Eat Well: Good (Pot) Luck

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, Mom!
‘Tis the Season to attend potlucks…and be stressed over what to bring.  Especially at this time of year, it’s hard to make something for a Friday or Saturday night party when you have worked all week. Instead of bringing the generic store bought stuff, though, I like to make easy dishes I can make the night before or, if I am making a lasagna or pot of chili, I’ll make extra and freeze it to have on hand for the next party. And as for “healthy eating,” during the holidays? I hang that hat up when it’s party time. 

The term potluck originated in the 16th century. An unexpected guest was served “the luck of the pot,” or whatever happened to be cooked in the pot that night.  In America, potlucks started appearing in the mid-19th century at church functions, barn-raisings, fundraisers or other communal gatherings. When I was first married, my favorite types of dinners were potlucks. Something about coming together and sharing each other’s favorite dishes felt so warm and welcoming, and it was fun to exchange recipes. Many of my favorites came from my friends’ potluck dishes, although a lot of them are dated…Velveeta, Lipton onion soup, top ramen, Rice-a-Roni, or Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup were main ingredients in the 70’s.  Not exactly “Eat Well” material!

Here are a few of my old and new favorite dishes for easy potluck fare:


(I make hummus every week, so I’ll just make extra for a party. Homemade hummus is always a hit.)

Knorr Spinach Dip
(This was my favorite dip when I was young. Yes, you can buy a similar thing at Costco, but it isn’t as good!)

(Nothing better than fresh guac.)

(You can assemble the night before but add the dressing and the nuts just before serving)

(Make the dressing the night before and either buy already shredded cabbage or shred it yourself with the carrots, the night before. Add salad dressing just before leaving for the party.)

Quinoa salad(s)
(The Informal Gathering Salad is Bec's go-to for potlucks.)

Greek Pasta Salad (Make pasta the night before. Add feta, sliced olives, chopped tomatoes, fresh chopped basil. Add Good Seasons Italian salad dressing just before serving. Kids love this!)

Layered Green Salad (There are many variations of this. This one is from my friend, Martha.)

1 bunch spinach (1 bag)
1 head red leaf lettuce
1 head butter lettuce
1 double package herb dressing mix (Hidden Valley Ranch)
2 cups mayo
1 cup sour cream
1 cup plain yogurt
1 10oz package frozen peas
1 bunch green onions (slice thinly)
4 hard cooked eggs – chopped finely
¼ lb Bac-o bits

Wash & dry all greens, break into small pieces. Combine dressing mix, mayo, sour cream and yogurt.  In a 13 x 9 x 2 dish, layer in this order:  spinach, red lettuce, butter lettuce, peas, green onions, eggs, and baco-bits. Press down to compress and spread dressing over top, being sure edges are sealed. Refrigerate overnight.

Main Dishes 

(This is surprisingly easy if you use canned beans and canned chilies. You can make this the night before and heat up the next day.) 

(Make an extra one and keep in the freezer for parties.)

Tortilla Casserole—(This is one of the oldies. I used to make it with chicken but now substitute beans and corn for the chicken.)

ED: if you are making with chicken, put only 2 cans of chilies, substitute 3 cups shredded cooked chicken for beans and corn, and substitute 1 can cream of chicken soup for one of the mushroom cans

4 (4 oz) cans chopped mild chilies
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (or other cream of soups such as celery)
1 small onion, chopped
¼ cup chopped cilantro (optional)
1 ½ cups black beans
1 ½ cup frozen corn (thawed)
2 cups shredded cheese
12 warmed tortillas

Butter a 9X14 inch pan. Combine all ingredients except cheese and tortillas. Tear tortillas into pieces. Put half of the tortillas on the bottom of casserole. Layer with half of soup mixture. Top with 1 cup of cheese. Repeat, ending with cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. (This can be made the day before and heated on the day of the party.)


almond toffee
(Everyone loves toffee…it’s special at holiday time and I keep some on hand to give as gifts or take to a gathering.)

Cassata—This is an old timer that I have been making since the 1970’s. I think it came from Bon Appétit, but I really can’t remember. It is the easiest showy dessert I know and is made the night before.


1 9x-5 inch pound cake
2 cups ricotta cheese (I like Galbani)
4 oz semisweet chocolate
1 ounce orange liqueur
1 ½ cups raspberry jam
2 cups chocolate frosting or whipped cream
(You can either make from scratch or buy it)

Make or buy a pound cake. (I made a gluten-free pound cake, which you can find, here.) Chill for one hour. Trim edges and uneven places so that the cake is level on all sides and top. Slice the cake horizontally into ½-inch slices and place base layer of the cake on the serving platter.
Chop chocolate into fine bits in blender or food processor.
Mix chocolate bits with liqueur and jam.
Spread the base layer with a portion of the ricotta cheese and spread the cheese with the raspberry mixture.
Repeat using all of the layers of the cake, all of the cheese, and all of the raspberry mixture, ending with a top layer of plain cake.
Press the filled cake gently. Use a spatula to even up sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Before serving, frost cake with a favorite chocolate frosting or whipped cream. Garnish with slivered almonds if desired.
What are your favorite potluck dishes? I’d love to have a virtual potluck in this space. Ready, set, go!


P.S. Here's a link to last year's Eat (not so) Well: Holidays Favorite edition, which includes recipes for gluten-free gingerbread house (a yearly tradition), Reindeer cookies, GF pancakes, Yorkshire Pudding and Chocolate Mousse Pie.