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

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Sunday Family Dinner

Sunday Family Dinner – Summah’ Grilling and Chillin’

June 2015 Family Dinner

 Sunday Family Dinners in the summer are all about dining al fresco. Long days, warm and beautiful weather…it’s perfect.

June 2015 Family Dinner

I love summer family dinners where the pace is a little bit slower and we really get the chance to catch up with what’s new with each other.

June 2015 Family Dinner

A big topic of conversation at June’s fam din?

Backyard decor… obvi.

June 2015 Family Dinner

Seester just got a new set of fantastic patio furniture. And after lounging in the new chairs for a bit, I realized that something was missing. They need a brick pizza oven—STAT! A brilliant idea!

It got quickly vetoed.

Party poopers.

June 2015 Family Dinner

Our inspiration for dinner was not so much a “theme” but started off with an idea that the main dish should feature all kinds of skewers. Because who doesn’t love meat on a stick?

Plus, if there’s grilling involved, the boys get a hand in things.

June 2015 Family Dinner

And because y’all know us so well, you know that there were cocktails. In fact, we had a few different types that night (it’s how we roll), but Seester came up with this one after watching an episode of Tiffani Thiessen’s cooking show.

It consisted of an iced fruit tea, ginger simple syrup, lime juice, mint, tequila and fresh fruit.

Light and refreshing.

Kelly Kapowski apparently knows cocktails.

June 2015 Family Dinner-Cocktails

To munch on before dinner, my niece Nina fried up a batch of Crispy Andouille Hush Puppies. I loved the salty, smokey flavor the andouille gave to the hush puppies. To serve with them, I whipped up a quick sauce from random things I found in the fridge and luckily, it turned out great. Though–I kind of blew it and didn’t jot down what it consisted of but it had things like sour cream, mayo, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, fresh dill, garlic and pixie dust.

The last ingredient is not optional.

The recipe for the hush puppies can be found at here.

June 2015 Family Dinner-Hush Puppies

Then we put the boys to work! Fire up the grill, Dudes!

June 2015 Family Dinner

We did three types of skewers:

June 2015 Family Dinner-Skewers

Why three different skewers? Why not?!

Plus, we generally have a hard time just choosing one thing.

June 2015 Family Dinner- Skewers

To serve with the skewers, I whipped up a quick Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad which is a great accompaniment to any BBQ. It’s fresh, light, and essentially guilt free.

Though, I rarely experience guilt with food.

Carpe diem!

June 2015 Family Dinner: Watermelon-Feta Salad

We also made a bunch of Elotes – Mexican style street corn. Super simple to make and you can find out how from a previous post here.

Elote {Grilled Mexican Style Street Corn}

And lastly–dessert!

Now, most of us admitted that we underestimated this dessert. Don’t get me wrong–eldest seester can definitely bake but we didn’t really have a good point of reference for an icebox pie. But after one bite, we knew what fools we had been.

The texture was incredibly creamy and smooth which resulted in somewhat of an ice cream pie texture. She also tweaked the originally recipe that can be found here by:

  • Substituting mango schnapps with mango extract (she also used the extract in the whipped cream);
  • Used ataulfo mangoes as they generally yield a much sweeter and aromatic fruit;
  • Used about 1 cup of mango puree versus the listed 3/4 cup;
  • Used graham instead of saltine crackers for the crust and doubled the amount.

June 2015 Family Dinner: Mango-Lemon Buttermilk Icebox Pie

And after all the food was eaten and the dishes were washed–there was nothing else to do but get in some jacuzzi time!

June 2015 Family Dinner

Now if that’s not a fitting Summer Fam Din, I don’t know what is.

Stay tuned for the wrap up of July’s Family Dinner with all 5 Nguyễn siblings!

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Spiked Ginger Iced Tea
Appetizers: Crispy Andouille Hush Puppies
Entrees: Jerk Spiced Shrimp, Buttermilk Chicken Tandoori with Raita Sauce, Steak Skewers with Scallion  Sauce, Elotes, Watermelon-Feta-Arugula Salad
Dessert: Mango-Lemon Buttermilk Icebox Pie

 

Pork · Salads · Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

Dear Summer,

Please don’t ever leave.

I love how you bring the bright, radiant sun out to warm us.

I love how you encourage me to wear flip flops every day (even to work).

And I love how you bring out the incredible sweetness and intense flavor to stone fruits. It makes me want to eat them all the time! Nectarines, peaches, plums, pluots….oh, the endless possibilities!

Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

And Summer, you also inspire me to eat light and fresh dishes. So I decided to take your hint and threw some delectable stone fruits into some greens. A salad filled with all types of mixed greens to give that peppery verdant flavor, a needed savory element with the thin prosciutto slices, a salty & nutty profile from the parmesan cheese and much needed texture from the chopped pistachio nuts.

I don’t even bother with a vinaigrette. Instead, I opt for a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice for acidity and a drizzle of EVOO for that needed richness.

Divine.

So Autumn, please push the snooze button a few more times to allow my Summer to stay a bit longer.

xoxo.

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Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad
Serves 1

Ingredients:

2 cups mixed greens (arugula, romaine, baby spinach, etc)
¼ cup sliced peaches
¼ cup sliced nectarines
¼ cup sliced plums or pluots
2 thin slices prosciutto, torn into pieces
1 tablespoon roughly chopped pistachio nuts
1 ounces parmesan cheese shavings
juice of 1 lemon wedge
1 tablespoon quality extra virgin olive oil
2 pinches kosher salt
2 pinches coarse black pepper

Plate the first seven items on a serving dish. Squeeze the lemon juice over the plate, followed by the drizzling of olive oil. Season with the kosher salt and black pepper. Enjoy!

Salads · Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

I’ve received a bunch of recipe inquiries about the salad we gobbled up during our last Family Dinner.

And I can’t blame ya because it was DEE-LISH!

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

My niece and seester prepared the dish using Ina Garten’s recipe for a Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad and it was a WINNER! It packed a huge punch of flavor from the abundance of herbs, feta cheese and citrus. It was extremely bright and would be a fab dish to enjoy on a warm day with a glass of pinot grigio and chunk of freshly baked bread. MMMMM!

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

We didn’t have fresh basil on hand and ended up omitting it. Truth be told, I didn’t really miss it—but I’m sure it would be wonderful with it.

Oh that Ina…..she knocks it out of the park—AGAIN! Think she needs a new bestie in the form of a quirky Vietnamese gal?

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Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad
Serves 6

Ingredients:

10 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 pound ripe tomatoes, seeded, cored, and 1/2-inch-diced
1 hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and 1/2-inch-diced
1 can or jar (12 to 16 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil
8 ounces good feta cheese
Place the scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, parsley, mint, and basil in a large salad bowl and toss to combine.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion.

Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing gently to coat all the vegetables. Add the feta, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss gently.

Recipe from Ina Garten

Appetizers/Small Plates · Salads · Seafood

Spicy Crab & Avocado Salad

Spicy Crab & Avocado Salad

More times than not, I’ve got a lot to say about everything. And when it comes to food– fuggedaboutit!

But then there are times when I take a bite of something and there are really just no words needed. Like with this Spicy Crab and Avocado Salad. MMMMMMM!!!!!!

Spicy Crab & Avocado Salad

TONS of sweet lump crab meat, paired with the creaminess of avocado, a slight crunch from the serranos and a kick of spice. Perfection!

Okay, okay. Maybe I do have a few words but trust me, one bite and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

By the way, in case you’re wondering–Why do I call this a “crab salad”? Well…the same reason why they call chicken salad, “chicken salad”. And yes, I may be trying to avert the question. 🙂

Laters!

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Spicy Crab and Avocado Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients:

5 ounces cooked lump crab meat
1 scallion, diced
1 teaspoon finely minced serrano pepper
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon hot sauce
½ tablespoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon Old Bay Seasonings
kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 large avocado, halved and seeded
garnish with chives and additional Old Bay Seasonings

In a bowl, gently combine the crab, scallion, serrano pepper, mayonnaise, hot sauce, lime juice and Old Bay Seasonings. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper. Refrigerate the crab mixture for 30 minutes.

