Before I jump in, I must admit that my hiatus from posting was due to my endless birthday celebrations.
Yes, I realize my birthday was in May but it was a big milestone and I REALLY
C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E-D! I was living it up!
But I’m back now to share our Family Dinner where we celebrated these two best buds – Lucas and C! It’s always a bunch of fun to celebrate their birthmonth for Fam Din and it is ALWAYS delicious.
It was even more eventful this time around because seester P came down from San Francisco with her crew. Which meant this little cutie-patootie was running around soaking up QT with her big cousins!
Oh Kaelani….you melt my heart ❤
Whereas BIL C was pretty open for what he wanted on the menu, Lucas was VERY specific.
Hainanese Chicken and Rice.
Finally, Donuts and Mint Chip Ice Cream because he doesn’t like cake (I know…where did I go wrong?!?)
Since P was in town we quickly assigned her dessert duty for Lucas’ requests. With Fam Din, we almost always have to start prepping dessert early since there’s often proofing, chilling, icing and decorating that needs to be done. So P got started on the dough the night before and used Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Glazed Doughnuts that can be found here.
Although it was barely 3pm and too soon for dessert, she chose to fry them up. And you may be wondering “Why? Donuts are amazing fresh out the fryer.”
Well dear friends, it’s because the donuts were just a mere vessel to hold the bday boy’s beloved mint chip ice cream.
Oh yes, we’re talking Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches!!!
We go the extra mile! Well, in this case, P went the extra mile.
But that also didn’t stop us from trying 1 or 2 after she glazed them. Quality control after all.
And what was I doing while seestrah was hard at work frying?
Doing what I often do when I’m in seester T’s backyard – sipping rosé of course! I had to do most of my prep work waayyyyy in advance for the dishes I was tasked with. You’ll see why in a bit.
Also – 5 pts if you can spot Leia in less than 2 seconds!
At some point we discovered that T’s lemon tree FINALLY produced fruit…as in one.
One tiny, tiny lemon.
She was quite proud of it.
But I’ve got to admit how surprised we all were with how much juice the little bugger had!
Wondering what’s going on here?
The girls decided to have a little beauty session and Nini gave Maya a little TLC on her eyebrows. Nini is basically the young Vietnamese version of Anastasia Soare – the celebrity brow specialist in Hollywood.
These two ❤
And while the human girls worked on their brows, the fur girls worked on their perfectly wrinkled-scrunchy faces.
Serious Princess Leia, you give Doug the Pug a run for his money.
And what about this sun goddess? She loves running around in seester’s backyard exploring while trying to find ways to break out and escape to the neighborhood pathways.
Bella was less than thrilled when I scooped her up to force her to take a pic with me. She really is more humanling than canine.
Kaelani and her pops took advantage of the spa to get a little swim time in. Our munckins are quite the little fishies!
Kaelani adores her big cousin Lucas and he is very, very sweet with her.
I know you’re digging her Bowie shirt.
And just like that, it was appetizer time and I was up to bat!
Birthday boy wanted dumplings for his Fam Din — ALL kinds of dumplings. With so many people to feed and the time needed to prepare different types, I ended up making them the week before and freezing them. It really was the only way to manage this time around.
First type of dumplings, my tried and true Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings.
These beauties are always a favorite with folks. With so much fresh ginger, it perfumes the ground chicken and gives it a wonderful flavor. I served these with my standard soy-ginger-black vinegar-sesame oil dipping sauce.
Using the same dumplings but slightly different cooking method, I made the below laced-bottom dumpling flower.
You start off with the same method as your standard potsticker by adding a bit of oil to a skillet. You then arange the dumplings, nestled together in the pan. After the bottoms become lightly browned, you pour in a slurry (water + cornstarch) instead of plain water and then cover the skillet with a lid.
Once the liquid steams the dumplings and then evaporates, the leftover starch and oil fry up and you’re left with a lacy pattern on the bottom after they are inverted onto a dish. The texture is incredibly crispy and satisfying. I highly suggest it!
The second type I prepared were Seafood with Chinese Chives Dumplings which I chose to steam.
The filling was a simple combination of minced shrimp and scallops, a few aromatics and a TON of minced Chinese chives. I chose to fold these with a double-sided straight pleat to try and get a maximum amount of filling in. We’re seafood freaks after all.
