Lima Taste of Home Cooking School and Expo Tuesday

Lima Taste of Home Cooking School and Expo Tuesday

Courtesy photo Chef Eric Villegas is set to prepare dishes on stage during the Taste of Home Cooking School and Expo Dec. 8.

Whether you’re looking to be simply entertained or need a gameplan for some serious holiday cooking, plan to attend the Taste of Home Cooking School and Expo.

The event is Dec. 8 at Veterans Memorial Civic Center, presented by The Lima News.

“It gives us a chance to connect with our audience and interact with our readers and provide a fun evening,” said Pamela Stricker, publisher of The Lima News.

The expo, with vendors and booths, will be from 4 to 7 p.m. The cooking show will follow, with Chef Eric Villegas preparing dishes on stage and sharing with lucky members of the audience.

Villegas was a popular presenter when he was here two years ago.

He is a Saginaw, Mich., native and now lives near Lansing, Mich. He cooked with his parents growing up, spurring a profession. He attended Anne Willan’s LaVarenne Ecole de Cuisine, Steven Spurrier’s Academie du Vin and the New England Culinary Institute. He has opened two restaurants, written two cookbooks and earned two Emmy awards for his show, “Fork in the Road with Eric Villegas.”

This year’s show will be themed toward the holidays, with Villegas showing the audience, step by step, how to prepare crowd-pleasing dishes that happen to be simple, as Taste of Home customers have come to expect.

Some ticket packages are “Taste of Home Holidays and Celebrations,” a seasonal cookbook offered by Taste of Home.

General admission is $10, available at the door. All attendees receive a goodie bag.

Major sponsors include Lima Memorial Health System, Tracy’s Appliances and Allan Nott Honda. The furniture sponsor is Gilberg Furniture, New Bremen.

Here are a few recipes to help the crazy Christmas rush:


You know it’s an amazing salsa when your guests hover around the serving bowl until it’s scraped clean. This boasts fresh cilantro, cranberries and just a hint of heat. — Shelly Pattison, Lubbock, Texas

Start to finish: 20 minutes, plus chilling

Servings: 12


1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup sugar

6 green onions, chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

Assorted crackers or tortilla chips


Place cranberries and sugar in a food processor; cover and pulse until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in the onions, cilantro and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

To serve, place cream cheese on a serving plate. Drain salsa and spoon over cream cheese. Serve with crackers or chips.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. Avoid touching your face.


You’ll need only five ingredients to stir up this hearty dip that tastes like a Reuben sandwich. It’s requested at all the gatherings we attend. — Pam Rohr, Troy, Ohio

Start to finish: 3 hours

Servings: 40 (about 5 cups)


2 1/2 cups cubed cooked corned beef

1 can (14 ounces) sauerkraut, rinsed and well drained

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup mayonnaise

Snack rye bread


In a 3-quart slow cooker, combine the first five ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until heated through and cheese is melted, stirring occasionally. Serve warm with rye bread.


Creamy mashed potatoes get even better when topped with a savory trio of cheese, onions and bacon. Plus, these potatoes offer make-ahead appeal. — JoAnn Koerkenmeier, Damiansville, Ill.

Start to finish: 75 minutes, plus chilling

Servings: 10


3 pounds potatoes (about 9 medium), peeled and cubed

6 bacon strips, chopped

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup butter, cubed

1/4 cup 2% milk

1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

3 green onions, chopped


Place potatoes in a Dutch oven; add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, 10-15 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon; drain.

Drain potatoes; return to pan. Mash potatoes, gradually adding cream cheese, sour cream and butter. Stir in milk and seasonings. Transfer to a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish; sprinkle with cheese, green onions and bacon. Refrigerate, covered, up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove potatoes from refrigerator and let stand while oven heats. Bake, uncovered, 40-50 minutes or until heated through.


We have end-of-season picnics for my son’s flag football team. This makes enough to serve plenty of hungry boys and their families. — Dolores Deifel, Mundelein, Ill.

Start to finish: 50 minutes, plus chilling and cooling

Servings: 12 (3/4 cup each)

Salad Ingredients:

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 medium butternut squash (2 1/2 to 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

2 cups uncooked jasmine rice

2 large sweet red peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup pine nuts, toasted

6 green onions, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons snipped fresh dill

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

Dressing Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper


Preheat oven to 425 F. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, oil and salt. Add squash; toss to coat. Transfer to a greased, foil-lined 15-by-10-inch baking pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, cook rice according to package directions. Remove from heat; cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine red peppers, pine nuts, green onions, dill, parsley, squash and rice. In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients. Pour over salad; toss to coat. Serve at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate leftovers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To toast nuts, bake in a shallow pan in a 350-degree oven for 5-10 minutes or cook in a skillet over low heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.


