I always looked forward to big game days and potluck parties because it meant a whole spread of treats I wouldn’t normally indulge in at home alone on a Saturday night. One time I brought chili cheese dip to a Superbowl party and ended up eating the entire bowl of it before sharing with anyone else. I threw myself a little impromptu birthday party last year and asked that everyone bring something they could share. I panicked at the last minute thinking everyone would bring chips and brownies so I went out and bought a vegetable and fruit tray. Turns out my fears were unwarranted as every single one of my friends marched through the front door with the most marvelous array of delectable (yet super easy to make) foods. Every craving was covered as the foods ranged from baked brie with apples to a more exotic meat and cheese tray. I really started to enjoy this idea of grown up potluck parties, the were so much more than a bottle of ranch thrown out with a bag of carrots and a few random bag of chips.
While my husband still demands wings and ribs at our annual March Madness party, here’s how I’m going to be classing it up for the more sophisticated palates in attendance:
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Behold! The sophisticated potluck! 1 of 5Baked brie, southern meatballs, fancy seven layer dip and adorable cookies!
Baked Brie 2 of 5Baked brie is one of those recipes that seems super fancy, sounds super fancy and tastes super fancy but is in fact super easy. When searching for recipes I found at least two dozen variations on the basic 'cheese wrapped in dough' idea. While the cheese always stays the same, you can change it up with frozen pastry dough or refrigerated crescent roll dough. The toppings and add ins are virtually endless, any kind of sweet jelly (apple and marmalade seem to be the most popular), dried fruits, nuts, sugars or syrups can be added in, on or around your baked brie to change the look, flavor and texture. Serve it with sliced fruit, fresh bread, little crostinis or as is.
Southern Meatballs (or Grape Jelly Meatballs) 3 of 5My cousin who frequents some highfalutin parties in LA and San Francisco swears by these meatballs. I'd like to meet the person who thought "Balls of meat, chili sauce and grape jelly, CAPITAL IDEA!" But you know what? It works, and you don't mess with something that works. In reading over other recipes I've seen people add red chili pepper flakes for extra spice or dry mustard for extra zing. The idea is simple, a jar of chili sauce and a cup of grape jelly warmed until combined in a crock pot then you add a bag of meatballs. Cook on low for 3-5 hours until warmed through. You can serve them over rice, pasta or vegetables but it seems most people prefer them straight off a toothpick.
Give-or-Take Seven Layer Dip 4 of 5I love seven layer dip, always have, always will. I've never been picky about how many layers there actually were as long as it tasted good. Nothing says you have to stick with tradition, throw together the flavors you love the most to come up with your own festive dip of many layers. For mine I'll be using creamy white queso, roasted salsa verde, guacamole, black beans, olives and a little sour cream (I only wish I would have remembered to pick up some queso fresco.) If I liked tomatoes I probably would have added those in as well. (That's the best part of cooking for yourself, you can add in or leave out whatever you do or don't like.) A mix of blue and yellow corn tortilla chips keeps things colorful.
DIY Cookies! 5 of 5Target had these great kits for decorating your own sugar cookies, I know my kids could care less about what sport is on the TV as they hover around the food. I certainly don't want to sequester them to another room nor do I want them in the thick of intense basketball fandom, so I'll keep them happily entertained as they work for their dessert.
Add in a vegetable and/or fruit tray and I say you’ve got yourself a party. Don’t forget the frosty beverages out back in the cooler full of ice. Look at you with your grown up March Madness party! Baked brie and seemingly exotic meatballs everyone is going to want the recipe for? Good job you. See you back here for the finals.
Find more of Casey’s writing on her blog moosh in indy. She’s also available on twitter, facebook, flickr and Instagram. If you can’t find her any of those places? Check the couch, she’s probably taking a nap.