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One of my resolutions goals for 2012 was to have more dinner parties; potlucks specifically. Why? well, hosting dinner parties take a lot of planning and sometimes I get a little overboard with the oragnizing. And get overboard with the cooking as well. Not to mention that preparing dinner for 12 people can not only be time consuming, but costly.

Since my circle of friends love to be social, eat and drink together, I extended an offer to host the first of hopefully many potlucks. It would serve as a challenge to those who are beginning to dabble in the kitchen as well as those of us who wish we had more time to cook. I sent out the invite and it was received with much excitment. And Diana and I opened our apartment, utlized every square inch of our apartment and had our very first potluck.

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Some organization is necessary… you dont want 11 people to show up with dessert! So in our party of 11, 3 people brought dessert and everything else was fair game. If you are trying to plan a potluck, my best advice is to create categories of the type of foods people can make and have them assign themselves a dish.

Appetizers, dips, salads, sides, meats, casseroles, and desserts. Those were my mental categories. And it worked out perfectly.

Our humble 4 person dining table has never see so much food in its life!

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Since my Slow Cooker Pernil was such a hit, i decided to make this for the potluck. Any one who has ever made a pernil in the oven would know its a labor of love. After seasoning the pernil a day in advance, the cook has to set aside at least 6 hours to baking the beast. And you still risk the chance of drying out your pernil.

I bought a 9 lb pernil this time and woke up around 10 am, which is late for me, put the beast in the slow cooker and set it on low. My goal was to have it cook on low for 10 hours but after an hour, i felt in my gut that it was going to take longer. Always listen to your gut! So i cranked the slow cooker to HIGH and cooked the beast for 6 hours. I am so gald I did! The pernil was PERFECT! The best part? I spent my day doing important things, like setting up the apartment for 11 guests and taking naps. Priorities people!  

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An hour before everyone arrived, i decided we couldnt have pernil without arroz con gandules! And in even more lazy girl mode, i whipped out my rice cooker and got to business. This is my new way of making rice since its pretty much fool proof. If you dont put enough water, just add more and put it on a another cycle. It wont char like rice on the stove top! and if the cook time is done and you dont love the texture (too firm), you can just leave it on warm.

Here is my arroz con gandule in a rice cooker recipe:

2 cups of dry white rice

1 Tablespoon oil

2 Tablespoons sofrito

1 packet sazon

8 oz tomato sauce

1 can of pigeon peas (drained)

handful of olives and pimentos (optional)

1.5 cups of water

Method: Put it all togehter, stir, cover and press Cook. check on it after 20 minutes. give it a stir. cover again and let warm for another 20- 25 minutes. Effortless.

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Diana, my roommate, made some chicken summer rolls that were received with much excitement! these were gone first! especially her homemade dipping sauce!

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My friend Mike drew inspiration from Epic Meal Time and made a Jack Daniels sweet Potato dish that had us all feeling a little boozy!

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Julia made some spanish tortas which were awesome especially with her homemade pico de gallo!

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My favorite dish of the night was Evan’s greek salad that was made with Orzo and pharaoah, grapes, feta and probably crack. Im just sayin. Its rare that I like a salad over everything else.

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My friend Thao made a fried rice with huge chunks of chinese sausage. I was happy to have leftovers of this stuff! tasty!

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Phil brought lean turkey sloppy joes with potato rolls. Definitely a filler upper but really good.

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I made pernil… and i shredded it up and served it in an aluminum tray. The real star of the show though, were the chicharrones that i made for everyone to much on while they waited for the food.

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Mel made a 7 layer dip that Diana and I coveted for days and days after. We put that shit on everything! Ever had 7 layer dip on eggs? Its amazing.

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And we consumed bottles and bottles of wine!

The desserts were a big hit as well. My friend Kristy made some drunken cupcakes! and Lara wowed us all with her panna cotta and blueberry coulis!

An overall success!

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The next one is already in the works!

So, tell me. If you were going to a potluck, what would you bring?

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