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11/19/2010

Cooking For Work


This could also be called "Cooking At Work", but more on that later. I am incredibly blessed to work for a company that I love, doing something I really enjoy. There are lots of reasons I love the company that I work for, but one in particular is that we do things together. Aegis has numerous company events throughout the year, many of which are potlucks. These are really fun in an organization that fosters great relationships. Some really amusing food-rivalries develop, wherein you see items like "Rob's Better-Than-Jen's Deviled Eggs" on the potluck sign-up sheets. Well, we just had our annual Thanksgiving potluck, and I had a lot of trouble deciding what to bring. This was my issue: There are about 150 people in my building and seven microwaves. You do the math. There was no way I was going to try and fight for a microwave, but I really don't do cold dishes (I am my mother's daughter) unless it's a dessert. Well, don't you know that a lot of people had the dessert idea before me? Dang. What now? Slow cooker! The only problem with that was that I didn't really have a slow cooker recipe that I wanted to try, so I converted an oven recipe...sort of. Here's what I started with.



Broccoli Mac & Cheese Bake
from Taste of Home
  • 3 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cans (12 ounces each) evaporated milk
  • 2-1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup crushed cornbread-flavored crackers (about 6 crackers)
  • Cook macaroni according to package directions, adding broccoli during the last 3-4 minutes; drain. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper and salt until smooth; gradually stir in evaporated milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in 2 cups cheese.

  • Place half of the macaroni and broccoli in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Top with half of the cheese sauce. Repeat layers. Sprinkle with cracker crumbs and remaining cheese.

  • Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly. Yield: 12 servings.
Okay, so I'll admit that I skipped the crackers and cheese topping altogether since everything was going into the crock pot. Almost everything else is the same besides that. I cooked everything as directed, but stored it separately overnight in the fridge and just came home in the middle of the day to bring it in (I also didn't want to fight for fridge space). Once I got it into work I just turned the slow cooker on high and let it go till the potluck, which was about an hour and a half.

I measured out and combined the dry ingredients ahead of time so they'd be ready to go when the butter was melted.

I've discovered--the hard way--that the secret to cooking any kind of sauce like this is to work in batches. I only put in a little at a time of both the flour mixture and the cheese so that it wouldn't get all clumpy and gross.

See, smooth and creamy. Batches, people. Batches are a must!

Then I packaged the pasta in leftover containers and poured the cheese sauce into the crock pot for easy transport the next day.

So here's the setup at work. Empty cubicles make great cooking areas. It took a little while for everything to heat up enough so that it would mix nicely. Oh, and that dangling power cord/socket strip situation going on there, totally safe, I swear.

And here is the finished product, eagerly awaiting the hungry horde of Aegis-ites to dig in.

Sadly, despite all my good planning, the dish did not turn out well. An hour and a half on high didn't really warm everything through very well. It really needed three. Even more tragic, however, is that the sauce tasted very flat. It had no punch whatsoever. I hope that a lot of people liked it better than I did since about three quarters of it was gone by the end of the night, but, in case they didn't, no one has to know it was mine.


1 comment:

  1. This looks delicious and perfect for my Beat the Winter Blues Party! Tomorrows topic is comfort food, come and link up @ http://goodbycityhellosuburbs.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete