Thursday, February 11, 2010

Potluck Recipes?

My blog friend, Tracy, wrote me - ummmmm, ok a very long time ago and asked the following question. I have absolutely no excuse for taking this long to respond and after hearing from her again yesterday I must put it off no more!

I have predicament I find myself in a lot....POTLUCKS. We have them at church, we have them with numerous family functions, and we've had lots of summer picnics (not to mention delivering a meal to someone who's sick or had a baby...). I'm always at a loss what to bring. The things I make at our house don't seem "potluck ready." Do you have any ideas?

I'll admit that I'm no potluck expert! I'm not sure I can remember the last true potluck I went to. When our church has a big dinner - it is usually catered and we are asked to bring either potato salad or coleslaw (neither of which my family like), so not much room for any wondering what to bring there?!

Number one, if I was able to pick what to take - I would take something my family liked!

Ok, seriously - when I take a meal to someone else though - I do get to choose! I usually ask if there are any requests or food allergies. Sometimes a family may have had all the lasagna they could ever want! It is helpful to know these things.

Then, I try to think of something I might like to receive if I were on the other end. Keeping in mind things like - is the Mama nursing a new baby - no spicy! You get the idea. I also love to make things that are easy to double - one to give and one for my family for the night - perfect!

And, sometimes it is handy to know the meal could be frozen if they find that they don't need it the night you are signed up to bring. You know, sometimes the food can get a bit overwhelming and leftovers are plentiful. But, they could really use the meal another time!

Here are a few of my favorite suggestions:
* Mexican Lasagna
* Enchiladas
* Chicken Pot Pie
* Chicken Spaghetti
* Easy Lasagna
* Emily's Chicken
* Chicken and Stuffing
* Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
* Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Ok, let's hear your ideas! Those of you who are much more experienced at potlucks than I am, please share your ideas with Tracy and all the rest of us who are wondering what to bring!


Bonnie said...

For a church pot luck, it depends on what they ask, usually letters A-M is a salad, and M-Z is dessert.
But in addition, I bring either a plateful of Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches cut in half, or a crockpot full of hot dogs. I hate seeing all the food kids load their plates down with, take one bite, don't like and toss. There are NEVER any left overs of either of these.
When we bring the salad, I like to make the Ramen noodle coleslaw style, simply because it doesn't require refrigeration.
If bringing a main dish is required, my mom brings homemade Beef and Bean burritos, cut in half.

When taking a meal to a family, my standbys are chicken pot pie, and hamburger soup.
For the hamburger soup, simply brown up the burger, then add flour to soak up the drippings. Add broth, and frozen mixed veggies (I do carrots, peas, corn, and beans), cook 'til heated through, and salt and pepper to taste.
Both of these always get rave reviews, especially from kids who "don't like to eat vegetables".
I usually round out the meal with salad, homemade bread, and dessert.
From having "been there", I strongly suggest staying away from pasta. Everyone thinks its a great idea no-one else has thought of, especially when providing for a larger family.

I'm excited to see what others bring, I can always use new ideas!

Lecia said...

Thank you so much for posting these recipes. I am always trying to come up with something to take to friends in need of a meal or just something to fix different at home. I also like to make one for home and one to take since we have to eat too. Recently a friend had an accident and I was so impressed with one of the moms in our homeschool group. She came to our meeting that night with a box of dishes from her freezer for this family. What a way to be prepared to bless others!

Sarah said...

Some meals I've fixed in the past for families: meatloaf, beef stew, chicken salad, ham/swiss on biscuits, poppyseed chicken casserole, homemade spaghetti sauce (it's almost like a stew by itself!), etc. Sometimes it's fun to have pizza delivered to the individuals, too! I try to make cookies/brownies that are easy to transport and a salad (I've even used the pre-bagged salads if time is tight).

Sarah said...

oh, and homemade chicken noodle soup is another one!

Wendi said...

Here are my standby potluck items:

mac & cheese
green beans & potatoes
veggie soup
sloppy joe
fresh fruit/veggies w/ dip
pasta salad
hot dogs

Most of these items can be made and then put into the crock pot. It just depends on the time of year and how far away we are going.