After a few minutes in the bamboo steamer, I topped them with fresh scallions and served them with a choice of the same dipping sauce as above or my Sichuan Chili Oil Sauce.
The last version was something I had never made before – Sheng Jian Bao which are a pan fried pork soup dumpling. They’re the cousin to the thin-skin souped dumplings that I’m also obsessed with.
I need to do a little more work and practice on these guys. The wrapper should be much thicker than the previous two dumplings I made – and have a bit of leaven to them. I didn’t really get that so much but the flavor of the pork filling was tasty. I’d give myself a 5 on a scale from 1-10 with these but there’s always next time!
Here’s BIL R with Dad. They’re both wondering when I’ll stop bringing dumplings out because they were getting dumpling-wasted.
And OF COURSE Dad said “dumpling wasted”….not.
I’ll tell you that there was one soul who was on full dumpling watch, waiting for her gramps to give her some.
Side note: If there is an open lap, she will find it and sit on it.
Since bellies were full of dumplings, it was time for a Candy Land break for Kaelani and Nina. Candy Land was MY JAM back in the day!
And I know I just said that our bellies were full but this is also about time when brother V rolled out with his Smoked St. Louis Style Ribs. Brother is getting REALLY good with his smoker – his smoked tri-tip is my fav thus far. P and her clan were getting tired of seeing all of our posts of V’s creations that when they came down for this visit, he promised to make them a little something.
Spoiler Alert: They were BOMB!
While we were noshing on ribs, seestrah T finished up the Hainanese Chicken. Can you believe that bright yellow hue of the broth? That’s totally naturally colored! It’s a result of the skin of the fresh free-ranged chickens she got in combination with some of the aromatics she threw in.
Once the chickens were cool enough to handle, she passed them over to seester N to carve. We really do make her carve and slice everything.
T prepared three traditional sauces to accompany the Hainanese Chicken and Rice. The one closest to you is a Chili Sauce made from Holland chiies. The middle is a thick Sweet Dark Soy Sauce. The last is a Ginger-Garlic Sauce. The recipe for the chicken plus the sauces were adapted from The Woks of Life and can be found here.
Look at the gorgeously glistening chicken and sauce!
Needless to say, Lucas was a fan!
And what do you serve along Hainanese Chicken and Rice? Steamed Alaskan King Crab Legs of course!!!
Ok, ok. It’s not traditional. Some may say it’s even gluttonous? Obviously not us but others may say so.
But it was one of the only items that BIL C had requested for dinner so we were definitely having them. Yeah remember the other birthday boy? Up until that point, Lucasarus was running the menu!
We had consumed a crazy amount of food — even to our standards! So before we could even consider having dessert, we needed things to digest a bit.
And of course I took that opportunity to make the kids take pictures.
They’ll thank me someday…..SOME day.
Here I instructed them to give me serious faces. Kaelani totally dismissed that directive and Maya is JUST about to crack.
Now this is MUCH more like them!
Leo is killing it in this pic!
Oh–and a little monkey managed to make it into the living room.
The girls then cozied up to watch Beauty and the Beast.
Incidentally, I believe there may be a video of me out there barging into the room while belting out Belle’s opening number.
It’s what I do.
And of course, the Nguyễn 5 had to snap a few pics with pops.
So blurry but this pic cracks me up.
And then the grand kids (minus K since it was past her bedtime) jumped in.
What do we think Lucas is about to do to Nini’s head here?
And then it was finally dessert time!
For Lucas – Homemade Glazed Donut Mint Chip Ice Cream Sandwich.
Wait! Wasn’t this little elfling upstairs, asleep a minute ago!?
And for C – Chocolate Matcha Lava Cake with Matcha Ice Cream.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LUCAS AND C!!!
And now for a collective nap…. ❤
This Month’s Family Dinner Menu
Cocktails: Various Wines
Appetizers: Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings, Seafood with Chinese Chives Dumplings, Sheng Jian Bao, Smoked St. Louis Style Ribs
Entrees: Alaskan King Crab Legs, Hainanese Chicken and Rice
Dessert: Homemade Glazed Donut Mint Chip Ice Cream Sandwich, Chocolate Matcha Lava Cake with Matcha Ice Cream