Monday, September 26, 2016

Time to Make the Donuts

I own a deep fryer.  And I like donuts. From CakeWhiz via BuzzFeed.

Homemade Jelly Donuts

  • 2 1/2 cups flour + additional flour for kneading 
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (100-110 degrees) 
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tsp sugar 
  • 3 large egg yolks 
  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast 
  • 2 tbsp salted butter 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 3 1/2 cups oil for frying 
  • 3 cups homemade strawberry jam or store-bought strawberry jam 
  • 3 cups granulated sugar (for rolling the doughnuts)
  •  2 cups coconut cream chocolate frosting 
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries (blotted dry)
Step 1: In a small bowl, add 1 tsp sugar, yeast and milk. Keep this mixture aside for about 15 minutes until it becomes foamy.

Step 2: In a deep mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, egg yolks, butter, vanilla extract and yeast mixture. Mix everything with a thick plastic spoon until you have a sticky mixture.

Step 3: Dump this mixture onto your floured countertop and start kneading until you form a dough ball that’s not sticky any more (takes about 10-15 minutes). I had to add some additional flour at this point to help with all that kneading. The dough should eventually bounce back when poked with a finger.

Step 4: Oil a bowl and place this dough ball in it. Cover it with saran wrap and keep it in a warm area and allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 hours. (I keep the bowl inside my oven- Don’t turn it on though!)

Step 5: Now, flour your countertop again and roll out the dough at a thickness of 1/4 inches.

Step 6: Use a round cutter to cut out circular pieces.

Step 7: Cover these circles with saran wrap and allow them to rise for about 15 minutes.

Step 8: Heat oil in a saucepan until the temperature reaches 370 degrees.

Step 9: Add 3-4 the circle pieces into the oil very carefully and fry them on both sides until they are golden (about 40 seconds on each side).

Step 10: Use a slotted spoon to remove the doughnuts from the oil and place them on a tray lined with paper towels.

Step 11: Then quickly roll the doughnuts in sugar while they are still warm.

Step 12: Then, attach the round tip to a piping bag and fill it with strawberry jam.

Step 13: On the side of the doughnut, make 2 holes with a wooden skewer about 1 inch apart. Push your piping bag into the holes and fill the inside of the doughnut with jam. Do this for all the doughnuts.

Step 14: When the doughnuts have cooled down, spread fudgy coconut cream chocolate frosting on top of them and place a few sliced strawberries on top.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Waffle Iron Hash Browns

I like the hash brown.  But they're never crispy enough.  These might work.  From Serious Eats via BuzzFeed.

Waffle Iron Hash Browns

  • 2 russet (baking) potatoes, about 10 ounces each, peeled and shredded 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  1. Preheat waffle iron. If it has temperature controls, set it to medium.
  2. Squeeze shredded potato with a towel until it’s as dry as possible.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine shredded potato, salt, and pepper.
  4. Using a silicone brush or paper towel, carefully grease both sides of waffle iron with butter.
  5. Pile shredded potatoes into waffle iron, over-stuffing it a bit, and close lid. (The pressure of the lid will compress the potatoes and help them emerge as a cohesive, waffled unit.) Cook for 2 minutes, then press down on lid to further compress potatoes (be careful: lid may be hot). 
  6. Continue cooking potatoes for 5 minutes longer, then begin checking them: the are ready when potatoes are golden brown all over, about 1 to 2 minutes longer. Serve hot with eggs or any other breakfast foods.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

15 Years Later

At this point in time fifteen years ago, I had finally made it home to Long Island from my job in Westchester County.  As I have written about before, the day had started with me dropping my car off for service and upon getting to work, I learned that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center. I was able to find a TV and my colleagues and I crowded around the TV to watch.  I went off to find a computer to get more information and then learned that a second plane had hit the other tower.

I was able to get to the roof of the Archive Center and could see the smoke rising from the city skyline some thirty five miles to the south.  I was finally able to reach my girlfriend (now Mrs. BA) who had a dentist appointment (which I hadn't remembered, I only knew that she worked across the street from the White House).  I left for home about 2:00pm and as I traveled south, fighter jets crisscrossed the sky above me - I crossed the Throgs Neck Bridge as policeman waived me through the toll barriers.  As I looked over to the city, the smoke hanging over lower Manhattan was immense.  I drove east on the Long Island Expressway as trucks and emergency equipment passed me heading west into the city.

Upon getting home I was able to talk with my parents, who had been flying that day - they were in Texas - but they were taken off the plane, shortly after the planes struck their targets and the decision was made to close the airspace over the United States. (If you're in the DC area, I highly recommend that you go to Ford's Theatre to see "Come From Away" about the planes from Europe that were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland.)

I went to church that evening as many Americans did.  As the scope of the tragedy unfolded and the tremendous loss of life became evident - I stayed home the next day - there wasn't anyway for me to get to work anyway - and I was able to reflect on how much had changed for each and everyone of us.

I traveled to Ground Zero not long after - when the debris still burned and participated in a candlelight vigil.  Just last year, I finally made it to the Memorial in the plaza and was deeply moved - much as I knew I would be.  Today, I spent most of the day reflecting on what happened fifteen years ago - I watched some of the coverage of the events in New York City today - I watched some of the documentaries that have been produced about that dark day.  We went to church, as we do almost every Sunday and we closed with the hymn, Let There Be Peace on Earth.  Yes, please, let's try that.



