Monday, March 27, 2017

Raspberry-Almond Brownies

As I believe I have mentioned here - raspberries are possibly the most favorite fruity of the Brave Astronaut.  And I have a sweet tooth.  WIN-WIN!  From Tutti Dolci via BuzzFeed.

Raspberry-Almond Blondies
Yield: 12 blondies

Ingredients
Blondies
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
Topping
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • powdered sugar, for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Combine melted butter, brown sugar, egg, almond extract, and salt in a medium bowl; whisk until smooth. Fold in flour just until incorporated, then fold in white chocolate chips. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top with an offset spatula. Top batter with raspberries and sliced almonds.
  2. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and set in the middle, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Just before cutting, chill in the freezer for 10 minutes. Carefully lift parchment to remove bars from pan and place on a cutting board; dust with powdered sugar and cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Come on Down! You're the Next Contestant on the Price is Right!

LBA and SoBA are off from school tomorrow.  It's a professional day for the faculty at the school.  I am taking the day off - maybe we'll do something fun - outside. Or maybe we'll just sit around and watch TV - including the "most fabulous hour on television - the PRICE IS RIGHT!"

List from BuzzFeed.  BuzzFeed comments in regular type, my comments in italics.

The Definitive Ranking Of “Price Is Right” Pricing Games

75. Double Prices: By far the worst game on The Price Is Right (henceforth referred to as TPIR). There are literally two prices given for a prize and the contestant just has to choose the correct one. There’s no cool props, generally no big prize on offer, and no need for the contestant to do much of anything besides stand and smile dumbly as they take their 50/50 shot at some mediocre winnings. NEVER AGAIN, TPIR. NEVER AGAIN. The Brave Astronaut agrees, though I haven't seen this game - but it sounds boring

74. Switch?: What a fun little question mark on the end of this one’s name. I like to imagine it being pronounced by a middle-aged gentleman who is utterly taken aback by the possibility of the two prices being incorrect. “Swiiiitch???” The game itself sucks, though. Sorry, generic middle-aged man who only exists in my head. Also not a lot to this game

73. One Right Price: Another game that basically boils down to, “Hey, there’s two prices, so…choose the right one.” That’s what the game is even called. One Right Price. Step up the creativity, guys.

72. One Wrong Price: The inverse of One Right Price, except now there are three prizes to choose from instead of two. The extra prize makes this game just slightly less blah. It’s still really damn blah, but…not quite as much.

71. Pick a Number: Literally what it says. The price is missing a number. You pick that number.

70. Most Expensive: There are three prizes. Shockingly, one costs more than the other two. Can you deduce which one it is?

69. Flip Flop: Flip Flop? More like THIS GAME IS A FLOP. Although I will say I've seen this game before and it least has some tension.

68. Side by Side: Very similar to Flip Flop, but it’s a little more fun to watch because the way the numbers move is kind of cool. But still, boring

67. Coming or Going: Another game from the “just give us these two sets of numbers in the correct fashion” playbook. It’s the best of the bunch because it’s actually really fun watching as the numbers cascade from side to side while the contestant is trying to make up his or her mind.

66. Squeeze Play: Similar-ish to Pick a Number, except now you need to pick a number to get rid of. Still boring and ridiculously simple to play, but the sound effects as the remaining numbers squeeze into place are kind of ~cool~.  I would agree with this - this game was and is one of my favorites

65. Bargain Game (formerly Barker’s Bargain Bar): The game itself probably deserves to be a tad bit lower on this list — it’s just a matter of choosing which given price is more below the actual retail price. But because this game originated as Barker’s Bargain Bar, the aura of Bob Barker has lifted it up a few spots higher in the rankings. Any game that originates with Grandpa Bob deserves better.

64. Do the Math: Math? LOL NO THANKS! The interactive chalkboard-y thing is real cool, though, so…props for that prop.  Math is Hard.

63. Freeze Frame: The design of the game’s name makes you think it’s going to be 10 times more interesting than it really is. Look at it — kind of reminds you of something out of a comic book. Like, “Freeze Frame, a battle between good and evil, as the villainous Dr. Ice attempts to freeze out the world. Only you can bring the heat back and save the universe!” And then you realize that no, you’re actually just choosing two sets of numbers that make up the price of the prize. Dr. Ice wins again.

