Occasions: Ninth Annual Holiday Potluck

Every year in early December, The Bay School’s families descend upon the school for a casual potluck dinner. Armed with seasonal beverages, festive dishes and good cheer, families with students from all grade levels come to relax, share their holiday traditions and connect with each other.

While some menu items come from cookbooks that have lasted generations, other contributions are a bit more contemporary and disappear from the tables just as quickly! Parent Moira tells us that “food that reflects the ethnicity of the family is a special treat.” She recommends antipasto, baguettes, Caesar salad, Dijon chicken, enchiladas, fried rice or goulash. And we’ve pasted the recipe for her Tex-Mex polenta recommendation further below. Classic potluck fare aside, last year one parent arrived with a stack of take-out pizza boxes, the contents of which were eagerly devoured within five minutes!

Acre Gourmet’s Head Chef Erica shares her experience and suggestions for holiday potluck success:

“My favorite thing about a potluck is trying all sorts of new foods that I otherwise may not have tried. My best advice is to do what you know best – make a family dish. It’s nice to share a bit of your culture with everyone. It may seem mundane to you, but will definitely be a new experience for someone at your party.

I would also definitely recommend some of the fabulous squash that is widely available this time of year. It’s been appearing on our school lunch menu for the last few weeks and we’re actually having a squash tasting next Monday [Dec. 3] – so the kids will likely be able to lend some knowledge on popular types and their tastes.

It’s super easy to prepare – halve, scoop out the seeds and slice. Toss with oil, salt and pepper and roast until tender. You save time by not peeling, and the finished product can be eaten much like you would a slice of melon. A nice vegetable alternative for a potluck, roasted winter squash is tasty hot, room temperature or even chilled (we feature it often on our salad bar!). Some of the more popular types are Acorn, Delicata and Carnival – I’ve spotted all of those recently at Trader Joes, so they’re easy to come by.”

What will you share with the community this holiday season? We hope you’ll join us at this year’s ninth annual potluck. There’s no need to RSVP. Here are the details:

What: Holiday Potluck

Who: The Bay School’s students, parents, guardians, siblings, grandparents, etc.

Please bring one hearty dish to serve 16.
  • Freshmen: main dish
  • Sophomores: appetizer
  • Juniors: salad or side dish
  • Seniors: dessert

When: 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6

Where: The Bay School Great Room

Contact: Questions? Contact Moira at moira_brennan@yahoo.com or (415) 440-0011.


TexMex Polenta Pie


  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium green sweet pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound uncooked ground turkey
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 15 – ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14 1/2 – ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup bottled salsa
  • 2 16 – ounce tubes refrigerated cooked polenta
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh tomato
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a 12-inch skillet cook onion, sweet pepper, and garlic in 1 tablespoon hot oil until tender. Add turkey, chili powder, cumin and cayenne. Cook until turkey is no longer pink, stirring to break up the meat. Add beans, undrained canned tomatoes and salsa. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer gently, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, grease a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Cut 1 tube of polenta into 1/2-inch cubes and press evenly into prepared baking dish. Halve remaining polenta lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; set aside. Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese over polenta in dish. Top with meat mixture. Arrange sliced polenta over meat; sprinkle with remaining cheese and fresh tomato. Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with cilantro. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Makes 12 servings.

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