Picture this: the night before Thanksgiving, out-of-town family members pile out of the car, race up your driveway and congregate in your crowded kitchen, hungrily awaiting a meal. Since you’ve been stressing about what you’ll be making for Thanksgiving dinner, you end up spending way too much money on pizza delivery to make sure your guests don’t starve.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone; the holiday season means you’ll probably be hosting family members, which also means you’ll be expected to provide food leading up to and during the actual holiday. Use these tips to make your holiday cooking experience smooth and stress-free:
• Plan ahead
Organization is crucial for any big event, and holiday cooking is no exception. Make a list of ingredients and recipes a couple weeks before your big meal and have everything ready to go on the day of. Planning a schedule of what day and what time you want to make each dish is another good way to make sure you’ll stay on track with your cooking plan and to ensure everything gets done.
• Clean as you go
Cooking is stressful enough, but there’s nothing more terrifying than facing a sink chock full of dirty, sticky dishes. To avoid spending the entire night scrubbing furiously at the sink, make sure to clean as you cook. Wash and reuse bowls and cooking utensils instead of grabbing a new one every time you need it; you’ll have a much cleaner kitchen and won’t have to spend so much time cleaning later on.
• Have a backup plan
Cooking mistakes happen: recipes don’t turn out well, things get burned and platters get dropped. Nobody wants to think about their meal being ruined, but it’s much better to be prepared for the worst case scenario than having to tell a crowd of hungry guests that you have nothing else to feed them. Keep a few boxes of pasta and jars of sauce in your cupboard or a prepared casserole in the freezer that you can whip out—just in case.
• Stick to one-pot meals
From light soups to hearty stews and from easy chili recipes to formal roasts, one-pot meals are hands-down the easiest way to cook for large groups of people. Not only do one-pot meals drastically reduce the number of dishes you’ll have to clean later on, but they also typically require only a few basic ingredients you probably already have on hand. Slow cooker recipes are the easiest one-pot meals of all; the only work you have to do is dumping your ingredients in the pot and flipping the switch!
This recipe for Spicy Beef and Bean Chili is perfect for feeding a crowd, whether it’s during the Sunday night football game or for Christmas Eve dinner. Since it’s a slow cooker recipe, it requires virtually no hands on time so you can actually spend quality time with your company this holiday.
Calories per serving: 300
• PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
• 1 cup chopped onion
• 2-1/2 pounds boneless chuck roast, cut into large pieces
• 3 cans (10 oz each) Ro*Tel® Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained
• 1 can (6 oz each) Hunt's® Tomato Paste
• 2 cans (14.25 oz each) beans in chili seasoned sauce
• 2 tablespoons Gebhardt® Chili Powder
Spray the inside of a large slow cooker with cooking spray. Place remaining ingredients in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or on HIGH for 5 to 6 hours or until meat is tender. Top with shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, jalapeños or sour cream, if desired.