It's great to be back from Las Vegas after covering this week's 46th annual Pillsbury Bake-Off.
After a weekend in the desert eating dessert in 75-degree daytime temps (52 degrees at night), I wasn't quite as enthusiastic about my parents' reports of snow at the farm.
This year was the first time the "Super Bowl of Baking and Cooking' has ever been held in Sin City. Past locations have been Hollywood, Dallas, Miami, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, Orlando and even Hawaii.
After Monday morning's three-hour competition, the $1 million grand prize winning recipe was announced later that night at 9:30 p.m. (PST) at an awards dinner ceremony in the ballroom at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The big winner is someone who doesn't have to worry about snow or now, where her "dough" is coming from.
Glori Spriggs of Henderson, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas just 15 minutes from the casinos and hotels of the famed "Strip," was the only Nevada finalist and won the grand prize with her easy recipe for Loaded Potato Pinwheels, featuring potatoes, cheese and crumbled bacon baked into Pillsbury crescent rolls and topped with sour cream and green onions. She said she takes her kitchen inspiration from her mother and grandmother and has passed on her cooking pride and creative recipe talents to her daughter.
On Tuesday, she whipped up the grand champion creation for Queen Latifah for a taping of her "The Queen Latifah Show" scheduled to air Thursday.
Spriggs said she plans to share her money with her daughter, with the advice she wants her to "quit one of her two jobs." She said she'll also give her car to her daughter and use some of her prize money to buy herself "a new car with a back-up camera on it" for parking ease.
Launched in 1949, for the first quarter of a century the Pillsbury Bake-Off was held annually. But beginning in 1976, it was changed to an "every other year" schedule. The event, produced by General Mills, is now going to return as an every year competition with the 2014 contest location being Nashville and entries being accepted in January.
New this year, among changed rules, online voting from the general public, with an emphasis and push for using social media tools, determined who would compete among the semi-finalists for the chance at this year's $1 million. To encourage simpler, original recipes, submissions this year were also limited to seven or fewer ingredients and require 30 minutes or less to prepare, not including baking or cooling time. There's also now only three contest categories to compete in this year: "Simple Sweets and Starters," "Amazing Doable Dinners" and "Rise and Shine Breakfasts." As a requirement for the competition, contestants are required to use a number of brand name sponsor ingredients in their submitted recipes.
Monday's contest and awards ceremony were hosted by TV personality Padma Lakshmi, host of Bravo's "Top Chef" series.
Our local reader finalist Julie Beckwith of Crete, Ill., who was competing for her third and final time also fared well to make our Chicagoland region proud. She won a special award from Crisco for her recipe for Upside Down Tomato Basil and Chicken Tartlets that netted her $5,000 and a Golden Doughboy award statuette, the latter trophy being a new feature of the Pillsbury Bake-Off just added this year.
For more information, visit bakeoff.com. Here is this year's $1 million dollar recipe.
Gloria Sprigg's Loaded Potato Pinwheels
1 (11.8 ounce) bag Green Giant Seasoned Steamers frozen backyard grilled potatoes
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cooked real bacon bits (from a jar or package)
3 tablespoons milk
1 can Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations refrigerated seamless dough sheet
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion tops (3 medium onions)
DIRECTIONS: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray large cookie sheets with Crisco Original No-Stick Cooking Spray. Microwave frozen potatoes 3 to 4 minutes to thaw. In medium bowl, with fork, mash potatoes leaving some small pieces. Stir in cheese, 1/3 cup of the bacon bits and the milk until well blended. Unroll dough on cutting board; press into 14-inch by 8-inch rectangle. Cut into 2 rectangles, 14-inch by 4-inch each. Spread half of the potato mixture on one rectangle to within 1/4-inch of long edges. Starting at one long side, tightly roll up dough; pinch seams to seal. Using serrated knife, cut roll into 14 slices. Place slices, cut side up, on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Bake 17 to 21 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately, remove from cookie sheets to serving plate. Top each pinwheel with sour cream, remaining bacon bits and the green onions. Serve warm. Makes 28 pinwheels.
Nutrition Information: 1 Serving is 70 Calories (Calories from Fat 40), Total Fat 4 1/2g (Saturated Fat 2g, Trans Fat 0g), Cholesterol 10mg; Sodium 200mg; Total Carbohydrate 6g (Dietary Fiber 0g, Sugars 0g), Protein 3g