Potlucks and Cookouts--Twenty Crowd-Pleasing Recipes
The only really good foods are those cooked in the sauce of love.— Eric Dierker (Yes, THAT Eric Dierker)
How to Plan a Potluck
(1) Determine how many people will be invited.
(2) Plan the type of meal and how cooking assignments will be made. Here are some suggestions:
- Assign foods by menu category (appetizer, salad, main dish, side dish, dessert)
- Assign specific foods to be prepared (you can even provide the recipes)
- As the host you might prepare the main course and ask guests to provide salads and/or desserts
Why Is It Called "Potluck"?
The word potluck first appeared in print in two 16th century works(a) by Thomas Nashe, a contemporary of William Shakespeare. “Potluck” originated from the custom of keeping leftovers. Rather than toss out the odd bits of meat and vegetables at the end of the day, inns and taverns would place them into a pot to be kept warm for drop-in guests. Those who arrived late received the “luck of the pot.”
Initially, potluck was mere happenstance but by the 19th century it had become known as a communal meal in which all participants contributed to the feast.
(a)Strange News (1592), and the play Summer’s Last Will and Testament (performed in 1592 but not published until 1600).
Potluck Food Safety Tips
- Proper temperature--Make sure that hot foods are fully heated before packing them for transport. Likewise, insure that cold foods are completely chilled before placing them in a cooler. Do not rely on your ice chest to chill your food to the proper (safe) temperature)
- Don't co-mingle--Do not pack "hot" and "cold" food items together.
- Perishable foods--There are some foods that are high on the list for risk of spoilage--meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and dairy products. Be especially careful with these foods. It is best to not bring these to the potluck if you are traveling a long distance.
Why Do We Love Potlucks?
Potlucks are no longer 'making do' with what is on hand.
Simply put, they are Heaven on Earth for those who love to eat, and they are salvation for those who do the cooking.
As the host of a potluck, you need not worry about the expense of purchasing all of the food for a crowd, or the labor involved in preparing the food.
Potlucks make entertaining calm, casual, and carefree.
A potluck party can be as small as two or three couples sharing a meal, or as large as the guest list for a multi-generational party, a club membership, a church gathering, or an entire suburban neighborhood.
Here are the recipes I have collected for you.
- Apple cinnamon cake with apple cider glaze
- Polka dot fudge bars
- Carmelitas for a crowd
- "When Harry Met Sally" chocolate cake
- The perfect carrot cake (Carb Diva style)
- Slow-cooker barbecued meatballs
- Mini corn dog muffins
- Chicken enchilada roll ups
- Easy pesto tortellini skewers
- Ultimate 7-layer dip
- Chinese salad
- Broccoli salad
- Chicken macaroni salad
- Three-bean salad
- Basic potato salad
- Chicken noodle bake
- Hot dogs for a crowd (slow cooker)
- Carb Diva "un-meaty" vegetarian chili
- Macaroni and cheese with cauliflower and tomatoes
- Carb Diva's chili macaroni casserole
This recipe has been around for as long as there have been slow cookers (crock pots). And now that precooked meatballs are available in the frozen-foods section at your grocery store there is no excuse to not make these even--only three ingredients. It doesn't get any easier than that.
Slow Cooker Barbecued Meatballs
- 12 ounces chili sauce
- 1 1/2 cups grape jelly
- 2 pounds frozen meatballs
Add the chili sauce and grape jelly to a slow cooker. Stir to combine. Add the meatballs and stir to coat. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
- Mini Corn Dog Muffins Recipe
If you love the taste of corn dogs, you are going to love this easy baked homemade recipe for mini corn dog muffins! These corn dog muffins are a crowd pleaser especially with kids and make a great football watching snack for the big game coming up!
- Chicken Enchilada Roll Ups - The Girl Who Ate Everything
These Chicken Enchilada Roll Ups are a great appetizer for parties! Easy to make ahead and easy to serve. the-girl-who-ate-everything.com
- Easy Pesto Tortellini Skewers - Foody Schmoody Blog | Foody Schmoody Blog
These Easy Pesto Tortellini Skewers can be served room temperature or chilled making them the perfect choice for potlucks, BBQ's and brunches.
- Ultimate 7-Layer Dip - Kraft Recipes
Sure, we could have gone with a 6-layer dip, but at what cost? Lose the sour cream, the zesty salsa, the shredded cheese? No. It had to be a 7 layer dip.
Several years ago we hosted a family Easter Brunch. My niece Leslie brought this dish to share, and gave me the recipe:
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 flavor packet from a package of Ramen noodles
- 1 head cabbage, shredded
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 2 packages of Ramen noodles, crumbled
- Mix together oil, sesame seeds, and almonds. Sauté over low heat in small skillet until lightly browned. Watch carefully so that it does not burn. Set aside to cool.
- Once sesame/almond mixture is cool, stir in sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar, and contents of ONE Ramen seasoning packet. (Discard 2nd seasoning packet).
- Place cabbage and onions in large mixing bowl; pour almond/vinegar dressing over and toss to coat.
- Just before serving add crumbled Ramen noodles. Stir again and serve.
NOTE: There are several ways to adapt this recipe:
- Cooked diced chicken or cooked shrimp may be added to the salad.
