Monday, April 20, 2015

Chocolate Butterscotch Caramel Bars

The Pioneer Woman Rocks.  That is All.


Chocolate Butterscotch Caramel Bars (from the Pioneer Woman)
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 35 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 12

Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cup All-purpose Flour 
  • 1-1/2 cup Regular Or Quick Oats 
  • 1 cup Packed Brown Sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt 
  • 1-3/4 stick Cold (salted) Butter, Cut Into Pieces 
  • 2 cans (13.5 Ounces Each) Dulce De Leche (I Used Nestle La Lechera) 
  • Spanish Peanuts 
  • Butterscotch Chips 
  • Mini Chocolate Chips 

Preparation Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 9, 8 x 10, or 9 x 13-inch baking dish with baking spray. (Or you can line with aluminum foil.)

Note: If you use a rectangular pan, you may need an additional can of dulce de leche to cover the surface.

Mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture into the pan and pat lightly to pack it slightly.

Bake until light golden brown on top and done in the middle, about 30 to 35 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn't burn. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Spoon the dulce de leche into a microwave safe bowl and nuke it for 45 seconds, just to slightly soften it. Scoop it on top of the oatmeal base and use an offset spatula to spread it out to the edges and into an even layer. Sprinkle on a layer of peanuts so that they completely cover the caramel, and use your hands to gently press them into the caramel. Sprinkle on the butterscotch chips and the mini chocolate chips in generous layers.

Note: The warmth of the cookie base and the caramel should slightly soften the butterscotch and chocolate chips. When that happens, use your hands to very gently press the chips just enough to anchor them together (but not enough to misshape them.) If the pan isn't warm enough, pop it into the oven for 30 seconds or so and gently press the chips to anchor them together.

Chill the bars for 2 to 3 hours to make them easy to slice. Turn them out onto a cutting board and use a long serrated knife to cut into small squares (they're rich!)

Serve cold or at room temperature.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Beef Stroganoff

I remember many times growing up, the Brave Astronaut clan would head to my aunt's house for a New Year's Day visit - she lived in NJ, about 2 hours from where we lived on Long Island.  I also recall that she would sometimes make beef stroganoff - something not in my mother's wheelhouse.  I liked it - I can still get a version of it at Noodles and Company. I just saw this recipe and may have to convince Mrs. BA that it's worth the time and effort.

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
from Crock Pot Girl

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 lbs. beef sirloin tip, cut into 1" cubes 
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 8 oz. package mushrooms, sliced 
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram leaves 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves 
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 1/2 c. beef broth 
  • 1/2 c. red wine 
  • 2 T. Worcestershire sauce 
  • 8 oz. carton sour cream 
  • 2 T. mustard 
  • 1/4 c. flour 
  • 1/4 c. water 
Preparation 
  1. Combine everything except sour cream, mustard, flour, and water in a 3-1/2 quart slow cooker. 
  2. Cook on Low heat for 8-10 hours (high for 4-5 hours). Remove and discard bay leaf. 
  3. Combine sour cream, mustard, flour, and water in medium bowl and mix well, using a whisk. Add 1 cup of the hot liquid from the slow cooker to the sour cream mixture and stir until combined. Return this mixture to the crockpot and stir well. 
  4. Cover. Cook on high for 20-30 minutes until thickened and bubbly. Taste test; you may want to add more salt, pepper, marjoram, or thyme. 
Serve over hot cooked egg noodles.

NOTE: If you have a new hotter cooking slow cooker, check the beef at 6 hours on low.

Happy Crocking!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Time to Make the Doughnuts

I really, really, want a deep fryer.  Mrs. BA says I can't have one.

But then I see recipes like this one (from the NYT Magazine) and I think but these would be so easy to make with a litte fry daddy, right?  Wouldn't they have been great for Easter Sunday breakfast yesterday?

Doughnuts
Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ cups milk 
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons (one package) active dry yeast 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled 
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough 
  • 2 quarts neutral oil, for frying, plus more for the bowl.

Preparation
  1. Heat the milk until it is warm but not hot, about 90 degrees. In a large bowl, combine it with the yeast. Stir lightly, and let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, beat the eggs, butter, sugar and salt into the yeast mixture. Add half of the flour (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons), and mix until combined, then mix in the rest of the flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add more flour, about 2 tablespoons at a time, if the dough is too wet. If you’re using an electric mixer, the dough will probably become too thick to beat; when it does, transfer it to a floured surface, and gently knead it until smooth. Grease a large bowl with a little oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, and cover. Let rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 1 hour. 
  3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and roll it to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out the doughnuts with a doughnut cutter, concentric cookie cutters or a drinking glass and a shot glass (the larger one should be about 3 inches in diameter), flouring the cutters as you go. Reserve the doughnut holes. If you’re making filled doughnuts, don’t cut out the middle. Knead any scraps together, being careful not to overwork, and let rest for a few minutes before repeating the process. 
  4. Put the doughnuts on two floured baking sheets so that there is plenty of room between each one. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until they are slightly puffed up and delicate, about 45 minutes. If your kitchen isn’t warm, heat the oven to 200 at the beginning of this step, then turn off the heat, put the baking sheets in the oven and leave the door ajar. 
  5. About 15 minutes before the doughnuts are done rising, put the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and heat it to 375. Meanwhile, line cooling racks, baking sheets or plates with paper towels. 
  6. Carefully add the doughnuts to the oil, a few at a time. If they’re too delicate to pick up with your fingers (they may be this way only if you rose them in the oven), use a metal spatula to pick them up and slide them into the oil. It’s O.K. if they deflate a bit; they’ll puff back up as they fry. When the bottoms are deep golden, after 45 seconds to a minute, use a slotted spoon to flip; cook until they’re deep golden all over. Doughnut holes cook faster. Transfer the doughnuts to the prepared plates or racks, and repeat with the rest of the dough, adjusting the heat as needed to keep the oil at 375. Glaze or fill as follows, and serve as soon as possible.
For "classic glazed doughnuts" - see the NYT recipe here.  Boston Cream doughnuts are here and jelly doughnuts are here.


Then there's this list (from BuzzFeed)if you're not content to make your own - I guess it is easier to just go pick up a dozen.  Great, now I want donuts.

