Tiny-Budget Entertaining: Southern Comfort

Friends and neighbors, it’s been a busy few days in the Tiny Wallet headquarters! We have hosted dinner parties both Friday and Monday nights- phew! Hosting a dinner after a full day of work is daunting- especially for those of us who go on a maniacal cleaning spree pre-guests.

Luckily, Mike was home to cover the cleaning duties, leaving me to figure out what to make that would be: 1) cheapy cheap, of course 2) deliciously comforting after a rainy day and 3) super quick- our guests were arriving just about an hour after I got home from work.

Our friends had mentioned during the plan-making that they would be bringing homemade pickles, so I tried to think what I could make to serve alongside these famous pickles. Why not BBQ?

We decided on slow-cooked ribs, spicy mac and cheese and some sort of veggie- we had a menu and were in business. Here’s how we pulled together a dinner for 4 in a little over an hour!

Monday morning:

Toss the ribs (about 4 lbs of pork spare ribs) in the slow cooker. Throw together homemade BBQ sauce (you can certainly make ahead and refrigerate until you need it!). Turn the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours.

Monday night:

Come home, pour yourself a glass of vino and switch the slow cooker to warm. Preheat the oven to 400°f. Throw a pot of boiling, salted water on. While you’re waiting for it to boil, grate your cheeses. Dump your pound of pasta into the water- set timer for 8 minutes- you want it to be slightly undercooked. Start your white sauce. After that’s made, assemble and throw your broccoli into the oven.

At this point, your pasta should be done. Drain, mix with sauce and toss into casserole. Top with crumbs and put into the oven. Set your table, sit back and wait for your guests to arrive!!!!

That’s it, folks. It’s pretty easy if you take the time to gather your ingredients and think about the steps. Everything came out AMAZINGLY and we were a very happy bunch of diners. Recipes to follow

Spicy Mac and Cheese

1 lb tube pasta- we used cavatappi

6-8 oz. shredded cheese- grate it fresh, it melts better

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

2 cups milk

1 can of tomatoes and chilies- Rotel is our brand of choice

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp paprika

salt and pepper to taste

a few handfuls of panko breadcrumbs

Boil and drain pasta, making sure to slightly under cook it. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour to melted butter, whisking until smooth. Lower heat and add in your milk- whisk constantly until blended. Toss in cheese, Rotel, cayenne and paprika, stir until smooth.

Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. Mix in the pasta and stir to coat. Add pasta into your casserole dish. Toast panko in a little butter and a few shakes of hot sauce, if you would like. Top the mac and cheese with panko and bake at 400°f for 15 minutes or until golden.

Oh hello, gorgeous.

Slow Cooker BBQ Sauce

28oz. can of tomato sauce

1/2 c. brown sugar or honey

2 tbsp worcestershire sauce

3 tbsp vinegar- apple cider or red wine

1 tbsp chipotle powder (or regular chili powder)

3 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp cayenne

Mix until combined. Pour over ribs in the slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours until tender. Eat. Faint from happiness.


Spicy Broccoli a la Ina

1 bag frozen broccoli or a few crowns of fresh, chopped into small florets

1-2 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 lemon, zested and juiced

generous pinch of salt

1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes

-Toss broccoli with other ingredients. Roast at 400°f for about 15 minutes or until the broccoli begins to crisp on the edges.

Ina Garten’s recipe can be found here.

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