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Recipes to Boost Focus in Meetings: Crème Brûlée Maple Apple Tart


Pitching to a hungry audience is shooting yourself in the foot, so bring along some tasty treats - preferably sugary stuff - to boost focus and mood. It WILL make a significant difference in the success or productivity of your meeting. This week’s #RBFM sugar spell: Crème Brûlée Maple Apple Tart.


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By Fausto Mendez

    Crème brûlée maple apple tarts are some of the best dessert tarts that I’ve ever tasted, and this recipe, courtesy of Sugar for the Brain, certainly hits the spot if you’re a fan of such delights.

    It’s a relatively easy recipe if you have the crust ready to go, but I tend to be a fan of from-scratch crust. Below, I break down your shopping list for the grocery store.

The Grocery List

+ Two Cortland apples, peeled. Cut the apples into eight wedges. 

+ Eight cups of sugar.

+ Six egg yolks.

+ Third cup maple syrup.

+ Half teaspoon maple extract.

+ One and one fourth cups of 35% cream.

+ Half teaspoon vanilla extract.

+ Two tablespoons powdered sugar.

+ One shortcrust pastry (store bought or from scratch).

Step 1: The Setup

+ Lay your crust over a 14” x 4” pan. 

+ Lay the apples over the crust. Fit them in how you like. Sprinkle sugar over all of it.

+ Then, bake the crust & apples for 40 minutes.

Step 2: The Filling

+ In a medium bowl, mix together the egg yolks and maple syrup. Whisk and whisk.

+ Throw in the cream. Drop in the vanilla. Then, pour the concoction over the crust & apples. 

+ Bake for an additional 15 minutes. 

Step 3: The Finishing Touch

+ Sprinkle sugar over the tart and caramelize the sugar with a gas torch. Alternatively, a quick broil in the oven can achieve a very similar effect. 

+ Sugar for the Brain recommends to eat it cold, but I think it’s better hot. It’s up to you. If you’re going to chill it, let it cool down to room temperature. Then, put in the fridge. 

Recipes to Boost Focus in Meetings: Strawberries & Cream Dessert Cups #RBFM

By Fausto Mendez

    Pitching to a hungry audience is shooting yourself in the foot, so bring along some tasty treats - preferably sugary stuff - to boost client focus and mood. It WILL make a significant difference in the success or productivity of your meeting. This week’s #RBFM sugar spell: Strawberries & Cream Dessert Cups!

    This is certainly an interesting recipe. As always with our RBFM series, we search for outstanding and unique recipes that shock & awe with flavors, textures and visual appeal. The goal is to wow clients, partners and/or co-workers at your next meeting with a dessert that is so amazing (and sugary) that it actually improves their moods and nudges their opinions in your favor. Hunger is your enemy in the meeting room, so come prepared!

Step 1: The Grocery List

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+ Heavy whipping cream, (non-GMO) Chunks ‘O Fruit bars (available at Sam’s Club), strawberries, mini phyllo cups, vanilla, sugar, love. 

Step 2: Beat that Cream

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+ Beat the whipping cream, sugar, vanilla until you get some soft peaks. Mix in a melted Strawberry fruit bar for extra flavor.

Step 3: Fill ‘Em Up

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+ Fill the mini phyllo cups with the cream mix.

+ Cut some strawberries into little squares.

+ Cut some fruit bars into little squares. If you’re serving these at work (or away from where you’re preparing the dessert), you should dice the fruit bar at your destination. Obviously, ice cream melts, so you should refreeze the fruit bar at the destination, and then, cut the bar and add it to the cups. 

+ Next, add the squares of fruit bars, and finally top it all off with the strawberries. Serve ‘em quick; I imagine these would lose their visual appeal as they warm up to room temperature. 

+ Finally, thank The Gunny Sack for the original recipe and the gorgeous photos. 

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Bring-Your-Own-Lunch Recipe: Creamy Artichoke Lasagna #BYOL

By Fausto Mendez

    Every week, we suggest a fascinating, unique and delicious dish that is easy to reheat at your office lunchroom. This week’s #BYOL recipe: Creamy Artichoke Lasagna.

    #BYOL (bring-your-own lunch) recipes are more often healthier (and, of course, tastier) alternatives to eating out for lunch at work, but naturally being human, we can’t always stick to what’s better for us. Every so often, we need a heartier, fattier dish to get us through the day, and this creamy artichoke lasagna is sure to hit the spot.

    Most Italian food is perfect for a #BYOL day at the office, so this delish entrée is certainly worth an hour or so if lasagna dishes tickle your fancy. So what’s in it?

Step 0 - The Grocery List

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+ Herbs & Veggies: 15 baby artichokes, four minced garlic cloves, one cup basil

+ Cheeses: 15 ounces of ricotta cheese, one cup parmesan cheese, one cup mozzarella cheese

+ Oils & Liquids: three cups water, one-fourth cup lemon juice, three tablespoons olive oil, one cup vegetable or chicken broth, two cups of half and half

+ Everything Else: nine dried (uncooked) lasagna noodles, half cup pine nuts, one egg, three-fourths teaspoon of salt, one-fourth cup flour

Step 1 - Prep the Artichokes & Noodles

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+ Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

+ Slice off the base of each artichoke, and snap off the outer leaves until you only have the yellow leaves left. Then, slice off about a third of the top of each artichoke. Place the artichokes in a bowl, and add the lemon and water. Slightly stir, and leave it for now. 

+ Heat up the lasagna noodles. Drain them, and rinse with cold water. Drain the artichokes too. 

+ Drop a pan on the oven. Drop two tablespoons of the olive oil on the pan. Set the flame at about medium. Add the artichokes, pine nuts, and half of the garlic clove. Cook for about 8 minutes or until the artichokes feel rather tender. Don’t forget to continuously stir. Drop the contents of the pan into a separate bowl, and stir in the ricotta cheese, half cup of the parmesan cheese, half cup of the basil, the egg and the salt. 

Step 2 - Prep the Sauce

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+ In a bowl, mix the broth and flour together. In your shiniest saucepan, heat up the remaining olive oil. Mix in the rest of the garlic, and cook until tender (but don’t brown it). Throw in the flour mix and half and half. Heat until it’s all thick, bubbly and delicious. Turn off the heat. Quickly add the rest of the basil. 

+ In a separate bowl mix the mozzarella cheese and the rest of the parmesan cheese.

Step 3 - The Bake

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+ You’ll need an ungreased 3-quart baking dish that is shallow, not deep. 

Spread about a cup of the sauce into this dish. Layer three noodles in the dish, and spread the artichoke mix over the noodles. Add the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle about a half cup of the cheese mix over all of it.

+ Repeat this process until you run out of ingredient.

+ Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, uncovered. You’ll know it’s done when the edges should bubble up and the top lightly browns.  

+ Thank Midwest Living for the recipe, and eat it up!

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Bring-Your-Own-Lunch Recipes: Mini Cheeseburger Pies #BYOL #WTF

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By Fausto Mendez

    Every week, we suggest a fascinating, unique and delicious dish that is easy to reheat at your office lunchroom. This week’s #BYOL recipe: Mini Cheeseburger Pies. 

    This is perhaps one of the most convenient and unique #BYOL recipes that we’ve ever posted, and if you love hamburgers, you have to try it out for your next in-office meal. It’s basically all the ingredients that you’d put into a burger but in the shape of a pie… or a muffin.

    It’s a pie that small looks more like a muffin, actually, but that’s enough small talk. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and throw on an apron.

Step 1 - The Grocery List

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+ Burger mix: one pound ground beef, one chopped onion, one tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, one teaspoon garlic salt, one cup shredded cheese.

+ Baking mix: half cup milk, half cup Original Bisquick mix, two eggs.

+ Optional garnishes: twelve mini dill pickles, one chopped tomato, ketchup, mustard. 

Step 2 - The Prep

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+ In a skillet, preheat the beef and onion over a medium-high flame for five to seven minutes. Frequently and thoroughly stir. 

+ Let the beef chill for three to five minutes, and add the Worcestershire sauce, cheese and garlic salt. Thoroughly mix. 

+ In a separate bowl, drop in the baking ingredients, and stir, mix and poke until thoroughly blended.  

Step 3 - The Bake

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+ Cover a 12-muffin pan with cooking spray or your favorite cooking grease.

+ Spoon a small tablespoon of your baking mixture and a one-fourth cup of burger mixture into each of the twelve muffin cups. Spoon another tablespoon of baking mixture into each muffin cup in order to “sandwich” the burger mixture in between baking mixture.

+ Bake for about 30 minutes. A sign that it’s done is if you can insert and pull out a clean toothpick and there’s a nice golden-brown shade to the tops of the mini hamburger pies. 

+ Allow the mini hamburger pies to cool for ten minutes outside of the pan. Add garnish, thank My Kitchen Magazine for the recipe, and eat!


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Recipes to Boost Focus in Meetings: Slutty Brownies #RBFM

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By Fausto Mendez

    Pitching to a hungry audience is shooting yourself in the foot, so bring along some tasty treats - preferably sugary stuff - to boost client focus and mood. It WILL make a significant difference in the success or productivity of your meeting. This week’s #RBFM sugar spell: Slutty Brownies!

