Staff Favorite: Baked Macaroni and Cheese

October 11, 2012

                                                  
Like many folks, as the weather gets cooler the foodies at our office tend to chat about tried and true comfort food recipes. Invariably, the conversation turns to variations of baked macaroni and cheese, a meal that some of us consider the ultimate comfort food. Here’s a recipe from one of our team members that’s yummy and office lunch room friendly. Simply prepare to the baking point and press the office oven into service, or complete at home and reheat in the microwave. Bon appetit!

                                                                 

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients you’ll need:

2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 small onion, minced
Margarine or butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 cups milk
1/2 pound cheese, cheddar, American, or combination
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preparation:

1.  Prepare the macaroni per package directions.
2.  Pre-heat oven to 400*
3.  While macaroni is cooking, saute diced onion and 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan, over medium heat cook until the onion is translucent and tender.
4.  Stir in flour, salt, mustard and pepper. Cook 1 minute, until golden brown.
5.  Add milk slowly and stir. Continue to cook over low to medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly. 
6.  Add about three-fourths of the cheese and stir until the cheese is melted.
7.  Drain and rinse cooked macaroni and place in a greased 1-1/2 quart casserole..
8.  Pour cheese sauce over the macaroni, tossing with a fork until well-coated.
9.  Top with the remaining cheese.
10. In a small saucepan melt one tablespoon of butter over low hear.
11. Stir in bread crumbs then crumble and sprinkle mixture over cheese.
12. Cover and bake for 20 minutes or until brown and bubbly.Yields four servings when served as main entrée, six servings as a side dish.

Team Member Recipe – Basil Shrimp with Feta & Orzo

May 3, 2012


Summer weather is approaching and that means lunch time barbecues at our office. One of our favorites is basil shrimp with feta and orzo, a quick and easy dish that can be prepared partially in advance, making it the perfect choice during work hours or at home when time is at a premium.  Fire up the grill at your office and enjoy!

Basil Shrimp with Feta and Orzo

Ingredients:

1 cup orzo – uncooked
4   teaspoons  olive oil — divided
2  cups  diced tomato
1- 1/2  cups  sliced green or vidalia onion
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon  grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/2  teaspoon  black pepper
1- 1/2  pounds  large shrimp,  peeled and deveined
1/2  cup  chopped fresh basil
Cooking spray

You’ll also need an aluminum foil cooking bag or 2 long sheets of aluminum foil.

Preparation: 

1.  The night before you plan to serve the dish, cook pasta for 5 minutes in boiling water. Drain.
2.  Transfer pasta to large bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons oil, place in plastic container and seal. Refrigerate overnight.
3.  Just prior to preparing add the next 7 ingredients: diced tomato, onions, feta cheese, lemon rind, lemon juice,  salt, and black pepper.
4.  Place the orzo mixture in prepared oven bag or on one of the sheets of aluminum foil.
5.  Combine shrimp and basil.
6.  Arrange shrimp mixture on orzo.  Fold edges of bag or, if using foil, cover with other piece of foil and fold edges to seal.
7.  Place on grill over medium  heat and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping occasionally, until shrimp are done.
8.  Cut open back with a sharp knife or kitchen shears and drizzle remaining oil over orzo.

Serves 4.


Team Member Recipe – Baked Potato Soup

February 2, 2012

                                                                                                   

It’s Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil has predicted that there will be six more weeks of winter. If, like us, that means you’ll plan meals around comfort food that’s hearty and healthy, consider one of our favorites, baked potato soup. It’s warm and savory, a delicious component of any winter meal. Even better, parts of it can be prepared the evening before you plan to serve it, making it an ideal choice  for evenings when you’re pressed for time but don’t want to resort to take-out.                                                                                     
Baked Potato Soup

Ingredients:

