Sunday Family Dinner – Summah’ Grilling and Chillin’

June 2015 Family Dinner

 Sunday Family Dinners in the summer are all about dining al fresco. Long days, warm and beautiful weather…it’s perfect.

June 2015 Family Dinner

I love summer family dinners where the pace is a little bit slower and we really get the chance to catch up with what’s new with each other.

June 2015 Family Dinner

A big topic of conversation at June’s fam din?

Backyard decor… obvi.

June 2015 Family Dinner

Seester just got a new set of fantastic patio furniture. And after lounging in the new chairs for a bit, I realized that something was missing. They need a brick pizza oven—STAT! A brilliant idea!

It got quickly vetoed.

Party poopers.

June 2015 Family Dinner

Our inspiration for dinner was not so much a “theme” but started off with an idea that the main dish should feature all kinds of skewers. Because who doesn’t love meat on a stick?

Plus, if there’s grilling involved, the boys get a hand in things.

June 2015 Family Dinner

And because y’all know us so well, you know that there were cocktails. In fact, we had a few different types that night (it’s how we roll), but Seester came up with this one after watching an episode of Tiffani Thiessen’s cooking show.

It consisted of an iced fruit tea, ginger simple syrup, lime juice, mint, tequila and fresh fruit.

Light and refreshing.

Kelly Kapowski apparently knows cocktails.

June 2015 Family Dinner-Cocktails

To munch on before dinner, my niece Nina fried up a batch of Crispy Andouille Hush Puppies. I loved the salty, smokey flavor the andouille gave to the hush puppies. To serve with them, I whipped up a quick sauce from random things I found in the fridge and luckily, it turned out great. Though–I kind of blew it and didn’t jot down what it consisted of but it had things like sour cream, mayo, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, fresh dill, garlic and pixie dust.

The last ingredient is not optional.

The recipe for the hush puppies can be found at here.

June 2015 Family Dinner-Hush Puppies

Then we put the boys to work! Fire up the grill, Dudes!

June 2015 Family Dinner

We did three types of skewers:

June 2015 Family Dinner-Skewers

Why three different skewers? Why not?!

Plus, we generally have a hard time just choosing one thing.

June 2015 Family Dinner- Skewers

To serve with the skewers, I whipped up a quick Watermelon-Feta-Arugula Salad (recipe post coming soon) which is a great accompaniment to any BBQ. It’s fresh, light, and essentially guilt free.

Though, I rarely experience guilt with food.

Carpe diem!

June 2015 Family Dinner: Watermelon-Feta Salad

We also made a bunch of Elotes – Mexican style street corn. Super simple to make and you can find out how from a previous post here.

Elote {Grilled Mexican Style Street Corn}

And lastly–dessert!

Now, most of us admitted that we underestimated this dessert. Don’t get me wrong–eldest seester can definitely bake but we didn’t really have a good point of reference for an icebox pie. But after one bite, we knew what fools we had been.

The texture was incredibly creamy and smooth which resulted in somewhat of an ice cream pie texture. She also tweaked the originally recipe that can be found here by:

  • Substituting mango schnapps with mango extract (she also used the extract in the whipped cream);
  • Used ataulfo mangoes as they generally yield a much sweeter and aromatic fruit;
  • Used about 1 cup of mango puree versus the listed 3/4 cup;
  • Used graham instead of saltine crackers for the crust and doubled the amount.

June 2015 Family Dinner: Mango-Lemon Buttermilk Icebox Pie

And after all the food was eaten and the dishes were washed–there was nothing else to do but get in some jacuzzi time!

June 2015 Family Dinner

Now if that’s not a fitting Summer Fam Din, I don’t know what is.

Stay tuned for the wrap up of July’s Family Dinner with all 5 Nguyễn siblings!

Ceviche de Pescado

Ceviche de Pescado

I know y’all must be tired of me complaining about the weather…..

But it’s HAWT IN HERRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And muggy.

Bleh.

But I can’t help it! I’m a SoCal wussy when it comes to weather and I am dyyyyiiiiinnnnggg.

Like Dead.

I’ll miss you.

Ceviche de Pescado

But before I pass on to the afterlife, let me pull this oldie but goodie out to share with you that is an absolute MUST during the summer— Ceviche de Pescado.

Ceviche of all sorts is quite popular in my neck of the woods having its roots in Mexican and Latin cuisines. It’s essentially a dish comprised of fish (or other seafood) that is “cooked” in citrus juice and spices. Since the acidity from the citrus “cooks” the fish, there’s no needs to crank on the stove or oven to make this little number—which is one of the reasons it’s perfect for warm days.

This time around I used a basic approach with the ceviche but depending on the region of Latin America, you can add just about anything such as corn, sweet potatoes, plantains, or even a tomato sauce. I also chose to use red snapper for this batch but any fresh, white fish will do……or even shrimp, scallops, octopus–the ocean is the limit!

But one thing is a must…..since you’re not using any heat in the preparation of this dish, you have to use the freshest proteins you can get your hands on.

How can you tell?

Sashimi grade labeled fish or products from a trusted fishmonger is generally a safe bet. But when in doubt—smell it. If it smells fishy–skip it.

Ceviche de Pescado

Oh…in case you were worried, my puggle turned on the air conditioner while I was passed out and I miraculously sprung back to life.

That clever little puppy. <3

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Ceviche de Pescado
Servings 4-6

Ingredients:

 1½-2 pounds firm white fish fillets, evenly diced (ie. snapper, tilapia, bass, etc.)
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 cup fresh lime juice
zest of 1 lime
1 serrano chili, seeds removed and finely diced
½ tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ small red onion, finely diced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup diced tomatoes
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
2-3 pinches cayenne pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

 In a large, non-reactive bowl, gently combine the fish, orange juice, lime juice, lime zest, serrano chili, garlic, bell pepper and red onion. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 60 minutes. The fish should turn white and opaque.

Drain and discard all but ¼ of the liquid from the bowl. Fold in the cilantro, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and olive oil. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with additional lime wedges, hot sauce, diced avocados, and tortilla chips.

Belgian Beer Mussels…. You’re Welcome.

Belgian Beer Mussels

We have been having some truly strange weather in San Diego these past few weeks. I’ll wake up to a chilly sea mist and drizzling skies. By late morning, it becomes overcast, muggy and humid. The sun may peak out for an hour or two before sunset. By bedtime it is hot has heck, that if you don’t crank up the AC or turn on the fans, you’ll be drenched by morning.

Eww.

It’s the type of weather that makes you feel a little scattered and you definitely don’t want to be slaving away in the kitchen over a hot stove.

But a gal has got to eat. So I need dishes that are quick, light and still bring the feelings of summer. Since seafood, particularly shellfish, take practically no time at all to cook, mussels are the perfect choice.

Belgian Beer Mussels

Although I haven’t made my way to Belgium yet (but you know I definitely will!), I have a very strong feeling that I would be spending a good amount of time in friteries –little spots you can pop into to grab cones of piping hot fries. And what else will I be consuming with my Belgium fries? Lots and lots of mussels!

This little number is so simple and quick, you’ll be wondering why you don’t have it every week. Instead of white wine, I cooked the mussels with a Belgian wheat beer. Once the mussels release its liqueur, the salty sea flavor mixes with the rich, hoppy beer. Fantastic.

If you don’t want to crack out the deep fryer to make the fries, serve the mussels with crusty, toasted baguette to soak up all that goodness and enjoy the plump little shellfish. The cherry on top? This dish can be done in about 15 minutes.

You’re Welcome.

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Belgian Beer Mussels
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
½ cup diced shallots
½ cup diced leeks, washed and thoroughly dried
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 ounces Belgian wheat beer
¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
2 pounds black mussels, scrubbed and debearded
kosher salt
black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
lemon wedges

Heat a medium sized pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Once the oil is heated and butter is melted, add in the shallots, leeks, garlic, thyme, and red pepper. Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes until the aromatics are softened but not browned.

Add in the beer and tarragon. Once the liquids come to a boil, add in the mussels. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the mussels have opened.

Leaving the liquid in the pot, transfer the mussels with a slotted spoon to a large serving dish. Remove and discard any mussels that have not opened.

Turn the heat to high and whisk in the remaining butter to finish the sauce. Season with salt and pepper before pouring over the mussels. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with toasted baguette or frites along with lemon wedges.

Elote {Grilled Mexican Style Street Corn} + 4th of July Menu Ideas

Elote {Grilled Mexican Style Street Corn}

Y’all got your BBQ grills all scrubbed down?

Coolers ready to be filled with frosty,cold beverages?

Menus all set?

Because it’s time to celebrate ‘MURICA!!!

Elote {Grilled Mexican Style Street Corn}

And since your grills will be nice and warmed up, I’ve got a perfect little number that will round out all of your BBQ bites…. ELOTES!!!

Elotes are a Mexican style grilled street corn that are slathered with butter, mayo (yup–MAYO!), a few spices and topped with cotija cheese. A quick squeeze of fresh lime juice and it’s perfection!

When I was living in LA for grad school, we used to have these nifty little trucks and carts that would cruise by our apartment. Produce trucks, paletas (popsicle) carts, fresh made tamales carts and we even had an elote man who would ring a bell on his cart signaling all of us to come running out for a delish and quick snack.

Elote {Grilled Mexican Style Street Corn}

Usually the corn ears are grilled for 10-15 minutes but I take a shortcut method by wrapping them in damp paper towels and heating them in the microwave for a few minutes. A quick char on the grill and they’re ready! But if you’re an anti-microwave person, just soak the ears of corn in water (husks on, silks removed) for about 15-20 minutes before grilling them. This prevents the husks from burning and creates a little steam bath for them.

Either method, you definitely have to make them for your Fourth of July spread…..trust me.

Speaking of which…in case your menus aren’t set yet–here are some other fantastic ideas:

While your peeps are mingling around, have a big dish of this Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus for them to snack on. It’s fantastic with veggie sticks, chips, bread or even smothered on some BBQ proteins.

Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

Or how about some Oven-Roasted Tomato Salsa?

Oven-Roasted Tomato Salsa

What picnic is complete without deviled eggs? And these Sriracha Deviled Eggs fit that bill perfectly!

Sriracha Deviled Eggs

Now on to the grilling!

Chimichurri Ribeye Steaks can be a show stopping stand alone main dish or sliced thinly to be placed inside crunchy, toasted ciabatta bread.

Grilled Ribeye Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Not feeling beef? Grab your goodies that you set aside for margaritas to make a big batch of Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken!

Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken

Or if you want to go with burger route, try these Double Jalapeno-Bacon Cheeseburgers with Poblano Aioli.

Double Jalapeno-Bacon Cheeseburgers with Roasted Poblano Aioli

And if there are burgers, there must be BUNS! The Perfect Brioche Buns are….well…perfect for the job.

Perfect Brioche Buns

Don’t feel like slaving away over the grill? Then bust out the slow cooker to make these Kalua Pig sliders and bring the islands to your Independence Day.

Kālua Pig

Got two slow cookers? FANTASTIC! Then use the other one to make these BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches–you won’t believe how easy they are. Not to mention that it’s one of my go-to recipes to feed a crowd.

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Need an alternative to potato salad or pasta salad? Try out this light but flavor packed Stone Fruit and Prosciutto Salad.

Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

And because you know me, you know there must be cocktails.

Kick start your Fourth of July with a big batch of Bloody Marys. On second thought, make a double batch….you may need a hair of the dog on the Fifth of July :)

Hair of the Dog - Bloody Mary

Palomas, margaritas’ cousin, are another great cocktail to make in a big batch. Just pour the grapefruit soda (or soda water) over each glass before serving.

Palomas

Nothing screams summer like watermelon! Add an Asian twist on your cocktails with these light and fruity Watermelon Soju-tinis. 

Watermelon Soju-tinis

Planning to have any guests with a sweet tooth?

Fix up this wonderfully creamy and decadent Peanut Butter Cream Pie.

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

Or how about this beautiful Fresh Strawberry Tart?

Fresh Strawberry Tart

Or if you’re feeling a little tropical, some Mango Gelato. 

Mango Gelato

However you decide to celebrate and whatever you decide to serve, have an AWESOME FOURTH OF JULY, Friends!!

Just be sure to grill up some Elotes!!!

Elote {Grilled Mexican Style Street Corn}

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Elotes {Grilled Mexican Style Street Corn}
Serves 4

Ingredients:

¼ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 ears of corn, husk on
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 melted butter
sea salt
½ -3/4 teaspoon chili powder
½ cup grated cotija cheese or parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped cilantro
4 lime wedges
In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, garlic powder, cumin powder and black pepper. Set aside.

Peel the husks of the corn back but do not remove them. Pull and discard the silk from each ear and fold the husks back over the cobb. Wrap each ear loosely with a damp paper towel. Microwave the corn on medium-high heat for 5 minutes.

Carefully remove the paper towels from each ear of corn. Pull the husks down to the base of each cobb. Using either kitchen twine or a piece of the husk, tie the husks together into a bundle to form a handle. Brush the olive oil over the corn kernels.

Place the corn on the grill over medium heat. Grill the corn for about 5 minutes, rotating every 1-2 minutes, until surface becomes slightly charred. Remove the corn to a large platter. Brush the melted butter over the corn and then spread a layer of the mayonnaise mixture on top. Sprinkle each ear with sea salt, chili powder, cotija cheese and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges to be squeezed over the corn.

Enjoy!

Breakfast Tacos — Change Up Your Taco Tuesday!

Breakfast Tacos

You know what my favorite Tuesday is?

Taco Tuesday!

Seriously. It’s a legitimate kind of day. Well…at least if you’re in Southern California.

The other day while I was rummaging around my fridge checking out all of the random things I had in there, it came to me.

I love Tacos. I love Breakfast.

So why the heck have I never make Brekkie Tacos?

Two words. Brain Fart.

Oh no. Y’all are going to leave me now that I used the f-word in a food post.

Eek….. Sorry!

Breakfast Tacos

But in all seriousness gang…this is the real deal. If you’ve never made Breakfast Tacos before, get on it! And if you have been making them for years—why the heck didn’t you tell me to before?!

No recipe here but I will say that there are 4 MUSTS:

  • Tortillas –and while you’re at it…why not make these homemade Flour Tortillas? They are a game changer.
  • Taters’ –any type as long as they’re crispy and potato-licious! French fries, hashbrowns, or even these Crispy Oven Roasted Herb Potatoes would be rad.
  • Shalsha— or “salsa” if you’re not Cindy Brady. You can use some homemade Oven Roasted Tomato Salsa, that jarred salsa from New York city–or heck, just plain old hot sauce.
  • Fried Egg— the runnier the better. I’m talking crispy edges and an ooey-gooey center that makes it all seem just a bit sinful.

As for the pic’ above, I added some thinly sliced radish, diced yellow tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro and pickled red onions. So satisfying and so quick that you won’t have any excuse to not make it today.

HAPPY TACO TUESDAY PEEPS!

Sunday Family Dinner – Po’ Boys and Tarts… Oh My!

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

Alright. Want to know why it’s taken this long to recap May’s Sunday Family Dinner?

It’s because I was struggling for a week after it.

And I’m a tad upset. No one tells you that the hangover recovery time increases by a 100 when you get older. :(

Oh…and I should mention that it was due to the below shenanigans that started it all.

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

Yup.

It was my birthday and this “thirty-something” bday gal thought it would be a “smart” idea to channel her old college self and hire a party bus to shuttle a bunch of her friends and family around for six hours……to, you know…..hang out.

Let’s just say, a lot of mischief can occur when you have a party bus stocked with 2 coolers filled with libations and jello shots. We stopped at four rad local Orange County breweries: Bootlegger’s Brewery, Noble Ale Works, Bottle Logic Brewing, and The Bruery. It was a FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC time and we even made it out to a local spot for a few night caps and to shake our booties. Yes, friends…it was 11+ hours of what seemed to be endless escapades.

We were Rock Stars.

Which is also why the STRUGGLE WAS REAL when we managed to get our act together the next day for Sunday Family Dinner. But luckily we had the foresight to keep things simple.

For starters… COCKTAILS! Because apparently we didn’t’ have enough the night before ;)

Spiced-Tajin Citrus Margaritas!

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

Initially we had wanted to do something Surf and Turf but couldn’t really settle on one particular dish that we could all agree on.

So, to satisfy my “turf” craving, seester T made these little decadent bites. Seared ribeye steaks that were then thinly sliced and stacked on top of toasted bread. But it was all about the sauce that she came up with…. a super rich Truffled-Pâté-Thyme Sauce.

HOLY MOLY.

That sauce tho’….. <3

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

As for the “surf”….eldest seester suggested Seafood Po’ Boys and we were all about it!

