With the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, I’m regularly asked to provide tips for tackling the holidays with ease. For the most part, my suggestions can vary from creating homemade decor to trying the Secret Santa method of gift giving. However, one tip that appears on all my lists – and at the top of most – is to share the workload and have a potluck dinner.
A potluck, people! It’s the perfect way to celebrate togetherness, one dish at a time – especially if that dish is this Cranberry, Pear and Bacon Stuffing. Recipe below!
Now, often A-type personalities will argue, “It’s too complicated to coordinate a potluck. I’d rather make all the dishes myself; I have more control over the menu that way.” Touché. And I say, “Have fun in the kitchen!”
But if you’re willing to give up a little control for a lot more time spent connecting with friends, it’s time to embrace the potluck dinner. And, lucky for you, I’m sharing my best tips to help you retain ‘hostess with the mostess’ status!
1. Decide on a theme. While many people equate the word “potluck” with a smorgasbord of foods, successful potlucks are based on a “buffet” – complementary foods that appeal to a variety of tastes. Consult with your potluck participants and settle on a cuisine (Indian, Italian or Mexican, for example) or a theme (holiday dinner is a good choice this time of year!) that everyone can easily adhere to. Be vocal about the dish you would like to bring and seek feedback from others to ascertain it will be well received.
2. Make a list of dietary preferences and restrictions. Just because you’ve known someone for years, don’t assume you’re in the loop about their eating habits. Dietary preferences and restrictions can change frequently, and the last thing you want is for someone to go through the trouble of making a dish that will not be enjoyed by everyone.
3. Make shopping easy; find everything in one place. We’re talking about saving time here, folks! Walmart is my go-to marketplace for finding high quality fresh products and fabulous prices on dry or packaged goods – everything I need for the perfect potluck meal. In fact, at a recent #FreshPotluck that I hosted for a few of my favourite Toronto-area influencers, everything was purchased from my local Walmart Supercentre… with the most delicious results!
4. Take away the stress of the “main dish”. …With takeout! It’s never fun being assigned the “main dish” at a potluck – there’s simply too much pressure, and often, guests would rather sample a variety of foods. At our recent potluck, I grabbed two whole freshly cooked rotisserie chickens from Walmart. Then, I simply portioned them into smaller servings and arranged them on a platter. They were juicy, perfectly seasoned and an appropriate “main” to go with our holiday-themed side dishes. (And, at 2 for $15, easy on the wallet, too!)
5. Make your signature dish. Potlucks are a great time to show off your culinary prowess! If there’s a dish you make particularly well, adapt it to fit the theme of the potluck. Just remember, doubling (or tripling) the number of servings can sometimes skew even the most tried and true recipes, so if you’re in doubt, simply make the original recipe twice.
Now, I *thought* I had a signature dish – my Christmas stuffing had long been lauded as one of the best in the west. However, this time around, I was motivated to try a new recipe, and this Cranberry, Pear and Bacon Stuffing from Walmart Live Better spoke to me on so many levels. So I made it… and I must admit: it’s BETTER than my original recipe!
This season, make this stuffing your go-to recipe for holiday gatherings. While you can link to the original recipe here, below is the version I made, with a few adjustments to suit my own personal tastes.
5 strips bacon
1/4 cup butter
4 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 loaf of day-old white bread
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 bosc pear, chopped
1-1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
2 cups chicken broth
Cook bacon in a large, wide frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until bacon is crisp, 7 to 10 min. Transfer cooked bacon to a cutting board and chop into pieces. Drain the fat and add butter to the pan. When butter is melted, add celery and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened, 5 to 7 min. Sprinkle with poultry season and mix until combined. Remove from heat.
Break enough bread into rough 1-in. pieces to yield 12 cups. Transfer to a large bowl.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Add cooked vegetables to bread along with bacon, cranberries and pear. Toss bread to coat. Pour in enough broth to moisten bread.
Transfer mixture to a 9- x 13-in. baking dish and loosely cover with foil. Bake in centre of preheated oven for 20 min. Remove foil and continue baking until top is lightly golden, 25 to 30 min more.
The result? Only the most sweet and savoury stuffing you’ve ever tried. If you already have a favourite recipe for stuffing, throw it away. This is the only one you need in your life.
Have I inspired you to give potluck-ing a try? Do pop into your local Walmart Supercentre this holiday season. From the freshest produce to the best Christmas-inspired baked treats, you’ll find everything you need for potluck perfection.
And for more delicious potluck recipes, visit The Curious Creature, Toronto Teacher Mom, Amidst the Chaos and Renee M Leblanc. Together, our recipes make for a veritable holiday feast!
This post is sponsored by Walmart Canada, as part of the #FreshPotluck program. In exchange for this review, I have received special perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own.