Watch this video as Todd Oldham unveils his sensational design: http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/video/todd-oldham-unveiling-the-official-apron-of-the-42nd-news-footage/75784985
1) After making and photographing every single Bake-Off grand prize winner, Kristina and I agree that your recipe is the most creative of any other winner in Bake-Off history. We are curious to know your thought process in developing the recipe. Did you have an AHA! moment? Had you made a stuffing from waffles before? How many times did you make the recipe before you felt it was just right?
Anna: It really came to me in a flash. Normally, I strategically develop recipes for contests, but in this case I saw the waffles, thought they might be good in stuffing, and started experimenting. I have no idea how I came up with the idea to combine peach preserves with Worcestershire sauce for the glaze, but I do make a lot of quick homemade glazes with jelly, so I probably just threw it together. As far as being “just right”, it was just right the first time. I practiced making it only so I would feel comfortable making it at the Bake-Off. My biggest worry was overcooking the chicken.
2) It must be completely surreal to hear your name called as the million dollar winner. Do you remember your very first thought after winning? How long did it take before it finally sunk in?
Anna: Surreal sums it up. I think my first thought was “My life is about to change”.
3) In what ways has your life changed since winning the Bake-Off?
Anna: We have a degree of financial security that’s comforting. Our lifestyle hasn’t changed much and we’ve always lived within our means, but we are so much happier knowing Emma’s college is taken care of and that we have a buffer in case things go wrong. Life can change in an instant, for better or for worse.
4) Your wonderful blog, “Cookie Madness,” is known and loved by many. What brought you to write a blog about cookies instead of some other food?
Anna: I love baking. Cooking is fun and I enjoy learning about foods, but the foods I want to eat are sweets. I started with a blog devoted to cookies and lately I’ve been trying to stay “on theme”, but I’ve found myself veering into muffins and cakes quite a bit. Maybe I’ll change the name to “Baked Goods Madness”. Ha.
5) What item or appliance could you not do without in the kitchen?
Anna: Well, obviously the oven. I think I’d also have a hard time without my food processor.
6) Please fill in the following: (Anna’s answers underlined)
-My favorite cookie is: chocolate chip with brownies a close second.
-My least favorite cookie is: one that is not fresh
-My favorite cookie ingredient is: chocolate
7) Parchment or silpat? Anna: I am actually big on non-stick foil. I like parchment too. Having ruined my share of Silpats, I’ve given up on them. They also absorb odors and get nasty after a while.
8) Dark chocolate or milk chocolate? Anna: Dark!
9) If you could develop a cookie fragrance, what would be the scent? Anna: Oatmeal Raisins Cinnamon
10) You have a cookbook coming out soon based on your love of cookies. Do you have plans for more cookbooks in the future? If yes, would it be more cookies, or some other food?
Anna: My new cookie book has 365 cookie recipes. After all the testing and tasting, I’ve seriously considered doing a vegetable cookbook to balance things out. It would be a stretch….
During my first two PBO appearances, I had gained the wisdom to understand that the most difficult part of this contest was getting to be one of the 100 finalists. Once there, it was completely in the hands of fate and the draw of judges and their personal preferences that determined any winners. I truly believe that if the same exact contest was held the next day with a different set of judges, there would be all new winners. With that keen insight, I had only one mission for this last time: to have fun. Two of my daughters were able to join me and we did have the time of our lives; it was a fantastic finale.
The Gaylord Palms Hotel in Orlando was surreal with its beautiful flora, waterfalls, live alligators lazing throughout the indoor rivers, a 60-foot sailboat bar/restaurant and a massive four and a half acre glass atrium system that had me constantly confused as to whether we were actually inside or outside (something my daughters will never let me forget 🙂
There was a large group of contestants from the popular contest site, Cooking Contest Central, present at this event, and it’s always such a treat to meet the real live person behind the cyber friend persona. For the first time, I had the pleasure of meeting my all-time cooking contest idol: Roxanne Chan; it was an honor just to be in her presence. After reading so much about her and her accomplishments, it was delightful to get to know such a kind human being. And after being online friends for years, Norita Solt and I finally met face-to-face. My daughters immediately fell in love with Norita and her husband Ron, and officially adopted them as an honorary Aunt and Uncle who will be part of our family forever.
