Monday, October 5, 2015

Salty Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I love a good chocolate chip cookie.  Mrs. BA, in fact made some just this past weekend, she used Mrs. Nestle Toulouse's recipe.  She should make these, too. Via Epicurious

YIELD: Makes 24 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature 
  • 3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar 
  • 2 large egg yolks 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt
Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 375°F. Whisk flour, baking powder, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add egg yolks, egg, and vanilla. Beat, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until mixture is pale and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low; slowly add dry ingredients, mixing just to blend. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate.

Spoon rounded tablespoonfuls of cookie dough onto 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing 1" apart. Sprinkle cookies with sea salt.

Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until just golden brown around the edges, 10-12 minutes (the cookies will firm up as they cool). Let cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks; let cool completely.

DO AHEAD: Cookies can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Chili - Without the Beans

Don't tell Mrs. BA - but fall has arrived.  It's time for sweaters, slow cookers, and chili!  I like chili - and this one, without beans and more beef in it's place, sounds particularly hearty (via pumpkinspice).  Here's a complete list of 12 chili recipes from BuzzFeed.

Slow Cooker Hearty No-Bean Chili
Made with two types of ground beef and loaded with flavor, 
you’ll never miss the beans in this Slow Cooker Hearty No-Bean Chili! 

  • 1 pound lean ground beef 
  • 1 pound ground chuck 
  • 2 (29 ounce) cans tomato sauce 
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes 
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste 
  • 1/2 white onion, diced 
  • 1 green pepper, diced 
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic 
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 
  • 5-6 tablespoons chili powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar 
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

  1. In a large skillet, brown and crumble ground beef and ground chuck until cooked through. Drain and add to slow cooker. 
  2. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, pepper, minced garlic, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, chili powder, white sugar, oregano, and pepper to slow cooker. 
  3. Stir to combine. 
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. 
  5. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream, if desired. 
  6. Enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2015

All Coffee All the Time

Often, Mrs. BA and I will be sitting downstairs, after LBA and SoBA have gone to bed and one of us will say to the other, "You know what would taste good right now?" which is code for, "go upstairs and make milkshakes."

Mrs. BA is all about the chocolate milkshake, while I prefer the coffee milkshake.  Here's a list of 26 coffee desserts that I might need Mrs. BA to start making her way through.  Below is my favorite from the list (via Crumb).  From BuzzFeed.

Coffee-Toffee Thumbprint Cookies
Author: Isabelle Boucher (Crumb)
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 12 mins
Total time: 22 mins
Serves: 48

Coffee-toffee isn't just a fun tongue twister -
it's also a great flavour pairing for this
variation on the classic thumbprint cookie.

Coffee-Toffee Cookie Dough:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened 
  • ¾ cup brown sugar 
  • 1 egg 
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract 
  • 2¼ cups flour 
  • 1 cup toffee bits (also known as Heath or Skor bits) 
  • 2 tbsp instant espresso powder 
  • ½ tsp baking powder 
  • ½ tsp salt 
Caramel Filling:
  • 18 soft caramels, unwrapped 
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream 
Make the Cookies:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F, and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper. 
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until well combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. 
  3. In a second mixing bowl, combine the flour, espresso powder, baking powder, salt and toffee bits. Add to the wet ingredients, and beat on low speed until combined. 
  4. Roll the dough into 1-inch round balls, and arrange on prepared baking sheets. Using your thumb, press a deep indent into the middle of each ball. 
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until golden-brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling completely. 
Fill the Cookies:
  1. While the cookies are cooling, place the caramels and cream in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave on High for 30 seconds, or until melted and smooth. (If necessary, continue to microwave in 10-second increments until the caramels are melted, stirring between bursts.)
  2. Spoon a small amount of caramel into the centre of each cookie. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving to allow the caramel to set.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Happy Birthday to Stephen King!

Tomorrow is Stephen King's birthday.  When the Brave Astronaut clan visited Maine in August, I kept saying we should go and visit his home in Bangor - but we didn't get there.  Ah well, maybe next time.

