Potluck special: it’s the most delicious time of the year

December 6, 2013

Report by Jessica Starkey

Potlucks are popular year-round, but especially so during the holiday season. Nearly every office asks its staff to bring a certain dish, so all your colleagues can judge your culinary skills.

While we know it can be appealing to simply pick up the veggie platter or cheese tray from a local supermarket, FAJO has created some delicious alternatives for our readers!

The Dips

What could be more festive than a pair of red and green dips? Amaze your guests, colleagues and friends with these simple, fast and delicious dips.

Simple guacamole

1 or 2 avocados, ripened

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 lime, juiced

¼ tsp salt

Cut avocados in half, remove pit and scoop out flesh into a mixing bowl. Add lime juice, garlic and salt, then mash together with a fork or pastry cutter. Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference.

Tip: to see if your avocado is ripe, press the skin gently with your thumb; if it makes a slight imprint and springs back, it’s ready.

Roasted red pepper and feta dip

1 red bell pepper, roasted, OR a small jar of roasted red peppers

200g feta cheese

1 lemon, juiced

If you’re roasting your own pepper: roast over gas flame or in your broiler until the skin is blackened. Place the pepper into a plastic bag and let it cool. This will allow the moisture to soften the skin and make peeling it easier. Once cooled, remove the skin and cut into chunks and discard seeds. If using a jar of peppers, drain and pat dry to remove excess oils or water.

Place the red peppers, feta and lemon juice into the blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the amount of lemon juice and feta to your preference.

These dips will be easy to make and won't take much of your time.

These dips will be easy to make and won’t take much of your time.

The Main Course

Everyone loves mac and cheese, particularly during the holidays. While a little more time-consuming than your typical version, this recipe is extremely easy to make, and the caramelized onions and ooey gooey Gruyère and Emmental make it worth the effort.

Caramelized onion mac & cheese

450g elbow macaroni

1 medium onion, diced

1 tbsp olive oil

¼ cup white wine

¼ cup butter

¼ cup + 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

1 ¼ cup Gruyère cheese, grated

1 ¼ cup Emmental cheese, grated

½ tsp paprika

¼ tsp black pepper

Bread Crumb Topping

¼ cup Gruyère cheese, grated

¼ cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook elbow macaroni until al dente, drain and set aside.

Combine grated cheese in a large bowl with 1 tbsp of flour, paprika and pepper, toss well to combine and set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion. Cook for 3 minutes until softened, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until a golden colour. Add ¼ cup flour and butter and stir until all moisture has been absorbed and flour is slightly toasted. Pour in white wine and allow most of the liquid to boil down, then add milk and cheese. Remove from heat and stir until cheese is melted — add a bit more milk if it seems too thick. Add macaroni and make sure all the pasta is covered with the cheese sauce (note: you may need to transfer to a casserole dish if it’s too large).

Top with the bread crumbs and grated cheese, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until golden brown and slightly crispy on top.

If cooking ahead of time, bake for 20 minutes without removing foil. When ready to serve, bake for 10 minutes with foil on, and then remove foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Everyone loves mac and cheese, particularly during the holidays.

Everyone loves mac and cheese, particularly during the holidays.

The Dessert

These cookies will make you the envy of the party — practically everyone will want a copy of the recipe.  They are so good, your boss may even decide to give you a promotion just for baking them. Trust us! Or they will at least appreciate your serious effort to bring good treats.

Sugar cookie sandwiches

½ cup white sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 cup semi-salted butter, softened

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 ½ cup all-purpose flour

Cream Cheese Icing

1 package (8oz) light cream cheese, softened

¼ cup butter, softened

⅓ cup icing sugar

¼ tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Drizzle

¼ cup butter

½ cup dark chocolate

Combine ingredients for icing together in a medium mixing bowl. Mix well using hand mixer and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F.

In large bowl, beat together sugar, butter, egg and vanilla, until smooth. Gradually add flour while stirring. Beat until smooth, then shape dough into 36 one-and-a-half-inch balls.

Place balls onto cookie sheets, two inches apart. Flatten and form balls into two-inch circles.

Bake cookies for 15 minutes or until cookies are slightly shiny and golden. It is really important you do not over-cook them. As soon as they seem remotely done, take them out of the oven. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing them from sheet. Repeat process until all dough is used up.

Spread half of the cookies with cream cheese icing and top the remaining ones, pressing lightly.

To make chocolate drizzle, combine chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 30-second increments until melted. Place cookie sandwiches onto a wax paper and drizzle chocolate over the top. Let sandwiches cool completely and refrigerate in a single layer for at least an hour before storing in a container.

This recipe is for 18 cookie “sandwiches.”

Nobody can say "no" to cookies with chocolate.

Nobody can say “no” to cookies with chocolate.


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