By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Sherry Roper is hoping the third time will be the charm when it comes to the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest.
The Santa Fe Valley resident was a contest finalist in 2008 for her original recipe Picadillo Chimichangas. In 2010 she again made the finals for creating maple-bacon breakfast rolls. Each time, judges selected 100 entrants from thousands of recipes.
This year Pillsbury is selecting the finalists in a different method. Cooking experts are picking 60 semi-finalists in each category — amazing doable dinners, simple sweets and starters, and quick rise and shine breakfasts — and the public will select the 33 finalists in each of the dinner and breakfast categories and 34 in the sweets/appetizers category.
Roper became a semifinalist in the dinner category for her steak flatbread with walnuts and arugula. Online votes submitted by March 28 at
will determine the dinner finalists. They will receive an expense-paid trip for two to Las Vegas in November in order to prepare the recipes for judges.
Semifinalist recipes are posted on the website for the public to review and perhaps prepare before voting.
The Bake-Off winner will receive $1 million plus $10,000 in GE kitchen appliances. Second-place receives $10,000 plus $3,000 in GE appliances, while third-place receives $5,000 and $2,000 in appliances. There will also be $5,000 awards presented for the most innovative recipe, plus recipes that best use Jif peanut butter, Crisco cooking oil or baking sticks, and Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk.
Since individuals are only allowed to be a finalist three times, if Roper makes it this year, it will be the last time she or anyone in her family may enter the contest.
“I came up with it in January,” Roper said of her entry. “I noticed a lot of flatbreads popping up on restaurant menus, so it’s trendy.”
A steak flatbread she tried at a restaurant inspired the flavor, but she did not settle on steak until first creating a flatbread with chicken and marmalade. “That was not good,” Roper said of her and husband Greg’s reaction.
“The steak was so good. It only took two or three attempts ... (since) it was pretty good the first time,” she said. “I was pleasantly surprised.”
The hardest part — besides limiting herself to seven ingredients including mandatory use of two listed Pillsbury products — was determining the right about of arugula and lemon juice.
“The arugula flavor is very good,” Roper said, adding she has eaten the herb that resembles a salad green in sandwiches at restaurants. “It’s popular now because it’s peppery tasting.” She said it adds a “tangy, rich” flavor, while the walnuts add crunch. Those with nut allergies could leave the walnuts off and the flatbread will still taste good, Roper said.
Roper will make a decision about entering the desserts/appetizers contest (entries accepted April 4 to May 9) or breakfast contest (entries accepted July 4 to Aug. 8) after finding out if she is a finalist in the dinner category.
“I really like this recipe and it could be bad luck to think of another,” she said.