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We’ve only been one week into the month of November and it’s already become a whirlwind.  Part of that whirlwind was experiencing the baking contest of all baking contests: the 47th annual Pillsbury Bake-off.

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Set at the Omni Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, the hotel’s ballroom transformed into an arena of baking enthusiasts abuzz while surrounded by infinite rows of ovens, baking supplies and Pillsbury dough.

Out of thousands of entries, only 100 finalists were selected to participate in this prestigious event.  Contestants had 3 1/2 hours to bake their creations and present them to a panel of culinary experts from all over the nation.

The room swarmed with cameras, flashes, members of the media, microphones, curious onlookers and cheerleading family members while country music played in the background.  The hours flew by as the aroma of a medley of flavors permeated the air.

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After a few hours of deliberating in a closed room, the judges selected four of the most delicious Pillsbury recipes. The 100 finalists were divided into four recipe categories: Weekend Breakfast Wows, Amazing Doable Dinners, Savory Snack & Sides and Simply Sweet Treats.  Out of those four categories, one finalist will be selected to be crowned 2014’s Pillsbury Bake-Off winner.  Not only will the winner receive a golden Dough Boy and bragging rights to the most prestigious baking contest of the nation, the winner will also receive 1 Million Dollars!

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The four finalists: Chocolate Doughnut Poppers, Cuban Style Sandwich Pockets, Creamy Corn Filled Sweet Peppers, and Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters received the highest marks by the judges.  Judging was based on taste, appearance, creativity and crowd appeals.

The anticipation and nerves of the finalists will have to continue because the winner will be selected by YOU! If you have a Facebook account, you can help choose the winner.  To see a video description of each recipe, visit Pillsbury.com and VOTE!

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Because I’m a big fan of Pillsbury Pie Crust, I am sharing a recipe for raspberry cream empanadas.  This family favorite is easy, simple and festive for the holidays.  The ingredient list is short and ingredients are a staple and readily available.

Having a wonderful time at the @pillsbury #bakeoff with @perudelights @presleyspantry @ingridhoffmannofficial and @pmoyad.

A photo posted by Ericka (@nibblesnfeasts) on

Raspberry Cream Cheese Empanadas

Raspberry and Cream Cheese Empanadas
Makes 9, 3-inch empanadas

Ingredients

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 cups raspberries, rinsed, dried and chopped
2 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts, thawed to room temperature
flour for dusting
1 egg beaten

Method
Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar. Mix until smooth. Continue to mix on low speed, add egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt and lemons zest. Fold in raspberries until all ingredients have combined. Set aside.

Roll out pie dough on a floured surface and extend with rolling pin to approximately 12 inches in diameter.

Cut out 3-inch circles with cookie cutter or rim of small bowl.

Place 1-1/2 heaping tablespoons of cream cheese mixture.

Brush dough circle edges with egg; fold in half and crimp edges with a fork to seal

Place empanadas on prepared baking sheet.

With 1-inch star shaped cookie cutter, cut out stars from any left over dough.   Brush empanadas with egg, adhere a few stars to tops of empanadas and brush over them with any leftover egg.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden.

Disclosure:  I was invited by Pillsbury to attend the Pillsbury Bake-off.  All opinions are 100% my own.

November 5, 2014

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