Monday, February 8, 2016

Another Way for Salmon

Well, dear readers, if you were here last week, you saw my PSA for serving crepes on Candlemas / Groundhog Day.  Upon serving them up on Tuesday, LBA asked about how to make them.  I explained they are relatively easy to make, with just four ingredients in equal proportions.  SoBA contemplated this and quickly asked, "then why don't we have them more often?"  A fine question, indeed.  By virtue of the calendar, crepes will again be on the menu tomorrow night for Mardi Gras, the night before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent in the Catholic calendar.  But it would seem that crepes need to appear more than twice a year, in the same month.

For Ash Wednesday, Catholics are requested to abstain from meat (and also give something up for Lent), so maybe we will have salmon for dinner.  Here's a recipe for Salmon with Brussel Sprouts (which I think are coming in the box tomorrow - along with more snow overnight).  Recipe from Diethood via BuzzFeed.

One Sheet Pan Garlic Roasted Salmon with Brussels Sprouts
Serves: 6 Servings
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 30 mins

  • 2 pounds brussel sprouts, ends trimmed 
  • 3 tablespoons STAR Garlic Flavored Olive Oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

2 pounds salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 6 portions
1 tablespoon STAR Garlic Flavored Olive Oil
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt fresh ground pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 450F. 
  2. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine trimmed brussel sprouts, olive oil, salt and pepper; mix until well combined. 
  4. Transfer brussel sprouts to previously prepared baking sheet; arrange in a single layer and bake for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking. 
  5. In the meantime, prepare the salmon. 
  6. Drizzle salmon with olive oil. 
  7. Evenly divide and press minced garlic on top of each fillet. 
  8. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. 
  9. Remove baking sheet from oven; move the brussel sprouts around, making 6 empty spots for the salmon fillets. 
  10. Place salmon in empty spots and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until salmon is cooked through.
  11. Remove from oven; let stand 2 minutes and serve.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Declaration Committee

On June 11, 1776, the Second Continental Congress appointed a committee of five individuals to draft and submit to the Congress for its approval.

The five individuals were:
  • John Adams - firebrand member of the Congress, chief advocate for independence, representative from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Adams had made a name for himself prior to joining the Congress as an attorney in Massachusetts.  He would, of course go on to serve as the 2nd President of the United States.  Upon his death on July 4, 1826, he outlived by a few hours, his successor as President, 
  • Thomas Jefferson - The epitome of the American Renaissance man, Jefferson was the primary scribe of the Declaration of Independence, serving as a delegate from Virginia.  After losing to John Adams in 1796, Jefferson won the presidency in 1800, going on to serve two terms as the 3rd President of the United States.
  • Benjamin Franklin - the elder statesman of the Congress, representing Pennsylvania, brought gravitas to the Committee of Five.  After the establishment of the United States, Franklin served as the country's first Postmaster.
  • Robert Livingston - from New York, served on the Committee of Five, but was recalled by New York before he could sign the Declaration.  Livingston went on to serve as the nation's first Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the forerunner of Secretary of State.  It was Livingston that administered the Oath of Office to George Washington, inaugurating him as the first President.
  • Roger Sherman - was one of the most active members of the Continental Congress, serving on many committees, including the Committee of Five.  He was also very active outside his congressional duties and was later very involved in the Constitutional Convention.  At the time of his death in 1793, Sherman was serving as one of Connecticut's first Senators.

Meet the President of the Continental Congress, John Hancock, of Massachusetts.  No signature on the Declaration of Independence is more prominent than Hancock's.  Hancock was the first to sign the document and opted to sign large enough, "so King George can see that without his glasses" though it is more likely that since he was first, he had an entirely blank space in which to sign.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Lamb and Phyllo Cigars

First of all - a PSA - tomorrow is Candelmas / Groundhog Day - don't forget to make your crepes!

In the Food Section of the Washington Post on January 20, I spotted this recipe.  I might need to work on getting these to the Launchpad table.  Hey I now own a deep fat fryer!

Lamb and Phyllo Cigars
"Frying phyllo almost guarantees a shatteringly crisp crunch; the payoff here is split between the spiced, savory lamb­ and ­pine­nut filling and the sumac­ mint yogurt dipping sauce. You'll need an instant­ read thermometer for monitoring the oil."

Make Ahead: The dipping sauce (without the pomegranate molasses drizzle) can be refrigerated up to 1 day in advance.
SERVINGS: 7 servings, makes 21 cigars


  • 1 cup plain low­fat Greek­style yogurt 
  • 2 tablespoons low­fat milk 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
  • 6 fresh mint leaves, stacked, rolled and cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade) 
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • Pomegranate molasses, for drizzling
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper 
  • 1 pound ground lamb 
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses 
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts 
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat­leaf parsley or cilantro 
  • Peanut or canola oil, for frying 
  • 7 sheets phyllo dough (14 by 18 inches), defrosted 1 large egg, beaten

For the dip: Whisk together the yogurt, milk, lemon juice, mint, sumac and salt in a medium bowl until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (and up to 1 day). 

For the cigars: Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium­high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring several times, until it’s lightly golden.

Add the garlic to the skillet, then the salt, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg and cayenne pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add the lamb, breaking it up with your fingers as you go. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the lamb loses its raw look and the spices are evenly distributed. 

Clear a spot at the center of the pan; add the tomato paste and spread it a bit; cook for 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the pomegranate molasses, pine nuts and the parsley or cilantro, and stir to combine. 

Pour about 3 inches of peanut or canola oil into a deep saute pan; heat over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. Seat a wire cooling rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.

Meanwhile, unroll the phyllo sheets and stack them; cover with damp paper towels. Place one sheet of the phyllo on a clean work surface and coat it with a light application of olive oil cooking spray (or brush lightly with olive oil). Repeat this step to build and coat a second layer. 

Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the sheets in half lengthwise, then cut each of those halves horizontally into 3 rectangles of equal size, so you have 6 rectangles total. 

Use the beaten egg to brush three edges of each phyllo rectangle, leaving one long side plain. Spoon a tablespoon of the lamb mixture an inch inside the unbrushed edge, in a line parallel to the edge, leaving a 1/2 ­inch margin at either end. Roll the dough over the filling, tightly. Once it's rolled, use your fingers to gently push and fold in the sides of the roll. Keep the cigars covered with a damp paper towel. Repeat to use all but 3 tablespoons of the filling, forming 18 cigars.

Spray/brush the last of the phyllo sheets with oil, then fold it in half lengthwise; cut the fold, then cut the folded phyllo into 3 equal rectangles. Repeat the egg­wash, filling, rolling, sealing, spraying and covering steps, so you have a total of 21 cigars. Check to make sure the seams of the phyllo are tightly sealed; if not, brush with more of the egg. (Discard any leftover egg after you're finished frying.) 

Working in batches, gently drop the cigars into the hot oil; fry the cigars for about 3 minutes, turning so they’re evenly and lightly browned. Use tongs to transfer them to the wire rack to cool. (If the cigars open a bit along the seam, you can cut or pinch off that bit.)

Just before serving, drizzle some pomegranate molasses over the dipping sauce. Serve warm or at room temperature, with the sauce.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

New Thursday Series: Signers of the Declaration of Independence

It's time for a new list series!  2008, I covered Presidents of the United States. In 2012, I did a series on the States of the Union.  In 2014 it was Countries of the World (UN Member States).  Here in 2016, when we will elect a new President in November, and to commemorate the 240th Anniversary of the Republic - I have chosen to look at the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Now those of you who have been paying attention will note there are only 52 weeks in a year - so 56 signers doesn't work out uniformly.  There was at least one signer from each of the 13 colonies - so one state a month doesn't work out either.  I guess I could do two at a time, which would amount to 28 weeks, which leaves some play in the calendar as well.  Well, I'll figure it out.  We could also abbreviate the run to coincide with Independence Day, some twenty-two weeks away.

