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Hosting a potluck for about 30 people and stumped...recipes, please!

  • saridt Feb 19, 2010 05:13 PM
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This is totally unlike me --I love to cook and entertain --but I just have no ideas right now (chalk it up to an exhausting few weeks of cold & flu season). Event is next weekend --I am a full-time working mother of a toddler so I need the recipes to be easy (possibly something I can cook in the slow cooker overnight?)...Looking for main course recipes that can serve a lot of people and are uncomplicated to prep...thanks!

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  1. How fancy does it have to be? I would recommend a chicken pot pie, shepherd's pie or chicken enchiladas. Those are all easy to make, can be done in advance, and are delicious! Have fun at your party!!

    4 Replies
    1. re: jenhen2

      Very casual, family-friendly gathering. Those are good suggestions; do you have any specific tried & true recipes for them? Thanks!

      1. re: saridt

        Yes, I do. For the chicken pot pie, I roast skin on, bone in chicken breasts at 350 for about 20 mins with salt and pepper (til 150 degrees). Set aside to cool. In a large skillet, saute 1 chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic, salt, pepper and dried thyme in 3 Tb. olive oil. Add 5 chopped carrots and 5 stalks chopped celery. Saute until soft but not mushy. Add 2 T butter and 4 T flour. Add 1 can chicken stock and enough low fat milk to make it a loose consistancy. Should coat the back of the spoon but not be gloppy. Add 1 package frozen peas and heat through. Shred or chop the chicken and add that. Pour into a baking dish. Top with your favorite biscuit recipe and cook until biscuits are cooked through and browned. (I use scratch drop biscuits, but if you're pressed for time, you could use Bisquick or even refrigerated dough.)

        For shepherd's pie, I saute one chopped onion in 3 T olive oil. Add 1 lb ground beef, salt, pepper, dried herbs of your choice (i use either thyme or oregano). Cook through. Add 3 chopped carrots and 1 package frozen peas. Add 3 T flour, 1/2 c. white wine or beer, and 1 can beef stock. Add lowfat milk to get to a creamy consistency. Season with 2 tsp worstershire sauce. Pour into a baking pan. In the meantime, chop 2-3 lbs peeled russet potatoes and boil until tender. Mash drained potatoes with milk, salt, pepper, 2 T butter, and parmesan or other cheese if you wish. Top beef with potatoes and bake 30 mins until light brown and crusty.

        For enchiladas, poach chicken breast in salted water until cooked through - 20 mins. Alternatively, you can use rotisserie chicken if you wish. Purchase enchilada sauce (I recommend Trader Joes or Old El Paso). Chop scallions and black olives. Drain 1 can black beans and rinse. Drain 1 can corn. Shred 1 lb pepper jack or cheddar cheese. Warm enchilada sauce in a pan. Dip corn tortilla in warm sauce, then move to a baking pan. Add some chicken, cheese, beans, corn, scallions and olives, and roll up. Repeat until pan is full and sprinkle any remaining toppings over the top. Top with extra sauce. Bake until heated through and bubbly. Serve with sour cream and chopped cilantro.

        Hope this helps!!

        1. re: jenhen2

          These sound wonderful --would you mind telling me how many servings each are? Thanks so much!

          1. re: saridt

            Sure. I usually make the enchiladas and the chicken pot pie in 9x13 pans, and those serve about 8 easily (so you'd have to make a couple batches I guess). The shepherd's pie I make in a 8x8 glass dish and that makes about 6 servings. All can easily be doubled or tripled and if you have a bigger pan, you can just use that. Another idea, now that I'm thinking about it, is lasagna. That can be pretty easy, too. Good luck!!

    2. love my crock pot for potlucks. among the potluck things i have made are Chili, Pasta Sauce, Stews, Beef Burgandy, Teriyaki Meatballs (a cheating recipe), Pot Roast, Pulled Pork, Corned Beef, kalua pork (thats kalua, not kahlua) and Shoyu Chicken.

      Other popular and fairly simple/pre-prepared potluck dishes i've done include "mormon funeral" potatoes, fried rice, chow mein, wild rice casserole, baked ham, baked beans, apple salad, pea salad, macaroni and cheese, lasagne, enchilada pie, and of course the old standards like fried chicken, mac or potato salad, cole slaw, and even pizza. Almost all of these can be made at least a day in advance and chilled and/or re-heated on the day of the event.

      6 Replies
      1. re: KaimukiMan

        Thanks! I have to ask, what are "Mormon funeral potatoes"?

        1. re: saridt

          Frozen hash browns, mushroom soup, grated cheese - tons of different names. We call them Schwartze potatoes - go figure!

          http://www.bakespace.com/recipes/deta...

          1. re: beggsy

            yep, thats them. this is the recipe I sort of "developed" over time... there are dozens of variations. Note, this is not gourmet cuisine.

            2 bags frozen hash browns (approx. 2lbs ea)
            2 Cans Cream of Mushroom Soup (with Roasted Garlic - optional)
            1 Can Cream of Celery Soup
            1 Packet Leek Soup Mix
            1 Container (8oz) Sour Cream
            1 Stick Butter - Melted
            2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce (Optional)
            2 Packages (8oz ea.) Shredded White Cheese
            1 Package (8oz) Yellow or Mixed Cheese

            Completely thaw frozen hash browns (can be done in microwave)

            Preheat oven to 350

            In large mixing bowl combine Soups, Soup mix, Sour Cream, Butter, white cheese, and Worcestershire Sauce. Stir to mix.

            Mix in thawed hash browns

            Dump into 9x12 Baking Dish

            Top with Yellow Cheese

            Bake 1 hour at 350.

            Notes:

            If you are not able to thaw the potatoes ahead of time, increase baking
            time by approximately 30 minutes. Delay addition of yellow cheese.

