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What you need to know for 01/16/2018

Local woman wins ‘Crisco’ prize at national Pillsbury Bake-Off

Local woman wins ‘Crisco’ prize at national Pillsbury Bake-Off

Linda Gaetz Blakely of Middleburgh loves her Indonesian chicken turnovers with spicy peanut sauce. S

Linda Gaetz Blakely of Middleburgh loves her Indonesian chicken turnovers with spicy peanut sauce.

So do the judges at the renowned Pillsbury Bake-Off recipe contest. Blakely’s recipe this week scored the “Cooking is Crisco” award in the national competition; Blakely won a $5,000 prize.

One hundred recipes were judged Monday at the Peabody Hotel and Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., and seven other people won cash awards — including Christina Verrelli of Devon, Pa., who took home the $1 million grand prize for her pumpkin ravioli with salted caramel whipped cream.

The winners were announced Tuesday on “Martha,” the arts, crafts and cooking program hosted by Martha Stewart on the Hallmark Channel.

“I’m just astounded,” said Blakely. “First of all, I was astounded to be accepted as a finalist. I’m not a seasoned cooking contest person; a lot of these people were and have entered previous bake-offs and other company recipe contests. There were some people who had been there for one or two previous bake-offs.”

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For Gazette features writer Jeff Wilkin's article on her recipe, click here.

Home chefs competed in the “breakfast and brunches,” “entertaining appetizers,” “dinner made easy” and “sweet treat” categories. Four other special awards were given by General Electric, Jif peanut butter, Crisco and Eagle Brand foods.

Blakely was eligible for the GE award — for imagination and innovation — and for the Jif and Crisco awards because she had used those products in her recipe.

Blakely, a 1967 graduate of Guilderland High School and a 1971 graduate of Skidmore College, entered the 45th version of the contest last spring. She learned in mid-September that her turnovers had earned a spot on the finalist list.

The local winner said her baked goods have won prizes at past Schoharie County Fairs. Her “Cuban Black Bean Soup” was a finalist in The Daily Gazette’s “Autumn Soup Festival” in 2006.

Blakely, whose Pillsbury recipe was printed in The Gazette in February, said she plans to use part of her winnings to assist flood relief efforts in Schoharie County. “After that, I don’t know,” she said. “Probably little things I’ve been thinking about — a smart phone or a new computer. I’ll treat myself to a little something.”

The winning recipes — along with all finalist recipes — are available at

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