Easy Dishes for a Pot Luck Dinner

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Pot luck dinners are ideal for both large and small gatherings. The question is what to make -- something easy to cook, easy to carry and not too messy. Some pot luck dishes will be elaborate affairs for those who have time to spare, but busy moms need quick and tasty ideas they can rely on when they need to bring a dish to pass around. And often, the simplest dishes are the best-tasting and the first gone.

Baked Beans

Baked beans are always a hit at pot lucks, and you can make them in several different variations. Even if someone else has brought baked beans, chances are it's not like yours. Many recipes use brown sugar and molasses while others use bacon or shredded beef. Some cooks make baked beans from scratch but use canned beans for faster and easier preparation. You can used canned pork and beans or make an exotic but just-as-easy recipe that uses a variety of beans. Mix in some powdered ginger for flavor.

Macaroni and Cheese

Like baked beans, macaroni and cheese is a crowd pleaser, and like beans, you can make it in many ways. Use elbows, shells or bowties, cheddar, Swiss or Colby. Keep it plain or dress it up with diced onions, ham and mushrooms. Dice the onions and ham ahead of time so you do not have to rush. Fresh mushrooms have a lot of water; so if you decide to bake the macaroni and cheese, use canned mushrooms to keep from diluting the cheese.

Cheesy Rice and Broccoli

Sharp cheddar cheese gives this pot luck dish a strong, delicious flavor. Stir it into cooked rice mixed with a can of cream of mushroom soup and chopped broccoli. Use shredded cheese and frozen chopped broccoli to keep it easy. Sprinkle some cheddar on top. Heat the dish through in a microwave to melt the cheese or put the mixture in a small crock pot that you can plug in at the pot luck.

Pizza Casserole

Make a pizza casserole that will be yummy for kids and adults alike. Cook corkscrew pasta and layer it in a pan or crock pot. Cover it with pizza sauce and add any pizza toppings you like -- pepperoni, mushrooms, onions or pineapple. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese then cover the macaroni and toppings with shredded mozzarella. This will need to bake, or you can heat it in the crock pot.

Italian Pasta Salad

Corkscrew pasta also forms the base of this salad, to which you can add chopped green onions, small cubes of ham and mozzarella cheese, sliced black olives and peas. Mix in an envelope of dry Italian or other salad seasoning mix, then drizzle the salad with olive oil and toss. Add enough olive oil to coat the pasta. You can also use bottled Italian dressing, traditional or creamy. To make your salad pop at the pot luck, use tri-colored pasta. Use salami chunks instead of ham, provolone instead of mozzarella and celery instead of peas. The variations are many, and you can make this easy pasta salad with what you have on hand.