The Build-Season Cookbook

With build season coming in just under a month, I want to know your tried and true methods for feeding hungry teams. It would be wonderful if you include a recipe as well as your mouth watering description. Post away!

If posting a recipe, please do so in a hidden detail (shown below) so this thread isn’t death to scroll through, thanks!

Example Recipe

Peanut Butter Green Beans


  • 8 oz. (226 g) green beans
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced, finely minced
  • Ground peanuts, optional


  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons ground peanut
  • Salt to taste


  1. Cut off the top and bottom points of the green beans, rinsed and set aside.
  2. Add all the ingredients of the Peanut Sauce in the saucepan. Use a whisk to quickly whisk all the ingredients together before transferring to a stove top to heat up on low heat. Continue to whisk the Peanut Sauce until all ingredients are well-combined.
  3. As soon as the sauce starts to bubble, turn off the heat. (If you like the sauce more watery, you may add a little water to dilute it during the cooking process.) Transfer off the heat and set aside.
  4. In a pan, add the oil and saute the garlic until light brown. Add the green beans and keep stirring until they are cooked. Transfer out to a serving plate and pour some Peanut Sauce on top of the green beans and topped with some ground peanuts and serve immediately.
Carryout Pizza

Carryout Pizza


  • 1 Large Pizza
  • 1 Cardboard Pizza Box


  1. Go to website of pizza restaurant of choice
  2. Order pizzas of choice by following instructions online.
  3. Drive to pizza place to pick up finished pizza
  4. Eat pizza
  5. Continue working on robot

Alternative Method

Rather than ordering carryout-consider delivery when the robot is REALLY behind.

  1. Follow steps above except select “delivery” rather than carry out.
  2. Tip Driver upon the pizza delivery to your workspace
  3. Eat pizza
  4. Continue working on robot

Take out pizza. If finance is tight, buy deli meat-cheese, bread and chips (drinks, etc) from local market and do a make your own sandwich bar. Just make sure that you are aware of any student’s food sensitivity/issues and cover everyone.

Years ago, we have parents take turn and bring in lunch but then it usually ended up the same few parents rotating and that just become not a fun thing that they have to do.

With Covid this year, not really sure yet but pizza/salad/deli could all be on the table again.

1 Like

We’ve been suing Meal Train one of our mentors enters the build schedule and at our annual parents meeting we share with the parents the need for meals two days a week (Friday dinner, Saturday Lunch). Depending on team size sometimes two families will bring the meal for one meeting.

Only a couple of bits of advice, marginally relevant.

  1. This is Wisconsin. Venison stew recipe challenge baby!
  2. Emergency rations kit of non perishable stuff for when the meals schedule gets goofed up somehow!

I stand by the Pioneer Woman Blackberry Cobbler for potlucks and parties.

@Andrew_L tested, team-approved.


I thought that was an original Ferrer family recipe…



My bread machine has been awesome. I throw the ingredients in Friday night, set the timer, and bring the warm fresh bread in Saturday morning - couldn’t be easier. If you suspect some of your kids aren’t eating breakfast, it’s a pretty easy and healthy way to help them make it through the morning.


The new shop has a built-in restaurant.

Pavlov’s Grill is the perfect place to start and end your visit to SMO! Breakfast entrees include breakfast burritos, waffles, biscuits and gravy, and breakfast sandwiches. Lunch entrees and sides include a variety of pizzas, hamburgers, sandwiches, salads, chicken strips, french fries, fresh fruit, kid’s meals for little scientists, assorted snacks, plus a variety of cold beverages.

and a Starbucks. Unfortunately it’s all closed in the evenings when we’ll be there a lot.

I pulled up an old sign-up genius list and in the past we’ve had parents bring:

  • spaghetti and meatballs
  • sandwich bar
  • hot dogs
  • sloppy joes
  • baked potato bar
  • fajitas
  • chicken tenders
  • hamburgers
  • BBQ sandwiches
  • pasta bar w/ salad and bread
  • lasagna

and we save pizza for emergencies only.

Alright y’all, time for the good stuff:

Billfred’s Crock Pot Chicken

  • About half a bag of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed of course. Enough to cover the bottom of your crock pot.
  • Got that in your crock pot? Good. Sprinkle a packet of low-sodium taco seasoning over that.
  • Now cover it all in a good-sized jar of salsa. I use mild, though medium wasn’t that noticeable the one time I grabbed it by mistake. And my better half doesn’t do spicy great, so I’d notice.
  • Low, 6-8 hours.
  • Now pull the chicken out. Add a couple heaping spoonfuls of cornstarch (I just shake it in and eyeball it, can you tell?) and a good scoop of sour cream to the leftover salsa. Stir it up, put it it on high for about 5-10 minutes, and there’s your sauce to match.

I usually serve it with this Spanish rice recipe, which results in a food coma.

Billfred’s Mississippi Pot Roast

  • Take a 2-3 pound chuck roast and put it in the crock pot. Like, straight out of the package.
  • Sprinkle on a packet of ranch dressing powder mix.
  • Sprinkle on a packet of au jus gravy powder mix.
  • Pour on about half a jar of pepperoncini peppers, including the juice.
  • Low, 6-8 hours.
  • Boom, done.

B O N U S R O U N D: This idea came from my better half. Boil up a packet of egg noodles, strain it, and mix it in with the finished roast so everything is well-coated. I also doubled up the au jus mix on this batch to ensure it was a really thick coating. So good, even people who don’t do leftovers will do leftovers.


When will the junk on FIRST Choice be replaced with something teams truly need, like crock pot chicken and Mississippi pot roast? I’ll gladly exchange my FIRST Choice Credits for Billfred Buffet Bucks.


This is a genius way of getting more sponsorships for the overall program. Many of the 10,000’s of alumni will become students living in dorm rooms and/or will have their first apartment when they get their first jobs. They are more likely to buy the brand of small appliance that helped feed them while they built some of their fondest memories.


All good stuff! Here are a few favorites I’ve made for the team and/or church fundraiser dinners. All of them scale up well. While I like a bit of heat, these recipes are all more subdued, so I have a bottle of Tabasco nearby when serving.

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice

  • 1lb red kidney beans
  • water
  • 1lb smoked sausage, diced (though sliced is traditional)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ~1/4 cup herbes de provence. (Like @Billfred, I gauge this by eye)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 cups uncooked rice (long grain preferred), more water and salt

Cover the beans with water, at least 1" over the top. Stir around and discard any floaters. Place on burner and bring to boil, then simmer about 10 minutes. Turn off heat, and allow an hour or more to soak. Pour off the water, and replace with fresh water, just a bit more than is needed to cover them all. (Soaking and discarding the water reduces flatella.) Place on medium fire.
Brown the sausage (preferably in a cast iron skillet), Using a slotted spoon or sieve to keep the drippings in the skillet, transfer the sausage to the pot with the beans. Sautee the onion, celery, and bell pepper in the sausage drippings, and transfer to the pot with the beans. Add the bay leaves and herbs. Simmer three or four hours, stirring every half hour or so (to prevent sticking/burning at the bottom) until beans are becoming tender enough to eat. Cook the rice as you usually do. Salt the beans to taste and serve. (Don’t salt early, the beans may stay tough longer!)

Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwiches

  • 1 Boston Butt
  • 1/2 lb salt
  • 1 gallon water
  • A food safe bag (baking bags are usually less expensive than brining bags).
  • Charcoal
  • Your favorite smoking wood(s) - mine is pecan, sometimes a bit of apple.
  • Your favorite dry rub. Key ingredients are brown sugar, salt, powdered mustard, onion, garlic, and paprika.
  • Sandwich buns - roughly four per pound of pork.
  • Cole Slaw (or sauerkraut)
  • Barbecue Sauce (I make mine by an old family recipe, but Sweet Baby Ray’s is a fine off the shelf sauce)

About 36 hours out, dissolve the salt in the water (I usually use a stock pot on the stove). Put the pork in the bag and cover with the brine. Evacuate as much air as you can from the bag so that all of the pork is in the brine and tie off . Store in the refrigerator, or in an ice chest to keep cool.
About 12 hours out, put your smoking wood in water and start the charcoal fire. Smoke low and slow overnight (which means getting up every couple of hours to tend the fire). Don’t go for the FDA recommended temperature of 160F, but more like 180, so the stuff is falling apart.
Pull the pork using “bear claws” or large forks.
You know how to make sandwiches, right?

