Sunday Family Dinner

The Birthday Boys GO BIG!

April 2019 Fam Din
What can I say about these two dudes?

Not only do they share a birthmonth but they also share a special connection – they’re the best of buds.

And they also share a similar sensibility of foods….

More on that later.

April 2019 Fam Din
To kick off Fam Din, we needed cocktails….something of the tropical nature as a nod to my BIL C.

April 2019 Fam Din
And what evokes “tropical” than a big batch of Blended Passionfruit Margaritas??

April 2019 Fam Din
Aren’t they lovely?

Slightly sweet, super tart and packed a punch that you don’t see coming.

April 2019 Fam Din
As for the food menu, the birthday dudes pretty much wanted ALL THINGS SEAFOOD!

Lobster, crabs, calamari….

I mean, no complaints here!

April 2019 Fam Din
First appetizer was per C’s request – Crispy Calamari with Marinara Sauce.

April 2019 Fam Din
V took the lead with this and we inhaled a few trays of them.

April 2019 Fam Din
C also wanted LOBSTAH!

Seester steamed several lobsters and shelled them. Look at all of those chunks of gorgeous meat!

April 2019 Fam Din
But hey–we just didn’t enjoy the meat.

Seester T took also took the lobster “tomalley”, aka “lobster fat” and mixed it with mayo and spices to create these decadent Lobster Tomalley Crostini.

SUPER scrumptious and a great way to use all parts of the lobster.

April 2019 Fam Din
Then it was time to get the Littlings‘ involved — even if Lucasaurus was one of the birthday boys.

April 2019 Fam Din
We had them trim greens beans that seestrah T used later to make Stir-Fried Garlic Green Beans. It’s a veggie dish that even the munchkins enjoy!

April 2019 Fam Din
Now back to some decadence….

If you’ve been following my Instagram, you saw that a few months ago, I finally got to try Beef Ribeye Cap Steaks – a beef cut that I’ve been coveting for a LONG time.

April 2019 Fam Din

The cap is the top, most tender and marbleized portion that runs above the ribeye steak.

It is so beefy, so packed with flavor….it’s incredible.

So although neither birthday boy explicitly requested it, we knew it would be a hit with them and asked brother V to cook some of up on the cast iron.

April 2019 Fam Din
After they had rested a bit, Nini sliced them up….

And she had a couple of onlookers — just in case she had dropped anything on the floor.

April 2019 Fam Din
Take a gander!

April 2019 Fam Din
Oh!

I almost forgot about these!

I decided to grill up some spears because they looked quite lovely that morning.

April 2019 Fam Din
After I pulled them off the grill, I topped them with a quick dressing I had made earlier to deepen their flavors.

Grilled Asparagus with Salsa Verde – awesome alongside any summertime meal.

April 2019 Fam Din
Lucas had two requests for dinner….crabs and mint chip ice cream.

Well actually, he also wanted plain rice too.

Our little Asian dude….

April 2019 Fam Din
Initially we were going to pick up several Dungeness crabs to steam up but when we got to the store—no Dungeness crabs were to be found!

DOH!

April 2019 Fam Din
So we took a quick run to Costco and picked up a few pounds of Alaskan King Crab Legs …. and as it turns out, those are actually Lucasaurus‘ fave.

April 2019 Fam Din
CAUGHT!

Fam on their devices during Fam Din!

BUSTED!

April 2019 Fam Din
We’ll give them a pass this time.

Back in the kitchen we returned our attention to the huge bowl of lobster meat.

April 2019 Fam Din
And with the assist of her kiddos, seester N created this STUNNING platter of Lobster Rolls.

April 2019 Fam Din
I know….

Calamari, Tomalley Crostinis, Ribeye Caps, King Crab….

April 2019 Fam Din
And now, Lobster Rolls, too?!?

I have no excuses….

…because I was too busy eating….

April 2019 Fam Din
Our plates, quite literally, ran over.