The Bake-Off floor was much more relaxed for me this last time, and I actually enjoyed the reporters with their cameras and big, fuzzy booms – something I normally turn and run from. I always loved hearing, “Here’s our Minnesota girl!”, and turning to see George Pillsbury coming to give me a hug, with his wife, Sally at his side; what a lovely, genuine couple. Once again, I won no prize money for my recipe, but my three PBO experiences have been a priceless highlight of my life. In the opening video of the 2006 contest, I’m shown gushing to the camera that the Pillsbury Bake-Off is “the Mother of all cooking contests!” After participating in quite a few national contests, I know that’ll always ring true for me. Whatever ripe old age I live to, I know that my PBO memories have defined who I am in terms of following my dreams, and my favorite color will always be ‘Pillsbury blue’.
To find the recipe for “Baked Chicken and Spinach Stuffing” go to: http://goo.gl/VG8QO
Photo of “Baked Chicken and Spinach Stuffing” is by my daughter, Kristina Vanni. Visit her blog at: http://www.betterrecipes.com/blogs/daily-dish
To read all my previous Bake-Off blogs:
Bake-Off #1: http://su.pr/7gmylO
Bake-Off #2: http://su.pr/2zgjZn
Bake-Off #3: http://su.pr/7VZzZS
Bake-Off #4: http://su.pr/292acQ
Bake-Off #5: http://su.pr/2yOSvP
Bake-Off #6: http://su.pr/28VYBh
Bake-Off #7: http://su.pr/1hk3nb
Bake-Off #8: http://su.pr/22JMGd
Bake-Off #9: http://su.pr/2KkA2E
Bake-Off #10: http://su.pr/8awD1k
Bake-Off #11: http://su.pr/1CmPvD
Bake-Off #12: http://su.pr/3ogo5M
Bake-Off #13: http://su.pr/1a4HYQ
Bake-Off #14: http://su.pr/3tgiV5
Bake-Off #15: http://su.pr/7tQXBu
Bake-Off #16: http://su.pr/9nPW7c
Bake-Off #17: http://su.pr/9WIaqm
Bake-Off #18: http://su.pr/6MMS45
Bake-Off #19: http://su.pr/2A7GIX
Bake-Off #20: http://su.pr/2MwjlD
Bake-Off #21: http://su.pr/1nIgIJ
Bake-Off #22: http://su.pr/1nkUgJ
Bake-Off #23 http://su.pr/20jQDK
Bake-Off #24 http://su.pr/AMfFSj
Bake-Off #25 http://su.pr/4btzLZ
Bake-Off #26 http://su.pr/2sJrvp
Bake-Off #27 http://su.pr/9cG4B1
Bake-Off #28 http://su.pr/24CMm0
Bake-Off #29 http://su.pr/8th5eg
Bake-Off #30 http://su.pr/AUUGkZ
Bake-Off #31 http://su.pr/9j9TQ6
Bake-Off #32 http://su.pr/76Fl0s
Bake-Off #33 http://su.pr/26Q4KJ
Bake-Off #34 (part 1) http://su.pr/3TlcVI
(part 2) http://su.pr/7suCub
Bake-Off #35 http://su.pr/1lZC8X
Bake-Off #36 http://su.pr/1Ogl7Q
Bake-Off #37 http://goo.gl/39Fh0
Bake-Off #38 http://goo.gl/5xrPz
Bake-Off #39 http://goo.gl/ca52t
Bake-Off #40 http://goo.gl/Kj0NQ
Bake-Off #41 http://goo.gl/SlRCz