The winners of our time-honored monthly recipe contest share a gift for combining bold flavor and smart techniques.
"I do a lot of experimenting with foods and enjoy Middle Eastern flavors," says this West Bend, Wisconsin, reader who won with her Casablanca Burgers recipe. "So after brainstorming I decided to add dried apricots, spices, and pine nuts to my burger." She turned to her family to taste her new recipe. "My husband is a willing taste tester and my 8-year old likes to taste new things," she says.
This creative reader came up with her scone recipe while thinking about breakfast ideas for a bed and breakfast she and her husband own in Virginia City, Nevada. "There's a railroad that goes from Virginia City to Carson City that guests like to take. I was thinking of ways to make a picnic basket breakfast for guests to carry on the train," she says. "Breakfast had to be something simple and easy, so I came up with the idea of these savory scones to go."
"I've always loved to make recipes like this one," says this Plano, Texas reader who won with her Corn and Zucchini Pan Soufflé recipe. "I find that egg dishes are a quick way to throw together dinner when you are busy. I often work in items that I have on hand in the refrigerator and seasonal ingredients. I developed a relish to serve with the pan soufflé for a boost of flavor and freshness."
This Bokeelia, Florida, reader won with his mouthwatering Pan-Fried Fish with Peppers and Pecans recipe. As an avid fisherman he had little hesitation when he saw the call out for fish recipes in the magazine, "I have plenty of experience with a variety seafood," he says, "both from the catching and cooking angle." He's also tried the recipe with a variety of other fish. "You can substitute other white fish for the trout like tilapia, catfish, walleye, flounder, and halibut," says Richard.
Jana Razlaff of Ruston, Louisiana, had the top recipe in the June 2010 Ice Cream Sandwiches category with her Chocolate-Marshmallow Ice Cream Sandwiches. It was her 12-year-old daughter who encouraged her to give the contest a try. "The two of us thought it would be fun to create a recipe for ice cream sandwiches. So we went to the store that day, bought ingredients, prepared our ideas, and taste-tested," she says. "I ended up entering three recipes in the contest. The first one we came up with turned out to be the winner," says Jana.
Our judges awarded top honors to this Kirkland, Washington, reader for her Summer Vegetable Potato Salad recipe. "In the summer months, I make a lot of salads and combine the fresh produce of the season, whatever is available in the market," she says. "I created this recipe as a fresh, light, healthy take on a classic potato salad."
This Grand Marais, Michigan, reader took top honors with her short-and-sweet recipe for Caramel Apple Bars. Filizetti says her family played a key role in the development of the recipe. "This was a new type of recipe for me to make since I don't usually prepare cereal bars," she says, "so I tested the bar cookie recipe on my two children and husband along with others. This one turned out to be the top winner with my family as well."
This Pataskala, Ohio, reader took top prize with her Greek Spinach Veggie Burgers. She says she had no trouble coming up with a meatless burger, "I was a vegetarian for about 20 years and still eat vegetarian meals several days a week," says Heather. "I also like to experiment when cooking. Since I had never had a spinach patty, I decided to develop one and tried several versions for this contest. I tested them on my husband until I ended up with the recipe I wanted to enter."
The inspiration behind this Yakima, Washington, reader's winning Jambalaya Pizza came from a trip she took years ago, "I traveled to New Orleans and just loved the food," she says. "I knew I wanted to use Cajun flavors in the topping. Then I thought that rice would go great with these flavors, so rice became the basis for the crust," says Elizabeth.