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Holiday Get Togethers

19 Dec

Well, December certainly has flown by. Wasn’t it just Thanksgiving? If you’re like me, your days, evenings and weekends have been filled with family and friend gatherings, work events, and holiday preparation. All which leaves little time for blogging.

My good friends – my Husband’s girlfriends who have since adopted me as their trắng friend – hosted a girls Christmas dinner last week that I need to test at home for sure.

One of the girls made Mang Cua Asparagus Crab soup to eat while we waited for other guests. I’ve had this soup before but love it with the quail eggs. Everything is better with quail eggs.

Sup Mang Cua Crab Asparagus Soup

The main event was bò nhúng dấm (boh nyung yahm) and Nem Nuong with mắm nem fermented fish dipping sauce. So so good. Such an easy party menu where guests cook their own meat and make their own rolls. Rice paper roll dishes are probably my favorite Vietnamese meal discoveries. So easy and fun. This is basically the Vietnamese version of Japanese shabu-shabu, which  you’ve likely tried.

Ingredients for hot pot rice paper rolls including shrimp, calamari, beef, grilled pork, and vegetables

I’ll work out the broth later and share with my own post, but it’s water, some onion, and vinegar. They bought mắm nem pre-made from the store and just added some crushed pineapple. The combined result is a pungent dipping sauce that’s cut by the pineapple sweetness and Thai chilis added to taste.

Mam nem dipping sauce

I have to say, the most difficult part about serving this as dinner is knowing when to stop. Not like I need more kitchen gadgets and supplies, but I am going to pick up the plastic perforated plates that make prepping the rice paper rolls super easy. We use regular plates, but you can only work one at a time and have to get up for a new paper each time, which isn’t made easy if you drip on your plate. Like I always do. You can stack these guys and set up your own assembly line. How great is that?

Rice paper roll with shrimp, grilled meat, vegetables and vermicelli noodles

I stopped counting how many rolls I put away and had to remove myself from the table. You have to leave room for che, after all!

It was a perfect holiday dinner gathering with great friends and great food. We can only all be so fortunate. And on that note, this article has been making the rounds on the internets about two Vietnamese brothers making a better tomorrow for themselves. Read the article, watch the video, and read the Tweets. We shouldn’t leave it to the holiday season, but this is a great reminder about helping others where we can, and that we truly can chart a different path for ourselves with a little work and great friends.

Merry Christmas and Chúc Mừng Giáng Sinh!


Successful Thanksgiving Day

1 Dec

Last night as I was flipping through Facebook and Instagram posts of friends and family, my heart swelled like it so often does around the holidays. We all have so very much to be thankful for, which shouldn’t be concentrated in just one day a year.

This morning [Friday, actually…I didn’t finish this blog in one sitting], for instance, I’m sitting at the dining room table working on this blog with my niece flipping through Christmas music stations on Pandora on the couch across from me. She also plugged in the Christmas tree that she and her sister helped us decorate yesterday after dinner. Family, peace, and Girl Scout Samoa coffee creamer are certainly on the Thankful List.

Anywho, yesterday was a success. We survived – the kitchen, our sanity, and maybe even waistlines. I learned one very important lesson in hosting Thanksgiving: Prepare 1/3 of the food that I *think* I need.

This is seriously a problem of mine, guys. There were more leftovers than what was eaten. It didn’t help that we had the extra Chinese and Viet dishes.

I mean, look at this well-stocked table!

Family gathered around the table for Thanksgiving dinner Continue reading

Our First American-Vietnamese Thanksgiving

17 Nov

The kiddos spent the night last night and are sleeping upstairs. That means Auntie gets to enjoy coffee, TV and knitting. Except this morning is crochet. I’m working on a tree skirt pattern from my local yarn shop Fibre Space that mimics a pricey Anthropologie version in stores a couple of seasons ago. Here are some of the granny squares and the circular base that will go around our tree. Not blocked yet, but you get the idea!

Crocheted Christmas tree skirt

This is our first Christmas together in our home and we are both so excited. Friday I also worked up an ornament wreath for the front door that was a super cheap DIY. I already had a foam wreath form waiting to be crafted, and when running errands earlier in the day I picked up several tubes of disco ornaments from Target in the dollar bins. Whip out the hot glue gun, turn on some trash TV DVR’d episodes and pretty soon we have a handmade, unique front door wreath.

Handmade wreath with ornaments

Ok, ok, ok! One holiday at a time, I know! But I get so excited, don’t you? At least I haven’t turned on the Christmas music. Hubs certainly appreciates that. Back to Thanksgiving… Continue reading

Bun Rieu Cua and Cards Against Humanity – A Winning Combination

15 Oct

As the Government shutdown continues, so too does my housekeeping and entertaining repertoire. Hungry for some social contact and fun to chase away the rain, we had a few friends over to dig in to a big pot of Bun Rieu Cua and Cards Against Humanity.

I had leftover pork mixture from our Dam Hoi, so I decided to whip up a batch of Banh Pate So. They disappeared *like that*.  Love it when that happens!

Banh Pate So meat puff pastries and calamari salad appetizers

Costco sells this really tasty calamari salad that is another great appetizer or đồ ăn nhậu (drinking food). Spoon over Romain leaves and you’ve got a lovely presentation that tricks guests in to thinking you toiled all day in the kitchen.

I really love this soup. It is so easy – really – and a real crowd pleaser. What’s even more exciting is that I don’t even need to taste as I cook!

Bun Rieu Cua tomato crab soup

After the main event, which was also the third and fourth courses later in the night, we opened Cards Against Humanity and laughed – and cringed – for hours. If you haven’t played, I highly recommend it – but do take the age restriction seriously. It gets pretty raw. Take for instance, these Haikus…

Cards Against Humanity

I think we’ll be making game night a more regular occurrence.

Nuôi Dạy Con là trách nhiệm và niềm vui của cha me

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