Has it really been four years?

I didn’t notice.

Pillsbury recently announced the grand prize winner of the 48th edition of its Bake-Off Contest. Amy Nelson of Zionville, N.C., received a check for $50,000, a complete kitchen makeover and an appearance on Food Network’s "The Kitchen."

I feel sorry for Amy.

Remember when Bake-Off winners were awarded $1 million?

That was between 1996 and 2014

There was no contest in 2015 or 2016.

Now it’s back with a lot less prize money and more rules.

When the contest began in 1949, the only requirement for a winner was that the recipe had to include Pillsbury's Best Flour.

Now, entrees must include a Pillsbury product (like Pillsbury Grands! Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing, 17.5 ounces, etc.) and the inspiration behind the recipe, which counts for 30 percent of the judges’ score.

There were thousands of entries this time around, but Amy’s Bejeweled Cranberry-Orange Rolls, and her story that they were inspired by her mother’s fondness for the Pillsbury Orange Rolls, took the top prize.

Here is the winning recipe.

Bejeweled Cranberry-Orange Rolls

• 1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries

• 1/2 cup crushed pineapple, undrained (from an 8-ounce can)

• 1/2 cup strong ginger beer or ginger ale

• 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate

• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

• 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

• 1 can (13.9 ounces) Pillsbury Cinnabon refrigerated orange rolls with orange icing

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In 2-quart saucepan, cook cranberries, pineapple, ginger beer, orange juice concentrate and ginger over medium-high heat 10 to 14 minutes, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed and mixture is very thick. Remove from heat; cool 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in 10-inch skillet, toast walnuts over medium heat four to six minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Remove from heat.

Open can of dough; do not separate rolls. Set icing aside.

Carefully unroll dough onto cutting board, being careful not to separate. Spread cooled cranberry mixture evenly on dough; sprinkle with walnuts. Carefully reroll dough. With a serrated knife, cut each roll at perforations, wiping blade of knife after each for clean cuts. Place rolls about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet, reshaping rolls if necessary.

Bake nine to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Spread icing evenly over warm rolls.

Makes eight servings.

Chick-n-Broccoli Pot Pies won the 28th Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1978.

Chick-n-Broccoli Pot Pies

• 1 can (12 ounces) Pillsbury Grands! Jr. Golden Layers refrigerated biscuits

• 2/3 cup shredded cheddar or American cheese

• 2/3 cup crisp rice cereal

• 2 cups Green Giant frozen broccoli cuts, thawed

• 1 cup cubed cooked chicken or turkey

• 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken or mushroom soup

• 1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Separate dough into 10 biscuits. Place one biscuit in each ungreased muffin cup. Firmly press in bottom and up sides, forming 1/2-inch rim over edge of muffin cup. Spoon about 1 tablespoon each of cheese and cereal into each biscuit-lined cup. Press mixture into bottom of each cup.

Cut large pieces of broccoli in half.

In a large bowl, combine broccoli, chicken and soup; mix well. Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture over cereal. Cups will be full. Sprinkle with almonds.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until edges of biscuits are deep golden brown.

Makes 10.

This is the $25,000 winner from 1949.

No-Knead Water-Rising Twists

• 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups Pillsbury Best All Purpose or Unbleached Flour

• 1 cup sugar, divided

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 package active dry yeast

• 3/4 cup milk

• 1/2 cup margarine or butter

• 1 teaspoon vanilla

• 2 eggs

• 1/2 cup chopped nuts

• 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Lightly spoon flour into a measuring cup; level off.

In large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt and yeast; blend well.

In a small saucepan, heat milk and margarine until very warm (120 degrees to 130 degrees.). Add warm liquid, vanilla and eggs to flour mixture; blend at low speed until moistened. Beat two minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in remaining 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups flour to form a soft dough. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and cloth towel. Let rise in warm place (80 degrees to 85 degrees) until light and doubled in size, 30 to 40 minutes. (Dough will be sticky.)

Grease two large cookie sheets.

In a small bowl, combine nuts, remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon; blend well. Drop about 1/4 cup dough into nut mixture; thoroughly coat. Stretch dough to about 8 inches in length; twist into desired shape. Place on greased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover; let rise in warm place, about 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Uncover dough. Bake eight to 16 minutes or until light golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets; cool on wire racks. Serve warm.

Makes 12 servings.

In 1980, a savory pie took the top prize.

Italian Zucchini Crescent Pie

• 2 tablespoons butter

• 4 cups thinly sliced zucchini

• 1 cup chopped onions

• 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/2 teaspoon pepper

• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

• 1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves

• 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

• 2 eggs, well beaten

• 2 cups shredded Muenster or mozzarella cheese

• 1 can (8 ounces) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

• 2 teaspoons yellow mustard

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and onions; cook six to eight minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in parsley flakes, salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil and oregano.

In a large bowl, mix eggs and cheese. Add cooked vegetable mixture; stir gently to mix.

Separate dough into eight triangles. Place in ungreased 10-inch glass pie plate, 12x8-inch (2-quart) glass baking dish or 11-inch quiche pan. Press over bottom and up sides to form crust. Firmly press perforations to seal. Spread crust with mustard. Pour egg mixture evenly into crust-lined pie plate.

Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. If necessary, cover edge of crust with strips of foil during last 10 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Makes six servings.

It appears mostly desserts won the contest over the years. The following complicated torte topped all others in 1996.

Macadamia Fudge Torte


• 1/3 cup low-fat sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)

• 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


• 1 box (18.25 ounces) Pillsbury Moist Supreme Devil's Food Cake Mix

• 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

• 1/3 cup oil

• 1 can (15 ounces) sliced pears in light syrup, drained

• 3 eggs

• 1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts or pecans

• 2 teaspoons water


• 1 jar (17 ounces) butterscotch caramel ice cream topping

• 1/3 cup milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9- or 10-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small saucepan, combine filling ingredients; cook over medium-low heat until chocolate is melted, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, cinnamon and oil; blend at low speed for 20 to 30 seconds or until crumbly. (Mixture will be dry.)

Place pears in blender container or food processor bowl with metal blade; cover and blend until smooth.

In another large bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups cake mix mixture, pureed pears and eggs; beat at low speed until moistened. Beat two minutes at medium speed. Spread batter evenly in sprayed pan. Drop filling by spoonfuls over batter. Stir nuts and water into remaining cake mix mixture. Sprinkle over filling.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool 10 minutes. Remove sides of pan. Cool 90 minutes or until completely cooled.

In a small saucepan, combine sauce ingredients; cook over medium-low heat for three to four minutes or until well blended, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, spoon 2 tablespoons warm sauce onto each individual dessert plate. Top each with wedge of torte. If desired, serve with ice cream and garnish with chocolate curls.

Makes 12 servings.

Looking for a recipe? Have one you’d like to share? Write to Potluck, Times Record, P.O. Box 1359, Fort Smith, AR 72902. Email: jharshaw@swtimes.com.