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.


Passion Fruit Margaritas
Makes 1 pitcher


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!  ❤


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


Passion Fruit Caipirinha…..Saúde!

Passion Fruit Caipirinha

I. Love. Cocktails.

Don’t worry….it’s not in a “better reserve me a spot at Betty Ford” love. But a deep affection, nonetheless.

So you can imagine my delight when my neighbor brought over a bottle of Leblon Cachaça as a thank you gift for dropping her off at the airport the other week. I told her I’d be more than happy to be her shuttle service if she gives me thank-you gift like these.

Huh…maybe I should rethink that Betty Ford thing, after all.



Passion Fruit Caipirinha

But let’s get back to the Cachaça. I’ve actually only enjoyed Cachaça in the beloved Brazilian Caipirinhas. Caipirinhas are fairly simple….Cachaça, tons of lime, sugar, and ice. What’s not to love, right? And with a splash of different fruit juices, you can modify Caipirinhas a ton of different ways.


Passion Fruit Caipirinha
Serves 1


2 Ounces Cachaça (light rum can be substituted)
2 Ounces Passion Fruit Juice
½ Lime, cut into wedges
1 Teaspoon Sugar

In a glass, muddle sugar and limes together. Fill the glass with ice – add juice and Cachaça. Enjoy!


Guava and Lilikoi Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Guava (Reddish-Pink) and Lilikoi (Yellow) Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Since being back from our wonderful vacation in Hawai’i, I’ve really missed the flavors and regional cuisine from the islands. To try and relive some of those “ono grindz”, I wanted to bake something with the Guava and Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) jams I picked up. After some inspiration from a friend’s post on Facebook (Thanks, DQ!), I decided to take the tropical flavors from the jams and make Thumbprint Cookies. After a few searches, I settled on Martha Stewart’s “Aunt Maggie’s Jam Thumbprint Cookies” for its simplicity and overall positive reviews.

How did it go? Well, I’ve been baking/cooking long enough to know that I should really trust my gut feelings when something seems odd in a recipe. But no, like a faithful puppy, I followed Martha’s recipe trusting that she would veer me in the right place. Yeah…I should have listened to myself.

Now in all fairness, the cookies weren’t “bad”. They just weren’t great….more like an “ok” response. What was the issue? First of all, the directions listed to make 1 inch balls using about 2 Tablespoons of dough. Sound off? Yup, it was. My cookies were way too big and thus I had to increase the baking time by about 3-4 minutes a batch. Second, two major ingredients were missing that you find in most cookie doughs…..Salt and Vanilla. And perhaps because there was no salt, the final cookie lacked some flavor.

But there was a glimmer of hope. The next day when I got home from work, the BF said that the cookies tasted better. Strange, right? But he was spot on…they DID taste better! Who knew that aging them would increase the flavor?! After all, it’s not a cheesecake!

Next time, I’m not taking the chance and will modify the recipe. I suggest adding about 1 Teaspoon of good quality Vanilla Extract, increase the granulated sugar amount from 1 cup to 1¼ cups, and add about ¼Teaspoon of Salt. Also, when forming the dough balls, only use about 1 tablespoon. I think if you try the modifications, you’ll be happy with your results.


Lilikoi Jam Thumbprint Cookies