By BRICE STUMP
The Daily Times of Salisbury
MARION STATION, Md. (AP) — It’s a long way from the salt marshes of Somerset County to the glitter of Las Vegas, yet not so far that a special recipe couldn’t propel Brenda Jackson into the national spotlight and make her a million dollars richer.
If her coveted Saucy Shrimp N Broccoli Pizza recipe is a favorite with voters, she and her husband, Harry, will be on their way to compete in the finals of the 46th Pillsbury Bake-off Contest.
Jackson works as a correctional officer at ECI and enjoys cooking and developing new dishes.
A family favorite is a quick and easy Crab and Broccoli Pizza on a flatbread base.
When she saw that Pillsbury was sponsoring a “doable” dinners category, she submitted her recipe.
That was in February, and now she’s one of 60 semifinalists — and the only contest semifinalist in Maryland — vying for a position in the next tier of 33 contestants traveling to Vegas in November.
Just to get to her current level, Jackson had to beat out tens of thousands of potential national contestants, using an adaptation of a recipe she created for her family using Maryland crabmeat.
“I figured that Maryland crabmeat would not be readily available to cooks across the nation year-round,” she explained, “so I substituted medium shrimp.”
Parmesan cheese sauce, fresh shrimp, broccoli and a flatbread crust, all accented with fresh basil, may hold the recipe for a million-dollar success.
She is in the “doable dinners” category, which requires recipes to be prepared and served in 30 minutes or less, and to incorporate seven or less ingredients using two Pillsbury products. While her finished dish is cooked in a conventional oven, Jackson said it is further enhanced if the flatbread crust is heated over a grill. (“I think it really adds to the flavor and texture,” she said.)
The contest was a perfect fit for Jackson.
“I have long been a fan of Pillsbury. They have a lot of good recipes and family-oriented recipes, so this was an opportunity to get involved. Out of the thousands of submitted recipes, I have been fortunate to end up in the final 60 to be judged again, where 33 recipes will be selected,” she said. “I will know Thursday, April 4. That’s when I find out if I make the final cut.”
Her husband said he has been doing what he can to help his wife, and the contest has been an experience.
“No, he hasn’t started spending any of the million-dollar prize, and this had been hard on him, but if he wants a divorce, I’ll advance him the money,” she said with laughter.
To get the word out to folks who can vote, the Jacksons have developed a YouTube video.
“We’ve got a sign in the background with the address for voting, and our dog, Pixie, is shown chewing up the paper recipe because it’s so good,” she said.
From now until the deadline, Jackson is out beating the streets to get votes.
“I just need to beat 27 people out of 60,” she said with a smile. “Hey, if I don’t win, I sure had a great time doing it.”
Brenda’s Saucy Shrimp N Broccoli Pizza
1 pound medium-large shrimp shelled, deveined and cut in half
1 roll (11 ounce) Pillsbury refrigerated thin pizza crust
1 can (18 ounce) Progresso Recipe Starter Parmesan Basil
1 bag (11.8 ounce) Green Giant Seasoned Steamers Tuscan Seasoned Broccoli
3/4 ounce package fresh basil chopped, or about 3 tablespoons
2 tablespoons Pillsbury’s Best All Purpose Flour
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, use 1/2 cup in sauce and 1/2 cup for topping
Unroll crust onto baking pan sprayed with cooking spray and sprinkle tablespoon fresh basil on crust and press gently. Prebake crust for 8-10 minutes until light brown. While crust is prebaking, in large saucepan whisk together Parmesan Basil Starter and 2 tablespoons flour. Prepare Tuscan Broccoli bag as directed on package, only cooking 5 minutes. While broccoli is cooking, begin heating savory sauce on medium temperature, adding shrimp as it begins to thicken. Add broccoli, cut up if pieces are too big, 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan and 1 tablespoon fresh basil. Fold gently to combine ingredients. Mixture should be thickened nicely.
Spread mixture on prepared crust, equally spreading shrimp. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until crust is golden brown and top is bubbly. Just before serving, add remaining fresh basil. Serve hot.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)