Holiday party givers can use all the help they can get. That's where you come in, dear invited guest. Bringing a dish to pass is not only a way to defray costs and join in the giving, it's an opportunity to show your culinary prowess or to share a treasured family classic.
Before you get to cooking, ask your host or hostess if they have a food category in mind: entrée, side dish, salad, dessert?
Most likely you already know which of your recipes are most pleasing to the most amount of people. It's a good idea to keep in mind quantity as well as quality. This is the time for a good and tasty dish that feeds a crowd. Important rule of thumb: Use the nice stuff and dress up your platters or serving bowls with garnish. Even a bunch of fresh, washed parsley can flatter a serving dish.
You may want to think versatility as well. Spoon corn bread is a versatile dish that fits a number of categories.Posole is a rich, thick Mexican stew that is made in one pot, can feed a crowd and is easy to transport.
The American Heart Association's "One Dish Meals" cook book offers a Chipotle Pork Posole you'd be proud to add to any potluck table.
Spoon Corn Bread
1 8.5 ounce package corn muffin mix
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sour cream (you can use reduced fat)
1 stick butter, melted
1 small can corn niblets, drained
1 small can cream corn
1 cup shredded Swiss Cheese
Mix all ingredients up to but not including the cheese in an 11-by-7-inch or an 8- by-8-by-2-inch baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes (until lightly browned on top). Remove from oven, top with shredded Swiss Cheese, continue to bake until cheese melts and knife inserted in center is fairly clean.
249 calories per serving; 9 fat grams
Chipotle Pork Posole
Serves 4 (double recipe for a pot luck)
Mexican in origin, posole is a thick, rich-tasting stew made with hominy.
Vegetable oil spray
1 pound pork tenderloin, visible fat discarded, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
15.5-ounce can yellow hominy, rinsed and drained
14.5 ounce can no-salt-added stewed tomatoes, undrained
14.5 ounce can fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
2-3 canned chipotle peppers packed in adobo sauce, finely chopped and mashed
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup light sour cream
¼ cup snipped fresh cilantro
1 medium lime, quartered
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray (being careful not to spray near a gas flame.) Cook the pork for 3 to 4 minutes, or until outside is no longer pink, stirring constantly. Transfer pork and accumulated juices to a medium bowl.
Respray the Dutch oven with cooking spray. Cook the onions and bell pepper for 4 minutes, or until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the hominy, undrained tomatoes, broth, chipotle peppers and reserved pork and juices. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and stir in the oil and salt.
To serve, ladle into bowls. Top each with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro. Serve with a lime wedge to squeeze over stew.
328 calories per serving; 7.5 fat grams