62. Double Cross: Like Do the Math, this is another game made MUCH more interesting by the electronic screen on which it’s played. Look at those bright colors and the cool X shape and all that good stuff. That’s some good electronic screen action. This is a newish game, which I have never seen.

61. Balance Game: It’s like the scales of justice, except instead of human rights and freedom and all that, it’s about lackluster vacations to overpriced resort towns.

60. Hi Lo: Is this a good game? No. But at least the contestant has to try to figure out multiple prices rather than just choose between two options like some other games.  I think this is one of the original games - it deserves a better ranking.

59. Push Over: Push Over: a game on TPIR. Also, a person who gets this game and pretends to enjoy it so as not to anger Drew Carey.

58. Swap Meet: Swap Meet conjures up images of PTA parents getting together to trade in their old silverware in exchange for a cozy sweater or some shit like that. This Swap Meet is not that. It’s just attempting to swap one item out for another of the same price. Really the only reason it’s ranked this highly is because of the ~FuNkY~ color of the set.

57. Shopping Spree: Seems like a game that would be tons of fun, right? A shopping spree! Who doesn’t love those? Well, when the spree is limited to four so-so items, it’s not quite as exciting. The best part of this game is when the contestant somehow thinks that a couple of handbags is for sure more expensive than a gigantic plasma television and then gets SHUT DOWN by Drew.

56. Step Up: Would be better with a companion game called 2 Tha Streets but you work with what you’ve got.

55. Lucky Seven: Real talk: Lucky Seven is the worst game that offers up a car as the prize. Why? Because it’s fucking hard. These people are basically just guessing prices blind without any of the fun hints or mini prize opportunities that so many other games come with. There isn’t even a cool set to help spice things up — it’s just a big board that reveals numbers one by one. The only reason Lucky Seven is even ranked this high is that the excitement factor of having a car as the grand prize helps keep the tension high. I've always enjoyed this game - especially when Barker used to tell the winners if they had money left over, they could buy gas for their new car.  Back then, they could actually get somewhere with a couple of bucks.

54. Danger Price: This game would be SO much better if the contestant was forced to traverse a set of laser wires in pursuit of their goal, but I guess that’s not the kind of “danger” being referred to here. Still, for such a simple game, it’s weirdly addicting watching the pieces on the board rotate to reveal their prices.

53. Take Two: This game should be way more boring than it is. The contestant literally just has to choose two items, out of four, that add up to a given dollar amount. It’s wicked simple. But for some reason, those fun ’70s-style asterisks are enough to bring this game up a bit in the rankings.

52. Grand Game: As a kid, I always thought this game was way more exciting than I now do. $10,000 seemed like such a huge sum of money, and it was always portrayed as one of the higher-stakes games because of that. But then you realize that half the games out there are giving away cash and cars worth way more than $10,000, and Grand Game loses most of its luster. The residual nostalgia is what brings this game to number 52 on the list.

51. 2 For the Price of 1: Yet another relatively boring game saved by a set piece that is way more fun than it has any right to be.

50. Bonus Game: More asterisks = another solid game option. It’s not too complex, to be certain, but the addition of a bit of luck into this one ratchets up the excitement. Also, I think one of the older games and I like the suspense

49. Five Price Tags: Because this game is played for a car, it gets an automatic bump in the rankings. The game itself is pretty dull, though. Any game that mostly just involves choosing the correct price among many given options is never all that intriguing, no matter how many price tags they add to the equation.

48. Gas Money: There’s some interesting Americana at play here, with a set and name that does just enough to evoke the aura of Route 66 and the colorful Southwestern sky. But, when it comes down to it, this is just another “choose the price from among a group of prices” game. Sure, there’s a chance to win some cash thrown in, but…

47. Bullseye: A game that seems way more complicated than it actually is, and offers quite a few chances to win the grand prize. You don’t have to hit the bullseye to win, just get on the board and then hope that the grocery item that got you there offers up the victory. Sometimes these “multiple chances” games are great. But this one is almost like two games in one, except the second game is 100% luck. I have always been a fan of the grocery games

46. 1/2 Off: It’s just fun to watch a whole pile of money come cascading out of a small box, honestly.

