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Tag Archives: Party

Fourth of July Festivities

4 Jul Grilled rock fish Vietnamese rice paper rolls

We’re heading to an Independence Day parade in my hometown and pool party with friends later in the day, but if I were organizing a gathering of friends and family, it might look a little like this:

Husband enjoying grilled clams

Slurping is always a good review. 👌

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Love in Bloom

24 Aug

Last weekend I was treated to a beautiful bridal shower that was an amazing team effort. I am so fortunate to have such creative and organized friends and family! Even more, my super-fiancee was the ring-leader making it a super special day. The weather outside was overcast and rainy most of the day, but that just meant that we didn’t have to stare at bratty kids and hot dog legs outside at the pool.

The theme “Love in Bloom” was perfect. The decorations everyone put together were all of it. Now I just need to figure out where to hang the sign and photos in the house…

Love in Bloom banner sign

We had cupcakes, sangria and spa water below an adorable banner of some of our favorite photos and memories.

Drink and dessert bar with photos hung above

I’ll start with the food, as this blog primarily focuses on yummy treats. They brought the best of both worlds to satisfy my American and Vietnamese family and friends. You can’t go wrong with cheese, veggies and deviled eggs when planning a party menu. Hummus and croissant sandwiches don’t, hurt either!

They ordered some of my favorite Vietnamese dishes that were a hit with everyone at the party. From right to left below: Gỏi cuốn (popularly known as Summer Rolls), Banh Beo (Steamed Rice Cakes with Shrimp), Hen Xuc Banh Da (Baby Clams with Rice Crackers). I haven’t tried this as home yet, but maybe I’ll use this recipe and give it a shot on Redskins game day!

Summer rolls, steamed rice cake, clam appetizer food

We had a few fun games including a Price is Right style guess the price game for my wedding day emergency kit – I guessed closest to the actual cost and got to keep the kit for our big day! Not too bad.

Sister in law showing emergency wedding kit for price is right game

My sister in law makes an excellent Vanna White

My Mom outdid herself and potted Gerbera Daisies and even potted prayer plants from her own family stash. A very special gift, indeed.

Gerbera daisies and prayer plants as party gifts

Even more so, though, was her shower gift. I can always count on Mom and Dad bringing on the water works and this time she nailed it. Rather than buy something for traditional bride-to-be’s, she wanted to share a part of my family who I unfortunately was never able to meet. She plotted with one of my cousins to dig up Purple Iris bulbs from my Dad’s mother who passed before I was conceived and born. Now Hubs and I will be able to have flowers from my Grandmother’s garden of more than 35 years ago as we begin to grow our own lives together.

Holding gift of purple iris bulbs from my late grandmother's garden

I can’t think of a more meaningful and thoughtful gift. I can’t wait for them to bloom!

The lovely ladies, and little gentleman, at the shower (minus Cherri who had a full party schedule that day!)

Group photo with ladies at my bridal shower

And you know I can’t write a blog post about an event attended by my nephew without a photo. I picked up this handsome vest / trouser combo at Jack and Janie WAY before he was born to wear at our wedding, but why not get all gussied up for a bridal shower with the ladies?

Holding my nephew

Caption this: Get me outta here!!!

Successful Housewarming

18 Feb

It took a full day of recovery to even contemplate using my brain, but I’m there. The housewarming was a success. We were afraid we prepared and purchased too much food, but we had just enough – with the exception of the monster egg rolls Thuan ordered from Eden. Still, our guests were happy to take home plates for other family members or lunch the next day which, always helps with the leftover overflow.

It was interesting to see who liked them and who didn’t – they were more like Chinese egg rolls with the filling and were huge. Like double the circumference and longer. Quite an endeavor to finish. They egg rolls were getting soggy by the time the party got going, so we set the oven to 170 and let them crisp up in the oven while guests arrived.

Anyhow, I was negligent in getting photos of all the food while playing hostess, and my father who is usually a professional paparazzi followed our explicit instructions and simply enjoyed the party (it was difficult for him, no doubt, but he didn’t lift a finger and enjoyed himself).

Canh Kho Qua (Pork Stuffed Bitter melon Soup)

Pronounced like “Kahn Who Wah” (Marines can say it – think Oorah, but without the R).

Remember I made the filling the day before, so the morning of the party all I had to do was blanch, slice and stuff the bitter melon.

For 2 lbs of ground pork mixture, I filled 10 bitter melon. When I make this for the two of us, two bitter melons and about 1/2 pound of pork will do.

Blanch the bitter melon for a few seconds in boiling water – the flesh will turn a vibrant spring green – and remove to ice water to stop the cooking process. Once cool enough to handle, slice the bitter melon in 1 – 1.5″ sections. The inside is pithy with larger seeds that must first be removed. Take a small spoon and pierce the edges where the pith meets outer green flesh all the day around. It is easier if you do this on both sides and then take your thumbs and push through to pop it out. (I’ll take photos next time – I was juggling a few kids and running behind schedule, so no time for photos).

Then, get to stuffing. Take a spoonfull of the meat mixture and fill the center, pressing on both sides to make sure it’s firmly packed. If you don’t have enough stuffing, it will probably fall out while cooking.  If you have any leftover meat, make meatballs to toss in the broth.

Stuffed Bitter Melon ready to cook

Stuffed Bitter Melon ready to cook

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Epic Housewarming Prep

16 Feb

Two months after moving in to our first home together – almost to the day – we’re having our families over for a day of food, drink and most likely cards. T0morrow will be mostly his family, but it’s the first time my brother and two best friends will meet any of his family and also the first time my parents meet his aunts, uncles and cousins. Our “small” family housewarming will be around 40 adults and kids. My first rational thought might be: shoot me now. But no. I have a few dishes that I know how to make (am I jinxing myself? perhaps I should knock on all the wood), and Thuan is going to pick up several trays of food from Eden Center to fill in the gaps.

I’m making Thit Kho (Braised Pork Belly and Eggs), Canh Kho Qua (Pork Stuffed Bittermelon Soup), Mac and Cheese with spinach and sundried tomatoes (his request, actually, and something the American folk will be happy to eat). We bought beef short ribs for Korean BBQ and chicken wings both for the grill.

Last night after trekking to Costco and FreshWorld, I started boiling the first dozen eggs for Thit Kho and planned on doing a few other things. But then Thuan went to the sink and it broke. This is what happens when you buy a home. Shit breaks and you don’t have facilities or property management at your beck and call. I have my future husband. After squirting myself with the hose several times (I’m a little slow on the uptake at times), we decided to call it a night and get the faucet fixed today because how hard can it be?

Broken faucet. Brilliant!

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