Next week, I'll start with the Declaration Committee.  That will get five out of the way right off.  Any guesses before next week?  While you ponder that here's a list of "awesome founding father facts" from BuzzFeed.
  1. Two days before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the delegates of the Constitutional Convention threw a party where they consumed 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, 8 bottles of whiskey, 22 bottles of porter, 8 bottles of hard cider, 12 bottles of beer and 7 bowls of alcoholic punch.
  2. Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776 – John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Pretty much everyone else signed it on August 2nd. 
  3. The Founding Fathers thought Independence Day would be celebrated on July 2nd. John Adams wrote a letter to his wife that said “the Second of July, 1776, will be the most memorable in the history of America.” 
  4. Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay encouraging scholars to find a method for “improving the odor of human flatulence.”
  5. At 16, Benjamin Franklin regularly published editorials under the guise of Ms. Silence Dogood, a middle-aged widow character he created. 
  6. Benjamin Franklin was not allowed to write the Declaration of Independence because everyone thought that he’s try to slip a joke into the document. 
  7. Benjamin Franklin wasn’t very good at math. Most of his experiments with electricity relied on trial and error.
  8. Benjamin Franklin coined a number of electrical terms we still use today. These terms include: battery, brush, charged, condense, conductor, plus, minus, positively and negatively. 
  9. Benjamin Franklin was an early supporter of abolishment. He tried to abolish slavery in 1790 with a petition to congress. 
  10. Benjamin Franklin enjoyed “air baths” – reading or writing in his house completely naked. 
  11. Benjamin Franklin thought the Bald Eagle was a bad national symbol because it was “a bird of bad moral character that does not get his living honestly.” 
  12. He felt the Turkey would be better because it was a “Bird of Courage”, and “would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards.” 
  13. Benjamin Franklin purposely misspelled “Pennsylvania” on the state’s currency. He did so to deter counterfeiters. 
  14. Benjamin Franklin thought America should use simplified English spellings. He said words such as “though,” “through,” and “night” should be spelled “tho,” “thru,” and “nite.”
  15. Benjamin Franklin was the first to bring tofu into America. 
  16. It’s said that about two-thirds of Philadelphia showed up for Benjamin Franklin’s funeral in 1790. 
  17. John Adams had a dog named Satan. Satan lived in the White House with the president. 
  18. John Adams was the only president from the first five to not hold any slaves. 
  19. Alexander Hamilton wasn’t born in the American colonies. He was born on the island Nevis in the West Indies.
  20. When he was orphaned at age 13, Alexander Hamilton lied about his age, claiming he was 11 years old in order to make himself a more desirable candidate for a business apprenticeship. Historians still can’t agree on his true age. 
  21. Alexander Hamilton founded the New York Post.
  22. Coincidentally, Alexander Hamilton was also the first American politician to have his career ruined by a sex scandal. 
  23. Alexander Hamilton famously died in a duel with Aaron Burr in Weehawken, NJ. His eldest son, Philip, also died in a duel just three years earlier, also in Weehawken, NJ. 
  24. Thomas Jefferson thought the Constitution should have been rewritten every 19 years. 
  25. While in England, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams visited William Shakespeare’s house together. They vandalized a chair by chipping off chucks to keep as souvenirs. 
  26. Thomas Jefferson could read and write in six languages: Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, and English. It’s thought that he might have known Arabic, Gaelic, and Welsh too. 
  27. Thomas Jefferson introduced macaroni and cheese to the United States. 
  28. Thomas Jefferson told Lewis and Clark to keep an eye out for giant sloths while they were on their expedition.
  29. Thomas Jefferson donated his own collection of books to start the Library of Congress. He was paid $23,950 for 6,500 of his own books, which he had been collecting for over 50 years. (That’s about $250,000 in today’s money.) 
  30. Despite popular belief, Thomas Jefferson probably didn’t smoke marijuana. 
  31. James Madison was the smallest President ever. He was 5’4” and only weighed about 100 lbs.
  32. Contrary to a rumor started online, James Madison did not appoint a Secretary Of Beer. 
  33. When George Washington died in 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte gave a eulogy and ordered a requiem that would last ten days. 
  34. George Washington currently has over $300,000 in overdue library fines.
  35. George Washington’s wooden teeth were actually partially made from human teeth, which he got from his own slaves. (He paid the slaves for their teeth.) 
  36. When he was elected president, George Washington owned the largest whiskey distillery in the country. 
  37. George Washington didn’t know that Chinese people weren’t white. He was surprised when he first encountered a Chinese person. 
  38. When George Washington found a lost dog during the battle of Germantown, he returned the dog across enemy lines to the dog’s owner, his opponent from the battle, General Howe. 
  39. George Washington was afraid of being buried alive. In his will, he asked not to be buried until three days after his death. 
  40. It’s Paul Revere, not Sam Adams, on the label of Samuel Adams beer.
  41. The Boston Tea Party wasn’t really a protest against over-taxed tea. In fact, the Tea Act actually made legal tea cheaper. It was actually a protest led by smugglers of Dutch Tea, led by John Hancock, who couldn’t compete with legal tea prices. 
  42. John Jay didn’t sign the Declaration of Independence. He is thought of as a Founding Father because of his contributions to the framing of the document. 
  43. Jay Street in Brooklyn, NY was named for John Jay.
  44. Francis Hopkinson was most likely responsible for designing the first U.S. flag. For his work, he asked the government for “a quarter cask of the public wine” as a “reasonable reward” for the job. They never gave it to him. 
  45. Robert Morris, Jr. died shortly after attempting to clear a blockage in his penis caused by a urinary tract infection with a whalebone, likely taken from one of his wife’s corsets.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Chicken and Bacon? Sign Me Up

I'm always on the lookout for new ways to make chicken (in the family cookbook - chicken by far has the most recipes).  Someone showed me a way to incorporate bacon AND brussel sprouts AND mashed potatoes!  From a list of chicken recipes from BuzzFeed, this recipe is from Vodka&Biscuits and I am grateful.

