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!

Sunday Family Dinner

Swimming Spot Prawns & Fiery Lamb – It’s Fam Din Time!

July Fam Din Collage
July is another month with lots of birthdays in the fam. Seester N, Seester P, Bro-in-law R, Niece Luna and about a GAZILLION of cousins!  Ok, maybe we’re just a tad shy of a gazillion but really, not by much.

So for this month, N and R got to pick the menu for Fam Din–and boy, did they choose a doozy!

July 2016 Fam Din
I’m typically assigned the task of making the themed cocktails for dinner —which is totally fine because this gal truly does love her some adult beverages! Shocking, I know.

Since it was so hot and humid, I was leaning towards some type of margarita. I gave N a few options and she gave the thumbs on passion fruit. So I broke out the citrus juicer and ended up with about a quart of lime juice. THANK GOODNESS for electric citrus juicers because without it, I’d still be sitting in my seestrah’s kitchen squeezing limes. Foh-evah.

Once done, I combined the lime juice with freshly made simple syrup, triple sec, passion fruit juice and of course, tequila. YASSSS!!! I really enjoyed the tartness from both the passion fruit and limes–definitely making them again.

July 2016 Fam Din
Now say helloooooo to my little friend…..the sweet Spot Prawn.

These little buggers were seestrah’s choice for an appetizer and were swimming around the tank at the store when we picked them up earlier that day.

By the way, if you’re squeamish, just quickly scroll through to the next section.

July 2016 Fam Din

We gobbled the Spot Prawns two ways…..

First—sashimi style. We dipped them in just a bit of soy and wasabi and they were incredible! Truly sweet and fresh.

July 2016 Fam Din
Then we took the prawn heads and tossed them in a rice flour–you can also use cornstarch or tempura flour. My niece Nini deep fried them until they were golden and quickly sprinkled sea salt over them once they were out of the hot oil.

They were divine!! Perfectly crunchy and we still got a little bit of the prawn flesh in conjunction to the money bite. You know—the bite that’s filled with the tomalley-like goodness. Utterly rich, decadent and full of prawn flavor.

And seriously, if you’re freaked out by this, I kind of feel sorry for you but just pass yours right over to me because I will DEVOUR them!

July 2016 Fam Din
We also picked up some Octopus to nosh on. N sliced the tentacle super thin so that it was tender and easier to eat. Nini then made the perfect dipping sauce which had things like ponzu, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, scallions, paprika and anything else she could find in the pantry.

July 2016 Fam Din
As for the birthday boy, he wanted Lamb. Seester T, marinated lamb racks and loin chops overnight with a bunch of herbs, garlic and citrus zest.

When it was time for entrees, she had the boys grill them up and they nailed it.

July 2016 Fam Din

Initially, they were a bit concerned about the char due to the flare ups they had since the lamb was a bit fatty. But once the meat was rested, we sliced in and found a perfect medium-rare to medium.

Yeah, I guess we’ll keep those boys around after all.

July 2016 Fam Din
Seester fixed up a Mint Pesto to dunk the Lamb into.

July 2016 Fam Din
As for sides, we charred up some fresh Artichokes and N made a light Gremolata to drizzle over them to brighten things up.

July 2016 Fam Din
As for my side dish contribution, I made this Toasted Israeli Couscous with Roasted Wild Mushrooms. Super easy and low fuss to make—plus, it’s perfect at room temp. I’ll be sharing the recipe with y’all in a few days.

July 2016 Fam Din
And then it was dessert time!!

Since we had two birthday babies, they each got their own dessert. I know, it was something I started back in April for Lucas and bro in law C and now I can’t stop.

R said he wanted something chocolate and peanut butter. After mulling over it a bit, I decided to make a batch of NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies (that he L-O-V-E-S) and sandwiched chocolate & peanut butter cup ice cream in between.

It was a total mess to eat but who cares when it’s a WINNER likes this!

July 2016 Fam Din
For Seestrah, it was much harder to decide what to make. She doesn’t really have a favorite dessert and likes an array of things. Since we already had something chocolate for R, I gave her several fruit options and she chose this Roasted Peach Napoleon.

There are essentially 3 components to this dessert which I was able to make earlier in the day and enlisted Nina to help assemble it. First up, I made the pastry cream which came together quite quickly. While the cream chilled, I roasted up the peaches and then baked off the puff pastry sheets.

Nina then layered it all together and we dug in!

Ok, technically there were candles, singing, wishes, and some presents before we dug in—but you get the picture.

July 2016 Fam Din
All in all, I think it was a delicious way to celebrate N and R!

Definitely stick around because August’s Dinner will have all 5 Nguyen Siblings + kids and fam in attendance and we’ll be cooking up the spirit of Aloha with a Hawaiian Lu’au spread!  ❤

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails:  Passion Fruit Margaritas
Appetizers: Sashimi Style Spot Prawns, Crispy Fried Spot Prawns Head, Octopus Sashimi
Entrees: Grilled Lamb Chops with Mint Pesto
Sides: Charred Artichokes with Gremolata, Toasted Israeli Couscous with Roasted Wild Mushrooms
Dessert: Roasted Peach Napoleon, Peanut Butter & Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

Sunday Family Dinner

Sunday Family Dinner – Po’ Boys and Tarts… Oh My!

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

Alright. Want to know why it’s taken this long to recap May’s Sunday Family Dinner?

It’s because I was struggling for a week after it.

And I’m a tad upset. No one tells you that the hangover recovery time increases by a 100 when you get older. 😦

Oh…and I should mention that it was due to the below shenanigans that started it all.

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

Yup.

It was my birthday and this “thirty-something” bday gal thought it would be a “smart” idea to channel her old college self and hire a party bus to shuttle a bunch of her friends and family around for six hours……to, you know…..hang out.