45. Easy as 1 2 3: The game is very similar to a bunch that have been listed above, but this one comes with numbered blocks as props. And everyone knows that regressing back to childhood via the use of oversized blocks is SO in this season.

44. Line ‘Em Up: Another one of those “why do I enjoy this stupid game so much” kind of games. There’s literally no reason it should be as entertaining as it is. No reason. But here we are.

43. Magic Number: It’s all about dat sound effect.

42. Check Out: A solid game brought down by the fact that it reminds you of how you need to go shopping for dinner later even though you’ve only got $17 in your bank account right now.

41. More or Less: What a ~unique~ ’60s-inspired font!

40. Safe Crackers: Safe Crackers is one of those games that looks INFINITY TIMES better than it actually is. You except some kind of super-sleuthing, James Bond-style intrigue. Instead, you’ve just got people putting a couple numbers in order and then trying to open a comically oversize door. Why, Safe Crackers, must you make promises you can’t keep? This game would probably be in my Top 10 or 20

39. Pick a Pair: A strikingly simple game — choose two items that cost the same as each other! — paired with the fact that the contestant is given multiple choices to win makes this a game that is easy to watch, even if it never completely stirs the imagination.

38. Pay the Rent: A relatively new game, and one that offers one of the larger (if not largest) cash prizes among any of the TPIR games. The major con here is that the name of the game just reminds you how much damn money you throw away each month on rent.

37. Shell Game: A variation on one of the most classic games of chance of all time, TPIR’s version of this gambler’s temptation throws a couple pricing questions into the mix but otherwise remains pretty similar. When you stack it up against some of the other pricing games on the show, though, you realize that even the classics aren’t necessarily infallible. And Barker did it better

36. Triple Play: Lots of cars on offer, which is an automatic bonus. Otherwise, not all that great.

35. Bonkers: Because it’s always fun watching people run around, frantically mashing large tokens against a board.

34. Card Game: This game has a bit of everything — there’s a car to be won, a bit of strategy at play, and oversize props. But too often this game ends with the contestant getting the card that allows them to just name their final price right then and there, which negates everything else about the game. I always liked this game, too.  But if that "new" card is now part of the game, I agree, it takes the fun out of it.

33. Check Game: OVERSIZE NOVELTY CHECKS FTW. again, when Barker would give out the check and tall them they could only cash it backstage, classic.

32. It’s in the Bag: One of those games that really isn’t that great, but feels more enjoyable than it is because of its ubiquity. You become so used to watching as those faux-crinkled-bags descend to reveal the item within that the process becomes almost soothing.

31. Make Your Move: Whenever this game is played, I like to think about how much oil is used in between appearances to ensure that the track upon which the multicolored signs slide remains as slick as ever. Then I imagine just taking the signs and pushing them around wildly for no reason at all other than to experience the soothing glide of a well-oiled track.

30. Grocery Game: This game requires a surprising amount of skill — five grocery items are put in front of you, and you just have to come up with whatever combination of the five you think will put you within the (relatively small) price range required to win. The intrigue comes from the fact that there are so many different ways this game can be played; the contestant is give numerous paths to follow, and it’s always intriguing to see which one he or she follows. But then some idiot chooses like, 12 boxes of cookies and goes WAY overboard and you realize just how frustrating all that freedom can be. Again, the grocery games are definitely my favorites.

29. Temptation: There really isn’t much temptation here, despite the name. It’s not like the contestant is given a new offer to walk away each time, increasing as they get closer and closer to winning the car. Either way, it’s strangely enthralling watching Drew Carey hit the little buttons that reveal the actual numbers in the price of the car.

28. Golden Road: I used to think this game was THE BEST. I mean, there’s gold, and a road, which makes it seem like the game will be a long journey through a land of riches and mystery. But then the reality of the game appeared to me as I grew older. The golden road itself is all flash, no substance. The real game is just choosing one of the given numbers to complete the price of the prize at hand — not anything really different from many lesser pricing games. Still, the nostalgia I feel for the Golden Road keeps it ranked in the top 30.

27. Clock Game: Race-against-the-clock games are always enjoyable because they expose the true strength (or weakness) of the human spirit under pressure. This is a clock game distilled to its very essence — I mean, it’s literally called the Clock Game. And so while the contestant might simply be standing still the entire game, there’s a certain energy and pace to this one that infuses it will just enough je ne sais quoi. The quiet tones of Barker calling higher and lower were always soothing.

26. Cover Up: The real fun here comes from the fact that the contestant is given multiple chances to win the prize. Get just one number right, and you can continue. And since there are so many opportunities possible here, it’s one of the best games for playing along at home.

25. Money Game: Am I completely and utterly taken in by the little drawing of the car that the contestants must try to uncover? Yes. Why do I find it so great? Unclear. Just let it happen. And I remember watching when there wasn't a space in the middle, yep, I'm old.

24. Pass the Buck: The setup for the main part of the game is fine — choosing which of two items is priced a dollar too low. But once the contestant reaches the main board and must face the possibility of hitting a “lose everything,” the tension reaches a new level. This is a game with multiple ways to win, and even if the contestant doesn’t get the car, there is still just about as much money on offer as a “consolation prize” as there is total for some other pricing games.

23. Now…or Then: A history lesson and a pricing game all wrapped into one. What a fun look back into the past, when times were simpler and we weren’t paying absurd amounts of money for basic products.

22. Stack the Deck: Perhaps seems better than it actually is because it looks like one big card game. And unlike the Card Game, this one doesn’t have any crazy circumstances in which the point of the game is basically rendered null in one fell swoop.

21. Time Is Money: This one’s got a countdown clock, but instead of counting down time, it counts down money. And as each dollar ticks away, the excitement level starts ticking upward.

20. Any Number: When a game offers such a HUGE distance between its top prize and lowest prize, it feels like so much more is at stake. And perhaps no game represents this better than Any Number. You can either walk away with a car, or with barely enough to cover the cost of a cheap meal at the deli down the street. And with such a simple structure to follow, this game makes for incredibly good viewing. I always used to root for the piggy bank.

19. Pocket Change: I really like the games where they have to pick envelopes off a board at random

18. Race Game: A race against the clock, plus a person sprinting around and looking goofy, plus four different prizes up for grabs, makes for a successful game. One of my Top 10 - it goes up a notch when the contestant wipes out.

17. That’s Too Much: If only because it’s fun to watch as the host forces contestants to scream, “That’s too much!” with way more fervor than any person has the right to say those words.

16. Range Game: Who knows if the Range Game machine really takes as long to reset as they keep claiming. But there’s something about that fact — the idea that this is a special moment that comes around rarely, so it should be cherished — that is utterly endearing. I, too, love the explanation about they can't restart the game 

15. Dice Game: As Beyoncé says, “Man it feel like rollin’ dice, man this feel like rollin’ dice.” I always wanted them to give the dice to hang from the mirror of the new car.

14. One Away: In times past, Bob Barker requested that contestants kindly ask the “ladies” if they have at least X amount of numbers right. Now, with Drew Carey, it’s just “sound effects lady” who is in charge. Where have the other ladies gone? Do they no longer have the ability to crosscheck the price of the car against the contestant’s given price?

13. Let ‘em Roll: As with the Dice Game, watching people roll dice is strangely enthralling. And the model-cum-croupier watching with her oversize stick at the ready makes this feel like a true ~Vegas~ game.

12. Secret “X”: SECRETS AND HIDDEN THINGS AND TIC TAC TOE YES PLEASE.

11. Switcheroo: If only because saying “Switcheroo” is hilariously enjoyable.

10. Pathfinder: You know in the first Harry Potter when Harry, Ron, and Hermione have to play as pieces on a life-size chess board, and you’re like, “Wait, being a human game piece actually looks kind of cool,” until you realize they are going to be violently attacked by the non-human pieces and it all starts to seem way too dangerous for kids to be participating in? This is kind of like that, but safer and with a car at the end. This game is in the right slot.

9. Punch a Bunch: The vicarious power you feel as a contestant slams their first through those small money holes is INCREDIBLE. "And be sure not to pull the paper out that is inside."

8. Rat Race: No, not the seminal (read: not seminal) 2001 film, but a game played with actual (robotic) rats. And while the outcome is clearly predetermined by producers, it’s still fun to watch and pretend that the little rats are actually real and fiercely competing for glory.

