Amy Meiers of Santa Rosa has been a finalist in more than a few nationwide recipe contests, a situation she compares to being “always the bridesmaid, never the bride.”
But earlier this year, Meiers finally grabbed the gold ring, a Grand Prize worth $10,000 in cash from the Make it Delish Recipe Contest sponsored by Carl Buddig & Company, a family-owned deli meat company based in Illinois. The busy working mother ended up entering her hors d’oeuvres recipe at the last minute, during the final countdown to 2016.
“It was New Year’s Eve, and I realized, ‘Shoot. The deadline is today,’” she recalled. “I had to run to G&G for our New Year’s Eve dinner, and this was our appetizer. I whipped it up, took a picture of it and entered it, about an hour and a half before the deadline.”
Her award-winning Ham and Pepper Twisters, made from store-bought puff pastry and a savory filling of roasted red peppers and cream cheese topped with ham, needs to be cut into strips and then twisted before it is baked to crispy perfection in a hot oven. Since it only has six ingredients, the appetizer doesn’t take long to assemble, especially if you make the roasted pepper cheese filling in advance.
As part of the contest, Meiers’ favorite grocer, G&G Supermarkets, was awarded an additional $10,000, which they donated to the Redwood Empire Food Bank on behalf of Buddig. Meiers, who grew up in Santa Rosa and works as an escrow assistant for Fidelity National Title, has been shopping at the West College Avenue market since she was a little girl.
“My grandparents always shopped there,” she said. “My grandmother and I would walk there, and then I would ride on the little horse outside as a reward.”
Meiers used to have the Buddig ham in her lunch as a kid, and her husband, Aivars Meiers, often takes it for lunch while working as a firefighter for the Dry Creek Rancheria (River Rock Casino) Fire Department.
“I was trying to think of something creative for the ham,” she said. “This recipe would be good for an hors d’oeuvres at a tailgate party ... We do a lot of sports watching, and I love the flavor combination of the ham and the bell pepper.”
The prize money from the contest is going to help the Meiers family subsidize an extended trip to Washington, D.C., where Amy and son Cannon, 8, a budding cook is own right, have been invited to dinner this week at the White House for a “kids’ state dinner.”
Cannon was the California winner of first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.
Obama and her national partners host the annual challenge as a way to encourage kids 8 to 12 to experiment with nutritious foods and create recipes that could help lead the nation away from a high-fat, high-sugar diet.
With the help of his mom, Cannon came up with Cannon’s California Rolls, a healthy version of a chicken salad wrap featuring a dressing of avocado and Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. The salad is made with chicken, celery, apples, raisins, toasted almonds and chia seeds, then is wrapped in La Tortilla Factory whole-wheat tortillas or thinly sliced cucumber strips, with red grapes served on the side.