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
  • 1lb smoked sausage, diced or sliced thin
  • 1lb chicken (or turkey), cubed.
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup oil (I usually use canola)
  • water
  • 1 cup chicken or turkey stock (I usually use stock from smoked turkey, because I do that several times a year)
  • 2 lb onion, diced
  • 4 ribs celery, diced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ~1/4 cup herbes de provence
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 cups of rice (usually long grain), cooked as usual.
  • File powder (powdered sassafras leaves)

Brown the meat: In a (preferably cast iron) skillet, brown the sausage. Transfer the meat (not the drippings) to the pot where you’re cooking the gumbo (likely a stock pot). In the same skillet, brown the poultry, and move it to the gumbo pot.
Make the roux: In the drippings from the meats, add the oil and set the heat to medium. When the oil reaches temperature, add the flour. Stir constantly, keeping the flour from burning at the bottom of the skillet (This is the only time I use a wooden spatula; it works here). When the roux is brown enough (I go for a cafe au lait, my mother closer to black coffee; I love both), add the onions to cool the burn, stir, then add the celery and bell pepper. Continue until these are soft, then add to the gumbo pot.
Cook the Gumbo: Make sure there’s enough water to cover everything, and an inch or two more. Add the bay leaves and herbs. Simmer for 2 or 3 hours. Add salt to taste.
Serve over cooked rice. Add file to thicken if desired.

Marinara Spaghetti with Sausage

I make this at a smaller scale at home; this is my scaled-up version. For a single 15oz can of tomato (or a pound of fresh roma tomato), divide everything by seven or eight. This is my simplest and definitely quickest recipe I’m posting here.

  • 3lb italian sausage, or your favorite sausage or meatball
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced garlic
  • 1 large can (~105 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 2 TBSP salt
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2lb dry spaghetti, cooked according to directions

Brown/cook the sausage/meatballs.
Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the garlic. When the garlic sizzles, add the tomato and seasonings. Start the pasta as usual. When the pasta is done, so is the sauce. Serve - some grated parmesan would go well here.


In another thread, someone has DM’d me asking if my recreation of the dessert we had at a restaurant was as good. The answer is yes. It appears the two restaurants I had the desert at used the same type of figs in syrup I found. There was some slight variation in the texture of the cheese, possibly due to a different brand being used. The sauces used in the restaurants were also similar to the one I was able to find.

Those of you coming to Houston Champs can visit Mi Pueblito or Paisa’s Twin to try their brevas con queso o arequipe

brevas con arequipe mi pueblito

brevas con queso o arequipe recipe

We were able to find some recipes for “brevas con arequipe” and “dulce de brevas

We used bottled figs in syrup and bottled cateja sauce instead of making it as described in the recipes linked above. It would probably be best to look for some supermarkets that serve the Hispanic community since the prices online we found were similar to what was in our local stores but the shipping was more than the price!

dulce de leche

1 Like

Oooh gumbo recipe exchange time!

100% recommend the Isaac Toups method here:

  1. Heat over high heat, get oil ripping hot (basically just starting to smoke)
  2. Toss in equal flour by volume
  3. Whisk like your life depends on it and keep it going on high till it hits around peanut-butter color
  4. Back off the heat, as it’ll start changing color really fast
  5. Keep going till the color of a hershey’s bar
  6. toss in the veg to quickly cook it, and stop the roux from browning.

Since it goes quick, and flour and oil are cheap, no worries if it gets burnt. Just dump it out and start over.

I’m also a fan of swapping some of the water with a bottle of any beer that’s not too bitter. Or, if we’re out of beer, a spoonful or so of Marmite dissolved in the water adds some fun compelxity.

This is new to me, I’m a gonna try this next time.

1 Like

I submit:

Aldi Special Pasta



Boil some salted water, Cook pasta per instructions

Remove the sausage from its casings. Brown the sausage in a skillet. Add all the sauces.

Drain the noodles, dump everything in one pan. Dig in.

Feel free to add vegetables or whatever.

Courtesy a FRC2081 alum I lived with for a year.

Especially for those who've never made a roux:

The key thing here is to keep the flour from being on the bottom of the pan long enough to burn (and it doesn’t take long). If you use a whisk, make sure its diameter is no larger than the corners of your skillet! OBTW, don’t splash it out, especially onto skin! Roux in progress is sometimes referred to as Cajun napalm.
I’ve developed a sixteen-stroke pattern for a spatula that works well, at least at a medium-high level of heat without having to go too fast. I’m right handed, here’s what it looks like. Start at the red arrow with a pull stroke. When reaching the red arrow again, switch to the red arrow on the other side. I actually rotate the skillet during the curved stroke. And of course, flip the whole picture horizontally if you’re left handed.

And place your onion, celery, and bell pepper nearby before you start. You don’t want to have to cross the kitchen to get them!

:+1:, or wine, or even fruit juice.

My own addition. After traveling to Toulon back in the '90’s, I tried adding this to just about everything. This is one place where it stuck.

