Readers meet The Wichita Eagle Holiday Cookbook challenge

11/08/2012 11:09 AM

08/05/2014 9:54 PM

What is it about a challenge that brings out the best in people? For 57 years now, The Wichita Eagle has been publishing its Holiday Cookbook, and readers should be commended for taking the dare and coming up with some of the most creative recipes around.

This year was loaded with tests: a new secret ingredient (maple syrup), an appetizer category using refrigerated dough products and the biggest challenge of all — creating a recipe for an entree using only seven ingredients or less.

Readers responded, and we were wowed. Cooks used maple syrup in recipes from sweet to savory. And they turned crescent rolls and pizza dough into delicious appetizers. And seven ingredients can make an amazing entree.

For those of you who like to cook but are not adventurous, please try some of these great recipes as well as the others in the Desserts, Food Gifts and Soup, Salads and Sides categories. You — and those you serve them to — will be more than pleased with the results.

How the cookbook happens

Recipes, recipes, recipes. A contest and subsequent cookbook can’t happen without readers’ participation. Thank you to all who entered the contest this year. If your recipe didn’t make the book, please don’t give up.

When all of the recipes were in, we sorted them into categories and verified that each qualified in that category. A panel of judges rated them on certain criteria, including how they fit the category and whether they supported the theme. The recipes sounded great, and it was difficult to narrow it down to finalists that judges would sample.

Our judges met and tasted the top qualifiers in each category during a three-day period. The judges evaluated the food based on presentation, appearance, taste, smell and overall opinion. The points were tallied and although close, the winners, decided.

This year’s judges were: Barbara Baan, host of KSN TV’s “Baan Appetit” and “Hello Kansas”; Guy Bower, host of “The Good Life” radio talk show on KNSS, 1330-AM and wine instructor at Wichita State University; Bobby Lane, chef/owner of Chester’s Chophouse and Wine Bar; chef John Michael, Lead Instructor of Culinary Arts at Butler Community College; Adriene Rathbun, owner of Social in-home cooking classes, and food blogger; Sierra Scott, host of the “It’s All Good with Sierra Scott” TV news show; Jackie Smith of Zest for Cooking; and Betsy Redler, food lover. Thanks so much to all of you for taking your valuable time to help with the contest.

Again, thank you for your submissions to the 57th annual Wichita Eagle Holiday Cookbook contest. We hope you had a good time creating and entering your recipes. Congrats to all.

A special thanks

A project such as the Holiday Cookbook doesn’t just happen — it takes quite a bit of work. Thanks to those who submitted recipes. We appreciate them being typed and easy to read. Also, thanks to my kitchen help: Elizabeth Sauer and Melissa Mahoney. I truly could not have done this without your expertise in the kitchen. At The Eagle, Lori O’Toole Buselt made the publication happen, and Sharon Shine tackled the task of typing the entries. Many thanks to photojournalist Jaime Green for taking the photos that made the food look so mouthwatering and to Lynette Abitz for designing the cookbook.

Prizes for the winners in the 7-Ingredient Main Course and Secret Ingredient: Maple Syrup categories were sponsored by Spice Merchant.

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