April 2019 Fam Din
Will these munchkins ever understand that eating like this isn’t “normal” for most 6-10 year olds?

But I’m okay with that because I’m banking that they’ll make these kinds of dishes for me when I’m 80 years old.

April 2019 Fam Din
Here’s Leia patiently waiting for us to finish dinner so that we could start the next episode of Game of Thrones.

April 2019 Fam Din
And then it was dessert time!

My nephew/godbebe doesn’t enjoy cake. He likes donuts and mint chip ice cream….the green kind.

For his birthday dessert, I made him a quick Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Pie.

April 2019 Fam Din
The base was an Oreo cookie crust and then it was filled with mint chip ice cream. I topped it with fresh whipped cream, Andes mint chocolates (a nod to our Grandpa who used to give them to us as kiddos when we were good) and chunks of a new Oreo-Mint candy bar.

But here’s my confession…

I DIDN’T MAKE THE CRUST – IT WAS STORE BOUGHT!

We were running around that morning with so many errands that by the time I got to the store, I just picked up the crust thinking that it would save me time.

But when I used it…THE GUILT!

Really!! It would have taken me all of 15 minutes to make the crust but I took the short cut. Which I get…is fine in most cases. But I felt so guilty and came clean to everyone….. I made a vow to make it up at the next dinner.

April 2019 Fam Din
As for C….the man loves him some green tea. So this oldie but goodie came out again — Green Tea Match Tiramisu.

April 2019 Fam Din

Needless to say, these dude were very happy with their Birthday Menu. And how could they not – it was all decadently delicious!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Lucas and C! 

April 2019 Fam Din

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Blended Passionfruit Margaritas
Appetizers: Crispy Calamari with Marinara Sauce, Lobster Tomalley Crostini
Entree: Beef Ribeye Cap Steaks, Alaskan King Crab Legs, Lobster Rolls
Sides: Stir-Fried Garlic Green Beans, Grilled Asparagus with Salsa Verde, Steamed Rice
Dessert: Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Pie, Green Tea Match Tiramisu

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Sunday Family Dinner

Family Dinner Brings On the FIRES OF MORDOR!!!!!!

August 2015 Family Dinner

The Fires of Mordor!!!!

Only a little bit of it….but still– THE FIRES OF MORDOR!!!!!

But I’ll get to that in a bit.

It’s been a few weeks since we had our last Family Dinner and I have to admit, I want EVERY THING from that menu EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

Since it was August, we were celebrating this pretty gal’s birthday. Yes folks, my little Nina is now 17. How is this even possible?! I feel like it was only the other day that I was zerberting my baby niece’s cheeks and now she’s a senior in high school, preparing to apply to college and driving me around. Well, the latter definitely has its perks.

So, the gang gathered at T’s house on a warm August afternoon for Family Dinner and birthday festivities.

August 2015 Family Dinner

There were cousins selfies……

August 2015 Family Dinner

Cuddle time…..

August 2015 Family Dinner

A little smooching…… (barf)…..

August 2015 Family Dinner

Dudes hanging out by the grill……..

August 2015 Family Dinner

Puppies running around and going BONKERS………

August 2015 Family Dinner

Leo-nators climbing on patio furniture….

August 2015 Family Dinner

Nini and Maya  time…….

August 2015 Family Dinner

And lots of QT with this cutie..

August 2015 Family Dinner

We had A LOT going on.

Good thing T made a bunch of Green Sangria for us to sip on. It was filled with kiwis, cucumbers, pears and white vino. Light and perfect for the HOT day we had.

August 2015 Family Dinner

As you may recall, if it’s your birth month, we usually create a menu with your favorite things for Family Dinner.

But the challenge you face when you raise little foodie-lings is that they end up having a taste for high end ingredients and dishes.
August 2015 Family Dinner

Nina loves lobster, uni, premium steaks, sashimi, poke….

Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE all of those things too but I don’t recall having such a refined palate at our munchkins’ ages.

So her birthday dinner of choice was not something your average teenager would have.

Lucky girl.

August 2015 Family Dinner

Seester T’s neighbor had just gone deep sea fishing and they gifted her with a bunch of fresh yellowfin tuna. Now that’s a neighbor I would TOTALLY want!

We took a few pounds of it and my niece Nini made her infamous Spicy Tuna Hand Rolls for us to snack on as appetizers.

SO. FREAKING. GOOD.

I love that Nini has such a great palate and makes THE BEST Spicy Tuna Hand Rolls.… like, EVER. They far surpass any that I’ve had at sushi joints and it’s all because of that “crack sauce” she makes. And lucky for you all, she’s agreed to allow me to share the recipe {coming soon}.

Did I mention she’s only 15?

August 2015 Family Dinner

Remember those lobsters from a few photos up?

Seester N took those buggers and made a wonderful Lobster Bisque filled with chunks of lobster meat and finished with a drizzle of truffle oil.

Lobsters and Truffle Oil?!?

Yea…just keep thinking “17 year old birthday dinner”…..

August 2015 Family Dinner

And because that Lobster Bisque was so nice, I had to show it twice.

August 2015 Family Dinner

One of the sides for dinner were twice fried Parmesan Garlic Truffle Fries.

Go Big or Go Home.

Well, we went Big and then went home.

August 2015 Family Dinner

As for the main course, Nina is like her grandma and ADORES beef. She always wants some kind of steak on her special day.

So she got this beauty below. Dry-aged, Prime Ribeye Steaks with herb butter and crispy onion strings on top.

I’ll pause a moment to allow you to lick the screen……

Oh! And there was a Caesar Salad for a bit of greens.

August 2015 Family Dinner

And to wrap up the whole meal, a decadent birthday cake. Nina loves and I mean LOVES chocolate and green tea. With that in mind, I made her a rich chocolate cake and filled the layers with a matcha mousse. It was then frosted with a matcha buttercream and adorned with Matcha Pocky Sticks.

Not to toot my own horn but it was pretty fantastic.

August 2015 Family Dinner

Now, let’s spend some more time talking about those mouth watering, juicy steaks.

When we first started talking about the menu for Family Dinner, we knew steaks had to be on the menu. But we make steaks all the time–a TON of different ways. We had to do something special for Nina and that’s where my brother comes into the picture.

He and I have talked numerous times about that one episode of Good Eats where Alton Brown uses a chimney starter to “grill” porterhouse steaks.

Yup, you read correctly. A chimney starter that you typically use to heat up coals for a BBQ grill.

And what’s fantastic is that the thick steaks cook in 5 minutes!

August 2015 Family Dinner

It all started with the beef.

Now, Alton used porterhouse steaks but that ended up being tough for V to find that were prime and not choice or select. Why do you want prime beef, particularly for this method of cooking? Because of all that beautiful marbling in the meat. Lots of lovely marbling = taste bombs exploding in your mouth.

We ended up using prime ribeye steaks which were fantastic. V took those beauties and dry aged them in the refrigerator for four days. Click here to find out how A.B. dry ages steaks.

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This is where the chimney comes in .

He filled the inside with a layer of natural lump coal………..

August 2015 Family Dinner

Then stuffed the bottom with newspaper…. well, actually, it was an old Trader Joe’s bag……..

IMG_5678

Then he lit the paper and allowed the coals to burn.

August 2015 Family Dinner

And this is where the magic begins.

He lifted the chimney and placed one steak on the grill before placing it back over the beef.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 10.50.43 AM

He allowed the steak to grill for 90 seconds and then flipped them….

August 2015 Family Dinner

Then the chimney goes back over the steak for another 90 seconds….

August 2015 Family Dinner

Then he took the chimney off, placed the grate on top of the chimney and placed the steak on top………..

August 2015 Family Dinner

Then threw a metal bowl to cover the steak. It grilled for 60 seconds, the bowl was removed, the steak was flipped, the bowl was slapped back on top and then the steak grilled for a final 60 seconds.

August 2015 Family Dinner

And that’s it! The steaks were then rested before we dove in.

August 2015 Family Dinner

Wasn’t that freaking AWESOME!!!???

Not only did it produce a commercial-kitchen-salamander affect on the beef but it was SO FUN to do!!!

August 2015 Family Dinner

In fact, it was SO fun that I had to make a quick video about it. Check it out below and let me know what you think 🙂

All in all, it was a show stopping dinner.

August 2015 Family Dinner

Filled with kids inhaling pounds of lobsters.

August 2015 Family Dinner

And lots of laughter and vino.

August 2015 Family Dinner

Big, BIG thanks to my bro for overseeing our awesome steaks!

August 2015 Family Dinner

And I don’t know what’s happening in the picture below but I can’t stop cracking up over it.

August 2015 Family Dinner

And don’t forget about cake time!

August 2015 Family Dinner

Look at Luna and Leo’s faces below.

They kill me.

August 2015 Family Dinner

Happy Birthday Nina Love!

Speaking of love, take a look at the little photo bomber on the right.

Precious.

August 2015 Family Dinner

Delicious food, learning new cooking techniques, hanging out with the fam–it was a memorable summer family dinner.

With the fires of Mordor….

August 2015 Family Dinner

And Maya dancing behind them. 😉

August 2015 Family Dinner

Until next time gang!

xoxo ❤

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Green Sangria
Appetizers: Spicy Tuna Hand Rolls and Lobster Bisque
Entrees: Grilled Ribeye Steaks with Crispy Onion Strings, Caesar Salad & Truffle Parmesan Fries
Dessert: Matcha Chocolate Pocky Cake

Sunday Family Dinner

New England Inspired Sunday Family Dinner

Lobster-tinis

And it all started with these at our New England inspired Sunday Family Dinner.

Don’t they look ridiculous? RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME!

When we began toying around menu themes for October’s Sunday Family Dinner, my seester T was hell-bent on a New England spread that featured these beauties—

LOBSTER MARTINIS!

October 2013 Family Dinner

Now before you cringe, I recognize that these cocktails aren’t for everyone. But if you, like many of us, enjoy a deliciously dirty–extra dirty martini, then you’ll adore these.

The Lobster Martinis are made with vodka, lemon juice and most importantly— “lobster essence”.  Lobster essence is an incredibly concentrated lobster stock that is slowly reduced down until it creates liquid lobstah goodness!

Throw it all in a shaker over ice and shake-shake-shake before straining into a glass that’s been garnished with a lobstah claw. Divine!

As for the food, we kept things actually quite low key. Nothing crazy elaborate but just darn delicious. And since we were in New England, we had to have Crab Cakes!

Crab Cakes

Instead of larger patties that I usually make, I formed little cakes so we could nibble on while we put out the other dishes. Click here for the recipe

And in case you’re wondering, my family has Minnesota roots and it’s where I was born. So although we’re struggling this season, we HAD to represent our Vikings as they played those dang cheeseheads that day.

October 2013 Family Dinner

Next up– White Clam Pizza!

Now here’s my confession. We kind of had a crazy morning the day of our Fam-Din and I initially forgot to pick up the fresh clams. So I scrambled to the grocery store with my niece Nina and fixed that problem. After all, what’s a Fam-Din without a snafu or two?

Speaking of Nina, she pretty much took charge of this entire dish. I say this all of the time but when most teenagers struggle with making a peanut butter sandwich, our nieces are fixing up dishes like paella and artisan pizzas. We’re so proud!!!

And the pizza was scrumdiddlyumptious!

Clam Pizza

I just adore our munchkins and can’t wait for our other little ones — Luna and Leo–to come back for the holidays.

October 2013 Family Dinner

What’s a New England menu without Lobstah Rolls?!

Lightly dressed and overflowing with lobstah glory–just perfect!