When making food for a family I find that most people think dinner. I try to remember breakfast. A loaf of fresh bread and a jar of homemade jelly. a breakfast casserole to re-heat or freeze. A box of oatmeal, muffins or donuts along with fresh fruit and juice.

Susannah said...

I have no suggestions, but it reminds me of when my second child was born and we had 12 pans of baked ziti in the fridge -- 12 pans, all from different people! I love baked ziti, but I don't hink I have made it since then -- and my son is now 11!

Michelle said...

For church and other potlucks, I usually bring a batch of spinach-artichoke dip and a bowl of Tostitos or pretzels. It's easy, we all love it here, and I almost always bring home an empty bowl at the end of the function.

If someone is sick or has a baby, I like to roast a whole chicken, and serve with garlic mashed potatoes and whatever vegetable I have. I figure that is usually enough for two meals for a small family, and/or someone can make soup with the carcass if they are so inclined. I roast two chickens at the same time and we have that for dinner that night as well. :)

Cheryl said...

Potlucks I usually opt to bring a dessert or side dish. My signature dessert is a chocolate trifle. Oh so easy to prepare and pretty when done. Not to mention the bowl comes back empty. Gotta love that.
For actual meals I take to folks I like to get fancy and spoil them. I have made chicken marsala with rice, green beans and dessert; chicken cacciatore over angel hair pasta, salad and fresh bread; or oven fried chicken (it's actually baked but that is what the recipe calls it) mash potatoes and a veggie and dessert. Sometimes they appreciate stuff like chili and cornbread with salad and dessert or homemade soup with salad and dessert.

Julie said...

The peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hot dogs are a great idea. I'm going to have to remember that one.

Mary Ann said...

We have a potluck every Sunday so I have a little experience with this. My mind is often blank as to what to bring so I should make my own list to refer to!

Since our potlucks are immediately following Sunday morning fellowship, I think crockpot if bringing something hot. You don't have to worry about oven space and pay much attention to the food while it's cooking. If going to a potluck where you eat right after you arrive, any casserole right from your oven would work.

Some good crockpot dishes I make regularly are: lasagna, mashed potatoes(I make as usual and just keep warm in the crockpot), meatballs (You can bring some rice or noodles to serve with them if you want. If meatballs are hot, it will quickly warm the rice or pasta when mixed with or poured on top.), beef roast with carrots and potatoes, soup or stew( bring disposable bowls), pinto beans are popular here in the South especially with a pan of cornbread. Other crockpot ideas that others in our group do often are hot dogs(bring buns and condiments) or taco fixings( meat mixture in slow cooker then tortillas or taco shells and other toppings on the side).

If taking side dishes or desserts, I usually do fresh bread or rolls, muffins, cookies, a dish of veggies that can be easily heated in the microwave, applesauce,etc.

Now for taking meals to people. Here are my usuals:
BBQ meatballs
Chicken pot pie
Taco soup (Pour into jar or large plastic container; can be reheated by the bowl or in a pot on the stove depending on the family's needs.)
Poppy Chicken
Homemade pizza(Easy for a non-cooking family to bake!:-);I often have these ready in the freezer so it's a great last-minute hospitality meal.)

When taking meals, I try to use all disposable containers and pans so nothing has to be returned. Including paper plates and napkins is a nice gesture. A special touch is to include homemade cookies or some fresh fruit in season such as strawberries or peaches or even a fresh pineapple(cut up). Often new moms or someone who's had surgery really likes this! And little ones usually love cookies and/or fruit!

I agree with refraining from taking too much pasta. When taking meals to new moms, I know that some of the other ladies who will provide meals with me often do lasagna or spaghetti so I try to do something else. Monica's chicken potpie is excellent and it makes two!

Hope this helps!

Krista said...

We have a lot of potlucks at our church...every Sunday, actually...and I have about five recipes that I make. Paula Deen's corn pudding works well, and I have a few other hashbrown-and-cream of whatever-type casseroles I bring regularly. I also make a rice dish with beef broth that goes quickly. If you want those recipes, i'll be happy to email them to you.

You know what else works well at a potluck? Salads! There are ages families at church that always bring a salad or two...they throw lettuce and toppings together into a salad bowl and it's a nice counterpoint to all the heavy casseroles.