    Who doesn’t love a well-made dessert smashed into some Oreos, which is then smashed into another delicious, delicious dessert? If you don’t love that, I suggest you leave now because we’re about Frakenstein a brownie, a blondie and some Oreos into one amazing concoction, otherwise known as the “Slutty Brownie.” Let’s start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 0 - What You’ll Need for 15 to 20 Slutty Brownies

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+ The blondie mix: 8 tablespoons butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup chocolate chips (add more chocolate chips, if you want). 

+ The brownie mix: 1 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 cup cocoa, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 2/3 cup butter, 1/2 boiling water, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 eggs, 1 cup flour, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup chocolate chips (add more chocolate chips, if you want). 

+ One package of Oreo cookies

+ One 9” x 9” brownie pan

Step 1 -  Make the Blondie and Brownie Layers (No Baking Yet)

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+ The Blondie mix: Add melted butter and brown sugar into a bowl. Beat that mix until she’s smooth and ready. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Beat some more. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Next, mix both mixtures together. Stir in your chocolate chips. 

+ The brownie mix: Add sugar, cocoa, baking soda to a clean, empty bowl. Then, slowly mix in the melted butter. Add the boiling water. Stir, stir, stir. Next, add the vanilla and eggs. Stir some more. Add the flour and salt. Keep stirring. Finally, add the chocolate mix.

Step 2 - Stack the Layers in the Baking Pan

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+ Line the baking pan with aluminum foil, which you’ll grease with baking spray.

+ Slutty brownies are, of course, made of three layers. Start with the blondie mix at the bottom of the baking pan. The middle layer is just cracked and broken Oreos, and you can use as many cookies as you prefer. The top layer is the brownie batter. If you’re feeling extra sinful, add another layer of Oreos at the top of the brownie batter. 

Step 3 - Let’s Get Baked

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+ Bake the dessert for 35 minutes. The key is underbaking in order to achieve a soft, almost gooey texture, so be careful not to overbake. 

+ Eat your masterpiece. Then, take a nap. Wake up. Repeat until all Slutty Brownies have been vanquished. 

+ I conveniently forgot that we made these brownies for an upcoming meeting or pitch. You may need to make another batch if you took my above advice to eat all the brownies. 

+ Thank Julia’s Album for the original recipe!

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Recipes to Boost Focus in Meetings: Easy S’mores Crescent Turnovers #RBFM

By Fausto Mendez

    Pitching to a hungry audience is shooting yourself in the foot, so bring along some tasty treats - preferably sugary stuff - to boost client focus and mood. It WILL make a significant difference in the success or productivity of your meeting or pitch. This week’s #RBFM sugar spell: Easy S’mores Crescent Turnovers!

    S’mores are one of the most universally beloved desserts, but they’re messy. What’s worse is they require real fire to prepare, but these S’mores Pocket Turnovers are perfect for an office environment, where fire, long sticks and sticky hands are frowned upon. To reheat, a typical office toaster oven does the trick, though a very, very short microwave session works as well. 

    To actually make the S’mores Crescent Turnovers, it’s a rather simple job, but you should make these at home if you plan to bring them into the office because you will need a full-scale oven and a muffin tin. Lay the flat crescent dough over the muffin tin, and fill each tin with crushed graham crackers, marshmallows and your favorite chocolate. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for no more than fifteen minutes. I’d break it down into steps, but I think the above photo covers all the bases.

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Bring-Your-Own-Lunch Recipe: Mini Spiced Chicken Burgers with Mint Greek Yogurt #BYOL

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By Fausto Mendez

    Every week, we suggest a fascinating, unique and delicious dish that is easy to reheat at your office lunchroom. This week’s #BYOL recipe: Mini Spiced Chicken Burgers with Mint Greek Yogurt.

    I’m a sucker for Greek foods and interesting burgers, so this recipe for mini spiced chicken burgers caught my attention right away. Just look at that photo! I can’t take it anymore; let’s hurry up and cook one or two. You can thank Aapplemint for the original recipe, and below, we post the Bizz’s short & easy version. 

What You’ll Need: The Ingredients

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+ Chicken Mince, 250 grams

+ Fresh Veggies, Spices & Herbs: Two chopped red chillies (seed removed), three chopped garlic cloves, one finely chopped red onion, one handful of chopped coriander, one teaspoon of red chili, some leaves of crunchy lettuce, one teaspoon of cumin, one teaspoon of kafta, salt (as much as you prefer), chopped mint, one sliced Lebanese cucumber (skin on).

