Pot Luck Has Nothing To Do With It

chicken-chile-mac-n-cheese-555Whether 'tis the season of holiday shopping or simply another school social event, the casual pot luck has a way of stressing almost everyone out. But it doesn't have to be that way. Even if you're over your head with to-do items, when you're armed with a serious pot luck strategy (and a can of California Ripe Olives in the pantry) the task becomes much more tolerable.

Become the pasta person...or the salad, quiche, sandwich, whatever person. It really doesn't matter what you choose. The idea is just find your go-to item and own it. Keep your recipe, shopping list and utensils on hand and it'll become easier to prepare every time. Try this simple Chicken Chile Mac 'n Cheese to get you started.

Go ahead. There's nothing wrong with a little advance planning. Use recipes that can be prepared ahead of time. Casseroles and braised dishes can be prepared days ahead, frozen and reheated. Other dishes like pastas and vegetable mixes can be refrigerated overnight until needed. Some recipes like this one for Overnight Vegetables actually get better over time.

Can it. No, don't bail on the whole party, just grab your opener and bring some California Ripe Olives along. Pour them straight into a serving bowl or toss them with a simple herb vinaigrette. It's so easy you may want to give these Tomato Citrus Marinated Olives next time.

Buy stock in beverages. Call it boring, but if you have no time to cook or bake, beverages are a great way to go. Shop for volume at club stores and keep a stock in your basement or garage. As pot lucks happen, you'll be go to go.