Sunday Family Dinner

All the Smokey Goodness..and Then Some!

November 2017 Fam Din
Ever since brother got a Traegar Grill/Smoker, we have been living the glorious all-the-smoked-goodness life! So it was no surprise that for his birthday family dinner, he volunteered to take on the entrees. Hey-I wasn’t going to argue with the birthday boy!

We quickly got the munchkins involved. Here’s Maya and Luna making a bechamel. I mean, what 12 and 8 year old doesn’t know how to make a bechamel???

November 2017 Fam Din
And of course, safety first when the rugrats are cooking. Good thing Bella and Princess Leia are such conscientious supervisors.

November 2017 Fam Din
And while the kiddos went to town, I whipped up cocktails. Since brother is a whiskey and bourbon fan, I mixed up a batch of my Boozy Fall Punch (yeah…I’m a little late on posting this).

It had all kinds of autumnal things like bourbon, brandy, apple cider, pomegranate juice, blood orange soda, cinnamon sticks and chopped up fruit.

It was boozy. It was tasty. Mission Accomplished.

November 2017 Fam Din
The cocktails packed a punch! So we noshed on a Charcuterie Platter….because you know how much we love our cheeses and cured meats!

I just realized the La Tur cheese from Murray’s below kind of looks like a mini-cheesecake. But trust me, it was la tur-rific!

November 2017 Fam Din
Seestrah T also made these cute Mini French Onion Bread Bowls as a second appetizer–recipe courtesy of Tastemade.

November 2017 Fam Din
Think of French Onion Soup…but in dip form! And in its own little bread bowl! Brilliant!

And gosh darn it, it was scrumptious!

November 2017 Fam Din
Quick cooking/eating break for a picture!

November 2017 Fam Din
Can’t forget the dudes!

November 2017 Fam Din

Now on to the food!!!

First up, brother smoked a ginormous side of salmon. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t love salmon. I don’t hate it and I’ll eat it–but of the fishes, it’s not my fav. But when brother busted out this Smoked Salmon he smoked low and slow with mesquite wood pellets, I WAS ALL ABOUT IT!!

It was SUPER moist and had the lightest bit of smoke. The added capers and fresh lemon juice helped to cut through the fatty fish and it was perfect!

November 2017 Fam Din
Not to be outdone by the aquatic beasts, he also did up a huge platter of Smoked Beef Ribs.

November 2017 Fam Din

They were, they were….one word.

BEFF-ilicious.

November 2017 Fam Din

This time around, I was in charge of the sides. First up! Mac and Cheese!

And as you recall, I enlisted Maya and Luna to help out. No idea why N popped in…maybe to try to get in on the credit I suppose. That big seestrah of ours….

November 2017 Fam Din

I make Mac and Cheese quite often but I was listening to a Bon Appetit Pod Cast on the way into work and decided to give their BA’s Best Macaroni and Cheese a shot.

Let me tell you gang, there’s a whole ton of various cheeses in this business — Fontina, Gruyere, White Cheddar and Parmesan. But I decided to go big and added Monterey Jack and Pepper Jack.

I mean, I didn’t want them to feel left out.

And instead of making Maya hand shred all the cheeses, we busted out the food processor. She was definitely pleased with that decision.

November 2017 Fam Din
How did it turn out?

Quite good!

Ridiculously cheesy… but I guess 6 different cheeses will do that to a dish. But yes, I definitely recommend it. It’s quite easy to make and the end result is on point!

November 2017 Fam Din

With all that protein and 200 pounds of cheese, I figured it would be good to have some veggies. So I pulled together a quick Sauteed Kale and Swiss Chard situation. I quickly sauteed some garlic, shallots and chili flakes in some olive oil and threw in a bunch of Lacinato Kale and Swiss Chard. After they were lightly wilted, I finished it with a douse of red wine vinegar to brighten things up.

Eat your veggies right?

November 2017 Fam Din
Before dessert, most of us cleaned up a bit and someone took a nap. Oh that Leia, she’s a reliable one.

And if you’re wondering what Bella was doing, I can only assume that she was upstairs ordering take-out while watching Minecraft videos on YouTube.

November 2017 Fam Din
Finally–DESSERT!

When we asked brother what he wanted for his dessert, he almost instantaneously replied “flan”.  And I’ve got to tell you, I was surprised. I’ve known him all my life and had no idea that the man liked flan that much!

We were dumbfounded….

Seester N’s F.I.L. has a great flan recipe so we immediately tasked her with the job. She used these cute ramekins to make individual sized flan.

November 2017 Fam Din
And to kick things up (it was brother’s bday after all), she spiked the adult flans with rum!

The Creamy Rum Flan was perfect! Creamy (I know, it’s in the name), light and was the most delectable finish to our meal!

November 2017 Fam Din
Here’s one of the munchkins caught in the act….we do pass on great habits, right?

