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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 Recipes: Coconut Crunch Chicken Strips #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: Coconut Crunch Chicken Strips with Honey-Mango Dipping Sauce.

    Technically, this style of chicken is an appetizer, according to The Cozy Apron. But as an avid fan of chicken strips, I have to disagree. This will be my main course during my in-office lunch on Friday. Coupled with some of my favorite gourmet chips, this is an exceptional meal that will have my co-workers staring in my direction for hours.  

    The recipe reminds me of coconut crunch shrimp, a similar and very delicious idea. If you prefer shrimp, I imagine it would be rather easy to adapt the recipe, but enough talk. Let’s start by revving up your deep-frying oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The Grocery List for the Chicken Strips

+ One deep fryer (or pot) & enough veggie oil to fill it

+ Two (skinless) chicken breasts sliced into sixteen total strips total

+ Spices: Pinch of curry powder, pinch of Cayenne pepper, and enough salt + pepper to fill your heart’s desire.

+ Half cup of flour

+ Two eggs

+ Two cups of sweetened, shredded coconut

+ One Tablespoon of chives

The Grocery List for the Honey-Mango Dipping Sauce

+ Half cup of mayo

+ Half cup of frozen mango chunks, thawed

+ Two tablespoons of fresh cilantro

+ One tablespoon of honey

+ Small pinch of curry powder

+ Three to Four drops of Sriracha sauce (and more if you prefer spicier flavors)

+ Half teaspoon of FRESH lemon juice

 Step 1 - The Spices

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+ Add all chicken strips to a bowl, and mix in the curry powder, a few pinches of salt & pepper, and finally a large pinch of Cayenne pepper. Toss it like a salad until you’ve thoroughly coated the strips.

Step 2 - The Outer Coat

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+ In a larger bowl, add flour, a couple pinches of salt & pepper, and a large pinch of the cayenne pepper. Mix and mix some more. In a new and clean bowl, add the eggs, and beat them silly. In another new and clean bowl, add the coconut. 

+ One by one, dip each chicken strip into each bowl in the following order. Start with the flour bowl. Make sure the chicken strips are covered in the white powder; then, move them to the egg bowl. Finally, roll them around in the coconut bowl until the chicken is thoroughly covered in deliciousness. 

+ Hold all the finished strips on a separate plate until you’re ready to start cooking.

Step 3 - The Fry

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+ Add a comfortable number of chicken strips to your deep fryer or pot. Don’t overcrowd the chicken strips in order to achieve the best result.

+ Fry each batch for about 90 seconds to 120 seconds. Move them around every 30 seconds or so. They should be a nice, golden color when they’re done.

+ Sprinkle a pinch of salt & pepper over each batch before allowing them to cool. Once cool, sprinkle chives over the strips for the final touch.

Step 4 - The Dipping Sauce

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 + Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor.

+ Serve immediately, or store the sauce in an airtight container inside your refrigerator.

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#MarketingMonday - How a Coffee Brand Attracts Big Crowds at Airports by Trading Yawns for Free Giveaways

By Fausto Mendez

    Coffee is a fact of life in America. You can’t approach a crowd without eventually getting hit in the face with that odd but attractive aroma, and it’s virtually impossible to go anywhere without seeing the ever-present Starbucks cup. In the same spirit, coffee brand Douwe Egberts is making a name for itself at a local airport by making sure everyone in the building is holding a Douwe Egberts cup. 

    Exactly how is this up and coming coffee shop achieving this effect? It’s handing out free coffee, but it’s not as simple as that. As you know, a promotional giveaway, such as free coffee, is a very effective marketing tactic. It can introduce the brand to new customers and revive it to old customers, boosting positive feelings about the brand and catalyzing an emotional effect that makes the brand even more memorable.

    The emotional effect in such a campaign is critical since emotionally-charged experiences are almost impossible to forget, so Douwe Egberts maximizes the emotional effect of its promotional giveaways by setting up coffee machines that are activated by simple yawns. 

    Yup, that’s right. In order to get your free cup of coffee, you have to yawn at the machine, which will dispense a free cup of coffee in return. Trading a yawn for some coffee can easily bring a surprised smile to a weary traveler’s face - an emotional effect that should make the experience a hundred times more memorable. The campaign is called “Bye Bye Red Eye”, says Mashable, and it’s cleverly spreading the Douwe Egberts brand with one of the oldest forms of marketing, the promotional giveaway.

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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: 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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Recipes to Boost Focus in Meetings: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread #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 everyone’s 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: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread!

    Our favorite #RBFM recipes deliciously mash up two separate concepts, such as cinnamon rolls and cheesecake. That’s because, in a business setting, you definitely want to impress your meeting’s attendees. It makes your meeting that much more memorable. They will always remember that meeting as “the one where I tried a cinnamon-roll cheesecake for the first time.” If you’re making an important pitch, the incoming sugar high could be the difference between a success or a failure. 

   Anyway, let’s bake something. You can thank Recipes Quick’n Easy for original recipe. 

Step 0 - Gather your Ingredients

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+ Filling: eight ounce pack of cream cheese, 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar, one tablespoon of flour,one egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.

+ Bread: 1 2/3 cups flour, one teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, one cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup canola oil, two large eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar, one cup chopped pecans or walnuts. 

+ Glaze: one cup powdered sugar, two tablespoons half & half, one teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts. 

Step 1 - Mix & Preheat

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+ Preheat Oven to 325 degrees. 

+ Grease and flour two 8” x 4” x 3” loaf pans.

+ Start the filling. In a bowl, mix: cream cheese, sugar, flour, egg and vanilla. Mix until it feels pretty smooth, and aim for a “cream” texture. 

+ Start the bread. In a larger bowl, mix 1 2/3 cups flour, baking soda, salt cinnamon  cloves, ginger and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, mix: pumpkin puree, canola oil, eggs and sugar. Now, mix the contents of these two bowls together. Drop in your nuts for good measure. 

+ Step 2 - Prepare for the Bake

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+ Empty half the pumpkin batter into the two loaf pans. Layer on the cream cheese, followed by the rest of the pumpkin batter.

+ Create a marble effect with the cream cheese by swirling a knife in the batter. The goal is not to mix the cream cheese into the batter; instead, the cheese should remain separate from the batter. 

+ Step 3 - Let’s Get Baked!

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+ Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until you can stick a toothpick into your bread and pull it out clean. 

+ While we wait for that to finish, let’s make the cinnamon glaze. Take all the ingredients for the cinnamon glaze and mix them together. Add more cinnamon to darken the glaze. 

+ Pull out your bread. Let it cool for ten minutes or so. Now, drop some glaze on that B, and drop in your nuts for good measure.

Step 4 - Assimilate

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+ First, I should warn you that fireworks may shoot out of your mouth during consumption, so keep a fire extinguisher on hand. 

+ Once you have your extinguisher, grab some bread, and put it in your mouth. I guess you can save some for a friend or whatever, but I wouldn’t blame you for being selfish. Oh yeah, don’t forget to save some for your next meeting, or… never mind, you’ll probably have to cook another batch.

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Recipes to Boost Focus in Meetings: Peach Wontons #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: peach wontons.

    Last week, we combined a cheesecake with a cinnamon roll to make a tasteful absurdity I sometimes call a cinnamon-roll cheesecake, but this week, the American South meets the Asian East as we turn wontons into a delightful peach desert. Surprisingly, peach wontons are pretty easy to make. Now, let’s stop talking about it, and let’s get to cookin’ - I’m hungry!

Step 0 - Gather Your Materials

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+ Two pounds of RIPE, sweet peaches

+ Two tablespoons of all-purpose flour

+ Three tablespoons of brown sugar

+ Wonton wraps

+ Canola or vegetable oil

+ Powdered sugar

Step 1 - Prepare the Delicious Peaches

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+ Cut up the peaches into small slices. Grab a big bowl, and toss the peaches with some flour and brown sugar. 

Step 2 - Wrap the Delicious Peaches

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+ Lay down the wontons on a flat surface. Place a small pile of sliced peaches on each wrap. When you run out of peaches, it’s a good idea to drop a little bit of the leftover peach juice in the center of each pile.

+ Next, wrap the peaches by rubbing a tiny amount of water to the edges of the wonton wraps; then, fold them into any shape you want. For more intricate folds, you might need to apply more water as you do more and more folds.

Step 3 - Fry the Delicious Peaches

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+ Heat about one-inch of oil in a pan over medium-high heat. The temperature  of the oil should reach about 375°F. 

+ Dry each wonton with a dry paper towel before frying. Fry them in small batches for about two or three minutes. Turn the wontons as they cook for best results. Once they appear golden brown, they are done. 

+ Lay them on some paper towels to absorb some of the excess oil; then, sprinkle with powdered sugar. 

+ Now, eat ‘em up! And take a few seconds to thank She Wears Many Hats for the original recipe, and these beautiful pics. Check her page for more delicious photos.

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