Tis the Season of Pot Luck Parties

Like most office pot-luck parties; there are certain challenges that need to be met and overcome to guarantee a successful contribution. For example, how many outlets are available in the company break room? This is important for crock pot contributions – you need electricity to keep the pot warm. Is there ample refrigerator space? If your choice involves a dish that requires refrigeration until serving time, that’s important. Does your dish require reheating or warming? If so, is there a microwave, and can it handle a large platter or only a small bowl? Some foods are best served hot, others cold and others still at room temperature.

Holiday Pot-Luck – Dishes Served Warm or Room Temperature
BLT Canapés with Basil Mayonnaise
Chorizo and Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers
Christmas Vegetable Wreath

BLT Canapés with Basil Mayonnaise
2 Cups Fresh Basil leaves plus ¼ cup chopped basil leaves
2/3 Cup Best Food Mayonnaise
4 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
Salt & Pepper to Taste
11 Slices Hearty White Sandwich Bread
11 Slices Hickory Smoked Bacon
6 Oz Cherry Tomatoes, sliced ½ inch thick for 33 slices

Process 2 cups basil leaves, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic and ¼ teaspoon salt in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer to bowl and season with salt & pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Mayonnaise can be stored in refrigerator for up to 4 days).

Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element, heat broiler. Using 2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut rounds from the sandwich bread, avoiding the crusts. Each slice should produce 3 rounds. Discard any scraps.

Spray each side of bread rounds with cooking spray. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and cook under broiler until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes, flipping bread over halfway through. Let cool. Base can be made 1 day in advance. Store at room temperature in an air-tight container.

Fry bacon until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate and let cook. Break each bacon slice into 3 short pieces. Season tomato slices with salt and pepper. Spread a small amount of basil mayonnaise (about ¾ of a teaspoon) on each toast round. Place rounds on a serving platter. Top each with 1 piece of bacon, 1 tomato slice and sprinkle with remaining basil to garnish. Serve at room temperature. Canapés will hold at room temperature for up to 2 hours.

Chorizo and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Peppers
24 baby sweet red, orange, and yellow peppers (about 1 pound)
8 ounces Good Mexican chorizo sausage (check out your local Mexican Markets)
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
Cilantro, fresh chopped for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Cut about 1/4 inch from top of peppers to form a “boat.” Seed peppers, if desired, and finely chop pepper tops.

Combine chopped peppers and chorizo in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes or until chorizo is browned. Drain well, if necessary. Add cheeses, stirring until well blended.

Spoon or pipe sausage mixture into pepper boats. Place on prepared baking sheet, and bake 15 minutes or until cheese melts and peppers are tender.

Garnish, if desired.

Christmas Vegetable Wreath
2 Cans Refrigerated Crescent Rolls (8 oz each)
1 Package Cream Cheese, softened (8 oz)
½ Cup Sour Cream
1 ½ Teaspoon Dill Weed
¼ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 ½ Cups Fresh Broccoli Florets, chopped
1 Cup Celery, chopped
½ Cup Carrots, finely Chopped
½ Cup Red Bell Pepper Finely Chopped
½ Cup Mushrooms Thinly Sliced 
2 Green onions, chopped
1 Bell Red Pepper for bow, optional 
Preheat oven to 375-degrees.

Remove crescent dough from packages without unrolling. Slice each tube into eight slices. Arrange slices in a circle on an ungreased pizza pan, about 11-inches round.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes on pan. CAREFULLY transfer to a serving platter; cool completely.

In a food processor, blend cream cheese, sour cream, dill and garlic powder until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings – more dill or garlic according to personal tastes and desires. Spread cheese mixture over wreath; top with chopped vegetables.

Holiday Pot-Luck – Cold Plate Selections
Antipasto Kabobs
Christmas Package Cheese Spread
Smoked Salmon Ball with Pecan Crust

Antipasto Kabobs
1 Package Cheese Tortellini, about 24
1/2 bottle Zesty Italian Dressing
2 Tubs Marinated Mozzarella balls, about 24
1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, about 24
8 oz Pepperoni (rolled or folded for threading)
24 Fresh Basil leaves as needed
8 oz Salami (rolled or folded for threading)
1 Jar Marinated Olives, about 24
1 Jar Marinated Mushroom Caps, about 24
24 Cocktail Skewers for making kabobs

Note: Amounts needed will vary depending upon size and desired presentation.

Cook tortellini as directed on box. When finished cooking, and drain well. Toss tortellini with enough Italian dressing to coat well without saturating. Place tortellini into a Ziploc bag, seal and lay flat in refrigerator overnight.

Thread kabobs as follows:

  • Tortellini
  • Mozzarella Ball
  • Cherry Tomato
  • Pepperoni
  • Basil
  • Salami
  • Olive
  • Mushroom Cap

Arrange kabobs on serving platter, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Christmas Package Cheese Spread
8 ounces of cream cheese (softened)
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Red bell pepper
Wheat Thin Crackers or other assorted small crackers

Mix the dried dill, garlic powder, and salt into the softened cream cheese.

Pack the mixture into a rectangular container lined with plastic wrap (the cream cheese box works well).

Refrigerate it for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Before serving time, set the “unwrapped” block of cheese on a platter and “wrap” with red pepper polka dots cut from the bell pepper and a pretty bow fashioned from bottom of pepper.

