When the kids are little or time or money is short, try a backyard camp out for an easy recipe for great family fun. All you need are some willing campers, a tent, some bedding and a spirit of adventure.
1.) Acquire a tent. Hopefully there's one in the garage and you can find it. If not, you can ask your friends if you can borrow one, or you can go to the local thrift store and see if you can score a bargain. Alternately you can hit the discount stores; tents should be in the sporting goods section and shouldn't cost a lot of money.
2.) Gather supplies. We need sleeping bags or bedding and pillows for each camper. We need at least one flashlight and hopefully a battery operated lantern to light our tent. Some cards and games might be fun, too.
3.) Find a flat and dry area of your yard and pitch your tent. This can be the funniest part of this whole procedure. Generally, modern tents come with folded stakes that unfold and stamp into one another. These poles are threaded into channels sewn on the outside of the tent, then the ends are held in place in the ground with stakes. There is usually a rain shield that covers the whole assembly in case of, you guessed it, rain. If your tent is older, you're on your own for assembly.
4.) Food and drink are critical to the success of this mission. Plan to cook your meal outside. See the easy recipe ideas below.
5.) Light the grill or BBQ fire and play some games with the kids. Lawn darts, the non-lethal kind, are good, as is frisbee.
6.) Cook dinner and eat. Plan some dessert, too. Roast marshmallows over the fire or grill some peaches and drizzle with maple syrup then top with ice cream.
7.) Play games with the kids after dinner. Tell stories. When it gets dark, tell scary stories passing around the flashlight. Fortunately, if it get's too scary, the house is nearby.
8.) This is the hard part: Get comfortable, go to sleep and stay in the tent until morning. Take the flashlight if you need to make an indoor privy visit. And the good news about backyard camping is that if it gets too uncomfortable, you can always go inside and go to bed. The best part is the time together, not the snoring in the tent part.
Smoked Cheddar Stuffed Hamburgers
1 pound ground beef
1/2 tablespoons salt-free garlic-and-herb seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 hamburger buns
In a large bowl, combine the beef and garlic seasoning until mixed. Shape into four patties about 1-inch thick. Press a chunk of cheese into the center of each of the patties, and make sure it is well covered with meat. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, or prepare outside grill. Cook the burgers on the skillet or grill about 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium to medium well done. Serve on buns.