Thursday, June 22, 2017

Topping the Charts in 1985

Around this time of the month, thirty-two years ago, in 1985, the Brave Astronaut was preparing to graduate from high school (two years ago, you may recall I organized my 30th high school reunion).  A week or so ago, Entertainment Weekly, put out the list of the Hot 100 Top Ten songs from June 1985.

  1. Bryan Adams - Heaven - I may have had a Bryan Adams thing, but I preferred the snappier stuff
  2. Phil Collins - Sussudio - when I arrived at the University at Albany two years later, there was a running gag that he was actually saying, "Su - su - SUNY Albany."
  3. Tears for Fears - Everybody Wants to Rule the World - the 1985 Braves were prepared to do just that.
  4. Prince and the Revolution - Raspberry Beret - As I noted last year, the loss of Prince was significant to me and my generation.  I went to a "Purple Rain" prom in 1985 and our high school football team fight song was "Let's Go Crazy."
  5. Duran Duran - A View to a Kill - with the loss of Roger Moore earlier this year, another link to our high school days is lost.
  6. Madonna - Angel - I take every opportunity to tell LBA and SoBA that Madonna was the original Lady Gaga.
  7. Mary Jane Girls - In My House - I admit that when pulling this list together, I had no recollection of this song.
  8. Howard Jones - Things Can Only Get Better - perhaps an anthem for today, too?
  9. Katrina and the Waves - Walking on Sunshine - this was definitely one of my happy place songs.  These days, it's this one.
  10. Survivor - The Search is Over - and so is this list.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Graham Cracker Toffee

I would eat this. All of it. From Gimme Some Oven via BuzzFeed.

5-Ingredient Graham Cracker Toffee
Yield: About 24 pieces
Total Time: 25 mins
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 18 mins

This 5-Ingredient Graham Cracker Toffee is quick and easy to make, and feel free to sprinkle it with whatever topping sounds good!

Ingredients
  • 14-16 sheets of graham crackers
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line an 11 x 15-inch baking sheet (or jelly roll pan) with parchment paper or aluminum foil. (If using aluminum foil, mist it with baking spray.) Arrange graham crackers touching side by side in a single layer, breaking some of the graham crackers in half if need be so that that they fit. Set aside.

In medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat until melted. Add brown sugar and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a boil, stirring constantly. Let the mixture boil for about 2 minutes, then remove from heat and pour over graham crackers. Use a spatula or spoon to spread the mixture evenly over the graham crackers. Bake for 6-7 minutes or until the butter mixture is bubbly.

Remove pan and immediately sprinkle the the chocolate chips evenly on top of the graham crackers. Let sit for a few minutes until the chocolate is melted, then use a spoon to spread the chocolate around as much as you’d like. Sprinkle nuts (or your desired topping) evenly on top of the melted chocolate.

Let sit for about two hours and them cut and serve. Sometimes, if I am in a hurry, I will cool the cookies in the freezer for a quicker serve time.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Bittersweet Father's Day



For the first time in my forty-nine years on this big blue marble, I do not have a father to celebrate today.  Since he left us in April, my siblings and I have been dealing with his loss and making plans for his last farewell, when we will travel to Bermuda to scatter my parent's ashes, in accordance with their last wishes.  The song above played behind the video montage that we played during his viewing at the funeral home - we learned that it was one of my father's favorites and he wanted it played when he died.

However, today is not all maudlin.  For the past 12 years, I have been lucky enough to be a father myself, when LBA arrived on the scene.  I became a double dad in 2007 when SoBA joined us.  I have done my best at this father thing - taking some cues from my father, and figuring out the rest as i went along.  I hope that if you were to ask LBA and SoBA, if I was doing a good job - they would tell you yes.

Thanks Dad, for everything.

Thanks LBA and SoBA, for making this a day for me to be celebrated.

