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Potluck gatherings make a comeback

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all it a sign of the times or just plain good luck for those of us yearning to swap fast food fare for some tasty home cooking. Potluck gatherings are back and one of this year’s hottest trends in entertaining. Although these communal “luck of the pot” meals (where everyone brings their favorite dish) hearken back to the late 19th century, they found their footing in the mid-1950’s when it seemed like every mom in the neighborhood was filling casserole dishes for church socials and family get-togethers. Got potluck fever but not a clue what to do? Here are four tips that’ll make your next gathering both tasty and stylish, plus, a family-fave recipe that’ll put your home on the map as potluck heaven. • Organize participants Divide the meal by categories so guests will have a balance of appetizers, entrees, sides and

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desserts from which to choose. Cooks needn’t commit to a specific recipe but it’s helpful to know up-front that a wellrounded meal is in the making. • Agree on advance prep All dishes should be cooked prior to arrival so only a quick re-heating is required. Everything should also hit your doorstep ready for presentation to avoid last minute searches for serving bowls and platters. • Choose crowd-pleasing recipes To appeal to guests varying tastes, save the exotic for later and dust off mom’s (or grandma’s) cookbook. Traditional potluck dishes like casseroles, chili, soup, bread, and cakes are always popular and easy to make. • Dress up the table Remember the special tablecloth mom used for Sunday dinner? Create some memories for your own family with a pretty fabric tablecloth, cloth

napkins (pretty and eco-friendly) and some candles. A few minutes is all it takes to create a festive look that’ll make guests feel honored to have gathered around your table.

Bean Pot Beef Stew This twist on an American favorite yields a hearty, flavorful entree that takes less prep time because it slow cooks in the oven in a bean pot. Ingredients: 1 pound round steak, cut into bite-sized pieces 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped 2 tablespoons olive oil 4 cloves garlic, chopped fine 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes 6 cups beef broth (or stock) 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme 3 bay leaves 2 cups potatoes, cubed 1 cup celery, diced 1 cup carrots, diced

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A slow cooked meal, such as this Venetian Home Spice Bean Pot, is potluck perfect. It’s sized to feed a crowd and to go from kitchen to table without missing a stylish beat. Salt and pepper to taste Directions: Rub steak with olive oil and coat with salt and pepper. Let steak sit at room temperature in bean pot while preparing all other vegetables.

Chop and dice everything, then add to bean pot. Add beef broth (or stock), thyme, bay leaves, diced tomatoes and salt and pepper. Cover and bake in 375 F oven for 3 to 4 hours until meat is tender.

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Home and Design 2012  

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Home and Design 2012

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