Let’s get right down to it. If you – like me – live in a town that gets excited when a new chain restaurant opens; if local joints have had the exact same menus since the first Bush was president; if you still can’t figure out why local favorite greasy spoons are so popular – then I feel your pain. I dread having to eat out sometimes. Gargantuan servings, high prices, sloppy and lazy cooking and disinterested wait staff all get me down. One chain restaurant in town serves its ginormous salads in what looks like a Great Dane’s dog food bowl.
Come on. I have a friend named Sheila who is older than me. She has hated to eat out for years and I never understood it until recently. Frankly, we can both cook better at home – and cheaper, even including a cocktail or two.
My friends are great cooks. My friends love food. My friends like a cocktail with dinner. My friends don’t have time to cook a four-course meal.
Voila! The Potluck Dinner has come back into style in our circle.
Sometimes it really is potluck – no one knows what anyone’s bringing. Sometimes there’s a theme – soup night. Mexican, Valentines. We gather, talk a lot, laugh more, serve ourselves and trade recipes. Everyone can find something they can eat and the cost is about one-fifth the cost of eating a mediocre meal at a loud restaurant.
Here’s a whale of an appetizer my friend Melissa made for the most recent gathering:
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Serves six to eight
Two large cans white meat chicken in water
1 bottle of Buffalo wing sauce
1/2 jar of Maries super chunk blue cheese dressing
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 9×9 casserole dish with cooking spray.
Drain chicken (give that chicken water to your dog – they will love you) and place in casserole. Pour on enough hot sauce to cover chicken. Spread blue cheese dressing over sauce. Top with cheddar. Bake 20 minutes. Great with pretzel crackers, celery sticks or Townhouse crackers. Don’t plan on leftovers.