All together ... Eat
Food writer Holly Ebel says a potluck at the Post Bulletin made for a delicious afternoon and some great shared recipes.
Not too many Fridays ago something unique occurred in the Post Bulletin newsroom — a potluck.
You might wonder while these men and women are all great reporters, can they also cook? Yes, they can.
The dishes that came were all made from scratch and delicious, from a Buffalo chicken dip to a rhubarb custard pie. Within an hour of being set up, barely a crumb was left. Basically what was there fell into three categories: appetizers, main and dessert. The setting wasn't fancy — the Post Bulletin break room — but it made for a cozy, comfortable venue nonetheless.
Not surprisingly, they do cook as well as they write, one being Theo Tollefson who brought a curry chicken salad. He had even poached the chicken breasts. His experience cooking started at the Co-op at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and then as a cook at a deli there.
"That's where I had this chicken salad, and since then I've tweaked it and pretty much made it my own." he says.
The addition of curry took it a level above other chicken salads. It was darn good.
Dené Dryden made a three-layer pretzel-jello dessert that was not just pretty to look at but delicious. Growing up in rural northwest Kansas, this dish was, as she described it, "nostalgic."
"It was something that was always at church and family potlucks," she says. "It's a little time-consuming but worth it."
Dryden also made it in college for her roommates in the house they shared when they would occasionally make dinners.
I especially liked the bottom layer of pretzels which tasted as if they had been caramelized, sort of a salty-sweet sensation, and crunchy.
A big culinary hit was Beth Krohn's Buffalo chicken dip. Creamy, spicy, and scooped with tortilla chips; once you started, it was hard to stop.
As one Post Bulletin diner said: "I could eat a vat of this."
She first had this some years ago, was able to get the recipe from a friend and has made it many times since, even for her colleagues in the advertising department at the PB.
"I've had to hand out the recipe many times. What's great about it is that it's good both warm or cold, and is so versatile. It's great on tortillas." Interesting is that the chicken in the recipe comes from a can. Since it makes a lot, I wondered if it could be halved. Yes it can.
Other foods that received raves were Pat Ruff's rhubarb custard pie, which shows he's as good a pie baker as a sports reporter. The minute he put it down it was almost gone. Cheesy potatoes from Sam DeJongh are always a favorite, wherever they show up. Baklava, made by Brian Todd was also special and not too sweet as some are ( I had two slices), and chicken wings from yours truly. It was a great event, casual, informal, and just the thing for a Friday.
Potlucks have always been an easy way to bring people together, whether the location is a church basement, someone's home or a newsroom.
There are, however, a few things to keep in mind to make it a successful event. Bring foods that travel well and dishes out easily, so perhaps soups aren't the best choice. Dishes should be easy to serve and eat, nothing should have to be cut. Bring your own serving pieces since you likely won't know what is available, and keep similar dishes together — appetizers in one spot, then mains and then desserts.
Wherever they are held, it's a fun, easy way to bring friends, family or coworkers together. And, as a bonus, you might even go home with a new recipe or two.
Buffalo chicken dip
2 2.5 oz. cans canned chicken, drained
1 cup Frank's Original Hot Sauce
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese
1/2 cup Litehouse Homestyle Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup Litehouse Chunky Blue cheese Dressing
Combine chicken, cream cheese, hot sauce, ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing and shredded cheese in a crockpot and stir together. Place lid on and set to HIGH heat for 1-2hours, stirring ever 30 minutes. The dip is ready when the cheese is fully melted and there are no chunks of cream cheese. Serve with chips, crackers or veggies.
Strawberry pretzel dessert
3 cups pretzels,
3/4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
Cream cheese filling
2 cups whipped topping
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 3-oz. packages strawberry gelatin
2 cups boiling water
1 16-oz package frozen sliced strawberries, thawed
Crush pretzels in a Ziplock bag. In a bowl combine pretzels, butter and sugar. Press into an ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking dish and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack. While crust cools, in a small bowl beat whipped topping, cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Spread over the pretzel crust. Refrigerate until chilled. In a large bowl dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in strawberries and chill in refrigerator until partially set, about 30 minutes. Carefully spoon strawberry mixture over filling. Chill until firm, 4-6 hours, or overnight. Cut into squares and serve cold.
Curry chicken salad
One package of chicken breast (2-4 pieces or about 1 pound)
One bundle of parsley
A quarter cup of raisins
A quarter cup of diced onions
A cup of mayo
Two teaspoons of curry powder
In a pan. cook chicken breast until juices run clear. Cut up once fully cooked and set aside. Chop onion and parsley. Mix chicken, raisins, onions, and parsley in bowl. Add mayo and curry. Mix ingredients together until fully blended together. Add a little mayo or curry if flavor isn't fully popping.
Post Bulletin food writer Holly Ebel knows what’s cookin’. Send comments or story tips to firstname.lastname@example.org .