By John Toole
---- — WINDHAM — Lyn Paolino admits she’s one of those people who can’t resist posting on social media sites what she’s whipped up in the kitchen.
“I’m always posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram,” Paolino said.
Friends and relatives know by now cooking is a passion for Paolino, and they are always telling her she should be on the Food Network.
Turns out the Food Network might not be out of the question.
Paolino, 33, a teacher and mother from Windham, is a semifinalist in Pillsbury’s 46th Bake-off Contest.
Her Southwest Breakfast Pockets has her rated among the best in the nation in Pillsbury’s Quick Rise and Shine Breakfasts.
The company said she is one of 60 semifinalists.
Voting is underway and if enough amateur cooks and people who love what they bake like her recipe, Paolino could be going to Las Vegas this fall for a shot at a $1 million prize.
Pillsbury doesn’t let pros into the contest.
They want people like Paolino.
“You can’t have any culinary experience,” she said.
Paolino doesn’t cook for money, just for her family and fun.
“It’s just a hobby,” she said. “I’m actually a high school art teacher.”
Paolino grew up in Salem, teaches school in the Hillsboro-Deering district and moved to Windham last year.
“My grandmother lived with us and she taught me a lot of my skills,” she said.
But her dad might have had a little influence on those breakfast pockets.
“My dad, he loves Mexican food,” she said.
Around the house, the pockets are in demand.
“Oh, they love it,” Paolino said.
The contest turned out to be a what-the-heck moment.
“I figured I’ll try, why not?” she said.
Pillsbury redesigned the contest this year to encourage simpler recipes.
She had to use seven ingredients or fewer and prepare it in 30 minutes or less, not including baking time.
Ingredients include frozen grilled potatoes, eggs, chipotle chili pepper, chicken sausage, shredded Mexican cheese, cilantro and Pillsbury’s own thin pizza crust.
The recipe estimates 25 minutes of prep time, with 12 to 17 minutes for baking.
Paolino thinks her pockets will stand up to the heat of the competition in the kitchen.
“I think people will like something anyone can make,” she said. “It’s portable, you can take it in the car, on the go.”
Flavorful is how she describes the meal.
Plus, it’s nutritious.
“It’s a well balanced meal,” she said. “All the food groups are in there.”
To vote for Paolino, visit pillsbury.com/our-makers/bake-off-contest/voting. Voting closes Sept. 26.
Southwest Breakfast Pockets recipeI Ingredients 1 bag (11.8 oz.) Greent Giant Seasoned Steamers frozen backyard grilled potatoes 2 eggs 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper 1 link fully cooked chicken sausage, chopped (1 cup) 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend (4 oz.) 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro 1 can Pillsbury refrigerated thin pizza crust Directions Heat oven to 400 degrees. Microwave frozen potatoes as directed on bag. Cool three minutes. Coarsely chop and place in a large bowl. Set aside. In medium bowl, beat eggs and chili pepper with wire whisk. Stir in sausage. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook egg mixture over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until eggs are set. Add cooked egg mixture, cheese and cilantro to potatoes. Stir to combine. Unroll dough. Press into 15-by-10-inch rectangle. Using sharp knife, cut into six rectangles. Spoon 1/2 cup egg mixture on one side of each rectangle. Fold dough over filling. Place on nonstick cookie sheet. Press edges with fork to seal. Bake 12 to 17 minutes or until golden brown.