33 Doughnuts You Have To Try Before You Die
You do-nut want to say no to any of these. Unfortunately, I have not partaken in any of these except the Krispy Kremes.
  1. The Apple Cider Fritter from Blue Star Donuts, Portland, Oregon Why you knead it: The Apple Cider Fritter is made from the leftover holes from the doughnuts made throughout the day, so you’re basically eating a decadent fritter that you can slowly and easily pull apart one bit at a time. Other prized doughnuts include the Crème Brûlée and the Coffee & Coconut Cheesecake doughnut.
  2. The Nutella Doughnut from Hurts Donut, Springfield, Missouri Why you knead it: Uh, hello, a Nutella-filled doughnut dusted with a generous helping of sugar?! Need I explain more? If you’re looking for a spicy challenge, Hurts makes their famous “Fire in the Hole” donut holes filled with jalapeño cream cheese and topped with a sriracha glaze. Hurts, don’t it?
  3. The Cafe au Lait Doughnut from Dough, Brooklyn Why you knead it: If you want your coffee and doughnut together, the Cafe au Laut doughnut is made of roasted coffee beans and is topped with pecan brown sugar with their signature glaze. If you’re more into the tea lifestyle, Dough has a chocolate glazed doughnut with a hint of Earl Grey tea.
  4. The “Evil Elvis” from Hypnotic Donuts, Dallas Why you knead it: Amongst the fried chicken doughnut sandwiches and decadent fritters lies the Evil Elvis, a traditional yeast doughnut topped with peanut butter, bacon, bananas, and a honey drizzle. It’s enough to put you in a food coma after one bite.
  5. The Chocolate Orange Old Fashioned from Stan’s, Los Angeles and Chicago Why you knead it: Starting your day off with a traditional cake doughnut topped with zesty orange and semisweet chocolate sounds like a good plan. If you walk into the Chicago location, you can grab a scoop of traditional gelato to have with your doughnut.
  6. The Bacon Maple Apple Doughnut from Dynamo Donut & Coffee, San Francisco Why you knead it: Made with fresh apples and thick-cut bacon included IN THE DOUGH, this amazing treat is topped with a maple glaze and crispy diced bacon pieces. With this doughnut, you can feel like fall all year long. Also, if you have a gluten-free friend, there are options for them!
  7. The Salted Caramel & Reduced Balsamic Vinegar Doughnut from Sublime Doughnuts, Atlanta Why you knead it: Out of all the insane doughnuts from their Oreo Burger to a Frosted Croissant, the sweet and tangy Caramel and Balsamic doughnut stands out, because it’s so damn unique and will trip out your taste buds. The traditional doughnut is topped with salty caramel and finished off with a tangy balsamic vinegar.
  8. The Malasada from Leonard’s Bakery, Honolulu Why you knead it: Malasadas are basically doughnuts without the hole taken out of them so they’re super crispy on the outside and nice and soft on the inside. They’re then either filled with vanilla, chocolate, or fruit, and rolled in sugar. Essentially, they’re everything.
  9. The Oreo Doughnut from Mojo Donuts, Hollywood, Florida Why you knead it: Honestly, with doughnuts like Snickers and Shoestring Potatoes and Cranberry Walnut Orange fritters, the Oreo sandwich is rather tame, but it’s so damn good. The sandwich is a classic doughnut with homemade cookies and cream filling topped with vanilla icing and crumbled Oreos.
  10. A traditional cake doughnut from A Baker’s Wife, Minneapolis Why you knead it: This doughnut is a traditional no-frills or experimentation type doughnut, but it’s done perfectly. Although the pastry shop offers cookies, cakes, and kolaches, their sugary doughnut is second to none and provides the perfect amount of crunchiness.
  11. The Hulk Hogan Fudgie Wudgie from The Cinnamon Snail Food Truck, New York City Why you knead it: Vegans rejoice! The Cinnamon Snail has a 100% vegan menu, and it might take you a few doughnuts to realize it. They even have gluten-free items. The Fudgie Wudgie is a chocolate-filled, chocolate-frosted, and chocolate-cookie-topped masterpiece. Other unique doughnuts include Raspberry Lavender, Speculoos Cookie Butter, and Mexican Hot Chocolate Twists.
  12. The Driftwood from Cops & Doughnuts, Clare, Michigan Why you knead it: Owned 100% by police officers, Cops & Doughnuts has been making treats since 1896. The Driftwood is a driftwood-shaped long john filled with coconut cream and topped with chocolate ganache and toasted coconut. They also have insanely amazing Paczkis, HALF-POUND doughnuts jam-packed with fruit preserves and rolled in powdered sugar.
  13. The Strawberry Doughnut from The Donut Man, Glendora, California Why you knead it: The Donut Man only uses in-season produce like strawberries, peaches, and pumpkins for his specialty doughnuts. The strawberry flavor is a regular fresh doughnut stuffed with handpicked berries from THAT MORNING and then drizzled with a generous portion of his homemade glaze. As an added treat he dips the leftover strawberries in chocolate to take home.
  14. The Purple Goat from Glazed, Charleston, South Carolina Why you knead it: Everything at Glaze is made by hand, from the dough to the jam. The Purple Goat is a little savory and a little sweet, stuffed with berry goat cheese filling and topped with lavender icing. Your bougie level will quickly go from zero to 60 real quick after ordering this. If you want a challenge, order the Monte Cristo: melted ham and cheese, topped with strawberry jam, sandwiched in between a sliced glazed doughnut.
  15. The Brown Butter Hazelnut Crunch from Union Square Donuts, Somerville, Massachusetts Why you knead it: The Brown Butter Hazelnut Crunch Doughnut is a classic doughnut glazed with buttery smooth sweet icing and topped with crushed hazelnuts and a crispy crunchy crumble. Union Square has locally brewed coffee and taste tests each doughnut over and over to achieve their perfectly unique flavors.
  16. The Maple Bacon Bar from Varsity Donuts, Manhattan, Kansas Why you knead it: The traditional long john is topped with maple icing, then a generous amount of crispy bacon, AND THEN MORE icing. These things are so insane, people line up before the sun rises just to get their hands on them. Their doughnuts are ranked by their extreme flavors from JV to Varsity, and you can even get cream-cheese-filled doughnut holes and Funfetti doughnuts.
  17. A traditional Glazed Doughnut from The Amish Baking Company during Bonnaroo, Manchester, Tennessee Why you knead it: The elusive Amish Baking Company can only be found at a handful of festivals, the most popular being Bonnaroo. These authentic Amish doughnuts are hand-rolled and shaped, deep fried, dunked in icing, and set on polls to dry. Your concept of a glazed doughnut won’t ever be the same after trying these.
  18. The Apple Fritter from Randy’s Donuts, Los Angeles Why you knead it: Randy’s employees have been operating out of the same doughnut-topped tiny shack for decades, and you can even go through the drive-thru if you’re really feeling lazy. Their classic Apple Fritter miraculously creates the perfect balance of soft and crunchy. Each and every corner is a crispy golden-brown bite and you slowly get to the doughy center with every bite. 
  19. The Texas-Sized Doughnut from Round Rock Donuts, Round Rock, Texas Why you knead it: This small bakery creates insanely big doughnuts. Just one Texas-sized doughnut takes up the entire traditional dozen-pastry box, and still tastes insanely good. If you know anyone from Texas, their first answer to the best doughnut around is Round Rock Donuts just outside of Austin. 
  20. The Coconut Glazed Doughnut from The Downyflake, Nantucket, Massachusetts Why you knead it: Although the Downyflake serves breakfast and lunch, people flock to the restaurant for the doughnuts, especially the Coconut Glazed flavor. Instead of just getting toast with your breakfast, every meal comes with a doughnut. The Coconut Glazed is their homemade cake glazed doughnut sprinkled with a generous helping of fresh coconut flakes. 
  21. The Cinnamon Caramel Doughnut from Rise ‘N Roll Bakery, Fort Wayne, Indiana Why you knead it: These doughnuts are called “crack doughnuts” by anyone who goes to Rise ‘N Roll. Their traditional yeast doughnut is topped with caramel icing and then sent out to swim in a sea of cinnamon sugar until they’re perfectly coated. The bakery also has a special doughnut of the week, ranging from peanut butter to chocolate coconut filled. 
  22. Blueberry Crumble Doughnuts from Art City Donuts, Utah Valley, Utah Why you knead it: Operating out of a tiny food truck, Art City Donuts serves some mean tiny doughnuts. Every day the truck serves a handful of different flavors, ranging from Strawberry Shortcake to Maple Glaze with Coconut Crumbles. Their Blueberry Crumble mini doughnuts are topped with homemade tart and creamy berry icing and buttery crumbles. They’re perfect for sharing and have a diehard following. 
