Avid Rockville cook ‘bakes’ it big -- Gazette.Net







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Choco-peanut butter cups and skillet chicken cornbread pudding Mexicana

Choco-peanut butter cups
1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated peanut butter cookies
1 cup Hershey’s premier white baking chips (6 oz)
1 1/2 cups Jif creamy peanut butter
1 cup Hershey’s semisweet baking chips (6 oz)
4 Nature Valley oats 'n honey crunchy granola bars (two pouches from 8.9-oz box), crushed (3/4 cup)*
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 24 minimuffin cups with Crisco Original No-Stick Cooking Spray, or grease with shortening. Cut cookie dough into 24 slices. Press one slice in bottom and up side of each minimuffin cup, forming 1/4-inch rim above top of cup (sprinkle fingers with flour if necessary). Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until edges are deep golden brown. Cool in pans on cooling racks 5 minutes. With tip of handle of wooden spoon, press dough down in center of each cup to make room for tablespoons filling.
2. Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, melt white chips and 3/4 cup of the peanut butter over low heat, stirring constantly. Divide mixture evenly into cookie cups (about 1 tablespoon each). Refrigerate 10 minutes.
3. In same 2-quart saucepan, melt semisweet baking chips and remaining 3/4 cup peanut butter over low heat, stirring constantly. Divide chocolate mixture evenly on top of peanut butter mixture in each cup (about 1 tablespoon each). Sprinkle crushed granola bars over top of each. Refrigerate until set, about one hour. Remove from muffin cups before serving.
*To easily crush granola bars, do not unwrap; use rolling pin to crush bars.

Skillet chicken cornbread pudding Mexicana
Crisco Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
Cornbread pudding
4 large eggs, divided
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 (6-ounce) package Martha White Cotton Country Buttermilk Cornbread & Muffin Mix, or Buttermilk Cornbread & Muffin Mix
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Chicken mixture
2 cups cooked, diced chicken breasts
1 (1-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (11-ounce) can whole kernel corn with red and green peppers, undrained
1 1/2 cups cheddar-Jack with jalapeno peppers cheese blend, divided

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat 10-inch Lodge cast iron skillet with no-stick cooking spray.
With a wire whisk, whisk together one egg, milk and 3 tablespoons melted butter in large bowl. Stir in cornbread mix. Pour into prepared skillet. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
With a knife, cut cornbread into 1-inch cubes; place in a large bowl.
Beat the heavy cream and remaining three eggs in a medium bowl with a fork or whisk. Pour the cream mixture over the cornbread cubes, stirring to coat.
In the same 10-inch skillet, using a large spoon, mix diced chicken, taco seasoning mix and corn. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheese. Spoon cornbread mixture over chicken mixture in skillet. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 55 minutes
6 to 8 servings

Ronna Farley just won $250 in the Auntie Anne’s Baking Kit Recipe Challenge.

She was a finalist in the 16th annual National Cornbread Cook-Off.

And she was a finalist in the kosher cooking brand Manischewitz Cook-Off.

To dub Farley, 58, of Rockville, an avid cook would perhaps be an understatement.

“A lot of the time, I’ll put in an idea from this place and some from that place and put it all together,” Farley said of creating recipes for contests.

Farley enters between three and five cooking or baking contests per week — all submitted recipes are her own creation. Some come to her in a snap, she said, and others take some time. Her refrigerator always has a note or two on the front with a few ideas written down.

And although she doesn’t win every time, she has her share of success. Farley finds the competitions on websites such as contestcooking.com and contestcook.com. Some contests have requirements such as using a certain brand of flour or a specific type of baking sheet.

At age 20, Farley made it into the Pillsbury Bake-Off competition, a highly competitive baking contest. Tens of thousands of people enter, and one walks away with the $1 million first-place prize. And in 2006, Farley won her category, Simple Snacks, in the cook-off. She took home $10,000 and a new stove for her recipe for choco-peanut butter cups.

Most recently, Farley won $250 after receiving the most “likes” and comments on Auntie Anne’s Facebook page, said Amanda Marker, an account executive representing Auntie Anne’s, a national pretzel company. The company posted the finalists’ recipes online; Farley received 249 votes to win the fan favorite.

Farley works at the checkout counter at a Giant Food store in Aspen Hill. She has held the position for 29 years. Her customers often check in on how she fares in competitions.

“My mom’s always been a good cook for ... ever,” said Jennifer Garancheski, Farley’s daughter. “My mom would always come up with something new, so it was kind of fun.”

Farley does not have any professional training as a cook.

Garancheski remembers Farley created a new cookie at Christmas every year, as well as baking longtime favorites. Dinner, too, always was good.

Choco-peanut butter cups, the recipe created for a Pillsbury competition, is a family favorite.

“The first time I tasted them I almost fell on the floor,” Farley said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh! I came up with that?!’’’

Participating in cooking competitions is an excellent hobby for Farley, Garancheski said.

“It’s something she has a lot of fun with,” Garancheski said. “She really dedicates a lot of time to it. She keeps sticking to it and that’s one thing I love about my mom.”