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Red Velvet Thumbprint Cookies

Two red velvet thumbprint cookies

This Valentine’s Day fall in love with these Red Velvet Thumbprint Cookies from our Chef, Adam Del Pozzi. The rich chocolate flavor of the cookie with tangy but sweet frosting is a match made in heaven! Chef Adam works at the corporate cafeteria for one of our tech clients in Seattle and loves creating memories through food.

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp red food coloring
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup coarse sugar

Icing Filling

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg white (room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°. In large bowl cream together butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in vanilla, egg yoke, and food coloring. In another bowl whisk together flour and cocoa powder. Gradually beat into mixture.
  3. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in coarse sugar. Place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart on parchment paper. Use your thumb and press into the center of each ball to create a deep indentation. Plave the cooking sheet into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  4. While cookies are baking, mix together filling ingredients until smooth.
  5. After the 10 minutes are up, remove the cookies from the oven and carefully fill thumbprint. Place the cookies immediately back in the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool (on a cooling rack preferably). Enjoy!

Baked Alaska

Chef Allison Hain elevates the traditional cake and ice cream duo with her recipe for Baked Alaska. Use your favorite flavor of ice cream or her family’s personal favorite, strawberry, for a sweet treat that sure to be melt your taste buds but not your ice cream! (Fun fact: meringue works as an insulator that doesn’t allow the ice cream to melt.)

Ingredients

  • 1 pint strawberry ice cream (or substitute any flavor you like)
  • 1 pound cake, sliced into 1 inch thick pieces, then cut into 3 inch rounds
  • 12 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar

Directions

1. Line three egg cups (deep cups with domed bottoms, about 3 inches in diameter) with plastic wrap, with about 2 inches over the sides. Press ice cream into cups evenly, wrap plastic wrap over sides and ensure ice cream is well packed, with an even and smooth top. Freeze for 1 hour.

2. Place three, 1 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter pound cake pieces on small plate, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour.

3. Remove ice cream and pound cake from freezer. Invert ice cream and remove from molds, gently pressing down into pound cake rounds. Transfer to plate, cover well with plastic wrap. Freeze once more for 1 hour.

4. In medium metal bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high for 3 minutes or until foamy. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. When inverted, meringue should not move.

5. Preheat oven to 500°.

6. Remove plastic wrap, and place cake/ice cream molds on foil lined baking sheet, spacing apart as much as possible. Cover with meringue, using piping bag ideally. Meringue should be roughly 3/4 inches thick. Ensure there are no gaps or weak spots. The meringue is the cast to prevent leaking, so it is very important that the ice cream and cake are sufficiently encased. Discard extra meringue.

7. Bake for 4-6 minutes, until meringue is nicely browned. In this step, imagine you are toasting a marshmallow.

8. Serve immediately.

How to Approach Facility Operations During a Period of Low or Zero Occupancy

What to do if you have low occupancy or shut down your building

Last year certainly presented its share of challenges relating to building and facility operations due to the pandemic and the way facility managers do business. As locations were forced to close or reduce operations, facility managers were forced to adapt their operations to ensure the safety of their employees, guests and vendors. Some of them decided that zero occupancy is the best method to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to avoid additional challenges to their business.

With shutting down or reducing occupancy in your building or facility, critical areas to consider are:

Building Domestic Water Systems
  • Do not shut down
  • Flush water on a regular basis: sinks, showers, drinking water fountains, etc.
Cooling Towers
  • Do not shut down
  • Continue current treatment program since water safety is still a concern
  • Maintain appropriate building temperatures to avoid building damage

Once your occupancy rates begin to increase you need to give special consideration to re-commissioning your water systems. This will have a positive effect on ensuring the safety of your people, equipment, and business.

Recommissioning Your Building

Once your occupancy rates show an increase, consideration should be given to the following programs:

  • Coil cleaning to maintain peak efficiency. We offer an enzyme-based, 100% biodegradable solution that is odorless and has zero effect on the environment or the building air quality. The process is applied while the systems remain on line so there is no disruption to guests and/or tenants.
  • Consider bringing in a certified testing agency to perform tests on potable water and cooling towers. Through our partnerships with some of the best companies in the country, The Service Companies runs programs like this for all facility types.
  • Perform cleaning, testing, and disinfection/shock treatments on cooling towers. This is a good preventive measure that costs very little, especially when compared to the realized benefits in preventing any type of airborne issues in your building.

To speak with Cornel or our team of experts about your facility, contact us here.

