Who knew it was recipe contest season?

Something's up with the alignment of the planets. Lately my inbox has been flooded with emails about recipe contests, and I figured I'd compile the details for all of you fabulous, creative cooks out there. Get crack-a-lackin' and win something, already!

The idea behind CHOW.com's "Desperation Dinners" Food Fight Challenge is one close to my heart: coming up with something edible and incredible with whatever paltry pantry findings you can scrounge up. Come up with a one-dish meal that takes an hour or less to make, utilizing common non-perishable items. Entries will be accepted through the end of March.

The grand prize is 20 grand for whomever wins Cooking Light magazine's contest. There are four different categories -- starters & drinks, sides & salads, family dinners, and desserts -- and recipe submissions must include ingredients from one or more of the contest sponsors. The deadline is May 31.

If organic chocolate is your thing, hit up Green & Black's Chocolate Challenge. The chocolate maker is soliciting recipes of five ingredients or less, and one of the ingredients has to be two or more ounces of organic chocolate. There will be five winners, and the prizes are pretty sweet: a trip to NYC to cook with Curtis Stone from Take Home Chef, a meal at the James Beard House, and tickets to the James Beard Foundation Awards and Gala. Enter by April 21.

There's a locavore slant to Bolla Wines' "Taste of Your Town" pizza recipe contest. Entries must include unique Arizona ingredients; rattlesnake meat and saguaro cactus syrup are a couple suggested ingredients (seriously!). You also need to specify which Bolla varietal goes well with the recipe. Entries are due by August 31, and the grand prize is a trip to Bolla's winery in Verona, Italy, and to the 2009 World Pizza Championships in Europe.

And lastly, if you're handy with sweet potatoes, get in on the Get Fresh with North Carolina Sweet Potatoes contest. The prizes are cold, hard cash, and entries must be submitted by April 15 -- better get your taxes done first, though.

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