Aprons Cooking School

Publix Cooking Class
We always enjoy the cooking classes at Publix Aprons Cooking School. You can choose between demo classes, where the chefs do all the work, or hands-on where you don the aprons. My husband and I like the demos. We sit at white clothed tables and follow along with our set of printed recipes while the chefs explain each preparation method. For our latest class, they started us off with a welcome glass of Chateau St. Michelle Pinot Gris. I liked this light golden white wine.
The first dish was an Apple Pear salad. As one chef showed us how to prepare the ingredients and mix the dressing, two other guys dished out the food onto a series of plates for serving. The salad was delicious, a balance of sweet to the tang of blue cheese. This was paired with a Chateau St. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc. It was too fruity for my taste.
Next we enjoyed an Alaskan Salmon Terrine with Asparagus Sauce. We always learn tricks of the trade or new info at these events, and tonight we learned about salmon. Here are the five different types/grades from the top rating down: King, Sockeye, Coho, Keta, and Pink. Keta (from the Arctic) has more oil than Sockeye so is good for grilling. (Any mistakes here are due to my misinterpretation.) Sockeye is never farmed. This dish, that looked like a paté, reminded me of gefilte fish. The asparagus sauce was a very good accompaniment as was the Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay served with it.
For the main entrée, we had Cedar Plank Wild-Caught Salmon, along with a Couscous side dish that contained corn and cilantro. I’m not a cilantro fan and the couscous was from a mix, so I’d probably choose another flavor. I did learn that if you want to take the kernels off a stick of corn, hold the corn on top of a bundt pan in the center hole, and then scrape downward. I’d also have preferred this fish to come with a sauce so it wasn’t so plain. The Chateau St. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon won my approval. Yes, we had a red wine with fish, and it worked fine.
Dessert was homemade cheesecake with raspberry sauce. What’s not to like?
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You can see cooking lesson videos for yourself at https://www.youtube.com/user/LightsCameraCook/videos or check out the Publix cooking schools here: http://www.publix.com/recipes-planning/aprons-cooking-schools.
So did I make you hungry?

Zucchini Egg Bake


2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. diced onion
15 oz. can sweet corn, drained
(2) 16 oz. containers sliced zucchini
8 oz. diced tomatoes
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
12 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
6 eggs, beaten


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the vegetables and sauté until softened. Remove from heat and stir in seasonings, about  of the cheese, and the eggs. Mix thoroughly. Transfer to greased 9x13x2 inch baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes more or until browned and bubbly. Serves 4 to 6.

Apple Rum Cake


15.25 oz. spice cake mix
21 oz. can apple pie filling
3 eggs
3/4 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup rum
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp. reduced fat milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set aside 1 Tbsp. cake mix and 1½ cups of pie filling. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sour cream, rum, canola oil, almond extract, remaining cake mix and pie filling. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour half the batter into a greased fluted cake pan. In a separate small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, reserved 1 Tbsp. cake mix and pie filling. Spoon over batter. Top with remaining batter. Bake for 45 minutes.

Cool on rack. Invert cake onto plate. In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and milk. Dribble over cake as a glaze. Slice and serve.

The Trip Home: NC to FL

Coming home from Bouchercon, we took the western route as I-95 hadn’t fully reopened after the flooding in South Carolina. This gave us some lovely hilly vistas before we descended to the lowlands with their cotton fields and other crops.

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I got to shop for pecans along route I-75. I use pecan meal to coat tilapia, after dipping the fish into egg substitute, and then pan fry or bake it. The ground pecans are healthier than bread crumbs and give it a nice, crisp flavor. You can’t buy this in Florida, so it’s only on trips through Georgia or South Carolina that I can get them. I put the bags into my freezer until use.

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We were lucky to spot a southern country buffet along the way. I stuffed myself with the bounteous feast that included a salad bar, soups, breads, fried chicken, nut-crusted mashed sweet potatoes, veggies, and I forgot what else I ate but it was mostly comfort food. And the dessert bar had peach cobbler plus many more sweet choices. This meal probably accounted for the extra weight I gained.

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Doesn’t this make you hungry? Then stayed tuned for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Coming Next!

Baked Egg Rolls


1 pound package frozen broccoli stir-fry vegetable blend
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
41⁄2 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄2 tsp. ground ginger
8 oz. all-purpose pasta or egg roll wrappers
1 egg, beaten
1 jar of duck sauce


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine ½ package chopped, defrosted vegetables, chicken, soy sauce, sesame oil and spices. Place 1⁄4 cup mixture into the center of each wrapper. Fold bottom corner over filling then fold two sides toward the center. Moisten flap of remaining corner with beaten egg and seal.

Place egg rolls seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Spray tops of wrappers with nonstick cooking spray or brush with beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes or until browned. Makes 8 servings. Recipe may be doubled. Serve warm with duck sauce.

Spinach Balls


(2) 10 oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups crushed herb stuffing mix
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
cup melted butter
4 green onions, chopped
3 eggs, beaten


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls. Cover and refrigerate or freeze until ready to bake. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with your favorite mustard. Makes 20 to 24 spinach balls.

Spinach Pumpernickel Dip


10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 package dry onion soup mix
1 cups sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
8 oz. can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1 round pumpernickel bread


Mix together soup mix, sour cream, and mayonnaise until blended. Add spinach, water chestnuts, and green onions. Cover and chill. Just before serving, cut circle into top of bread and hollow out a bowl shape, saving pieces of bread to place around platter for dip. Spoon spinach mixture into hollow and serve.

Stuffed Mushrooms


(2) 16 oz. packages whole white mushrooms
3 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
1⁄2 cup sour cream
14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1⁄3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3⁄4 tsp. garlic powder
4 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove stems from mushrooms and discard or save for another use. Clean mushrooms and pat dry with paper towel. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, mayonnaise, and sour cream in a small bowl. Add artichokes, spinach, mozzarella cheese, garlic powder, and shredded Parmesan cheese.

Fill each mushroom cap with 1 Tbsp. spinach mixture. Place mushrooms on greased baking sheet and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender. Transfer to platter and serve warm.

Butternut Squash Soup


2 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, diced
1 pound peeled butternut squash, cubed
1 carrot, diced
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
1 quart low-salt chicken broth
2 sprigs thyme
1 cup half-and-half
2 Tbsp. unsulphured molasses


Melt butter over medium heat in large soup pot. Add onion and cook until translucent. Then add squash and carrots. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Add spices and cook until vegetables start to caramelize. Add chicken broth and thyme. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and discard thyme sprigs. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. (It can be frozen at this stage.) Stir in molasses to blend. Add half-and-half and mix to combine. Ladle into individual bowls and serve hot.

If frozen, defrost gradually and then reheat in large pot. Stir in molasses and half-and-half and serve as above.