Mixed Mushrooms & Herbed Goat Cheese Crostinis

October-November 2016
It’s the season of holiday parties galore!

And if you find yourself in need of a quick appetizer to serve at a festive shindig, I’ve got a great little number for you – Mixed Mushrooms and Herbed Goat Cheese Crostinis.

October-November 2016
I actually made them for our last Sunday Family Dinner and have gotten a few inquiries for the recipe since. It’s really easy to make and the individual components can be prepped ahead of time. A few minutes before service, you can quickly assemble them and voila — Mushroomlicious!

October-November 2016
Speaking of the mushrooms, I recommend a mixture of button, crimini, shitake, and oyster –but anything goes!

October-November 2016

Happy Holidays!
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Mixed Mushrooms & Herbed Goat Cheese Crostinis
Serves 12

Ingredients:

8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
4 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh minced parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, divided – more to garnish
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon garlic powder
kosher salt
black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
1 cup chopped oyster mushrooms
1 cup chopped shitake mushrooms
½ tablespoon minced garlic
¼ cup minced shallots
¼ cup white wine
24 ½ inch thick slices baguette, toasted
¼ cup reduced balsamic glaze (optional)

In a bowl, mix together the goat cheese, mascarpone, parsley, ½ tablespoon thyme leaves, basil, and garlic power. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and swirl around the skillet until it melts. Add the fresh mushrooms, remaining thyme leaves, garlic and shallots. Sauté until the mushrooms are golden browned. Pour in the white wine to deglaze the pan and lower the heat to medium low. Continue to sauté until the wine has evaporated. Remove the skillet from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

Spread one side of each baguette slice with the cheese mixture and top with a spoonful of the mushroom medley. Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the crostini (optional) and garnish with additional thyme leaves. Enjoy!

 

Gobble-Gobblin’ Up Family Dinner!

October-November 2016
If you can believe it, I had three different turkey dinners within the course of seven days—roasted, fried, and smoked. Talk about Turkeypalooza!

It all started last Sunday with our belated (VERY BELATED) October Sunday Family Dinner. Our cousin Van and his new wife Jenny got married on Saturday. It was, of course, a super fun wedding full of S-H-E-N-A-N-I-G-A-N-S that would be inappropriate for me to divulge the full details here. But let’s just say–there was a lot of cognac involved.

A LOT.

October-November 2016
Since October was so crazy and the whole family would be in town for the wedding, we decided to have Fam Din the day after V & J’s festivities – four days before Thanksgiving. Traditionally, Thanksgiving Day in our fam is a house full of extended family (50+ peeps) for a full day of feasting. We typically have several meals throughout the entire day and flip between Vietnamese courses and American Thanksgiving dishes.

We feast…. a lot. 12+ hours worth.

But with the family spread out over the years, we realized all five siblings hadn’t celebrated Thanksgiving all together in over 10 years. That’s quite some time! And since P and her gang were heading back up to SF before Turkey Day, we decided to have a full blown Thanksgiving menu for Family Dinner—an early Siblings Turkey Day.

Added bonus – we had the leftover flowers from the wedding as our table centerpieces for dinner. Recycled Fanciness.

October-November 2016
Despite living in SF, our youngest munchkin, Kaelani has been able to attend quite a few Fam Dins so far with her crazy So Cal o’hana. And she’s talking SO MUCH now! Nonstop jabber-jabber chasing after the pups and calling out for her favorite Bac Bi — my eldest bro-in-law.

That face–we wish she was here every month!

October-November 2016
If you’ve been following my Fam Din posts over the years, you already know that these two are thick as thieves.

October-November 2016
And can we talk about how HUGE this marshmallow pop is??? It’s nearly the size of Leo’s head!

October-November 2016
Since my brother and his family have temporarily moved back to Cali from NY, I’ve been putting their kiddos to work at Fam Din to make up for lost time. Here’s my Luna Bear helping with the appetizers. She was quite meticulous with them too!

October-November 2016
And these three….

Heart Melty.

October-November 2016
And the last of our munchkins…the fur babies.

Princess Leia is looking quite regal lounging on her ottoman while Bella is just wondering when dinner would be ready.

October-November 2016

Speaking of which, let’s talk about the food! We had two appetizers before dinner which big sis had us stagger out during prep time so that we wouldn’t get too stuffed.

