Make ahead dinner and potlucks for entertaining

Published 9:42 am Thursday, December 13, 2018

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Bless Your Spoon

When you’re busy over the holidays but would still enjoy having a few people over for cocktails and dinner, organize a menu that allows for cooking food several days ahead of time. If you want to make party planning even easier, arrange a potluck and have guests bring heavy, meaty hors-d’oeuvres. Add crudites and a fancy, dipping sauce, or a fruit and gourmet cheese tray, and your guests will enjoy what comes close to a hearty, full  meal, but you’ve cut your work in half.


1 can (16 oz.) of biscuits, Grands, Southern Style

1 can (14 2/3oz.) salmon

1/3 cup Thousand Island dressing

Cut biscuits into fourths and press one piece into each section of the greased mini-muffin pan, making a shell.  Open salmon, and discard juice, bones, and skin.  Put salmon into a bowl and mince.  Add 1/3 cup Thousand Island dressing and stir.  Put 1 tablespoon of salmon mixture into each shell.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Variations: add garlic, minced onion, or pickle relish to salmon.  Makes 32 in a mini muffin tray


1 bag (1 lb.) of fresh cranberries

1 can (15 oz.) of crushed pineapple

1 can (15 oz.) of mandarin oranges

1 cup of organic chopped walnuts

Cook cranberries as per packaging directions. Drain syrup or juice from both the canned pineapple and mandarin oranges. In a large bowl, mix cooked cranberries, pineapple, oranges, and walnuts. Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour and serve after chilled. If too tart, add sugar to sweeten as desired.


1 pound cooked and crumbled hot sausage

1 can (10 oz.) ROTEL Original diced tomatoes with green chilies

1 pkg. (8oz.) softened cream cheese

Tortilla chips

In a skillet, brown sausage over medium heat until cooked and crumble. Drain well. In a bowl, add the sausage, ROTEL, and cream cheese until blended. Transfer to a serving bowl or small crock pot if you want to keep the dip warm. Serve with tortilla dip chips.


1 well-trimmed whole beef tenderloin

1 Tbsp. ground thyme

1 tsp. white pepper

1 Tbsp. Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

1 tsp. garlic salt

¼ tsp. oregano

1 tsp. salt

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

1 cup water

Place beef on a large piece of aluminum foil. Rub thyme into beef. In a bowl, mix pepper, seasoned salt, garlic salt, and oregano. Sprinkle over beef. Roll beef in foil to pick up all seasoning. Wrap beef in foil, and refrigerate for 12 hours. Two hours before cooking, remove beef and place in cooking pan. Sprinkle with salt and Worcestershire sauce. Add water to the pan. Cook in a 400-degree oven for 35 minutes for delicious rare to medium beef. Serve with rolls.


2-8oz. pkg. cream cheese

4 Tbsp. mayonnaise

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

2-6oz. cans crabmeat

1 ½ Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. hot sauce

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Shredded cheddar cheese

In a mixer, mix all ingredients together on slow speed. Pour into a greased casserole dish. Cover top of dip with shredded cheese. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.


3/4 cup softened, salted butter

6 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp. poppy seed

1 small, chopped onion

1 pound thinly sliced baked ham

1 pound thinly sliced Swiss cheese

1 pkg. of 24 mini sandwich rolls

Melted butter

In a bowl, mix butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, poppy seeds, and minced onions. Separate the bottoms from the tops of the rolls.  Spread the mixture over each roll bottom. Place each roll bottom, mixture side up, in a greased baking dish.  Then, layer ½ of ham onto each roll. Add a layer of cheese. Add a layer of remaining ham. Add tops to rolls, and brush tops with melted butter. Cover the dish with foil. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or until cheese melts. Separate and serve.


3 cups cooked, chopped chicken breast

¾ cup orange marmalade

3 minced shallots

3 tsp. curry powder

8 oz. softened cream cheese

4 Tbsp. softened, salted butter

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

¾ cup toasted sesame seeds

In a processor, add chicken and pulsate slightly to mince. In a mixer, add chicken and all other ingredients except sesame seeds, and slowly mix. In a 400-degree oven, toast sesame seeds for 5 minutes or until toasted and brown. Divide toasted seeds on two pieces of aluminum foil. Divide chicken mixture into two balls.  Shape each ball into a 2 x 10 roll. Roll each chicken roll on foil until thoroughly covered in sesame seeds. Refrigerate well. Serve with crackers.


1 ¼ pound fresh, medium shrimp

1 garlic clove

3 green onions

½ cup red bell pepper

1 ½ tsp. lemon juice

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. Creole or Cajun seasoning

¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

1 pkg. (8oz.) cream cheese

1 Tbsp. salted butter

1 ½ cups Mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Cut shrimp into bite-sized pieces.  Add butter to a large nonstick pan and place over medium-high heat. Add red bell pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add green onion, shrimp and garlic. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes. Shrimp will cook more in the oven, so you want it just barely cooked through or even slightly undercooked. Transfer mixture to a bowl to cool slightly. In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix until smooth.  Add remaining Creole seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, shrimp mixture, and both kinds of cheese. Pour into a greased 8×8 baking dish and bake in a 375-degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Garnish with 3 whole shrimp and serve.


1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter

4 oz. melted, unsweetened chocolate

4 beaten eggs

2 cups sugar

1 Tbsp. whole milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

¼ tsp salt

1 ½ cups chopped pecans


2 Tbsp. melted butter

2 Tbsp cocoa

1 cup confectioners sugar

1 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan, melt butter and chocolate. In a mixer, beat eggs. Then add sugar, milk, vanilla, and butter/chocolate mixture. Mix well. Add flour and salt, and mix well. Fold in pecans. Bake in a well greased and floured 10×15-inch pan in a 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until done. For icing, in a mixer, beat together all ingredients. Ice cake while still hot.

Hints: These recipes were served at the Renegade Writers Guild holiday pot-luck dinner and submitted by the guild. All recipes can be prepared ahead and refrigerated. Bring food to room temperature before heating or serving.