In the end, Combs received second place of the three contestants in the adult division. She was given a $200 prize and found herself taking home the door prize, a Turkey Federation limited shotgun, which she gave to her husband, Doug, a Junction City police officer.
"He collects guns so he was really excited."
A year of seconds
She says it has been a year of second places. Her cinnamon rolls placed second at the state fair and her zucchini bread made with butterscotch pudding took second at Junction City Railroad Days.
She may not have come home with the top prize, but Combs has been a winner in other ways. She was among 23 women in a weight-loss program May through Sept. 9 at the University of Kentucky.
"We had to learn to eat lots of vegetables and lots of fruit. All of us lost 568 pounds," says Combs, who is slimmer by 26 pounds.
They were allowed to eat as much fruit and vegetables as they wanted and drank three protein shakes a day.
"Some people consumed 35 to 70 servings a week," she says of the group that met once a week to discuss their diets.
Even though the study is over, Combs says the group members still are close and have changed their eating habits.
"We're a support group through e-mails and phone calls to encourage each other and share recipes," says Combs, who now has added baked chicken and fish to her diet.
Avoiding the high-calorie pitfall
As someone whose job is marketing the National College of Business and Technology in 23 counties, Combs finds herself on the road a lot and had to devise ways to avoid the pitfalls of eating high-calorie food.
"I kept a cooler with fruit, so I wouldn't have to stop at fast-food restaurants," she says of the oranges, grapes and bananas she took on trips.
After traveling to promote the college, and putting in 30 hours a week as a 9-1-1 dispatcher for Lincoln County, Combs made time to exercise three times a week.
Her goal was to burn 2,000 calories each week and she did it with 30 minutes of cardio exercise on the treadmill, 15 minutes of weightlifting and 30 minutes of swimming.
One of the reasons she started making rancheros is because eggs are good protein sources, but low in calories. Plus, her family likes the taste.
"I make it at home as an appetizer. My kids like Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing. My husband loves salsa and of course, I love cheese."
Just as her husband has plans for the gun she won in the contest, Combs has decided her prize money will go back into a food experience while on vacation.
"I'm going to spend it in some fancy restaurant at Hilton Head."
2 tablespoons cooking oil
Six 6-inch tortillas
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
4-ounce can green chili peppers, seeded and chopped
1/4 teaspoon cooking oil
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing and seasoning mix
In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Holding tortillas with tongs, dip one shell at a time in hot oil for 10 seconds. Line a medium baking dish with tortillas. Keep warm. In another small skillet, cook onion and garlic until tender. Do not brown onion. Add more oil if needed. Stir in tomatoes, package of Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing and seasoning mix, green chili peppers and salt. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
Spoon over tortillas. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Carefully break eggs into skillet with salt and pepper. When whites are set and eggs cooked, add 1 tablespoon water. Cover skillet and cook eggs to desired doneness.
Arrange cooked eggs over sauce in baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Place in oven on broiler for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve at once as appetizer.