We put our casseroles into warming ovens during the morning service, and have learned that some foods don't do too well warming that long. Anything eggy will separate and get watery, so quiches and egg-based mac-n-cheese aren't so good if you have that kind of warming oven situation.

One family brings meatballs every week! She tried to stop bringing her meatballs, but so many people (especially the kids) protested that she brings them every week. In a crockpot, she dumps pre-made meatballs, some ketchup, and some chili sauce. She turns it on high and in about two hours they are done.

Sometimes people just get too busy (especially the mothers with young kids!). A friend of mine sometimes buys a stouffer's macaroni and cheese and it's always a hit...scraped clean with no leftovers at all.

Good luck!

angie said...

When taking a dish to church, it varies on what supplies I have on hand. Something that always seems to be lacking at our potlucks are "one ingredient" dishes, such as fresh fruit and veggie trays. Many times kids don't like all of the casserole type main and side dishes, but recognize and know they like certain fruits/veggies.
For meals to bless others, I like to bring a pot of soup and some homemade muffins. After just receiving many gifts of food during a family funeral, I think it is important to remember how convenient it is to take dishes that need not be returned. I save glass jars from sauce, salsa, etc. to use for these occasions.

amybee said...

This is one of my favorites to take to a family in need. It makes enough for a 9x14 and an 8x8 dish, so we get dinner out of it too. Freezes nicely too. Pair with a salad and brownies.

My favorite for potlucks is Texas Caviar.

angela said...

Mandarin Orange Jello Salad is always a WINNER for me at any dinner. It's cheap, easy and I can always have the ingredients on hand. I will email you the recipe and you can pass it on to Tracey.
A chocolate Texas Sheet Cake is also a winner too for large groups. Again it is fast, easy and the ingredients are staples around my house. I don't recommend using nuts though, since many people are allergic or just don't like them.
As for meals to take, I'm with you on taking meals that are or can be frozen. My favorites are Stuffed Shells and Meatballs. I make big batches of them for our freezer anyways, so I always have them on hand to take. Add a loaf a frozen garlic bread or homemade bread and you are set. I also like Meatloaf pie. The recipe is from Taste of Home's Quick Cooking. Homemade stromboli warms up well and transports easily when cooled and wrapped in foil. Also a big dish of chicken and gravy with bag of homemade biscuits is yummy and easy to take too.

Becky said...

If I'm doing a church lunch potluck, I'll often bring crock-pot green beans. they taste just like Cracker Barrel's. It's easiest to make them the day before and then just reheat for the potluck. I brown up some bacon and add to crock pot and then get it 2/3rds full with snapped green beans (fresh works but frozen doesn't for reasons I don't understand), 1 or 1/2 half a finely sliced onion, and a few handfuls of potato. Cover with liquid and cook on low for 8-12 hours. If I'm in a hurry, I'll bump it up to high for part of the time. Cook until tender. The secret is in the seasoning- add water AND chicken broth (roughly half and half)

Paige said...

I just fixed a country ham and macaroni casserole last night that was really good and easily doubled and half frozen. It's basically a scratch Macaroni, with country ham added. The Swiss Chicken is another easy favorite for taking to a friend in need.

Anonymous said...

I have a recipe for Chicken Tortellini Soup that is really easy to make and makes a large amount so it is good for potlucks or for sharing with another family. Pair with rolls or a loaf of fresh bread.
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp pepper
8 cups chicken broth
3-4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into pieces (I actually buy a rotisserie chicken from the store already cooked and tear all the meat off and use that, I find it moister and more flavorful)
16-20 oz bag frozen cheese tortellini
Heat butter until melted. Add onion, celery and carrots. Cook over medium heat until tender. Stir in flour and pepper. Gradually add broth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until boiling. Boil 1 min. Add tortellini and chicken. Cook until tortellini is warm. Serve and enjoy. Leftovers freeze well.

Carrie said...

When I do potlucks, I try to take stuff that can be eaten cold (that way no one has to worry about keeping the temp. of the food just right). So I'll go with things like salads (made fun and interesting - not just lettuce in a bowl!), cold pasta salad, fruit salad, finger sandwiches, etc.

