Monday, November 23, 2015

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

The Brave Astronaut clan will be home for Thanksgiving this year and will be hosting the Brave Astronaut's sister and two of her boys.  We will be eight around the Launchpad table - appetizers will be served, the turkey has been bought, the potatoes are ready for mashing, there will be plenty of desserts, and vegetables will be prepared - including this recipe below - sorry, folks, I like Brussel Sprouts (via Simply Recipes).

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 pounds brussels sprouts, tough outer leaves removed, base trimmed, sprouts cut in half 
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil 
  • Several large shallots, peeled and thickly sliced, about a cup 
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced in half 
  • 2 Tbsp plus 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar 
  • Salt 
  • Pepper 
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme 
In a oven-safe pan, heat the oil on medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 5-8 minutes.  Add the brussel sprouts and garlic and cook for an additional 5-6 minutes, until the sprouts start to brown.  Add 2 TB of balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper.

Place in oven, pre-heated to 425 degrees, uncovered.  Cook for 20-30 minutes.  Remove from oven,, add remaining balsamic vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Slow Cooker Apple Crisp

I would like to use the slow cooker more.  This would work. From BuzzFeed via DiningDelish.

Slow Cooker Apple Crisp
Serves: 6 servings

For the Apples
  • 6-7 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and sliced 
  • Juice of 1 lemon 
  • ¼ cup white sugar 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 
  • ½ tsp. baking powder 

For the Topping
  • ½ cup dry oats (instant or rolled, certified gluten free) 
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour, gluten free 
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) butter, unsalted 
  • ¾ cup brown sugar 
  • ¼ cup white sugar 
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg 
  • ¼ tsp. salt 

  1. Place sliced apples in slow cooker.
  2. Add lemon juice, cinnamon, white sugar, baking powder, and vanilla extract. Stir until apples are evenly coated. 
  3. In a mixing bowl, add oats, flour, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir to combine all ingredients. 
  4. Cut butter into flour mixture. 
  5. Using a spoon or your hands, combine flour mixture and butter until it forms a dough. 
  6. Crumble dough on top of apples evenly. 
  7. Place lid on slow cooker and set on High for 2 hours OR Low for 4 hours. 
  8. Open lid part way and cook for about an additional hour to let top get "crispy". 
  9. Serve warm and top with vanilla ice cream if desired.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Slow Cooker Roast Beef

Though Mrs. BA hates it - it's fall.  I just made this and it was really good. Via BuzzFeed from Creme de la Crumb.

Slow Cooker Beef Roast

Prep time 10 mins
Cook time 6 hours
Total time 6 hours 10 mins
Serves: 4

  • 1 3-pound chuck or rump roast (see note) 
  • 2 tablespoons steak seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning 
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 pound baby carrots 
  • 2 pounds potatoes, chopped into 2 inch pieces 
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, cut into chunks 
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped 
  • 2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder 
  • 3 tablespoons cold water + 3 tablespoons corn starch 

  1. Whisk together steak seasoning and Italian seasoning. Rub seasoning mix all over the roast. Grease a slow cooker. Add roast, beef broth, potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery. Cover and cook on low for 9 hours or on high for 6 hours. 
  2. minutes before serving, prepare the gravy. Drain liquid from sow cooker into a medium sauce pan. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Bring to a boil. 
  3. Whisk together corn starch and cold water. Add to sauce pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow to thicken for 3-5 minutes. 
  4. Place roast on a large plate or serving platter. Use a fork to gently pull apart the roast. Pour gravy over roast (and veggies if desired) and serve. Enjoy! 

*This method also works well with larger roasts up to 8 pounds. Simply adjust the amount of carrots and potatoes to feed however many are in your group. Follow instructions as written. For roasts over 8 pounds, double the entire recipe.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Penne Alla Vodka with Chicken

I made pasta and sauce the other night and was reminded how relatively easy it is (I used my mother's recipe, which basically involves a pound of ground beef, a jar of sauce and some tomato paste - though I did add sausage to this batch).  I should make it more often.

Then I saw this recipe (from the Washington Post).  Wait. Do I have vodka in the house? :)

Penne Alla Vodka with Chicken
Servings: 4-6
Tested size: 4-6 servings

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 1 medium onion, cut into small dice (about 1 cup) 
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or grated on a Microplane zester (about 2 teaspoons) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes 
  • One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, plus juices, crushed by hand or with a potato masher into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 stem fresh basil (optional) 
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream 
  • 1/4 cup vodka 
  • 8 to 12 ounces dried penne, ziti or other short pasta 
  • Kosher salt 
  • Reserved pasta cooking water 
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch-wide slivers 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish 

Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and the foaming subsides, add the onion; cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper flakes; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, with their juices, and the basil, if using. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low so the mixture is barely bubbling; cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened and reduced to 4 cups. Discard the basil.