5      medium  baking potatoes — (about 2 3/4 pounds)
3      tablespoons butter
1      cup finely  chopped sweet onion
2/3  cup  all-purpose flour
6      cups  chicken broth
2      cups fat-free half-and-half or skim milk
1/4   cup  chopped fresh parsley (Can used dried – conversion on bottle.)
1 1/2  teaspoons  minced garlic
1 1/2   teaspoons  dried basil 
1        teaspoon  salt
1        teaspoon  coarsely ground black pepper
1/2    teaspoon  hot sauce (Can substitute cayenne pepper.)
1 3/4  cups  shredded Cheddar cheese — divided
1/4    cup  chopped fresh parsley

 Preparation: 

1.  Wash potatoes well. Prick several times with a fork. Bake at 400 for 1 hour or until done; let cool. Peel potatoes, and slice crosswise. This can be done the night before you plan to seve the soup. Refrigerate after baking.

2.  Melt butter in large skillet over low to medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring constantly, until translucent and tender.

3.   Add flour and stir well. Cook, stirring constantly, until it becomes a golden color.

4.   Gradually add chicken broth.  Cook over medium heat until mixture is thick. Stir frequently.

5.  Add potato,  the half-and-half, and the next 6 ingredients. Stir well. Simmer and cook, uncovered,  about 10 minutes. If it begins to boil, lower heat.

6. Add 1 cup of cheese and cook until cheese melts. Stir often.

7. Ladle into individual serving bowls and garnish with remaining cheese and parsley.

Notes: To save preparation time, measure all dry ingredients the day before you plan to serve the soup. Reserve in individual foil packets.

Yields 12 cups.


Key Lime Cheesecake Squares Recipe

August 25, 2011

                                                                                                   

Birthday celebrations are always enjoyable at our office, especially when our receptionist provides dessert!  She recently treated the staff to her key lime cheesecake squares, a rich combination of creamy goodness and the tangy sweetness of citrus.  She shares the following recipe.
                  
                                                                                    
Key Lime Cheesecake Squares

Ingredients:

Crust

2 cups coconut cookie crumbs
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted 

Filling

3 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
3/4 cup key lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime peel
2 tablespoons flour

 Topping

1/2 cup reserved cookie crust crumbs
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

Preparation: 

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. Mix cookie crumbs and butter thoroughly with a fork.  Press evenly in bottom of pan.  Refrigerate while preparing cream cheese mixture.
  3. Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in condensed milk, key lime juice, lime peel, and flour. Pour filling mixture over crust.
  4. In medium bowl, mix reserved cookie crumbs, coconut and macadamia nuts. Sprinkle evenly over top of filling. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until light golden brown and mixture is set. Let stand 1 hour or until completely cooled. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

Makes 24 servings


Team Member Recipe – BBQ Shrimp Kabobs

May 12, 2011

                                                                                                       
If summer at your office means an opportunity to stage an occasional lunch time barbecue, consider serving shrimp kabobs, a collective favorite. Everything can be prepared to the grilling point  in advance, making them a practical yet healthy and delicious component of any menu.

The recipe involves few ingredients and can be adjusted to suit different tastes and preferences. Don’t like shrimp? Substitute salmon or another shellfish instead. Do the same for vegetables or build kabobs with different components for variety.

SHRIMP KABOBS  

Ingredients:

1-1/2 lbs. shelled jumbo shrimp
1 large green bell pepper
1 large. red bell pepper
1 large white onion
1 can pineapple chunks, drained
1/4 cup olive oil
Pepper
Parsley
1/2 stick melted butter
Garlic salt
Oregano
Paprika

You’ll Need:

Barbecue grill or griddle
Metal or bamboo skewers
Aluminum foil
Vegetable brush
Cooking spray

Directions:

The evening prior to the office lunch, cut peppers and onion into bite-sized squares.
Rinse and dry shrimp.
Combine olive oil, pepper and parsley and pour into large zip-lock freezer bag or bowl. Add peppers, onion and shrimp and allow to marinate for 2 hours.
If using metal skewers, lightly coat with cooking spray.
Remove  shrimp, peppers and onions. Discard marinade.
Place shrimp, peppers, onion, and pineapple on kabob sticks in desired pattern. Each kabob should include 4 – 5 pieces of shrimp.
Place on platter, cover and refrigerate until it’s time to grill them.

