Passion Fruit Margaritas

July 2016 Fam Din

I adore margaritas….blended or on the rocks with salt–of course! Classic margs? Fruit flavored margs? YES– thank you!

But please, no pre-made margarita mixes. More times than not, they are overly sweet and leave you with an artificial aftertaste. BLEH! And when you consider that the classic margarita is so simple and a GAJILLION times more tasty, the extra bit of effort is totally worth it.

And the key? Fresh lime juice. Not bottled, not concentrate–fresh.

July 2016 Fam Din
If you happen to be lucky enough to own an electric citrus juicer –than you’ve really got no excuse! For our last Family Dinner, I made a few pitchers of these summery Passion Fruit Margaritas. I broke out seester’s electric juicer and whipped out a quart of fresh lime juice in under 10 minutes. But even without the juicer, I still use fresh limes—-it truly, truly makes all the difference in the world!

These Passion Fruit Margaritas were a delish take on the classic marg. The fruit’s natural tartness paired beautifully with the limes and added a fun tropical spin.

Oh! And here’s a tip— if you find limes on sale, get a whole bunch and juice them. The juice freezes beautifully and you can have fresh margs all year long.

CHEERS!

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Passion Fruit Margaritas
Makes 1 pitcher

Ingredients:

2 cups premium silver tequila
1 cup Grand Marnier or triple sec
1 cup fresh lime juice
½ cup simple syrup
2 cups passion fruit juice

Combine and stir all ingredients in a large pitcher. To serve, rim glasses with salt. Add ice and fill the glasses with margaritas. Garnish with additional lime wedges and CHEERS!

Spiked Watermelon Lemonade – Happy 4th of July!!

June 2016 Fam Din

H-A-P-P-Y   F-R-I-D-A-Y!!!!!!

Especially if that Friday kicks off the Fourth of July!

June 2016 Fam Din
My next three days are slated to be filled with BBQs, shenanigans, and fireworks — Oh my! Needless to say, I will need a vat of coffee waiting for me on my desk come Tuesday morning. And I reckon it will be 100% worth it.

But until then, let me recommend this lovely little cocktail that will be perfect for Independence Day — heck, your entire summer!

Blended Watermelon
It combines two things that are quintessential to summer – watermelon and lemonade. And when a few glugs of spirits are added to the mix, you’ve got a party on your hands! It’s light, refreshing and something you can sip on all day long.

Trust me…I sure did when I made it for our last Family Dinner.

June 2016 Fam Din
So enjoy the weekend Friends and Happy Independence Day ‘Merica!!!  💙❤️🇺🇸

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Spiked Watermelon Lemonades

Ingredients:

¾ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 cup simple syrup, more if needed
5 cups chilled water, divided
8 cups fresh watermelon, cut into large chunks
1 cup vodka
½ cup triple sec
ice
additional lemon slices and watermelon wedges to garnish

In a large container, stir together the lemon juice, lime juice, simple syrup and 4 cups of water. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

In batches if need be, place the watermelon and remaining water in a blender. Blend until smooth and pour the liquid through a sieve to strain. This should yield approximately 6 cups of juice.

Pour 6 cups of watermelon juice, vodka, and triple sec into the chilled lemonade. Taste and add additional simple syrup if needed. Serve over ice and garnish with lemon slices and watermelon wedges.

Cheers!

A Belated Sunday Family Dinner

Feb 2016 Fam Din
The other weekend we celebrated February in March.

Or more accurately, we had February’s Sunday Family Dinner in March. February was totally hectic with the Lunar New Year, the family being up in San Francisco for our cousin’s wedding and just a bunch of random events that caused the delay for dinner.

But the thing is, we couldn’t actually “skip” a month—because once you start doing that, those “monthly dinners” can continue to get pushed back and eventually become “every few months family dinners”.

And that’s No bueno.

Plus, February was Maya’s birthday and we couldn’t skimp out on birthday celebrations for this cutie! So per her request, we made a menu around some of the favorite things she loves — steak and cake!

A girl after my own heart….

Feb 2016 Fam Din

That day we decided to enact a new rule — unless you’re taking pictures of each other or food (which is more likely), everyone has to stay off their iPads and iPhones. Which, if you have teenagers and wee ones, can be torture!

But if the point of us having monthly family dinners was to spend quality time with each other, being glued to phones and tablets (darn you Snapchat and Minecraft!) kind of defeated the purpose. So I went around and collected all their devices and didn’t return them until dessert – which is pretty darn good if you know our munchkins!

Without his iPad, Lucas had to resort to one of his other favorite obsessions — Nerf guns. Here he is intensely loading up on ammo. Afterwards, he spent a good hour running around the house, hiding behind columns and banisters as he went on full assault mode with his uncle.

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Those two have always been thick as thieves–ever since Lucas was a wee-bitty-baby. I used to think it was because he and my sister had two daughters and no sons—but I really think it’s because my brother-in-law definitely has a “kid at heart” gene.

Feb 2016 Fam Din

The girls decided to spend a considerable amount of time with Maya’s latest obsession – FIMO clay. The clay can be molded into whatever your imagination conjures up–then you bake it to harden your design.

She has a TON of them in all different colors filling tackle boxes, tupperwares, and wherever else she can store them.

Feb 2016 Fam Din
They’re quite talented with it too!

They made a golden snitch, macaron, marshmallow, a cat(?) and my favorite–a cast iron skillet with an egg and bacon!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Then it was cocktail time!

The adults sipped on Raspberry-Lemonade Sparklers….and by “sparklers”, I mean prosecco.

Feb 2016 Fam Din

We always need to nosh on a few things before dinner is served or else my “cute” family turn into a tribe of gremlins.

And that’s not a pretty sight.

Trust me….I’ve seen it.

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Big seester made these adorable little Tartlets that were like mini-quiches filled with bacon, gruyere, and custard all in a savory crust.

Perfect bite sized snacks!

I had about 30 or so……

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Since birthday girl wanted steaks, she got STEAKS!

These were the beautiful boneless Ribeyes seestrah picked up. She simply seasoned them with lots of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. And oh that lovely marbling!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
They were then handed over to the boys to grill.

I must have a gajillion pics of R and C posing like this by the grill over past few years…. But hey–they like to grill so we put them to work!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Sizzle, sizzle!

And no, I didn’t mean The Sizzler.…..but oh that cheese bread!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
The grilled steaks were brushed with some herb butter while they rested which now gives me a great opportunity to talk about the sides!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Maya loves salad–usually odd for small kids but she does have a mature palate. We put together a tray of colorful Wedge Salads because nothing makes veggies more healthy than dousing it with a creamy dressing and tons of crispy bacon bits.

MMMMmmmm….bacon……

Feb 2016 Fam Din
And since Nina helped with making it, I made her pose with the tray.

Think the kids will be traumatized by all the pics I make them take holding food?

Nah…they make good profile pics, right?

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Next up, colorful Roasted Potatoes that were marinated in tons of garlic, rosemary, chili flakes and Dijon mustard before being blasted in a high heat oven.

Feb 2016 Fam Din
We also had a side of slowly Sauteed Crimini Mushrooms that were drizzled with truffle oil and fresh thyme.

Total mushroom goodness.

Feb 2016 Fam Din
There may have been a few bottles of vino too…..

And yes, that’s me in the bottle’s reflection…

Hiiiiii!!!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Beef-a-licious!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Here’s my plate with a little bit of everything…. OH! And I forgot about the Dirty Rice seester made as well! It’s cooked with onions, lots of butter, beef consomme, and a few other secret stuff.

What’s the secret?

No idea…I never pay attention when she makes it but I am more than pleased to shovel it down by the large spoonfuls.

Feb 2016 Fam Din

After dinner, we tend to try and clean up a bit before dessert.

And by “clean up”, I mean “take pictures”.

Fam Din
Cake time!

When I asked Maya what kind of cake she wanted, all she said was a chocolate and peanut butter combo.

Told you the girl had good taste!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
I started off with a wonderful chocolate cake by Brown Eyed Baker.

I have to tell y’all, that crumb was oh-so-lovely! Super dense, moist and oober chocolaty! And there were three layers of it! I also used her version of peanut butter buttercream that was so lip smacking good!

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cake
But this was for Maya and things had to be OVER THE TOP! Although the chocolaty cake was frosted in the peanut butter buttercream, I added chopped mini-peanut butter cups in one layer and Girl Scouts Peanut Butter Patties in the next!

Now, I had intended to frost the entire cake with that luscious buttercream and then do a drippy, drizzle layer of chocolate ganache like Brown Eyed Baker did for her Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cup Overload Cake.

But I totally biffed it by making the ganache too thick and instead of making that whimsical-purposely drippy look, it turned into a gloopy mess. AGH! So I took seester’s advice and decided to frost the ganache out into a thin layer—and I actually kind of loved the marbling effect it had.

PHEW!

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cake
To top the cake I added more Peanut Butter Patties, mini-peanut butter cups, 3 different types of gold sprinkles and wait for it–freshly made Chocolate and Peanut Butter Macarons.

Wait–did I say I baked macarons just to top the cake? I SURE DID!!! Because Miss Maya LOVES macarons and I promised her an OVER THE TOP cake.

Here’s a quick peek inside of the cake…..and let me just tell you, a tall and icy glass of milk would go perfect with it!

Except I can’t drink milk…..TMI?

So I had it with red vino instead.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cake
All in all, I think birthday girl forgave us for having her dinner so late—though, she’s such a sweet tempered kid that I don’t think she really minded at all.

HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY MAYA LOVE!❤

Feb 2016 Fam Din

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Raspberry-Lemonade Sparklers
Appetizers: Bacon Gruyere Tartlets
Entrees: Grilled Ribeye Steaks
Sides: Wedge Salads, Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Sauteed Mushrooms, Dirty Rice
Dessert: “Over the Top” Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake

Rosemary Greyhounds + 15 Super Bowl Recipes

Rosemary Greyhounds
For the past few weeks I’ve been making out like a citrus bandit!

Coworkers have been hooking me up with tons of their homegrown citrus –  grapefruits, meyer lemons, tangerines, and oranges. So for tomorrow’s Super Bowl shenanigans, I will be using up a few of the lovely grapefruits to make a slight spin on one of my favorite cocktails – the Greyhound.

Before I delve into that wonderful goodness, I wanted to make sure that y’all had ample ideas for your Super Bowl spread so that you can fully enjoy game day. And the fun perk? It’s all finger foods!

Starting off is my Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip! Because you just can’t have a football party without dip – and this ones a show stopper with all the flavors of buffalo wangzzzzz.

Drools.

Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip

Love deviled eggs? How about Sriracha? Then we should be best friends….and you should whip up some of these Sriracha Deviled Eggs by the Pioneer Woman. ps. It’s a total touchdown if you add crispy bacon bits on top.

Sriracha Deviled Eggs

If you like Papas Rellenas….
And getting caught in the rain…..

Ok, rain is optional but you’ll swoon over these Cuban potato balls filled with savory ground beef.

Papas Rellenas - Cuban Potato Balls

Crunchy Jalapeno-Bacon wrapped Avocado Fries

No explanation needed.

Crunchy Jalapeno-Bacon wrapped Avocado Fries
Spicy Chicken Flautas – crispy goodness with a kick. You can even fry these up before your friends come over and then keep them warm in the oven.

Spicy Chicken Flautas
Game day parties were meant for busting out the Slow Cookers. You can fix up the food hours and hours before kick off and it’ll keep nice and warm throughout the game.

First up, super easy and reliable BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches.

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

And then there’s these humongous, juicy, beef sammies — Slow Cooker Pot Roast Sandwiches. Drippy goodness.

Slow-Cooker Pot Roast Sandwiches
Rather have seafood sandwiches? How about some rockin’ Seafood Burgers? We’ve got crispy salmon and ahi for you to choose from. Added bonus? I share with you how to make the BEST brioche buns ever.

E-V-E-R!!

Seafood Burgers
Not up for waiting hours-upon-hours for the pizza delivery dude to show up? Make your own!

How about a BBQ Chicken Pizza?

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Or for our veggie lovin’ friends – a Spring Skillet Pizza Pie!

Spring Skillet Pizza Pie

If there isn’t some kind of fried chicken at a Super Bowl party, I immediately turn around and leave.

For reals.

How about a big ol’ platter of Vietnamese Style Fried Chicken? They’re crispy, sticky, slightly sweet and savory.

Finger – lickin’ – GOOD!

Xôi Gà Chiên Nước Mắm {Vietnamese-Style Fried Chicken with Sticky Rice}
Now how about some liquid goodness?

Although kickoff isn’t until 3:30pm PST, I’m sure you’ll be up and bustling around in the AM to get ready for the game. And since brekkie is the most important meal of the day, be sure to fix up a big pitcher of Bloody Marys! The more extra garnishes, the better!

Hair of the Dog - Bloody Mary
JELL-O SHOTS! JELL-O SHOTS! JELL-O SHOTS!

Yes, you can still enjoy a JELL-O shot every so now and then. Just amp them up a bit by hollowing out a few limes or lemons and fill them with JELL-O before allowing them to set in the fridge.

Show Stoppin’ JELL-O Shooters.

