Akron native, Cindy Orley, is one of four finalist in the 2010 Pillsbury Crescent Cook Contest. Her recipe for perfect potato pockets landed her the coveted spot. Regular About.com Cleveland readers will remember that Cindy used to write for that site about Akron and family topics.
Cindy has been busy lately. She's appeared on Cleveland's FOX 8 News in the morning and been featured in "Everday with Rachel Ray" and "Taste of Home" magazines. I chatted with Cindy earlier this week about the contest. Here is what she had to say:
1. What made you decide to enter the Pillsbury Crescent Cook Contest?
I am an average mom with no professional cooking abilities, however when I prepare a meal with Crescents, it is always a hit. I have several dishes that I make that get recipe requests every time. When I learned about the Pillsbury Crescent Cook Contest, I had to enter. Plus, we are remodeling our home from top to bottom so the prize money would come in really handy to remodel my outdated kitchen!
Is this the first time you've entered?
This is the first time I've ever entered any kind of cooking contest so I am very excited to be one of 4 finalists in the country.
2. How did you decide what to make? For the contest, I had to submit an original recipe that would be good for a quick 30 min or less weeknight meal and a recipe for holiday entertaining. After going through my favorite recipes, nothing seemed exciting enough. I created 5 new recipes with about a dozen variations of each over the course of 2 days before submitting my final recipes. I must have bought $50 in Pillsbury Crescents!
Is this a recipe that you've been making for a while or did you create it just for the contest?
My husband thought of the loaded baked potato idea. After playing with a few variations, I came up with Perfect Potato Pockets. My 2nd recipe is top secret and will be released Nov 1, 2010. I created the recipes just for the contest.
3. How would you describe your cooking style?
I enjoy following recipes from every cuisine but alter them to fit my family's taste. I have always enjoyed trying new types of food and recipes. I have found it great to introduce new flavors to my kids while they are young so they do not become picky eaters.
Are you self-taught?
I have learned to cook from my mom and mother-in-law, although it is my husband who has inspired me to cook creatively without relying heavily on recipes. I like to cook healthy, flavorful meals that adults and kids alike can enjoy - a huge challenge for moms everywhere!
The winner in the Pillsbury Crescent Cook-Off is partly determined by Internet votes. If you'd like to show the Ohio love (as well as be entered into Pillsbury's $5000 reader's sweepstakes), visit the Pillsbury Web site and vote for Cindy. You can vote daily through December 31, 2010.
by Sandy Mitchell
(photo courtesy of Cindy Orley)