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

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Sunday Family Dinner

Sunday Family Dinner – Po’ Boys and Tarts… Oh My!

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

Alright. Want to know why it’s taken this long to recap May’s Sunday Family Dinner?

It’s because I was struggling for a week after it.

And I’m a tad upset. No one tells you that the hangover recovery time increases by a 100 when you get older. 😦

Oh…and I should mention that it was due to the below shenanigans that started it all.

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

Yup.

It was my birthday and this “thirty-something” bday gal thought it would be a “smart” idea to channel her old college self and hire a party bus to shuttle a bunch of her friends and family around for six hours……to, you know…..hang out.

Let’s just say, a lot of mischief can occur when you have a party bus stocked with 2 coolers filled with libations and jello shots. We stopped at four rad local Orange County breweries: Bootlegger’s Brewery, Noble Ale Works, Bottle Logic Brewing, and The Bruery. It was a FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC time and we even made it out to a local spot for a few night caps and to shake our booties. Yes, friends…it was 11+ hours of what seemed to be endless escapades.

We were Rock Stars.

Which is also why the STRUGGLE WAS REAL when we managed to get our act together the next day for Sunday Family Dinner. But luckily we had the foresight to keep things simple.

For starters… COCKTAILS! Because apparently we didn’t’ have enough the night before 😉

Spiced-Tajin Citrus Margaritas!

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

Initially we had wanted to do something Surf and Turf but couldn’t really settle on one particular dish that we could all agree on.

So, to satisfy my “turf” craving, seester T made these little decadent bites. Seared ribeye steaks that were then thinly sliced and stacked on top of toasted bread. But it was all about the sauce that she came up with…. a super rich Truffled-Pâté-Thyme Sauce.

HOLY MOLY.

That sauce tho’….. ❤

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

As for the “surf”….eldest seester suggested Seafood Po’ Boys and we were all about it!

For the Po’ Boys, I ended up soaking a bunch of oysters and shrimp in a spiced buttermilk bath before dredging it in a cornmeal-flour mix. A quick fry for a minute or two and they were perfect!

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

And of course, since it was my burf-day, there had to be bacon. Lots of it.

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

To put it all together we schmeared a sriracha aioli inside a toasted baguette, mixed greens, ripe tomatoes, a few slices of creamy avocado, thick-cut crispy bacon and of course–the crunchy oysters and shrimp.

YOWZA MOWZA!

Even HUNGOVER we knocked it out of the park!

Perhaps it’s our superhero power….

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

Oh! And because I am a carb monster….there had to be my favorite starchy love– potatoes.

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

This time around, I opted for a German Potato Salad…..

Potatoes, bacon….HEO YEAH! Especially when there’s not a heavy sauce. I slightly adapted the recipe from The Lucky Penny by adding extra herbs, chili flakes, chili powder and sriracha.

Heavenly.

As for a birthday cake? That’s not really not my thing despite how many birthday cakes/cupcakes I end up making. True….chocolate is my fav but a very close second is something with citrus.

I adore citrus.

So eldest seester indulged me and made this fantabulous Lime-Fruit Tart.  A buttery shortbread crust with lime curd, a cranberry sauce and fresh fruit.

LOVE. ❤

 

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

With that, dear friends, wrapped up the most perfect birthday-palooza.

And yes, I finally recovered 🙂

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Spiced-Tajin Citrus Margaritas
Appetizers: Ribeye Crostini with Truffled-Pâté-Thyme Sauce.
Entrees: Bacon-Avocado Po’Boys with German Potato Salad
Dessert: Lime Fruit Tart

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!!

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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!

Beef

On Tiny Giants, Mom’s Birthday, and Petite Filet Mignon….

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Today is Mom’s 72nd Birthday–though she probably wouldn’t have been too happy with me that I shared her actually age. But let’s be honest, Mom always looked a decade younger than she really was.

Mom

I find that the older I get, the more nostalgic I become. Funny enough, I don’t seem to recall the characteristics about Mom that drove me nuts when I was a quasi-rebellious teenager. It’s the quirky things I tend to reminisce about her that make us all crack up.

Mom

Like how she used to have the coldest little feet (even in the summer!) and would always find the need to prop them on our bare legs to warm them up. BRRRR!

Or how she would schmooze with strangers and hustle for us when it was fundraising time. She sold over 100+ pies each year for my cheerleading fundraisers and would be top in BINGO sales for our high school. Yup, don’t even try to step up to her.

girls

Or how she would always call everyone người đẹp (beautiful) instead of using their names.

Mom would also constantly rearrange all the furniture in the house and reposition her incredible bonsai collection. Seriously, I would come home on the weekends from college and there would be a new configuration in the living room—EVERY time! One minute she would bring in a bonsai arrangement into a room and then next, she would have switched it out for a different one. When I used to ask her what she was doing, she would just laugh and say “I’m having fun.”

I guess she was “playing house” in her house.

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And boy, did this woman love her steaks. I mean seriously love her steaks.

Without fail, for Mother’s Day or her birthday, we would be off to some restaurant to celebrate. Now granted, she would do the “mom” thing and say it didn’t matter where we would take her out (or even that we didn’t have to) but the moment we’d be seated at a restaurant, she’d always order a filet mignon or bone-in ribeye.

Petite Filet Mignon

So in honor of Mom’s birthday and her carnivorous love of steaks, I made this tender Petite Filet Mignon. After soaking up some great flavors for a few hours, I seared the filets on a screaming hot cast iron pan and finished it off in the oven.

Absolutely delicious and Mom would have loved it.

Petite Filet Mignon

Have you heard that wonderful saying that I am who I am today because I stand on the shoulders of Giants?

Well, it just so happens that one of my main Giants was a little 4’9” Vietnamese woman. Vivacious, tough, loyal, tenacious—and of course, steak-loving.

Happy Birthday, Mom. We all love and miss you.

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Petite Filet Mignon
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon minced garlic
10-12 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced chopped sage
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 6-ounce petite filet mignon steaks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
course sea salt (optional)

In a resealable plastic bag, add the garlic, herbs, chili flakes, 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper and filets. Rub the marinade all over the filets. Squeeze out as much air as possible and then seal the bag. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Place a cast iron skillet on the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

Remove the filets from the plastic bag and discard the marinade. Use paper towels to dry off some of the marinade and then liberally season the filets with additional black pepper. Allow the filets to sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes.

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 placing the filets in. Sear the filets for 2-3 minutes on each side. While the filets are searing, repeatedly spoon the butter/oil over the tops of the meat to baste. Once both sides have seared, transfer the skillet with the filets back into the oven.

Roast the filets at 400 degrees F for 7-8 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees F for medium-rare. Allow the filets to rest for 5-10 minutes and sprinkle the tops with sea salt to finish (optional). Serve warm.

Beef · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Ribeye Steak and Frites

Ribeye Steak & Frites

 

I love steaks—-I am, after all, my mother’s daughter.

But I don’t eat it very often and I sure as heck don’t make it enough. Which is really unfortunate because it’s so easy and makes your home smell delicious. In fact, it took longer to bake my frites than it did for me to prepare and sear my Ribeye Steak.

So next time, forgo the bougie steakhouses. You’ll save a few bucks and no one will look at you weird if you’re wearing your pajamas at the dinner table. 🙂

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Ribeye Steak and Frites
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 Ribeye Steaks, approximately 1.5 inches thick and at room temperature
1 Cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
1 Large Russet Potato, peeled and cut into ¼ inch long strips
2 Tablespoons Fresh Garlic, minced finely
1 Tablespoon Shallots, diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
¼ Cup Red Wine or Beef Stock
¼ Cup Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, divided
Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with in 2 tablespoons of oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Spread them in one even layer on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes. Stir every 10-15 minutes to ensure all sides are baked even.

While the frites are baking, rub the steaks with the remaining oil. Heavily season all sides with salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron pan to high heat. Add the steaks to the pan and sear each side for 2-3 minutes. You want to develop a golden brown crust. Move the pan to the oven and bake until the internal temperature reaches 130-135 degrees (medium rare) or 140-145 degrees (medium). Remove the steaks to a clean plate and tent with aluminum foil. Allow the steaks to rest for 5-10 minutes.

While the steaks are resting, melt the butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms and shallots until they are golden brown. Add thyme leaves, wine, and cream. Cook until the sauce reduces by half. Season with salt and pepper.

Plate the steaks with a few spoonfuls of the mushroom sauce and frites.