On a family trip when I was much younger, I read my first Stephen King book, Salem's Lot on my way Down East.  Needless to say I didn't sleep well that week - listening for the tap, tap, tap, of vampires on my window.  But that didn't stop me from going to a bookstore (you remember bookstores, right?) and buying a copy of Christine to read as a follow-up. I have read almost everything that King has written (I never got into the Dark Tower books) - I prefer King's horror and macabre works over his foray into sci-fi.  That includes his non-fiction work, On Writing, in which he suggests first nearly 100 books and then in an updated edition, another 80, that everyone should read (not including his own works).  I'm a bit ashamed to note that I haven't read a lot of these.  List/Quiz on BuzzFeed.  How'd you do?
  1. A PERFECT CRIME by Peter Abrahams
  2. LIGHTS OUT by Peter Abrahams
  3. PRESSURE DROP by Peter Abrahams
  4. REVOLUTION #9 by Peter Abrahams
  5. A DEATH IN THE FAMILY by James Agee
  6. LIVES OF THE MONSTER DOGS by Kirsten Bakis
  7. REGENERATION by Pat Barker
  8. THE EYE IN THE DOOR by Pat Barker
  9. THE GHOST ROAD by Pat Barker
  10. IN THE NIGHT SEASON by Richard Bausch
  11. THE INTRUDER by Peter Blauner
  12. THE SHELTERING SKY by Paul Bowles
  13. THE TORTILLA CURTAIN by T. Coraghessan Boyle 
  14. A WALK IN THE WOODS by Bill Bryson
  15. THANK YOU FOR SMOKING by Christopher Buckley
  16. WHERE I’M CALLING FROM by Raymond Carver
  17. WEREWOLVES IN THEIR YOUTH by Michael Chabon
  18. LATITUDE ZERO by Windsor Chorlton
  19. THE POET by Michael Connelly
  20. HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad
  21. FAMILY VALUES by K.C. Constantine
  22. UNDERWORLD by Don Delillo
  23. CATHEDRAL by Nelson DeMille
  24. THE GOLD COAST by Nelson DeMille
  25. OLIVER TWIST by Charles Dickens
  26. COMMON CARNAGE by Stephen Dobyns
  27. THE CHURCH OF DEAD GIRLS by Stephen Dobyns
  29. THE DICK GIBSON SHOW by Stanley Elkin
  30. AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner
  31. THE BEACH by Alex Garland
  32. DECEPTION ON HIS MIND by Elizabeth George
  33. GRAVITY by Tess Gerritsen
  34. LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
  35. FURNACE by Muriel Gray
  36. A GUN FOR SALE by Graham Greene
  37. OUR MAN IN HAVANA by Graham Greene
  38. THE FIFTIES by David Halberstam
  39. WHY SINATRA MATTERS by Pete Hamill
  40. HANNIBAL by Thomas Harris
  41. PLAINSONG by Kent Haruf
  42. SMILA’S SENSE OF SNOW by Peter Hoeg
  43. DIRTY WHITE BOYS by Stephen Hunter
  44. A FIRING OFFENSE by David Ignatius
  45. A WIDOW FOR ONE YEAR by John Irving
  46. THE TOOTH FAIRY by Graham Joyce
  47. THE DEVIL’S OWN WORK by Alan Judd
  48. GOOD ENOUGH TO DREAM by Roger Kahn
  49. THE LIAR’S CLUB by Mary Karr
  50. RIGHT TO LIFE by Jack Ketchum
  51. SURVIVOR by Tabitha King
  52. SKY IN THE WATER by Tabitha King
  53. THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver
  54. INTO THIN AIR by Jon Krakauer
  55. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee
  56. OUR GUYS by Bernard Lefkowitz
  57. THE IGNORED by Bentley Little
  58. A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT by Norman Maclean
  59. THE MOON AND SIXPENCE by W. Somerset Maugham
  60. CITIES OF THE PLAIN by Cormac McCarthy
  61. THE CROSSING by Cormac McCarthy
  62. ANGELA’S ASHES by Frank McCourt
  63. CHARMING BILLY by Alice McDermott
  64. ANCIENT SHORES by Jack McDevitt
  65. ENDURING LOVE by Ian McEwan
  66. THE CEMENT GARDEN by Ian McEwan
  67. DEAD MAN’S WALK by Larry McMurty
  68. ZEKE AND NED by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana
  69. A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
  70. ZOMBIE by Joyce Carol Oates
  71. IN THE LAKE OF THE WOODS by Tim O’Brien
  72. THE SPEED QUEEN by Stewart O’Nan
  73. THE ENGLISH PATIENT by Michael Ondaatje
  74. NO SAFE PLACE by Richard North Patterson
  75. FREEDOMLAND by Richard Price
  76. CLOSE RANGE by Annie Proulx
  77. THE SHIPPING NEWS by Annie Proulx
  78. ONE TRUE THING by Anna Quindlen
  79. A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES by Ruth Rendell
  80. WAITING by Frank M. Robinson
