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

December Sunday Family Dinner – Party of 16

December 2013 Family Dinner

Have I ever mentioned that I’m the youngest of five kids? Four girls and one boy smack dab in the middle—wasn’t our brother so lucky?

Needless to say, it made quite the childhood experience with all of us growing up in one house with our parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles.

December 2013 Family Dinner

And it got even more crowded when 8-9 of us would cram into our Oldsmobile station wagon for our annual summer road trips from Minnesota to Texas to visit mom’s brother and his family. I don’t know how we all survived jammed into one car for so many miles (nearly 1200 each way!) but I guess anyone from a big family knows there’s no such thing as personal space. It may also have helped that it was the 80s and seat belt laws were non-existent!

I kind of wished we would have taped some of those road trips as I’m sure they would have been hysterical to look back at. We were kind of the Vietnamese version of the Griswolds.

December 2013 Family Dinner

Nowadays the five of us are a bit scattered around with my brother and his family in New York, one seester in San Francisco, two other seesters & their fams in Orange County and me in San Diego. And although we may never be able to recreate those old summer road trips to Texas, our Sunday Family Dinners have been one of our ways to start new traditions for our kids to look back at.

December 2013 Family Dinner

We’ve been going at this for about a year and half now, rotating the monthly dinners between the homes of my two seesters who live in Orange County. It’s been awesome that our sis from SF has flown down every few months to make our dinners but it’s a little difficult for our brother and his fam to make it from NY. But when we are lucky to have all of us for Sunday Family Dinner, it is quite the celebration–like the N’awlins Seafood Boil we did the first Fam Din we were all together. 50+ pounds of seafood…it was epic. Totally Gluttonous, but epic.

The whole gang was back together this past December to celebrate the holidays and spend some QT with each other. It’s probably the most time that the five of us have spent together in years!

December 2013 Family Dinner

We all attended our cousin’s baby’s first month celebration (Đầy Tháng), Mom’s death anniversary (ngày giỗ), a snow day in the mountains, Leonidas‘ (our brother’s son) 2nd birthday party, Christmas Eve festivities with the entire clan, the New Year’s Eve bash, endless meals in Little Saigon at our old favorite haunts, and of course– December’s Sunday Family Dinner.

8 siblings (including the sibs-in-law), 6 kids and 2 canine kids– a packed house again!

With all of the craziness that was going on, we tried to create a menu that had the least bit of stress and prep time. As for the theme, we did a slight homage to our N’awlins Feast and kept it open to EVERYTHING SEAFOOD! Well, except dessert….that would be a little too hardcore- even for us!

December 2013 Family Dinner

Dinner consisted of:

We kind of pulled everything together at the last minute but I think it was a definite Nguyen-er!

Now if we could just convince my brother and his fam to move back to Cali, we could have dinners like this all of the time!

1978Snapshot of the fam a few months after yours truly was born. I may have been the originator of the faux-hawk.

And a special HAPPY BIRTHDAY today to our seester, TUONG!

Oh those Capricorns…..