Lobster Rolls

Mo’ lobstah, mo’ betta’!

Huh…maybe that will be the name of my next food blog? 🙂

October 2013 Family Dinner

And finally, dessert.

Boston Cream Pie!

But I hope you’re pronouncing “Boston” like a true New Englander.

Say it with me now! Baaah-stin’

Boston Cream Pie

Seester P worked with Nini and Maya to create this Boston Cream Pie using a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. And if you’ve ever attempted an America’s Test Kitchen recipe, you know how laborious it can be—-delicious, but laborious.

October 2013 Family Dinner

So I was so impressed with how meticulous Nini and Maya took each step as they created it. It resulted in a wonderful sponge cake filled with a beautiful pastry cream and then coated with a thin layer of ganache. YUM!

Wicked awesome, yea?

October 2013 Family Dinner

A close to another delicious and food coma induced Sunday Family Dinner –that’s a wrap!

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Lobster Martinis
Appetizers: Crab Cakes, White Clam Pizza
Entrees: Lobster Rolls
Dessert: Boston Cream Pie

Appetizers/Small Plates · Sunday Family Dinner

N’awlins Seafood Boil for Sunday Family Dinner & Cajun Crab Puffs

Cajun Crab Puffs

In May, we began our new tradition of Sunday Family Dinners. And although each month has been wonderful, September was a milestone as it was the first dinner that all of my siblings and their families were in attendance. My brother and his family were in from NYC and my sister from SF came down….it was a full house!

Sunday Family Dinner

With all the sibs in attendance, we needed to have an epic Sunday Family Dinner. The theme for our dinner was a N’awlins inspired Seafood Boil! Crabs, Lobsters, Prawns, Crawfish, Calamari, Clams, Oysters— OH MY! We seriously threw down over 50 pounds of seafood!

Sunday Family Dinner

For dessert, my sister P, whipped up fresh beignets showered with powdered sugar and served with homemade Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream. The beignets were so beautifully tender and crispy…. and the ice cream was To Die For.

Sunday Family Dinner

My contribution for the night were these little appetizers that I was initially going to call Baby Po’Boys but have since changed the name to Cajun Crab Puffs. These little buggers were TASTY! The crab was wonderfully sweet and paired well with the spicy aioli. The tomato and scallions gave a bright, fresh note and c’mon…who doesn’t love flaky, butter puff pastry?!

Sunday Family Dinner

But as decadently delicious as everything was, it was just incredible to have everyone under one roof again. The kids were running around and they even made personalized “seafood bibs” for each of us out of trash bags. Adorable and quite useful!

And although it was a bit chaotic (c’mon, what family shinding isn’t?), it was the epitome of why we started Sunday Family Dinners in the first place.

Cajun Crab Puffs

ps. These Cajun Crab Puffs were really yummy and easy to pull together. With the holidays now in full swing, they would be a great appetizer for any party you may be having.

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Endless Prosecco and Vino
Appetizers: Cajun Crab Puffs
Entrees: Cajun Seafood Boil–Lobster, Shrimp, Crawdads, Shrimp, Shellfish
Dessert: Beignets with homemade Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

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Cajun Crab Puffs

Ingredients:

½ tablespoon minced garlic
1 large egg yolk
½ tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
6 ounces lump crab
2-3 pinches cayenne powder
1 cup cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped chives (although I used scallions)

Prepare the aioli. Add garlic, egg yolk, and lemon juice into a blender. Pulse several times until the items have blended together. Turn the blender on low and slowly stream in the olive oil. Continue to blend until all of the oil has been used and the consistency reaches a thick consistency. Blend in the hot sauce and Old Bay. Check for seasonings and adjust with kosher salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Take the sheet of puff pastry and cut squares about 1½ inch in diameter. Bake the squares for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on wire racks. Once cooled, slice each square in half.

Season the lump crab with cayenne powder.