I made Mixed Mushrooms & Herbed Goat Cheese Crostinis. Criminis, button mushrooms, shitakes, and oyster mushrooms were sauteed with garlic and herbs and finished off with white wine. They topped toasted crostinis that were spread with a mixture of goat cheese, mascarpone and fresh herbs.

October-November 2016
Maya approved and said they tasted like mushroom pizza!

October-November 2016
Next up was brother and his appetizer – Blue Crab Dip.

October-November 2016
I usually use lump Dungeness Crab in dips and fillings but V insisted that Blue Crabs have better flavor — and they did! Rich, decadent, and SUPER YUM!

Did I just say “super yum”???

Well…it was!

October-November 2016
Of course there was some football and lots of silliness throughout prep. Here’s seester P doing leg-lifts with Kaelani. No wonder she’s in great shape!

October-November 2016
There were also lots of photos because Bella always loves a good pic to post on her Instagram at @iambellathepuggle

October-November 2016
After hours and hours of cooking, dinner was ready!!!

And yup– alongside those gorgeous centerpieces, we ate dinner off paper plates.

We’re ashamed.

Not really. Just don’t tell Ina.

October-November 2016
Okay, back to the food.

Although we decided on a Thanksgiving menu, the inspiration was really all about this beauty…. Mom’s Five Spice Roast Turkey.

Imagine this….a Vietnamese refugee family in the mid 1970’s, relocated to Minnesota. Total culture shock is an understatement. So the family did what we could to acculturate to the new environment. And that especially included our foods.

October-November 2016
So Mom took a turkey and gave it a Vietnamese spin by marinating it in five spice, lots of garlic, sugar and Maggi. The flavor is incredible and I’ve got to tell you, is the best turkey you’ll ever taste because it is seasoned so well–every bit of it.

We would wake up early in the morning to the smell of the turkey roasting and the five spice aroma was incredible. The funny thing is, we were just remembering how Mom would throw the turkey in the oven at around 5 or 6am and not take it out until 3 or 4pm! Sure, we used to try and find the biggest bird (26+lbs), but why did it take so long then when now we only roast them for 5 or 6 hours. But I’ll be darn, her turkeys weren’t overcooked and were SUPER juicy.

October-November 2016
Big seester N
has been making Mom’s turkey recipe for years now so we quickly nominated her for the job. And I’ll tell ya, she sure would have made Mom proud. The flavor was spot on and was everything we all remembered it to be.

Seestrah also made stuffing, dressing and cranberry sauce to go with the turkey.

October-November 2016
Along with the roast turkey, we had TONS of sides!

Seestrah T made 3 side dishes and her first was this Squash & Gruyere Gratin from Ina Garten. Surprisingly rich (in a good way), cheesy and great crunch from the panko.

October-November 2016
She also did a spin off of my biscuits and made these Ham & Cheddar Drop Biscuits. They were so savory and I’ll tell ya, made for awesome little breakfast sammies the next day.

October-November 2016
Lastly she roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta. And I’ve got to admit, I have no idea how they tasted because brussel sprouts are NMF (not my fav) but everyone else seemed to really like them.

October-November 2016
V & L tag teamed on their Grilled Ginger-Balsamic Carrots. Aren’t they pretty?

October-November 2016
They first blanched the carrots and then quickly grilled them to get a nice char.

October-November 2016
Of course in my opinion, no Thanksgiving meal can be complete without some ‘taters. These are my tried and true Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes. The key to them? Lots of roast garlic and more butter, cream cheese, and heavy cream then you’d like to know.

October-November 2016
And last but not least, dessert!!! There’s no doubt that P is the best baker among the clan. So there’s no way she’d get away without making dessert for this Fam Din and we (ok, I) requested TWO traditional Apple Pies served with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

October-November 2016
I’ve got to say, we’ve had some REALLY great meals in the four years we’ve been having Fam Dins but this one really is up there.

October-November 2016
Not only did it mark the first Thanksgiving all my sibs have been together in over a decade but Mom would have absolutely loved everything about it.

October-November 2016
And with that–Hope you are all able to create some great traditions and memories with your loved ones.

CHEERS!

October-November 2016______________________________________________________

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails:  Passion Fruit Bellinis, Assorted Wines
Appetizers: Mixed Mushrooms & Herbed Goat Cheese Crostinis, Blue Crab Dip
Entrees: Mom’s Five Spice Roast Turkey
Sides: Squash & Gruyere Gratin, Ham & Cheddar Drop Biscuits, Grilled Ginger-Balsamic Carrots, Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Dessert: Apple Pie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Crème Brûlée French Toast – Happy National French Toast Day!

Crème Brûlée French Toast
HAPPY NATIONAL FRENCH TOAST DAY!!!

And what better way to celebrate this fun food day and the holiday season than with this decadent breakfast/brunch treat — Crème Brûlée French Toast!

Crème Brûlée French Toast
For this month, I worked with our friends over at Safest Choice® Eggs to up the ante on the traditional French Toast by mashing it up with one of my favorite desserts—-Crème Brûlée.

It all starts off with a rich custard base of eggs, cream, milk and then it’s flavored with warm spices, vanilla extract, Grand Marnier and fresh orange zest. Day old bread then soaks up the custard overnight so that it gets into every nook and cranny.

In the morning, you throw the dish into the oven until the bread becomes golden brown and puffed.  The final step is a generous sprinkle of sugar over the toast and then it’s quickly brûléed.

Crème Brûlée French Toast
The end result?

When you cut into the top layer of caramelized sugar, you get a wonderfully satisfying crunch and the center is rich and decadent. Personally, I think the brûléed sugar gives the right amount of sweetness but if you want to add a drizzle of maple syrup—go right ahead!

Scrumptious breakfast and a make-ahead wonder!

Head on over to Safest Choice® Eggs  to read my Crème Brûlée French Toast post this month and while you’re at it, click here for the recipe.

HAPPY NATIONAL FRENCH TOAST DAY!!!

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A Late Family Dinner Recap….and Where I’m Currently At

September 2016
Ok gang, I know I’ve been MIA lately and I’m long overdue to recap our last Family Dinner.

The delay started with me misplacing the SD card with all the photos I took from dinner. Don’t ask….no clue where it is. But how does a food blogger publish a post without food pics?? Yes, between the sibs and I, we had snapped some on our phones but I was determined to find that freaking memory card. But—-I didn’t. So then I started drafting the post using the pics from our phones.

And then last Tuesday happened.

I generally haven’t used this space to discuss things other than food. But the truth of the matter is, I am shaken to my core. It wasn’t just an election. It’s that the outcomes have supported a movement to lead by instilling fear and panic, to further widen the gap between gender equity, to continue to target those of historically marginalized races and religions and to regress not progress. It’s not a question of political parties but of basic human decency. I’m heartbroken, angry, frustrated, tired–and quite frankly, I’m afraid. Why? Because I’m a person of color, daughter of refugee parents, advocate of marriage equality, non-Christian, and a woman who believes that I alone should be the one who should make decisions regarding my health and body. I am the embodiment of everything that the new majority “leadership” has fought against.

What now? So where do my beliefs and I belong come 2017? Where do we start again? How can we keep up the strength and fight?

It’s these questions that have me deeply troubled and walking in a daze this past 10 days. It’s been difficult to focus in the office and even harder to get things in order for the whirlwind of family activities I’m about to embark on for the next 9 days. 9 days that include my cousin’s wedding, 2 family dinners, Thanksgiving, and lots and LOTS of time with the nieces and nephews.

September 2016
Yes, you read correctly–that’s two family dinners that are scheduled. We wanted to take advantage of the time since all five siblings would be in town for our cousin’s wedding. As hectic and chaotic that I know it’ll be, I need it. I think that lots of time with my siblings and their fam while we cook will do us some good. And as much as I hurt, I need to still be me and do what I do–even if it’s a bit clunky for now.

So here’s that recap of our last Family Dinner I owe you.

September 2016
Thanks to R’s fresh yellowfin catch, we made Shoyu Poke and my niece–Nini, made her infamous Spicy Tuna Hand Rolls.

September 2016
Sis N took on the main course– Tamarind Dungeness Crab.

September 2016
L made stir-fried Garlic-Lemon Broccolini to give us some greens.

September 2016
T made Garlic Noodles and the Soju Cocktails.

September 2016
And lastly, for dessert, I made the Mango-Macadamia Nut Cheesecake.

September 2016
Gang, I know this isn’t my normal kind of post—far from it. But to write in my “normal” tone would feel disingenuous. And quite frankly, we need less of that in the world. So thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts.

And until next time, let me leave you with a picture of this fedorable face….she’s been my steadfast cuddler and best comfort of late.

Fedorable

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails:  Grapefruit Soju Cocktails
Appetizers: Spicy Tuna Hand Rolls, Shoyu Poke
Entrees: Tamarind Dungeness Crab
Sides: Garlic Noodles, Lemon Garlic Broccolini
Dessert: Mango-Macadamia Nut Cheesecake

Turkey and Bean Chili

Turkey and Bean Chili
This time of the year, Sundays are filled with weekday meal prep and football. It’s only sensible, of course.

And while I was in the middle of prepping a double batch of my Turkey and Bean Chili for tomorrow’s Halloween Potluck, I realized I’ve never posted the full recipe here.

That changes now!!

Turkey and Bean Chili

It’s tried and true and is easily doubled or tripled to feed crowds. AND it freezes beautifully!!

Serve as a main with cornbread or crackers…….or on top of baked potatoes or chips……whatever way, this chili is a beaut! ❤

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Turkey and Bean Chili
Serves 8

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ cups white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
1 serrano chili pepper, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 pound ground turkey meat
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more to taste)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 ounces chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (optional)
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup lager beer of your choice
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
black pepper

 

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or heavy bottom pot. Cook the onions and bell peppers until softened—about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic, serrano pepper, jalapeno pepper and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add the turkey and cook while using a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Continue cooking until the meat is no longer pink—about another 5 minutes.

Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne—stir and cook for an additional minute. Stir in the tomato paste and chipotle peppers (if using) and then add in the diced tomatoes with its juices. Gently stir in the beer, beans, 1 teaspoon salt and bring the mixture up to a slow boil.

Once it reaches a boil, lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer the chili partially covered, for about 45 minutes. Stir the chili every 10 minutes or so as it slowly thickens. Once it reaches your desired consistency, taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper as needed.

Serve the chili with additional cheddar cheese, chopped scallions, and sour cream.

Ratatouille Pizza

Ratatouille Pizza
You may not know this about me but I’m a Disney freak.

For years my movie library was primarily filled with the clam-shell VHS cases of animated Disney films. Yes, you read correctly — VHS.

I can recite entire movies without effort, enthusiastically sing (albeit, in a tone deaf pitch) every song, and have a rather impressive “who’s-its and what’s-its galore” collection of Disney chotskies.

So it should be no surprise that my inspiration dish for National Pizza Month came while watching Disney’s Ratatouille the other week. The movie is now near 10 years old but if you haven’t seen it yet—drop everything and watch it!!

Oh that Remy……

Ratatouille Pizza
Ratatouille is a French Provençal dish that features veggies in a slow cooked stew. It was while Remy was layering the veggies for his remake of Ratatouille that I thought –HOT DAMN! Those flavors would be fantastic on a pizza! Eggplant, squashes, peppers, tomatoes, basil — perfect!!!

With those flavors in mind, I took to my beloved cast iron skillet method to fix up a gorgeous pizza. I smothered a generous layer of my homemade marinara that mimicked the stewed tomatoes of Ratatouille with its onions, garlic, oregano, and fennel. Next came a shingled layer of roasted eggplant, roasted zucchini and few slices of red bell pepper that I chose not to roast so that it could hold a bit of its crunch through the short cooking process. After the whole pizza broiled, I placed torn pieces of burrata on top because burrata makes everything better! And right before serving, I sprinkled the the whole thing with some sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, chili flakes and ribbons of fresh basil.

What do ya think? Isn’t it a beauty? And it tasted even better than it looked!

Remy would be proud.

HAPPY NATIONAL PIZZA MONTH!!!

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Ratatouille Pizza
Serves 2

Ingredients:

12-15 ¼-inch slices eggplant
12-15 ¼-inch slices zucchini or summer squash
olive oil, divided
kosher salt
5 ounces fresh pizza dough, rested and at room temperature
all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground corn meal
¾ cup marinara
1 teaspoon minced garlic
leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme
10-12 thin slices red bell pepper
3 ounces fresh burrata cheese, torn into pieces
sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
2-3 large fresh basil leaves chiffonade

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Place the eggplant and zucchini on a baking sheet. Brush each slice with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast the vegetables in the oven for 10-15 minutes until they are soft and become golden. Remove the sheet and allow to cool.

Turn on the oven broiler and adjust one of the racks to the top of the oven to rest directly under the broiler. Place a seasoned cast iron skillet (12-14 inches in diameter) directly under the broiler for 8-10 minutes. It may begin to smoke but you need the skillet to be screaming hot.

While the skillet heats, roll out the pizza dough onto a floured surface–you’ll want it a tad smaller than the width of your skillet. If you have a pizza peal, sprinkle it with cornmeal and transfer the pizza dough onto it. If not, you can also use a wooden cutting board. Brush olive oil over the dough.

Once the skillet has heated for the appropriate length of time, quickly and CAREFULLY remove the skillet from the oven. Slide the dough into the skillet. Quickly spread the marinara over the dough and sprinkle the minced garlic and thyme leaves over. Layer with the slices of eggplant, zucchini and bell pepper. Carefully replace the skillet in the oven so it sits directly underneath the broiler. Close the oven door and allow the pizza to cook for about 60 seconds. Open the oven door and rotate the skillet 180 degrees. Close the door and allow another 60-90 seconds underneath the broiler. Once the crust and bell peppers are slightly charred, CAREFULLY remove the skillet from the oven and place it on a cooling rack for 3-4 minutes. While the pizza rests, top with burrata cheese and allow the heat to melt it.

After the pizza has fully rested, sprinkle the tops with sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle the basil over the pizza and transfer to a cutting board, slice up and enjoy!

*If you don’t want to use the cast iron skillet method, assemble the entire pizza (with the exception of the basil and cheese) on a baking sheet. Bake in a 500 degree F oven for about 15-20 minutes until the crust becomes golden brown. Remove the sheet from the oven and follow the remaining steps of the above recipe.

Li Hing Mui Margaritas – Okole Maluna!!

August 2016 Family Dinner
Maybe because the weather has taken a weird turn these past few days…..

Or maybe because tomorrow is the first day of Fall.

Whatever the case is, I want Summer back!!! Please?

To make the best of these last few hours of Summer I thought I would share with you all a fantastic little cocktail that in one sip, can transport you to a warm beach day with the sound of waves lapping on the shoreline — the Li Hing Mui Margarita!

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If you read my last  Sunday Family Dinner post, you know that I mixed up a batch of these vibrantly colorful cocktails for our Lūʻau.

Anytime I’m visiting one of the islands of Hawai’i, I’m inevitably stuffing my face with some type of Li Hing flavored goodie. I’ll snag a few Li Hing malasadas from Leonard’s, have some Li Hing powder sprinkled on top of my shave ice, stuff a bag or two of Li Hing Sour Gummy Candies in my beach bag, and of course–sip on a few Li Hing cocktails.

Li Hing Mui is a salted, dried plum that is both sweet and tart–which is why it’s perfect for cocktails!

Li Hing Mui Margaritas
The first step is to infuse tequila with Li Hing Mui* for several weeks. And really–that’s the hardest part. Sitting and waiting for the magic to happen.

But if you make it through the waiting, all you need to do is add the infused tequila into your favorite margarita recipe and voila!! A tangy, sweet and onolicious cocktail you can enjoy year round.

Okole Maluna!!

ps. Summer– don’t leave me! ❤

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Li Hing Mui Margaritas
Makes 1 pitcher

Ingredients:

750 ml tequila
6 ounces Li Hing Mui*
1 cup Grand Marnier or triple sec
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup simple syrup
1/4 cup coarse salt
1 heaping tablespoon Li Hing Mui powder -optional
lime wedges

Begin by infusing the tequila. Place the Li Hing Mui in a large, resealable container. Add the tequila, stir and seal the container. Place it in a room-temperature, dark spot for at least 4 weeks. Take the container and gently shake every few days to mix.  Once the time has passed, strain the infused tequila into a clean large bottle or mason jar and set aside until ready for use.

To make the margaritas, pour 2 cups of the infused tequila into a pitcher. Stir in the Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice and simple syrup. In a small plate, stir the coarse salt and Li Hing Mui powder together. Using a lime wedge, rim the edge of the glasses and dip them into the salt/powder mixture. Add ice and fill the glasses with margaritas.

Okole Maluna!!

*Li Hing Mui can be found in many Asian grocery stores or can be purchased online.