Monday, August 29, 2016

Raspberry Blondies? Yes, please

Combining my love of raspberries and the blondie. From Sweet Peas and Saffron via BuzzFeed.

Brown Butter Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Blondies
Prep time 30 mins
Cook time 25 mins
Total time 55 mins
Serves: 9

Cream Cheese Layer
  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (125g, fluffed, spooned & leveled)
Raspberry Swirl
  • ¼ cup seedless raspberry jam 

Cream Cheese Layer
In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and no lumps remain.

Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.

Set aside.

Line a 9X9 inch pan with aluminum foil, and grease with spray oil.

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Melt the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Allow the butter to simmer gently for 5 or so minutes to brown it. Keep an eye on the butter, as it can go from golden to burned very quickly. As the butter browns, stir frequently, and you will see small brown bits coming off the bottom of the pan.

Pour the browned butter into a large bowl and add the sugar, mixing completely. Allow it to sit 5 minutes or so to cool, before stirring in the egg and vanilla.

Stir in the flour until completely combined.

Raspberry Swirl
Heat the jam in the microwave for 10 seconds, then stir until smooth.

Spread ⅔ of the blondie batter over the bottom of the prepared pan.

Add dollops of the cream cheese mixture randomly over the blondie base.

Add teaspoons of the raspberry jam randomly over the blondie base.

Spread (as best as you can) remaining blondie over the cream cheese and raspberry jam.

Gently run a knife along the length of the pan to swirl the mixture. As you can see from my photos they won't look very pretty at this point, however they will be much prettier when they come out of the oven!

Bake for 20-25 minutes until center is set (it shouldn't jiggle). Mine was perfect in 23 minutes.

Allow to cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars.

Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Mini Meatball Casserole

When I'm interested in comfort food I will usually go for my Mom's Beefaroni.  Leave it to the one woman that I might consider leaving Mrs. BA for to provide me with an alternative. Via the Pioneer Woman.

Mini Meatball Pasta Bake
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Cook Time: 1 Hours
Servings: 12 Servings

  • 3/4 pounds Italian Sausage 
  • 3/4 pounds Ground Beef 
  • 1/2 cup Regular Oats 
  • 1 cup Grated Parmesan 
  • 1 whole Egg, Beaten 
  • 1/4 cup Minced Fresh Parsley 
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste 
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced 
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced 
  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Diced Tomatoes 
  • 1 can (8 Ounces) Tomato Paste 
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar 
  • 2 cups Hot Water 
  • 12 leaves Basil 
  • 12 ounces, weight Ziti Pasta, Cooked To Al Dente 
  • 16 ounces, weight Fresh Mozzarella, Cut Into Large Cubes 

In a bowl, mix together the sausage, beef, oats, 1/2 of the Parmesan, egg, half the parsley, and salt and pepper until well combined. Form into small meatballs (about 1/2 inch) and brown in batches in a skillet over medium heat. Remove the meatballs from the pan and drain.

Add the onions and garlic to the skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, salt and pepper, sugar, and water. Stir and bring to a simmer, then add in the meatballs and continue simmering for 20 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow it to cool. Stir in the basil once cool.

In a casserole dish, add half the pasta, half the mozzarella cubes, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and half the meatball sauce. Repeat with another layer, ending with the meatball sauce. Cover with foil and either refrigerate for up to 2 days, or bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve piping hot!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Vacation Cereal Chicken Strips

The Brave Astronaut Clan is on vacation this week - so there is sure to be some vacation cereal in the beach house - probably Cap'n Crunch or maybe Fruit Loops.  Maybe if SoBA and LBA and their friends don't eat them all, we can make these this week.  From the Pioneer Woman.

Cap'n Crunch Chicken Strips
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Servings: 4 Servings

  • 12 whole Chicken Tenders (strips) 
  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour 
  • 2 whole Eggs, Beaten 
  • Salt And Pepper 
  • 2 cups Cap'n Crunch Cereal 
  • Vegetable Oil, For Frying 
  • Ketchup, For Serving 

Put the flour in a shallow bowl and add some salt and pepper. Put the egg in a second shallow bowl. Crush the cereal in a third bowl, leaving a few larger chunks.

Dip the chicken strips first in the flour, then the egg and then the cereal.

Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the strips in batches until golden brown and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes, turning them so they don't burn. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with extra salt. Serve with ketchup!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Mrs. BA Hits a Big Number

Today is Mrs. BA's birthday - she's hit the 1/2 century mark. I am more and more in love with her every single day.  She is the best wife and mother.  If you see her around today, make sure you wish her a happy birthday. 

Tonight we will gather at the pool (her favorite summer place) to celebrate with friends.  Tomorrow we leave for vacation. 

Doesn't she look great?  And I'm the one younger than she is?

FYI - dear readers, I am unplugging for the week while on vacation.  I am in need of a respite from technology for the week.  I plan to do as little as possible, except sit on the beach, swim in the ocean, and relax.  No Facebook, no games on my phone or other devices.  I'll be back soon!