I was in the room when she came into this world.
I waited for her for a gazillion of hours (yeah–likely felt longer for seester that actually birthed her)…..and then she popped out.
Our chubby little bebe girl….our first munchkin.
And now she’s 19 and in college….and I’m still only 20 years old.
Kind of magical how that can happen right?
But that’s our Nina girl…..
Bright, compassionate, silly and a ‘SC fan (of course I had nothing to do with that!…not!)
And our other munchkins just adore her.
Our latest Family Dinner was all about Nina — all her favorites — in honor of her birthday. We’ve held some memorable Fam Din themes in years past for her like our full blown lu’au or when V took on Alton Brown’s chimney method to cook dry aged steaks.
But this time, she opted for some low key options.
And as you all know, first up is always cocktails!!
This month we went for a family fav — fresh Mango Mojitos!
These beauts are made with lots of muddled mint, limes, fresh mangoes, mango nectar, lots of light rum and a splash of club soda. Soooooo lovely!
Did I mention that it happened to be the season opener for ‘SC?
So what was the first thing Nina asked to be on her menu that night?
Yup, chicken wings.
Hey–how could I say no to that? I love me some wings and it was game day and all.
And since I’m obsessed with my Anova Precision Cooker, I sous vide the wings first.
I made two types per birthday girl’s request — buffalo and parmesan. So after seasoning them, I threw the chicken into bags and sous vide them at 147.2 degrees F for 2 hours.
Once they were done, I patted them dry with lots of paper towels and tossed them in a blend of AP flour, cornstarch and seasonings. The wings then went into a deep fryer for 2-3 minutes until they were golden brown.
The Garlicky Parmesan batch were tossed into a butter-garlic sauce.
The Hot Buffalo Wings were tossed into a butter-hot sauce mixture.
Chicken loves butter.
And so do I.
I served the wings with ranch dressing (Nina’s fav) and whipped up an easy blue cheese dressing.
If you love blue cheese dressing but haven’t made it before—DO IT!
Just throw some blue cheese, mayo, sour cream, buttermilk, white wine vinegar, garlic and some seasoning into a food processor. Let it whirl for it a bit and voila!
And if you’ve ever wondered what the behind-the-scenes of our dinners look like–here you go!
Yup, kind of a mess.
But hey! Foodventures are messy sometimes.
Delicious but messy.
The second appetizer that we made for Nina was deep fried cheese.
V made these ooey-gooey Mozzarella Sticks with Homemade Marinara. Mozz sticks are actually pretty simple to make (especially since we already had the deep fryer out) but are such a fun hit–particularly around football season.
All you need to do is freeze mozzarella string cheese for about 30 minutes. You then dredge them into seasoned breadcrumbs before deep-frying until golden brown. V made an awesome marina sauce that is a favorite with his youngins’.
Oh our wrinkly fur-babies….we love them so. ❤
And they love Family Dinner too! It’s where the action is…but mostly because they get extra goodies.
Now it couldn’t be a meal for Nina without beef involved. Seestrah T seasoned these big ol’ bone-in ribeye steaks with lots of salt, pepper and fresh rosemary springs.
And you guessed it! We threw them in to be sous vide at 130 degrees F for two and a half hours.
I freaking love this thing.
After the steaks were done with their bath, the boys threw them on the grill for a quick char.
They came out a beautiful medium-rare and tender.
As in tenderoni.
The boys were taking a break from all that grilling and frying.
Growing up the only dude smack dab in the middle of 4 seesters, I have to imagine that V’s pumped to finally have brothers. Although let’s face it, he was pretty darn lucky having us!
Here’s N posing in her newly remodeled kitchen. Everything is so new and shiny now.
She made decadent Crab Cakes with a Homemade Tartar Sauce.
So pretty!! I wish I had one now….
Or more like 3.
So nice I had to show you twice!
Brother is showing off his knife skills on some pears.
R wanted in on that action too.
Kids – don’t try this at home.
Brothers will always be brothers….
But he did fix up this nice Gorgonzola-Pear Salad.
Remember those gorgeous ribeye steaks from before?
T sliced them up to make Ciabatta Ribeye Paninis.
And of course someone pilfered some to feed his nephew.
Inside the panini, she spread a layer of horseradish and filled them with caramelized onions, arugula and cheese.
They were crunchy, gooey, and beefy.
I love saying “beefy”. It makes me giggle.
I don’t even know what to say about this picture other than we’re a bunch of sillies.
And college football.
Some of my favorite things in the world.
And more cheeses while N put the finishing touches on dessert.
Birthday gal with her auntie. They’re cute. I think I’ll keep them.
Nina requested this Chocolate Raspberry Tart. It’s a fantastic tart with a shortbread like crust and a filling that tastes like rich chocolate truffles. I used to make them often but now N makes it all the time so I don’t have to. Perks of having a seestrah that likes to bake.
Happy Birthday Nina Bebe! We love you to the moon and back–and back around again! ❤
This Month’s Family Dinner Menu
Cocktails: Mango Mojitos, Various Wine
Appetizers: Parmesan-Garlic Chicken Wings, Spicy Buffalo Wings, Fried Mozzarella Sticks with Marinara
Entrees: Ciabatta Ribeye Paninis, Crab Cakes with Tartar Sauce
Sides: Gorgonzola-Pear Salad
Dessert: Chocolate Raspberry Tart