  84. MOHAWK by Richard Russo
  85. RESERVATION ROAD by John Burnham Schwartz
  86. A SUITABLE BOY by Vikram Seth
  87. THE YOUNG LIONS by Irwin Shaw
  88. THE CRATER by Richard Slotkin
  89. THE ILLUSIONIST by Dinitia Smith
  90. MEN IN BLACK by Scott Spencer
  91. JOE HILL by Wallace Stegner
  92. THE SECRET HISTORY by Donna Tartt
  93. A PATCHWORK PLANET by Anne Tyler
  94. HOCUS POCUS by Kurt Vonnegut
  95. BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh
  96. THE AX by Donald E. Westlake
  97. END OF STORY by Peter Abrahams
  98. THE TUTOR by Peter Abrahams
  99. THE WHITE TIGER by Aravind Adiga
  100. ONE GOOD TURN by Kate Atkinson
  101. ORYX AND CRAKE by Margaret Atwood
  102. FIELDWORK by Mischa Berlinkski
  103. CHRISTINE FALLS by Benjamin Black
  104. THE LAST GOOD DAY by Peter Blauner
  105. 2666 by Roberto Bolaño
  106. THE NIGHT OF THE GUN by David Carr
  107. SPARTINA by John Casey
  108. THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN’S UNION by Michael Chabon
  109. JACK REACHER Series by Lee Child
  110. THE NARROWS by Michael Connelly
  111. THE HOURS by Michael Cunningham
  112. HOUSE OF LEAVES by Mark Z. Danielewski
  114. WHITE MAN’S GRAVE by Richard Dooling
  115. ZOO STATION by David Downing
  116. THE GARDEN OF LAST DAYS by Andre Dubus
  117. PEACE LIKE A RIVER by Leif Enger
  118. A FAN’S NOTES by Frederick Exley
  119. THEN WE CAME TO THE END by Joshua Ferris
  120. STRONG MOTION by Jonathan Franzen
  121. THE CORRECTIONS by Jonathan Franzen 
  122. AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman
  123. CROSSCUT by Meg Gardiner
  124. THE DIRTY SECRETS CLUB by Meg Gardiner
  125. THE LONG HOME by William Gay
  126. PAINTING THE DARKNESS by Robert Goddard
  127. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen
  128. THE RAW SHARK TEXTS by Steven Hall
  129. A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR by Mark Helprin
  130. THE HANK THOMPSON TRILOGY by Charlie Huston
  131. TREE OF SMOKE by Denis Johnson
  132. GOOD POEMS Edited by Garrison Keillor
  133. THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kid
  134. FARGO ROCK CITY by Chuck Klosterman
  136. ABSOLUTE FRIENDS by John le Carré
  137. THE GIVEN DAY by Dennis Lehane
  138. UP IN HONEY’S ROOM by Elmore Leonard
  139. THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE by Jonathan Lethem
  140. WHAT THE DEAD KNOW by Laura Lippman
  141. DISPATCH by Bentley Little
  142. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN by Cormac McCarthy
  143. ATONEMENT by Ian McEwan
  144. THE PEOPLE’S ACT OF LOVE by James Meek
  145. HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger
  146. THE AUBREY/MATURIN NOVELS by Patrick O’Brian
  147. THE GOOD WIFE by Stewart O’Nan
  148. WE WERE THE MULVANEYS by Joyce Carol Oates
  149. HARD REVOLUTION by George Pelecanos
  150. THE TURNAROUND by George Pelecanos
  151. THE ABSTINENCE TEACHER by Tom Perrotta 
  152. NINETEEN MINUTES by Jodi Picoult
  153. VERNON GOD LITTLE by DBC Pierre
  154. FINE JUST THE WAY IT IS by Annie Proulx
  155. SHATTER by Michael Robotham
  156. AMERICAN PASTORAL by Philip Roth
  157. THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA by Philip Roth
  158. MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN by Salman Rushdie
  159. BRIDGE OF SIGHS by Richard Russo
  160. EMPIRE FALLS by Richard Russo 
  161. DROOD by Dan Simmons
  162. TERROR by Dan Simmons
  163. AMERICAN WIFE by Curtis Sittenfeld
  164. CHILD 44 by Tom Rob Smith
  165. VOODOO HEART by Scott Snyder
  166. QUICKSILVER by Neil Stephenson
  167. THE LITTLE FRIEND by Donna Tartt
  168. WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy
  169. HOLLYWOOD STATION by Joseph Wambaugh
  170. ALL THE KING’S MEN by Robert Penn Warren
  171. THE LITTLE STRANGER by Sarah Waters
  172. CROOKED RIVER BURNING by Mark Winegardner
  173. THE GODFATHER RETURNS by Mark Winegardner
  174. THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE by David Wroblewski
  175. REVOLUTIONARY ROAD by Richard Yates
  176. BIG IF by Mark Costello
  177. LIFE OF PI by Yann Martel
  178. THE FIXER by Bernard Malamud