Let’s just say, a lot of mischief can occur when you have a party bus stocked with 2 coolers filled with libations and jello shots. We stopped at four rad local Orange County breweries: Bootlegger’s Brewery, Noble Ale Works, Bottle Logic Brewing, and The Bruery. It was a FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC time and we even made it out to a local spot for a few night caps and to shake our booties. Yes, friends…it was 11+ hours of what seemed to be endless escapades.

We were Rock Stars.

Which is also why the STRUGGLE WAS REAL when we managed to get our act together the next day for Sunday Family Dinner. But luckily we had the foresight to keep things simple.

For starters… COCKTAILS! Because apparently we didn’t’ have enough the night before 😉

Spiced-Tajin Citrus Margaritas!

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

Initially we had wanted to do something Surf and Turf but couldn’t really settle on one particular dish that we could all agree on.

So, to satisfy my “turf” craving, seester T made these little decadent bites. Seared ribeye steaks that were then thinly sliced and stacked on top of toasted bread. But it was all about the sauce that she came up with…. a super rich Truffled-Pâté-Thyme Sauce.

HOLY MOLY.

That sauce tho’….. ❤

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

As for the “surf”….eldest seester suggested Seafood Po’ Boys and we were all about it!

For the Po’ Boys, I ended up soaking a bunch of oysters and shrimp in a spiced buttermilk bath before dredging it in a cornmeal-flour mix. A quick fry for a minute or two and they were perfect!

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

And of course, since it was my burf-day, there had to be bacon. Lots of it.

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

To put it all together we schmeared a sriracha aioli inside a toasted baguette, mixed greens, ripe tomatoes, a few slices of creamy avocado, thick-cut crispy bacon and of course–the crunchy oysters and shrimp.

YOWZA MOWZA!

Even HUNGOVER we knocked it out of the park!

Perhaps it’s our superhero power….

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

Oh! And because I am a carb monster….there had to be my favorite starchy love– potatoes.

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

This time around, I opted for a German Potato Salad…..

Potatoes, bacon….HEO YEAH! Especially when there’s not a heavy sauce. I slightly adapted the recipe from The Lucky Penny by adding extra herbs, chili flakes, chili powder and sriracha.

Heavenly.

As for a birthday cake? That’s not really not my thing despite how many birthday cakes/cupcakes I end up making. True….chocolate is my fav but a very close second is something with citrus.

I adore citrus.

So eldest seester indulged me and made this fantabulous Lime-Fruit Tart.  A buttery shortbread crust with lime curd, a cranberry sauce and fresh fruit.

LOVE. ❤

 

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

With that, dear friends, wrapped up the most perfect birthday-palooza.

And yes, I finally recovered 🙂

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Spiced-Tajin Citrus Margaritas
Appetizers: Ribeye Crostini with Truffled-Pâté-Thyme Sauce.
Entrees: Bacon-Avocado Po’Boys with German Potato Salad
Dessert: Lime Fruit Tart

Drinks

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

 

Palomas
(not technically a margarita but a fantastic close cousin)

Palomas

 

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.

Salud!

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Blended Mango Margaritas
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 lime wedge
sugar
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!

Drinks

Blood Orange Margaritas

Blood Orange Margaritas

TEE…GEE…EYE…EFF!!!!!

And what better way to ring in Aloha Friday than with a delish and refreshing cocktail?

Blood Orange Margaritas

Lately, blood oranges have been incredibly abundant in my neck of the woods. These little guys look quite unassuming from the outside but when you cut into them, they reveal an extraordinarily beautiful hue. As for the flavor, I find them to be slightly reminiscent of tangerines which goes so well with a kick of tequila.

And with that—have a wonderful weekend, Friends! Salud!

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Blood Orange Margaritas
Serves 1

Ingredients:

lime wedge
coarse salt
ice
4 ounces blood orange juice
2 ounces premium tequila
1 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice
2 ounces simple syrup
additional blood orange and lime slices for garnish

Use the lime wedge and rim the edge of a margarita glass. Dip the rim into salt and coat the edge of the glass.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the blood orange juice, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and simple syrup. Cap the shaker and vigorously shake for 15-20 seconds. Pour the contents into the glass and garnish with additional orange and lime slices

Drinks

Mint Margaritas: It’s Happy Hour…..Somewhere.

Mint Margaritas

 

Because it’s the beginning of the week………

Because I had a ton of fresh mint in my fridge……..

Because cocktails make me happy………..

And because I love y’all…………

I offer you this Mint Margarita.

 

Mint Margaritas

 

You could call it the cousin to the mojito……I just call it delicious. The bright and refreshing mint is a lovely addition to the classic margarita. I do have to admit that I like my cocktails a little on the heavy handed side, so feel free to adjust the measurements accordingly 🙂

Salut to a Great Week, Friends!

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Mint Margarita
Makes one potent cocktail 🙂

Ingredients:

2 Ounces Premium Tequila
1 Ounce Grand Marnier
1½ Ounces Fresh Lime Juice
1 – 1½ Ounces Mint Simple Syrup*
Garnish with Fresh Mint Sprigs and Salt

Using a wedge of fresh lime, rim the edge of your margarita glass and dip into salt. Fill the glass with ice.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the first four ingredients. Cap the shaker and vigorously shake for 15-20 seconds. Strain the contents into the margarita class. Garnish with fresh mint springs.

*To make Mint Simple Syrup, add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a slow boil, stirring until sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add 1 entire bunch of fresh mint that has been roughly chopped (about 2 cups). Allow to steep for 15 minutes. Strain the mixture through a sieve, discarding the leaves.  Cool before using. Syrup can be kept for 2-3 weeks in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks.