My croc-pot and BBQ pit are my friends.
Its hard to screw up BBQ for me nowadays and its fun, I go back and forth between the pit and the game/race/video game.
And it always gets brownie points not just with the family but with the neighbors
I'm a charcoal guy, use an old Weber. Coals in a lighting cylinder thingie, dump em when white on one side of the grill for a two zone fire, slap in some (soaked) mesquite chips, plop on meat, remove meat, receive veneration as awesome from everyone.
The croc-pot is awesome for psuedo gumbos. Fry up a pound of spicy link sausage real slow, get as much grease out as you can. Fry up a pound of chicken breast, shred it. Cube a couple of onions, some green onions, slap all that in the pot, cover with water that you boil from the empty pan you fried the meat up in. Add a couple bay leaves or so and some zataran's cajun seasoning and the like.
No need for a proper roux in these lickety split gumbo/stews. Just cook that slow (six hours or so is what I do, more usually), add in a couple of chicken boullion cubes and whatever else suits your fancy to darken the broth. Make up some rice of some kind, I steam white rice, serve your gumbo over the rice.
Exaggerate by miles how much thought went into the "hmm, that might be good in it" portion of the cooking. They all think you are a genius and the whole schabang takes like 20 minutes to prepare. Plus it makes the house smell nice all day and raises their anticipation every time they come into the house. Make em wait till they are good and hungry and you increase the chance that whatever you thew into the pot will be seen as The Best Possible Ingredients Imaginable(tm).
I seriously get all kinds of "Kiss the Cook" aprons and whatnot from all my extended family and I don't do much more than that above. Only thing is you get volunteered to do the large get togethers, which is a pain. Trick of that is to always pawn off the cleaning part of it and make them supply you with beer, then its actually kind of fun to captain the BBQ pit and pretend you know secrets to it.
And never, ever tell them you don't