Thanksgiving Day marks the beginning of the holiday season, and that means invitations to open houses, brunches, lunches and dinner parties.
Along with the RSVP, most guests will ask, "What can I bring?"
We asked readers to share their best potluck recipes so others might have something new to tote to the next potluck party.
Christopher Kimball, the founder and editor of Cook's Country and Cook's Illustrated, said a potluck supper "is much like attending an auction preview; one finds treasures one didn't expect, gems among the more pedestrian offerings.
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"I suppose that is why someone once married the term pot with luck. It was to express the adventurous nature of this sort of food, a grab bag, a wheel of fortune, a bunch of stocking stuffers with varying degrees of appeal."
You can make sure there are no surprises at your next potluck party by preparing these tried-and-true recipes from our readers. recipes
If you're invited to a brunch and would like to take a dish, here are two choices: Martha Lunceford of Richmond's hash brown potato casserole and a brunch egg casserole from Virginia Long of Lexington.
Hash brown potato casserole
2 pounds frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
16 ounces sour cream
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 can (10¾ ounces) cream of mushroom soup
1 can (10¾ ounces) cream of celery soup
2 cups crushed butter crackers
1 stick butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl, combine potatoes, sour cream, cheese, onion and soups. Pour into greased 9- by 13-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle crushed crackers evenly over top and dot with small pieces of butter. Bake 1 hour.
Easy cheesy brunch egg casserole
16 ounces colby/Jack cheese
1 can (41/2 ounces) mild green chilies, drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, beat eggs until blended. Add cheese and chilies. Mixture will be thick. Pour into buttered 9- by 13-inch glass casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
To assure that their take-along dishes stay hot and fresh, many cooks transport their potluck favorite in a slow-cooker.
This recipe is about 35 years old, said Jean-Ann Kerr of Cynthiana.
4 to 5 boneless chicken breasts, halved (soak in brine for an hour or so and drain)
2 cans (10¾ ounces each) cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sliced, freshly cooked mushrooms
5 to 6 ounces Holland House cooking wine
2 tablespoons flour
8 ounces sour cream
Salt and pepper
Place chicken, mushroom soup, mushrooms and wine in slow cooker. Cook 11/2 hours on high, or 6 to 8 hours on low.
When chicken breasts are tender, combine flour with sour cream. Add to chicken and cook a while longer to thicken the sauce. Sprinkle with paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over wild rice.
Helen Wheat and Louise Wieman, both of Lexington, like to take bean casseroles to their friends' houses.
Helen's bean casserole
1 can (16 ounces) pork and beans
1 can (16 ounces) red kidney beans
1 can (16 ounces) pinto beans
1 can (16 ounces) Great Northern beans
1½ cups chopped green pepper
1 box (10 ounces) frozen baby lima beans, cooked
1½ cups chopped onion
1½ cups chopped celery
1½ cups brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
½ teaspoon garlic salt
Salt to taste
Bacon strips, fried and drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain canned beans. Cook lima beans according to package directions and drain. Mix all ingredients, except bacon, and place in large baking dish. Cover mixture with bacon. Bake for 45 minutes.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Louise's bean dish
1 can (28 ounces) pork and beans
1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans
1 can (16 ounces) large butter beans
1 can (16 ounces) small green lima beans
½ pound bacon
2 to 4 onions, diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ cup vinegar
¾ to 1 cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain all beans, except pork and beans. Combine beans and pour into large casserole dish.
In a skillet, fry bacon with onions. Add garlic powder, mustard, vinegar and brown sugar. Simmer 20 minutes. Pour over beans and bake for 60 to 70 minutes.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Nancy Tucker of Lexington often provides the main dish for a potluck supper.
Greek pasta bake
1 package (12 ounces) whole wheat penne
4 cups cubed cooked chicken breast or one rotisserie chicken, chopped
1 can (29 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (141/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cans (21/4 ounces each) sliced ripe olives, drained
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped green pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In large bowl, combine pasta, chicken, tomato sauce, tomatoes, spinach, olives, onion, green pepper, basil and oregano. Transfer to 9- by 13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.
Makes 8 servings.