Holiday Traditions: Pot Luck

So, the holidays are over now, making this post incredibly un-timely.  However, it has a great recipe that can be used all year round whenever you need to bring something to a potluck that is sure to be a hit.  Or, like in the case of my workplace, it will sit in the fridge because people forgot to pull it out, and then you’ll have a ton of it to yourself.  Which is a bonus, because it’s super yummy.

My mom asked me this year what I was bringing to Thanksgiving dinner.  I’m unofficially in charge of desserts, and my desserts often change from year to year (though, this year both pies I made were so good I think they will be standards.  And probably future posts…).  However, the one thing that never changes.  The one thing that would cause riots from certain family members if it didn’t show up is fruit salad.

I know there are a million and one versions of fruits salad out there.  You’ve got your jello/cool whip variety, the health-conscious plain fruit with maybe a drizzle of honey or yogurt variety, your marshmallow variety, your rice variety… The possibilities with dessert salads are endless.  I don’t think, however, that my family’s style fruit salad has ever shown up at any potluck I’ve ever attended.  And I’m not really sure why…

Let’s begin.  You’ll need:

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream (You’ll only use about half, but you might as well beat it all)
  • 1 c white sugar
  • Splash of vanilla
  • 2 cans fruit cocktail with cherries
  • bananas
  • apples
  • any other fruit you’ve got lying around that you want to get rid of

Really, other than the whipping cream and the fruit cocktail, you can do whatever you want.  I’ve used mandarin oranges and maraschino cherries.  If my sister weren’t so darn picky I’d probably throw in some toasted coconut.  The quantity of everything you use is entirely based on how many people you need to feed/how much you want left over.  There are no rules, which is what I enjoy about this recipe.  Remember, it’s got real whipped cream in it, so unless you add cheese or ground beef or tuna or something, it’s going to be delicious no matter what.

The fun part:

If you don’t have a stand mixer, I suggest getting one.  I have the smallest kitchen in the world, and I insist on having room for my Kitchen Aid.  Growing up, we used a hand mixer.  It gets the job done, but it’s 15 minutes of standing in one spot and holding your arm at a weird angle.  It’s probably why my sister stopped making the fruit salad and why the job went to me.  I put up with the 15 minutes for the opportunity to lick all the cream off the blades when it was done.  I’m easily bribed.

Anyway, in your mixing bowl (my mom always chilled the bowl, which I’m sure is the preferred method, but it works regardless) pour the cream, sugar, and vanilla.  It’s really all to taste.  I never measure, so the “cup” is approximate.  You don’t need a ton because the fruit will add sweetness as well.  The vanilla is just a nice touch.  Get those puppies whipping.

If you have the stand mixer, you can do all the next steps while it’s mixing.  If not, well, sucks to be you, because you’ll be in the kitchen 15 minutes longer than if you had one.  So get one.

Drain your fruit cocktails and rinse them if they were in syrup.  The kind I found at Aldi was in fruit juice as part of their “healthy” line of foods.  In that picture I also threw in the remaining contents of a jar of cherries left over from a sundae bar–halved.  Because the cherries in the fruit cocktail are the best part, right?

Chop up your apples and bathe them in lemon water to prevent browning.  I usually only use one apple because my sister is picky.  There’s a theme here….  She doesn’t like the crunch.  I like the crunch.  It’s a compromise.  Go nuts if you want.  Drain and add to the fruit cocktail.  If you’re like me, you’ll either drain the lemon water into another bowl, or you’ll fish the apples out by hand, because you’re going to need lemon water again.  Waste not…

Repeat the last step with the bananas.  Only this time you can throw the lemon water out.  Unless you’re adding something else that needs to not brown.  Can’t imagine what that might be, but maybe you have special fruit I’ve never heard of.  If you do, please share it with me.

Mix everything up all pretty-like.  Sure, you could eat it as it is right now.  I’m sure it would taste great.  But we’re missing something….

And I’m missing a photograph.  It would appear as if I was a little over-zealous in letting people eat the amazing fruit salad that I forgot to photograph it with the whipped cream mixed in.  I suck.  Regardless… To finish off the salad, heap about half of the whipped cream onto the fruit and stir it in.  If everything is sufficiently covered, meaning you can’t really see the fruit any more, then you’re good to go.  If not, add more a little at a time.  It’s personal, really, how much cream you choose to add.

Okay, I lied when I said there are no rules.  There is one rule: Do not mix the whipped cream into the fruit more than, say, half a day before serving.  You can make this in the AM and serve that evening.  That’s fine.  But don’t mix it in the night before.  It still tastes great.  I still eat it (in fact, it’s my traditional Black Friday breakfast to prepare me for a crazy day of work).  But the presentation is lacking.  The longer the whipped cream sits in the fruit, the more it mingles with the juices, and the runnier it gets.  So, by all means, whip your cream and prepare your fruit a day or two in advance, but don’t add the cream until the day of.  Easy-peasy.


One thought on “Holiday Traditions: Pot Luck

  1. Rocketdog says:

    Lose the apples, double the bananas and you are set!!
    You know, you could always bring a wee baggie of toasted coconut and people could add if they’d like…


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