A week’s work of business travel and, boy, was I happy to get home again. Home to my own bed, my own kitchen and my own crew.
Back in the office Monday, I immediately noticed the sign-up sheet for our next office potluck. This time a salad bar was suggested. In keeping with our company’s increased attention to our health and many people’s efforts to trim their waistlines, the salad bar sounded like a great idea … on paper.
You see, we’ve been down this path before.
Yep, this ain’t our first rodeo.
Office potlucks are, for some, a delightful opportunity to pound the communal drum, for others, the bane of their office existence.
Here are a few simple guidelines that I’ve found work for me; I’m sharing them here so we can all navigate easily through the political landscape of the office potluck:
- Contribute on some level. Can’t cook? Stop by the local deli and buy something to share. Limited budget? Bring a (new) roll of plastic wrap or tinfoil – the cooks in the crowd will admire your creativity (and you can save $$ by buying at the dollar store). Having said that, showing up with a half eaten bag of Lay’s potato chips does not make you a hero, it makes you a putz.
- No showing off. Love to cook? Go for it! We love that you orchestrated a seven layered Tiramisu for us but if you get all Braggerty McBraggert about it we’ll nibble it down with a spoonful of resentment. And when we’re annoyed with you, we’re less likely give compliments. And admit it, that’s why you stayed up till midnight anyways.
- Take part. I have a few food sensitivities but that doesn’t mean I can’t participate. I bring my lunch and I can always find something to comment on and sample. And, I make it a point to join the crowd and eat with the group – the communal setting lends itself to getting to know each other a little bit better.
- Mind your manners. If you have a comment about what another person brought or made, please make sure it’s kind. Even better if its within earshot. Remember your parents saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Announcing that you hate garlic, going into gastric detail about how it affects you and that you don’t understand why anyone in their right mind would even use garlic just makes makes me want to bring garlic bread next time.
- When in doubt, admire the effort. Not willing to try chain smoker Carl’s brownies? Avoiding cat lady’s cheese ball? Doesn’t mean you can’t give them something to go on, “Wow! That must have taken you a lot of time to put together!” Trust me: people will love that you noticed. Warning: don’t say this unless you’re already holding a full plate. Otherwise you could end up with a heaping helping of the delectable you’re trying to dodge.
So, back to our salad bar potluck today; here’s the hard, cold truth of the matter –the fruits and veggie tray, the lettuce and toppings – they will be left largely untouched and dishes containing these three food staples – cheese, Cool Whip or BBQ sauce - will disappear faster than you can make room for pie.
I’m packing my lunch and bringing a cake! (recipe below)
Yep, a cake mix cake topped with, you got it, Cool Whip, pineapple, Jell-O pudding and cream cheese. Fantastic with a salad!
MJ’s Pineapple Delight Cake:
- 1 box yellow or white cake mix
- 1 small (1 oz.) pkg. vanilla or lemon instant pudding
- 1 (8 oz.) pkg. whipped cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, SAVE the juice*
- 1 12 oz. container of Cool Whip
- 2 c. milk
Directions — Make cake according to box instructions except substitute the pineapple juice for any water the cake mix calls for. Bake in a 9 x 13 pan and let cool completely.
For the topping, pour the cream cheese, instant pudding and milk into a mixing bowl and blend well with an electric mixer (about 2-3 min or until it starts to set).
Spread the cream cheese/pudding/milk gloriousness over the cooled cake. Next, cover that goodness with the crushed pineapple and top with a hearty layer of Cool Whip (or real whipped cream if you’re feeling ambitious). Top with nuts if you like – or not – it’s delicious either way.
Refrigerate overnight and, before serving, take a slab for yourself ’cause there’s no way any of it is coming home with you!
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How about your office?
Do people go for the green or sprint to the cheese & Cool Whip?