I used to organize potlucks for our church (which we had monthly) and the best meals that everyone seemed to enjoy the most were when we'd do sandwiches, Subway style. That makes bringing sides so much easier and, again, no one has to worry about maintaining the proper temp on any dish!

Mrs. K said...

Our church has potlucks quite frequently, sometimes three weeks in a row. Everytime we welcome a new member we have a potluck for them. It's not at all uncommon to get a call on Thursday that we will be having a potluck Sunday.

I have a cabinet that I call my "company cabinet" where I store several ingredients for last minute company along with an emergency stash of soda, lemonade mix and tea bags with a measured amount of sugar for a gallon of tea. I almost always have the ingredients for three cakes and a jello salad (I have a favorite recipe I use over and over) in there. I have a list on the door of what I have and what recipe it's for.

I also like to keep a couple of 9 x 13 dishes in disposable containers for potlucks or to take to a family in need. Stuffed shells and chicken divan are two favorites.

Another great thing to keep in your freezer is frozen desserts like ice cream sandwich casserole, other ice cream casseroles, ice cream pies, etc.

My standby meal for new moms is sloppy joes and macaroni and cheese. I have the sloppy joe mix made up and frozen in a gallon size ziplock bag (laid flat to freeze it takes up almost no room at all) and always have the fixings for mac and cheese and I can always swing by the grocery to pick up a package of hamburger buns.

Every once in a while I use potlucks to try out new recipes. That way if my family doesn't like it we won't have so much to take home. I'm taking a new cake recipe from Taste of Home to our carry in this Sunday.

Anonymous said...

For a family with children, I think it would be great to give them a "take and bake" pizza. If they don't need it that night, they can freeze it and bake it another night.

Bonnie said...

One other thing I forgot to mention: We only see my husbands grandmother a few times a year, so when I know we will be visiting, I try to load up the freezer with left overs: chicken, soups, etc. I freeze them in individual servings, and load up HER freezer when we visit. She really appreciates this, and it saves her some money on her fixed income.
I also fix 6 different meals and divide them up at Christmas time for our grandparents. They have all said as they get older, they like cooking less (especially for only 1-2 people), and like being able to thaw, heat and eat.
I know these aren't really pot luck related, but I thought I would pass them along anyway!

lindybasenji said...

I love potlucks! And I love freezer food . . . there are many good cookbooks and websites out there using names like OAMC which stands for once a month cooking which give good recipes for keeping in the freezer.
When I'm asked to bring something to a shut-in family for any reason, I too stay away from pasta. Depending on the audience, I will usually supply one of the following four casseroles: poppyseed chicken, king ranch chicken, chicken divan, or chicken alfredo casserole. Round that out with either green beans slow cooked in worchestershire, soy sauce, and garlic powder (these keep beautifully and everyone loves them) or a salad, some bread, and I like to bring frozen cookie dough which can be baked at their leisure, homemade if at all possible. All of this can either be eaten that day or frozen for up to 6 weeks without a problem, allowing that family to use it as they need it.
If I'm paricipating in a potluck, I really like bringing something I enjoy but maybe doesn't get finished at home like an orzo pasta with roasted veggies (google Barefoot Contessa for a great recipe) that makes too much for a small family and enough to feed an army. That way I still get to enjoy a favorite recipe.
I'm enjoying the comments, look forward to more ideas.

Unknown said...

For potlucks, I tend to stick with desserts. First, its my favorite thing to make and I have a ton of recipes! Second, most people go to their local grocery store to get cookies or cupcakes. When you can provide a simple, but HOMEMADE dessert it stands out on the table! One of my favorites is a Strawberry Banana Trifle.

Some of the things I have taken to a family for a meal include chicken noodle soup (big pot) and even a pot roast with separate containers of veggies, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, etc.

Amy said...

I agree with Bonnie about the Ramen noodle coleslaw. I have taken that to numerous pot luck dinners and have always brought the bowl back empty. If money was not tight I would also bring Chick-Fil-A nuggets. There again, the plate was always empty!

Ami said...

