call, but we hope we are one of the 90 guaranteed spots, not the “maybe if you’re recipe is popular” spots. So my fingers are crossed for Linda and the rest of my CCC friends. Here is what getting that email looks like:

Contest officials have confirmed that your recipe will be placed online at for consumer voting in the 45th Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest. Congratulations on moving one step closer to a chance at the million-dollar grand prize!

On-line voting is something most of us CCC’ers despise. Only 10 of the 20 voting round people will make it to the dream kitchen. Yes, every cooking competitors “dream kitchen” is actually located in some convention center. I haven’t been there yet, but maybe this is my year! I have been pretty lucky this year winning GP in Wolfgang Pucks Red Carpet Recipe Contest, 2nd Place in Franks Red Hot Contest, and a finalist spot winning an envelope full of Gorton’s Seafood coupons and Ortega Taco Shells.

This is the fun part. Dreaming. The bake-off doesn’t even take place until 2012, but I’ll be checking my email every minute on September 1st, hoping.

I spent this morning collecting PBO data to see that no one from my state has ever worn the “Cooking Diva” sash and crown.
So if I won, I’d be the first person ever from Kansas to win the Pillsbury Bake Off! Wouldn’t that be great? 😀 Hope springs eternal.

By the way, if you think you might like to enter cooking contests, join This is where home cooks who love to create…meet, talk, learn and play with recipes- for prizes. I’ve made some great friends since joining ccc, I know you will too!

The first Pillsbury Bake-Off, 1949

That kind of looks like me in the middle,… no? 😀

Pillsbury Bake-Off Winners Over The Years

Michigan- 1949 / No-Knead Water-Rising Twists / Theodora Smafield
California- 1950 / Orange Kiss-Me Cake / Lily Wuebel
California- 1951 / Starlight Double-Delight Cake / Helen Weston
Illinois- 1952 / Snappy Turtle Cookies / Beatrice Harlib
Colorado- 1953 / “My Inspiration” Cake / Lois Kanago
Washington DC- 1954 / Open Sesame Pie / Dorothy Koteen
Oregon- 1955 / Ring-A-Lings / Bertha Jorgensen
California- 1956 / California Casserole / Hildreth H. Hatheway
California- 1957 / Accordion Treats / Gerda Roderer
Ohio- 1958 / Spicy Apple Twists / Dorothy DeVault
Louisiana- 1959 / Mardi Gras Party Cake / Eunice G. Surles
Nebraska- 1960 / Dilly Casserole Bread / Leona Schnuelle
Minnesota-1961 / Candy Bar Cookies / Alice Reese
Iowa- 1962 / Apple Pie ’63 / Julia Smogor
Michigan- 1963 / Hungry Boys’ Casserole / Mira Walilko
Florida- 1964 / Peacheesy Pie / Janis Risley
Nevada- 1966 / Golden Gate Snack Bread / Mari Petrelli
Tennessee- 1967 / Muffin Mix Buffet Bread / Maxine Bullock
Florida- 1968 / Buttercream Pound Cake / Phyllis Lidert
Minnesota- 1969 / Magic Marshmallow Crescent Puffs / Edna M. Walker
Arizona- 1970 / Onion Lover’s Twist / Nan Robb
Washington- 1971 / Pecan Pie Surprise Bars / Pearl Hall
Pennsylvania- 1972 / Streusel Spice Cake / Rose DeDominicis
Texas- 1973 / Quick Crescent Pecan Pie Bars / Albina Flieller
Minnesota- 1974 / Chocolate Cherry Bars / Francis I. Jerzak
Indiana- 1975 / Easy Crescent Danish Rolls / Barbara S. Gibson
Colorado- 1976 / Crescent Caramel Swirl / Lois Ann Groves
California- 1978 / Nutty Graham Picnic Cake / Esther Tomich
Florida- 1980 / Italian Zucchini Crescent Pie / Millicent (Caplan) Nathan
Arizona- 1982 / Almond-Filled Cookie Cake / Elizabeth Meijer
Wisconsin- 1984 / Country Apple Coffee Cake / Susan F. Porubcan
Oregon- 1986 / Apple Nut Lattice Tart / Mary Lou Warren
Minnesota- 1988 / Chocolate Praline Layer Cake / Julie Bengtson
California- 1990 / Blueberry-Poppy Seed Brunch Cake / Linda Rahman
South Carolina- 1992 / Pennsylvania Dutch Cake and Custard Pie / Gladys Fulton
North Carolina- 1994 / Fudgy Bonbons / Mary Anne Tyndall
California- 1996 / Macadamia Fudge Torte / Kurt Wait
Washington-1998 / Salsa Couscous Chicken / Ellie Mathews
South Carolina- 2000 / Cream Cheese Brownie Pie / Roberta Sonefeld
Tennessee- 2002 / Chicken Florentine Panini / Denise JoAnne Yennie
Ohio- 2004 / Oats ‘n Honey Granola Pie / Suzanne Conrad
Texas- 2006 / Baked Chicken and Spinach Stuffing / Anna Ginsberg
Maryland- 2008 / Double-Delight Peanut Butter Cookies / Carolyn Gurtz
New Jersey- 2010 / Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups / Sue Compton

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