Food rivalry stays family-friendly

W.Va. mother-in-law, son-in-law are in Pillsbury competition

W.Va. mother-in-law, son-in-law are in Pillsbury competition

January 16, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

BUNKER HILL, W.Va. - It's election time and both Sherry Smith and Will Sperry want your vote.

Smith's pitch: "I would appreciate your vote and you may win a million dollars."

Sperry's turn: "I'm not a politician. Vote for the underdog."

Truth be told, neither is a politician. But the Bunker Hill residents - who are mother- and son-in-law - are among 100 finalists in the 43rd Pillsbury Bake-Off contest that will culminate at the finals on April 13 to 15 in Dallas.

Smith's Banana-Filled Caramel-Chocolate Crepes and Sperry's Chicken-Asiago-Spinach Quiche are in the finals for the breakfast and brunch category. They will fly to Dallas this spring to bake their original creations for the judges and press.

If either of them wins their category, they have a chance at the overall grand prize: $1 million, a GE wall oven with convection, and $7,000 in additional GE Profile kitchen appliances.


Erika Couch, of Frederick, Md., also is a finalist in the breakfast and brunch category. Her entry is her recipe for Peanut Butter-licious Ring-a-Rounds.

The public can vote for their favorite recipe among the 100 finalists (go to and click on "See all 100 recipes"). One of the voters will be randomly selected and, if the dish that person voted for ends up being the grand prize winner, the voter will win $1 million. The finalist whose recipe gets the most votes will win an award and $5,000.

Sperry, 37, a network engineer for Comcast, claims to be the underdog, but be wary of his spin. There are only eight male finalists this year, but Sperry has been a finalist before, in 2004.

This is Smith's first time as a finalist. She attended the 1982 finals with her daughter, Janelle, who is now Will Sperry's wife. Janelle Sperry has been a finalist twice, in 2006 and in 1982 when she was the youngest finalist ever at age 10. These days, contestants must be at least 18 years old to participate.

Smith, aka Nana, probably will get her granddaughter Elizabeth's vote because the 5-year-old hasn't even tried her father's quiche. With Asiago cheese, the quiche has a grown-up flavor.

But Elizabeth really likes Nana's crepes, a recipe in which nine of the 14 ingredients are products made by contest sponsors.

The finalists' recipes, which must be original, will be judged on taste, appearance, creativity and consumer appeal.

But retiree Smith, 66, thinks it helps to use more ingredients made by sponsors than the required minimum of two.

There is no limit on the number of entries; Smith submitted about 50 and her son-in-law sent in 20 to 30 recipes.

Each finalist receives a trip to Dallas, a GE convection/microwave oven and $100.

While Smith and Sperry compliment each other on their recipes, there's plenty of friendly trash-talking going on.

"I called her up and said 'You're going down,'" Sperry said.

Smith's response: "We'll see who's going down." Smith also calls the Sperry's home and asks to speak to "the loser."

"We're going to have a lot of fun with it," she said.

Banana-Filled Caramel-Chocolate Crepes

Prep time: 1 hour, 25 minutes; start to finish: 1 hour, 25 minutes


19.5-ounce box Pillsbury Traditional Fudge Brownie Mix
1 cup Pillsbury Best All Purpose Flour
3 Eggland's Best eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup Crisco pure vegetable oil


1 cup Land O Lakes unsalted or salted butter
1/2 cup Domino or C&H granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel

6 large firm ripe bananas, cut into 1/4-inch slices


1/2 cup Smucker's Caramel Ice Cream Topping
3/4 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 tablespoons Domino or C&H confectioner powdered sugar
1/4 cup Fisher Chef's Naturals Chopped Walnuts

To make crepes, in a large bowl stir together brownie mix, flour, eggs, milk and oil until smooth.

Spray 10-inch skillet with Crisco Original No-Stick Cooking Spray; heat over medium heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto center of skillet. Immediately rotate skillet until thin layer of batter covers bottom. Cook over medium heat about 1 minute, turning once, until top appears slightly dry.

Remove crepe to cutting board, flipping crepe over so first cooked side is facing up. Immediately roll up crepe; place on plate to cool. Cover with clean kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining batter. Makes about 24 crepes.

To make filling, in a large saucepan over medium heat cook butter and granulated sugar, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved. Stir in vanilla and lemon peel until well mixed. Add banana slices; gently toss until coated and slightly softened.

Fill 1 crepe at a time, keeping remaining crepes covered. Gently unroll crepe; fill with slightly less than 1/4 cup banana filling. Reroll crepe; place seam side down on serving platter. Repeat with remaining crepes.

Top crepes with drizzle of caramel topping and dollop of whipped topping. Sprinkle tops lightly with powdered sugar; sprinkle with walnuts. Serve immediately.

Serves 12 with 2 crepes each.

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