  23. The Frosted Angel Cream Doughnut from Paula’s Donuts, Buffalo, New York Why you knead it: First of all, any doughnut place that caters weddings deserves an A+ already. Paula’s claims to use a super secret ingredient that “you won’t find in any of the big chain store donuts,” so they have to be amazing. Their Frosted Angel Cream is filled with homemade whipped cream and topped with a layer of fresh icing and glittery sprinkles. You can even order it to be the size of an actual cake. 
  24. The Doughnut of the Month from Krumpe’s Do-Nuts, Hagerstown, Maryland Why you knead it: Krumpe’s has a brand-new flavor every single month to fit perfectly with the season and holiday celebrated during that time. Part of the appeal is the surprise, the other part being deliciousness and creativity. Their flavors range from September’s Caramel Apple Doughnuts filled with fresh apples to October’s S’mores Doughnut topped with marshmallow cream, crumbled graham crackers, and chocolate bars. 
  25. The Maple Bar from The Original House of Donuts, Lakewood, Washington Why you knead it: Locals have kept this place as their go-to doughnut shop for generations, and can be as old as fifth-generation customers. Their maple bars have been handmade since the 1950s and are topped with fresh maple frosting. They’re also known for making any custom doughnut you could ever ask for, ranging from special Seattle Seahawks colors to unique flavors like banana and orange. 
  26. Honey Doughnuts and Fried Chicken from Federal Donuts, Philadelphia Why you knead it: Doughnuts and fried chicken. Need I say more? Federal Donuts prides itself on its homemade doughnuts and quirky flavored fried chicken. With every order of fried chicken you have a choice of having your doughnut naked, seasoned, or full-on glazed. 
  27. The Spa Doughnut from Little Bigs, Portland, Maine Why you knead it: Little Bigs is owned by a couple who share a love of sweets. The two create new and noteworthy flavors, one being the Spa Doughnut made with house-made nut and berry granola, Greek yogurt, and drizzled with honey. This doughnut will trick you into thinking you actually made a healthy choice. Many of their doughnuts include the excess doughnut hole as an added bonus of a topping. 
  28. The Chestnut Glazed Doughnut from The Doughnut Vault, Chicago Why you knead it: People wait for HOURS just to get their hands on one doughnut. Each location only makes a handful of perfected flavors to make sure each doughnut is flawless, so they’ve been said to sell out in under an hour some days. Their Chestnut Glazed doughnut has nutty notes to counterbalance the sweetness of their classic icing. Really, any choice is a good choice at the Doughnut Vault. 
  29. The Heavenly Hash Doughnut from Gourdough’s, Austin Why you knead it: All of Gourdough’s doughnuts are served with a fork. The Heavenly Hash is made of your kindergarten dreams: “Marshmallow With Chocolate Fudge Icing Topped With Fudge Candy.” If this just seems a little too sweet, you can build your own with toppings like jalapeño icing, gummy worms, Oreos, and cake mix. 
  30. The Daddy Dearest from Glam Doll Donuts, Minneapolis Why you knead it: Glam Doll Doughnuts never fails to go full glam with flavors like Peanut Butter & Sriracha and Spiced Mexican Chocolate & Cayenne Pecans. If you’re feeling like pregaming your work day, the Daddy Dearest is a SURLY beer cake donut, with SURLY BENDER glaze, topped with bacon and a buttery crumble. 
  31. A Doughnut Ice Cream Sandwich from Peter Pan Donuts, Brooklyn Why you knead it: Summertime in NYC can be anything but enjoyable when it comes to the heat. The owner of Peter Pan Donuts created the perfect solution by slicing her traditional cake doughnut in half and putting scoops of either vanilla, cookies and cream, or strawberry ice cream in the middle. You can even have it with a red velvet doughnut. So now you can get away with ice cream for breakfast. 
  32. The Chipotle Caramel Doughnut from Pink Box Doughnuts, Las Vegas Why you knead it: Doesn’t the name just say “Vegas”? You have to start your day with a Vegas-style doughnut before hitting the Strip. The Chipotle Caramel Doughnut will wake you up with its surprising spice and calm your senses with its sugary sweetness. If you’re not feeling up to the challenge, you can nab a chocolate doughnut topped with Cocoa Pebbles. 
  33. A piping hot fresh glazed doughnut from Krispy Kreme, Everywhere, ‘Merica Why you knead it: That’s right, I said it. Come get me.

