Sunday Family Dinner

The Birthday Boys GO BIG!

April 2019 Fam Din
What can I say about these two dudes?

Not only do they share a birthmonth but they also share a special connection – they’re the best of buds.

And they also share a similar sensibility of foods….

More on that later.

April 2019 Fam Din
To kick off Fam Din, we needed cocktails….something of the tropical nature as a nod to my BIL C.

April 2019 Fam Din
And what evokes “tropical” than a big batch of Blended Passionfruit Margaritas??

April 2019 Fam Din
Aren’t they lovely?

Slightly sweet, super tart and packed a punch that you don’t see coming.

April 2019 Fam Din
As for the food menu, the birthday dudes pretty much wanted ALL THINGS SEAFOOD!

Lobster, crabs, calamari….

I mean, no complaints here!

April 2019 Fam Din
First appetizer was per C’s request – Crispy Calamari with Marinara Sauce.

April 2019 Fam Din
V took the lead with this and we inhaled a few trays of them.

April 2019 Fam Din
C also wanted LOBSTAH!

Seester steamed several lobsters and shelled them. Look at all of those chunks of gorgeous meat!

April 2019 Fam Din
But hey–we just didn’t enjoy the meat.

Seester T took also took the lobster “tomalley”, aka “lobster fat” and mixed it with mayo and spices to create these decadent Lobster Tomalley Crostini.

SUPER scrumptious and a great way to use all parts of the lobster.

April 2019 Fam Din
Then it was time to get the Littlings‘ involved — even if Lucasaurus was one of the birthday boys.

April 2019 Fam Din
We had them trim greens beans that seestrah T used later to make Stir-Fried Garlic Green Beans. It’s a veggie dish that even the munchkins enjoy!

April 2019 Fam Din
Now back to some decadence….

If you’ve been following my Instagram, you saw that a few months ago, I finally got to try Beef Ribeye Cap Steaks – a beef cut that I’ve been coveting for a LONG time.

April 2019 Fam Din

The cap is the top, most tender and marbleized portion that runs above the ribeye steak.

It is so beefy, so packed with flavor….it’s incredible.

So although neither birthday boy explicitly requested it, we knew it would be a hit with them and asked brother V to cook some of up on the cast iron.

April 2019 Fam Din
After they had rested a bit, Nini sliced them up….

And she had a couple of onlookers — just in case she had dropped anything on the floor.

April 2019 Fam Din
Take a gander!

April 2019 Fam Din
Oh!

I almost forgot about these!

I decided to grill up some spears because they looked quite lovely that morning.

April 2019 Fam Din
After I pulled them off the grill, I topped them with a quick dressing I had made earlier to deepen their flavors.

Grilled Asparagus with Salsa Verde – awesome alongside any summertime meal.

April 2019 Fam Din
Lucas had two requests for dinner….crabs and mint chip ice cream.

Well actually, he also wanted plain rice too.

Our little Asian dude….

April 2019 Fam Din
Initially we were going to pick up several Dungeness crabs to steam up but when we got to the store—no Dungeness crabs were to be found!

DOH!

April 2019 Fam Din
So we took a quick run to Costco and picked up a few pounds of Alaskan King Crab Legs …. and as it turns out, those are actually Lucasaurus‘ fave.

April 2019 Fam Din
CAUGHT!

Fam on their devices during Fam Din!

BUSTED!

April 2019 Fam Din
We’ll give them a pass this time.

Back in the kitchen we returned our attention to the huge bowl of lobster meat.

April 2019 Fam Din
And with the assist of her kiddos, seester N created this STUNNING platter of Lobster Rolls.

April 2019 Fam Din
I know….

Calamari, Tomalley Crostinis, Ribeye Caps, King Crab….

April 2019 Fam Din
And now, Lobster Rolls, too?!?

I have no excuses….

…because I was too busy eating….

April 2019 Fam Din
Our plates, quite literally, ran over.

April 2019 Fam Din
Will these munchkins ever understand that eating like this isn’t “normal” for most 6-10 year olds?

But I’m okay with that because I’m banking that they’ll make these kinds of dishes for me when I’m 80 years old.

April 2019 Fam Din
Here’s Leia patiently waiting for us to finish dinner so that we could start the next episode of Game of Thrones.

April 2019 Fam Din
And then it was dessert time!

My nephew/godbebe doesn’t enjoy cake. He likes donuts and mint chip ice cream….the green kind.

For his birthday dessert, I made him a quick Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Pie.

April 2019 Fam Din
The base was an Oreo cookie crust and then it was filled with mint chip ice cream. I topped it with fresh whipped cream, Andes mint chocolates (a nod to our Grandpa who used to give them to us as kiddos when we were good) and chunks of a new Oreo-Mint candy bar.

But here’s my confession…

I DIDN’T MAKE THE CRUST – IT WAS STORE BOUGHT!

We were running around that morning with so many errands that by the time I got to the store, I just picked up the crust thinking that it would save me time.

But when I used it…THE GUILT!

Really!! It would have taken me all of 15 minutes to make the crust but I took the short cut. Which I get…is fine in most cases. But I felt so guilty and came clean to everyone….. I made a vow to make it up at the next dinner.

April 2019 Fam Din
As for C….the man loves him some green tea. So this oldie but goodie came out again — Green Tea Match Tiramisu.

April 2019 Fam Din

Needless to say, these dude were very happy with their Birthday Menu. And how could they not – it was all decadently delicious!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Lucas and C! 

April 2019 Fam Din

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Blended Passionfruit Margaritas
Appetizers: Crispy Calamari with Marinara Sauce, Lobster Tomalley Crostini
Entree: Beef Ribeye Cap Steaks, Alaskan King Crab Legs, Lobster Rolls
Sides: Stir-Fried Garlic Green Beans, Grilled Asparagus with Salsa Verde, Steamed Rice
Dessert: Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Pie, Green Tea Match Tiramisu

Sunday Family Dinner

A Very Happy Birthday Boy

December 2018 Fam Din
I’m always curious to hear what the munchkins request for their birthday Fam Din menu…. mostly because I’m so entertained by their choices of such impressive dishes.

December 2018 Fam Din
Dishes like salmon sushi, prime rib, dumplings, crab.……

December 2018 Fam Din
We sure as heck don’t get away with making them “kids menu” items like chicken nuggets or fish sticks.

December 2018 Fam Din
Though one year, Nina did ask for chicken wings and mozzarella sticks — but even then the entree was sous vide and then grilled ribeye sandwiches!

Guess you can’t blame them…we did train their palates.

December 2018 Fam Din
So when it came to Leonidas’ birthday meal, it wasn’t too big of a surprise that he once again requested “fatty steaks” and fish tacos.

Typical 7 year old dinner, right?

December 2018 Fam Din
V and L gathered all the goodies for Leo’s two requests and set us to work.

December 2018 Fam Din
Since fish tacos were on the menu, L prepped blue corn masa that Maya and I rolled and pressed into tortillas.

December 2018 Fam Din
Brother then cooked the pressed tortillas in a cast iron skillet.

December 2018 Fam Din
They also made some awesome salsas – tomatillo and roasted guajillo.

December 2018 Fam Din

As for the fish, they chose to sear ahi that was crusted in crushed coriander and sesame seeds.

December 2018 Fam Din

The coriander imparted such a perfumed flavor to the fish – so good!

In fact, if you didn’t want to go with the tacos route, it would be awesome in a sandwich or just on top of a salad.

December 2018 Fam Din
In addition to the salsas, there were also sliced avocado and fresh corn to top the tacos with.

December 2018 Fam Din
HELLO LUV-AH!!!

December 2018 Fam Din
Seared Ahi Tacos in Homemade Blue Corn Tortillas

December 2018 Fam Din
They were ridiculous!

SO. DAMN. SCRUMPTIOUS.

December 2018 Fam Din
T and I agreed that it’s one of our favorite dishes they’ve made.

Incredibly flavor packed!

December 2018 Fam Din
After the tacos were inhaled, I went around to snap a few pics before the evening got away from us.

December 2018 Fam Din
I’m a sucker for a pretty wine bottle….isn’t that how you pick out wine, too?

December 2018 Fam Din
C and his two girls.

With both of them in college now, he and seester N are practically empty-nesters!

December 2018 Fam Din
Okay…remember that “no cell phone during Fam Din” rule?

Yeah…we let them break it after they’ve helped out.

AND as long as they’re gaming together.

I know….it’s a stretch.

December 2018 Fam Din
Then Bella will walk by them with this look on her face and they’ll stop to give her some cuddles.

Having a permanent “emo” face has its perks.

December 2018 Fam Din
When the menu was being crafted, N decided that she wanted to add paella to the mix.

December 2018 Fam Din

Her rationale was that it’s such a festive dish….

December 2018 Fam Din
…. I think it’s because she got new paella pans.

December 2018 Fam Din
But hey–I love paella so I wasn’t going to complain.

December 2018 Fam Din
Look at all of that seafood goodness piled into that pan!

December 2018 Fam Din
Her Seafood Paella was not only pretty, it was darn delicious.

December 2018 Fam Din
Leia 1000% agreed.

December 2018 Fam Din

Now back to the birthday boy’s other request – fatty steaks!

December 2018 Fam Din
Yup…the smart kiddo likes his steaks marbled and fatty — no lean filet mignon here!

December 2018 Fam Din
V dry aged these beautiful boneless ribeye steaks (uncovered) in the fridge for a few days to get rid of some moisture and intensify that beefy flavor.

He rigged the below chopsticks-in-a-tray situation to lift up the steaks which helped aerate and dry out all sides of the beef.

December 2018 Fam Din
And then it was seared in cast iron skillets to get that nice crust.

December 2018 Fam Din
While the steaks rested, I got working on the salad.

December 2018 Fam Din

Leo didn’t actually ask for a salad but we needed some veggies.

December 2018 Fam Din
I called it a Lentil-Arugula Salad …but it was so much more.

December 2018 Fam Din

It was packed with lentils, slow roasted tomatoes, goat cheese and pistachios.

Not your average salad!

December 2018 Fam Din

Then it was time to slice the steaks.

Bella could barely contain her excitement.

December 2018 Fam Din
And the same could be said for Nina.

December 2018 Fam Din
In fact, V did such a great job on the steaks that C wanted to give him a big ol’ thank you smooch!

December 2018 Fam Din
We’re definitely a family that prefers our beef on the rare to medium-rare side. Though, growing up, we were “well done” people.

THANK GOODNESS we grew out of that phase!

December 2018 Fam Din
Dry Aged Ribeye Steaks ….

Excuse me as I lick the computer screen.

December 2018 Fam Din
Our Dudes!

December 2018 Fam Din
Steaks and Paella?

COUNT ME IN!

December 2018 Fam Din
The Munchkins Table … with a little sassy look from R in the background.

December 2018 Fam Din
And the Oldies!

December 2018 Fam Din

ps. Why didn’t I get the plaid memo?

December 2018 Fam Din
Now it wouldn’t be a birthday fam din if we didn’t have a birthday dessert!

Leo’s last request that night was to have a Roblox Mint Chip Ice Cream Cake.

The kid knows what he wants, right?

December 2018 Fam Din
And guess what? T made it!

T is not a fan of baking although she is usually down to make a panna cotta or crème brûlée. So this was a big deal!

December 2018 Fam Din
L and Luna also pitched in on the cake by making the marshmallow fondant Roblox logo.

December 2018 Fam Din

Needless to say, we had a VERY happy birthday boy.

December 2018 Fam Din

And not just Leo – we ALL had an awesome time that night.

R was still feeling sassy. Must be the steaks.

December 2018 Fam Din

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LEONIDAS!!!

December 2018 Fam Din

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Various Wines
Appetizers: Seared Ahi Tacos in Homemade Blue Corn Tortillas
Entree: Dry Aged Ribeye Steaks, Seafood Paella
Sides: Lentil-Arugula Salad
Dessert: Roblox Mint Chip Ice Cream Cake

Sunday Family Dinner

These are a few of Leo’s favorite things….

December 2017 Fam DIn
Pepperoni on pizza and cookie dough in ice cream–these are a few of Leo’s favorite things….

So when December’s Fam Din rolled in the day before our family’s big Christmas Party, we knew exactly what we had to make for the the little man’s 6th birthday. He was quite sure of what he wanted— pizzas, fatty steaks and cookie dough ice cream. Everything else, he left up to us.

Dinner also happened to fall on the night of the big game. And as Minnesota Vikings fans (SKOLLLLL!!!), very few other games mean as much as when we meet up with those cheese heads…I mean, those Packers.  <barf>

So we had the game streaming in every room.

December 2017 Fam DIn

And apparently we needed more coverage because the boys ran out before dinner started to pick up a new TV. Nothing special…just a ginormous 65inch flatscreen.

I’ve got to admit, it was quite humorous watching all of our men attempt to mount the TV to the family room wall.

But they did it and it worked!

December 2017 Fam DIn
Poor Nina….she wasn’t feeling so hot that day–she had the terrible cooties situation everyone seemed to be getting hit with. And because she’s so caring, she even shared it with me a few days later.

Thanks Nina.

Thanks 😦

December 2017 Fam DIn
Seestrah P and her fam made it down for the holidays this year so it was a full house!

It’s rare that all five siblings can be together in one place these days so we definitely try to make the most out of it when we are.

December 2017 Fam DIn

I don’t think Dad understood the message below when we said “OK, funny shot!”

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

December 2017 Fam DIn
While the game was on, the enormous TV was getting set up and the kids were running amok, we assembled a quick Charcuterie Platter…because it’s how we roll.

Truffle Salami from Trader Joe’s, Camembert, Toscano Cheese soaked in Syrah, Heirloom Grape Tomatoes, Olives, Truffle Marcona Almonds, and a few crackers.

December 2017 Fam DIn
In case you’ve ever wondered what down time at Fam Din looks like…..here you go.

Some chatting, some TV, lots of Mind Craft (despite our ban on devices!) and a little bit of dancing hair flips from Kaelani.

December 2017 Fam DIn
Of course, there’s lots of picture taking too.

December 2017 Fam DIn
And if your family is like ours — when we see peeps taking a group pic, we get FOMO and jump in.

Cue in Dad and T.

December 2017 Fam DIn
For the main appetizer (does that sound contradictory?), N made these little Spinach-Artichoke-Crab Puffs. Imagine rich spinach-artichoke dip mixed with lump crab meat—then surround it with flaky puff pastry and top it with more cheese and breadcrumbs.

Decadently delicious!!

December 2017 Fam DIn
LOOK! Nina arose from the dead!!!

It’s because she heard “Spinach-Artichoke-Crab Puffs” and shot right up.

December 2017 Fam DIn
Look at these two adorable munchkins.

December 2017 Fam DIn
And then Leia got Christmas’ed by her dad.

The look on her face is freaking hysterical.

December 2017 Fam DIn
Soon it was time to get the kiddos to prep their mini personalized pizzas.

December 2017 Fam DIn
There were lots of toppings from them to choose from — pepperoni, Italian sausage, caramelized onions, cheese, ‘shrooms and of course, homemade marinara.

December 2017 Fam DIn
It’s never too young to get them started with cooking…..because it means I can retire sooner.

December 2017 Fam DIn
Kaelani was so proud of her little pizza!

December 2017 Fam DIn
After the munchkins prepped, baked and ate their pizzas–we assembled larger ones for the grown folks to split.

December 2017 Fam DIn
Which means, throw EVERYTHING on and bake it up!

December 2017 Fam DIn
Which also included the leftover fillings from the Spinach-Artichoke-Crab Puffs.

Talk about decadent! They were delicious but super rich.

December 2017 Fam DIn
L slicing up pizza with flair!

December 2017 Fam DIn
As you may recall, birthday boy also requested steaks.

FATTY steaks to be exact.

December 2017 Fam DIn
So brother picked up a few prime steaks and dry aged them for a few days. He seared them on cast iron skillets that were screaming hot which gave them a beautiful crust.

December 2017 Fam DIn
And while they rested, he threw a bit of butter on top so that it could slowly melt and seep into all that beefy goodness.

December 2017 Fam DIn

Just a smidge of butter, right?

December 2017 Fam DIn
And I have to tell you guys, those were some of the best steaks I’ve had in a loooong time! The combination of great quality steaks that were dry aged to intensify the flavors were just fantastic!

December 2017 Fam DIn
Nina helped put the finishing touches on my Lentils and Arugula Salad topped with Burrata.

The funny thing that Dad often does when we cook for him is to look at the ingredients we use, ask what the name of it is, how to spell it—and then ends up taking a picture of it. He cracks me up.

December 2017 Fam DIn
See that photobomber in back?

December 2017 Fam DIn
Told ya…. FOMO.

December 2017 Fam DIn
If you ever have a doubt– throwing burrata on top of ANYTHING will always make it more delicious.

December 2017 Fam DIn

Quick pic of the spread!

December 2017 Fam DIn
So nice, I had to show you twice!

December 2017 Fam DIn
V’s face is hysterical in this pic. Now that’s true appreciation of one’s craft.

December 2017 Fam DIn
Don’t mind me while I stand in the corner taking pics and stealing bites off of people’s plates while drinking my Cosmopolitan (it was that month’s cocktail but of course, I forgot to take pics of them–DOH!).

December 2017 Fam DIn
V and Pops!

December 2017 Fam DIn
And the girls!

Minus Kaelani because at that point she was getting a bath to prep for bed. She was NOT happy about missing out on the rest of Fam Din.

Oh the woes of a 3 year old….

December 2017 Fam DIn

Speaking of missing out…..the fur babies were definitely not wanting to miss out on any of the good eats! Here they are patiently waiting for their grandpa to hook them up.

December 2017 Fam DIn
They didn’t get as much as they wanted (Dad can eat!!) so Nini hooked them up with all kinds of goodness!

December 2017 Fam DIn
Yeah…I realize they eat better than most humans but they are our bebes.

December 2017 Fam DIn
And then it was FINALLY time for dessert!

Leo asked for Cookie Dough Ice Cream for his birthday dessert. But here’s the thing, although P did one heck of a job making it from scratch, it’s not a dessert that those of us 13 and older were excited about. So she did us a solid and made us a second dessert – Alice Medrich’s Warm Mocha Tart.

YUMilicious!!

December 2017 Fam DIn
Um, T–hurry up and finish vacuuming or else Maya and Luna are liable to inhale the tart.

December 2017 Fam DIn
Look at birthday boy’s face!

Candle perched upon a huge scoop of his favorite ice cream –that he, of course, had seconds of.

December 2017 Fam DIn
And with that–another shenanigans filled, delicious Fam Din came to a close.

Happy, Happy Birthday Leonidas!

December 2017 Fam DIn

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Cosmopolitans, Various Wine
Appetizers: Charcuterie Platter, Spinach-Artichoke-Crab Puffs
Entrees: Dry Aged Rib Eye Steaks, DIY Pizzas
Sides: Lentils and Arugula Salad topped with Burrata
Dessert: Homemade Cookie Dough Ice Cream, Warm Mocha Tart

Sunday Family Dinner

Sunday Family Dinner Celebrates the May Babies!

May 2016 Fam Din
Last weekend, Sunday Family Dinner celebrated the May babies in our immediate family — Dad and I!

It was a casual menu for the evening with an iteration of surf and turf — my fav! We didn’t choose any dishes that required long periods of cooking and we managed to do a lot of the mise work earlier on in the day.

May 2016 Fam Din
So when it came time for the actual “cooking”, it was pretty easy peasey. Which freed up my time to make/sip pre-dinner cocktails and snap a few photos.

And can we talk about how GINORMOUS these strawberries were???

May 2016 Fam Din
I also wrangled Lucas into staying still for a moment to snap a pic with his fur-cousin. He looks so handsome with his fresh hair cut….what a cutie-patootie. And I intend to call him that until he’s at least 50 years old.

Me? Oh…I’ll still be 21 at that time.

Extra bonus points for those of you who caught the red SOLO cups target pyramid in the background.

It was a target…..

May 2016 Fam Din
…..for their NERF gun competition.

And let’s talk about this pic below. I told them to give me a fierce, rugged look.

Lucas nailed it….Nina, um….not as much.

May 2016 Fam Din
Bella hadn’t seen her Gramps in quite some time so she wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t forget what she looked like.

Grampa–do you see me?!?  PET ME!!!  Give me treats!!! And by treats, I mean–STEAK!!! HELLOOO–I’m right down here!!! Look at me, look at me!!!

She’s not needy at all….

May 2016 Fam Din
Remember when I mentioned cocktails?

Yea…we had a few of them.  And how could we help ourselves? They were so pretty in pink!

I called them Minty Blood Orange Sparklers. It started off with me making a batch of fresh mint simple syrup. After it cooled, I added a splash or two over crushed ice and threw in some vodka, fresh lime juice, Blood Orange flavored Italian Soda and some mint leaves.

Fruity, minty, citrusy, summery……

And the kiddos got MOCKtails—all of the ingredients mentioned above minus the vodka.

May 2016 Fam Din

Speaking of kiddos, we put Maya to work this month. She helped her mom prep our appetizers for the evening — Grilled Flatbread with Ribeye Steak, Tomatoes, Burrata and Italian Salsa Verde.

Here she is whipping up the salsa verde in the mini food processor.

May 2016 Fam Din
Her salsa verde had fresh cilantro, parsley, jalapeno, garlic lime juice, oil and S&P. Usually we add some capers and anchovies to the party too but we opted to nix them this time around –so it was kind of akin to a chimichurri sauce.

