The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 16, 2013

Cheryle Finley: Baking contest seeks million-dollar recipes

JOPLIN, Mo. — Who wouldn't like to win $1 million? Pillsbury is now accepting recipes for a bake-off contest, in which contestants must provide recipes using seven ingredients or less, not including salt, pepper or water, and a prep time of 30 minutes or less, not including baking and cooling time.

Participants can choose from one of three categories: simple sweets and starters, amazing doable dinners and quick rise-and-shine breakfasts. They must use at least two different eligible ingredients in the form of name-brand products of the sponsors.

Got a good idea? Go to and check it out. Maybe you will be the next grand prize winner.

While the bake-off requires the use of certain name brands, we certainly have more flexibility at the grocery store. Name brand vs. store brand has long been a decision for shoppers. The options range from canned goods and laundry detergent to fruit juice and cake mixes.

Is there really a difference in name brand and store brand? It depends on who you talk to. According to, second-tier store brands are those that are considerably less expensive than national brands, but they may fall short in taste and nutritional value. First-tier store brands are usually comparable in taste and nutritional value, but they may fall short in quality. The website suggested looking at labels for the percentage of daily value of nutrients in a particular product. If the store brand measures up to the name brand, then it's a good deal and may come down to your taste preference.

While some store brands are actually produced by big-name companies, they may have a slightly different recipe that may or may not suit your taste buds. With savings from 15 to 20 percent, store brands can be a great choice or a waste of money. I've actually found some store brands of canned tomatoes I prefer to the name brands, but I was hesitant at first to give them a try. I'm glad I did, because now I can save money and know I'm getting the quality and taste I like. Trying a store brand one time is usually enough to let you know if it's going to become a regular on your shopping list.

What are four kitchen products that should always be purchased as store brands? According to they are cereal, pantry staples such as flour, sugar and spices, soft drinks, and salad mix and produce.

Debbie Baird invited me to have lunch at her new home north of Joplin, and I would have been there even if I had to walk. Her home is beautiful, and she's still the great cook I remember from her many years living in Carthage. Her spinach quiche, salad and iced tea -- not to mention the English muffin bread baked by her daughter, Brooke -- were all worthy of being served in a great restaurant. This was one time I'm glad I didn't eat dessert first, because if I had tasted the brownies with whipped cream, I would have eaten them until they were gone.

Debbie said she adapts the brownie recipe from the old Betty Crocker cookbook using her own modifications. I'm going to listen closely next time she rattles off what she does differently, so I can get the recipe for you. Once you fix them, you will be baking a batch everyday. The food and company were exceptional, and I'm still talking about how memorable the lunch was.

Today's recipes are past winners from the "Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook." The great northern bean stew contains all my favorites -- sausage, carrots, cabbage and tomatoes -- and it's ready to serve in no time, thanks to the canned beans. It's perfect for a cold evening.

The individual pot pies are a great meal for the young and young at heart. These pies can be eaten as finger foods and are a tasty 30--minute meal. They can be made up to two hours before you bake them by covering and refrigerating.

The upside-down cake makes its own topping with no frosting required and should be eaten warm. As with all cake recipes, be sure to follow the beating directions. Those two minutes of beating will make the difference between a good cake and a great cake. Have a wonderful week and happy eating!

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