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Vickroy: Crete mom needs votes to get to Bake-Off

Upside Down Tomato Basil
and Chicken Tartlets

1/3 cup Crisco 100 percent Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper and garlic seasoning blend

1/2 cup finely chopped deli rotisserie chicken breast

3 sticks (1 ounce each) tomato basil string cheese, finely chopped

8 thin plum (Roma) tomato slices (1 medium)

1 can Pillsbury Place ‘n Bake refrigerated crescent rounds

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl, mix olive oil and 2 teaspoons of the seasoning blend. Let stand 5 minutes to blend flavors. In another small bowl, mix chicken, cheese and 2 teaspoons of the seasoning blend. Generously grease 8 nonstick regular-size muffin cups with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil mixture.

Blot excess liquid from tomato slices with paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the seasoning blend. Place one tomato slice, seasoned side down, in bottom of each muffin cup.

Remove dough from can but do not separate. With serrated knife, cut dough evenly into 16 rounds. Press each into 3-inch round. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 teaspoon seasoning blend over 8 of the rounds.

Press seasoned rounds, seasoned side down, over tomato slices and partially up sides of muffin cups. Evenly divide chicken mixture into each cup. Top each with remaining crescent rounds. Press rounds so tops are even and tartlets will sit flat when removed from muffin cups.

Bake 13 to 16 minutes or until deep golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes. Run knife around edges to loosen. Invert muffin pan onto heatproof platter to remove tartlets. Sprinkle with chopped basil. Drizzle with remaining olive oil mixture or use for dipping.

For more information on the 46th annual Pillsbury Bake-Off, or to vote for Julie Beckwith’s recipe, visit www.bakeoff.com

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Updated: July 22, 2013 4:26PM



Julie Beckwith hopes the third time is the charm.

The two-time Pillsbury Bake-Off finalist once again is up for the final round of competition, but this time, she needs America’s help to get there.

“The competition has changed quite a bit this year,” said Beckwith, who lives in Crete and works as a speech and language pathologist at Talala School in Park Forest.

Her Upside Down Tomato Basil and Chicken Tartlets were among 60 recipes chosen as semifinalists in the Sweet Treats and Starters category of this year’s competition. But only 34 of those can continue on to the finalist round, which takes place at Las Vegas’ Aria Hotel in November. The public will determine which of those recipes will send their creators to the 46th annual Bake-Off kitchen.

Voting already has closed for the Doable Dinners category. It is open for Sweet Treats and Starters until June 27. On July 4, it begins for Quick Rise and Shine Breakfasts. The public can vote at www.BakeOff.com.

Beckwith sent in at least 10 recipes in the first round. Half, she said, were for desserts, and half for appetizers, or starters.

Pillsbury judges select semifinalists from the thousands of entries in each category.

Beckwith said she’s dreamed of winning the contest since she was a little girl but it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that she got serious about making that dream a reality.

“I started cooking as a coping mechanism,” she said. “My dad was sick with lung cancer and it seemed like there were only hospital shows on TV. So I started watching the Food Network. And before long, I started picking up tips and remembering what the chefs said.”

She was not chosen as a finalist the first two times she entered. That’s when she realized she needed to abide by the Three Ps: patience, persistence and perseverance.

“It’s been kind of a personal challenge,” she said.

Then, in 2010, her Caprese Pesto Margherita Stackers sent her to the final Bake-Off competition.

“My nerves got the best of me that year,” she said.

Last year, she once again headed to the finals to make her Chicken Italiano Sliders.

Each time a recipe of hers has been chosen, it has featured tomato and fresh basil. “They seem to really like that flavor profile,” she said.

In the Sweet Treats and Starters category, recipes are limited to seven ingredients, at least two of which must come from a designated list of eligible products. She chose Pillsbury Crescent Rounds and Crisco Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Cooks are allowed 30 minutes or less of prep time.

“They’re trying to appeal to busy moms and people who don’t have a lot of time or who don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking,” she said.

Beckwith, who loves to bake and decorate cookies and cupcakes, says “cute food” is her specialty.

“I rack my brain to come up with new ideas, things no one else has thought of,” she said. “It keeps me up at night.”

When developing the Upside Down Tomato Basil and Chicken Tartlets, she said, she began with the notion that she wanted individual appetizers.

“People really like small treats that are self-contained,” she said.

Then she thought she’d play off the Upside Down Pineapple cake recipe by substituting something savory for the pineapple, to kind of surprise people. “I thought, ‘how about tomato?’ Then, ‘how about tomato tartlets?’” she said.

Beckwith gets support, and offers to taste-test her creations, from her husband, Jim, a Spanish teacher at Thornridge High School, and her two sons, Jamie, 21, and Josh, 19.

When she’s not cooking or helping students, she can be found tending to the many needs of her pets, a golden retriever named Wrigley, and two rescued cats, including a high-maintenance one named “Tipp” but nicknamed “Princess.”



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