When we were in college we always brought things to potlucks that were cheap. After that I started to spend more and more money on potulck food. Now I'm realizing that people really like homemade bread, rolls, soft pretzels, cinnamon rolls, etc. I try to take these to potlucks whenever I can now, and they're totally cheap. Since we have five in our family, I always want to bring at least 2 things. We go to potlucks often and I just take whatever I want, like green beans, fruit, cookies, the list goes on and on.

Unknown said...

Can't wait to check out your recipes! :)

I love to bring Cheesy Potato Dish...seems to be a has sour cream, cheese, hash browns, cream of chix soup, and corn flakes on top!
Everybody always wants the recipe and there is never any leftovers! :)

Dawn said...

For a meal for a family I always do beef and noodles. I can throw an inexpensive roast in the crockpot the night before and just finish it up the next day. I can make a large amount so I keep some for my family and give some away.
I always like to send a little extra of something because one time I made enough for mom and dad but then got there and they had family there staying to help. I know we aren't expected to feed visitors too but it would be nice if they had a little extra.
I also try to use containers the family can keep (pick up cheap ones at good will to keep on hand or buy foil pans from the dollar store) so they don't have to worry about returning them. Ziploc baggies work great for them to just pour out into a bowl.

melissa said...

I live overseas, and it's not popular to take meals to others in need (although we have done it). I like to make:
Meatballs in Mushroom Sauce

For potlucks, I usually like to take something healthy and/or something that I know I can eat:
Tossed Salad
Fruit Salad

rachel@thecupcakesprinklesinlife said...

Apple Crisp or a nice Fresh Fruit Salad. We've Done a portable "salad bar" for the food chain- and I made my own fresh strawberry vinegarette.

Chicken Tetrazini would also be a good one- though my family has just converted to veganism.

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

For BBQ-themed potlucks, I typically bring Sweet-and-Sour Beans. They're ridiculously delicious! I always get recipe requests when I bring them.

For our youth group's Super Bowl party last weekend, I brought a dish full of BBQ beef and some sliced rolls for making little sandwiches. That was super easy, as I just threw a rump roast in the crockpot with some BBQ sauce on top. When it was done, I shredded it and added more sauce. The kids and adults loved this.

I've brought homemade pizza to people before. I prepare it on disposable foil pizza trays and bring it to them uncooked with baking instructions attached. They can stick it in the oven when they're ready for it, and it will be hot and fresh. Compliments on this one, as well. Not easy to do for a big family, but perfect for our childless friends when they were grieving the loss of a pet.

rachel@thecupcakesprinklesinlife said...

Apple Crisp or a nice Fresh Fruit Salad. We've Done a portable "salad bar" for the food chain- and I made my own fresh strawberry vinegarette.

Chicken Tetrazini would also be a good one- though my family has just converted to veganism.

Tracy said...

What great ideas! I think the pot pie and the hamburger soup are on my list for sure!

Pasha said...

Sometimes, for potlucks, I find that simple is better. A big bowl of fruit (grapes, apple slices...)is always appreciated with many little plates to fill. I love to see some veges too, with ranch dressing to dip in. As much as I love casserloes (yummy, yummy) my kids would prefer a plate of fruit, veges and a roll or muffin.

For friends with new babies I try to think out of the box. Instead of signing up for a whole meal, I might send over: dry pancake mix w/instructions, a frozen meatloaf to use when needed or some snacks: cookies, muffins, fruit (especially if they have little kids).

Mrs. K said...

I hardly ever come back and read the comments after I've left one but am glad I did - so many great ideas.

Wanted to add to Wendi's suggestion. Whenever I take food to a new mom I try to take muffins for breakfast and a box lunch as well. I remember when I had my first child I would literally forget to eat.

Another great thing if your church has frequent potlucks is to bring an extra prepared dish for someone who's been sick or recently had a new baby. That would take the load off of them and allow them to stay for lunch without guilt. Someone did that for me once and I couldn't stop thanking her.

Bonnie said...

THere are a couple of potatoes diced up too for that soup recipe I left earlier....

Agnes said...

I do a lot of quiche. You can make them veggeratarian (spinash, brocoli, asperagus etc...) or with ham or chicken.
They freeze very well.

Amie said...

I bring....Bannana's, sounds weird but they are cheap, clean, kid friendly and they always get eaten up.