Begin assembling the puffs. Take one half of a puff pastry square and top with a slice of tomato and a spoonful of crab. Drizzle some of the aioli on top of the crab and then garnish with chives. Top with the other half of the puff pastry square. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and serve.

Seafood

Lobstah, Lobstah…..Lobster Rolls!

Lobster Rolls

With every trip to NYC, I must stop by Luke’s to pick up a Lobstah Roll. So flippin’ good, I can hardly stand it!!

Their lobstah is lightly seasoned and has just a tad of mayo to hold things together. Wonderfully straightforward and showcases the sweet flavor of the meat. And of course, the decadent lobstah is enveloped in a buttery, toasted, New England-style bun. Lightly crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside.

Ermahgerd…..

Lobster Rolls

In the spirit of Luke’s, I was inspired to throw down a few Lobstah Rolls myself. I kept things simple but you can add in minced celery, avocados, lettuce, or heck–even MORE lobster! I jammed my rolls with so much lobstah meat that you could barely pick it up. Trust me, it’s a good problem to have.

I also cooked my own lobstahs but if it makes you a bit squeamish, feel free to pick up some pre-cooked meat from a trusted fish monger. Either way, you’re going to want to make these beauties because……

Wait–do you really need a reason? HECK NO—They’re Lobstah Rolls! Drools.

And with that Friends, Happy Friday!!!

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Lobster Rolls
Makes 2 rolls

Ingredients:

½ pound lobster meat, mix of both tail and claw
1½ tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped chives (more for garnish)
2 -3 pinches cayenne pepper
2 top-split hot dog buns
2 tablespoons melted butter
lemon wedges

Chop the lobster meat into ½ inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Gently mix in the mayonnaise, celery salt, black pepper, chives and cayenne. Set aside.

Heat a cast iron skillet or pan and brush the exterior of the buns with the melted butter. Toast the buns on both sides. Fill the buns with the lobster mixture and sprinkle additional chives on top (optional). Serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side.

Pastas/Noodles · Seafood

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese because it’s my Blogiversary!

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

My how time flies……

In the past three years, I left a comfortable job and moved to a brand new city. My family has welcomed a few new additions and have had our share of ups and downs. I’ve celebrated milestones with friends and loved ones and have stumbled upon great adventures.

And of course, three years ago I started this blog.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

I can hardly believe how a quick decision one “wine-induced” night has catapulted me into a wonderful world of food and self-exploration.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

This experience has introduced me to the food blogging community—a group of folks who are so supportive and generous. And I have been extended wonderful projects to participate in–which I still find so mind boggling! Not too shabby for this home cook 🙂

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

After three years, I am still so grateful. Thanks to my loved ones who serve as my steady food testers and inspiration.

And Thanks to you All for your continued support of The Culinary Chronicles. I promise, there’s a lot more to come.

ps. To celebrate, try out my Lobster Macaroni and Cheese. Comforting and a bit decadent…just how I like my food.

Happy Foodventures!

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Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6

Ingredients:

¾ Pound Elbow Pasta
2½ Cups Whole Milk
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
4 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Gruyere Cheese, shredded
1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 Cup Fontina Cheese, cubed
½ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Kosher Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
10 Ounces Cooked Lobster Meat, tail and claw
½ Cup Toasted Panko Breadcrumbs
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoon Fresh Chives, diced

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Heavily salt the water and cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes until it is just shy of al dente. Drain well and set aside.

In a small saucepan, add the milk and bring to a slow simmer.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt the butter and vegetable oil together over medium-low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk for about 2-3 minutes to allow the flour to cook. Whisk in the hot milk and continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Remove the pot from heat and add in the Gruyere, Cheddar Cheese and Fontina. Stir until the cheeses have melted and then add in the red pepper flakes, nutmeg, kosher salt and black pepper. Add in the pasta and lobster and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into a greased 9×9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the top with Panko and Parmesan Cheese. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and bake in a 400 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chives over the baked dish.