I admit to being too lazy - I mean too busy - to cook from scratch for large groups of people. Okay, even for the small group of my lucky coworkers who got to come to work on the Fourth of July.
But I like to hide that fact – so I cheated. I bought some muffin mix and then dressed it up. I learned how to “tart up” box food from a very wise friend who once saved my life after I volunteered to hold the wedding rehearsal dinner for the daughter of a friend.
At that point, I didn’t even have a working oven. But I do now and so for the office picnic on the Fourth, I brought corn bread muffins that were pronounced delicious.
I chose corn muffins because I am allergic to corn. If I had offered to bring brownies, I knew my coworkers would only get half the pan of brownies because my taste testing would have been endless.
The muffin recipe is just one I borrowed from the renowned wisdom of the “Cookie Lady” of CNN’s DC bureau – Carol Buckland.
Another of her recipes starts with boxes of brownie mix. To give them a stronger flavor, I could add some strong coffee instead of water. Or I can toss in some extra chocolate or some candy like Reeses Pieces or crushed hard peppermints. Or on some pans, I covered the top of the hot brownies with chocolate covered mints.
And presentation is important. So after cutting the brownies into squares I placed each one on a bright silver paper muffin liner.
For the Fourth, I also cooked up some baked beans for the party I was headed to after work. You would not believe how big the cans are that you can buy from the big membership stores. I also picked up some smoked barbecue sauce, some onions and bacon. It all went into a slow cooker on low and was perfect in time for the next party.
I could have brought some hummus that I picked up from the deli. The trick to that is finding the right colorful bowl to put it in, adding a few garbanzo beans around the edge, then a spritz of olive oil in the center and sprinkle on some chopped parsley or chopped red pepper for color.
And who has time for that?
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