Chock-full of veggies, this aromatic soup has just the right hint of curry. “It’s a delicious way to use your leftover holiday turkey,“ recommends Virginia C. Anthony, Jacksonville, Fla.

Start to finish: 35 minutes

Servings: 6 (2 quarts)


2 medium onions, chopped

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon curry powder

3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 cup red potatoes, diced

1 celery rib, sliced

1/2 cup fresh carrots, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced

2 cups cubed cooked turkey breast

1 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half

1 package (9 ounces) fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper


In a Dutch oven, saute onions in oil until tender. Stir in flour and curry until blended. Gradually stir in broth. Add the potatoes, celery, carrots, parsley and sage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Stir in the turkey, half-and-half, spinach, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until spinach is wilted and soup is heated through.


What started out as a way to use up some leftover preserves and cheese turned out to be a family winner dinner that I now make time and again. — Keri Cotton, Lakeville, Minn.

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 4


4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)

3/4 cup cherry preserves

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 ounces fontina cheese, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted


Preheat oven to 375 F. Place chicken in an ungreased 11-by-7-inch baking dish. Top with preserves; sprinkle with onion powder. Bake, uncovered, 18-22 minutes or until a thermometer reads 165 degrees.

Top with cheese; bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with pecans.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To toast nuts, bake in a shallow pan in a 350-degree oven for 5-10 minutes or cook in a skillet over low heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.


My husband and I both love the classic combination of beef and horseradish. He asks me to make this for dinner often, and I’m always happy to. Try serving with baked potatoes as a side. — Mary Lou Cook, Welches, Ore.

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 4


4 beef tenderloin steaks (4 ounces each)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced


Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add steaks; cook 4-6 minutes on each side or until meat reaches desired doneness (for medium-rare, a thermometer should read 145 F; medium, 160 F; well-done, 170 F).

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and horseradish until blended. Serve with steaks. Sprinkle with parsley.


Your guests are in for a sweet surprise when they try this unusual cheese ball: It tastes just like cookie dough. Rolled in chopped pecans, the chip-studded spread is wonderful on regular or chocolate graham crackers. I especially like it because it can be assembled in a wink. — Kelly Glascock, Syracuse, Mo.

Start to finish: 10 minutes, plus chilling

Servings: 16 (1 cheeseball)


1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

Graham crackers


In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add sugars; beat just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Place cream cheese mixture on a large piece of plastic wrap; shape into a ball. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Just before serving, roll cheese ball in pecans. Serve with graham crackers.


Almost too pretty to drink, Creamy Peppermint Punch is a real crowd-pleaser. Guests can help themselves, so you’re free to mingle. — Linda Foreman, Locust Grove, Oklahoma

Start to finish: 10 minutes

Servings: 16 (3/4 cup each)


Crushed peppermint candies, optional

1/2 gallon peppermint ice cream, softened

1 bottle (1 liter) club soda, chilled

4 cups eggnog


If desired, moisten the rims of punch glasses with water. Sprinkle crushed peppermint candies on a plate; dip rims in candies. Set glasses aside.

Just before serving, combine ice cream, club soda and eggnog in a 4-quart punch bowl. Serve in prepared glasses.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This recipe was tested with commercially prepared eggnog.


The sweet and spicy aroma that wafts from the slow cooker as this pleasantly flavored chai tea cooks is wonderful. — Crystal Jo Burns, Iliff, Col.

Start to finish: 8 hours, 20 minutes

Servings: 12 (3 quarts)


3 1/2 ounces fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced

25 whole cloves

15 cardamom pods, crushed

3 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)

3 whole peppercorns

3 1/2 quarts water

8 individual black tea bags

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk


Place the first five ingredients on a double thickness of cheesecloth. Gather corners of cloth to enclose seasonings; tie securely with string. Add spice bag and water to a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Cook, covered, on low 8 hours.

Add tea bags; cover and steep 3-5 minutes. Discard tea bags and spice bag. Stir in milk; heat through. Serve warm.

Who: The Lima News

What: Taste of Home Cooking School and Expo

When: Expo, 4-7 p.m., show, 7-9 p.m. Dec. 8

Where: Veterans Memorial Civic Center

Tickets: $10 general admission, available at the door

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