Potluck dinners are a community event in which a group of people each brings a dish to share. The quantity and variety virtually guarantees there's something for everyone and enough for everyone to get a plateful of food. The host usually provides the main course, plates and silverware. Ask your host what to bring; usually the food is broken up into categories such as appetizers, side dishes, desserts or beverages.
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If you are asked to bring a main dish, pick a hearty dish such as a tasty chili. Brown 4 slices bacon, add 1 1/2 pounds hamburger and 1 sliced Portuguese sausage. Let it cook until the meat turns brown. Toss in 1 minced onion until it cooks clear. Add 2 cans each of tomato sauce, tomato soup, kidney beans and stewed tomatoes. Add chili powder, salt and garlic salt for flavor. Let simmer for an hour. It serves 12, making this dish perfect for a large potluck.
Cooking can be tricky if you're not comfortable in the kitchen. Here's a simple recipe if you're bringing dessert to the potluck. Pour 2 cans pie filling into a 9-by-13-by-2-inch cake pan. Sprinkle 1 box of dry cake mix over the top of the pie filling. Slice 1 stick of butter and evenly distribute the pieces across the top of the cake mix. Add nuts to the top of the cake mix if you want. Bake for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees or until the crust is golden brown.
Potlucks naturally lend themselves to casseroles and other hearty dishes. To make a filling cornbread, mix 2 cans cream-style corn, 4 beaten eggs; 1 cup cooking oil; a box of corn muffin mix; 1 tsp. minced onion; 4 oz. pimento and 1 cup grated cheese. Spread the mixture into a dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. The flavor is enhanced if it's refrigerated the day before serving.
If you're pinched for time, try this spin on the classic baked potato. Decide how many you'll be serving and prepare half a potato for each person. Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a 9-by-13 inch baking pan for eight halves. Add salt, pepper and paprika to the butter. Slice the potatoes lengthwise, then place them peel side up into the butter. Bake for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees.