Potluck Specials

I am a stickler for the rules of good party hosting. And then there are those days that I love the vision, and loathe the execution. Preparing everything yourself plus getting your house in order can be such a hassle. I don't mind cleaning or cooking, but too much of both leaves me drained before the party even starts. And let's be honest as much as I try to simplify my party meals, it's still a lot. So I've started to embrace the potluck lifestyle more and more. It limits my kitchen time and maximizes my hosting time.

In full disclosure, I also appreciate potlucks from the opposite side also. Being a vegetarian going to a potluck can be a mixed bag. Will there be anything I can eat? Will there be enough for me to eat? Will there be anything I want to eat? I always make sure to bring a filling side dish for myself. Ensuring I have something to eat and keep me satisfied. I feel like a regular Potluck Patti. Here are a few of my favorites:

Tortellini (Potluck) Pesto

Pesto is a great sauce and can be served warm or cold. This pasta dish has the same versatility in that it can served cold or hot. There are so many variations to choose from. You can switch up pasta types, and add more or less mix-ins. You also have the option to make it ahead of time or right before you get ready. I mean what's not to love about this dish?! Here's my version.

  • 1 package of cheese Tortellini
  • 1 package of steam fresh green beans
  • 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of pesto (recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan
  • Other optional mix-ins: mozzarella balls, asparagus, olives, sundried tomatoes

Boil pasta for about 4 to 5 mins, microwave green beans, cut tomatoes. Mix together with pesto and serve, hot or cold!


  • 20 basil leaves
  • 1 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts, roasted
  • 1/4 cup parmesan (finely grated)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of cream (optional for richness)

Toast pine nuts over medium to low heat for about 3 to 5 minutes. Place basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan in food processor or blender, grind or pulse into a paste. Slowly pour in olive oil and cream while blender or food processor is on low until fully incorporated. Serve on everything!


**Use on hot pasta. Use about 1/4 cup pasta water to thin out pesto and make it easier to mix pasta.

Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Kale

This is a great vegan option. I love this dish the warm and brightness of this dish. It's a great served at room temperature or hot. The quinoa is the real star here, make sure to season well. Boiling quinoa in salted water seasons the quinoa while it cooks. The mix-ins can be changed with the season, if butternut squash is not available sweet potato is a nice stand in. And the best thing about this is it's almost guilt-free with it being mostly grains and veggies. And you can also adjust quinoa and kale to make it more salad than grain.

  • 1 cup of Quinoa
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cup of butternut squash, diced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon of maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 3 cups of kale
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Other optional mix-ins: pomegranate seeds, parmesan, Veggie chik'n (seasoned with dashes nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin,parika, onion and garlic powder), sweet potato, avocado, feta cheese, nuts, seeds

Boil quinoa in salted water (about ½ tablespoon salt), then simmer for 20 minutes. Sauté butternut squash in about 1 tablespoons of olive oil with brown sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Cook squash for about 10 minutes or until tender. Next add in kale to pan with butternut squash and let it wilt down for about 5 minutes, season with a bit of salt and pepper to preference. While kale wilts down, make dressing by whisking together orange juice olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix quinoa, kale, and butternut squash in a large bowl and add in dressing. 

Weeknight Mac and Cheese

I love mac and cheese, it has and always will be the ultimate comfort food. And I love making it and taking it to potlucks. It's usually the dish people request the most. However, while prep time is not hard, waiting for this mac and cheese to bake takes some time. So if you don't have that time this is the next best thing. I usually call it my weeknight mac and cheese because it's ready in 30 mins or less, but it's also a great potluck dish.

  • 1 box of pasta
  • 2 tablespoons of sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 1.5 cups of cream
  • 1/2 cup of pasta water
  • 3 cups of cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon of seasoned salt

Boil pasta with 2 tablespoons of sea salt. In a separate pot melt butter and whisk in flour. Cook butter and flour for about 4 mins to reduce flour taste; whisk continuously. Add cream and then 2 cups of cheese. Add seasoned salt. Drain pasta, saving 1/2 cup of pasta water, and mix with sauce. Sprinkle remainder of cheese of top. Place Mac and cheese in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 mins or until cheese is melted. Serve quickly in all it's cheesy goodness!