Comfort Food Potluck Party
Invite friends over for a cozy, rustic, potluck-style dinner featuring some of the season's best comfort foods.
Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, Camille Styles ©2012. Cooking Channel, LLC. All Right Reserved.
Party in Five: Comfort Food Potluck
Though it may be tempting to hibernate during the winter, you can be social and stay cozy indoors by hosting a comfort food potluck party. (Invite guests to come in sweatpants to really hammer home the comfort factor.)
To host this potluck party, you'll need five essential ingredients: our printable invitation, blackberry-bourbon iced tea, comfort food recipes, seasonal greenery and tile trivets.
Get guests excited for this comfort by snail-mailing invitations to guests. Print this downloadable design onto heavy-stock kraft paper and fill the invitations out with your party details. The invitations include a line at the bottom that allows you to specify what you’d like each guest to contribute to the comfort food menu.
Bunches of cedar boughs are readily available this time of year, and given their short, flexible form and vibrant green color, they’re a quick fix for every decor dilemma. Gather them in a glass container, drape them over a lackluster mantel, or use floral wire to tie them onto chair backs for a rustic round-the-table touch.
Warm and Cozy
When setting the table, utilize warm colors, natural textures and seasonal accents. An earthy slate-colored linen runner allows the wooden table to show, while round madras chargers add a rustic, casual element to nearly any table design. Instead of traditional white china, opt for vibrant patterned dishware. Make sure dinner plates are large enough to accommodate family-style dishes and heavier comfort food menu items.
Help guests feel truly cozy by filling your space with knit blankets and plush pillows. Pile pillows high in bins set tableside and drape blankets on chair backs, at the ready for guests to wrap up in as the meal comes to a close. For a final touch to the cozy environment? Cluster white pillar candles of various heights on and around the table.
Keep the center of the table relatively clear for family-style serving dishes, but don’t forget to add a few decorative details. Lay flat cedar boughs down the center of the table on top of the runner, and scatter trivets for the hot dishware to come. For a trivet solution that’s inexpensive and perfectly on-theme, head to your local hardware store and collect samples of small slate tiles. The heavy-duty slate, available in an array of earthy shades, will protect your table and be repurposed as coasters.
All in the Family
There's just something about meals served family style that feels abundant and comforting. Ask guests to bring their dishes in large table-ready serving pieces, along with the appropriate serving spoon or fork.
For the friend who isn’t the most skilled in the kitchen, recommend that he or she handles the signature beverage. This blackberry-bourbon iced tea is a sweet Southern classic with flavor that holds up to the heavier comfort food. The tea can be prepared ahead of time, poured in pitchers, then served in individual glasses over ice along with a shot of bourbon.
Get the Recipe: Blackberry-Bourbon Iced Tea
More Cheese, Please!
Maybe it's the fact that we universally enjoyed macaroni and cheese as children, or the foolproof combination of tiny noodles and cheese, but it is considered by many to be the ultimate comfort food. This recipe calls for four different cheeses, warming sage and a healthy sprinkling of breadcrumbs. After a few minutes under the broiler, it develops the most-perfect brown crust.
Get the Recipe: Sage Butter Macaroni and Four Cheese
Cream of the Crop
The greens don't stand alone at this hearty food fest, so give spinach the steakhouse makeover with a healthy dose of cream. This recipe is very simple to prepare, so assign it to another novice on your guest list.
Get the Recipe: Creamed Spinach
Scents of the Season
No winter feast is complete without roasted vegetables and warm wintry spices. This butternut squash dish combines those elements with its cinnamon, cloves, ginger and citrus, and it offers guests something that is both hearty and healthy. For a rustic embellishment, garnish with whole cinnamon.
Get the Recipe: Roasted Squash with Brown Butter and Cinnamon
Stick to Your Ribs
Task the best carnivorous cook of the bunch with the important job of preparing a main protein. Any roasted meat is a welcome sight on the table during chilly months, but nothing’s better than these oven-baked ribs. Topped with a tangy-sweet barbecue sauce, this finger-lickin’ recipe will have guests fighting over the last bone.
Get the Recipe: Cumin Scented Oven-Baked Ribs with Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce