High-end smoked turkey and ham from Costco--no prep except for opening the packages
Homemade rolls--an hour or so of actual work
Black bean/corn/avocado/red onion/pepper salad--some veggie prep and the salad dressing
My special gussied-up baked beans from a can--bacon cooking, onion chopping and sauteing, combining and baking
Fruit salad--made by my mother-in-law, so no work from me!
Clementines--no prep except putting them in a bowl
Miniature apple pies--a fair amount of fiddly work, but nothing too arduous, and my son will help
Pumpkin swirl brownies--same amount of work as the apple pies
Cranberry Juice and key lime club soda punch--as simple as it sounds, using a half-and-half mixture. I will probably make up some cranberry juice ice cubes to keep the punch cold without watering it down.
Debi's Gussied-Up Baked Beans from a Can
There's nothing sacred about the ingredients for this dish; what matters is that the sauce for the beans must not be runny. I cannot understand why people don't understand that making baked beans in the crockpot with the lid on is pointless. The whole reason for cooking the beans for a long time (assuming that you're not starting out with raw dried ones) is so that the sauce will reduce down and become thick. If you cook them with a lid on, then the water can't evaporate, thus defeating your whole purpose. Everybody got that? Okay.
Here's what I do:
Get the largest size of pork & beans you can, as of course they're cheaper bought in bulk. I usually get VanCamp's as in the picture, just because that's kind of the standard, but you can buy any brand you want. Campbell's is very similar. (The pictured can is 7 lbs., 2 oz., or 114 oz. I plan to buy another one of that size and, depending on how full the pans look, dividing the mixture among either three or four of them. It's hard to know the exact amount I'll end up with.) Dump the beans into a rectangular baking pan so that they're spread out no more than a 2-3 inches deep. Again, yet another reason for not using the crockpot, which has high sides. You want more area for evaporation. Mix in ketchup until the sauce is fairly red, then add brown sugar to taste. I usually make mine pretty sweet but will probably cut down a little on it for Sunday. In the meantime, saute bacon or bake it in the oven (which is what I almost always do--see below), drain on paper towels and chop into fairly small pieces. (The more bacon the better, as far as I'm concerned.) Use some of the bacon fat to saute an onion or two. Mix the bacon and onions into the beans and bake at 325 for several hours, checking periodically to see that it's not burning on the bottom. If things aren't progressing properly you can always turn up the oven temp, but keep an eye on it. You want there to be a nice thick, goopy look to the top. I will post pictures next week of how mine came out. I'm planning to use the disposable pans I've pictured before in my chafing dish, which I'm also showing below, so no pans to scrub for me.
For this Sunday I'm going to use up some real bacon bits that I bought awhile ago and put in the freezer. They'll work fine for this dish but aren't very good if you want to be able to sprinkle crisp bacon bits over something; they're kind of tough and chewy just out of the bag but will mellow out in the oven. I will also cook some regular bacon and use the fat for the onions, as above. (No, the bacon fat won't kill you.) I very rarely cook just a few slices of bacon on the stovetop but instead do at least a pound at a time in the oven. (Yes, I know that report just came out about processed meats such as bacon being tied to cancer. How much bacon can you eat, anyway? Hey, I never, ever buy bologna or other types of "lunch meat." So I think we can have some bacon every so often.)
Here's how I typically cook bacon:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (which will be 375 on the convection setting, which is what I use). Line a large rimmed (obviously) cookie sheet with foil, unless you like to scrub pans. For my large 15x10 pans I can typically get a whole pound of bacon on one sheet, overlapping them a little. Let bake for 10 minutes, then flip over and go another 3-5 minutes. You want the bacon to be fully rendered, but there's a fine line between crisp and burned. When the bacon has fat bubbling on the top and is lightly browned then it's done. Drain on paper towels. If you're not going to use the bacon fat for anything, use those same paper towels to sop it up, just laying them over the foil. Then you can just roll up the whole shebang and put it in the trash, thus avoiding the horrible bacon-fat-in-a-can syndrome. For this recipe I drain off a couple of tablespoons of the fat and then throw out the rest.