- Grated carrots can be added to the cabbage/onion mix
- One bag of pre-shredded cabbage/broccoli/carrots/red cabbage can be used in place of the head of cabbage
One would think that a salad named for a green vegetable would be healthy--but most broccoli salads are undercover fat bombs--loaded with mayonnaise, Cheddar cheese, and bacon. This slimmed-down version is adapted from a recipe that appeared in Cooking Light magazine in June 2002.
- 4 cups small broccoli florets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup lightly salted cashew nuts, broken
- 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- Combine the first 6 ingredients (broccoli through cashews) in a large bowl.
- Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, sugar, and vinegar in small mixing bowl; whisk to blend. Pour dressing over broccoli mixture, and toss well. Chill for 1 hour.
Chicken Macaroni Salad
- 4 ounces salad macaroni, cooked according to package directions, drained, and rinsed
- 2 cups diced cooked chicken
- 1 cup diced celery
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup diced dill pickle
- 2 tablespoons finely minced red onion
- 4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped black olives
- 1/2 cup low-fat or non-fat mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Combine first 8 ingredients (chicken through olives) in large mixing bowl.
- Whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper in small bowl.
- Pour dressing over chicken mixture; toss gently to coat. Chill well before serving.
I have seen many versions of this salad; this one is from my mother inlaw's recipe box:
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 can (16 ounces) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can (16 ounces) yellow wax beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can cut green beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 red pepper, seeds removed and cut into 1/4-inch wide strips
- 1/2 cup minced red onion
- In small bowl whisk together vinegar and mustard until well blended. Beat in oil.
- Place remaining ingredients in large bowl. Pour dressing over; gently toss to coat. Cover and chill 1 hour.
Basic Potato Salad
This recipe is adapted from the “Classic Potato Salad” by Betty Crocker. I have included the sour cream, dill pickles, and minced radishes that my mom always used in her potato salad.
- 1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 medium stalk celery, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely minced (about ½ cup)
- ¼ cup finely diced dill pickle
- 2 tablespoons finely minced red radish
- 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
- Cook potatoes according to directions given above.
- Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in large mixing bowl.
- Add potatoes, celery, onion, pickles, and radish. Toss to combine and coat evenly with mayonnaise mixture. Stir in eggs and toss gently. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours for flavors to blend.
Chicken Noodle Bake
- 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup light cream cheese
- 1/2 cup nonfat sour cream
- 1/2 cup nonfat mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 2 T margarine
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 1 10-oz can chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp. ground sage seasoning
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 6 cooked lasagne noodles
- 3 cups diced cooked chicken breast or leftover rotisserie chicken
- 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place first four ingredients in bowl of food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add onion, bell pepper and 1/4 cup of the parsley. Pulse until combined. Do not over-process (you want to have chunks of vegetables--not a puree). See aside.
- Melt margarine in a medium saucepan. Add flour and cook 1 minute; stir in milk and broth and whisk until well blended and thickened. Stir in ground sage, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat; set aside.
- Coat a 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place 3 of the cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of the dish. Top with half of the cottage cheese mixture, half of the chicken, and then half of the sauce.
- Repeat layering with 3 more cooked lasagna noodles, and then the remaining cottage cheese mixture, chicken, and sauce.
- Combine bread crumbs and parsley. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
- A Year of Slow Cooking: Hot Dogs for a Crowd
- Carb Diva's "Un-meaty" Vegetarian Chili
"Meaty" but meatless chili that doesn't rely on soy protein or frozen veggie crumbles. This would be great to have on Super Bowl Sunday.
- Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower and Tomatoes
A sophisticated blend of cheeses creates a savory and creamy macaroni and cheese; the addition of cauliflower and tomato provides nutrition and flavor.
- Carb Diva's Chili Macaroni Casserole
Easy, inexpensive, kid-pleasing casserole of macaroni, chili, and cheese.
Apple Cinnamon Cake with apple cider glaze
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar (divided)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon (divided)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons apple cider
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan and set aside.
- Mix flour, 1 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, salt, and ginger in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and stir until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer 3/4 cup of the mixture to a small bowl. Stir the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon into this reserved mixture and set aside. This will be the topping on the cake.
- Mix baking soda and baking powder into the remaining flour mixture. Add the apples. Whisk together the buttermilk and egg in another bowl. Add the buttermilk/egg mixture to the apple mixture and stir just until combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle reserved topping evenly over the batter.
- Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool slightly.
- To make the icing whisk together the powdered sugar and apple cider and drizzle over the cake.
Polka Dot Fudge Bars
ingredients for dough
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups oats (not quick-cooking or instant)
ingredients for filling
- One 12-ounce package chocolate chips
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In mixing bowl cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until well blended. Stir in vanilla.
- Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into butter/sugar mixture.
- Stir oats into mixture.
- Spread 2/3 of dough into greased 15x10-inch pan.
- To prepare filling place chocolate chips, milk, butter, and salt in medium saucepan. Simmer, stirring constantly, over low heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in walnuts and vanilla.
- Spread chocolate mixture over dough in pan. Dot with remaining dough.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Pink Piccadilly Pastries: Carmelitas for a Crowd
- "When Harry Met Sally" Chocolate Cake
A dense chocolate cake made with only 6 ingredients. So easy , so rich, it leads me to ask "Is it sinful to take a 'Better than Sex Cake' to the church picnic?"
- The Perfect Carrot Cake (Carb Diva style)
A supremely moist and flavorful carrot cake.
© 2016 Linda Lum
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