But who cares—it was fantastic!

And yes, there’s another one of those Yogurtland spoons…..we love prepping with them!

May 2016 Fam Din
Beef time!

We tasked our B.I.L., Curtis, with grilling up the steaks for the flatbread.

Hello Beautifuls…..

May 2016 Fam Din
And VOILA! The finished product!

Seester T lightly oiled the grates and threw some pizza dough that Maya and Nini had rolled out over them. After it had cooked through, she topped it all with the sliced steaks, ripe Roma tomatoes, burrata and salsa verde. It was lovely! Tons of flavor and would be a great summer meal on its own with a chilled glass of vino.

You could also sub out skirt steak for the ribeye and fresh mozz instead of burrata. But for me, I’m obsessed with burrata and love how creamy and luscious it is.

May 2016 Fam Din
Earlier when I mentioned that dinner was easy peasy, I failed to say it was because we tasked the two older kiddos with the actual cooking of our main entrees – Paella! Paella seemed like an ideal way to get the “surf” component into our meal with lots of shrimp, clams and scallops all in one pot. Plus the chicken and chorizo added the “turf”.

YUM!

Nina and Nini our pros at making Paella and since we had to make a bunch to feed the crowd, we decided that each gal would make their own pot as a competition! They each got a Le Creuset dutch oven to use and all the same ingredients.

And then they were off!

May 2016 Fam Din
This is Nina’s finished product….look at all of those colors!

May 2016 Fam Din - Nina
And here is Nini’s….I could dive right on in!

May 2016 Fam Din-Nini
They both were picture perfect right? And I was hard pressed to tell which niece made which pot.

Wondering who won in the end?

Maya did…….with this picture.

May 2016 Fam Din

Okay, okay…. it was a tie.

Both were delicious and had lovely crispy socarrat. It would have been impossible to choose one from the other. My nieces are so talented and it’s rather comforting to know that they can cook for us as we get along in years.

Oh!

And during dinner, we enjoyed a lovely Caymus Vineyards 40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon –  THANKS Curtis!

May 2016 Fam Din

Then it was time for BIRTHDAY CAKE!!

Normally I’m a chocolate gal but sometimes a light and fruity cake is just divine! So this month I asked Seestrah N to fix up a white cake with fresh berries and fluffy frosting. She came up with this behemoth of a layered cake with ginormous strawberries and frosting made of whipped mascarpone cheese and heavy cream.

Isn’t it lovely????

May 2016 Fam Din
By the time we finished with presents, desserts and dishes….Dad was ready to head home. But we convinced them to stay for just a big longer…..

to PLAY BINGO!!!!!!!

Yup BINGO!  Seester had gotten a BINGO set as a white elephant present and it was high time we cracked it open.

May 2016 Fam Din
And the winners got lottery scratchers!

Here’s the birthday boy scratching away after winning a round of BINGO. Initially he said they’d only stay for one game…..but that one game turned into five 🙂

May 2016 Fam Din
And wouldn’t you know it, neither of the birthday babies won the final blackout round — that went to my B.I.L. Rick!

Talk about happy camper! BINGO winner gets a BINGO scratcher!

May 2016 Fam Din

All in all, it was a great Fam Din –which incidentally was the 4 year anniversary of our Sunday Family Dinners Isn’t it rather wonderful that our siblings’ tradition has carried on?

Can’t wait for next month – and neither can the pups ❤

May 2016 Fam Din

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails:  Minty Blood Orange Sparklers and Vino
Appetizers: Grilled Flatbread with Ribeye Steak, Tomatoes, Burrata and Salsa Verde
Entrees: Paella
Dessert: Mile-High Fresh Strawberry and Cream Layered Cake

Beef

Celebrating Mom’s Birthday with a Rosemary Garlic Ribeye Steak!

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Today we celebrate the birth of a 4’9″ firecracker of a Vietnamese woman who was fiercely loyal, an original hustler, an extraordinary cook, a diehard fashionista, was wholeheartedly stubborn, and a true “Jill of all trades”--our Mom. ❤

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It’s always a bittersweet time of year for us as Mother’s Day always falls so close to Mom’s birthday. Our emotions vacillate between sadness to laughter, from deep remembrance to joy, mourning to celebration—and of course, love.

This December will mark the tenth year since since her spirit departed for her next adventure. And although it’s hard to believe that the years have passed so quickly, my siblings and I can attest that she is still so greatly missed.

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There are so many things I wished I asked her, so many stories I wished I had recorded her telling, so many things I wished she would have taught me—and good grief, I miss that woman’s cooking to no end.

So I talk to her all the time–and I believe a few of my siblings do, too. Especially when I’m in the kitchen–bustling around like she did so many times during her life. I have a large portrait of her hanging in my kitchen and I’ll jibber-jabber about everything and anything. Because Mom was a total Chatty-Cathy, a trait that my seester T and I definitely inherited –and I am certain she would be amused by our ramblings.

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When Mom was still with us, we all cooked and prepped with her in the kitchen. But, I for one, definitely deferred to her and leaned more towards on the baking side of the house. But when she passed, cooking became our way of keeping her spirit with us. And since she was the original Foodie, I think we all deep down inside, aim to excel in the kitchen to create elaborate things that we know she would have loved.

You can best believe that I often imagine her scolding us if she saw half the stuff we did in the kitchen. We probably weren’t cutting things right, adding too much salt and likely drinking too much wine/cocktails while cooking. Ok…maybe the latter would be focused at some of us more than others. And yes, those “some” would likely be T and I.

Mama 2
With that said, it’s no wonder that my rituals for Mom’s birthday all surround food. Like every year, I started this morning off with an early brekkie at Panera Bread inhaling her favorite Spinach and Bacon Egg Souffle. It’s like a rich quiche but with a puff pastry/croissant-like crust. So sinfully caloric to start a day off with but hey–it’s Mom’s Birthday!

And if you’ve read my previous birthday posts for Mom, you know that this little woman loved her some steaks!!! Filet Mignons and Ribeyes all day, everyday! Ok, maybe not everyday—but she would have wanted to at least. In years past, I’ve celebrate her birthday with:

Mama 3
The filet mignon cuts weren’t looking that great when I was at the market but the ribeyes were gorgeous! So for this year, I’m honoring Mom’s birthday with this Rosemary-Garlic Ribeye Steak. I mean, take a gander at this beauty!!!

Rosemary Steak3
I took the steak, seasoned it with some S&P, and threw it in a resealable bag with some rosemary springs, crushed garlic, and olive oil. It hung out in my fridge for several hours for the flavors to infuse the beef.

Rosemary Steak2
Next came the decision to either grill the steak or cast iron that baby.

I chose the cast iron method because I LOVE how the beef beautifully sears and crusts in the skillet and it gave me the opportunity to bathe the steak in butter while it seared.

Aaaaand…..I also live in a condo where I’d have to hike downstairs to the common area to use the grill.

So that settled that debate.

Aaaaand…..let’s not talk about how that “hike” is actually a 2 minute walk from my front door.

Steak and Potatoes
Did I mention that the steak gets repeatedly spooned over with infused herb butter/oil? Bathed, I tell ya – BATHED!

Now that’s the way to go…..

Grilled Steak
After a quick sear (and bath) on the stove, I threw the entire thing in the oven for a few minutes to finish it off. Depending on the thickness of your cut, as well as desired cook on your steak, you may need to adjust the timing by a few minutes. But a meat thermometer should do the trick.

And if you’re feeling real naughty, after the steaks rest, you can drizzle the leftover infused butter/oil from the skillet over the beef.

HELLO!!!

Rosemary Steak4

I’m quite certain Mom would have loved this steak—because she loved them ALL! But really, I think she would have just loved that I made it for her and she needn’t lift a finger.

Mama
Happy Birthday Mama!

Wherever you are, I hope you’re enjoying a big ol’ steak today!

We love and miss you!

____________________________________________

Rosemary Garlic Ribeye Steak
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 16-18 ounce ribeye beef steak or two 8-9 ounce ribeye beef steaks
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
3 large garlic cloves, smashed
4-5 sprigs fresh rosemary
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
flaked sea salt, optional

Season the steak with kosher salt and black pepper. In a resealable plastic bag, add the garlic, rosemary sprigs, olive oil and steak. Rub the marinade all over the beef. Squeeze out as much air as possible and then seal the bag. Refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours. Halfway through the time, take the bag out of the fridge and massage the marinade into the beef.

 

Remove the steak from the plastic bag. Use paper towels to dry off some of the marinade—do not discard the rosemary or garlic. Allow the steak to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes.

 

Place a cast iron skillet on the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. After the cast iron skillet has heated in the oven for 15-20 minutes and the steak has come to room temperature, carefully remove the skillet and place on a burner over medium-high heat.

 

Add the butter, oil and allow it to melt together before carefully placing the steak in. Add the sprigs of rosemary and crushed garlic from the marinade bag. Sear the ribeye for 1-2 minutes on each side. While the beef sears, repeatedly spoon the butter/oil over the tops of the meat to baste. Once both sides have seared, transfer the skillet with the steak back into the oven.

 

Roast the ribeye at 400 degrees F for 3-4 minutes or until the internal temperature

reaches 135 degrees F for medium-rare. Allow the steak to rest for 5-10 minutes and sprinkle the tops with sea salt to finish (optional). You can also drizzle a few spoonfuls of the herb infused oil/butter from the skillet over the steak as there is a TON of flavor it in it. Serve warm with roasted potatoes, veggies or sides of your choice.

Sunday Family Dinner

A Belated Sunday Family Dinner

Feb 2016 Fam Din
The other weekend we celebrated February in March.

Or more accurately, we had February’s Sunday Family Dinner in March. February was totally hectic with the Lunar New Year, the family being up in San Francisco for our cousin’s wedding and just a bunch of random events that caused the delay for dinner.

But the thing is, we couldn’t actually “skip” a month—because once you start doing that, those “monthly dinners” can continue to get pushed back and eventually become “every few months family dinners”.

And that’s No bueno.

Plus, February was Maya’s birthday and we couldn’t skimp out on birthday celebrations for this cutie! So per her request, we made a menu around some of the favorite things she loves — steak and cake!

A girl after my own heart….

Feb 2016 Fam Din

That day we decided to enact a new rule — unless you’re taking pictures of each other or food (which is more likely), everyone has to stay off their iPads and iPhones. Which, if you have teenagers and wee ones, can be torture!

But if the point of us having monthly family dinners was to spend quality time with each other, being glued to phones and tablets (darn you Snapchat and Minecraft!) kind of defeated the purpose. So I went around and collected all their devices and didn’t return them until dessert – which is pretty darn good if you know our munchkins!

Without his iPad, Lucas had to resort to one of his other favorite obsessions — Nerf guns. Here he is intensely loading up on ammo. Afterwards, he spent a good hour running around the house, hiding behind columns and banisters as he went on full assault mode with his uncle.

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Those two have always been thick as thieves–ever since Lucas was a wee-bitty-baby. I used to think it was because he and my sister had two daughters and no sons—but I really think it’s because my brother-in-law definitely has a “kid at heart” gene.

Feb 2016 Fam Din

The girls decided to spend a considerable amount of time with Maya’s latest obsession – FIMO clay. The clay can be molded into whatever your imagination conjures up–then you bake it to harden your design.

She has a TON of them in all different colors filling tackle boxes, tupperwares, and wherever else she can store them.

Feb 2016 Fam Din
They’re quite talented with it too!

They made a golden snitch, macaron, marshmallow, a cat(?) and my favorite–a cast iron skillet with an egg and bacon!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Then it was cocktail time!

The adults sipped on Raspberry-Lemonade Sparklers….and by “sparklers”, I mean prosecco.

Feb 2016 Fam Din

We always need to nosh on a few things before dinner is served or else my “cute” family turn into a tribe of gremlins.

And that’s not a pretty sight.

Trust me….I’ve seen it.

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Big seester made these adorable little Tartlets that were like mini-quiches filled with bacon, gruyere, and custard all in a savory crust.

Perfect bite sized snacks!

I had about 30 or so……

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Since birthday girl wanted steaks, she got STEAKS!

These were the beautiful boneless Ribeyes seestrah picked up. She simply seasoned them with lots of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. And oh that lovely marbling!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
They were then handed over to the boys to grill.

I must have a gajillion pics of R and C posing like this by the grill over past few years…. But hey–they like to grill so we put them to work!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Sizzle, sizzle!

And no, I didn’t mean The Sizzler.…..but oh that cheese bread!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
The grilled steaks were brushed with some herb butter while they rested which now gives me a great opportunity to talk about the sides!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Maya loves salad–usually odd for small kids but she does have a mature palate. We put together a tray of colorful Wedge Salads because nothing makes veggies more healthy than dousing it with a creamy dressing and tons of crispy bacon bits.

MMMMmmmm….bacon……

Feb 2016 Fam Din
And since Nina helped with making it, I made her pose with the tray.

Think the kids will be traumatized by all the pics I make them take holding food?

Nah…they make good profile pics, right?

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Next up, colorful Roasted Potatoes that were marinated in tons of garlic, rosemary, chili flakes and Dijon mustard before being blasted in a high heat oven.

Feb 2016 Fam Din
We also had a side of slowly Sauteed Crimini Mushrooms that were drizzled with truffle oil and fresh thyme.

Total mushroom goodness.

Feb 2016 Fam Din
There may have been a few bottles of vino too…..

And yes, that’s me in the bottle’s reflection…

Hiiiiii!!!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Beef-a-licious!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
Here’s my plate with a little bit of everything…. OH! And I forgot about the Dirty Rice seester made as well! It’s cooked with onions, lots of butter, beef consomme, and a few other secret stuff.

What’s the secret?

No idea…I never pay attention when she makes it but I am more than pleased to shovel it down by the large spoonfuls.

Feb 2016 Fam Din

After dinner, we tend to try and clean up a bit before dessert.

And by “clean up”, I mean “take pictures”.

Fam Din
Cake time!

When I asked Maya what kind of cake she wanted, all she said was a chocolate and peanut butter combo.

Told you the girl had good taste!

Feb 2016 Fam Din
I started off with a wonderful chocolate cake by Brown Eyed Baker.

I have to tell y’all, that crumb was oh-so-lovely! Super dense, moist and oober chocolaty! And there were three layers of it! I also used her version of peanut butter buttercream that was so lip smacking good!

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cake
But this was for Maya and things had to be OVER THE TOP! Although the chocolaty cake was frosted in the peanut butter buttercream, I added chopped mini-peanut butter cups in one layer and Girl Scouts Peanut Butter Patties in the next!

Now, I had intended to frost the entire cake with that luscious buttercream and then do a drippy, drizzle layer of chocolate ganache like Brown Eyed Baker did for her Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cup Overload Cake.

But I totally biffed it by making the ganache too thick and instead of making that whimsical-purposely drippy look, it turned into a gloopy mess. AGH! So I took seester’s advice and decided to frost the ganache out into a thin layer—and I actually kind of loved the marbling effect it had.

PHEW!

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cake
To top the cake I added more Peanut Butter Patties, mini-peanut butter cups, 3 different types of gold sprinkles and wait for it–freshly made Chocolate and Peanut Butter Macarons.

Wait–did I say I baked macarons just to top the cake? I SURE DID!!! Because Miss Maya LOVES macarons and I promised her an OVER THE TOP cake.

Here’s a quick peek inside of the cake…..and let me just tell you, a tall and icy glass of milk would go perfect with it!

Except I can’t drink milk…..TMI?

So I had it with red vino instead.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cake
All in all, I think birthday girl forgave us for having her dinner so late—though, she’s such a sweet tempered kid that I don’t think she really minded at all.

HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY MAYA LOVE! ❤

Feb 2016 Fam Din

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Raspberry-Lemonade Sparklers
Appetizers: Bacon Gruyere Tartlets
Entrees: Grilled Ribeye Steaks
Sides: Wedge Salads, Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Sauteed Mushrooms, Dirty Rice
Dessert: “Over the Top” Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake

Beef

Korean Inspired Ribeye Steak – Happy Birthday Mom!

May 10th

It’s May 10th which means it’s not only Mother’s Day but also, our Mom’s Birthday!

She would have been 74 this year (eek! She’s probably yelling at me for disclosing that!) but I’m quite certain she would have looked no older than maybe 55….ok, may 60 🙂

May 10th

The woman had some crazy good skin! She would often tell me when I was growing up to always use upward strokes when applying facial lotion to go against gravity.

But come to think of it….how does one say “gravity” in Vietnamese again? Eh, I must have just known what she was talking about.

May 10th

Today started off very much like it has for the past few years on Mom’s birthday. As I’ve written in her birthday posts before, it kicked off with a delish breakfast that I picked up at Panera Bread. When Mom and Dad moved to Florida, they went crazy for Panera Bread and would go weekly for French onion soup and their fantastic egg soufflés.

Luckily, I was able to snag the last Spinach and Bacon Egg Soufflé which was decadently wonderful.

May 10th

After brekkie I started going through old pics of Mom for this post and couldn’t help but smile.

I mean, the woman was a serious F-A-S-H-I-O-N-I-S-T-A….and I’m talking all the way back to when she was a kid.

May 10th

Neither her family or my dad’s were wealthy but she someone how managed to rock it out in the countrysides of  Việt Nam with Sophia Loren style sunglasses, patent leather pumps, itty-bitty mini-dresses and beautifully tailored & formfitting áo dàis.

May 10th

And this sense of style never waned through the years.

To this day, I wonder if Dad ever knew how often Mom would hide her shopping loot in the car or in the back of the closets only to tell him days later when she was wearing the new item that it was actually years and years old.

Sneaky woman.

May 10th

And as you know, Mom was an incredible cook.

I think most people say that about their moms but for reals, ours was awesome.

May 10th

When I shared my Vegetarian Chap Chae recipe a couple of years ago, I talked a little bit about how Mom and Dad went through a major Korean phase. They would watch Korean soap operas/dramas, buy Korean cookbooks, make and jar their own types of kimchees, and of course–go to town on Korean BBQ.

May 10th

Since I make a steak every year on Mama’s birthday (she was a carnivorous steak-loving 4’9″ woman), I decided to take a Korean spin. When grilling up (or pan-cooking) steaks, I rarely will use a marinade. I think the straight up taste of beef with some salt and pepper can’t be beat.

But this is for Mom and a little variation from time to time is good for you.

Korean Inspired Ribeye Steak

I opted for a ribeye cut (my fav) and doctored some of my go-to Korean BBQ beef marinade. It’s filled with all kinds of goodness like soy, ginger, garlic, fresh OJ, and of course–grated Asian pear. The latter is for some added sweetness and the acidity helps tenderize the meat.

If you want to add a kick of spice, add a few dollops of gojuchang — Korean fermented chili paste.

Korean Inspired Ribeye Steak

I chose to use a cast iron skillet to cook the steak instead of using a grill because I prefer how the meat caramelizes on the skillet.

But hey– if you prefer, fire up the grill!

Korean Inspired Ribeye Steak

I like my steak on the medium to medium-rare side and served it up with a bed of rice and bok choy. I threw the marinade used for the steak in a small sauce pan, cooked and reduced it down, and then drizzled it over the beef.

I’ve got to tell ya. It was dang good and quite the lunch to celebrate Mama. There’s no doubt that she would have loved it.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND MOTHER’S DAY MAMA!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 8 years since you’ve been with us but not a day goes by where we don’t think of you! We miss your feistiness, strength, stubbornness, laughter, and COOKING!!

_________________________________________

Korean Inspired Ribeye Steak
Serves 2

Ingredients:

¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1 tablespoon mirin
juice of one small orange
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper powder)
½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (more for garnish)
kosher salt
black pepper
½ tablespoon brown sugar
½ small Asian pear, finely grated
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
½ inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated
2 scallions, chopped (more for garnish)
1 16-18 ounce ribeye beef steak or two 8-9 ounce ribeye beef steaks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
shilgochu (Korean red pepper chili threads)

Prepare the marinade. In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, mirin, orange juice, sesame oil, gochugaru, sesame seeds, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, brown sugar, grated pear, garlic, ginger and scallions.

Rinse the steak with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Pour the marinade into a large resealable bag. Add the steak and rub the marinade all over. Squeeze out as much air as possible and then seal the bag. Place the bag in a shallow dish and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours.

Remove the steak from the bag and pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Use paper towels to dry off the steak and allow the beef to sit out for about 10 minutes until it becomes room temperature.

Place a cast iron skillet on the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.

After the cast iron skillet has heated in the oven for 15-20 minutes, carefully remove the skillet and place on a burner over medium-high heat. Add the butter, oil and allow it to melt together before carefully placing the ribeye steak in the skillet. Sear the steak on the first side for 1-2 minutes. Flip the steak and allow to sear for 30 seconds before placing the whole skillet into the oven. Allow the steak to roast in the oven for about another 2-3 minutes for medium rare (depending on the thickness of your steak). Remove the steak from the skillet and place on a plate or cutting board. Cover loosely with foil for about 5-7 minutes to allow the steak time to rest.

While the steak rests, simmer the marinade in the saucepan until it thickens and reduces by half.

To serve, slice the steak. Plate with steamed rice, sautéed bok choy and drizzle the reduced marinade over the top of the beef. Garnish with additional chopped scallions, sesame seeds and shilgochu. Enjoy!