Other things I’ve done for groups:

Crockpot Lasagna

Use your favorite lasagna recipe, substituting bowties, and layering in a crockpot instead of a pan. You can do all the prep the day before, then take the crock out of the fridge around 7 or 8am and let it cook until lunchtime, or start after lunch for supper.

Baked Ziti - plenty of good recipes out there. I usually use the marinara sauce above, ricotta cheese and browned sausage in the sauce and top with cheddar or mozzarella. You can also adapt this for the crockpot as above.


Essentially the same as the gumbo, but with less water and no file, and you cook the rice in with the gumbo the last 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Getting the water balance right is the trick - twice as much liquid as raw rice. I usually start a bit “dry” because you can add water later than you can add rice. It also works well as a side dish, serving is easier, and you don’t need bowls.

Crockpot Curry Stew

The most complicated recipe I’ve posted here, with the greatest number of ingredients that probably aren’t in your pantry, but d*** is it tasty. This started as a Massaman Curry recipe I found online, but I’ve added carrots and potatoes and made a few other tweaks, so I’m not really sure what it is now other than wonderfully tasty and filling. The recipe below feeds about 12 and fits in my rather large crockpot slow cooker, but I have doubled it and cooked it in a stockpot as well. Most of the work is several hours before eating, but there’s a good bit of work in the last hour, so don’t do this if you think the build might fall apart without you for an hour. Filling, savory, and a bit tangy (I just ate some leftovers a few minutes ago!), real comfort food though I never had anything close until this summer.


  • 1 TBSP oil (coconut oil recommended, but any good vegetable oil will do)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cloves (1/2 TBSP) minced garlic
  • 1 TBSP grated (or minced) ginger
  • 2 TBSP red curry paste

Main stew

  • 1 can coconut milk (13-15 oz) - divided: half here, half later
  • 2 cups broth (beef or chicken, matching the meat below)
  • 2 lb of lean steak* or boneless skinless chicken thighs**, in bite-size chunks.
  • 15 oz of diced canned tomatoes, or diced fresh tomatoes microwaved 4-5 minutes
  • 2 TBSP fish sauce (no, it won’t taste like fish!)
  • 1 TBSP tamari (or 1-1/2 TBSP soy sauce)
  • 1 TBSP packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 lb carrot, peeled, ends removed, diced in bite-size chunks
  • 2 lb red potatoes, diced in bite-size chunks (wash but don’t peel)
  • 1 stalk lemon grass

Main Stew, later in the cooking

  • 1 or 2 bell peppers, in bite-size chunks (red/orange/yellow preferred!)
  • The other half can of coconut milk
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter

To serve:

  • 6-8 cups dry long grain rice cooked according to directions - a fragrant rice like bismati, jasmine, or popcorn rice is definitely preferred
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • Sriracha (a sweet oriental hot sauce)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Naan or another flatbread or dense bread (~12 servings)


  1. With a medium-high heat (preferably in a cast iron skillet), heat the oil. Add the onion, season with salt and black pepper. Cook about 3 minutes until slightly softened, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, ginger, and curry paste. Continue until fragrant (no more than another minute). Remove from fire and transfer to a slow cooker/crock pot where the rest of the magic happens.
  2. Add half of the can of coconut milk (half of the cream, half of the liquid), and all of the other Main Stew ingredients to the crock pot/stock pot. Stir to cover all of the ingredients, adding a bit of water if needed. Cook ~5 hours on low or ~3 hours on high, until the vegetables are becoming tender.
  3. Add the Bell Pepper and cook another 45 minutes to an hour on low or 30 minutes on high. (Start water for the rice about now!)
  4. Combine the other half of the coconut milk with the peanut butter in a microwaveable bowl and microwave until they are warm enough to blend (~1 minute). Blend them.
  5. Remove the lemon grass from the crock/stock pot, and add the peanut/coconut mixture from the previous step. Raise the crockpot temperature to high if it isn’t already, and continue another ten minutes.
  6. Serve over rice. Have sriracha, soy sauce and cilantro handy to garnish, and the naan or other bread handy to clean up the last of that awesome peanutty sauce.

* I’ve used several low-to-mid priced cuts (usually what’s on sale), but it will likely work well with a decent roast, as it cooks so long.
** I’ve never tried it with white meat, but I don’t think it would be as good.

What @marshall said two posts down. To take the recipe over the top, switch the quantities for white and brown sugar so that there’s about twice as much brown sugar as white sugar!


You have a build space at the Science Museum? Next to the zoo?

Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies. If you don’t know the recipe then grab a bag of Tollhouse chocolate chips and get to work.