I love all of you.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Flying the Colors


Today, June 14, was Flag Day.  There is an American flag that flies outside the launchpad every day.  There are some who say that you put your flag out on Flag Day and fly it until the 4th of July.  There are others that only put it out on Federal holidays.  I like the flag outside the launchpad - but given that it is out there everyday - I'm going to need to replace it more often.  But out there it is.

Flag Day has always had significance in my family - it was my parent's wedding anniversary.  My parents were married for 53 years before my mother's death in 2006.  As most of you know, my dear readers, my father was reunited with my mother earlier this year.  I am sure they are tucked away in some corner of heaven (on a park bench) having a great time catching up.

June 14 is also my MIL's birthday - so if you know her or see her - be sure to wish her the best.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Shrimp Fajitas

LBA has developed a taste for the prawn. SoBA, not so much. I would be fine with more shrimp on the menu. I made shrimp, chicken, and beef kebabs a few weeks ago and they were well received by all. And we've already established that both boys love the taco / fajita, maybe I could thrown some chicken and steak in the pan too. Recipe via BuzzFeed.

Shrimp Fajitas
Servings: 5

INGREDIENTS
  • 5 flour tortillas
  • ½ red bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced lengthwise
  • ½ green bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced lengthwise
  • ½ orange bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced lengthwise
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Olive oil1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Cilantro
PREPARATION
  • Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
  • Wrap the tortillas in foil and place on the corner of a baking sheet.
  • Add the bell peppers, red onion, and shrimp to the sheet and season with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, and lime.
  • Toss to coat.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, flipping the shrimp halfway through.
  • Serve with warm tortillas, salsa, guacamole, cilantro, and lime.
  • Enjoy!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Homemade Strawberry Pop-Tarts

I have been known to keep a stockpile of pop-tarts in my desk at work.  They are referred to as "emergency breakfast."  Here's a recipe for homemade ones that would be a little harder to keep in my desk - plus they probably wouldn't survive the trip into the office anyway. From Just A Taste via BuzzFeed.

5-Ingredient Strawberry Breakfast Pastries
PREP: 10 minutes
COOK: 17 MINUTES
YIELD: 6 servings

Ingredients
  • 1 sheet puff pastry (half of a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1 Tablespoon strawberry jam
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 large egg
  • Powdered sugar, for serving (optional)
Directions
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Cut the puff pastry into six rectangles by following the perforations in the dough to first cut the sheet into three long rectangles and then cut each rectangle in half to form two smaller rectangles. Transfer the pastries onto the baking sheet, arranging them at least 1 inch apart.

Lightly score the dough by cutting a border 1/2-inch from the edges (do not cut through the pastry). Prick the center of the pastry several times with a fork.

In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese and strawberry jam. Place a dollop of the cream cheese mixture in the centers of each pastry and spread it within the scored area. Top the cream cheese with the sliced strawberries.

Whisk together the egg with 1 Tablespoon water. Brush the edges of the pastry with the eggwash then bake the pastries for 15 to 17 minutes until golden and puffed.

Remove the pastries from the oven oven, dust with powdered sugar (optional) and serve.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Bourbon Chocolate Balls

I am a new convert to the brown liquor, specifically the sweet bourbon.  In honor of Memorial Day and the opening weekend of the pool - here is something that would be able to be consumed on the pool grounds.  There's alcohol in them, but no one would know, amirite? (via BuzzFeed)

Chocolate Bourbon Balls
Makes 30 balls

INGREDIENTS
  • 12 graham crackers, crushed
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 5 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup melting chocolate
  • ¾ cup walnuts, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
PREPARATION
  1. In a small bowl or glass jar, add the mixed nuts and bourbon. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and let sit overnight.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla until sugar is dissolved. Add in the crushed graham crackers, vanilla, chocolate chips, walnuts, and remaining bourbon.
  3. Freeze for 10-15 minutes or until firm enough to roll.
  4. Form mixture into small balls, and refrigerate.
  5. Coat the balls in melted chocolate and top with walnuts.
  6. Chill for 1 hour.
  7. Enjoy!