Friday, April 3, 2015

About Food

Today is Good Friday, the day on the Christian calendar that we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as we prepare for Easter Sunday.  It is also a day where Christians are supposed to fast, and of course, refrain from eating meat.

Here's a list I saw a while ago, for you to peruse while your avoiding that pepperoni pizza you want for pizza / movie night tonight. My comments in italics (Via BuzzFeed).

1. Chocolate milk was invented in Jamaica.
See here.  Chocolate milk is a big favorite of LBA (not so much SoBA) and the Brave Astronaut.

2. Before 2013, the biggest buyer of kale was Pizza Hut. They used the kale as a garnish for their salad bars.
Well that just makes me want to eat it even less - article.

3. Some Canadian dude invented the Hawaiian pizza.
Something else I don't want to eat.

4. Pepperoni was invented by Americans.
Illicit meats, really?  

5. The most shoplifted food in the world is cheese.
Mrs. BA could likely get picked up for this.

6. Sylvestor Graham invented Graham crackers to help suppress sexual desire.
C'mon, I give these to the boys in their school snacks.  I'm not ready for that talk yet.

7. It’s estimated that the New York Harbor once was home to half of the world’s oyster supply.

8. At the time, Ellis Island and Liberty Island were known as Little Oyster and Big Oyster, respectively, because of that.
And there is no amount of money in the world that would get me to eat an oyster hailing from New York Harbor.

9. There are 19 billion chickens on Earth.

10. That means chickens outnumber humans 3:1.
Is that why chicken is so inexpensive?  Good old supply and demand?

11. China has the most pigs in the world. They have so many that they have more than the next 43 countries’ pig populations COMBINED.
More bacon please

12. A janitor at the Frito-Lay plant invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
Definitely a story of being in the right place at the right time.

13. An 11-year-old invented the popsicle when he left a stick in some soda water, left it on the back porch at night, and found it was frozen in the morning.
His obituary makes no reference if he, too, was frozen after his passing.


14. The technology used for microwaves was created during WWII to track Nazi war planes.

15. The people who built the Egyptian pyramids were paid in bread and beer.
One of the first uses of the "Will Work for Food" signs.

16. At the turn of the 20th century, lobsters were considered “garbage food.” Railroads changed that when they started offering it as a fancy meal on luxury transcontinental trips.
If they're such garbage food - why are they so damn expensive?

17. One of the original owners of Domino’s Pizza sold his share of Domino’s for a used Volkswagen Beetle. Today his portion of the company would be worth about a billion dollars.
Yeah, not so smart.  But then again, the Beetle may taste better.

18. The guy from Tyson’s chicken, Don Tyson, tried to win over McDonald’s for 14 years to put more chicken on the menu. They finally did.


19. Salt may be responsible for the Americans’ defeat of the British in the Revolutionary War. When the war first started, the British stopped importing goods into the states. Consequently, settlers’ supply of cod was rotting. So, they built a saltworks along the coast of Cap Cod. That worked, settlers got their cod, and they eventually won the war.
That's right, George Washington? Not a factor.

20. The ice cream sundae was invented in the late 1800s as a way to get around a law that prevented the sale of ice cream sodas on Sundays.
Followed quickly by the Wednesday is Sunday at Carvel.

21. The first written recipe found in the world was from Mesopotamia and it was for beer.
And still they got all that stuff done?

22. Baby carrots are just large carrots whittled down into miniature versions. They were invented when a farmer got sick of throwing away his less attractive carrots.
I knew this one.

23. Before modern refrigeration, people put LIVE FROGS in their milk to help preserve it.
Ribbit.

24. Honey doesn’t go bad.
And isn't it nice to always have a honey?

25. Astronauts eat tortillas instead of bread in space because the bread crumbs can be problematic.
Mice?

26. In Japan, it has become wildly popular and a “tradition” to eat KFC on Christmas.
That sort of balances with all the Jewish-Americans eating Chinese on the same day?

27. Europeans basically don’t eat peanut butter. They eat about less than a tablespoon a year.
Hey, more for me.

28. In the 1800s, they fed lobster to prisoners and it was considered cruel and equivalent to eating rats.
Stop picking on the lobsters!

