I love to cook, but during the week I don’t have much time, so usually I end up eating one of three boring things: 1) a baked sweet potato , 2) a frozen Three Cheese Ziti Marinara dinner from Smart Ones, or 3) an Almond Butter–Chocolate Smoothie . On the weekends, I like to try new recipes so I can expand my cooking repertoire and taste new things (though anyone who regularly eats frozen dinners should probably not use the word “repertoire” in relation to her cooking).
Truthfully, I’m more of a baker,  so when I make nonsweet meals for friends, I’m constantly worrying about what they think. Is it too bland? Is it too spicy? Will they develop food poisoning from it or spit it in their napkins when my back is turned?
A few years ago, I decided I needed to find a go-to dinner-party dish that not only tasted good but would also intoxicate my dinner guests with its heavenly smell. When I stumbled across this recipe for Bolognese sauce  in O, The Oprah Magazine, I knew I’d found the golden ticket. The sauce needs to simmer for three hours, so when your guests arrive, they’ll be greeted with the rich, delicious scent of garlic, tomatoes, and meats stewing. And by the time everyone sits down to eat, the yummy aroma will have driven them so mad with anticipation, they’ll be ravenous, and anything they eat will taste like a culinary masterpiece. This sauce will not disappoint them—and a liberal sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano will make it even better.
These days, I cook with a little more confidence, thanks to this easy-to-make recipe and a few other weapons in my dinner-party arsenal. I’ve learned to just relax, have a glass of wine, and remember Julia Child’s wise words as I cook: “Never apologize!”
Next in the My Go-to Dish Series: Creamy ’n’ Dreamy 
The Prosciutto Sandwich I Still Dream About 
Campania, Cooking at the Source: Letters from Italy 
The Curse of Cinque Terre