Sunday Family Dinner

Gobble-Gobblin’ Up Family Dinner!

October-November 2016
If you can believe it, I had three different turkey dinners within the course of seven days—roasted, fried, and smoked. Talk about Turkeypalooza!

It all started last Sunday with our belated (VERY BELATED) October Sunday Family Dinner. Our cousin Van and his new wife Jenny got married on Saturday. It was, of course, a super fun wedding full of S-H-E-N-A-N-I-G-A-N-S that would be inappropriate for me to divulge the full details here. But let’s just say–there was a lot of cognac involved.

A LOT.

October-November 2016
Since October was so crazy and the whole family would be in town for the wedding, we decided to have Fam Din the day after V & J’s festivities – four days before Thanksgiving. Traditionally, Thanksgiving Day in our fam is a house full of extended family (50+ peeps) for a full day of feasting. We typically have several meals throughout the entire day and flip between Vietnamese courses and American Thanksgiving dishes.

We feast…. a lot. 12+ hours worth.

But with the family spread out over the years, we realized all five siblings hadn’t celebrated Thanksgiving all together in over 10 years. That’s quite some time! And since P and her gang were heading back up to SF before Turkey Day, we decided to have a full blown Thanksgiving menu for Family Dinner—an early Siblings Turkey Day.

Added bonus – we had the leftover flowers from the wedding as our table centerpieces for dinner. Recycled Fanciness.

October-November 2016
Despite living in SF, our youngest munchkin, Kaelani has been able to attend quite a few Fam Dins so far with her crazy So Cal o’hana. And she’s talking SO MUCH now! Nonstop jabber-jabber chasing after the pups and calling out for her favorite Bac Bi — my eldest bro-in-law.

That face–we wish she was here every month!

October-November 2016
If you’ve been following my Fam Din posts over the years, you already know that these two are thick as thieves.

October-November 2016
And can we talk about how HUGE this marshmallow pop is??? It’s nearly the size of Leo’s head!

October-November 2016
Since my brother and his family have temporarily moved back to Cali from NY, I’ve been putting their kiddos to work at Fam Din to make up for lost time. Here’s my Luna Bear helping with the appetizers. She was quite meticulous with them too!

October-November 2016
And these three….

Heart Melty.

October-November 2016
And the last of our munchkins…the fur babies.

Princess Leia is looking quite regal lounging on her ottoman while Bella is just wondering when dinner would be ready.

October-November 2016

Speaking of which, let’s talk about the food! We had two appetizers before dinner which big sis had us stagger out during prep time so that we wouldn’t get too stuffed.

I made Mixed Mushrooms & Herbed Goat Cheese Crostinis. Criminis, button mushrooms, shitakes, and oyster mushrooms were sauteed with garlic and herbs and finished off with white wine. They topped toasted crostinis that were spread with a mixture of goat cheese, mascarpone and fresh herbs.

October-November 2016
Maya approved and said they tasted like mushroom pizza!

October-November 2016
Next up was brother and his appetizer – Blue Crab Dip.

October-November 2016
I usually use lump Dungeness Crab in dips and fillings but V insisted that Blue Crabs have better flavor — and they did! Rich, decadent, and SUPER YUM!

Did I just say “super yum”???

Well…it was!

October-November 2016
Of course there was some football and lots of silliness throughout prep. Here’s seester P doing leg-lifts with Kaelani. No wonder she’s in great shape!

October-November 2016
There were also lots of photos because Bella always loves a good pic to post on her Instagram at @iambellathepuggle

October-November 2016
After hours and hours of cooking, dinner was ready!!!

And yup– alongside those gorgeous centerpieces, we ate dinner off paper plates.

We’re ashamed.

Not really. Just don’t tell Ina.

October-November 2016
Okay, back to the food.

Although we decided on a Thanksgiving menu, the inspiration was really all about this beauty…. Mom’s Five Spice Roast Turkey.

Imagine this….a Vietnamese refugee family in the mid 1970’s, relocated to Minnesota. Total culture shock is an understatement. So the family did what we could to acculturate to the new environment. And that especially included our foods.

October-November 2016
So Mom took a turkey and gave it a Vietnamese spin by marinating it in five spice, lots of garlic, sugar and Maggi. The flavor is incredible and I’ve got to tell you, is the best turkey you’ll ever taste because it is seasoned so well–every bit of it.

We would wake up early in the morning to the smell of the turkey roasting and the five spice aroma was incredible. The funny thing is, we were just remembering how Mom would throw the turkey in the oven at around 5 or 6am and not take it out until 3 or 4pm! Sure, we used to try and find the biggest bird (26+lbs), but why did it take so long then when now we only roast them for 5 or 6 hours. But I’ll be darn, her turkeys weren’t overcooked and were SUPER juicy.

October-November 2016
Big seester N
has been making Mom’s turkey recipe for years now so we quickly nominated her for the job. And I’ll tell ya, she sure would have made Mom proud. The flavor was spot on and was everything we all remembered it to be.

