No Prep Potlucking
November 19, 2009 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Late to the party, no time to prep: I'd like to have a collection of recipes that can be manufactured just-in-time; dishes that I can throw together in under 10 minutes with minimal use of kitchen tools. Bonus points if you can assemble the entire dish right out of the shopping bag. MacGyver me some meal ideas!

For example, this past weekend I was headed out late to a BBQ. I'd left straight from work so had zero prep time and when I called to see what was already on the table, all the usual suspects were covered. After wandering the grocery store for a bit, I ended up grabbing a tray of portobello mushrooms, a stick of butter, a jar of minced garlic (for convenience), and beer. Assuming that the host had foil (which he did), all I had to do was put a slice of butter on the inside of the 'shroom, add a dollop of garlic, and then soak it with beer; wrap everything in foil, apply to grill, and 10 minutes later it was all yummers.

I get into this situation all the time, whether due to procrastination on my part or because a party situation has evolved without prior notice. It would be great to have several of these recipes to suit different types of parties and venues, using ingredients that can be found in most grocery stores. For me, it beats buying something already prepared, but at the same time I don't want to impose on the host and require extensive use of their fancy knives or kitchen appliances. Recipes for dips are fine, though I would appreciate creative, unexpected combinations that somehow work out - like pouring a jar of chunky salsa on top of a block of cream cheese. Which I heartily recommend.
posted by krippledkonscious to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 108 users marked this as a favorite
Start with Mark Bittman's 10 minute meals.
posted by toomuchkatherine at 2:25 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Mash up butter, grated parmesan and garlic, apply to French bread sliced lengthwise, broil. You could do this on baking sheets or on foil if you wanted to live a little dangerously.
posted by MadamM at 2:33 PM on November 19, 2009

Just grab whatever you want to use for a marinade from around the store and talk the nice people at the meat counter into throwing it into a bag with whatever meat you're buying. Bottled marinades are usually pretty foul but they work in a pinch. Granted I've only done this for camping trips but I'd do the same thing for a bbq at the last minute.
posted by foodgeek at 2:34 PM on November 19, 2009

A wheel of brie cheese, cut in half. Spread a thick layer of fig or apricot jam on cut side, sprinkle with toasted walnuts, put top half back on.

When you get to the party, stick it in the oven for a few mins until it gooey. Always a hit with crackers.
posted by np312 at 2:35 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

On your cream cheese theme, a jar of hot pepper jelly or chutney over cream cheese is great with crackers.
posted by sarajane at 2:36 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'm here to tell you this little trick from the ;10 minute meals' article is fantastic:

Open a can of white beans and combine with olive oil, salt, small or chopped shrimp, minced garlic and thyme leaves in a pan. Cook, stirring, until the shrimp are done; garnish with more olive oil.

So, so good, esp. with toasty bread. Nom.
posted by Space Kitty at 2:49 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

The semicolon is optional.
posted by Space Kitty at 2:49 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
can of corn
squeeze of lime juice
pile of cilantro (can tear by hand in a pinch)
dash of salt and spicy seasoning (cajun or chili)
bag of chips (Fritos dips work best)

if time: chop up a red pepper and a few green onions
posted by BlooPen at 3:09 PM on November 19, 2009

Avocados, lime, onion=guacamole (you can add tomato, hot pepper)
posted by OmieWise at 3:16 PM on November 19, 2009

SaraJane stole my recipe. But I use goat cheese.
posted by SLC Mom at 3:20 PM on November 19, 2009

Broccoli Slaw Ramen Salad, with variations. This is one of those things where the first time you make it you're ashamed and apologizing - I'm sorry, I was really busy, this seemed edible - and then you realize people are throwing elbows to get the last forkful. It's also really, really flexible; the world is your slaw once you get a feel for playing around with the flavors.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:42 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

Sliced meats, blue cheese, olives, a jar of some artichoke hearts or something = antipasti.

Lots of variations on green salad.
posted by emilyw at 3:46 PM on November 19, 2009

Something that's getting easier to find in good grocery stores: chutneys and savory jams, like onion jam or cranberry relish or jalepeno jelly. The basic idea: put out a plate holding a dish (or a jar or just a glob) of savory jam or chutney and a dish (or a block or a smear) of cream cheese. Add a couple of knives and a pile of crackers. If I see you put out this plate, I will hipcheck the other guests out of the way to get to it. (Or, uh, what SaraJane said.)

Another winner: dump a jar or tub of tapenade over a log of fresh goat cheese. If you're feeling fancy, top it with a handful of grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise. If you're feeling super-duper fancy, squeeze a lemon wedge over it. Serve with bread or crackers.

A friend used to show up at my place with a small wheel of brie and a bunch of grapes. She'd raid my cabinets and end up with this: put the brie in a small casserole dish. Add a generous spoonful of brown sugar, a generous spoonful of butter, and a big handful of nuts --- pecans, chopped almonds, crumbled walnuts, whatever. Put it in the oven somewhere between 325F and 425F (she never specified, and that range of temps means it can cook along with whatever's already in the oven, which is handy) and let it heat until the brie is just starting to slump. Pull it out and serve with bread or crackers and a pile of grapes. I've served it with apples or pears, too.

This one's more of a brunch or midnight supper dish than a cocktail-party or BBQ dish, but you might like it. Around our house, we call these huevos con whatnot. In the linked recipe, it's gussied up with oregano and cumin and scallions, but it's pretty darned good without them, too. The basic idea: drain and rinse a big can of black beans. Dump them into a sauté pan. Add a good slop of decent salsa and a splash of water (or beer, or red wine, or sherry, or tomato juice). Put it on the burner over medium-high heat and let it bubble. Stir just enough to keep it from sticking. Mash with a wooden spoon if you want. Add a clove of pressed garlic if you like.

When it's piping hot, turn down the heat until everything stops simmering. Make hollows in the beans with a wooden spoon; into these hollows, crack eggs --- up to four in one pan. Cover with a lid (or a cookie sheet --- the cover doesn't need to be tight) and cook until the eggs are as set as you like 'em. Top with grated cheese, or don't. Top with chopped scallions, or don't. Top with hot sauce, or don't.

This is great with cornbread or warmed tortillas, but there's no shame in serving it with a side of tortilla chips. It is good.
posted by Elsa at 3:48 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Steam green beans and bring them along with a container of hummus.
posted by mmw at 4:19 PM on November 19, 2009

It takes me about 5 minutes to make this black bean soup, and it is surprisingly good. It is in regular rotation in my household (and I am picky about good food).

I usually make it with cornbread on the side which would take some extra time, but I'm sure you can just buy some cornbread at the store if you're in a rush.

2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added black beans, undrained
1/2 cup bottled salsa
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 (16-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
5 tablespoons low-fat sour cream
5 tablespoons minced green onions
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Place beans and liquid in a medium saucepan.Place over high heat; stir in salsa, chili powder, and broth. Bring to a boil. Use an immersion blender to homogenize (if you don't have one I suppose you could pour the mixture into an actual blender?). Add sour cream into soup and blend a little more. Top with cheese, sour cream, onions, and cilantro.

You can just use kitchen shears to chop up the green onions/cilantro so that you don't need to take out a knife/cutting board.
posted by sickinthehead at 5:25 PM on November 19, 2009

Nobody has said 7 layer dip, so I will. All ingredients come in containers which I open (the extent of my cooking). Borrow a plate and a few spoons and knives from your host. I do a layer of refried beans, then salsa, then guacamole, then sour cream, then grated cheese. I usually just do those 5 but you could add something like diced onions, tomatoes, or olives to make 7 layers, but those might require more effort than just opening containers. Serve with corn chips.

I take this to parties all the time and it all goes well before things other folks put a lot more effort into.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:36 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

This sounds sort of bizarre, but maybe falls under the unexpected-combinations-that-work clause.

2 lbs grapes
1/4 c water or white wine
2 Tbsp sugar
Either a bit of finely chopped rosemary or a chunk of vanilla bean (an inch of the bean is fine).
Blue cheese
Baguette or crackers

Remove grapes from stems and put into an oven-proof pan (or a foil pan you can do on the grill). Mix wine, sugar, and rosemary or vanilla. Pour the liquid over the grapes and roast at about 400 for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take them out of the oven. Either crumble the blue cheese over them or simple smear blue cheese onto the crackers, then top with a few grapes.

I realize this sounds bizarre, but it's amazing. Sometimes, when I'm on my own, I'll roast half a pound of grapes and call it a meal.

If you like salsa over cream cheese, it's also worth trying savory jams over cream cheese. I made a peach-poblano jam over the summer that was amazing like this--I know that you can buy raspberry-chipotle jam, which I bet would be awesome, too. Jam, either spicy or not, is also delicious over brie, done just like Elsa says above.

If you're into grilling, roasted onions are remarkably tasty on bread or crackers. Large sweet onion, peeled and cut into quarters leaving the root connected. (So, you know, you cut almost to the bottom, so the onion's still in one piece.) Put it on foil, top with a tablespoon of butter, a bit of garlic, and a beef bouillon cube. Fold up foil, throw onto grill for about thirty minutes, consume with some sort of bread product. Actually roasted garlic can be done more or less the same way--lop the top off of a head (not a clove!) of garlic, peel off any excess papery skin, drizzle with olive oil, seal in foil, roast thirty minutes or so.
posted by MeghanC at 7:02 PM on November 19, 2009 [8 favorites]

Spinach + dried cranberries + croutons + a crumbly cheese makes for a salad that go from grocery bag to serving bowl in a pinch. If you need to add a dressing you can buy that or assuming where you are going has the means to put together a simple vinegarette.
posted by mmascolino at 7:04 PM on November 19, 2009

Caprese salad: Tomato, mozzarella and basil.

Jars of marinated mushrooms and/or Giardeniera and/or other veggies, cheese/meats as you like.

Veggies and blue cheese or hummus or babaganoush.
posted by cestmoi15 at 7:11 PM on November 19, 2009

Oh, and fresh ricotta with homemade garlic bread (italian bread + olive oil rubbed with fresh garlic)
posted by cestmoi15 at 7:12 PM on November 19, 2009

Buffalo mozzarella (big white ball of cheese), sliced. Top with sliced tomato, basil leaves, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze.
posted by snailparade at 9:07 PM on November 19, 2009

p.s., I applaud you for not being one of those people who shows up to a potluck with a bag of bagels from the 7-11.
posted by snailparade at 9:08 PM on November 19, 2009

Pickapeppa Sauce over a brick of cream cheese, served with crackers. Make sure you bring the bottle too, so people can take a gander at it.
posted by dhammond at 9:51 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

In a more dessert-y direction:

1 banana per person
honey or sugar
cinnamon (optional)
cream or icecream or both

Leave the skins on the bananas, slice them lengthwise. Drizzle the honey or sprinkle the sugar over the cut side, add a tiny bit of cinnamon if you like.

Cook under a grill or on a bbq until the sweet stuff caramelizes a bit. Serve with cream or icecream.

Also works with stone fruit, but then you'd put them in a baking dish and roast in an oven for 15 minutes instead.
posted by harriet vane at 4:44 AM on November 20, 2009

Flaming cherries jubillee!

Vanilla ice cream, a can of cherry pie filling, a spoon of brown sugar and a little brandy. Dump the can of pie filling into a pot, add the sugar, and let that start coming to a boil while you scoop out the ice cream. When the cherries are boiling, pour a shot of brandy over the top -- but DO NOT MIX IT IN just yet. Instead, touch a lit match to the side of the mix and it will light the brandy. Let it burn out and then give everything a stir and drizzle the cherries over the ice cream.

(I know someone who once served this and spooned the cherries over the ice cream at the table while they were still aflame, but I think this is something you should only try with practice.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:35 AM on November 20, 2009

One of those "weird but it works" things:
cream cheese, dried beef (the kind in a small jar near the Chef Boyardee), and chives or spring onions (use the green part only unless you want a strong onion flavor)
Chop chives and beef, mix into cream cheese (taste occasionally to get ratio right), serve with crackers. It's holiday-colored and doesn't taste especially like beef or chives. Serve with crackers.

Spinach and artichoke dip is super easy to make with frozen spinach, a jar of artichoke hearts, mayo or sour cream, and mozzarella, parmesan, or "Italian" shredded cheese.

My stepmother makes what she calls "cowboy caviar", which is basically a 1/2" layer of cream cheese at the bottom of a casserole dish topped with a mix of diced tomatoes (canned is fine, substitute jar of chunky salsa if you prefer) mixed with a can of back beans and whatever else is handy and would taste good (sliced black olives, cilantro, diced onion -- frozen is fine, peppers of virtually any variety), and a bit of salt and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips. The best thing about this is that it travels well and keeps fabulously. It's better the second or third day but good immediately after assembly.
posted by notashroom at 11:02 AM on November 20, 2009

Response by poster: Superbly awesome! I almost didn't pull the trigger on this AskMe because I feared a "why don't you just be a good guest and prepare well in advance?" backlash. Thanks to everyone for offering their suggestions. I'll be trying out many of these soon - tailgating season isn't over yet.

I hesitate to mark "best answers," as taste is subjective... but believe me when I say that I'll give credit where it's due when I whip these out (disclaimer: I may not do the recipe justice, in which case, I'll take full responsibility).

I do have to say that I really like the Broccoli Slaw Ramen idea - especially because as kids we used to eat the crushed, uncooked ramen noodles mixed with the seasoning right out of the bag. Awful, I know. Using the ramen noodles in a slaw/salad is probably texturally similar to using won ton chips on a chinese chicken salad. Nifty.

I will make a conscious effort to incorporate these bean, cheese, and/or fruit-based recipes into my repertoire. In addition to springing the "odd combo" on people, whipping up a vegetarian dish would really be a welcome surprise for our wives/SO's.

Thanks again, everyone (and hopefully, keep the no-prep recipes coming)!
posted by krippledkonscious at 4:32 PM on November 20, 2009

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