S1E5 (Team Challenge) – Feed the Marines

Employment Status: 2 Job Applications, 8 E-mails, 1 Phone call

For this season’s first team challenge, the chefs were asked to feed 400 U.S. Marines with the two different teams serving one entree, two sides and one dessert each.

The Red Team made barbecue steak, potato gratin, roasted root vegetables and apple turnover (the first dish below), while the Blue Team made stuffed pork loin, garlic mashed potatoes, roasted corn and berry napoleon (the second dish). Even though the Red Team’s food was declared better overall, they underestimated the necessary portions and ran out of food. The Blue Team essentially won by default.

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Since I am obviously not going to feed 400 Marines, I decided to use this time to share some of my favorite recipes that could easily be scaled up to meet the needs of the challenge.

For the entree, I LOVE the Pioneer Woman’s Peach Whiskey Barbecue Chicken. I’ve made this dish multiple times and it is always a winner. I pretty much just follow the recipe (with the one exception being that I use breasts instead of thighs) so go there for instructions.

For the first side, I highly suggest my Mom’s mac-and-cheese recipe. I have adapted it over the years and made it my own and it is totally delicious. I had one friend even say that he thought he didn’t like mac-and-cheese… until he tried this. Even today, he says that this is the only mac-and-cheese he likes. If that doesn’t convince you how good this is, I don’t know what will. To make 4 servings of this awesome mac-and-cheese, this is what you’ll need:

  • 2 Cups of Uncooked Pasta (You can literally use any type of pasta for this but I prefer to use Penne, Orecchiette, or Fusilli)
  • 1/4 Cup of Butter
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 Cup of Flour
  • 1-3/4 Cups of Milk
  • 4 Ounces each of Sharp Cheddar, Gouda, and Gruyere, Cubed
  • 4 Ounces of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
  • 2 Ounces Parmesan, Shredded
  • Seasoned Bread Crumbs

To make this dish:

  • Cook pasta as directed, drain and set aside.
  • Melt butter over medium heat (with salt, pepper, garlic powder and any other herbs and spices you like – I have been known to throw in Sambal Oelek or White Truffle Oil depending on my mood).
  • Blend in flour, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth and bubbly.
  • Slowly stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.
  • Boil and stir for 1 minute. Turn down heat and stir in cubed cheese until melted.
  • Place pasta in casserole dish. Stir cheese sauce into pasta. Top with shredded cheese and seasoned bread crumbs
  • Bake uncovered for approximately 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

For the second side, I made this Tomato Zucchini Tart for a party recently and everyone loved it. It was time intensive but it was super easy with a mandolin slicer (which you can get fairly inexpensively at Target). You can also spice this up and add yellow squash and/or eggplant as well.

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I have to admit: dessert is not really my thing. A pastry chef, I am not. So I really only have one go-to dessert recipe that I can share with you. As an Ohio native and an Ohio State Alum, this, of course, is Buckeye Candies. The ingredients that you need to make around 36 pieces of candy are:

  • 1 Cup of Smooth Peanut Butter
  • 1/8 Cup of Butter, Softened
  • 2 Cups of Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Cups of Chocolate Chips
  • Toothpicks

Mix the peanut butter and butter until creamy then slowly beat in powdered sugar – just a 1/3 of a cup at a time or else powdered sugar will fly everywhere. Shape into small 1-inch balls, place toothpicks in the center of the candy and freeze for at least one hour. Melt chocolate chips using a double boiler and dip candies one-by-one into the chocolate. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

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I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do. I’ll be back with another challenge soon.

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