Spoon half of the crab mixture into each of the avocado halves. Sprinkle with a dash of Old Bay Seasonings and top with chives. Enjoy!

Salads · Vietnamese

Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad) & Giveaway Winner!

Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad)

Ever had Gỏi?

Gỏi is a general term for “salads” in Vietnamese and can come in all forms using a variety of ingredients. Lately, my favorite Gỏi utilizes thinly sliced Banana Blossoms. I combine it with grilled proteins, pink grapefruit, creamy avocados, a ton of herbs and a healthy douse of Nước chấm “vinaigrette”. It’s absolutely delicious and epitomizes the balance in Vietnamese cuisines.

If you’ve never used Banana Blossoms before, they can be somewhat tricky the first time around. It’s best to remove the outer few petals as they’re quite tough (though you can save them as garnish), use a really sharp knife so you can get thin slices, and be sure to soak the cut blossoms in cold water that has been mixed with some type of acid–citrus juice or vinegar does the trick. The later helps removes some of that chalky flavor that the Banana Blossoms can sometimes have.

And although it sounds a bit laborious—it’s totally worth it and delicious!

 

Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad)

And now to announce the winner of a fabulous Nambe Pasta Cradle Bowl

Drum Roll please………….

CONGRATS Serena Kim who said she would serve Shrimp Pesto Pasta in the Nambé Bowl. Sounds yummy and will look gorgeous in your new bowl! Serena, we’ll be sending you an email shortly so we can get your new Nambé artwork shipped out.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated! And THANK YOU Nambé !

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Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
Nước chấm (Sauce):
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, finely minced
chili paste, to taste

Gỏi (Salad):
cups chicken breast, grilled and shredded
cups prawns, shelled and grilled
2 medium sized avocadoes, cubed
1 cup Ruby Red Grapefruit segments
4 cups banana blossoms, julienned
¼ cup loosely packed fresh Vietnamese Mint (rau răm), chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1 cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup fried shallots
¼ cup roasted peanuts, crushed
cold water
black pepper to taste

Prepare the sauce. In a medium sized bowl, stir the sugar and water together until completely dissolved. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and stir until combined. Set aside.

Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the rice wine vinegar. Peel off the dark colored and tough outer leaves of the banana blossom. Use a sharp knife or mandolin to julienne the blossoms. You can either discard the “baby bananas” or chop them up finely. Submerge the banana blossoms into the bowl of water/vinegar after they have been julienne. Allow the banana blossoms to sit in the vinegar water for 15-20 minutes.

In a large bowl, add the shredded chicken, prawns, avocados, herbs, and freshly cracked black pepper. Add a few spoonfuls of the sauce until the items are lightly coated. Drain the banana blossoms from the vinegar water and squeeze out any excess liquids. Add banana blossoms to the other ingredients and spoon in some additional sauce. Gently toss the salad with the fried shallots and plate. Sprinkle the top with crushed peanuts and serve.

Salads · Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Refreshing Greek Salad…..Opa!

Greek Salad

It’s been unusually warm these past few weeks — not your typical fall weather at all. Not that I’m really complaining but it does make me turn to lighter dishes instead of slaving away in a hot kitchen.

The other day I picked up a bunch of produce at my weekly farmer’s market and decided to make a refreshing Greek Salad for lunch.

Greek Salad

The salad is full of bright flavors from the fresh veggies, feta and the olives. Delish! And the leftovers were the perfect accompaniment to the Spanakopita I made the next day.

Up next, flaky and buttery Spanakopita!

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Greek Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 Cups Cucumbers, diced
2 Cups Grape Tomatoes, diced
2/3 Cup Kalamata Olives, pitted and chopped
½ Small Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 Cup Feta Cheese, cubed or crumbled
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
½ Cup Quality Olive Oil
¼ Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced
¼ Teaspoon Dried Oregano
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, garlic, and oregano. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl combine the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle dressing over salad, and toss to coat.