- Use a crockpot to completely cook your dish while the service is going on: This works especially well if your casserole uses cooked, chopped chicken, and/or items which are already cooked. You can leave the crockpot plugged in on the church kitchen counter. (Setting it on Low is equivalent to approximately 300 degrees F. in the oven and the High setting is equivalent to about 350 degrees F.) Undercooking the ingredients slightly before placing them in the crockpot will help if your dish will be sitting in the crockpot a long time–then it won’t get dried out and overcooked.
- Keep the ingredients on hand in the freezer and/or pantry for your “Standard Potluck Dish”, if at all possible. My SPD (“Wild Chicken”) uses all ingredients I can keep on hand. (It’s very fun to have people come looking for your dish, because they recognize and can “smell it”–“Is that your chicken and rice dish I smell?! Mmmm!” And another, “Where’s Wendy’s (dish) (looking down the row)?” Believe me, I’m not that great a cook! I just have found a winning recipe and make it every time, so they’re looking ahead to eating it–and that’s a fantastic feeling!
- Don’t be afraid to be a little creative when you’re out of an ingredient (assuming you know the recipe well): I was short one box of Long Grain and Wild Rice for my Wild Chicken on Sunday, (and I was too lazy to go to the store!), so I substituted brown rice, and I actually liked it better!
- Choose a dish that is low-maintenance! For example, don’t choose an ice cream dish on a 100-degrees-in-the-shade day! You’re just asking for trouble! If you can use the church kitchen’s fridge, a nice tossed salad with baggies of toppings, (such as carrots, orange segments, craisins, chopped nuts, etc.), chopped and ready to add at the last minute along with a bottled dressing, (or your homemade, if it’s easy) works great! There are plenty of high-fat, high calorie dishes on the table, so your salad will be greatly appreciated!
- No Time to “Cook”? Please the “little ones”! (and make it easy on yourself) Just make PB&J sandwiches, cut in quarters or halves, and place them on a tray or platter. Easy, and very much appreciated by the younger set!
The above experience with the rice will come in handy for me in the future, (a lot of great new recipes happen this way!) for I accidentally put all the ingredients into one pan at once! I placed the ingredients from the box of LG&WRice, along with 2-1/4 cups of water, as called for, and also 1 cup of brown rice and 2 more cups of water in the pan altogether, and it was too late to undo it, so I cooked them together until the rice was tender! It worked great, and saved a ton of time! It usually takes me 40 minutes to cook brown rice, but I have recently found out that you can cook it just like pasta, in about 10 minutes! Why did it take me so long to find that out?!
I hope that the tips over at Berean Wife, and my musings, will help you to have more peace in your heart the next time you hear these words, “We’re going to be having a Potluck….”