A collection of Esparza’s favorite recipes

A collection of Esparza’s favorite recipes

Food unites people. It transcends race, class and ethnicity, and bring all kinds of folks together in an intimate setting, usually reserved for those most cherished in our lives.

Now, maybe you’re sitting there looking at a half-eaten bagel and some lukewarm coffee thinking, “Yeah, right. It’s just food.”

Don’t close this book up just yet though. Take a look and you’ll see recipes that span generations and continents, dishes from the Deep South and more contemporary culinary mash-ups, alongside Midwestern down-home comfort food and some muy caliente platos straight out of the Land of Enchantment.

These are recipes we often share with each other, right here in the office. They bring good vibes and give us a great reason to step away from our screens and enjoy each other’s company.

Go ahead, give it a try at your workplace. At the least you’ll be a hero for championing the righteous cause of tasty dishes in your office, and you might even make some lasting connections with your coworkers over a table full of carefully crafted, eclectic entrées.

GOOD EATS

  • 1.6 Baked French Toast Casserole - Del

    Prep: 20 min  |  Inactive: 8 hr  |  Cook: 40 min | Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    Ingredients

    • 1 loaf French bread (13-16 oz)
    • 8 large eggs
    • 2 cups half-and-half
    • 1 cup milk
    • 2 tbs granulated sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
    • Dash salt
    • Maple syrup
    • Praline Topping
    • Praline Topping
    • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter
    • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 1 cup chopped pecans
    • 2 tbs light corn syrup
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
    Directions
    Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in two rows, overlapping the slices.

    In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

    The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    In a medium bowl, mix together butter and corn syrup. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.
  • 1.5 New Mexican Posole - Roberta

    Prep: 15 min  |  Cook: 65 min  |  Yield: 8 servings

    Ingredients

    • 4 dried Red chiles
    • 4 dried guajillo or pasilla chiles
    • 2 tbsp canola oil, divided
    • 1-1/2 cups boiling water
    • 2 pounds boneless pork cut into 1-inch cubes
    • 1/2 cup chopped onion
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 3 cups chicken broth
    • 2 cans (29 ounces each) hominy, rinsed and drained
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
    • 1 teaspoon salt

    Directions

    In a frying pan, sauté chiles in 1 tablespoon oil for 1-2 minutes or until heated through, pressing with a spatula (do not brown). Using a slotted spoon, transfer chiles into a bowl; add boiling water. Soak for 20 minutes or until softened; remove stems and seeds, reserving water.
    In a Dutch oven, brown pork in remaining oil in batches, sautéing onion and garlic with the last batch of pork. Return pork to pan and add broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until meat is tender.
    Transfer chiles and soaking liquid to a blender; cover and process until smooth. Strain through a fine strainer, reserving pulp and discarding skins. Add pulp to pork mixture. Stir in the hominy, oregano and salt. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with toppings of your choice.
  • 1.4 Easy-Bake Butter Stuffing - Kiki

    Prep: 15 min  |  Cook: 80-100 min  |  Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    Ingredients

    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter plus more for baking dish
    • 1 pound good-quality day-old white bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 10 cups)
    • 2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
    • 1 1/2 cups 1/4-inch slices celery
    • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
    • 2 tbsp chopped sage
    • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
    • 1 tbsp chopped thyme
    • 2 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 tsp ground black pepper
    • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
    • 2 large eggs

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 250°. Butter a 13x9x2-inch baking dish and set aside. Scatter bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until dried out, about 1 hour. Let cool; transfer to a very large bowl.
    Meanwhile, melt 3/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onions and celery. Stir often until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with bread; stir in herbs, salt and pepper. Drizzle in 1 1/4 cups broth and toss gently. Let cool.
    Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk 1 1/4 cups broth and eggs in a small bowl. Add to bread mixture; fold gently until thoroughly combined. Transfer to prepared dish, cover with foil and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of dressing registers 160°, about 40 minutes.
    Bake dressing, uncovered, until set and top is browned and crisp, 40-45 minutes longer (if chilled, add 10-15 minutes).
  • 1.3 Roquefort Pear Salad - Eve

    Prep: 20 min  |  Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    Ingredients

    • 1 head leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
    • 3 pears – peeled, cored and chopped
    • 5 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled
    • 1 avocado – peeled, pitted and diced
    • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
    • 1/4 cup white sugar
    • 1/2 cup pecans
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
    • 1 1/2 tsp white sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp prepared mustard
    • 1 clove garlic, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • fresh ground black pepper to taste

    Directions

    In a skillet over medium heat, stir 1/4 cup of sugar together with the pecans. Continue stirring gently until sugar has melted and caramelized the pecans. Carefully transfer nuts onto waxed paper. Allow to cool, then break into pieces.
    For the dressing, blend oil, vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, mustard, chopped garlic, salt and pepper.
    In a large serving bowl, layer lettuce, pears, blue cheese, avocado, and green onions. Pour dressing over salad, sprinkle with pecans, and serve.
  • 12.31 Super Bowl Beans - Staci

    Prep: 20 min  |  Cook: 4-6 hrs | Yield: 10 to 12 servings

    Ingredients

    • 1 pound ground beef
    • 1 pound bacon, cut into small pieces
    • 1 cup chopped onion
    • 2 15oz cans pork and beans
    • 1 15oz can kidney beans, drained
    • 1 cup ketchup
    • ¼ cup brown sugar
    • 1 Tbsp liquid smoke
    • 3 Tbsp white vinegar
    • 1 tsp kosher salt
    • Ground pepper

    Directions

    Begin by browning the ground beef in a medium pan. Drain the excess fat. Place the browned beef into a slow cooker. Next brown bacon and onions; drain excess fat. Add the bacon, onions and remaining ingredients into the slow cooker.
    Stir together well. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
    Pairs well with rice, tortillas/tortilla chips, sour cream,
    cheese or cornbread.
  • 1.1 Berry's Delicious Muffins - Craig

    Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 20 min  |  Yield: 12 – 18 Muffins

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 Cup blue berries
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
    • 1/3 cup butter, melted

    For topping:

    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 cup butter, melted

    Directions

    Combine first four ingredients in a bowl. Combine milk, egg and 1/3 cup melted butter in a separate bowl; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in blueberries. Pour batter into unlined, greased muffin pan cups, filling half full.
    Bake at 400˚ for 20 minutes.
    Combine 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla in small bowl.
    Remove muffins from oven and pan; dip muffin tops first in 1/4 cup melted butter and then in sugar mixture, coating tops. Serve warm.
  • 1.2 Friday Night Special - Forrest

    Prep: 30 Min or less  |  Cook time: 5:00pm – Until you fall asleep

    Ingredients

    • 1 Pizza
    • Dion’s Ranch
    • 1-6 Beers
    • Movie
    • Blanket
    • TV & Remote

    Directions

    Drive to your nearest store or brewery. Carefully review the selection, checking the refrigerated options first for the coldest selection. Based on the time of year, see what seasonal options are available – ex. holiday packs around Christmastime.
    Once in the car, call the nearest Dion’s. (Pro tip: Have them on speed dial.) Kindly place your order [half olive, half green chile and Canadian bacon]. Don’t forget to add in the extra bottle of ranch. While en-route, your pizza will be cooking.
    Pull into the drive-in window. Give the employee your name and hand them your card to finalize your purchase.
    Drive home. There you will plate your dish, 2-3 slices of pizza per plate with a healthy side of ranch. Grab a cold beer and snuggle up under a blanket.
    Next use the remote to turn on the TV to make your movie/show selection.
    Enjoy!
 

SWEETS

  • 12.30 Key Lime Cheesecake - Bret

    Prep: 15 min  |  Inactive: 8 hr  |  Cook: 65 min  |  Yield: 14 servings

    Ingredients

    • 1 Graham Cracker pie crust

    Filling

    • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
    • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
    • 3 (8 oz) pkgs. cream cheese, softened well (but not melted)
    • 4 large eggs
    • 2/3 cup sour cream
    • 1/3 cup heavy cream
    • 1/2 cup fresh lime/key lime juice
    • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

    Toppings

    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 2 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
    • Optional Toppings: raspberries, sliced strawberries, lime wedges, lime zest or fresh mint

    Directions

    Reduce oven temperature to 325˚. Boil about 4 quarts of water. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together granulated sugar and cornstarch until well combined. Add cream cheese to a large mixing bowl, pour sugar mixture over top and using an electric hand mixer, blend cream cheese until smooth. Mix in eggs. Add sour cream and heavy cream and mix until combined. Mix in lime juice and vanilla. Tap bowl forcefully against counter top about 30 times to release any large air bubbles. Pour over graham cracker crust. Place cheesecake in roasting pan then place roasting pan in oven and carefully pour in enough boiling water around cheesecake pan to reach halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.
    Bake in preheated oven until cheesecake is nearly set but still jiggly in the center, about 60 – 65 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for one hour. Cover and chill in refrigerator eight hours or overnight.
    For the topping:
    In a medium mixing bowl whip heavy cream using an electric hand mixer set on high speed until soft peaks form. Add granulated sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe over cheesecake just before serving. Garnish with berries, lime wedges, lime zest and mint if desired. Store cheesecake in refrigerator.
  • Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 50 min  |  Yield: 1 Pie

    Ingredients

    • 3 lightly beaten eggs
    • 1 cup pumpkin, canned or freshly mashed
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
    • 1 unbaked pie shell

    Directions

    Mix all ingredients, except pecans, into a mixing bowl. Spoon the mix into the pie shell. Layer finely chopped pecans on top of the mixture. Bake at 350˚F for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Simple as that.
  • Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 30 min  |  Yield: 1 pie

    Ingredients

    • 1 stick butter softened, not melted
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 3 tbsp cocoa
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream butter and sugar with mixer until fluffy, should take about three minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla, cocoa, salt and flour, stirring by hand (makes pie gooey instead of cakey). Pour into pie shell and bake 30-35 minutes or until set. Let cool 10 minutes and serve warm with ice cream.
  • 12.27 Let Me See That Pumpkin Roll - Tonya

    Prep: 10 min  |  Inactive: 20 min  |  Cook: 25 min  |  Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    Ingredients

    • 3 Eggs
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 2/3 cup pumpkin PURÉE
    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 2 tbsp butter, softened
    • 8oz cream cheese
    • 1 cup confectioners sugar
    • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
    • Confectioners sugar for dusting

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 375˚ F. Butter or grease one 10×15-inch jelly roll pan. Blend eggs, sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the flour and baking soda. Add to pumpkin mixture and blend until smooth.
    Evenly spread the mixture over the jelly roll pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes (use a tooth pick to make sure it comes out clean). Remove from the oven and allow to cool, before handling.
    Remove cake from pan and place on small kitchen towel (cotton towel). Roll up the cake by rolling a towel inside cake and place seam side down to cool. Prepare the frosting by blending together the butter, cream cheese, confectioners sugar and vanilla.
    When cake is cooled, unroll and spread with cream cheese filling. Roll up again without the towel. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Sprinkle top with confectioners sugar.
  • 12.26 Red Chili Chocolate Chip Cookies - Sha

    Prep: 15 min  |  Cook: 8-10 min  |  Yield: 24 cookies

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup Bueno® mild red chile powder 
    • 1 cup salted butter* softened
    • 1 cup white (granulated) sugar
    • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
    • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 2 large eggs
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • ½ tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • 2 cups dark chocolate chips

     

    Directions

    Before you start mashing ingredients together, preheat your oven to 350°F.
    Toss in the softened butter and sugars in a medium bowl and mix until smooth. Next, beat in eggs and vanilla followed by the baking soda and salt. Slowly mix in flour until the batter is smooth and sticks together. Mix in the red chile and give it a taste. For a stronger batch, add in more chile powder or use Bueno’s medium red chile powder. Finally, add in the dark chocolate chips and mix well.
    Get a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper. Using a spoon, measuring cup, cookie scoop or whatever, roll 3 tbsp of dough into balls and place them on the cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until they are just turning brown.
    Remove from oven and let them sit on the baking pan for two minutes.
    Place on a cooling rack, let cool and enjoy!
  • 12.25 White Chocolate Cranberry Blondies - Lindsey

    Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 20 min  |  Yield: 3 dozen

    Ingredients

    • 3/4 cup butter, cubed
    • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 3/4 TSP vanilla extract
    • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 tSP baking powder
    • 1/4 tSP salt
    • 1/8 tSP ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
    • 6 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped

    Frosting

    • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup confectioners sugar
    • 1 tbsp grated orange zest, optional
    • 6 ounces white baking chocolate, melted
    • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 350°. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter; stir in the brown sugar. Cool slightly.
    Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; stir into butter mixture. Stir in cranberries and chopped chocolate (batter will be thick). Spread into a greased 13×9-inch pan. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (do not overbake), 18-21 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
    For frosting, beat cream cheese, confectioners sugar and, if desired, orange zest until smooth. Gradually beat in half of the melted white chocolate; spread over blondies. Sprinkle with cranberries; drizzle with remaining melted chocolate.
    Cut into triangles. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
 

DRINKS

  • Ingredients

    • 2 cups of Tang
    • 1 – 1 1/2 cups of sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 3/4 cup of instant tea
    • 1 package of lemonade mix
    • 1 tsp cloves (optional)

    Directions

    Mix well, store dry in a closed container. To mix add 3 tsp (or amount to your taste) of mix to 1 cup of hot water.
  • Ingredients

    • 10oz ginger ale
    • 2oz of American Rye Whiskey
    • 1oz of fresh lemon juice
    • Lemon slice for garnish
    • Fresh mint leaves
    • Ice

    Directions

    Muddle mint leaves, lemon juice and a splash of ginger ale in a highball glass or preferred vessel. Add ice, ginger ale and whiskey. Stir and garnish with fresh mint sprig and lemon slice.
  • Ingredients

    • Cotton Candy
    • 4oz of Blueberry Vodka
    • Lemonade or lemon juice and simple syrup
    • Ice

    Directions

    Combine vodka and lemonade into a shaker with ice, shake well. Pour mixture into a martini glass over a wad of cotton candy.