7. Spelling Bee: Again, my predilection for games involving pulling random slips off of a large board helps raise this game in the rankings. Plus, spelling bees are fun.

6. Ten Chances: Alternately one of the most exhilarating and most frustrating games on offer, there’s just something special about Ten Chances. And it combines watching the host hit small buttons with the fun of sliding little signs along a well-oiled track, so obviously I can’t resist. And the game requires relatively good penmanship, which is a lost art.

5. Three Strikes: Is this game actually anything like baseball? No. But does it do its darndest to make the most out of the comparison with fun props and the like? Hell yeah.

4. Hole in One: An all-time classic. Combines the fun of a regular pricing game with the tension of watching a golf tournament. OK, maybe more like watching your relatives play mini-golf, but still. The combination of shopping savvy and golfing skills needed to succeed at this game means that it is never dull, and even a contestant who has studied all of the prices of items usually on offer by TPIR obsessively won’t be guaranteed a win. That kind of uncertainty adds just the right amount of tension. when Barker would always make that first putt (and make the contestant hold his mike - perfect

3. Master Key: What is it about watching people turning fake keys in comically large fake locks that makes for good television?

2. Cliff Hangers: Ugh, SO MANY TIMES have I wanted to be able to reach into the TV screen and just grab a hold of the little yodeling climber and shake him and say, “DO YOU NOT SEE YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY TO CERTAIN DEATH? TURN AROUND, ALL YE WHO CLIMB HERE.” And yet, watching that poor guy plummet over the edge is one of the most iconic moments you can have on TPIR. A simply glorious game. The yodeling song would push this down a few notches for me.

1. Plinko: Is there any universe in which Plinko would not be the number one game on TPIR? Plinko is THE ultimate symbol of TPIR, and even though the top prize isn’t as high as some of the other pricing games, Plinko remains the one game that EVERYBODY wants to play. I mean, they even did an entire Plinko-only episode, for crying out loud. Congratulations, Plinko, on your literal perfection. We are not worthy.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Steak Quesadillias

At some point in my cooking repertoire for the boys, I started making quesadillas.Not something I usually had growing up - but it is a big fan of the boys and a easy meal solution. Here's a more robust version that could be a meal for the entire Brave Astronaut Clan. Via Tasty/BuzzFeed

Steak Quesadillas
Servings: 4–6

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 pound skirt steak
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 large tortillas
  • 2 cups Mexican cheese blend
  • Guacamole
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa 
PREPARATION
  1. Season skirt steak with salt, pepper, chili powder, and cumin.
  2. Cook on high heat for roughly 3 minutes on each side, for medium-rare.
  3. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes, then slice into strips.
  4. While the steak is resting, sauté onion and garlic until slightly translucent. Add bell peppers and jalapeño, cook slightly, then mix in the steak. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In a clean pan, melt butter. Lay the tortilla on the buttered pan, add cheese, fajita mixture, and more cheese, then top with another tortilla and pat it down.
  6. Flip the quesadilla over and cook the other side until it’s golden. Remove from pan and cut into quarters or eighths. Repeat these steps with the remaining tortillas.
  7. Serve immediately with sour cream, salsa, and guacamole.
  8. Enjoy!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Homemade Twix Bars

The Twix bar is definitely in my top 5 of candy bars.  Recipe from Food Faith Fitness via BuzzFeed. Though I'm not too sure about the coconut oil.

Homemade Twix Bars
Total time is NOT including chill time, so please factor in at least 3 hours for the bars to chill.
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 16 Bars

Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1/3 Cup Coconut oil at room temperature (should be the consistency of softened butter)
  • 3 Tbsp Honey Agave
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 Cup Coconut flour sifted (66g) *
For the caramel:
  • 2 Cups lightly packed Dates cut into halves (290g)
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut oil melted
  • 1 Tbsp Hot Unsweetened vanilla almond milk
For the chocolate coating:
  • 3 oz Dark chocolate roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang over the sides to use as a handle when the bars are set.
  2. In a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, beat together the coconut oil, honey and salt until creamy and smooth.
  3. Stir in the sifted coconut flour until a wet dough forms. Form the dough into a flat disc and wrap with saran wrap, or place on a piece of parchment paper. Refrigerate until the dough has set a little bit, and has lost some of it's "stick." This takes about 8-10 minutes.**
  4. Once chilled, press the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. This may be a little difficult at the beginning, because the parchment paper may move around. I found that holding it with one hand, while pressing with the other worked well. Additionally, if your dough is quite sticky you can use a small piece of parchment paper to press out the dough.
  5. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 9-10 minutes. If your crust rises a little bit, gently press it flat with a large spoon once it comes out of the oven. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  6. While the crust cools, place the chopped dates in a medium, microwave-safe bowl and microwave until hot, but not burned, about 1.5-2 minutes.
  7. Add the hot dates into a SMALL food processor (mine is 3 cups ***) and use the "chop" setting until they are broken down into small pieces. Then, turn to the "puree" setting until the dates are creamy and begin to form a ball.
  8. With the food processor running, stream in the coconut oil and HOT almond milk (I just microwaved it for 1 1/2 minutes) until the dates are broken down, sticky and smooth.
  9. Once the crust has finished cooling for 5 minutes, gently spread the date caramel on top evenly, making sure to not break the crust.
  10. Place the pan into the refrigerator until the caramel is hard, at least 3 hours.
  11. Once the caramel is hard, lift out of the pan and slice into 16 bars. Additionally, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  12. Place the chocolate and 1/4 tsp of coconut oil in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 second intervals on half power, stirring between each interval, until the chocolate is smooth and melted.
  13. Pour the chocolate into a small shallow plate with sides. Gently pick up each bar by the sides and dunk the top into the chocolate until it's fully covered. Gently shake off any excess, and place onto the parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Repeat with all the remaining bars. ****
  14. Place into the refrigerator for 10 minutes to set the chocolate and DEVOUR.
Recipe Notes
* PLEASE weigh your coconut flour! I have tried this crust MANY times with different brands and, for the most part, 3/4 cup of sifted coconut flour is 66g. BUT, I have found some brands that are a little denser and only require 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp to make 66g. To ensure results, weigh the sifted flour.

** You can totally omit the chilling if you want, but it makes the dough easier to press into the pan.

*** I could not get the dates to be smooth enough in a large food processor, so definitely use a small one.

**** You may have some chocolate left over. You can easily re-microwave it and gently spread it on the sides of the bars if you wish. Bars are best stored in refrigerator.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Chicken in the Crock Pot

Hey. I just bought a roast chicken.  But I forgot the red potatoes.  And I have broccoli and not green beans.  Other than that, I'm good.  Via BuzzFeed

Complete Slow Cooker Chicken Dinner
Servings: 5

INGREDIENTS
  • 1½ pounds red potatoes, halved 
  • 1 medium white onion, quartered 
  • ½ cup butter, softened 
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary, chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, chopped 
  • Salt, to taste 
  • Pepper, to taste 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 3½- to 4-pound whole chicken 
  • 1 wedge lemon 
  • 1 sprig thyme 
  • 1 sprig rosemary 
  • ¾ pound fresh green beans 

PREPARATION
  1. Lay the halved potatoes and half of the onion in the bottom of the slow cooker. 
  2. In a bowl, mix butter, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic until well-combined. 
  3. Stuff the chicken with the other half of the onion and lemon wedge. 
  4. Rub the herb butter mixture all over the outside of the chicken. 
  5. Place the chicken on top of the potatoes and onions in the slow cooker and place a sprig of thyme and rosemary on top. Cover and cook for 4 hours on high. 
  6. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and place on a baking sheet.
  7. Add the green beans to the slow cooker. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove the lemon and onion from inside the chicken. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until the skin is golden brown. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving. 
  9. Enjoy!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Salmon Four Ways

Yesterday was the highlight of the winter season for Mrs. BA - the Spaghetti Dinner at our local church, for which I currently serve as the President of the Men's Club.  We had a banner day - serving up spaghetti and all the trimmings to nearly 500 of our friends in town.  Tomorrow night, we will observe Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) with the Annual Pancake Supper at the Methodist Church, also in town.  Then in March, we will dine at a Lenten Fish Fry, also at the church.

