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Potluck

Assembling a Salad

When I assemble my favorite salad, I coat the serving bowl with some of the dressing, then toss the remaining dressing with the salad. This little trick keeps the salad evenly coated from the…

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Bread Bowl and Cheese Dip

I like to fix a bread bowl filled with cheese dip when I go to a potluck. To warm the filled bowl, I put it in a floured oven cooking bag, seal and place in the oven. After baking, I can transport…

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Bringing Soup or Stew

Whenever you're bringing a stew, soup or chili to a potluck, you'll find it can be easily transported in a 5-quart slow cooker. —Charlene Spelock, Apollo, Pennsylvania

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Cake for a Crowd

When baking a cake to feed a crowd, I prepare a regular cake mix but bake it in a jelly roll pan for about 30 minutes. To frost the cake, I beat together one can of prepared frosting, 2 cups…

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Canned Beans Save Time

When I have to prepare baked beans or ham and beans for a get-together, I find it's faster to use canned great northern beans instead of dried beans. I then just have to add my favorite…

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Caramel Corn

When I make a big batch of caramel corn, I cook the syrup in a large nonstick kettle. I add the popped corn to the syrup and stir with a plastic spoon until well coated. I pour the mixture into a…

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Casserole Carrier

When taking a dish to a dinner, I remove the hot/cold pad from the casserole carrier and place it under the dish to serve. It keeps the casserole hotter or the salad colder during serving time.…

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Chopsticks as Skewers

I like to use chopsticks as an alternative to sharp-pointed wooden skewers. —Shannon Abdollmohammadi, Woodinville, Washington

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Cinnamon French Toast

Here's a way to make a special French toast for a breakfast potluck or brunch buffet: Purchase a loaf of cinnamon bread and cut it into thick slices. Prepare and cook it as you would regular bread…

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Clean Cookie Sheets

To keep from dirtying so many cookie sheets when you’re baking several batches of cookies, try this: Cut five or six pieces of parchment paper to fit your cookie sheet. Lay them on the countertop…

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Coffee for a Crowd

If you get the job of making coffee at a church social or family reunion, save some time and frustration by inverting the stack of coffee filters. They're much easier to separate that way.…

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Cookies for a Crowd

When you need to make batches of pretty decorated cookies for a church bazaar or holiday get-together, try this technique: Put the icing in clean, empty red and yellow squeeze bottles like…

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Cooking Corned Beef for a Crowd

Fixing St. Patrick’s Day dinner for a crowd, I cook the corned beef in two large pots. When it’s time to start the potatoes and vegetables, I transfer the meat to one pot and still have the…

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Cool Gelatin Salad

During the hot humid days of summer, I love to serve cool gelatin salads, but they seem to sag and wilt in the heat. I discovered if I add one envelope of unflavored gelatin (but no extra liquid),…

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Corn on the Cob, Ready to Go

For a church cookout, I volunteered to bring corn on the cob, hot and ready to eat. We boiled the corn just before leaving for the party, then wrapped each ear in heavy-duty aluminum foil and…

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Cranberry Bars

“I made chewy Cranberry Bog Bars for my students when I was a teacher’s assistant,” recalls Sally Wakefield of Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. “The students really liked them. I’ve also made them…

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Crated Cooker

I use a clean milk crate to transport my slow cooker to a potluck. I line the crate with a towel, take the cover off the slow cooker and put foil over it. I set the cooker in the crate with my…

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Crispy Rice Cereal Treats

Coat a flat potato masher with cooking spray, and you can press crispy rice cereal treats into a pan with no mess. Spray the pan, too! —Barbara Jadczak, Horsham, Pennsylvania

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Cupcake Cones

Making batches of cupcakes for a birthday party? Pour the batter into ice cream cones until they’re half full, bake and frost. No messy paper liners to dispose of…and the kids can eat the cones!…

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Cutting a Cheesecake

I always like to precut cheesecake by dipping the knife into hot water and wiping it on a paper towel before making another cut. —Rick Peters, Manson, Iowa

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Decorator Icing Bags

Disposable baby bottle liners make inexpensive and easy-to-use decorator icing bags when you’re called on to provide cookies for a gathering. Just snip off the bottom corner to fit your tip set,…

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Deviled Eggs

If you don’t own an egg plate, set your deviled eggs in mini cupcake papers (foil ones are nice) to keep them in place when transporting and serving. —Sheila Wirth, Stockton, California

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Disposable Potluck Containers

Watch rummage sales and thrift stores for pretty dishes priced very inexpensively. Use these dishes to take food you made to a potluck, and let your host keep the dish. Then you do not lose a…

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Disposable Potluck Dishes

While shopping for ingredients to prepare your favorite potluck dishes, buy a disposable aluminum or plastic dish in which to transport the food. After the food is gone, there’s no dish to…

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Dressed-up Carrots

To dress up a tray of veggies and dip, I make holes in the stem ends of baby carrots and insert sprigs of fresh parsley. People always ask, “Are they really tiny carrots?” —Jean C., Lago Vista,…

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Easy Ice Cream Scoops

Dipping ice cream at a party is always so messy and time-consuming. Therefore, before a party I place single dips of ice cream in paper cupcake liners and pop them back into the freezer until…

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Easy Peel Onions

I don’t enjoy peeling large quantities of onions because the outer peel tends to fly everywhere. So I put the unpeeled onions in the sink or a large pot and pour boiling water over them to cover.…

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Easy Recipe File

I'm always clipping recipes to try later for potluck and family dinners. I used to just toss them in a cupboard, but finding the one I wanted was a hassle. So I purchased a 12-pocket accordion…

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Easy Scoop Deviled Eggs

When I'm making a big batch of deviled eggs, I first prepare the yolk mixture and chill it for several minutes in the refrigerator. Then I use my small cookie scoop to fill the egg white halves.…

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Easy Transport

When I make deviled eggs, cakes with icing or anything that will stick to the lids when I transport them, I cover the food with a sheet of plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Food…

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Family Reunion Slaw

“Carrot Cabbage Slaw has been served at our family reunions for as long as I can remember,” writes Geordyth Sullivan from Miami, Florida. “It’s light and goes well with about everything. We’ve…

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Fan-Shaped Potatoes

Our family enjoys Roasted Fan-Shaped Potatoes. When I'm fixing them, I place each potato between the handles of two wooden spoons before I start slicing. The handles keep me from accidentally…

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Fancy Margarine Stars

For a fancy presentation, I scoop tub margarine into a pastry tube with a large star tip and squeeze out star-shaped dollops to accompany rolls, potatoes, pancakes, etc. —Nadine Y.,…

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Fast Cupcakes

Making lots of cupcakes for a school function? To speed the process and cut down on the mess, I rely on my turkey baster to squeeze the batter neatly into paper cupcake liners. —Angie…

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Fix for Unpopped Popcorn

When I’m making caramel corn or popcorn balls, I pour the popped corn into one big bowl. After shaking it a bit, the unpopped kernels drop to the bottom. Then I transfer the fluffy corn to another…

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Fresher Taco Salad

When making a taco salad, add the dressing, meat, cheese and tortilla chips just before serving. This will keep the salad from wilting, and the chips will stay crunchy. —Lisa Homer, Avon,…

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Grilled Cheese for a Crowd

Here’s a hurry-up way to make grilled cheese sandwiches for a crowd: Prepare the sandwiches as you would for the griddle, but place all of them on a cookie sheet instead. Bake in a 350° oven for…

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Grilled Chicken Wings

When you’re grilling lots of chicken wings for an outdoor party, speed up the basting by putting the sauce in a spray bottle and spraying it on the wings as they cook. —Angela Roster,…

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Holiday Baking

If you make several kinds of cookies during the holidays for a cookie tray at a party or to give as gifts, here’s a tip that is sure to simplify your baking. I spend a couple weekends before the…

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Homemade Biscuits

When you’re baking big batches of homemade biscuits for a family reunion or fund-raising breakfast, here’s a quick way to cut out the biscuits. Dip an aluminum ice-cube tray divider in flour and…

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Hot Potluck Favorites

To keep my potluck favorites hot, I cover each dish with plastic wrap, then place a lid on top. I then wrap the dishes in warm towels for added insulation. —Fred Richard Day, St. George,…

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Ice Cube Trays

When you’re making lots of ice cubes for a summer get-together, spray the trays first with nonstick cooking spray and wipe off the excess before filling with water. When they’re frozen, give the…

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In Charge of Punch

Whenever I'm asked to bring a punch to a potluck, I pack all of the ingredients I need in a cooler and assemble the drink there. —Susan Freebury, Wilton, North Dakota

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Keep Items Chilled

Since food often sits on a buffet line for quite a while, I like to make sure my favorite potato salad stays chilled. I serve it in a stainless steel bowl that is set in another stainless steel…

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Ladyfingers Alternative

A pretty alternative to ladyfingers is jelly roll slices around the edge of your dessert serving bowl. —Wilma Edwards, Morris, Illinois

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Make-Ahead Stuffed Pepper Shells

Stuffed peppers are my specialty for fall potlucks. So, in the summer, when peppers are abundant, I freeze them. To prepare the peppers for freezing, wash well; remove seeds and stem. Blanch for 3…

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Making Lots of Dumplings

I’m frequently called upon to provide dumplings for the chicken-and-dumpling dinners at church. I make my dough in large quantities, separate it into single batches and freeze it until I need it.…

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Microwaved Icing

I was tired of icing running down the sides of a cake and pooling on the plate, until I tried this: Make the icing thicker, then microwave it for a few seconds before slowly drizzling over the…

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Molded Butter

It’s easy to serve molded pats of butter with rolls on a buffet—and they look so special! I purchase candy molds in assorted seasonal shapes. I soften some butter, press it into the molds…

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Nutty Alternative

Some of my friends and family cannot eat nuts. When making a big pan of brownies or a cake to share, I top it with English toffee bits instead. They have a nice crunch and are a tasty addition.…

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Organized Buffet

When hosting a potluck dinner, I use sticky notes or signs to mark where the food items such as main dishes, salads, desserts and beverages should go on the buffet table. This way, I avoid a lot…

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Overnight Potato Salad

On the day before making potato salad for a special occasion, I peel, dice and boil my potatoes. Then I drain them and refrigerate overnight. The next day, preparation goes quickly because the…

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Pastry Filling

When you’re filling a number of cream puffs or pastries, you can streamline the process by squeezing the filling from a plastic mustard or ketchup dispenser. The containers are easy to fill, and…

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Patterned Peanut Butter Cookies

If you're making peanut butter cookies for a crowd, you can save time by pressing the crisscross pattern onto the cookies using the grid end of a meat mallet instead of a fork. It goes so fast!…

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Pepper Bowls

I like to make "pepper bowls" to serve dips at parties. I cut off the tops and remove the seeds from large red, green and yellow bell peppers and fill them with different dips. The peppers look so…

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Perfect Pie Slices

Before putting my pie shell in the pan, I coat the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Then I can serve picture-perfect slices because the crust doesn't stick. —Jessie Ames, Modesto,…

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Perfect Potluck Pancakes

Speed up production at your organization's next pancake breakfast by using a meat baster to "squeeze" the pancake batter onto the hot griddle. You'll get perfectly shaped pancakes every time!…

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Picnic Gelatin

I make gelatin for picnics and pour it into individual plastic containers with mini marshmallows on top. To make it special, I sprinkle with pastel marshmallows. Kids always enjoy this treat.…

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Picnic Trick

To keep multiple dishes cold at picnics and other warm-weather gatherings, I use a large flat plastic storage container like the kind you can fit under a bed. I fill it with ice and nestle in the…

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Potluck Deviled Eggs

To make deviled eggs to take to a potluck, I cut them the short way instead of the long way. After thoroughly washing Styrofoam egg cartons, I line them with mini muffin liners, then set in my…

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Potluck Dishes

When taking food to a potluck, welcoming a new family or bringing meals to someone, I use dishes I've purchased at yard sales. I never feel bad if the dishes are lost, broken or not returned.…

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Potluck for Kids

At our church potlucks, we have found that young children often don’t like the casserole-type foods available. So someone always brings hot dogs to cook, puts them in buns and cuts them in half to…

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Potluck Labels

When attending potluck meals, I "label" the food I’m sharing. I write the name of the dish on a small piece of paper that resembles a toy boat sail, attach the label to a wooden skewer and stand…

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Potluck Plates

I have four plates with three sections each and domed covers that I like to use for potlucks. I fill one with vegetables and relishes. The second holds small fruits. The third plate carries fancy…

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Potluck Platters

When transporting foods on platters or trays, lay plastic wrap out on a flat surface. Place the tray on top of the wrap. Pull the ends over the top, toward the center to cover. The trays will be…

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Potluck Utensils

It’s always a good idea to arrive at a potluck or picnic with a few extra utensils in hand. Thankful folks will surely appreciate a spatula, spoon or ladle they may have forgotten to bring along.…

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Potluck-Size Potato Salad

To fix an extra-large batch of potato salad, I first mix all of the ingredients except the potatoes into the dressing. Then I stir a third of the potatoes with a third of the dressing and transfer…

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Pounded Nuts

Nuts bought in bulk are economical but aren't always chopped. Instead of cutting the nuts by hand, I put them in a resealable plastic bag, close it and use the flat side of a metal meat tenderizer…

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Pre-Cutting a Sheet Cake

Preparing a decorated sheet cake to serve to a large group? Before frosting and decorating, cut the cooled cake into serving-size pieces in the pan. Then frost and decorate as usual. To serve,…

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Pressure Cooked Potatoes

To save time when preparing recipes calling for large amounts of precooked potatoes, I use my pressure cooker instead of cooking them in boiling water. —Rosalie Rogers, Macomb, Michigan

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Pretty Punch Display

Instead of using a traditional punch bowl, I serve my holiday punch using a two-piece cake stand. I invert the base, set the domed lid inside, then add the punch. It makes a nice centerpiece on a…

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Quick Defrost

If you forget to defrost frozen hash brown potatoes before your next party, just put them in a colander and rinse with cold water until thawed. Then put them in a salad spinner to remove excess…

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Serving BLTs for a Bunch

When I plan to serve breakfast or BLT sandwiches to a crowd, I cook the bacon the day before and keep it in the refrigerator. When I need it, I just heat it in the oven while I’m getting other…

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Serving Dish Lids

I secure serving dish lids with rubber bands for easier traveling. I make sure to mark the dishes and the lids so I don’t mix them up with other families’ containers. —Edna H., Hebron, Indiana

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Slicing Canned Potatoes

It's easy to cut canned potatoes in perfect sizes for a breakfast casserole. I use my egg slicer! —Valerie Giebeig, Tallahassee, Florida

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Slow Cooker for Mashed Potatoes

Making mashed potatoes for a crowd? After you prepare them, place in a slow cooker on low heat to keep them warm during serving. They'll keep for about 2 hours. —Jackie D., Peyton,…

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Snack Muffins

Field editor Shirley Glaab of Hattiesburg, Mississippi likes to serve her Pecan Corn Muffins with meals, as a snack or at teatime. “They’re my favorite because they’re not as sweet as most…

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Spaghetti Dinner

Have a spaghetti dinner coming up? To give meatballs a firmer texture and help them hold their shape without altering the taste, I add 1 or 2 tablespoons of fine dry bread crumbs per pound of…

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Special Lemonade

Make lemonade or iced tea special by dipping the rims of glasses in a little fresh lemon juice, then twisting the glasses slightly in a saucer of sugar. Set trays of glasses in the refrigerator…

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Spicy Potluck Foods

Spicy Pork Chili might make your forehead sweat, cautions Larry Laatsch of Saginaw, Michigan. “I like spicy foods, but sometimes I have to tone them down for my family’s sake,” he says.

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Summer Party Tips

To keep salads, meats and desserts cold and safe at a summer party, I place all the containers in a pleasing arrangement in a small, inflatable child-size swimming pool. Then I sprinkle bags of…

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Swimming Pool Cooler

We frequently host picnics and outdoor parties at our house in the summer, and I've found it's difficult to keep the salads cold. Then I came upon the idea of filling a child's plastic swimming…

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Take-Home Meal

When I help with a carry-in meal for events like weddings, funerals, etc., I make sure to bring along a good supply of clean empty disposable containers and lids. They have proven to be such a…

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Taking Cupcakes for a Potluck

When fixing cupcakes for a potluck, I prepare them ahead and freeze them unfrosted. Before taking them to share, I make a soft powdered sugar frosting and dip the frozen cupcakes to frost them.…

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Taking Hot Dishes to Potlucks

Liquids, gravies and sauces are easily kept hot in a wide-mouth thermos. Casseroles and meat dishes can be wrapped in one of the new insulated carrying cases that keep foods warm for short periods…

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Tip Keeps Green Salads Cold

I like to take a green salad to potlucks. To keep the greens cold and crisp, I add a cup of frozen peas to the salad and cover tightly. By the time I serve it, the peas are mostly thawed but the…

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Transporting Casseroles

I have trouble keeping aluminum foil on my casserole dishes when transporting them to potluck dinners. Instead, I put the dishes inside a clear plastic oven bag. The bags trap any spills, don’t…

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Transporting Hot Dishes

When I transport hot dishes, I use a gym bag or a bag large enough to hold a 13- by 9-inch dish. I wrap the dish in newspaper, then line the bag with a large bath towel and wrap the towel around…

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Transporting Hot Food

To transport hot foods, I place about four 8- by 8-inch or larger tiles in the oven to warm while the food is cooking. Handling them carefully, I place the tiles under and around the hot dish in a…

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Transporting Pumpkin Pies

My pumpkin pie is often requested for potlucks, so I double the recipe when I make pie for my family. The extra baked pies get wrapped three times in plastic wrap and once in aluminum foil, then…

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