Sunday, September 14, 2008

So, what DO you bring to a WLS potluck??

We had a potluck, covered dish picnic dinner at this month's local WLS support group meeting. I stressed over what to bring for literally weeks beforehand! I had not been to one of this group's dinners before even though I've been a member since before my surgery two years ago. I had really never been to a covered dish dinner of any sort for WLS folks before. Normally, if I go to something covered dish, it is with friends, family, or 4-H folks and I just bring something I know I can eat and not worry about it... Not for this though as most of the folks attending would be those who had already had WLS and are more careful about what they eat.

So, you rule out a lot of the old standbys like high-carb veggies and breads. You don't do potato salad---that is for sure! LOL And, add in the fact that I had to drive an hour to get there, so temperature was going to be an issue. It either had to be kept cold or kept hot for that length of time... I knew I was going to take a Splenda Pumpkin Cake as that is now an old standby for me for anything where I take food... It was actually the TENTH one of those cakes I'd made since July 28th thanks to our 4-H fundraising! But, what to take for hot food? I needed to take at least two items I felt as there were two of us attending. Mandy always goes to the support group meetings with me and has become a member herself, so we both needed something. She sure didn't help me decide what to bring or actually do the cooking though!

I looked at lots of Michelle's recipes (Eggface)... I even emailed her and asked what she'd take in this position. Her suggestion was her Italian Bean Salad and possibly adding some sort of meat.

I posted on OH and asked what other folks suggested... I got lots of feedback (lots of Eggface recipe suggestions! LOL She has TONS of casserole recipes!), but still couldn't decide. I did get a new recipe site suggested though and it is a site with WLS recipes! That was a cool find! It is and you should definitely check it out some time!

I made and tried Eggface's Pastaless Chicken Carbonara... It was pretty good. Mandy complained about the spinach. Hubby and I liked it. I'll definitely make it again. Maybe for this dinner??

I thought about a pot of brown beans and ham.

I looked at and thought about Eggface's Italian Chicken and Squash Bake.

There were lots of folks who suggested I take one of Michelle's "bites" items which are little mini-muffin sized crustless quiches basically... There are all different varieties of them!

I wondered what sorts of veggies would show up and even posted on the support group's YahooGroup and asked others to tell what they were bringing. The response I got was that there was always a great assortment and to just bring whatever I wanted. Good response, but not very helpful when I was in such a quandry to begin with! LOL

Then, I asked my self why in the world this was stressing me so much! It is, after all, just FOOD! But, for many of these folks, it was also the reason why they ended up having to have WLS in the first place.... I continued to stew for another week over what I was bringing. Then, I made a shopping list for groceries and included items I would need for several of the things I'd considered making and decided I'd just "go with the flow" when the time came to actually MAKE the stuff.

SO, Friday morning arrives.... The dinner is at 6 pm. I've got stuff here to do many, many things, but WHAT will I make??? I had already soaked a pot of brown beans in case I wanted to do beans and ham, so I went ahead and started the beans to cooking... Was beans and ham plus the pumpkin cake good enough??

After stewing for a while, I decided to put together the chicken and squash bake from Michelle's site. SO, I started rounding up stuff. I love most everything I've ever tried from Michelle's site, so I knew it would be good. And, since I'm talking about it here, I'll post her recipe too...

Shelly's Italian Chicken & Squash Bake

1 cup Chicken, boneless, skinless breasts diced 1" cubes
1 Yellow Onion, diced
3 green Onions, diced
4-5 fresh Mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves Garlic, diced
3-4 Yellow Squash, sliced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
a few twists of Black Pepper
1 - 15 oz. can Diced Tomatoes, drained
1 - 10 3/4 oz. can Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup Shredded Italian 4 Cheese Blend (divided use)
Oil/butter for sauteing

Saute chicken till golden. Set aside. Saute onions and mushrooms till golden. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add zucchini, turn to low heat and cover for 5 minutes. Stirring once or twice. Add soup, tomatoes, seasonings, 1/4 cup of the cheese and chicken and stir to combine.

Pour into a Pyrex casserole dish. Top with remaining shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until bubbly and golden.

Now, what I did different...
I did not use green onions.
I added 1 medium green bell pepper, cut into strips and then the strips cut into 3 pieces.
I did not use canned diced tomatoes. I cut up a great big tomato from my garden.
I used about twice as much cheese...
I did not have fresh basil or oregano, so I gave a very hearty shaking of Italian seasoning across the top.

It was yummy! And, it was one of the very few dishes brought that had any veggies in it! So, it was a good choice. And, I actually doubled the recipe and took a big 9 X 13 dish of it and it was all gone at the end!

So that is what I took... I took a big pyrex dish full of pinto beans and cubed ham, a 9 x 13 dish of this chicken and squash dish, and the pumpkin cake...

What did others bring? That was a varied list! Let's see what I can remember...
beef stew
taco dip and Tostitos scoops
macaroni salad
KFC fried chicken and biscuits
something called a Punch Bowl Fruit Salad
fresh fruit (honeydew, pineapple, etc)
gorgeous fresh strawberries and a yogurt dip for them
AND, the best stuff ever--homemade sugar free frozen custard! I ate some of this with fresh strawberries. Then, I ate a bit of it with a piece of the pumpkin cake. OMG, this will be a holiday dessert here this year! You would NEVER guess it was sugar free custard and cake made with Splenda! LOL I told our support group leader (who makes the custard in her ice cream maker) that she MUST give me the recipe now that I have an ice cream maker. I plan to add some protein powder to it when I make it though... If you are going to eat ice cream, at least get some redeeming values from it, right??? I know Michelle would agree on that one! She IS the protein ice cream queen!

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