Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

May 1, 2012

Pillsbury Bake-off Winners represent current food trends

Lee Ward
The Independent

ASHLAND — Winners of the 45th annual Pillsbury Bake-Off reflected many food trends of the times in the flavors and ingredients that impressed the judges.

Grand-prize winner Christina Verrelli of Devon, Penn., received $1 million in cash plus prizes for her Pumpkin Ravioli with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream. While the dessert recipe sounds delicious, it also sounds a bit complicated.

For more winning recipes, visit pillsbury.com.


4 tablespoons LAND O LAKES® Butter, melted

2 packages (3 oz each) cream cheese, softened

1/2  cup canned pumpkin

1  LAND O LAKES® Egg Yolk

1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract

1/4 cup sugar

5 tablespoons Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour

1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/3 cup Fisher® Chef’s Naturals® Chopped Pecans, finely chopped

2 cans Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough sheet

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/8  teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons Hershey’s® caramel syrup

4  tablespoons McCormick® Cinnamon Sugar

Heat oven to 375°F. Brush two large cookie sheets with two tablespoons of the melted butter. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and pumpkin with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until smooth. Add egg yolk, vanilla, sugar, 3 tablespoons of the flour and pumpkin pie spice; beat on low speed until blended. Reserve 4 teaspoons of the pecans; set aside. Stir remaining pecans into pumpkin mixture.

Lightly sprinkle work surface with 1 tablespoon of the flour. Unroll 1 can of dough on floured surface with 1 short side facing you. Press dough into 14x12-inch rectangle. With paring knife, lightly score the dough in half horizontally. Lightly score bottom half of dough into 12 squares (3x2 1/4-inch each). Spoon heaping tablespoon of the pumpkin filling onto center of each square. Gently lift and position unscored half of dough over filling. Starting at the top folded edge, press handle of wooden spoon firmly between mounds and along edges of pumpkin filling to seal. Using toothpick, poke small hole in top of each ravioli. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut between each ravioli; place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon flour, dough sheet and filling. Brush ravioli with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter.

Bake 9 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat whipping cream and salt with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Beat in 2 tablespoons of the caramel syrup until stiff peaks form. Transfer to serving bowl; cover and refrigerate.

Remove ravioli from oven. Sprinkle ravioli with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar; turn. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar.

To serve, place 2 ravioli on each of 12 dessert plates. Drizzle each serving with scant teaspoon of the caramel syrup; sprinkle with reserved chopped pecans. With spoon, swirl remaining 1 tablespoon caramel syrup into bowl of whipped cream. Serve warm ravioli with whipped cream.


In the Breakfast and Brunch category, this casserole from Maria Vasseur of Valencia, Calif., took the top prize.


1 package (12 oz) bulk reduced-fat pork breakfast sausage

1/3 cup refrigerated basil pesto

1 can Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

1 can (14.5 oz) Muir Glen® organic diced tomatoes, drained

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (1 1/2 oz)

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz)


2 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons shredded fresh basil leaves

Heat oven to 375°F. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook sausage 6 to 8 minutes over medium heat or until no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in pesto. Set aside to cool.

Unroll crescent dough into 13x9-inch glass baking dish. Press dough in bottom and 1/2 inch up sides. Press perforations to seal. Spoon sausage into dough-lined dish. Sprinkle tomatoes and feta cheese over sausage. Top with mozzarella cheese.

In medium bowl, beat eggs and milk with wire whisk until well blended. Pour egg mixture evenly over ingredients in dish.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until dough is golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh basil.


Combining some of the best-tasting vegetables into the winner of the Entertaining Appetizers category winner was Terri Sherman of Palos Heights, Ill.



8 ounces fresh asparagus spears, trimmed

1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips

1 tablespoon Crisco® 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Sea Salt

1/4 cup Progresso® panko bread crumbs

1 can Pillsbury® refrigerated classic pizza crust

6 tablespoons whipped cream cheese spread

1 to 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1  jar (12 oz) marinated artichoke hearts, drained, chopped

3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese (3 oz)

3/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (3 oz)

1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Garlic Powder

Heat oven to 400°F. Place asparagus and red pepper in ungreased 13x9-inch pan; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake vegetables 12 to 16 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning once halfway through baking. Cool 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, spray cookie sheet with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Unroll pizza crust dough onto crumb-coated sheet; press into 15x10-inch rectangle. Flute edges of dough.

Bake 12 to 16 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut asparagus and red pepper into 1/2-inch pieces. Spread cream cheese onto warm crust; sprinkle with lemon peel. Arrange half of the artichokes, asparagus and red pepper over cream cheese; sprinkle with half of the Swiss and Gruyère cheeses. Repeat with remaining vegetables and cheeses.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are golden brown and cheese is melted. Remove from oven; sprinkle with garlic powder.


Dinner Made Easy is a great idea for a category in the Pillsbury Bake Off. The winner was Donna Wolfe of Hamilton, N.J., with Chicken Empanada Cones.


1/3 cup water

2 teaspoons golden raisins

3 tablespoons LAND O LAKES® Butter

4 teaspoons agave sweetener or honey

1/3 cup fresh cilantro

3/4 cup chopped onions

1 tablespoon Pillsbury BEST® Unbleached Flour

1 can (18.5 oz) Progresso® World Recipes frijoles negros y jalapeño soup, drained, reserving liquid

2 cups diced cooked chicken breast

1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed

1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers (from a jar)

1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Garlic Salt

1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Ground Cumin

1 teaspoon red pepper sauce

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1 box Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box

1 cup salsa

1/2 cup sour cream

In 1-cup microwavable measuring cup, microwave water on High 1 minute. Add raisins; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave 1 tablespoon of the butter on High 10 to 20 seconds or until melted. Stir in agave sweetener; set aside. Chop enough cilantro to measure 1 tablespoon; set aside.

In 10-inch skillet over medium heat, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add onions; cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently or until onions are softened. Sprinkle with flour; cook and stir 3 minutes. Stir in reserved liquid from can of frijoles negros. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until thickened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the frijoles negros, chicken, corn, roasted peppers, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, garlic salt, cumin and pepper sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Drain raisins; chop raisins and stir into chicken mixture. Cool slightly.

Heat oven to 450°F. Line 2 large cookie sheets with cooking parchment paper or spray with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray. Sprinkle cookie sheets with cornmeal. Unroll pie crusts. Roll each into 13-inch round; cut each round into quarters. To make each empanada, place piece of pie crust on cookie sheet, pressing into cornmeal. Brush center with agave mixture. Spoon rounded 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture in center. Bring long sides of dough together, forming a cone shape. Press to seal, leaving rounded end open. Repeat with remaining pie crust, agave mixture and chicken mixture.

Bake 13 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Serve empanadas with salsa, sour cream and remaining cilantro.


While I don’t claim to be an expert cook, I do like to cook and love to eat. Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send e-mail to lward@dailyindependent.com.