For the Po’ Boys, I ended up soaking a bunch of oysters and shrimp in a spiced buttermilk bath before dredging it in a cornmeal-flour mix. A quick fry for a minute or two and they were perfect!

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

And of course, since it was my burf-day, there had to be bacon. Lots of it.

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

To put it all together we schmeared a sriracha aioli inside a toasted baguette, mixed greens, ripe tomatoes, a few slices of creamy avocado, thick-cut crispy bacon and of course–the crunchy oysters and shrimp.

YOWZA MOWZA!

Even HUNGOVER we knocked it out of the park!

Perhaps it’s our superhero power….

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

Oh! And because I am a carb monster….there had to be my favorite starchy love– potatoes.

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

This time around, I opted for a German Potato Salad…..

Potatoes, bacon….HEO YEAH! Especially when there’s not a heavy sauce. I slightly adapted the recipe from The Lucky Penny by adding extra herbs, chili flakes, chili powder and sriracha.

Heavenly.

As for a birthday cake? That’s not really not my thing despite how many birthday cakes/cupcakes I end up making. True….chocolate is my fav but a very close second is something with citrus.

I adore citrus.

So eldest seester indulged me and made this fantabulous Lime-Fruit Tart.  A buttery shortbread crust with lime curd, a cranberry sauce and fresh fruit.

LOVE. <3

 

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

With that, dear friends, wrapped up the most perfect birthday-palooza.

And yes, I finally recovered :)

Malasadas – Portuguese Doughnuts

Malasadas

LET’S GET DOUGHNUT WASTED!!!!!!!

And why the heck not? It’s National Doughnut Day!!!

Malasadas

What’s my favorite doughnut or donut?

Easy.

It comes down to either an Old Fashioned with a Chocolate Glaze or Malasadas. Mmmm…malasadas.

Never had one? Let me break it down for you.

Malasadas

Malasadas are Portuguese doughnuts. They’re a yeast based dough with eggs, butter and milk (or half and half). Rolled in sugar, these babies should be light and fluffy…and freaking amazing.

Now of course, the go-to place for malasadas is Leonard’s Bakery in O’ahu and every time I’m on the island, I MUST pop in for a box of them. Traditionally they’re unfilled but when I’m at Leonard’s, I have to get a variety of the filled ones. I love the ones that are stuffed with haupia (a Hawaiian coconut “pudding”), custard or if I’m lucky, they have the lilikoi (passion fruit) filling as their flavor of the month.

Malasadas

Sadly, I’m not on the islands today and had to take matters into my own hands. I used the recipe below from  Leonard’s and it’s pretty easy to follow. After proofing, the dough is just lovely.

And no surprise here… they were ONOLICIOUS!

Malasadas

In full disclosure, they were not nearly as good as Leonard’s…..I may be in San Diego but the beautiful air in Hawai’i combined with the sounds of the trade winds and ocean definitely add to the flavor of island food and takes it over the top.

But hey, they sure did do the trick and I happily inhaled four of them and washed it all down with a chilled class of Pinot Grigio….keeping it classy.

Happy National Doughnut (or Donut) Day!!!

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Malasadas – Portuguese Doughnuts from Leonard’s Bakery
Makes about 1 dozen

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
112 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
12 cup milk
12 cup half & half
14 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups bread flour (1 lb. 2 oz.), sifted
canola oil, for frying
Combine yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 2 tablespoons water heated to 115° in a bowl; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes; set aside. Beat eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until fluffy. Add yeast mixture, 12 cup sugar, butter, milk, half & half, and salt; mix until combined. With the motor running, slowly add flour; beat until dough is smooth. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap; set in a warm place until doubled in size, about 112 hours.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12″ square about 12″ thick. Using a knife, cut dough into 3″ squares; gather and reuse scraps. Place on greased parchment paper-lined baking sheets, at least 3″ apart; cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Place remaining sugar in a large bowl; set aside. Heat 2″ oil in a 6-qt. saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. Using scissors, cut the donuts out of the parchment paper, leaving about 1″ of paper around the sides of each doughnut (the paper makes it easier to transfer them to frying oil). Working in batches, place donuts in oil, paper side up, using tongs to peel off and discard paper. Cook, flipping once until puffed and golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet with a wire rack; let cool completely, then toss with sugar.

Repost from Saveur