Perfect Potluck Pointers for Your Next Gathering
Have you ever thought about how food-centered get-togethers are? From church potlucks, to game nights at friends’ houses, to workplace celebrations, food is involved most of the time when folks come together. Being asked to bring a dish doesn’t have to be stressful, as long as you’re prepared with some quick and easy recipes.
Frozen biscuits are a life-saver if you need to feed a lot of people. Bake biscuits according to package directions, then put prepared, frozen sausage into the biscuits and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Precooked, sliced ham is another great filling, because you don’t need to do anything to it. If you’ve got more time to prepare, cook some country ham to fill the biscuits.
Soups and Stews
One fall favorite is pumpkin soup. Combine two (16-ounce) cans of pumpkin puree with 32 ounces of chicken broth, one cup finely grated carrots, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon sea salt, two teaspoons fresh ground parsley, and ½ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil, then taste and adjust the spices, if needed. Take the soup to the potluck in a sealable container, then put it in a slow cooker after arrival to keep it warm until it’s time to eat.
Chicken Pot Pie
Frozen pie crusts and rotisserie chicken are the secret to speedy chicken pie prep. In a bowl, combine two cups shredded, cooked chicken (a rotisserie chicken works great for this) with one can cream of chicken soup (cream of mushroom is also good), and ½ cup of milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, then pour into the bottom of a deep-dish pie crust and place two tablespoons of butter on top of the chicken. Next, unroll a second pie crust and gently lay it on top of the chicken, overlapping the edges. Using a fork, press against the pie plate all the way around, pressing the edges down to seal. Gently pull excess crust as you are sealing. Cut three slits in the top of the pie for ventilation, then place it on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees F. If the top crust begins to brown before the edges, cover with foil. This chicken pie freezes great – simply place it in a zip-top bag after sealing the crusts, and freeze.
Crudité platters can be thrown together quickly, using baby carrots, cauliflower and broccoli florets, and bell pepper strips. Include ranch dressing for dipping, and you’re ready to go! Salads also are an easy item to take. Leave the salad in the bag (take a bowl for serving), take your favorite toppings (sunflower seeds, dried beets, various cheeses, etc.), dressing, and a protein (cooked steak, chicken or shrimp). Assemble the salad once you reach your destination, but leave off the dressing, so everyone can add their desired amount.
One popular side dish is cheesy broccoli rice. Start with one bag of boil-in-bag rice. Place in four cups chicken broth that has been brought to a boil, along with a 16-ounce package of frozen broccoli. Boil until both the rice and broccoli are tender. Drain and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of seasoned salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Squeeze ½ tablespoon lemon juice over it and stir until the broccoli begins to break down. Add 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese with one egg, and stir well. Place in an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, sprinkle an additional ½ cup cheddar across the top, and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
A simple chocolate pudding pie can be thrown together by whisking one packet chocolate pudding with one cup milk, then stirring in four ounces of softened cream cheese, and ½ cup plain Greek yogurt. Spread into a graham cracker crust and refrigerate until firm. Top with whipped topping and chocolate sprinkles before serving.
So, the next time you’re invited to a potluck, put on your chef’s hat and throw together a simple recipe that will impress everyone and leave them wanting more. Happy cooking everyone!
– Tiffany Hughes, an Acworth resident and volunteer coordinator/scheduler for the Booth Western Art Museum.
Grilled Steak Salad
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 16 ounces steak
• Garlic powder
• Salt and pepper
• 1 bag salad mix
Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. While the pan is heating, sprinkle steak with salt and pepper. Place butter in pan, then immediately top with the steak, seasoned side down. Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper. Cook on high long enough to sear (about 2 minutes), then turn. Cook approximately 2 more minutes, and remove from pan. Let steak rest for a couple minutes, then thinly slice. Toss into salad just before serving.
• 16-ounce bag mini marshmallows
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
• 16-ounce container whipped topping
• Graham cracker crust
• Caramel or chocolate sundae syrup
Place marshmallows and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until both butter and marshmallows are melted. Add cream cheese and stir until no lumps remain. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Put mixture in a large bowl and gently fold in whipped topping. Pour into pie crust, then make concentric circles using the sundae syrup. Take a knife and starting in the middle of the pie, slowly draw the knife through the outer circle. Repeat around the pie. Store pie in fridge, covered.
Chicken Pot Pie
• 2 cups biscuit and pancake mix
• 2 cups milk
• 3 cups cubed chicken breasts
(about 3 cups cooked)
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 16 ounce bag frozen peas and carrots
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon ground pepper
• Dash ground red pepper
• 8 ounces cream cheese, cubed
• ½ cup milk
• 4 tablespoons butter
In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and pancake mix. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet, then add chicken. Shake pan to coat chicken with oil. Cook over medium heat until chicken changes color, then add bag of peas and carrots, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and ground red pepper. Cook until veggies are thawed. Add cream cheese and milk, and stir until cheese melts. Taste and season if desired.
Coat a 9-inch by 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray, then spread the chicken mixture
across the bottom. Next, pour the batter across the top. Do not stir! Dollop pats of butter across top, then bake for 30 minutes, or until top is set and golden brown.