More than 5,300 recipes were entered in the contest, whose other categories included Make-Ahead Main Dish Casseroles, Easy and Fresh Sides, Quick Party Snacks and Entrees with Eight Ingredients or Less. Recipes were analyzed by the magazine's foods department, then 15 from each category were tested. They were judged on originality, taste, ease of preparation and visual appeal.
A grand-prize winner and two runners-up were named in each category. Grand-prize winners received $1,000, and runners-up were awarded $500 each.
The December issue of Southern Living will feature all of the winning and runner-up recipes.
Gillespie is used to being featured in major magazines, including Southern Living, which she said is "almost my cooking bible." She has competed since 1973 in various cooking contests, including those sponsored by Ladies' Home Journal, Good Housekeeping and Pillsbury.
She was in the Pillsbury Bake-Off 16 years ago in San Diego, which she called "a Cinderella weekend."
Gillespie, who has a bachelor's degree in home economics and taught the subject for four years at Chambersburg Middle School, enters two or three contests a month. Sometimes she submits as many as six entries per category.
"I enter from soups to nuts, literally," said Gillespie, who also has a master's degree in reading, which she taught in Chambersburg schools.
She's put breads, sweet rolls, beverages, desserts, pasta, seafood and appetizers to the test, emerging with awards of cash and hotel stays. On the wall in her kitchen are plaques and pictures from magazines that feature her recipes, and she has compiled a scrapbook with mementos from past winnings.
Gillespie has used some of her cash winnings to expand her angel and cookbook collections and to buy silverware that bore the same pattern as her mother's.
All of her culinary success hasn't made Gillespie possessive of her recipes.
When she gets calls from people asking how to create dazzling edibles, she eagerly shares.
"I feel honored when people want my recipes," Gillespie said.