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!! ❤


Fresh Mango Mojitos
Serves 1


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.

Condiments/Sauces · Salads · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Tropical Summer Salad with Sesame-Ginger Dressing

Tropical Summer Salad Main

When I used to live in San Jose, I used to go to a spot called the Sonoma Chicken Coop quite often. They had a pretty extensive menu with affordable prices…and the food was consistent. I used to always rotate between their Skillet Chicken Carbonara, Rotisserie Chickens and whatever specials they were offering for the day.

Yet, despite all of that goodness–what I miss the most is their Citrus Grove Salad. Essentially, it was a big ol’ plate of mixed greens, avocados, mangos, and various citrus fruits. But MAN—was it delicious! And there wasn’t even any meat!!! Which is a big deal for this carnivorous gal.

Sesame Dressing

Since I’m no longer in the Bay Area (and because I heard that many of their locations are now closed… #SadPanda), I like to make my own variation from time to time–especially when summer fruits are wonderfully sweet like they have been as of late.

I like to use whatever leafy greens I have on hand. I used baby spinach in the pics shown here but an arugula-kale mix would be lovely. I top the greens with slices of sweet mango, avocados cucumbers, kiwis, and pink grapefruit. In addition to all of that goodness, I add some goat cheese crumbles for a bit of richness and toasted macadamia nuts for a bit of crunch. Then the whole thing gets a drizzle of a Sesame-Ginger Dressing that I shake up in a mason jar.

Tropical Summer Salad

The end results in an incredibly bright and light dish that can be served as an appetizer or even a main course. But if you’re wanting something a tad heartier, some grilled prawns, chicken, or grilled fish on top of the salad would really send things to the next level.

With that friends…Have a wonderful week and enjoy the last few weeks of summer!


Tropical Summer Salad with Sesame-Ginger Dressing
Serves 2


1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, roughly crushed
1 tablespoon finely minced shallots
1 garlic clove, finely minced
½ inch knob ginger, finely grated
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey or agave
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 pinches red pepper flakes
2 pinches black pepper, plus more to plate
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
5 cups greens (spinach, arugula, romaine, kale etc.)
½ small ripe mango, peeled and sliced
½ small pink grapefruit, “supremed”
1 small kiwi, peeled and sliced
3 inch piece of cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 small avocado, peeled and sliced
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup toasted macadamia nuts

Prepare the dressing. In a jar, add the sesame seeds, shallots, garlic, ginger, mustard, honey, vinegar, olive oil, red pepper flakes, pepper and salt. Secure the lid tightly on the jar and shake vigorously for a minute until the items have combined and emulsified. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Set aside.

Divide the greens between two large plates. Top each plate with the mangos, grapefruit supremes, kiwis, cucumbers, avocados, goat cheese and nuts. Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of the Sesame-Ginger Dressing over each plate and serve.


Blended Mango Margaritas

Blended Mango Margaritas

Let’s get one thing straight.

In my book, it’s not a Cinco de Mayo celebration if there aren’t margaritas on hand –whether there’s booze in them or not. A chilled beverage filled with tons of citrus that is the perfect sidekick to spicy salsas, tacos, ceviche, barbacoa….let’s face it–pretty much anything!


Blended Mango Margaritas

As we continue on with the Cinco de Mayo plans, it’s only fit to think about what type of margaritas to serve. I usually lean towards my standard classic margarita on the rocks with a heavy salt rim. But if you’re interested in something different, here are a few options:


Blood Orange Margaritas

Blood Orange Margaritas

Mint Margaritas

Mint Margaritas

Pomegranate Margaritas

Pomegranate Margaritas


(not technically a margarita but a fantastic close cousin)



I managed to get my hands on some deliciously sweet ataulfo mangoes and thought they would be fantastic in a blended margarita. I tossed them into the blender with some booze, fresh citrus, ice and voila— a fiesta in a glass!

Blended Mango Margaritas

If you don’t have fresh mangoes on hand, frozen mangoes could also be used. However, you may want to reduce the amount of ice and add a bit more simple syrup to taste. I also chose to rim the glass with sugar but if you happen to have some chili-lime salt (ie. Tajin) then that would be another fab flavor layer.



Blended Mango Margaritas
Serves 2


1 lime wedge
2½ cups ripe mangoes
4 ounces premium tequila
2 ounces Cointreau or triple sec
2 ounces fresh lime juice
2 ounces fresh orange juice
1 ounce simple syrup (more if you prefer a sweeter cocktail)
1 cup crushed ice
limes slices to garnish

Use the lime wedge and rim the edge of two glasses. Dip/roll the rim into the sugar and coat the edge of each glass.

Place all the remaining items into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour the contents into the rimmed glass and garnish with a lime slice. Cheers!

