Drinks

Fresh Mango Mojitos

August 2017 Family Dinner
Since I posted the last Fam Din wrap up, I’ve received a few requests to share the recipe for our Fresh Mango Mojitos—and I’m happy to oblige!

Mojitos are one of my favorite cocktails because it mixes the combinations of lots of tart citrus from the limes and freshness from the mint. But I rarely order it out because 9 out 10 times, I’m completely disappointed. Mojitos aren’t difficult to make–but it does take a bit of time to muddle everything together. Plus, I find that places skimp out on the limes and mint (BOO!!) and either use flat club soda or shake the carbonation out of it (DOUBLE BOO!) And that’s just a bad combination!

Fuggetaboutit! Just make your own!

August 2017 Family Dinner
Fresh Mango Mojitos are truly a fantastic spin of the original. I use a combination of ripe mangoes (I prefer ataulfo mangoes) and mango nectar (LOVE the one from Trader Joe’s) to really punch up the floral mango flavor. Plus, since the fruit and nectar bring their own sweetness, there’s no need to add additional sugar or simple syrups in.

They’re perfect, refreshing and just downright delicious. Cheers!! ❤

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Fresh Mango Mojitos
Serves 1

Ingredients:

15-20 fresh mint leaves, more for garnish
½ lime, cut into small wedges
2 ounces light rum
3 ounces mango nectar
3 tablespoons diced ripe and fresh mango
2 ounces club soda
1-2 cups crushed ice

In a cocktail shaker, thoroughly muddle the mint leaves and lime wedges. Add the light rum, mango nectar and fill the shaker with ice. Vigorously shake for 20 seconds and strain the liquids into a tall glass. Add the fresh mangoes and mash them in. Add ice to the glass and top with club soda. Gently stir the liquids together and garnish with additional mint leaves.

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Drinks

Sparkling Rosé Sangria – Happy National Rosé Day!

Sparkling Rosé Sangria

With all the craziness going on right now, aren’t you happy to know that at least we have random holidays we can celebrate and temporarily take our minds off of the insanity?

Brilliant holidays like the one today. And “what’s today” you may be asking?

Oh silly Friend….

It’s National Rosé Day—-as in, Rosé Wine!

And no, I didn’t make it up–though it does sound like something I would do.

Sparkling Rosé Sangria

To honor this illustrious day, I’d like to share with you my Sparkling Rosé Sangria. It’s filled with fresh fruit, rosé wine, cognac, orange liqueur and is topped off with chilled sparkling wine right before serving.

And my special addition? Fresh ginger root! The ginger is steeped in the sangria for a few hours which imparts a subtle but bright flavor. The whole combination is like drinking summer in a glass!

Totes Pretty in Pink

CHEERS Friends – and HAPPY NATIONAL ROSÉ DAY!

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Sparkling Rosé Sangria
Serves as many as you’re willing to share with

2 inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled
12 cup simple syrup
14 cup fresh lime juice
13 cup cognac
13 cup Cointreau or other orange liqueur
2 cups sliced fresh peaches
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
4 sprigs fresh mint, more to garnish
2 750mL bottles rosé wine
ice
1 750mL bottle chilled sparkling wine

With the back of a large chef’s knife (or mallet), carefully bruise the ginger to help release some of its juices–but be sure not to break it into smaller pieces.

In a large pitcher, add the bruised ginger, simple syrup, lime juice, cognac, Cointreau, fruit and mint sprigs. Pour in the rosé wine and stir. Cover the pitcher and refrigerate for 4-5 hours. Once chilled, remove and discard the ginger and wilted mint sprigs.

Fill glasses with ice and add the sangria. Pour 2-3 ounces of chilled sparkling wine in each glass and gently stir the contents. Garnish with additional mint leaves and serve.

CHEERS!

Sunday Family Dinner

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

Drinks

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.

Drinks

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!

Drinks

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!

Sunday Family Dinner

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