+ Greek Yogurt

Next, Prep the Patty

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+ In a mixing bowl, mix together (with your hands): the mince, spices, coriander, chillies, garlic and onion. Form multiple flat patties.

+ Fry the patties in a non-stick pan or skillet over olive oil. 

Finally, Assemble the Burgers

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+ In a separate bowl, whip the Greek yogurt, mint and salt. 

+ If you’ve ever assembled a hamburger, the rest of the process is rather straightforward. Warm up the pita bread and stuff everything inside. Delicious!

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Bring-Your-Own-Lunch Recipe: Chicken Enchilada Stack #BYOL

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By Fausto Mendez

    Every week, we suggest a fascinating, unique and delicious dish that is easy to reheat at your office lunchroom. This week’s #BYOL recipe: Chicken Enchilada Stack. 

    I will happily gorge on well-made enchilada, but the problem with enchilada recipes is that they aren’t usually designed for a single serving. If I’m trying to whip up something fresh and easy for tomorrow’s lunch, I’m definitely not aiming for more than one serving. That’s why I love this recipe, courtesy of Recipe by Photos. It’s got the full flavor and ingredient set of traditional enchiladas, and you can easily modify it for single servings.

    If single servings are your goal, I suggest making multiple stacks with smaller tortillas instead of a single stack with larger tortillas. Now, let’s rev up the slow cooker. 

Step 0 - What You’ll Need

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+ Pan and slow cooker.

+ Fresh veggies: 1 cup chopped onions, 1/2 cup chopped seeded poblano chile, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 cup frozen baby white & yellow corn, cilantro sprigs.

+ 1 tsp. canola oil 

+ 1 1/2 chipotle chile powder

+ 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast

+ 5 corn and flour tortillas

+ 8 bounces shredded cheddar cheese

+ 1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes (with no salt added), drained

+ 1 (8 oz.) can of tomato sauce with basil, garlic, and oregano

+ 1 (15 oz.) can of black beans, rinsed and drained

Cooking spray

Step 1 - Heat It Up

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+ Oil a pan, and place it on a stove over medium-high heat. Mix in onions, poblano chile, garlic. Cook until veggies are tender, but do not cook over six mix minutes.

Step 2 - Mix It Up

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+ In the same pan, mix in chile powder, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add half of this mixture to a blender, and blend until almost smooth. Pour the blended mixture into a bowl. Repeat the process with the other half of the mixture.

Step 3 -  Prep It Up

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+ Line your slow cooker with cooking spray.

+ Add 3 tablespoons of your blended mixture to the bottom of the slow cooker.

+ Add chicken, corn and beans to the to the blended mixture (that is not in the slow cooker). 

Step 4 - Cook It Up

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+ Place one tortilla on the sauce that’s in the slow cooker. Next, add 1 cup of the chicken mixture over the tortilla. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese.

+ Stack another tortilla. Add another cup of chicken mixture. Sprinkle cheese. Repeat the process until you run out of ingredients, or you are satisfied with the size of your stack. 

+ Cover your slow cooker, and cook on low for about two hours. When you’re done, the cheese should be melted and the edges slightly brown. Add cilantro garnish. 

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Bring-Your-Own-Lunch Recipe: Chicken Broccoli Supreme (Casserole) #BYOL

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By Fausto Mendez

    Every week, we suggest a fascinating, unique and delicious dish that is easy to make or reheat at your office lunchroom. This week’s #BYOL recipe: Chicken  Broccoli Supreme (Casserole.) 

    If you’re a fan of the blog, I’m sure you know that I’m a fan of a well made casserole, and the best casseroles, in my opinion, are always based on traditional dishes. This delicious concoction transforms the traditional chicken, broccoli and cheddar dish into a deliciously crumbly casserole that daunts everything your co-workers bring for lunch the next day, but enough talk. Let’s cook. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 0 - What’s Cooking?

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 + One pound of broccoli, chopped and steamed for 2 minutes

+ Three cups of chicken breasts, chopped 

+ One and a half cups of grated cheddar cheese

+ Two tubes of good-ol’-fashioned Ritz crackers

+ One stick of butter

+ One tablespoon of poppy seeds

+ Sauce: 1/3 cup melted butter, 1/4 cup cornstarch (dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water), 1/3 cup chicken broth, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 2 cups milk, 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese. 

Step 1 - Lay It Down and Cook It Up

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+ Grease a 13 x 9 pan. Layer the breast pieces and broccoli how you’d like. 

+ Now, let’s make some sauce. Add to a saucepan over medium heat: butter, cornstarch, chicken broth, seasonings, milk. Stir until the sauce is rather thick. 

