An Arizona Bash

Last Friday Bill and I climbed into our car and began making our way to our desert house.

A couple of years ago, my sister suggested to us that we consider purchasing a second home with her in Arizona. It made sense. Nearly all of our extended families are here. And we all dislike the cold and snow more and more as we get older. We took the plunge and haven’t looked back. Bill and I spend Christmas to Mother’s Day here, and Jen, who is still working, comes as often as possible. We find we are very good house mates.

We all arrived here on Saturday, and hit the ground running, hosting a huge family party at our house (which we have dubbed Bungalow Bill’s) in honor of my sister’s grandson’s 3rd birthday. We had nearly the entire Arizona gang here, except my older sister who is traveling in Europe, her son who is sick with a cold, and his 7-year-old daughter who was at a sleepover. I have spoken before about my wonderful family, all of whom are enthusiastic, loving, funny, and full of life. Our parties are always lively and there is always a plethora of food. My sister Jennifer was the primary chef this time, and her offerings centered around delicious cheese-stuffed meatballs with rigatoni.

She busily cooked, all the while dodging the kids – cousins ranging in age from 7 months to 7 years and two more on the way – and enjoying the background noise of laughter, squealing kids, and football. We munched on chips and guac and a delicious salami appetizer Jen had gotten from an episode of Barefoot Contessa.

There is hardly anything in the world I love more than getting together with family. All that’s left of this gathering are deflating balloons and a left-behind pacifier! Signs of a good party.

Gatherings of loved ones, no matter how big or how small, remind us that we are not solitary creatures, and that all of those little problems we think are insurmountable really aren’t as long as you have friends and family who love you.

Jen’s meatballs came from a recipe she got from Mix and Match Mama’s blog. Here it is:

Provolone Stuffed Meatballs

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 onion, grated
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 c. panko breadcrumbs
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
2 eggs, beaten
2 splashes milk
1 t. crushed red pepper
4-6 oz. Provolone cheese
Salt and pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine ground beef, onion, garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, eggs, milk, crushed red pepper and salt and pepper. As you roll a meatball, take a piece of your provolone and stick it in the center, rolling the meat mixture all the way around it and then place on a foil-lined, lightly greased baking pan. Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over all of the meatballs. Roast in the oven about 20 minutes, or until brown.

Serve over spaghetti or have them as individual appetizers.