Black Bean Soup

With winter in full force, nothing is more comforting and restorative on a cold day than a big bowl of soup. Check out Chef Katrina Schonberg-Hamar’s delicious Black Bean Soup recipe sure to soothe you from the inside out!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried black beans, sorted and rinsed
  • 4 thick cut slices of bacon
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3-4 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1-2 serrano peppers, minced (remove seeds for a milder soup)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6-8 cups chicken stock
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice

To serve: Cilantro leaves, queso fresco, sour cream, diced avocado, and/or Mexican hot sauce (like Cholula)

Directions

  1. Soak the beans in water to cover for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  2. In a large pressure cooker (or if you don’t have one, use a large Dutch oven) cook the bacon over medium heat until rendered and crispy. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels, then chop into small pieces.
  3. Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pot with the bacon fat, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium high and sauté until the onions are translucent and begin to soften, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, serrano peppers, and spices. Cook for 1-2 minutes until everything is very fragrant.
  4. Drain the soaked beans, put them in the pot along with the chicken broth, canned tomatoes, and bacon. Sprinkle a little more salt in the pot, stir to combine, and put the lid on the pressure cooker, bring to high pressure, and cook for 30 minutes after pressurized. (If using a Dutch oven, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally until beans are tender.)
  5. Remove from heat and allow the pressure to release naturally, this will take about 20 minutes. Check the beans for tenderness (simmer until tender if they are not) and season to taste with salt (it will need a lot of salt if you used unsalted broth).
  6. Transfer 4-6 cups of soup to a blender, making sure not to fill the blender more than 2/3 full. Be sure to vent the lid to prevent a dangerous explosion of hot soup, and blend until very smooth.
  7. Add the puréed soup back to the pot, add the cilantro and lime juice, stir well. Taste the soup and adjust the salt as needed. Ladle into bowls and top with cilantro leaves, queso fresco, sour cream, diced avocado, and/or Mexican hot sauce such as Cholula.

Tips

A small amount of bacon is added for flavor, and a homemade chicken stock was used, but you can easily omit the bacon and use vegetable stock for a vegan version. If you do, a roasted vegetable stock made with some dried mushrooms is recommended for the deepest umami flavor.

Gingerbread Muffins with Vanilla Bean Glaze

Gingerbread muffins with vanilla bean glaze

Finish off your winter holiday baking with the delicious seasonal flavors in Chef Emily Gingery’s Gingerbread Muffins with Vanilla Bean Glaze. With six easy steps and tons of flavor, this recipe will certainly start your morning off right. 

Ingredients

Gingerbread Muffins

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 1 cup cold water

Vanilla Bean Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean powder
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a standard muffin tin with muffin cups, coat with nonstick baking spray.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl, then whisk together. Set aside.
  3. Place butter and sugar in a bowl and then beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, beating each addition, then add molasses. Scrape down the sides as needed and beat until well mixed. 
  4. Carefully add half of the dry ingredients to the bowl, then combine slowly. Add remaining dry ingredients, scrape down the side, and beat until thoroughly mixed. With the mixer on low, add the cold water. Continue to beat for 2 minutes, or until mixture is very smooth.
  5. Divide batter evenly between muffin cups, about 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean. Let muffins cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  6. While muffins are cooling, make vanilla bean glaze. Combine confectioners’ sugar, vanilla bean powder, and milk in a small bowl. Whisk, adding in a little more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Drizzle glaze on top of muffins. 

Road Warriors Tackle Recruiting During Pandemic

We’d like to thank our “Road Warriors”, Gustavo Orozco and Kelsey Jeffords, for the tireless commitment to their jobs and overall team success during the midst of a global pandemic. When our clients began to reopen their doors, Gustavo and Kelsey stepped up to support our Talent Acquisition group, putting their personal lives on hold to travel to multiple clients nationwide and deliver critical recruiting support at a pivotal time for TSC. With their assistance, we’ve been able to rehire nearly 2,000 associates. We recently caught up with our two “Road Warriors” on their journey providing assistance for the Talent Acquisition team throughout the country.

Female recruiter, Kelsey Jeffords and male recruiter, Gustavo Orozco.

How long have you been with The Service Companies?

Kelsey: I’ve been with the company in a staffing operations role since January 2014.

Gustavo: I’ve been with TSC since March 2018 and have always been involved in the company’s staffing operations.

What is your current role or what is the focus of your role?

Kelsey: Talent Acquisition. I recruit a variety of positions for our casino hotel clients in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Gustavo: Right before the pandemic I was a Strategic Operations Manager. In June I became a member of the Talent Acquisition team, traveling to and recruiting hospitality staff in Connecticut, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, South Lake Tahoe, and Reno.

What traits does a Road Warrior need to have? 

Kelsey: A Road Warrior should be willing to live life on the road, have strong work ethic, dedication, and lots of energy!

Gustavo: A willingness to travel frequently and the ability to efficiently perform your role from any location (airport, coffee shop, hotel lobby, car, etc…)

What’s been your biggest accomplishment or the most rewarding aspect of your new role?

Kelsey: The most rewarding part of this job is to be able to give others an opportunity to work. It’s always an accomplishment when the applicants that are hired are happy and able to provide for themselves and their families.

Gustavo: My biggest accomplishments have been seeing how my work impacts different parts of the nation. Establishing a better relationship in person with coworkers who I had only met through video before has been very rewarding. 

Any tips for traveling during COVID/a pandemic? 

Kelsey: Make sure to always wear your mask, especially when dealing with different people on a day-to-day basis. 

Gustavo: Enjoy the outdoors. If you’re traveling to a new place, keep your distance and stay safe. Being outdoors is a convenient way to do so.  I normally like to jog/hike outdoors when I visit a new city. 

Gustavo and Kelsey played critical roles in managing our talent pipeline with their recruiting efforts during one of TSC’s, and the nation’s, most unprecedented times. The dedication and teamwork that these two team members have displayed over the last 6 months is nothing short of outstanding.

Interested in joining our team? You can learn more about the various positions available at The Service Companies, including recruiting, operations, and business development positions, here.

Potato Hash with Autumn Vegetables

Still looking for the perfect side dish for your Thanksgiving celebration? Try Chef Katrina Schonberg-Hamar’s delicious Potato Hash with Autumn Vegetables recipe – sure to satisfy even the most discerning guest. Katrina is a chef at one of our large technology clients’ corporate cafeterias in Seattle and is no stranger to creating delectable & versatile dishes. Whether it’s served for a Thanksgiving brunch or a traditional dinner side, this hash is full of comfort and makes the most of seasonal produce!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound potatoes (new potatoes or fingerling)
  • 1 pound Brussel sprouts
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded & diced into 1/4″ pieces
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

1. Preheat an oven to 425° F with racks in the top and bottom third. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Toss the potatoes in a generous drizzle of olive oil, plus plenty of salt & pepper. Spread out in an even layer on one of the baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes.

2. Toss the Brussels sprouts in a generous drizzle of olive oil, plus salt and pepper. Spread them out evenly on the other sheet pan. Put the Brussels sprouts in the oven.

3. Toss the butternut squash in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Take out the potatoes and stir them around. Then add the butternut squash to the same sheet pan, taking care not to crowd it. Roast until the vegetables are tender. If one of the sheet pans is cooking faster than the other, take it out. When everything is done, toss all the veggies together. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.

Tips and Suggestions

  • It’s best to roast the vegetables until they are tender on the inside, brown & slightly crispy on the outside, which is about 15-25 minutes in a hot (425° F) oven.
  • You can add whole cloves of garlic or chopped toasted nuts like hazelnuts with the potatoes. Take care not to burn them.
  • Toss in any spices you like with the veggies such as paprika or za’atar for added flavor or after cooking, toss everything with a sweet aged balsamic.

Building System Performance Begins with a Robust Maintenance Program

Periodic inspection programs are a key component of the maintenance systems embraced at The Service Companies (TSC). Inspecting operating equipment and control systems periodically is key to longevity and reliability for any mechanical system associated with tenant comfort and property efficiency. As one of the largest investments an owner makes in a facility, tenant comfort systems are a critical component in customer satisfaction. TSC embraces and implements a program custom-designed for each of our client’s unique needs.

Our goal is to identify and correct small problems before they become critical issues affecting the quiet enjoyment of the space our clients’ tenants or clients are entitled to. We aim to be in front of the problem – always – which enables our clients to avoid operational interruptions or tenant discomfort and ensure a smooth and problem-free delivery.

Chief engineer performing preventive maintenance procedures

We achieve this with our preventive maintenance (PM) protocols, planned maintenance and condition based maintenance procedures, which anticipate the needs of the operating equipment and identify issues before they can adversely affect the normal delivery of comfort services at any of our clients’ properties. Included in our maintenance and inspection procedures are preventive maintenance tasks at specified periods which may include, but are not limited to oil changes, lubrication, minor adjustments, filter changes, motor overhauls, control calibrations, etc. Results are then documented in a formal maintenance program so we can track and forecast equipment deterioration and machinery failure before they occur.

In addition to ensuring reliability, extending equipment life cycles, reducing/eliminating unplanned breakdowns and ensuring overall tenant comfort, our PM program maximizes operational savings for our clients.

Our programs are designed around the avoidance of unplanned breakdowns and repairs whenever possible and to maintain our client’s equipment in optimum operating condition. Our custom programs include periodic non-destructive tests, measurements, adjustments, parts replacement and cleaning.

To learn how we may be able to improve the overall performance of your mechanical systems, contact our engineering experts today.

Mushroom Risotto

Getting ready for your holiday gatherings may seem a little different this year, but one thing will remain the same – delicious, comfort food. Want to switch up your regular side dish? Try this savory Mushroom Risotto recipe from Chef Brian Lorente. Brian is a chef at the corporate cafeteria of one of our large technology clients in Seattle and is always whipping up something tasty!

Ingredients

  • 8 oz chef’s mix gourmet mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 6 cups chicken stock, broth, or bouillon
  • 2 tbsp cold butter
  • 3/4 cups parmesan cheese
  • Parsley for garnish
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Directions

1. Cut any large mushroom chunks from chef’s mix into slightly smaller pieces.

2. Heat a tablespoon of oil & sauté mushrooms for about 3 minutes until soft. Remove from pan, reserve for later.

3. Heat another tablespoon of oil in the same pan, sauté shallots & garlic for about 2 minutes. Add rice, incorporate with olive oil to coat. Lightly toast the rice for about 3 minutes.

4. Deglaze the pan with white wine, be sure to scrape up any residue from the bottom and incorporate it into the mixture.

5. When the wine has absorbed into the rice, add 1/2 cup of chicken broth at a time while stirring. When each ladle of broth looks like it is almost absorbed, add another half cup & stir. Repeat this process for 20 to 25 minutes until rice is al dente but not mushy. You may not use all of the broth. Stir constantly.

6. There should be a little bit of liquid left in the rice when it is ready to finish. The mixture should be able to move in the pan, but should not be runny, nor thick and gloppy. Move the pan off of the heat & swirl in the cold butter, then mix in the parmesan. Reincorporate the mushrooms, adjust for salt & pepper if necessary.

7. Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh, chopped parsley. Enjoy!

Relearning Service Standards Post Pandemic

We are thrilled to hear reports of many clients and industry friends opening their doors again.  While safety is of critical importance when returning to work post pandemic, as a company we have created a mandatory virtual reactivation and orientation for all associates returning to work. This covers many safety protocols as outlined by the CDC and refresher training for PPE and chemical usage. 

We understand in addition to safety training there is an essential need for refreshing service standards when it comes to customer and employee interactions. Many standards that have been ingrained and consistently practiced throughout the hospitality industry over the years look different today. For example, having meaningful interactions while remaining distant, expressing an emotional connection from behind a face covering and the hospitality zone known as “10 & 5” moving to “10 & 6”. 

Since our return to the workplace, we found some helpful tips for managers and team members to adjust to necessary changes and navigate comfortably within our crowded facilities. 

  1. Keep Smiling! Yes we can still read facial expressions while under that mask. This has been a fun ice breaker for the team.
  1. Associates along with some customers are trying to get used to adjustments for basic interactions, like escorting a guest to a specific location. Even while wearing a face covering we still must provide others appropriate physical space and always keeping our face covering intact, so speak more loudly and clearly while maintaining a safe distance. 
  2. Same as before, eye contact and a nod is important to let a guest or coworker know you are listening intently and understand their message. 
  3. Something as simple as delivering a guest request could feel quite awkward with new safety measures.  While some properties have procedures in place to deliver as far as the door, others may require attendants to enter a guest room.  Whatever the standard, ensure your employees are comfortable and have opportunities to practice each process.
  4. As many in the industry are navigating through this new normal it is important to take a regular pulse on how our employees are doing and feeling. Be sure they know how to escalate a request where they may not fully understand. When in doubt have a manager or office staff follow up to ensure your employees and customers have resources along the way.

It is obvious that nonverbal communication is more important now than ever.  Continue to role-play scenarios during your daily briefings.  The ultimate goal is having an empowered team, well-versed and comfortable engaging with one another, always creating a warm and hospitable environment.

people wearing masks sitting at desks with arms raised

We would love to hear how you have changed service standards within your properties and facilities. Share your thoughts in the comments section!

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