Prior to lunch time, cover grill with foil and pre-heat.
Use a vegetable brush to lightly brush prepared kabobs with melted butter.
Place kabobs on grill and sprinkle with garlic salt, oregano and paprika.
Grill 5-7 minutes on each side.

Serve with crusty bread or over a bed of pre-prepared and microwaved rice.  Add a bagged salad and enjoy!

Yield: 4-6 servings.


Make It a Sweet Holiday!

December 16, 2010

                                                                                       

Sweeten your holidays with homemade hard tack candy!  The Anderson family shares their recipe for this old-fashioned treat that can be made in a variety of flavors. It’s a tasty and colorful addition to any seasonal celebration!

You’ll Need:

2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup water
Flavoring oils to suit your preferences e.g.; cinnamon, peppermint, etc.
Food colorings of choice
Powdered sugar
Candy thermometer
Kitchen or candy shears

Preparation:

Place all ingredients and cooking utensils within reach of your stove or cooktop.
Lightly coat cookie sheets or counter surface with cooking spray. Alternatively, sprinkle powdered sugar liberally on surface.

Directions:

Add water, sugar and corn syrup to large saucepan. Stir well.
Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Stop stirring and bring to a boil.
Continue to cook until mixture reaches 260º then add color.
Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon of oil flavoring. Wait until bubbling subsides and then stir until mixed well.
Pour onto prepared surface and allow to cool slightly.
Using kitchen shears, cut into small pillow shapes.
Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!


Brined Turkey – Team Member Recipe

November 11, 2010

                                                                          
One of our team members shares this recipe for brined turkey, a specialty of his that we’ve all had the opportunity to sample and heartily endorse. Brining apparently works its magic by inducing a chemical reaction that adds flavor to the meat while also tenderizing it. We can attest that the result is a savory, mouth-watering rendition of a perpetual favorite!
                                                                              
                                                     

                                                 
Brined Turkey

You’ll need:

Medium-size turkey (13 – 17 lbs.)

For the brine:

Salt – The amount varies depending on type of salt used. Our team member recommends 1-1/2 cups of sea salt.
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 cans (14 oz.) vegetable stock
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper or peppercorns. 

5 gallon stock pot, plastic container or other food grade storage container.  Please note that the container must be large enough to hold the turkey and brine but small enough to fit into your refrigerator!  It’s extremely important that the turkey be kept refrigerated at all times prior to roasting.

Method:

If you’ve purchased a frozen turkey, thaw prior to brining.  This can take up to 4 days depending on the temperature in your refrigerator so plan accordingly.  Allow 5 hours per pound as a general rule of thumb.

In large stock pot or dutch oven, combine vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, and black pepper. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve solids.  Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and refrigerate until cold.

On the evening prior to your meal, place the thawed turkey, breast-side down, into the 5 gallon container. Add brine and enough cold water to cover the turkey.  It may be necessary to ladle the brine mixture into the turkey cavity to keep it submerged. Place in refrigerator for 8 to 20 hours.

Prior to roasting, remove turkey from brine solution and thoroughly rinse twice, inside and out. Discard brine mixture.

If you plan to stuff the turkey, do that now per your normal recipe. Alternatively, you can add diced apples, a small sliced onion, a cinnamon stick, and rosemary and sage to the cavity.

Coat the skin of the turkey with unsalted butter or cooking oil then place in oven that has been pre-heated to 325 degrees.  Roast for approximately 20 minutes per pound or until a thermometer placed in the thigh reaches 180 degrees.

When done, remove from oven, cover with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes prior to carving.

Serve and enjoy!