I don’t know about you, but my life for the next three weeks is packed with parties, dinners, potlucks, get togethers, and a zillion other social events with food involved. Even one of my children’s classes is having a potluck party! This is when we all become divided as adults - one group will have actually prepared food at their house, one group will buy something en route to the event… and the other group will have forgotten altogether (no worries, there’s always enough food, am I right?). I prefer to make something, whenever possible, and fortunately, I have a few recipes that I am always ready to whip up at short notice. All it takes is a few ingredients that you probably already have and maybe one or two new things that you should just stock up on for the next month.
BEER AND CHEDDAR BREAD
I know, half of you just tuned out. Bread?? TRUST ME. This is the simplest thing ever. Most of these ingredients you probably already have, just make sure that you have a case of beer – yes, a case, you’ll want to make this over and over once you’ve tasted it! This is my go-to recipe for potlucks and pretty much any night of the week that I serve stew, chili or soup for dinner. It’s so simple, my 6 and 8 year olds now make it themselves up until the beer and the oven parts. It’ll be a hit at every potluck you bring it to, lunch or dinner.
MIX DRY INGREDIENTS:
3 CUPS of flour (I use all-purpose, but go ahead and try something different, let me know if if tastes good)
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP baking poweder
1-2 TBSP of seasoning (this is optional, still tastes great without it. Try dill or rosemary or Italian seasoning or whatever tickles your fancy and complements the meal)
1 TSP salt
1 CUP shredded cheddar cheese
SLOWLY STIR IN:
1 bottle of beer – I’ve tried a whole bunch of different brands, they’ve all been great
Form into a dough and then drop into a greased, standard loaf pan.
Bake at 375F for 45min.
Let it cool before slicing.
RED PEPPER AND CHEDDAR BITES
You’ve already got the cheese and flour on hand, so add in some butter and that strange jar of red pepper jelly that someone gave you and you’re good to go. If you haven’t been gifted any, it’s usually tucked somewhere at Loblaws, so ask for it. Top shelf, beside mint jelly, but not with the jams. This is perfect for potlucks, perfect to freeze and reheat whenever people drop in, perfect with drinks as a hot app, just perfect to shove in your mouth pretty much anytime, so make lots.
MIX with hand mixer or standing mixer
2 CUPS shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 CUP butter
1 CUP all purpose flour
PINCH cayenne pepper (optional)
FORM into balls and put in mini-muffin tins (if you don’t have a mini muffin tin, make as cookies on a cookie tray)
INDENT each ball with your knuckle
DROP a dab of red pepper jelly into each indent
BAKE 400F for 10-15min
COOL before inhaling, seriously, you’ll burn your mouth.
There is a reason that these are a classic: they are simple and they are delicious. You’re going to have butter and flour on hand already, just stock up on icing sugar and some sprinkles. TRY not to eat them all yourself. They make a great potluck addition, are awesome for drop in visits, hostess gifts, and any other occasion. If you make too many, have your kid make a card, slip them in a box or baggie and send them to your neighbours. They’ll think you’re a saint!
WHIP with handheld mixer or standing mixer
1 CUP butter (DO NOT substitute margarine in a tub, it won’t work)
1/2 CUP icing sugar
1 1/2 CUPS all purpose flour
WHIP for 6 minutes. Don’t skip this!! If you have a standing mixer, you’re golden, step back and let it work. If it’s a handheld, think of it as a workout – you’re burning off all the cookies you’re going to eat!
Scoop the dough out onto ungreased cookie sheets. Decorate with sprinkles.
BAKE for 30-35min at 275F OR 15-17min at 375F – this is one of those cooking battles that I can’t even explain, but the cookie world is divided on the better cooking method. I’ve tried and liked both ways, but found the cookies dissolve in your mouth when baked longer at the cooler setting.
COOL for 5 minutes before transferring/eating.