The dinner schedule at the Launchpad has been somewhat disruptive of late, with both LBA and SoBA out at basketball practice on several nights during the week and then basketball games on the weekend.  We haven't been eating very well - except when we manage to get out to organized events, so we need to try and get back on a better schedule with the end of basketball season this weekend (at least until baseball season starts).

We really should eat more fish too.  The whole clan likes salmon. Via BuzzFeed.

Poached Salmon
INGREDIENTS
  • 6 ounces skinless salmon fillet
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Peppercorns, to taste
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Fresh thyme

PREPARATION
  1. Fill a pan with enough water to submerge a fillet. Bring the water to a simmer.
  2. Add salt, peppercorns, sliced lemon, and thyme to water.
  3. Add salmon, cover the pan, and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove salmon from pan, and season with salt, pepper, and fresh lemon.
  5. Enjoy!

Pan Fried Salmon
INGREDIENTS
  • 6 ounces skinless salmon fillet
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Fresh thyme

PREPARATION
  1. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet.
  2. Season salmon with salt and pepper.
  3. Lay the salmon on the skillet and watch the color rise to about two-thirds of the way up the salmon. Flip the salmon once and cook until done to taste, roughly 2-4 minutes longer.
  4. Serve with lemon and thyme (optional).
  5. Enjoy!

Baked Salmon
INGREDIENTS
  • 6 ounces skinless salmon fillet
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Fresh thyme

PREPARATION
  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F/200˚C.
  2. Cover a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.
  3. Drizzle olive oil on the salmon, then season with salt and pepper. Top with lemon slices and thyme.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes. (The salmon should flake easily with a fork when it’s ready.)
  5. Enjoy!

Parchment Wrapped Salmon

INGREDIENTS
  • Parchment paper or aluminum foil
  • 6 ounces skinless salmon fillet
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Fresh thyme
PREPARATION
  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F/200˚C.
  2. Fold the parchment paper in half, then open up.
  3. Lay down the salmon. Drizzle oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Lay lemon slices and thyme on top of the salmon.
  4. Fold the parchment paper over the salmon, and cinch the paper together by folding it over itself along the edges.
  5. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until internal temperature of salmon reaches 145˚F/63˚C.
  6. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Coffee Flavored Cake

The Brave Astronaut was having LASIK surgery yesterday and missed getting Monday's recipe out on time - so it's coming out today.  I'm off shortly to my first post-op appointment - I will say that the procedure went very well and I can see without glasses (or contacts), although my need for readers is much more pronounced.  But I knew that was coming.

Here's a recipe to help keep my eyes open,  From A Cookie Named Desire via BuzzFeed.

COFFEE FLAVORED CAKE WITH WHIPPED MOCHA GANACHE
PREP TIME 55 MINS
COOK TIME 30 MINS
TOTAL TIME 1 HOUR 25 MINS
A rich and moist coffee flavored cake that tastes just like your favorite cup of coffee in cake form. Finished with a mocha ganache for a truly decadent treat.
Serves: 1 layer cake 

INGREDIENTS
Coffee Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (if using fresh nutmeg, cut in half)
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 cup room temperature brewed coffee
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Whipped Mocha Ganache

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (depending on the intensity you like)
  • pinch of salt
  • 16 oz semisweet chocolate 

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8" round cake pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, espresso powder, and sugar together. Stir to combine well.
  3. In a separate bowl, add the oil, milk, coffee, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk well until completely combined.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in three batches, mixing gently between each addition.
  5. Evenly distribute the batter between the baking pans and bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Allow to cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Gently run a knife between the cake and pan, then gently remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
  6. Heat the heavy cream, espresso powder, and salt in a saucepan until it is starts to boil. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then stir to melt the chocolate and combine with the cream. Do not stir until after the 10 minutes or else the frosting will end up grainy! Chill in the refrigerator until completely chilled. At least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
  7. Pour the ganache in a mixer and whisk on high until doubled in volume and light in color.
  8. Cut the two cakes in half to make four even layers. Slather the whipped ganache on each layer of the cake and layer the cakes on top of each other. Run an offset spatula on the sides of the cake to smooth the ganache on the sides.