Desserts/Pastries · Ice Cream

Mango Gelato…and Our Grandma, Mệ

Mango Gelato


M was our paternal grandmother and by no stretch to the imagination was she your typical grandma. Yes–she was loving and caring but she was also quite feisty and sometimes “crass”. She chewed trầu cau (betlenut), drank beer, taught me black jack, and could build the most intricate and ornate Lego buildings that were freaking awesome.

And because of all of that, I loved her dearly.

As the youngest of 5 (with a fairly significant age gap between my next sibling), I spent a lot of my childhood with Ôn (our paternal grandpa) and M. They would play with me, sneak me extra candies, and shield me from my folks when I was about to get busted for doing something really stupid.


Mango Gelato


Lately I find myself reminiscing a lot on my times with M —especially the times that we would eat mangoes together. I would sit on the floor next to her watching her peel the long strips of skin off the mangoes. Then we would devour the fruit and gnaw on the seeds with the juices dripping down our faces. Of course she would tell me some type of funny story throughout the entire process, stopping only to open her mouth wide to let out a huge bellowing laugh. When we were finished, she would hurry me off to go wash my face before the juices left my skin itchy. They were wonderful times and I can’t help but to smile when I remember her this way.

Shortly after Ôn passed away, M moved back to Vit Nam and my frequent trips to the motherland began. With each visit, she and I would still sit on the floor and enjoy some special item together…..măng ct (mangosteens), mít (jackfruit), nhãn (longan) or whatever fruit that was in season. The roles changed a bit during those times as I prepared the fruit for us while she inquired about my day. She was obligated to remind me, her American-born granddaughter, to not eat the street foods or ride on the xe ôm (scooters). Of course I obediently said “yes” and then would later jump on a scooter & head to the nearest food stall with my cousins. But the small “white lie” was expected. She knew she had to caution me and I knew I would have to verbally comply. But inside, M knew that exploring the streets of Vit Nam was the only way for me to really become acquainted with my country.

My family says I inherited a lot of M’s features, which always makes me smile. I think it’s because of this and my memories of M that I feel I’ll always carry her spirit with me. And for the rest of my life, I know that every time I eat mangoes I will always think of her.


Ôn and M…..weren’t they so cute???


Mango Gelato
From Ice Cream & Sorbets: Cool Recipes
Makes One Quart


½ Cup Sugar
½ Cup Water
2 Pounds Ripe Mangoes*
3 Tablespoons Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
2/3 Cup Heavy (whipping) Cream
Prepare a large bowl or pan of ice water.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water, bring to a boil while stirring, and cook until the syrup is clear. Immediately place the pan in the ice bath and stir the mixture occasionally until it cools to room temperature.

Peel and dice the mangoes, discarding the seeds, and purée the mangoes in a blender or food processor with the juice and syrup. Transfer to a container and stir in the cream. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 3 hours.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a container, cover, and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

**It’s important to use really ripe, but not browned, mangoes for the fullest flavor. There are also many varietals of mangoes but I prefer the Ataulfos as I think they are the most fragrant and flavorful.


Coconut Macarons with White Chocolate-Mango Ganache

Coconut Macarons with White Chocolate-Mango Ganache

Coconut again?! Yup. This time in Macaron form. What can I say, I’m a coco-nutty kind of gal.

I learned my lessons from our first Parisian Macarons experience and paid heed to do the following:

  • Use a scale to measure the weight of ingredients;
  • Age the egg whites;
  • Let the shells “harden” for at least 30 minutes before baking;

Initially I had wanted to fill the Coconut Shells with a Passion Fruit-flavor filling but was unsuccessful in finding a pure concentrate or nectar flavoring agent. But since I had Mango extract on hand, I figured it would be a nice tropical “oompf” for the white chocolate ganache filling. Unfortunately it didn’t bring out as much of the mango flavor as I had hoped—though the end result was still quite tasty. Next time, I’m taking my sister’s advice and use a pineapple filling. Coconut Shells + Pineapple Filling = Piña Colada Macarons. And that, dear friends, is a Nguyen-Win Situation at its best 🙂

Coconut Macarons
Piped shells “aging” for 45 minutes. I only had almond meal that had almonds ground with their skins in tact—thus the pretty speckled pattern.

Coconut Macarons
Les pieds des Macarons!!!! Oh YES– the feet 🙂

I have to admit that I did exhale a sigh a relief after making these little treats. Thank goodness that it wasn’t just beginner’s luck last time! But on the next try, I think I’m going Caramel flavored.

So until my next kitchen adventure Mes Amis, a tout le heure!

Coconut Macarons with White Chocolate-Mango Ganache


Coconut Macarons with White Chocolate-Mango Ganache


Macarons Shells:
110 Grams Almond Meal
180 Grams Confectioners’ Sugar
25 Grams Ground Desiccated Coconut
100 Grams Egg Whites, aged at room temperature for 24 hours
50 Grams Granulated Sugar

White Chocolate-Mango Ganache
8 Ounces White Chocolate, finely chopped
4 Ounces Heavy Cream
1 Teaspoon Pure Mango Extract
1-2 Drops Yellow Food Coloring (optional)

Grind almond meal, desiccated coconuts, and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor to remove any lumps. Sift mixture into another bowl and set aside.