November 2017 Fam Din
And with that, brother’s Family Dinner was a wrap! Here’s to you V! ❤

November 2017 Fam Din

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Boozy Fall Punch, Various Wine
Appetizers: Charcuterie Platter, Mini French Onion Bread Bowls
Entrees: Smoked Salmon, Smoked Beef Ribs
Sides: Bon Appetit’s Best Macaroni and Cheese, Sauteed Kale and Swiss Chard
Dessert: Creamy Rum Flan

Sunday Family Dinner

Sunday Family Dinner with All of the Crew

December 2015 SFD
About two times a year we can wrangle all five Nguyễn siblings at our monthly Family Dinners. It’s not for lack of desire but with one brother in New York, one seester in San Francisco, two seesters in Orange County and me in San Diego–it can be a logistical nightmare.

But when it does happen, it’s chaotically wonderful.

December 2015 SFD

With all of the sibs in town last month, we managed to squeeze Fam Din in between our Cousin’s wedding, multiple Christmas parties, and the most important— the release of Star Wars.

All very, VERY important events for us.

I’m not kidding gang–although I was off from work for the last two weeks of December, I was up in Orange County the entire time with some type of event each day. Let’s just say, at the end of my vacation–I needed a vacay from my vacay.

December 2015 SFD

But back to our Fam Din!

We held it the next day after our younger cousin’s amazing wedding. He’s been like a little brother to the five of us so it was extremely special to witness his truly perfect day. And because we knew it was going to be a fantastic party, we planned ahead for a very low key but comforting menu for dinner.

A nod to rustic Italian and Tuscan fare.

December 2015 SFD
And since I’m me, I couldn’t resist snapping away at some pics of the fam bam. How often do I get all of my kiddos (minus the fur babies) in one shot?

This particular one is freaking hilarious. Maya, Lucas, Nini and Nina are pros having been subjected to my photo shoots every month but the youngest three munchkins’ faces below have me DYING!

Leonidas is rocking the ultimate pouty face.

Kaelani has the petrified “Is this really my family?!?!?” look.

And Luna is giving me the “Hurry up before I flip over!” face.

Classic.

December 2015 SFD

Then at some point, I channeled the inner prom-photographer in me and snapped a couple of the sibbies.

Representing Tustin…..

December 2015 SFD
Representing San Francisco…..

Wait! How did Kaelani sneak in this one?

December 2015 SFD
Representing New York…..

Or is technically Manhattan?

Um. You get the picture.

December 2015 SFD
And finally, Representing Fullerton…..

December 2015 SFD
Somewhere along the lines, my two eldest munchkins, who are now both taller than me, decided to lick my face.

Gross.

But I probably would have done the same to them. Where do you think they’ve learned it from?

December 2015 SFD
And since our Leo was turning four a few days later, we decided to make Fam Din into a little party for him.

How can he be four already?!?!?

December 2015 SFD
Before dinner, we snacked on an overflowing tray of Antipasti from a local Italian market named Claro’s. They’ve got tons and tons of wonderful imported goods as well as delish cold cuts, cheeses, olives, sandwich counter and plenty of premade dishes you can take home.

Below is their sampling of Asiago cheese, Gorgonzola, bocconcini, salami, prosciutto sticks, olives and cherry tomatoes.

December 2015 SFD
For the main course, we had Roasted Rosemary-Garlic Whole Chickens with new potatoes. Seester marinated the chickens overnight and roasted two of them in the oven and one outdoor in her rotisserie oven. You just can’t beat a wonderfully flavored, juicy roasted chicken.

December 2015 SFD
And you just can’t have an Italian menu without a big ol’ bowl of pasta.

I whipped up a ginormous bowl of Cacio e Pepe using bucatini pasta–because I adore bucatini.

Butter, black pepper, Pecorino, and Parmesan.

December 2015 SFD

Eldest seestrah made Souffle al Formaggio Facile – a Tuscan cheese souffle with mixed greens. We’ve never had an Italian dish like this but heck –how could you go wrong with a cheese souffle???

In fact, this would be a great brunch dish with perhaps a poached egg nestled on top of the greens.

December 2015 SFD

As for dessert, the birthday boy wanted Chocolate Cupcakes and what birthday boy wants, he gets. Well, at least with desserts that is.

Seester P recruited the little munchkins to help bake up a batch of chocolaty cuppies with chocolate frosting –using our go to recipe from Ina.

The kids loved helping out–especially since they got to pipe the frosting on top.

December 2015 SFD

I mean, c’mon. Look at that face.

Could anything be cuter????

December 2015 SFD

Okay…maybe these faces below.

Hey, it was his birthday– and the kid loves chocolate!

December 2015 SFD
And that friends, was only day 2 of my 14-day “vacation” in Orange County.

I’m still recovering. ❤

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Vino Galore!!!
Appetizers: Anitpasti – Asiago cheese, Gorgonzola, bocconcini, salami, prosciutto sticks, olives and cherry tomatoes
Entrees: Rosemary Garlic Roast Chicken, Roast Potatoes, Cacio e Pepe, Souffle al Formaggio Facile
Dessert: Rich Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream