Dining In: A menu perfect for a potluck or delivering to loved ones

We love to have people over and enjoy a good meal with family and friends. This got us thinking about taking our good food on the road and sharing a fun meal out and about. This menu is perfect for packing up and bringing to someone—whether as a housewarming gift for friends or neighbors, a comfort food meal for a family welcoming home a new baby, or a contribution to a potluck supper. Whatever the occasion, this is a seasonally appropriate—and especially tasty—early spring menu that is too good to keep to yourself.

• Cajun Lemonade
• Garden Salad with Green Goddess Dressing
• Crawfish Pie

TASTE-Dining In-drinkCajun Lemonade

There are several different recipes for this tangy, spiced cocktail. Some versions use Pimm’s, the English gin-based liqueur, along with either vodka or rum. We decided we liked it better without the Pimm’s, but feel free to experiment on your own.

Yields: 1 quart

1 (12-ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate
2 cups vodka or light rum
1 teaspoon Crystal hot sauce
1 liter lemon-flavored Perrier sparkling water

1. In a large pitcher, combine the frozen lemonade and the vodka or rum. Add in the hot sauce. Chill until you are ready to serve.

2. Pour the chilled lemon Perrier into the lemonade mixture. Serve over ice and garnish with lemon slices.

TASTE-Dining In-salad1Green Goddess Dressing

Green Goddess dressing reminds us of our mom and our childhood in the 1970s. We first encountered it one summer while visiting our grandparents at their beach house in Texas. Our grandmother served it, and Mom fell in love with it. We were little and didn’t appreciate what all the fuss was about, but thankfully our palates have evolved. This delicious, tangy dressing has a wonderful balance of flavors and is the perfect complement to a garden-fresh green salad. It is easy to make and keeps well in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Yields: 2 cups

1⁄3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1⁄3 cup chopped scallions (tops and bottoms)
1 clove minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
¾ cup buttermilk

1. In a food processor or blender, combine the parsley, scallions, garlic, tarragon, salt, pepper, lemon juice and Worcestershire. Pulse until well minced.

2. Add the mayonnaise and pulse until combined.

3. With the machine running, slowly pour in the buttermilk until all is incorporated.

4. Transfer the dressing into an airtight bottle or container and chill. This can be made a couple of days in advance. The dressing will last in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

TASTE-Dining In-plate3Crawfish Pies

What can you say about a crawfish pie except yum? It’s really a treat. In the spring we love to eat crawfish any way we can get them. But putting them in a savory sauce and surrounding it with a flaky pie crust is our favorite way to enjoy them, hands-down. This recipe is essentially an etouffee sauce; we just don’t add quite as much liquid when making the crawfish into a pie filling. This allows the pie to set and not be too runny. This recipe is enough filling to make two pies, so you can share one and keep one. The pies freeze well, too.

Yields: Two 9-inch pies

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup flour
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped bell pepper
3 cups chicken broth
¼ cup dry white wine
3 pounds crawfish tails
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon ground thyme
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup chopped scallions
¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
2 boxes ready-made pie crusts

For the filling:

1. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Once melted, add oil.

2. Sprinkle the flour into the melted butter and oil. Stir to make a roux and reduce the heat to medium.

3. Stir the roux constantly to prevent it from burning. Stir for 5 to 6 minutes or until the roux is the color of peanut butter.

4. Add in the chopped onion, celery and bell pepper. Continue to cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.

5. Quickly stir in the chicken broth and white wine until all is incorporated and smooth.

6. Fold in the crawfish tails. Season everything with the salt, pepper, ground thyme, hot sauce and lemon juice.

7. Allow the mixture to come up to a simmer. Add in the chopped scallions and parsley.

8. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool. This filling may be made a day in advance.

To assemble the pies:

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and remove the pie crusts from the package.

2. Place the first crusts in the bottoms of two 9-inch pie plates. Fill the pies with the crawfish filling. Cover the filling with the second pie crusts.

3. Crimp the sides of the pies to seal them. Cut slits in the top of the pies to allow them to release steam as they bake. If you are only baking one of the pies, wrap the second one and freeze it for a later time.

4. Bake the pie for 25 to 35 minutes or until the top is golden and the filling is beginning to bubble out of the slits on the top of the pie.

5. Remove the pie and allow it to sit 10 minutes before cutting it.