Pot luck

We had a pot luck pumpkin decorating lunch today.  I figured there would be hot dogs and kid friendly food.  I wanted to make something adult friendly and I always figure you might as well take something you like to a pot luck party!  There was other good food there too but the cajun chicken pasta salad is always a hit!  It is great to take on picnics too.

Blackened Cajun Chicken Pasta Salad
  • 2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts split
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 oz. cajun or blackening seasoning mix
  • 1 lb orecchiette pasta
  • 3 – 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
Melt butter.  Dredge chicken breasts in melted butter and then in seasoning mix.  Sear 3 minutes per side in a heavy oven proof skillet and then cook in a 350 degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes until done.  Chill.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking.  Chop chicken into bite size chunks and toss all ingredients together (toss all of the good spicy mixture left in the pan in too.  If you want spicier you can add extra seasoning.)

Potluck

Last night was my book club planning meeting which was a potluck dinner and tomorrow at work we are having a potluck football tailgate party at lunch.  I always want to bring something interesting to a potluck (after all now that I’ve been blogging for a year about food, I feel that I have a reputation to uphold!) but it’s been a hectic week.  Tonight was my daughter’s 5th birthday and both of these events are falling during the work week.  I was looking for simple and do ahead.  Any time I’m bringing something to a potluck, I’m looking for something that is low maintenance when I get there.  I hate to walk into someone’s home (or my office) with something that needs to be cooked at a specific temperature or needs special serving utensils.  For my book club meeting I made 2 types of bruschetta and they seemed to go over well.  For work I made a Mediterranean layered dip to serve with pita wedges.  Here are the recipes:

Bruschetta Toasts

  • 1 loaf of French bread
Slice bread into 1/4 inch slices on diagonal to make longer slices.  Broil about 1 minute per side about 4 inches from broiler.  Let cool and keep crisp in a plastic bag.  (Make sure toasts are cool before bagging or the steam from their heat will make them soggy.)
Tomato topping
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 3 oz ricotta salata or feta cheese, diced
  • 2 TB chives, minced
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Heat oil over low to medium heat in a small saucepan.  Cook shallots, stirring until soft.  Add tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes.  Toss tomato mixture with cheese, chives and balsamic vinegar.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  To serve, top toasts with 1 – 2 tsps of mixture (depending upon size of toasts.)
Spinach topping
  • 2 bags baby spinach
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
Saute garlic in medium saucepan over medium heat for about 1 minute.  Add spinach in two batches and stir until wilted (about 5 minutes.)  Drain liquid and transfer to a bowl.  Stir in mozzarella cheese.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Spoon onto toasts.
Mediterranean layer dip
  • 1 container hummus (you can use plain or flavored – I doubled recipe so used one plain and one flavored)
  • 1 finely chopped tomato
  • 1 chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 red onion chopped
  • 4 oz feta cheese
  • 2 TB chopped black olives
  • pita bread
In a shallow serving dish layer hummus, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, feta and black olives.  Refrigerate until ready to serve with pita wedges.