Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


June 5, 2012

A lot to be learned from Taste of Home cooking school

HUNTINGTON — It’s been about a month since the event, but I couldn’t attend the Taste of Home Cooking School and not talk about it to fellow cooks.

The event, which was at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, was just like being in the audience of a cooking show.

Taste of Home Culinary Specialist Michael Barna was the entertainment and educational focal point, creating 10 of the many recipes Taste of Home shared with the audience.

During the last five years (since my husband died), my cooking has mostly been limited to recipes that make few servings and recipes that are cheap and easy to make.

That thinking went out the window when I smelled Mexican Shrimp Bisque during the cooking school. Barna said he had fallen in love with this recipe and I did, too, when I smelled it cooking on stage. Certainly, many dishes cooked that night smelled delicious, but this one had a particularly delicious aroma, so delicious, in fact, that the next day after work, I went straight to the grocery store, came home and made this soup. It wasn’t difficult to do and was as tasty as it was aromatic.


1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 cup water

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons sodium-free chicken bouillon granules

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup sour cream

Fresh cilantro, cubed avocado and additional cooked shrimp (optional)

In a small saucepan, saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic and cook one minute longer. Stir in flour until blended. Stir in water, cream, chili powder, bouillon, cumin and coriander; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover and simmer for five minutes.

Cut shrimp into bite-sized pieces ad add to soup. Simmer five minutes longer or until shrimp is pink. Gradually stir 1/2 cup hot soup into sour cream; return all to pan, stirring constantly. Heat through (do not boil). Garnish with cilantro, avocado and additional cooked shrimp, if desired.

Yields three cups.

TIP: Barna suggested using clam juice instead of water to boost the flavor. I did and it works.


Another delicious smelling recipe from the school was chicken that showcases Emeril’s Original Essence and it’s very simple.


4 cloves garlic

1 cup cilantro leaves

4 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil, divided

4 tablespoons Emeril’s Original Essence

5 slices white bread, crumbled

1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup flour

2 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice or lemon juice

1/2 cup shite wine

sour cream (optional)

In food processor, combine garlic, cilantro and 1 tablespoon oil. Process until pureed. Set aside half of the mixture. Add essence and bread and process on high for one minute, until well blended. Dip chicken breasts first in flour, then eggs, then bread crumb mixture. Heat remaining oil and saute chicken breasts until browned and cooked through. Remove chicken from pan. Add remaining cilantro mixture, lime or lemon juice and wine and deglaze pan, reducing mixture slightly. Pour over chicken. Serve with dollop of sour cream, if desired.


An easy and eye-pleasing recipe shared by Barna relied on some pre-packaged food but made use of it in a different way.


1 pound lean ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

1 8-ounce bottle Ortega Taco Sauce

3/4 cup water

1 4-ounce can Ortega Fire-Roasted Diced Green Chiles

1 1.25-ounce packet Ortega Taco Seasoning Mix

1 12-count package Oretga Yellow Corn Taco Shells

2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese, divided

Chopped tomatoes, chopped green pepper, sour cream, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 11-by 7-inch baking dish.

Cook beef and onion in large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until beef is browned. Drain and discard excess fat.

Stir in taco sauce, water, chiles and seasoning mix and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook three or four minutes, stirring occasionally.

Layer half of the broken taco shells on bottom of prepared baking dish. Cover with half of the meat mixture; sprinkle with one cud cheese. Repeat with ingredients.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Serve with desired toppings.


Some think cheesecake is an intimidating dessert to prepare, but this one isn’t difficult at all.



1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels

1/3 cup butter, melted


5 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

2 teaspoons Spice Islands pure vanilla extract

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup peanut butter chips

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup finely chopped, unsalted peanuts

In small bowl, combine pretzels and butter and press into the bottom and one inch up the sides of a greased, 10-inch springform pan. Place pan on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for five minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add peanut butter and vanilla and mix well. Add eggs; beat on low just until combined. Stir in chips. Pour over the crust. Return to baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove from the oven; let stand for 15 minutes (leave the oven on).

For topping, combine sour cream, peanut butter and sugar; spread over filling. Sprinkle with peanuts and bake five minutes longer.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen. Cool one hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Remove sides of pan before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.


While I don’t claim to be an expert cook, I do like to cook and love to eat. Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send e-mail to lward@dailyindependent.com.


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