Arrange crackers around the “package” and serve with a pretty holiday butter spreader.

I’m not sure why, but Smoked Salmon Spread and Christmas holiday parties just seem to go hand in hand in my mind. Growing up, it was something that only appeared at holiday parties. Sometimes my mom used a fish-shaped copper jello mold to make it even extra special, other times it came in the form of a ball rolled in pecans. Smoked salmon anything was a luxury reserved for special occasions. Even if you have oodles of money, reserving certain things for “special occasions” is what separates special from ordinary in the first place.

Smoked Salmon Ball with Pecan Crust
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 can (7.5 oz) Pink Salmon, drained, flaked and cartilage removed
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Horseradish
½ Teaspoon Liquid Smoke
½ Cup Chopped Pecans
Sprigs of Parsley for garnish
Choice of crackers

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, salmon, parsley, green pepper, red bell pepper, lemon juice, horseradish and liquid smoke. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Form salmon mixture into a ball, roll in chopped pecans. Slightly flatten one end to prevent salmon ball from rolling about and place in the center of a serving tray. Tuck sprigs of parsley around salmon and ring with crackers.

Holiday Pot-Luck – Festive Desserts
Christmas Trifle
Ho Ho Ho Cheesecake Bite Santa Hats

Christmas Trifle
2 Packages French Vanilla Pudding Mix (small boxes)
4 Cups Eggnog, well chilled
1 can (8 oz) Crushed Pineapple
3 medium Bananas, sliced
1 prepared angel food cake (8 to 10 ounces), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Jar Red Maraschino Cherries
1 Jar Green Maraschino Cherries
1 Package Prepared Angel Food Cake (about 8 oz)
1 1/2 Tubs Cool Whip
1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts

Empty contents of Vanilla pudding and eggnog into a mixing bowl. Whip for about 2 minutes. Place in refrigerator to chill well until ready to use.

Place a fine-mesh strainer over a small bowl. Drain pineapple, pushing down to remove as much of the juice as possible, reserving juice.

Dip bananas in juice; and place on a paper towel to soak up excess juice.

Cut angel food cake into 1 inch pieces. Line the bottom of a 4-quart trifle dish with some cake.

Place half of the eggnog pudding over the cake. Place a layer of bananas and cherries over the pudding. Sprinkle half of the pineapples over the fruit, then spread 1/2 of the cool whip on top.

Layer again with cake, eggnog pudding, bananas, cherries and pineapple. Top with remaining cool whip.

Garnish with sliced bananas, cherries and walnuts as desired.

Chill well before serving.

Ho Ho Ho Cheesecake Bite Santa Hats
18 Oreos finely crushed to about 1 3/4 cups
2 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted and divided
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup heavy cream, divided (1/3 cup for the filling, 1/2 cup for the finished cream)
25 fresh strawberries (the smaller the better)
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line an 8-inch square baking dish with two large sheets of aluminum foil (one horizontally with an edge on either side of the pan, the other vertically with the same overhang). Give yourself plenty of overhang so that the foil can be molded well to the shape of the pan without coming up short. Brush foil with 1/2 tbsp melted butter and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, using a fork blend together crushed Oreos and 2 Tbsp melted butter until mixture is well combined and moistened. Press the cookie mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish to form the bottom crust. Set aside until ready to fill.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium-low speed, blend together cream cheese and granulated sugar until mixture is smooth.

To the sweetened cream cheese, add in eggs and vanilla extract. Mix well on medium speed, scraping down sides as necessary to incorporate cream cheese with eggs.

To melt white chocolate chips with 1/3 cup heavy cream, either place on a double boiler over barely simmering water until chips have melted completely stirring frequently or place in a microwave safe bowl, and heat at 50% power in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth.

Pour melted white chocolate mixture into cream cheese mixture and blend on low-speed until combined. Tap bowl against counter top about 30 times to release some of the air bubbles then pour mixture over prepared crust in baking dish. Tap baking pan gently to release additional air bubbles that may have managed to sneak into the pan.

Place cheesecake into the preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes. DO NOT OPEN OVEN DOOR. Turn oven off and let cheesecake rest in the warm oven for 15 minutes to finish “baking”.

Remove cheesecake from oven and let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Once cooled, cover with plastic wrap. At this point, you can elect to freeze cheesecake for 3 hours or place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours before proceeding. (I let mine chill overnight. It’s also a great time to pop your mixing bowl and whip into the freezer to chill. A very cold bowl and whip helps in the aid of making perfect whipped cream).

Meanwhile, whip remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream on high-speed in your mixer until soft peaks from. Add powered sugar and continue to whip until cream can hold a stiff peak.

To assemble, cut cheesecake into squares that are slightly larger than your strawberries. (remember, you’ll be piping the “fur” trim of Santa’s Hats at the base of the berries with whipped cream.

Trim the bottom of each strawberry to create a flat bottom. Place one strawberry, flat-side-down, on each cheesecake square.

Fill your pasty bag with the whipped cream. Use a small pipe or small star fitting and pipe around the base of the strawberry. Add a little whipped cream to “top” the hat with a little ball.

NOTE: Plan to assemble hats an hour before serving to keep the berries “fresh”.

Hope these little tidbit ideas inspire you. Happy Holidays and Potluck Joys!

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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