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NOTHING KNEADED MAKE MAGIC WITH REFRIGERATED DOUGHS.

Byline: Natalie Haughton Food Editor

Making flaky, buttery pie crust or rolls takes talent, luck, patience and - perhaps most important - time.

With a little help from convenient prepared refrigerated doughs - like crescent dinner rolls and biscuits, bread, cookie and pie crust dough - you can change all that.

A new cookbook - ``Pillsbury Dough Magic!'' - by the Pillsbury Editors (Clarkson Potter/Publishers; $25.95) will show you how. Packed with 250 recipes and 100 color photos, it's a compilation of the company's most requested dough recipes and some Bake-Off winners along with family and staff favorites.

``Refrigerated dough is incredibly versatile,'' points out Lynn Vettel, manager, food trends and content, General Mills, who worked on the book. It's easy to transform it into something delicious without much effort, she says.

Ideas run the gamut from appetizers, sandwiches and pizzas to main dishes, desserts and cookies - some rather mundane but others with interesting, innovative twists.

``Today, about three-fourths of American households purchase and use refrigerated dough products,'' says Marlene Johnson of General Mills. According to AC Nielsen data, the refrigerated dough category rang up $1.4 billion in sales in 2002. The two best sellers were biscuits, accounting for 31 percent of sales, and refrigerated cookie dough, 29 percent.

The refrigerated dough category has grown 30 percent over the last six years, adds Johnson. ``The doughs allow consumers to make noncompromising shortcuts. You skip a preparation step (or two) but get fresh-from-the-oven home-baked goodness.''

The refrigerated dough revolution took off in 1951 when the Pillsbury Co. (which was acquired by General Mills two years ago) purchased the Ballard and Ballard Co., which was offering refrigerated oven-ready biscuits in a can that required no rolling, kneading or mess to clean up. With Americans clamoring for convenient products, Pillsbury introduced more refrigerated dough products, including refrigerated cinnamon rolls and icing in a can in 1954, refrigerated butterscotch nut and coconut cookie dough in 1955, sugar cookie dough in 1958, refrigerated crescent dinner rolls in 1965, refrigerated pie crust dough in the '80s and more, including refrigerated pizza dough, refrigerated bread dough and refrigerated breadsticks.

Many have become staples in cooks' kitchens, with some more versatile than others.

``About half of the crescent roll dough sold is used in recipes, as it lends itself to numerous shaping options,'' says Vettel.

For best quality, plan to use refrigerated dough products by the ``use- by'' date on the package. Keep the dough refrigerated until using (with the exception of pie crust dough, which requires a little time at room temperature), otherwise it may be sticky and hard to handle. Also be aware that the leavening in canned refrigerated doughs is activated once the can is opened. It's possible to assemble a dish using the dough up to two hours in advance of baking it, providing it's kept refrigerated.

Don't be tempted to freeze an opened or unopened can of dough. (Refrigerated cookie and pie doughs are exceptions - they can be frozen unopened a month or two.)

When dough is used for topping casseroles or cobblers, be sure to put atop a hot filling before baking to ensure that the dough bakes completely.

Unbaked doughs should not be cooked in a microwave oven (unless you use a recipe designed for the microwave) because the dough will not brown or cook evenly. A toaster oven should be avoided, too, as the small size often results in uneven heating and burned dough.

Natalie Haughton, (818) 713-3692

natalie.haughton(at)dailynews.com

SOFT PESTO PRETZELS

1 (11-ounce) can refrigerated breadsticks

1 tablespoon store-bought pesto

1 egg white

2 teaspoons grated Parmesan-Romano cheese blend

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use ungreased baking sheet. Separate dough into 12 breadsticks. With finger, firmly press dough to make an indentation lengthwise down center of each breadstick. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon pesto into each indentation. Fold dough lengthwise over pesto; press edges to seal.

Twist and stretch each breadstick to form a 22-inch rope. Shape each rope into pretzel shape; tuck ends under and press to seal. Place on paper- lined baking sheet. Beat egg white in a small bowl until foamy. Brush over pretzels. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake in preheated 375-degree oven 12 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Makes 12 pretzels.

NUTRITION INFORMATION PER PRETZEL: 80 calories, 2 grams total fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol. 12 grams carbohydrate and 2 grams protein.

BEEF AND SPINACH DEEP-DISH PIZZA

1 (9-ounce) package frozen spinach in a pouch

1 pound lean ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

1 (8-ounce) can pizza sauce

1 (11-ounce) can refrigerated crusty french loaf

4 ounces sliced pepperoni

2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend

1 egg

1 teaspoon olive oil

Spray a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish glass pie dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cook spinach as directed on package. Drain well; set aside to cool. Meanwhile, in medium skillet, cook ground beef and onion over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes or until beef is thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently. Drain. Stir in pizza sauce until well mixed.

Carefully unroll dough. Place in pie dish so edges extend over sides of pan. Pat dough in bottom and up sides of dish, leaving dough extended over sides. Spoon ground beef mixture into crust. Top with pepperoni slices and 1/2 of cheese. Squeeze spinach to remove moisture. Slightly beat egg in small bowl. Add spinach; mix well. Spoon spinach mixture over cheese. Top with remaining cheese. Fold extended edges of dough up and over filling; seal all edges. Cut several slits in top for steam to escape. Brush crust with oil.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 38 to 48 minutes or until deep golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.

NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING: 425 calories, 26 grams total fat, 95 milligrams cholesterol, 24 grams carbohydrate and 26 grams protein.

FLAKY REUBEN SLICES

ROLLS:

1 (8-ounce) can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

1/4 pound thinly sliced corned beef

1/2 cup finely shredded Swiss cheese

1/3 cup well-drained sauerkraut

DIPPING SAUCE:

1/2 cup store-bought Thousand Island salad dressing

1 tablespoon milk

For Rolls, unroll dough into 2 long rectangles. Press each to form a 12- inch-long rectangle; press perforations to seal. Layer 1/2 of corned beef on each dough rectangle, cutting to fit if necessary. Top each with 1/2 of cheese and 1/2 of sauerkraut. Starting at long side, roll up each tightly; seal along edges. Place seam side down on ungreased baking sheet; tuck edges under.

Bake in preheated 375-degree oven 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile make Dipping Sauce. In small bowl, combine all sauce ingredients; mix well.

To serve, cut warm rolls into 1-inch slices; place on serving platter. Serve with Dipping Sauce. Makes 24 servings.

NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING: 70 calories, 5 grams total fat, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams carbohydrate and 2 grams protein.

COUNTRY APPLE COFFEE CAKE

COFFEE CAKE:

2 tablespoons margarine OR butter, softened

1 1/2 cups chopped peeled apples

1 (12-ounce) can refrigerated flaky biscuits

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons whiskey (optional)

1 egg

1/2 cup pecan halves OR pieces

GLAZE:

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 to 2 teaspoons milk

To make Coffee Cake, using 1 tablespoon margarine, generously grease a 9-inch round cake pan OR 8-inch square baking pan. Spread 1 cup apples in greased pan. Separate dough into 10 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Arrange biscuit pieces, points up, over apples. Top with remaining 1/2 cup apples.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 1 tablespoon margarine, brown sugar, cinnamon, corn syrup, whiskey and egg; beat 2 to 3 minutes or until sugar is partially dissolved. Stir in pecans. Spoon over biscuit pieces and apples.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 35 to 45 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. If desired, remove from pan.

For Glaze, in a small bowl, blend together all glaze ingredients until smooth, adding enough milk for desired drizzling consistency. Drizzle over warm cake. Serve warm or cool. Store in refrigerator. Makes 8 servings.

NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING: 330 calories, 14 grams total fat, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 47 grams carbohydrate and 4 grams protein.

CHICKEN TACO STEW IN BREAD BOWLS

1 (11-ounce) can refrigerated crusty french loaf

1 (6-ounce) package refrigerated Southwestern-flavor chicken strips, coarsely chopped

1 (15- OR 15.5-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained

1 cup frozen whole kernel corn

1 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Cut dough into 3 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball, placing seam at bottom so dough is smooth on top. Place dough balls seam side down on baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine all remaining ingredients except cheese; mix well. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, stirring occasionally.

Cut top off each bread loaf. Lightly press center of bread down to form bowl. Place each bread bowl in individual shallow soup plate. Spoon about 1 cup stew into each bread bowl. Sprinkle with cheese. Place top of each bread bowl next to filled bowl. Makes 3 servings.

NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING: 655 calories, 14 grams total fat, 70 milligrams cholesterol, 98 grams carbohydrate and 47 grams protein.

EASY CARAMEL-PECAN BARS

1 (18-ounce) package refrigerated sugar cookies

3/4 cup caramel ice cream topping

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup pecan pieces

1 cup flaked coconut

1 (6-ounce) package (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips

Spray a 13x9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cut cookie dough into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange slices in bottom of sprayed pan. With floured fingers, press dough evenly in pan to form crust. Bake in preheated 350- degree oven 10 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a glass measuring cup, combine caramel topping and flour; blend until smooth. Remove partially baked crust from oven. Sprinkle pecans, coconut and chocolate chips evenly over crust. Drizzle with caramel mixture.

Return to oven; bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until top is bubbly. Cool 1 1/2 hours or until completely cooled. Cut into bars. Makes 36 bars.

NUTRITION INFORMATION PER BAR: 140 calories, 7 grams total fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 18 grams carbohydrate and 1 gram protein.

CAPTION(S):

5 photos

Photo:

(1 -- cover -- color) FLAKY REUBEN SLICES

(2 -- color) SOFT PESTO PRETZELS

(3 -- color) COUNTRY APPLE COFFEE CAKE

(4 -- color) BEEF AND SPINACH DEEP-DISH PIZZA

(5 -- color) CHICKEN TACO STEW IN BREAD BOWLS

Photos and recipes are from ``Pillsbury Dough Magic!'' by the Pillsbury Editors (Clarkson Potter/Publishers)
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Recipe
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 15, 2003
Words:1813
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