Gift Guide 2017

New Twists Can Brighten Potluck-Style Gatherings

(StatePoint) – Indulging in delicious food is one of the best parts of the holiday season, and you’ll likely be in need of something tasty to take along to all those potluck gatherings.

To be ready for any invitation, keep ingredients for your favorite recipes on-hand and use multipurpose kitchen tools, like a high-performance blender, to expedite prep time, quickly chop veggies or cheese, and blend everything from dips and batters to dressings and sauces. Not sure what to make for your next potluck? Here are some simple, crowd-pleasing recipe ideas.

Appetizers
Small-bite hors d’oeuvres are perfect potluck fare. Dips or spreads served with veggies and chips are quick to make and travel easily. Try a cashew French onion dip for a non-dairy version of the traditional favorite. Soak the cashews ahead of time to achieve a super-smooth texture.

If you’re able to keep food warm, a hearty spinach artichoke dip with pita bread will satisfy guests’ cravings for comfort foods. Or take a new twist with a cauliflower hummus. It’s extra creamy and has an added boost of veggies from the addition of roasted cauliflower.

Side Dishes
Casseroles will feed a crowd and most can be served at room temperature. Made with russet potatoes and onions, a cheesy potato casserole with cornflake topping won’t last long at any gathering. It’s a satisfying substitute for traditional hash browns at brunch, and is great for all ages.

Alternately, a vegetarian butternut squash casserole is a light, sweet complement to heavier fare. If you’re short on ingredients or inspiration, a frittata filled with cheese, veggies and protein (whatever you have on hand) will work. Bake or slow cook the frittata the night before and add a quick sprinkle of herbs or chives before packing it to go.

Desserts
If you have a sweet tooth, it makes sense to volunteer to bring a favorite dessert. Save time by using a high-performance blender like the Vitamix A2300 Ascent Series blender to mix batter in advance for a batch of almond cookies or snickerdoodles. If baking for a cookie exchange or large gathering, start early and freeze cookies until party day.

Cakes, pumpkin and apple pies are also easy to make ahead and then freeze. Simply wrap a freshly baked, cooled cake or pie in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Before an event, defrost in the bag at room temperature.

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