1. Buy some gift cards TODAY. We KNOW we will have that last minute gift we have to give. Have a stack of easy, peasy goodies ready to go.
2. Buy a few bottles of 'good enough' wine. You don't want to go empty handed, you don't want to have to run out all season and the the wine for the hostess gift.
3. Create a budget - you'll be glad you did. Sale items can get us into just as much credit card trouble as full price items bought with cash.
4. Start freezing shit. Double your Cincinnati Chili (recipe below!), make cookie dough and freeze it in little balls to be whipped out and bake later.
5. Plan some self-care. An afternoon at a movie YOU want to see, a housekeeper to come before the guests arrive, massage, yoga, sleeping in. Ain't nobody happy if Mama (or Papa) ain't happy.
Pseudo Cincinnati Chili
Cook’s note: For five-way chili, sprinkle raw diced onions on top.
8 ounces thin spaghetti
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef (93 percent lean)
1 large onion (for 1 cup chopped)
1 large green bell pepper (for 11/2 cups chopped)
2 small cans (8-ounces each) tomato sauce
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
cayenne pepper to taste, optional
salt to taste, optional
1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans
1/4 cup already-shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1. Bring 2 1/2 quarts of unsalted water to a boil in a 4 1/2 -quart Dutch oven or soup pot. When the water reaches a rapid boil, add the spaghetti and cook until tender, 7 to 9 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil on high heat just until hot. Using your fingers, crumble the ground beef into the skillet. Immediately wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap and hot water. Peel and coarsely chop the onion, adding it to the skillet as you chop. Stir the meat occasionally. Rinse and seed the bell pepper and cut it into 1/4-inch dice. Add it to the skillet.
3. Cook, stirring frequently, until the ground beef is finely crumbled and completely browned, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium.
4. Add the tomato sauce, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Stir to mix well. Reduce the heat to simmer, and continue to cook, stirring from time to time, until the pasta is done. Season with cayenne pepper and salt, to taste, if desired. Meanwhile, rinse and drain the beans, and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a paper towel and microwave 1 minute on high or until heated through.
5. To serve, divide the drained spaghetti among 4 serving bowls. Top each serving with chili, 1/2 cup kidney beans and 1 tablespoon shredded cheese.
Serve at once. Serves 4
Approximate Values Per Serving: 589 calories (20% from fat), 13 g fat (5 g saturated), 75 mg cholesterol, 42 g protein, 76 g carbohydrates, 11 g dietary fiber, 1,011 mg sodium