            I like the cheese topping a little bit browned. For a softer topping
            add yellow cheese for last 20 minutes only.

            I have used frozen hash browns, tater tots, and once even frozen
            french fries. Hash browns seem to work best, but the others were fine.

            I don't add any other seasonings. You may wish to season to taste.

            1. re: KaimukiMan

              This sounds interesting but I wonder what the sodium count is, yikes?! I bet it tastes delicious though.

              1. re: saridt

                hummm....use unsalted butter...LOL.

                Llike i said.. its not exactly health or gourmet food. I am sure there are labor intensive ways of creating it, but.....

                can't wait to hear what you eventually end up making.

            2. re: beggsy

              sounds similar to the cracker barrel's hashbrown casserole. very good.

        2. Is braising out of the question? I recently made a braised short rib dish that needs about 30-40 mins of prep (cutting and browning well) and then the rest is just simmering, which could be done in a crockpot. This recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... was a hit, added some mushrooms and used canned crushed tomatoes instead of pureeing the tomatoes.

          Another big hit was a smoked cheese barley risotto. I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen: http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/01/bar... but swapped out the endive for 3-4 cups chopped spinach, and used smoked cheddar cheese instead of parm. Meat eaters and vegetarians alike loved it. Prep is pretty simple. You do have to stir it throughout cooking, but I stirred it in between washing dishes, so it wasn't too hard. :) Reheats nicely too, in case you want to make it in advance.

          I

          3 Replies
          1. re: CuriousCat

            Braising is great! Thanks!

            1. re: CuriousCat

              PS --Thanks for introducing me to the Smitten Kitten site --the recipes look wonderful! Now I am thinking of making the Mediterranean Eggplant & Barley Salad --have you tried it?

              1. re: saridt

                You're very welcome, I love her site! I haven't tried that salad yet, but her recipes rarely fail me. The original recipe (from Gourmet magazine) looks like it has good reviews. Please do report back if you make it, I love both barley and eggplant -- they're so toothsome!

            2. another easy cheat recipe for a potluck is a large bag of frozen italian meatballs, 4 cups jarred spaghetti sauce (i use prego traditional), i cup cream, 1/2 cup broth and some cloves of roasted garlic. crock pot overnight. serve with sliced italian bread.

              1. I just made pulled pork for my superbowl party and it would serve a crowd. I did ATK or CC recipe (rub the night before, smoke on grill for two hours and then in the oven till done) and it came out great. If you did it that way, you could do it all the day before and then heat it up in the crock pot, but crock pot recipes abound. I served it with the natural jus and a vinegar based sauce on the side with rolls, cole slaw and pickles.

                1. I just made bigos, or Polish hunter's stew, for a dinner party I held on Friday. I used the recipe from Chow user "ballulah" (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/387982), and it came out fabulously. It was a serious hit among everybody who ate it, even those who dislike sauerkraut. It probably served 15 (I think my batch was a little bit smaller than what the recipe called for), but we were eating it as a main course so you could probably get away with the same quantity or a little more. After it was finished cooking, the batch came a little under 2/3 of the way up my 5.5 qt. Dutch oven; it came almost to the top when it started cooking.

                  That recipe calls for many kinds of meat, but I used just kielbasa and about 1/3 of a pound each of diced pork shoulder and beef round. You can use whatever meat makes sense, really, and dried mushrooms if you have them help, too. I usually use a whole beer (this time, homebrewed dark lager) instead of wine, and I find that the addition of tomato paste really improves the color and gives some needed sweetness.

                  Also, if possible, cook the stew for a REALLY LONG time. This makes it perfect, actually, for potlucks or dinner parties, because you can start it a few days in advance, cook it for many hours, cool it (I put mine outside in the fire escape so as not to defrost my entire refrigerator with it), and then put it back on the stove on the day of the dinner to let it cook some more. The flavor is worlds better and more complex when you do this, and it makes your house smell glorious in the meantime. And despite all that unattended cooking time (I left the house many ties while it simmered over a tiny flame), it's incredibly easy to make.

                  1. King Ranch Chicken Casserole is a good one.

                    1. crockpot is great for a pulled beef or chicken bbq. Also, a great batch of homemade mac & cheese, greek pasta salad or tortellini salad (both make ahead). Orzo with Everything is another nice one. Tortilla roll-ups are easy with options. Meatballs in the crockpot & have rolls/cheese on the side.

                      1. beef brisket cooked in oven in cooking bag, then refrigerated overnight.
                        Take off visible fat, slice cold into thin slices (across grain of meat)
                        Reheat in BBQ sauce.

                        1. So, to report back, the event was a great success and there was a lot of great food. I was inspired by the chicken enchilada and pulled pork recipes so I ended up making a huge batch of braised pork in the slow cooker :
                          http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/slo...

                          I reduced the liquid down a lot and served it as a "carnitas" taco bar with corn tortillas, slaw, sour cream, salsa, salsa verde, cotija cheese, guacamole & lime wedges. It was a big hit and couldn't have been easier --I made it all the prior weekend and froze it. It was also very affordable, using pork butt.

                          I also made that Mediterranean Eggplant & Barley Salad from the Smitten Kitchen website and it was really good!

                          Some other things that people brought that worked well were enchilada casserole, maki sushi, chicken gruyere, arugula, proscuitto & boursin finger sandwiches, chicken egg rolls, orzo salad, antipasto salad, chicken salad and much more.

                          I appreciate all of your suggestions and look forward to using more of them as it is a monthly event!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: saridt

                            BTW -- I should add that I used Mrs. Renfro's hot jalapeno salsa verde in the recipe and on the side.

                            1. re: saridt

                              Okay, next time remember to invite us all! ;) The pork sounds great, love the bonus of being able to freeze it for later.