It’s Tuesday morning and you receive a group email-maybe even a text-from one of your besties inviting you and your family to a party on Saturday. You’re thrilled, but then you read further . . .
Oh no . . . potluck!
You cringe as the thought of attending another event with four types of pasta salad, three types of green salad, eight bags of chips and a grocery-store sandwich tray. You may even have flashbacks of the potlucks you attended as a child, most of which offered an array of dishes that were molded to perfection into fun wreaths, balls or loafs (think green gelatin molds with floating marshmallows, artificial cheese balls rolled in nuts or meaty-grainy loaves with a luxurious ketchup topping baked right in).
But have no fear. Don’t let a potluck deter you from spending time with your friends and presenting a dish you can be proud of. There are many easy and creative ways you can whip something up quickly so that your food will shine at the party. Here are a few of my favorite crowd-pleasers listed from most time consuming to quickest that will allow you to shine at any potluck this weekend:
Easy crock pot chicken tacos
About 1 1/2 lbs chicken (thighs, breasts, skinless, boneless, bone-in-any type is fine)
1 package taco seasoning
1 jar of salsa
Place chicken breasts in crock pot. Sprinkle taco seasoning evenly over chicken, then cover with salsa. Allow the chicken to cook about three to four hours if using defrosted chicken or up to eight if using frozen. When chicken is done, it will easily pull apart. Remove chicken from crock pot and allow to cool. Using a fork, shred chicken (remove bones if necessary). If you want to include the skin, then you may need to use kitchen shears to cut into smaller pieces.
When all chicken is shredded, return to crock pot, stir and set to “warm.” Serve with tortillas. If you want to be super fancy, you can also include items like sour cream, cilantro, salsa, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, olives or avocado to serve.
Easy buffalo chicken dip
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup hot sauce
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast
Some shredded cheese if you’re fancy
Various crackers, celery or baguette slices for serving
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese, sour cream and hot sauce till smooth and blended. Stir in chicken.
Transfer to a baking dish (if you’re fancy, this is where you top with some cheese). Cover with foil and cook for 18-22 minutes or until heated through. Serve with crackers, bread or celery.
Super easy smoked salmon with cream cheese
1 or 2 packages of smoked salmon (depends on crowd size) cut into 1-2″ pieces
1 red onion, finely minced
1 or 2 packages of cream cheese, softened
1 small jar of capers
Crackers or baguette slices to serve
You have several options on the best way to serve this dish. You can make small piles of each ingredient towards the front of the serving tray or you may use small bowls filled with each of the ingredients. Either way, make sure you include a serving utensil for each item (cheese spreaders, knives, spoons, etc.) so the ingredients don’t get mixed up and messy.
Arrange bread and crackers towards back of the tray or you may use a separate bowl or platter. Take one cracker (or baguette) and smear cream cheese on one side. Top with a piece of salmon, and garnish with a bit of onion and a caper (or three).
I like to make a few ahead of time, so that guests know the intent of the dish. Enjoy!