Best Deal, Great Food At Surprising Spot

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One of the best deals on a meal, featuring great food can be found at a very surprising spot -- the cafeteria at Payson Regional Medical Center.

Yes, the PRMC cafeteria is open to the public and it only costs between $3.25 and $5 to eat there.

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Maria Cohen has been on the cafeteria staff at Payson Regional Medical Center for about 15 years. Her Mexican dishes are among the cafeteria's most popular.

The staff of 16, led by Kristy River, kitchen supervisor, and Terrie Sue Townsend, dietary services director, put out a good spread that draws raves from the hospital staff, patient visitors and members of the community that have discovered the PRMC cafeteria.

Breakfast is available from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The cafeteria does dinner from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and the staff will also pack up a meal to go -- a frequent request for dinner. The coffee -- some of the best according to fanatics -- is available all day and kept fresh.

The PRMC cafeteria has had a good reputation for as long as River has worked there -- the past six years.

The day starts early for the cafeteria staff -- 5:30 in the morning. They prepare between 12 and 36 meal trays three times a day for patients and then make enough to feed between 130 and 180 at each meal in the cafeteria.

The growth in the number of diners enjoying the cafeteria started with the volunteers and family and friends of patients.

"It's reasonably priced and good food," Townsend said.

The cafeteria's most popular meal is its Mexican food, prepared by longtime employee Maria Cohen. She orchestrates the staff in preparing her special recipes for chimichangas, enchiladas and nachos.

"If you want Mexican, you better get there early," said Cory Houghton, marketing director for PRMC.

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Frances Flaws cuts strawberries into breakfast parfaits.

Townsend said there are several factors that contribute to the cafeteria's popularity.

"It's successful because of the hometown friendliness, the nice setting and the way people are treated like old friends, as well as the quality of the food and the fact that most of it is made fresh."

The kitchen staff goes all out for holiday meals; preparing ham and turkey and on one occasion, prime rib. Turkey is a fairly regular feature and especially popular because it is served with cornbread stuffing.

Other popular dishes are the cafeteria's chicken-fried chicken and lasagna.

River also tries new recipes from time to time to see if the diners would like a new addition to the menu.

She shared the recipes for the turkey and stuffing and the chicken-fried chicken, along with some other dishes. The ingredients are for multiple servings.

Chicken-Fried Chicken

(To serve 50)

50 boneless chicken breasts

1 cup plus 6 tablespoons liquid egg

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Kristy River is the kitchen supervisor at the hospital's cafeteria. The PRMC cafeteria serves breakfast, lunch and dinner for staff, volunteers, patient family and friends and the community.

3 cups buttermilk

1 quart plus 1-1/2 cups bread crumbs

3 cups flour

4 tablespoons plus two teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons pepper

3 tablespoons parsley flakes

Wash chicken under cool running water and drain well.

Combine eggs and milk.

Combine breadcrumbs, flour and spices.

Dip chicken into egg mixture and then into crumb mixture, coating well.

Fry chicken in deep fat fryer for 5 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Hold at 140 degrees until serving time.

Turkey

(To serve 50)

12 pounds, 8 ounces raw turkey breast

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon thyme

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon oregano

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon marjoram

Season turkey with spices.

Cover turkey with foil.

Roast turkey at 325 degrees until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees for 15 seconds -- approximately 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

Uncover for last 30 minutes until brown.

Hold at 140 degrees until serving time.

Uncle Ben's Cornbread Dressing

Look for the boxed mix and follow the directions.

(To serve 50)

Full bag of bread crumbs (institutional size bag)

Full packet of seasoning mix

12 cups water

2 cups butter

Combine 12 cups hot water, 2 cups of butter and contents of seasoning packet in a full-size steam table pan. Stir well until butter is melted.

Stir in breadcrumbs.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Fluff with a fork before serving.

Hold at 140 degrees until serving time.

Easy Deep-Dish Cobbler

(29, 5-ounce servings)

6-pound, 13-ounce can (1, No. 10 size) sliced peaches in heavy syrup

2-pound, 8-ounce box (or 9 cups) Gold Medal white or yellow cake mix

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 cups brown sugar, packed

2 cups butter or margarine melted

Pour total contents of No. 10 can of peaches into a 12-inch-by-18-inch-by-2-1/2-inch baking pan or 12-inch-by-20-inch-by 2-1/2-inch steam table pan.

Sprinkle cake mix and cinnamon evenly over peaches. Randomly poke several holes in cake mix, but don't stir.

Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over cake mix.

Drizzle melted butter or margarine evenly over brown sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes or until golden brown.

Dark tart cherries, pears, apricots or apples packed in heavy syrup may be substituted for the peaches.

Ilona's Oatmeal Cookies

8 eggs (enough to equal 2 cups)

2 cups butter

1 cup oil

3 cups brown sugar

5 cups flour

8 cups oats

3 teaspoons vanilla

4 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ginger

3 teaspoons soda

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups or more raisins

2 cups or more walnuts

Combine ingredients, drop by spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

4 cups margarine

1/2 cup cooking oil

4 cups brown sugar

2 cups granulated sugar

8 eggs or 2 cups liquid eggs

2 tablespoons vanilla

9-1/2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

4 cups nuts

6 cups chocolate chips

Cream together margarine, oil and sugars. When very creamy and fluffy add eggs and beat until very fluffy.

Add vanilla, flour, baking soda and salt and mix well. While mixing, add nuts to combine into dough.

Add chocolate chips and mix lightly.

Drop by spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.

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