Seestrah also made stuffing, dressing and cranberry sauce to go with the turkey.

October-November 2016
Along with the roast turkey, we had TONS of sides!

Seestrah T made 3 side dishes and her first was this Squash & Gruyere Gratin from Ina Garten. Surprisingly rich (in a good way), cheesy and great crunch from the panko.

October-November 2016
She also did a spin off of my biscuits and made these Ham & Cheddar Drop Biscuits. They were so savory and I’ll tell ya, made for awesome little breakfast sammies the next day.

October-November 2016
Lastly she roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta. And I’ve got to admit, I have no idea how they tasted because brussel sprouts are NMF (not my fav) but everyone else seemed to really like them.

October-November 2016
V & L tag teamed on their Grilled Ginger-Balsamic Carrots. Aren’t they pretty?

October-November 2016
They first blanched the carrots and then quickly grilled them to get a nice char.

October-November 2016
Of course in my opinion, no Thanksgiving meal can be complete without some ‘taters. These are my tried and true Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes. The key to them? Lots of roast garlic and more butter, cream cheese, and heavy cream then you’d like to know.

October-November 2016
And last but not least, dessert!!! There’s no doubt that P is the best baker among the clan. So there’s no way she’d get away without making dessert for this Fam Din and we (ok, I) requested TWO traditional Apple Pies served with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

October-November 2016
I’ve got to say, we’ve had some REALLY great meals in the four years we’ve been having Fam Dins but this one really is up there.

October-November 2016
Not only did it mark the first Thanksgiving all my sibs have been together in over a decade but Mom would have absolutely loved everything about it.

October-November 2016
And with that–Hope you are all able to create some great traditions and memories with your loved ones.

CHEERS!

October-November 2016______________________________________________________

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails:  Passion Fruit Bellinis, Assorted Wines
Appetizers: Mixed Mushrooms & Herbed Goat Cheese Crostinis, Blue Crab Dip
Entrees: Mom’s Five Spice Roast Turkey
Sides: Squash & Gruyere Gratin, Ham & Cheddar Drop Biscuits, Grilled Ginger-Balsamic Carrots, Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Dessert: Apple Pie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Sunday Family Dinner

Sunday Family Dinner turns Steakhouse!

May 2014 Fam Dinner

I am a bit behind on our Sunday Family Dinner recaps — and not because the menus weren’t memorable. But late spring-early summer is always a crazy time.

But SHAME ON ME because May’s menu was my choice — Steakhouse inspired fare!

Now I have to admit that we were all over the place that day and were running so behind on dinner. We usually get together around 3-4 pm to prep/cook/drink together before dinner is actually done. But our niece had her semifinals (that turned into finals) lacrosse match (GO PIONEER!!!) so we didn’t get to big seester’s casa until after 6:30.

Things were a bit rushed when we finally got home so we definitely needed a moment to breath and enjoy a cocktail. And my go-to at steakhouses are always an extra dirty Grey Goose Martini followed by some red vino.

A MUST!

 

May 2014 Fam Dinner

For appetizers, I had initially wanted to go with roasted shrimp with homemade spicy cocktail sauce. But when we had gone to the store that morning, we saw these GORGEOUS and GI-NORMOUS Alaskan King Crab Legs –so the poor shrimp were scratched off the menu.

Big seester steamed the incredibly sweet crab and we dunked them into cocktail sauce and liquid love (aka melted butter).

I.N.C.R.E.D.I.B.L.E.

May 2014 Fam Dinner

For the main course, I convinced the sis to make Thyme Popovers because I’m obsessed with popovers. They were so light, crisp and buttery –just lovely. Popovers aren’t too difficult to make but they do take some time to bake and you need to inhale them straight from the oven. And since we don’t own a score of popover pans nor have multiple ovens to bake them all at once, you don’t see them too often at our dinners.

May 2014 Fam Dinner

And let’s face it….we needed a bit of greens–even if we drenched them in cheese and dressing. Since the majority of the fam aren’t fans of blue cheese, we opted for Caesar Salads instead of a Wedge Salad.

My niece, Nina, used Martha Stewart’s dressing recipe that can be found here. That’s right kiddies—there’s anchovies in traditional Caesar dressing! It’s what gives off the briny, salt, deep flavor.

May 2014 Fam Dinner

Since baked potatoes and mashed potatoes are standard fare at steakhouses, I decided to combine the two and made a huge bowl of The Ultimate Loaded-Baked-Mashed-Potatoes!

Red potatoes, roasted garlic, sour cream, cream cheese, butter, heavy cream, garlic salt, cracked black pepper–all topped with tons of crispy bacon and chopped scallions.

Don’t ask the calorie count because I don’t want to know. But needless to say–it was worth the mini heart attack.

May 2014 Fam Dinner

And the heart of our steakhouse themed menu? Our seester’s black pepper/fresh rosemary/salt crusted standing rib roast studded with whole garlic cloves.

DROOLS!

Now despite what most folks do, I almost always order the prime rib at a steakhouse. And you better believe I go to town at The House of Prime Rib in San Francisco. MAN- can my seester make a friggin’ mean  Prime Rib!?

May 2014 Fam Dinner

 

I seriously wish I had this plate in front of me right now…..

 

May 2014 Fam Dinner

 

As for dessert, I requested that Nina make our favorite chocolate layered cake topped with berries. I kid you not, it’s one of the best cakes ever!!
May 2014 Fam Dinner

 

So despite our limited prep time, our Steakhouse Dinner was an incredible success. Here’s hoping my siblings will let us do the same menu again soon! 🙂

 

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Extra Dirty Grey Goose Martinis, 2007 Blackstone Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Appetizers: Alaskan King Crab Legs
Entrees: Herb Rubbed Prime Rib, Caesar Salad, Thyme Popovers, Ultimate Loaded Baked-Mashed Potatoes
Dessert: Aunt Beatty’s Chocolate Cake with Fresh Raspberries

Beef

Shepherd’s Pie (Cottage Pie)

Shepherd's Pie

Who doesn’t love comfort food? Especially during these chilly months when all you want is some good “stick to your ribs” kind of goodness. After all, we have all of spring to eat light!

Shepherd’s Pie fits the bill perfectly. You can essentially put anything and everything in it. And, if you assemble it on a lazy Sunday, you can have a filling and yummy dinner later on in the week!

I threw this little number together by digging around in the kitchen. With a few leftovers, frozen veggies, and a couple pantry staples, this Shepherd’s Pie was ready to fill the tummies of our little munchkins in no time!
Shepherd's Pie

 

Note: Eeek! I stand corrected! After posting this, I was reminded that if made with beef, this is actually called “Cottage Pie”. Shepherd’s Pies are traditionally made with lamb. I jokingly said that if made with turkey, it’s called “Thanksgiving Pie”. 🙂

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Shepherd’s Pie
Serves Approximately 6-8

Ingredients:

1 Pound Lean Ground Beef (or substitute with Ground Turkey)
½ Cup Yellow Onions, diced
½ Cup Celery, diced
1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1½ Cups Frozen Vegetables (Peas, Corn, Carrots, etc.)
1½ Cups Beef Gravy
3 Cups Mashed Potatoes
3 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat oil. Add onions, celery, and garlic and cook until they are translucent but not browned—approximately 5-6 minutes. Remove to a clean dish. In the same skillet, add the ground beef and cook until browned. Using a large spoon, discard any excess fat/grease. Add the onions, celery, and garlic mixture back to skillet and stir well. Add the worcestershire sauce, thyme and cook for an additional minute. Add frozen vegetables and gravy and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover a large casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour the ground beef/vegetable mixture into the dish and spread evenly. Spoon the mashed potatoes on top and carefully spread to create an even layer. Sprinkle parmesan cheese all over the top and place the dish in the preheated oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Turn the oven broiler on and brown the top of the Shepherd’s Pie until it turns an even golden brown color.

Remove from the oven and allow to set for 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


Breads · Side Dish

Potato Rosemary Rolls

Potato Rosemary Rolls

 

Ever since I saw these Potato Rosemary Rolls from Two Peas and Their Pod, I just had to have them.

The only reason I waited so long to make them was because I never had extra mashed potatoes on hand—and they are a key component to these whimsical little rolls. But as soon as I got my hands on some, I was all over it!

And although my rolls didn’t turn out half as pretty as theirs (how did they make their clovers so perfect?!) they were delicious! Soft, fluffy, and slightly sweet. The only note I would make was that it took 90 minutes for the dough to double in size during the first proofing—twice as long as the recipe stated. But that always seems to be an issue I have.  🙂

 

Potato Rosemary Rolls

 

You’ll just love how your home will smell when these rolls are baking. Just heavenly! And they are just divine right out of the oven—-is there anything better than hot freshly baked bread?

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Potato Rosemary Rolls
From Two Peas and Their Pod

2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 cup shortening
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 cup scalded milk
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1. In a small bowl, put the yeast in the warm water and stir with a spoon. Let sit for about five minutes or until the yeast starts to bubble.  Scald the milk and let it cool for two minutes.

2. In a large bowl, mix together sugar, shortening, and salt. Add the milk and stir in one cup of the flour. Next, add the yeast mixture and the beaten eggs. Add the mashed potatoes and rosemary and stir. Stir in the remaining flour until the dough comes together.

3. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. Place the dough in a large greased bowl and let rise in a warm spot for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

4. Punch down the dough. To form the rolls, pinch off about a 1/2 tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Place three balls into a greased muffin tin. Continue forming rolls until dough is gone. Let the rolls rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Bake rolls at 375 degrees F for about 15-17 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm.

Makes about 30 rolls