Wondering what to bring to the next holiday party? Try these recipes

A neighbor just had a baby. A church member is recovering from surgery. Your friend invited you to a potluck. Your boss extended you an invitation to her open house. If with each of these scenarios, your first thought is, “What can I bring?,” well, now there’s a book for that — a cookbook, that is.

“What Can I Bring? Southern Food for Any Occasion Life Serves Up” (Oxmoor House, $30) is a new cookbook by Elizabeth Heiskell, an entertaining guru who got her start as a caterer and has since developed a following with her Southern Living column and, more recently, as a contributor on NBC’s “Today” show. She visits Atlanta Thursday and Friday as part of a multi-city book tour.

Elizabeth Heiskell

6:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 2. Cooking demonstration and book signing. $49. The Cook’s Warehouse, 1544 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta. 1-800-499-0996, cookswarehouse.com.

Noon-2 p.m. Nov. 3. Book signing. Free. A Cappella Books, 208 Haralson Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-681-5128, acappellabooks.com.

Scroll down for recipes for the perfect dishes to bring to your next party, and read more about Heiskell's cookbook and details of her Atlanta visit at myajc.com.

Bacon Bites

“So here it is in all its glory . . . our most talked about, sought after, and begged for recipe.  We love these served in mint julep cups or silver goblets. Although this recipe calls for just three simple ingredients, there are a few tips that will make you a pro. Always line your rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Watch the bacon bites, and, if they are cooking too fast on the bottom, roll them over so they can caramelize evenly. As soon as they are done take them off the pan, otherwise they will superglue themselves to the foil.  Once they are cool you can stack them in an airtight container and they will keep for two days.” – Elizabeth Heiskell

Serves 22

2 cups packed light brown sugar

22 bacon slices

22 very thin breadsticks (from a 3.5-ounce package)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spread the brown sugar in a large pan or baking sheet.
  • Wrap 1 bacon slice around each breadstick, starting at one end of the breadstick and barely overlapping the bacon. Roll the breadsticks in the brown sugar, pressing to adhere. (At this point, you can cover and refrigerate overnight, if desired.) Place breadsticks on an aluminum foil-lined 12- x 7-inch baking sheet.
  • Bake until bacon is cooked through and almost crisp, 35 to 40 minutes. Immediately remove the warm sticks from baking sheet, and place on wax paper. (They will stick like glue if not moved immediately.) Cool to room temperature.

Winter Salad

“This salad was born because I was so sad that summer had come to an end. I was craving a panzanella salad in the worst way but refused to make it with winter’s mealy, watery tomatoes.  I made this salad for one of the first parties I catered in Oxford. It was a huge hit and helped put us on the map!” – Elizabeth Heiskell

Serves 8

1 (10-ounce) loaf rosemary or garlic ciabatta bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

¼ cup olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons

2½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 small (about 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5 cups)

4 medium beets (about 1 1⁄2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups)

3 medium turnips (about 1 1⁄4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)

4 medium carrots (about 3⁄4 pound), peeled and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ cup Versatile Vinaigrette (Recipe follows))

4 cups loosely packed arugula, mixed greens, or mizuna

4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Toss the bread cubes with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until dry and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.
  • Toss together the squash, beets, turnips, carrots, pepper and remaining 1⁄4 cup olive oil and 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt; divide between 2 rimmed baking sheets, and spread in an even layer. Bake at 400 degrees until tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes, stirring twice during baking. Cool completely on baking sheets on wire racks, about 20 minutes.
  • Toss together the bread cubes, roasted vegetables and Vinaigrette in a large bowl until  combined. Let stand 10 minutes.
  • Place the arugula on a platter; top with the roasted vegetable mixture, and sprinkle with  the goat cheese. Serve immediately.

Versatile Vinaigrette

¾ cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons honey

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¾ cup olive oil or canola oil

  • Whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly, until smooth.

Excerpted from What Can I Bring? by Elizabeth Heiskell. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Ligaya Figueras
Ligaya Figueras
Ligaya Figueras joined the AJC as its food and dining editor in 2015.