In a mixing stand, whisk egg whites until frothy. Slowly add granulated sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks are formed. Carefully begin incorporating dry mixture into the meringue—gently folding until all items have been integrated.

Using a piping bag fitted with a large round tip, pipe small rounds of the mixture onto Silpat lined baking sheets. Rounds should be about 1½ inches in diameter. Once baking sheets are filled, tap the sheet carefully but firmly on the counter to remove any possible air pockets. Let baking sheets sit on the counter for 45 minutes to harden the outer shell before baking.

Bake at 300 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Transfer the pans to cooling rack and cool completely before removing shells.

In a saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Remove from heat and strain the hot cream through a fine-meshed sieve directly into the bowl of the chopped chocolate. Let the mixture sit 1 to 2 minutes without stirring, and then gently whisk until the chocolate is entirely melted. Stir in the mango extract and food coloring. Cover with plastic wrap and chill about 20 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Transfer ganache to a piping bag and fill the macaron shells.


Coconut Macarons with White Chocolate-Mango Ganache


“Mango-licious” Mango Cupcakes

"Mango-licious" Mango Cupcakes

Mangoes are my favorite fruit.

And when you get one that’s perfectly ripe, nothing can beat a bite of that fragrant, sweet, juicy, and downright luscious goodness. In fact, I have so many memories of my grandma slicing up ripened mangoes and handing me the seed to gnaw on—my favorite part. We even used to snack on green mangoes dipped in a little salt with chili—mmm!

With that said, I have had some difficulties translating my favorite fruit into cupcake form. Too often the end product came out too “bread-like” with only faint traces of mango flavor. When I came across the Cupcake Project’s Mango Cupcakes post, I found that she too had the same challenges but had good results when using pure mango extract. I took a try at her recipe with a few tweaks and am happy to report that this was my best attempt yet—though I think there’s still room for some improvement. Although the cake itself yielded MUCH more of the mango flavor than I was able to achieve before, it still didn’t have as much as I wanted. (Even though I used fresh mango puree, mango extract, AND mango yogurt in the batter.) So to heighten the flavor, I went for mango overkill by topping the cuppies with a mango buttercream, mango coulis and fresh mango slices.

And that did the trick. “Mango-liciousness” achieved. 🙂

Taking a big bite of the cuppie with all of its components put a smile on this gal’s face. The buttercream offered the fragrant mango profile that I was looking for while the coulis added the concentrated mango flavor. I had originally considered using dried mangoes to top the cuppies but settled on fresh mango slices as it gave a wonderful texture contrast.

Overall, I was pretty happy but if you’re going to give this one a try, you’ve GOT to have mango extract (BIG thanks to my sis who ordered mine for me online). I also suggest using fresh mango puree as opposed to mango nectar as it offers a deeper flavor.

With some minor tweaks, this little number could be a keeper!

"Mango-licious" Mango Cupcakes
Mango Extract was REALLY hard to find. My advise, order it online!

"Mango-licious" Mango Cupcakes
Mango Cupcake platter for my niece Maya’s art class.


“Mango-licious” Mango Cupcakes
Adapted from Cupcake Project
Makes approximately 16 Cupcakes


Mango Cupcakes
2 Cups Cake Flour
2½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
¼ Teaspoon Salt
¾ Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
2/3 Cup Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2/3 Cups Mango Yogurt
2 Teaspoons Pure Mango Extract
1 Cup Fresh Mango Puree

Mango Buttercream Frosting
2 to 3 Cups Confectioners Sugar, sifted
1½ Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1/3 Cup Fresh Mango Puree
1 Teaspoon Pure Mango Extract
1-2 Tablespoons Sour Cream (can substitute with milk)

Mango Coulis
1½ Cups Fresh Mango, cubed
1 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
¼ Cup Water
½ Cup Sugar

Mango Coulis: In a saucepot, combine the chopped mango, lemon juice, water and sugar together. Bring the mixture up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes or until the fruit is very tender. Pour the mixture into a food processor and puree until smooth. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Mango Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tin with paper liners. Into a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in yogurt and mango extract. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with mango puree and beginning and ending with flour. Be careful to not over mix. Pour batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. While cupcakes are cooling, prepare frosting.

Mango Buttercream: In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Add mango puree and mango extract. Whip until combined. Slowly add the confectioners sugar until the frosting becomes thicker and stiff. Add sour cream and whip until desired piping consistency.

Fill piping bag with the frosting and pipe large swirls on top of cooled cupcakes. Drizzle mango coulis over the cupcakes and top with fresh slices of mangoes.

“Mango-licious” Mango Cupcakes