Get out your fancy hats and festive horns. We're having a party!

The TIMES NEWS annual Cookbook and Recipe Contest is officially under way and this year will be bigger and better than ever before. In celebration of our 25th annual cookbook, we are going all out.

The categories for this year's contest are Main Dishes; Desserts; Salads and Side Dishes; Slow Cooker; Money Saving Meals; Salad Dressings, Sauces and Marinades; and Celebrations (which includes your favorite recipes for parties and entertaining).

Recipes must be created or modified by the person submitting the recipe or a member of that person's family. Recipes previously published in a copyrighted publication are not eligible.

The winner in each of the seven categories will receive a $50 grocery store gift card and a $50 restaurant gift card. In addition, the grand prize winner will receive an additional prize valued at $250.

Every entrant will receive a large grocery tote bag, emblazoned with our 25th anniversary logo. And in honor of our 25th anniversary edition, every 25th entrant will receive a $25 restaurant gift card.

A winner will be chosen in each category selected for this year's cookbook. Those winners will be required to prepare their dishes and bring them to the TIMES NEWS office in Mahoning Township, where our panel of judges will sample each selection and declare a grand prize winner.

In addition to the clarity of the recipe and the taste of the dish itself, the judges will also take into consideration how the winning dish is presented.

Each winner will be featured in this year's cookbook with his or her recipe, a photograph and a brief biography.

The deadline to submit recipes is Saturday, March 10 at midnight. Winners will be notified by Friday, March 16. The tasting at the TIMES NEWS is tentatively set for Monday, March 19.

Last year's winner, Jo Lynn Gazo, has been a frequent contributor to the TIMES NEWS annual Cookbook.

Her recipe for "Day After Thanksgiving Monte Cristos," inspired by her husband, Brian, was a big hit with the judges.

Other winners last year included Mary Jane Blocker of Lehighton, Peggy Zimmerman of Tamaqua, Dawn McCabe of Lehighton, Carol McGeehan of Albrightsville, Kim Rubin of Lehighton, and Patricia Theile of Albrightsville.

Contest rules

To enter, each original recipe should be neatly printed or typed on a single sheet of 8 1/2-inch by 11-inch paper, and must include the contestant's name, address and telephone number, as well as the name of the recipe and the category clearly marked at the top of the page.

Entries will be judged for completeness, ease of preparation and duplication. In the event of a duplicate recipe, the one with the earliest postmark will be entered.

Please note that we will only accept seven entries per household and the same recipe may not be entered in more than one category; and only one winner per household.

Those who have won a prize in the last two years are welcome to submit recipes for inclusion in the cookbook, but are not eligible to win a prize this year.

Professional food preparers are not eligible to enter. Pencor and TIMES NEWS employees and their families may submit recipes for inclusion in the cookbook, but are not eligible to win any prizes. Advertisers who submit recipes in the name of their business are not eligible to win any prizes.

All prizes are final. Neither exchanges nor refunds will be made.

Mail entries to the TIMES NEWS, P.O. Box 239, Lehighton, PA 18235, Attention Donna Hall; or email recipes to dhall@tnonline.com [2].