Taste of Home Cooking School: Attending class never tasted so good

Michelle Roberts wants to teach you how to cook.

And with 10 different recipes, there's bound to be something that will please you and your family.

On Thursday, May 17, the Taste of Home Cooking School returns to Columbus with a new show.

Roberts, a senior culinary specialist, has been with the Taste of Home Cooking School for almost 10 years and hosts approximately 40 shows a year. So it's safe to say she knows how to whip up something tasty.

"I like to travel, I like to be on stage and I, of course, love the cooking," she said in a recent phone interview.

In addition to the two-hour demonstration by Roberts, who will give away the food she prepares -- dish and all -- at the end of the show, there will be vendors, wine tasting, door prizes and more.

"It's just such a fun event," said Ledger-Enquirer's Heather Williams, event coordinator. "People come year after year, they've made friends at the show that they come and sit with and they make new friends. It's just fun."

Tickets for the event are currently available at area Piggly Wiggly locations for $13. Tickets will not be available at the event, but Williams said they can be purchased at Piggly Wiggly up until showtime.

Each attendee will also receive a gift bag that is full of goodies, usually including coupons, magazines and product samples. Williams said door prizes range from gift cards to gift baskets to cookbooks.

Cupcakes for Cancer

A unique aspect of this year's event is Cupcakes for Cancer -- Ron Lucas of Ron Lucas Construction and Design, an event sponsor, will sell cupcakes and donate the proceeds to the American Cancer Society. He will also personally match the proceeds of the cupcake sales, doubling the charitable contribution.

Inspired by a good friend who found out about a year ago that she has stage 4 terminal cancer, Lucas said he wanted to do something that would support the community.

"I just wanted to do something to show that it's not always about me or my company," said Lucas.

Though he hasn't teamed up with a bakery yet, he's hoping to get about 300 gourmet cupcakes, which he plans to pay for if they're not donated, to sell for $5 each at the Taste of Home Cooking School. He'll also be sporting pink, which he hopes will draw attention to his booth.

"It's more fun doing this than putting my wares on display," he said. "And it's something I could do every year -- it would be a good way to make a donation every year on (my friend's) behalf."

From a man who said he's not easily impressed by people, his friend has made a deep impact through her constant smiling in spite of her terminal illness and knowing she'll be leaving behind her legally blind husband and three children.

"I'm not the story here," said Lucas. "I just had a dear friend who inspired me and I wish I could do more."

Taste of Home Recipes

Note: These recipes will not be presented at the cooking school.

Smoked Salmon Cucumber Canapes

2 medium cucumbers, peeled

4 ounces smoked salmon, flaked

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon capers, drained

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Spoon into cucumber halves. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until filling is firm. Cut into 1/2-in. slices. Makes 44 pieces. Takes 25 minutes.

Nutritional Facts: 1 canape equals 6 calories, trace fat (trace saturated fat), 1 mg cholesterol, 27 mg sodium, 1 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 1 g protein.

Blue Cheese 'n' Fruit Tossed Salad

1/4 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Sugar substitute equivalent to 1 tablespoon sugar

1-1/4 teaspoons poppy seeds

3/4 teaspoon grated onion

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups torn romaine

2 medium tart apples, chopped

1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained

1/3 cup pecan halves, toasted

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

In blender, combine the first eight ingredients; cover and process until blended. In a large bowl, combine the romaine, apples, oranges and pecans. Add dressing and toss to coat; sprinkle with blue cheese. Serves 8. Takes 20 minutes to make.

Nutrition Facts: 3/4 cup equals 170 calories, 13 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 6 mg cholesterol, 194 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein