Our local beach has a wonderful tradition; every Friday they host a Family Fun Night. Each week there is a theme with a special menu built around it. It is not five star dining but they really make an effort to cook authentic dishes. In addition to the food they also set up a Tiki Bar. (I think I can speak for most people that this is the real draw!)
This past Friday the theme was Family Fiesta, before that was Fisherman’s Catch, Tapas night and American BBQ. They even had a Hawaiian Luau, complete with a pig roast. Sadly we missed that one. Upcoming events include: Mardi Gras, Italian night, and the end of year Clam Bake, a huge favorite.
They call it Family Fun night but it is really more of a Happy Hour (kids welcome) for the Moms & Dads. It is a great way for the working parents to connect with the stay-at-home parents after a long workweek on both sides. Since the beach is small most everyone is a familiar face. And the best feature of our beach is a six-foot fence so kids can’t escape! It is nice to be able to let the boys run around and they are thrilled to have their little bit of freedom.
The beach has extended hours Friday nights and most kids (and some parents) get to stay up way past bedtimes. But after dinner and the obligatory ice cream we usually don’t make it much past 8pm. Once we start to see the beginnings of a meltdown it’s our signal to pack up our brood and head home for bath and bedtime. The boys always give us a hard time about leaving but we remind them that there is always next Friday…
For Tapas night, there was a dish on the menu called Albondigas. Sounded very exotic, turns out it means meatballs, which is right up our alley. Traditionally, they are served in a soup with similar ingredients to Matzo Ball Soup so I thought the boys might like this one.
Albondigas Soup (adapted from recipe of Chelsie Kenyon)
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 cup rice (uncooked)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin, divided
4 cloves garlic, finely minced, divided
2 quarts chicken broth
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 white onions, diced
3 large carrots, or 12-15 small carrots, chopped
2 cups baby spinach, fresh
Handful fresh cilantro leaves
2 tsp oregano
In a large bowl mix ground beef, pork, salt, 1 tsp cumin, 2 cloves garlic until well blended. Do not overwork. Form small meatballs, about 1” in diameter.
Bring chicken broth to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and add in meatballs. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients.
Simmer for two hours, until vegetables have softened and rice in meatballs has cooked through.
And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 6): “This soup is so yummy but don’t be sad Mommy, I like Grandma’s carrots better”
Liam (age 4): “I ate a carrot!”
Dylan (age 4): “These meatballs keep rolling off my spoon!”
Even with the runaway meatballs, I considered this a very successful meal.