+ Reduce the heat. Throw in the cheese. Stir until the cheese completely melts. 

Step 2 - Drop it Like It’s Hot

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+ Drop the delicious sauce over the chicken and broccoli.

+ Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the chicken and broccoli. 

+ Crush the Ritz crackers into crumbs.

+ Melt the butter stick. Butter burns easy, so be careful. Add the poppy seeds to the butter. Add about the crumbs to the butter.

+ Drop the mixture of butter and crumbs onto the cheese and broccoli. 

Step 3 - Get Baked

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+ Do not cover the pan, and bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes, or until bubbly. 

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Recipes to Boost Focus in Meetings: “Ooey-Gooey” Butter Cookies #RBFM

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By Fausto Mendez

    Pitching to a hungry audience is shooting yourself in the foot, so bring along some tasty treats - preferably sugary stuff - to boost client focus and mood. It WILL make a significant difference in the success or productivity of your meeting or pitch. This week’s #RBFM sugar spell: “Ooey-Gooey” Butter Cookies. 

    Our favorite and most popular #RBFM recipes often mash up two different deserts into one delicious concoction that most people don’t even realize is possible, and this week’s treat follows that tradition closely by combining cake and cookies. You can thank Lil Luna for the original “Ooey-Gooey” recipe, which we summarize down to the short-and-sweet version below. Let’s start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 0 - Gather Your Ingredients

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+ One box of Yellow Cake Mix

+ Half cup butter

+ Half teaspoon vanilla

+ One 8 oz. cream cheese bar

+ 1 Egg

+ Powdered Sugar

Step 1 - Beat the vanilla, egg and cream cheese until fluffy.

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Step 2 - Add the cake mix.

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Step 3 - Let it chill for 30 min. Roll into balls. Dip in sugar. Eat leftovers.

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Step 4 - Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350. Drizzle sugar.

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Recipes to Boost Focus in Meetings: Bacon-Strip Pancakes #RBFM

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By Fausto Mendez

    Pitching to a hungry audience is shooting yourself in the foot, so bring along some tasty treats - preferably sugary stuff - to boost client focus and mood. It WILL make a significant difference in the success or productivity of your meeting or pitch. This week’s #RBFM sugar spell: Bacon Stuffed Pancakes. 

    I’m not the first person to stuff bacon into pancakes, but this recipe is actually mine, though I don’t think I can call it a “recipe”. I was merely making pancakes one late morning, and I laid some bacon strips into the batter on the grill. I usually eat bacon with my pancakes, so it was certainly the logical thing to do.

    It’s a greasy, delicious idea, and it seems to have been around for a while now (see the above image from an old school Aunt Jemima ad), but the concept is rather simple. You just take any pancake recipe, like one of these 21 pancake recipes, and you make the batter in a bowl. Next, you start cooking some bacon on a larger skillet. When the bacon is almost done, you pour some batter over the strips. Alternatively, you can cut the bacon into bits, but I prefer the entire strip. 

    Of course, this recipe is probably more relevant for morning meetings, but I’m sure most bacon fanatics wouldn’t mind a mid-day bacon-strip pancake at the start of another mundane meeting or pitch.

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Bring Your Own Lunch Recipe: Mushroom Pizza Caps

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By Fausto Mendez

    Every week, we suggest a fascinating, unique and delicious dish that is easy to make or reheat at your office lunchroom. This week’s #BYOL recipe: Mushroom Pizza Caps.

    Last week, we switched things up with a desert recipe for the #BYOL series, but we’re taking it back to the main course, this week, with a fast and easy pizza recipe that’s lighter and healthier than traditional pizza. This Table for Two recipe switches out pizza dough for a mushroom cap, but it’s still pretty much the same idea.

    Of course, the benefit of removing the dough is that you consume less carbs and fat, but bread is usually full of unhealthy gluten too. So it’s definitely a win-win if you enjoy mushrooms on your pizza.

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

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+ 5 large Portobello mushroom caps

+ 2 tablespoons of olive oil

+ Pepperoni (or your favorite combination of toppings)

+ Shredded mozzarella cheese

+ Your favorite pizza sauce

+ Basil

Step 2: Get Baked

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+ Glaze the inside of each mushroom cap with olive oil. Then, season the caps with salt and pepper.

+ Lightly grill the mushroom caps for about 5-7 minutes. Remove from grill.

+ Add marinara sauce, cheese, basil and and toppings.

+ If you’re eating at home, reheat the mushrooms on the grill until the cheese melts. If you’re taking these to work for lunch, do not reheat at home; place them in an air tight container. When you’re ready to eat, reheat them in an oven or microwave.

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