Receive this newsletter from a friend? Subscribe for updates! January 18, 2014 - The Potluck Edition I couldn't decide on a theme for this week's Ne

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January 18, 2014 - The Potluck Edition

I couldn't decide on a theme for this week's NewsBites, so I asked my Facebook followers what they wanted to see, and oh boy did they deliver! As of this minute, 339 people have written in with their requests--so many topics that I'll have no trouble coming up with themes for future issues. A few people requested "What to bring to a potluck," and since I just attended a vegan potluck last night, I decided to share my Potluck Guidelines. But don't worry. Even if you don't do potlucks, the ideas and recipes below are also perfect for parties and family dinners.

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New This Week

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Clementine Dressing with Wasabi and Ginger

This time of year, I love those little clementine oranges and always try to keep a bowl of them on the counter, but they disappear fast. They make a juicy addition to salads, so it was only a matter of time before they made their way into a salad dressing. This one is very low-fat (no cashews!) and spiced up with ginger and wasabi, though if you're not a wasabi fan, feel free to leave it out. The recipe is here.

cards

On Slow-Motion Miracle:

When is pain good? Maria shares her reflections on pain in Pulling Away While Reaching Out: Another Slow Miracle. And if you're looking for unique cards to send to your loved ones this Valentine's Day (or anytime), check out her beautiful hand-painted art cards available right now in her Slow Miracle Art Store.

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Potluck Dishes that Please Everyone

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Vegan Potluck Plate with a Kale and Bean Salad, My Favorite Lasagna, and a Chickpea Curry

Okay, there is no such thing as pleasing everyone, but that's never stopped me from trying. So whenever I have to make a dish for a potluck, I agonize over what to bring. I want to bring something that the elusive "everyone" will like: something that will impress the meat eaters with how tasty vegan food is, and something that will intrigue the vegans who have seen it all before. Can't. Be. Done.

I've come to realize that there is no pleasing everyone, so you have to please yourself and your family. But there are some dishes that work better for potlucks than others. Here are some guidelines:

Make it a Meal. And Get There First. These are probably the most important things to remember if you're likely to be the lone vegan. Bring a main dish, preferably one containing all the food groups, because there may not be much else for you to eat. You may be tempted to dazzle people with your baking skills, but do you really want to take the chance of having only banana bread to eat? And be the first in line, even if it makes you look like you're starving, because vegan dishes are often the first to go. It's one of the universal laws of potlucks.

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Enchilada Casserole

Casseroles are Classics. They're easy to transport and easy to serve. If you're not cooking for a crowd of vegans, look for dishes that meat-eaters will recognize, such as Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna (my default potluck dish because my daughter demands it), pictured above, or Enchilada Casserole. For more daring eaters, consider bringing a dish that uses a vegan cheesy sauce, such as Hash Brown Casserole or Broccoli-Rice Casserole. See my casserole section for more ideas.

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Kale & Quinoa Salad

Bean, Grain, and Pasta Salads. Hearty salads are perhaps the best dishes to bring to potlucks because they're good at room temperature as well as cold. I like to introduce people to quinoa with International Quinoa Salad or Kale & Quinoa Salad with Black Beans. If there will be children present, consider pasta salads. Asparagus Pesto Pasta Salad and Pasta & Vegetables with Peanut Sauce are two of my favorites.

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Gold Rush Chili

Skip the Soups, Go For the Stews. Unless you know for sure that there will be bowls to serve it in, don't bring any soup not thick enough to eat off a plate. There's nothing more frustrating than working hard on a dish and having no way to serve (or eat) it. Hearty stews and chilies that won't spread all over the plate, like Gold Rush Chili, should be fine. If you're in doubt, bring some rice or quinoa to serve it over. Or bring your own bowls.

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Eggplant & Chickpea Curry

Fancy Beans and Grains. Many of the best dishes I've had at potlucks are basically beans served over a grain. Bring some rice or quinoa along with an Indian dish such as Fat-Free Dal Tadka or Eggplant & Chickpea Curry, and nearly everyone will be impressed. Or spice it up with one of my Louisiana-style dishes such as Red Beans & Rice or Creole Black-eyed Peas.

Whatever you bring, the most important thing is to relax and have a good time. Enjoy the food you can, and enjoy the company even more. That's what it's really all about.

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Due to popular demand, next week's theme will be Superbowl Foods. Feel free to drop by my Facebook page and let me know your favorite vegan Superbowl snacks.

Until then, keep cooking!

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