29. Ruth Graves Wakefield, the inventor of the chocolate chip cookie, sold her recipe to Nestle and in turn received a lifetime supply of chocolate.
Another poor choice.

30. Ninety-six percent of U.S. households have ketchup.
I don't want to be friends with that other four percent.  Bigger question - is the ketchup in the fridge?

31. That’s more households than those that have salt and pepper.


32. The man who invented Pringles was buried in a Pringles can.
Not from the Onion.

33. One of the founders of Ben & Jerry’s can’t really smell anything, which is the reason why their ice cream is so rich. He suffered from a condition called anosmia.
I was under the impression it was called amnoseia.

34. SPAM is short for spiced ham.
That's nice, still not going to eat it.

35. Technically, white chocolate isn’t actually chocolate.
Yes, yes, I know.

36. Doritos were invented at Disneyland.
How magical.

37. When the inventor of Doritos died, his friends and family tossed Doritos onto his casket.

38. In 1943, sliced bread was briefly banned.
So if something is "the best thing since sliced bread, it's how old?

39. Cheddar cheese is sometimes orange because it’s dyed that way.
Doesn't make it any less delicious.

40. Orbit gum began production during WWII when Wrigley sent all of its Juicy Fruit gum to soldiers overseas. As a result, Wrigley started selling Orbit in the U.S. The gum was discontinued after the war but brought back 30 years later in the ’70s.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Pork Chops (and Applesauce?)


Recently, SoBA did a project at school, where he identified certain aspects of his family.  When it was requested what his favorite meal was - he wrote down pork chops. This was news to Mrs. BA and I.  We've had them before, but didn't realize they were at the top of SoBA's menu items..

So then I saw this list on BuzzFeed of 23 Budget Friendly Pork Chop Recipes and decided I may need to work some of them into the rotation.  Here's my favorite of the list.

Crockpot Pork Chops with Creamy Herb Sauce
Via the Crockpot Gourmet
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds pork loin chops
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • ½ small yellow onion, diced (or about ¼ cup) 
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • ½ teaspoon dried mustard powder 
  • ⅛ (or up to ¼) teaspoon pepper, depending on taste 
  • 1½ cup chicken broth 
  • ¾ cup heavy cream 
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch 
  • 1 teaspoon freeze dried parsley 
  • 1 teaspoon freeze dried basil 

Instructions
  1. Sprinkle each side of pork chops with thyme, salt, pepper and mustard 
  2. In large skillet over medium high heat melt butter with olive oil 
  3. Add onion and garlic and saute for about 2 minutes 
  4. Move onions and garlic to side of pan and add seasoned pork chops 
  5. Saute for about 2 minutes on each side until lightly browned 
  6. Transfer contents of pan to slow cooker 
  7. Add chicken broth 
  8. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 
  9. Remove pork chops and cover to keep warm 
  10. Add cream to slow cooker and whisk 
  11. To thicken sauce pour into small saucepan and whisk in 1 tablespoon cornstarch 
  12. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes until thickened to desired consistency 
  13. Add additional salt and pepper to taste 
  14. Pour over pork chops and garnish with freeze dried herbs

Monday, March 23, 2015

DIY Tagalongs

Yesterday would have been my mother's 85th birthday.  She was involved with girl scouting for most of her adult life.  And for many years, that meant being the cookie mother.  And the living room would be full of boxes of Thin Mints, Trefoils, and of course, Tagalongs.

