Recipe Contests Win Creative Cooks Praise, Prizes and Cash

Have you ever been told, “You should enter that recipe in a contest?" Are you the kind of cook who’s not happy until you’ve “tweaked” a basic recipe into something brilliant? Or, are you an imaginative cook with a knack for creating original recipes and experimenting with ingredients?


Bluffton’s Lisa Nelson, I think, is all that -- and more. Nelson, who is a Data Specialist for Beaufort County School District, is no stranger to winning recipe contests. Some readers may remember Nelson as a second place winner in 2009s Bluffton Today Holiday Cookie Contest for “NOT Your Ordinary Fruitcake Cookies.” In 2010, we once again congratulated Nelson for her win of a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer for “Oatmeal, Walnut, Cranberry Bars, an entry using walnuts in a contest sponsored by the California Walnut Board.

This past April, after submitting a recipe for “Okra Creole with Smoked Sausage” in 2010s Books Are Fun-sponsored Taste of Home Teacher’s Recipe Contest, Nelson learned that her recipe was chosen among those that will appear in an upcoming Taste of Home cookbook. Besides the compliments, bragging rights and prizes, there’s money in recipe contests. In the Taste of Home Teacher’s Recipe Contest,  Books Are Fun awarded $70,000 in cash prizes to three schools and staff members. Nelson may not have won the cash in the teacher’s contest, but there are many money making opportunities still out there for good cooks like Nelson, and you, from a wide array of companies and sponsors, including the $25,000 still to be awarded in the Taste of Home Ultimate Pot Luck Contest, which closes on November 30, 2011. (See the Taste of Home website for detailed contest information at

Several recipe contests are underway right now, but deadlines vary -- so don’t delay submitting an entry. While there are numerous websites offering good information on recipe contests – some of them are free and others ask for a fee. For information that is free, check out

Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at

Okra Creole with Smoked Sausage

Recipe created by Lisa Nelson, Bluffton Taste of Home Teacher’s Recipe Contest, sponsored by Books Are Fun, 2010

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chopped green onion
1 cup diced green pepper
2 large cans diced tomatoes*
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound smoked sausage cut in half long ways, then cut into ¼-inch slices.
1 family-size frozen sliced okra*
1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce (or more to taste)
Salt to taste

In a large stock pot, sauté onions, parsley, green onion and green pepper until onions are translucent. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic, soy sauce, wine and sausage. Cover and cook over medium heat until boiling, stirring occasionally. Stir in okra, salt and hot sauce, reduce heat to low and simmer covered. Stir occasionally, cooking until okra is tender, approximately 45 minutes.* Yield: serves 8.

*Kitchen Ade Note: After just 15 minutes, I found the okra to be fully cooked and tender. To avoid overcooking, be sure to check okra after the first 15 minutes of cooking, adjusting cooking time according to taste. For the purposes of this recipe, I used a 16-ounce bag of frozen sliced okra and  2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes.

Oatmeal, Walnut, Cranberry Bars

by Lisa Nelson
Recipe and photograph courtesy California Walnut Board (CWB)

1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
2¼ cups quick cooking oatmeal
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup toasted, chopped California walnuts
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13 baking pan with non--stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugars. Add the eggs and mix well. Blend flour, baking soda and baking powder in separate bowl. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir to combine. Add the oatmeal and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the walnuts and dried cranberries. Spread batter in baking pan. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown and firm in center. Cool and cut into small bars. Serves 12.


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