Roast Chicken Breast & Brussels Sprouts
Serves 4
Prep Time 25 min
Cook Time 35 min
Total Time 50 min

  • 4 chicken breasts 
  • 4-8 pieces of bacon 
  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts 
  • 1 leek 
  • 4 garlic cloves 
  • 3 lemon slices 
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth 
  • salt and pepper 
  • 3 sprigs of thyme 
  • canola oil as needed 
  • 2 T. olive oil 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 
  2. Prepare the brussels sprouts by cutting off the stem end then cutting each in half. 
  3. Prepare the leek by cutting off the stem end, then slicing the leek into rounds using the white and light green parts only. Add to a bowl of water to rid any dirt, then dry and transfer to a baking dish with the brussels sprouts. 
  4. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until needed.
  5. Add enough canola oil to coat a saute pan, then heat to medium. 
  6. Sprinkle each breast with salt and pepper then transfer to the hot oil. Allow to brown 3-4 minutes on each side. 
  7. You can wrap the bacon before or after this step, totally up to you, just allow the chicken to slightly cool if you're doing it after browning. 
  8. Transfer the bacon wrapped chicken to the dish with the vegetables. Add the garlic, lemon slices, thyme, and chicken broth. A splash of wine wouldn't hurt either! 
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until your meat thermometer reaches 160. If you want your bacon to be extra crispy, crank up the broiler and allow to cook under the broiler for a few extra minutes. 
  10. Serve over creamy mashed potatoes and enjoy! 
To help get the bacon super crispy you can wrap it around the chicken before browning, you may just need a toothpick to hold it together!

If you want to make this a true one-dish meal, just add the vegetables, wrapped chicken, and remaining ingredients to the pan and throw it in the oven. The baking time will increase about 20 minutes. You don't have to brown the chicken prior!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snowzilla 2016 by the numbers

The DMV was slammed with a major snowstorm this weekend.  We got two seasons worth of snow in two days.

100 - the amount of dollars it cost me to get the driveway shoveled.  The best money I ever spent.

41 - the number of Twitter / FB posts during the storm duration.  3 were not storm-related.

36 - number of hours that it snowed, at least.  From 1;15pm until 1:15am Sunday.

23 - the number of inches recorded on the table on the deck - recorded at 11:00pm on Saturday night.

17 - the number of inches recorded at National Airport, the official recording station for the DMV - the number is under scrutiny as they feel they may have not measured correctly.

8 - the number of hours I teleworked on Friday - when the government opened and then closed at noon.

8 - the number of storm-related photos that I posted, 5 from the apocalypse-emptied Shoppers on Thursday night, 1 of knee-high snow, 1 measurement, and 1 of the new deep fat fryer that was purchased to ride out the storm.

5 - the number of times LBA and SoBA went out to play in the snow.

4 - the number of shovels used in clearing the Launchpad.  2 were my own, 2 were brought by the nice folks who came to shovel me out.

4 - the number of onions used to make onion straws on Friday night in the aforementioned new deep fat fryer.

3 - and counting, the number of snow days for LBA and SoBA.  They were off on Thursday after the mini-storm on Wednesday night, then Friday, and school has been canceled for tomorrow.

0 - the number of hours we lost power at the Launchpad, Thanks be to God.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Donut Holes

Today is the day set aside for the "Federally Mandated Playdate" in which several friends and their families come to the launchpad for dinner - today's menu - Chili!  We have dessert - but I would make these - if I had a deep fat fryer, which I still don't.  via BuzzFeed.

Cinnamon Donut Holes
  • 150g flour
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 55g melted butter
  • 240ml milk
  • 1 egg
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add melted butter, milk and egg and whisk to combine.  Heat oil in skillet.  Using an ice cream scoop, drop dollops of dough into hot oil.  Turn over once browned on one side.  Remove from oil and place on paper towel.  Sprinkle with cinnamon / powdered sugar mix.