These might have to be made in her honor. Via Spoon University

Girl Scout Cookie Upgrade: Tagalongs with Bittersweet Chocolate and Sea Salt 
Prep Time: 60 – 80 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes
Total Time: about an hour and a half
Servings: 32 cookies

Ingredients 
  • 1/2 cup confectioner sugar 
  • 1 cup butter 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla 
  • 2 cups flour 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 1 cup peanut butter 
  • 1/2 cup confectioner sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate morsels 
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening 
  • 3/4 cup bittersweet morsels (I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate, but anything that has a 60% cocoa content or more is a good option) 
  • 1 tablespoon shortening 
  • Sea salt for sprinkling 
Directions
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together confectioner sugar and room-temperature butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add vanilla and beat until fully incorporated. 
  3. Add salt then slowly add flour until combined. Dough should be crumbly but not over-mixed.
  4. Press cling-wrap gently onto surface of dough then refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. 
  5. As dough refrigerates, preheat oven to 350ºF. 
  6. After 20-30 minutes of chilling, form dough into a large ball then place onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough to a 1/4-inch thickness.
  7. Use a a 2-inch round cookie cutter (or if you lack such a thing like me, use a 1/4 cup measuring cup) to cut out the cookies and place rounds 1/2-inch apart on a baking sheet. Re-roll leftover dough and continue to cut out until all dough is used. 
  8. Place cookies into preheated oven for 13-15 minutes, or until just beginning to brown around the edges. 
  9. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  10. As the cookies cool, heat peanut butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it reaches the consistency of a thick milkshake: it should be liquefied but not runny.
  11. Reduce heat to low and add confectioner sugar, butter and vanilla to saucepan. Stir to combine.
  12. Remove from heat and using a knife, spread approximately 2 teaspoons of peanut butter mixture onto each cookie. Try and spread it out as smoothly as possible so the surface is even for dipping in chocolate.
  13. Place peanut butter-topped cookies in the refrigerator for the topping to set (approximately one hour). 
  14. To melt the chocolate for dipping, start by combining the milk chocolate morsels and shortening in a microwave-safe container.
  15. Microwave on half power for 30-second intervals, stirring after each time until chocolate has completely melted.
  16. For dipping, place cookie peanut-butter side down into melted chocolate. 
  17. Submerge into chocolate so that the edges are completely covered and the chocolate begins to get on the bottom of the cookie (but do not completely dunk the cookie).
  18. Remove from the chocolate and continue to hold cookie upside down so excess chocolate drips down back into the bowl. 
  19. Flip cookie over and place on baking sheet or large, flat surface lined with wax paper.
  20. Continue dunking in milk chocolate until half of the batch of cookies are coated. 
  21. For the second half, melt the bittersweet chocolate with shortening following the same method as the milk chocolate.
  22. Once the cookies have been dipped in the bittersweet chocolate, sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on each.
  23. Place all cookies in the refrigerator and chill until chocolate coating sets!
  24. Choose your side: milk chocolate or bittersweet chocolate. Or just eat them all.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Shepherd's Pie

Tomorrow will mark St. Patrick's Day and the birthday of my sister - Happy Birthday Peg!  She often laments the years of birthday parties with green cake.  As for food, my mother wasn't a big fan of corned beef and cabbage - so my father would usually have to get his fix at lunch time.  Irish food did not play a big role in our home growing up.

One dish that we had frequently going up - though it's probably more British than Irish - is my mother's take on Shepherd's Pie, or Hash, as she called it.  We had a lamb roast a few weeks ago and I made up some Shepherd's Pie, which was pretty tasty, and as I remembered it.

Mom's Shepherd's Pie

Ingredients
  • The remnants of a roast (beef, lamb, pork), about 2 lbs, ground, or chopped finely.
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Peas (Mom used to use canned, I used about 1/2 cup of frozen)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Beef stock
Preparation
  1. Prepare the mashed potatoes, set aside
  2. Saute the onion in a skillet lightly
  3. Mix the meat, onion, and peas in a large bowl
  4. Add beef stock and Worcestershire as needed if mix is too dry (you want there to be some moisture in the mix)
  5. (Optional) Place some mashed potatoes on the bottom of a casserole dish
  6. Spoon the meat mix into the casserole dish
  7. Spread mashed potatoes on top of the casserole dish
Cook in a 350 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes or until heated through.  In the final minutes, place a few pats of butter on top of the mashed potatoes and broil for a nice crust.