The chili was as easy as I'd thought it would be. I saute'd two onions, a red pepper and two hot green peppers in some vegetable oil with chipotle seasoning mix until they were soft and let them cool a bit. I then put them in the crockpot with the three cans of beans and the two cans of diced tomatoes. The pinto beans came with a lot of liquid, but I added that since the beans were low-sodium. I added chili powder and more chipotle seasoning, and the chili beans were also fairly spicy, plus some salt, a glug of balsamic vinegar and some black pepper. Covered it, set it to low and put a weight on the lid. Done.
Next morning,I did the mise en place thing, at least minimally. That is, I chopped three red onions quite finely (as I was going to use them immediately, that was not a problem even on Shabbat) before preparing the salads. I scooped out three avocadoes (perfectly ripe :)) and mashed them with a handful of the onions, the juice of one lime, a minced garlic clove and a couple of shots of hot sauce. Then I stirred in some chopped tomatoes, covered the container and put it in the fridge.
The tuna salad was on the plain side - three cans of tuna, two white and one light (I like the way that mixture tasts.), another handful of the onion, two celery ribs chopped fine, a bit of salt and pepper and light mayo. That was covered and placed in the fridge.
The green salad was, well, a symphony of greens. Scallions, celery, green pepper, cucumber, fresh parsley (I love adding green herbs like that to salads) chopped and mixed with two bags of red leaf and butter lettuce mix. I made a dressing in a small container - juice of one lemon and one lime, light olive oil, a dash of cider vinegar, some white pepper and some salt, plus a couple of stray parsley leaves. I put the container in the fridge, cleaned up and I was done.
The adults (Lynne, Scott and Rebecca) loved the guac. The kids, Joy and Joel, not so much. It didn't help that Joy was distracted by my vast comic book collection. Joel did condescend to eat some celery pieces, but Joy found the salad too lemony. Scott? Had thirds.
As for the chili - I have bad luck with cholents. They always come out dull and gummy. I've pretty well given up on them. But I wanted to try this. And as the stuff in the crockpot was almost black on top, I didn't have high hopes for this.
Until I dished it into a serving bowl. It smelled like chili. And far from being gummy - it was almost soupy. And it didn't taste dull when I tried a bean. In fact, it was just the right degree of spicy. Lynne put the brown rice into another serving bowl and we passed it around with chopped onions and pareve sour cream. (She appreciated that, actually, as she's lactose intolerant.) Joy liked the beans, Joel had tuna salad. Everyone else - well, Scott and Jonathan (who HATES cholent) had seconds.
I think it was a combination of factors - the spicing, the fact that the beans were already cooked, the diced tomatoes instead of paste or sauce, and the fact that I never had the crockpot on high - that gave me such good results. Probably the volume, too.
The apple strudel and ice cream were a big hit for dessert - except that Joel wanted the chocolate cake we did not tell him was diet. I have no strudel left. I had a teaspoon of the ice cream, though, and it was delicious. Haagen Dazs Dulce du Leche - truly yummy.
We had a lovely chat while the kids explored my comics (and even Lynne found a trade of Daredevil she liked - she's a Marvel fan. I let her borrow it.)
And when it came time to say the grace after meals - well, we had two adult men and three adult women. That says we had a quorum of women for bentching. (Three is the minimum number, but if we had three or more men, that would trump the women. Unfortunately.) So, since I knew Rebecca would decline - she always has - I asked Lynne to lead us.
And then we chatted some more - they didn't leave until after 3:30. It was lovely.