Monday, September 14, 2015

Strawberry Pretzel Pie

Don't tell Mrs. BA - but I really think I'm in love with the Pioneer Woman.

Strawberry Pretzel Pie
Pie Prep Time: 4 Hours
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 8

  • 4 cups Pretzel Sticks 
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) Butter, Melted 
  • 1/3 cup Brown Sugar 
  • 1-1/2 cup Sugar 
  • 3 Tablespoons Cornstarch 
  • 1 package (3.5 Ounce) Strawberry-flavored Jello 
  • 1-1/2 cup Water 
  • 3 pints Strawberries, Hulled And Halved 
  • Unsweetened Whipped Cream 

Preparation Instructions
For the pretzel crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Crush the pretzels in a large resealable plastic bag with a rolling pin. Mix in a bowl with the butter and brown sugar. Press into a pie pan and bake for 8 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

For the strawberry filling: Put 1 1/2 cups water, the granulated sugar, cornstarch and gelatin powder in a saucepan. Stir together and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook until it starts to thicken, about 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Let the liquid cool for a good 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Put the strawberries in a bowl and pour over the sauce, gently tossing together. Allow to sit for 5-7 minutes, then carefully pile the coated strawberries into the cooled pie crust. Spoon over a little leftover sauce if needed, and refrigerate, uncovered, for 4 hours.

Cut into slices and serve with whipped cream. (Unsweetened is nice because the pie is so sweet!)

Monday, September 7, 2015

It's Labor Day - Have a Drink!

I know there's dark rum in the house - it came back from vacation after being acquired at the NH State Liquor Store.  Now if I can still get some cherries.  From Epicurious.

The Cherry Bomb
Yield: 1 cocktail
Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

  • 4 fresh sweet cherries, halved, pitted 
  • 1/4 of a lemon 
  • 1/4 of a lime 
  • 5–6 fresh mint leaves 
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup 
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters 
  • 2 ounces dark rum 
  • Mint sprigs (for garnish) 

Using a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon, muddle cherries, lemon and lime wedges, mint leaves, simple syrup, and bitters in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Add rum and stir to combine.

Monday, August 31, 2015


There are some things that I don't make - because there are others who do a much better than me.  Mayonnaise for instance.  The fine folks at Hellman's have got this.  But if I were to make my own - I would use this recipe.  Via BuzzFeed.

Basic Mayonnaise
Makes 2 cups
Recipe by Emily Gennis

  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 2 tablespoons very cold water 
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice 
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, refrigerator cold

  1. Combine all ingredients except the oil in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and blend until combined, 5-10 seconds. 
  2. While the food processor is still running, add the cold oil in a very slow, steady stream. It should take about a minute to add all of the oil.
  3. When all of the oil is incorporated, the mixture should be thick, emulsified, and a pale yellowish-white. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 
And if you're not happy with the basic mayo - check here for some varieties.