Jell-O Shooters

By now, you know my deep affection for the Moscow Mule. It’s a fantastic game day cocktail and even if you don’t have the traditional copper mugs to serve them in, sturdy mason jars will be just fine.

But copper mugs are OH-SO-GLORIOUS and keep your drinks so icy cold.

Moscow Mules
Moscow Mules are so nice—I had to show you twice!

This time with Apple Moscow Mules! They’re made with apple flavored vodka, apple cider, bitters and ginger beer.

Swoon.

Apple Moscow Mules

And finally, we’re back to where we started–with the wonderful Greyhound.

Traditionally, Greyhounds are a simple cocktail made from vodka and grapefruit juice. Easy-peasy.

I usually like to add a splash of simple syrup to offset the natural bitterness from the juice. Which is perfect for my slight spin on the Greyhound as I like to add simple syrup that is infused with fresh rosemary.

Rosemary Greyhounds
The floral rosemary compliments the flavors of the grapefruit so well that you’ve got to stop yourself from guzzling it down too quickly!

The steps below are for a single serving but it’s just as easy to make a full carafe of it and have it sitting in a chilled bucket at your Super Bowl spread or brunch table….. you get where I’m going with this.

Enjoy Folks and have a Fantastic Super Bowl!

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Rosemary Greyhounds
Serves 1

Ingredients:

½ cup sugar
½ cup water
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
ice
1½ ounces premium vodka
4 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
additional rosemary & grapefruit wedges for garnish

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium low heat. Bring to a low boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved Stir in the rosemary sprigs and take off the heat. Allow the syrup to come to room temperature. Remove/discard the sprig and pour the syrup into a resealable container. Refrigerate for a few hours prior to use.

Fill a tumbler or other glass with ice that has been rimmed with sugar. Add the vodka, 1-2 splashes of rosemary simple syrup (depending on sweetness preference), and grapefruit juice. Stir gently and garnish with rosemary and grapefruit wedge.

Cheers!

Jingle Bell Juice – Happy Holidays!

Jingle Bell Juice

Admit it.

At some time in your life (most likely those college days), you guzzled more than a few red SOLO cups filled with “Jungle Juice”.

Don’t hide it…you know what I’m talking about.

Jingle Bell Juice

That ubiquitous red party “punch” that was likely served from one of those huge 5 gallon-orange-water cooler-dispensers.

And by “punch”, it was more like a red Kool-Aid and terribly cheap booze that tasted like a mix of some serious rubbing alcohol and turpentine.

GAG….

Jingle Bell Juice
But we drank it along with the throngs of other collegiate party go-ers because it was ridiculously cheap to make and it did the trick.

We weren’t so smart back then….

But it was fun.

Jingle Bell Juice
For the holidays, I thought it would be a hoot to make a vat of the stuff. But since I’m a big girl now–how about we class it up a bit?

Nothing overboard…just a smidgen. So what does that mean? Quality fruit juices, fresh citruses and top shelf booze. Trust me, it’s worth it.

And in case you’re worried–it still packs one heck of a punch so sip cautiously.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FRIENDS!❤

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Jingle Bell Juice

Ingredients:

64 ounces cranberry juice
16 ounces pomegranate juice
12 ounces pineapple juice
8 ounces orange juice
4 ounces lemon juice
4 ounces lime juice
1 (750 milliliter) bottle top shelf vodka
16 ounces top shelf white rum
8 ounces Cointreau or other orange liqueur
2 large orange, sliced (more for garnish)
2 limes, sliced (more for garnish)
1 lemon, sliced (more for garnish)
1 cup mixed fresh berries (blackberries, cranberries, raspberries)
1 (750 milliliter) bottle chilled sparkling wine

In a very large vessel, combine everything but the sparkling wine. Stir well and refrigerate for 4-6 hours. Before serving, slowly stir in the sparkling wine. Garnish with extra slices of citrus. CHEERS!

Apple Moscow Mules — SKOL!

Apple Moscow Mules

By now y’all may have recognized my rather intense allegiance and unwavering devotion to my sports teams. Sure….some may call it an obsession but I like to think of it as loyalty.

I love my VIKINGS and TROJANS. I bleed Purple and Gold AND Cardinal and Gold…..simultaneously!

Apple Moscow Mules

I’m a proud, proud fan.

I talk the talk… I wear the gear….and I got all the goodies.

It’s how we do it.

Apple Moscow Mules

For years, Duck House Sports has been fulfilling all my fanatical needs to ensure that there’s never a doubt who I root for. And I’m not talking about just your basic stuff you can pick up at your local sports store.

We’re talking about Drinkware, Kitchenware, Cookware, Candles, Electronics, and even Ottomans—all printed with the logos/seals of my beloved Vikings and Trojans!

They mean business people!!!

Apple Moscow Mule

My latest acquisition that I am truly OBSESSED with are these freaking awesome Copper Moscow Mule Mugs that have the Vikings logo etched into them. Anyone who knows me, knows how much this gal appreciates a Moscow Mule. So when it’s served in a true copper mug with her beloved NFL team–it’s cause for celebration!

Get those parades going!

To break in my new mugs, I decided to make a few rounds of Moscow Mules….but with an Autumn twist to fit the season. And what is more Fall than apples?

Apple Moscow Mules

Instead of plain vodka, I used a few ounces of apple flavored vodka and added some apple cider to the party. I opted for the Gala Apple flavored vodka from Stolichnaya which is a seasonal item for them. It has a light fragrance and I adore it. But one thing remains true for this mule version as with the old–you’ve got to use a ginger beer with a bite. If not, it’ll be way too sweet and that’s just is really no bueno.

If you’re wondering, I’m not being compensated by Duck House Sports for singing their praises. I just really LOVE all their stuff so if you admire a sports team the way I love my Vikes and Trojans, go check them out so you can step up your fan game.

Have a great weekend Friends and SKOL!!!!!!!

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Apple Moscow Mule
Serves 1

Ingredients:

ice
2 ounces quality apple flavored vodka
2 ounces apple cider
1/2 ounce lime juice
4 ounces ginger beer
1-2 dashes Angostura Bitters
apple slices, mint sprigs and lime slices for garnish

Fill a Mule mug (or glass of your choice) with ice. Pour the vodka, apple cider and lime juice over the ice. Slowly pour the ginger beer into the mug and stir. Add the dashes of Angostura Bitters to the top and garnish with apple slices, lime slices and mint sprigs.

Skol!

Summer Watermelon Sangria

July 2015 Fam Din

This summer, I have been inhaling watermelons like they’re going out of style. Now, for most, this wouldn’t be such an odd thing since chilled watermelons seem to be synonymous with summer.

Particularly when it’s been so flippin’ warm….

But here’s the thing about me….. watermelons aren’t really my fav.

DSC_0006

Now before you start virtually bombarding me with the “WHY?” “WHAT THE?!”, let me clarify and say that it’s not that I hate watermelon–they’re just not the first fruit I reach for.

But here we are, near the middle of September, and I’m still plowing through pounds and pounds of watermelon. Maybe they’re right when they say that your taste buds change through the years.

And no, I don’t really know who “they” are……just go with me on this one.

DSC_0010

With this inexplicable obsession, I decided to use some to make a few pitchers of Watermelon Sangria for a Family Dinner the other month. Sangrias are a great default cocktail I like to make because it’s easy to make big batches of and you can flavor it any which way you’d like. Plus, since it’s best to allow the sangria to chill a few hours before serving it, it’s the perfect make-ahead drink.

Watermelon Sangria

My sibs and I guzzled down 2 huge pitchers of these Watermelon Sangrias so I think they liked it.

But we’re Nguyễns.

So they’re really isn’t a sangria we’ve met that we haven’t guzzled down.

OH! And had I given it some thought ahead of time, I would have cubed a bunch of the leftover watermelon and stuck them in the freezer for several hours. Frozen cubed melons act as PERFECT “ice cubes” for your sangria that not only add to the flavor but also won’t water down your cocktail.

There’s always next time😉

CHEERS!

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Watermelon Sangria

Ingredients:

3 cups fresh watermelon, cut into large chunks
½ cup chilled water
12 fresh mint leaves, divided
juice of ½ lime
1-2 tablespoons sugar, depending on sweetness of the watermelon
1 bottle (750 ml) Sauvignon Blanc or white wine of your choice
¼ cup Cointreau
1 cup sliced strawberries
½ small orange, sliced
4-5 lime slices
6 ounces lemon lime soda

In a blender, add the watermelon chunks, water, half of the mint leaves, lime juice and sugar. Blend until smooth. Pour watermelon juice through a sieve to strain.

Pour the wine into a large pitcher along with 2 cups of watermelon juice, and Cointreau. Stir well. Add in the strawberries, oranges, and lime slices. Chill for a minimum of 2-3 hours.

Before serving, stir in the remaining mint leaves, soda and pour into glasses that have been filled with ice. Enjoy!