Working in batches as needed, transfer the sauce to a blender. Add the cream and vodka. Remove the center knob on the lid (to allow steam to escape); place a paper towel over the lid opening to avoid splash-ups. Starting on the lowest speed and gradually increasing to high, blend until completely smooth, about 30 seconds. Return to the saucepan and bring just to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low and cook, allowing the sauce to reduce further while the pasta cooks.

Place the pasta in a large pot and cover with hot water by a couple of inches. Add a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking. Continue to cook until the pasta is fully softened but retains a slight bite in the center.

Meanwhile, about 2 minutes before the pasta is done (when you can bite into the pasta, but it still resists more than you'd be comfortable dealing with on the plate), add the chicken to the sauce and stir to combine.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water, then return the pasta to the pot. Stir to combine, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has achieved the desired consistency, about 1 minute, adding some of the reserved pasta cooking water as necessary.

Serve right away, topped with the parsley and grated cheese (to taste).

Monday, October 26, 2015

The New England Express

The other day, a colleague of mine posted that it was officially fall for her now that she had made her first batch of New England Express cocktails.  I might need to move into the cubicle next to her.  Then again, I know the guy who works in the cubicle who works next to her.

Recipe from Bon Appetit

The New England Express
Servings: 8

  • Thyme Syrup 
    • ⅓ cup sugar 
    • 8 sprigs thyme 
  • Assembly 
    • 2 cups apple cider 
    • 1½ cups dark rum 
    • ¾ cup fresh lime juice 
    • 1 teaspoon Angostura bitters 
    • Club soda 
    • 8 sprigs thyme 
    • 8 lime slices 

Thyme syrup: Bring sugar and ⅓ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat, add thyme sprigs, and cover. Let stand 10 minutes, then strain into a small jar. Let cool.

Do Ahead: Syrup can be made 1 month ahead. Cover and chill.

Assembly: Mix thyme syrup, cider, rum, lime juice, and bitters in a pitcher. Divide among rocks glasses filled with ice; top off with club soda. Garnish with thyme sprigs and lime slices.

Do Ahead: Thyme syrup, cider, rum, lime juice, and bitters can be mixed 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Potato Gratin Fries

I really, really want a deep fryer. These would be really, really good. From the Washington Post Magazine, August 23, 2015.

Potato Gratin Fries

A rich, special-occasion dish of beautifully layered potatoes, crisp on the outside and buttery within. Without the top crust, it's not a true gratin, but it is assembled in the same way for the baking. At G by Mike Isabella, these accompany a cauliflower "steak"; you can serve them the same way you would any fries: alongside roasts or steaks, with sandwiches or salads, or as an appetizer (with ketchup or the dipping sauce of your choice, if desired). You'll need an instant-read thermometer.

Make Ahead: The baked potato gratin needs to be refrigerated/weighted overnight. It can be refrigerated for up to 5 days before frying.

Servings: 12-16
Tested size: 12-16 servings

  • 5 pounds russet potatoes (5 to 6 large), peeled
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the potatoes as thinly as possible, preferably using a mandoline. (Don’t worry about immersing them in water to keep them from turning gray; the last-step frying renders that moot.)
  2. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, and brush it with some of the melted butter. Arrange one layer of the potatoes in the dish, overlapping them slightly. Brush with the butter and sprinkle with a little bit of the salt. Repeat with another layer of potatoes, butter and salt, and repeat until all the potatoes, butter and salt are used.
  3. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil; bake until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a skewer, 60 to 90 minutes. Remove from the oven. Fit a dish on top so it presses directly on the potatoes through the foil, and put a few heavy cans of tomatoes or beans on the dish, as weights. Cool to room temperature, then transfer the setup to the refrigerator to chill and compress overnight.
  4. When ready to fry, pour the oil to a depth of 4 inches into a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
  5. Remove the potato gratin from the refrigerator. Fill the sink with an inch of hot tap water, and set the pan in the water for a minute or two to loosen the solid mass. Discard the foil, run a knife blade around the inside edge of the dish and invert onto a cutting board so the gratin comes out in one block. Discard the parchment paper.
  6. Use a sharp knife to cut the gratin into 1-inch slabs. Turn each slab onto its side and cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces. Return the bulk of the pieces to the refrigerator to stay chilled until you fry them.
  7. Once the oil registers 375 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, use a slotted spoon to carefully lower each piece into the hot oil, holding it for a few seconds before releasing (so the layers won't break up). Fry in batches, to avoid overcrowding, until the potatoes are golden brown, about 5 minutes. (Fry any odd/stray layered potato pieces left over from cutting, too.) Transfer to the cooling rack. Serve warm.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Broccoli Chicken Mac and Cheese

I think both LBA and SoBA would eat this.  Mrs. BA, probably not.  From Gimme Some Oven via BuzzFeed

Broccoli Chicken Mac and Cheese
Yield: 6-8 servings
This Broccoli Chicken Mac and Cheese recipe is made with a delicious cheddar-Parmesan cheesy sauce, and kicked up a notch with fresh broccoli and cooked chicken.

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 50 mins
Difficulty: Easy

  • 1 pound dry pasta (I used small shells, but you could use macaroni or any shape of pasta) 
  • 1 bunch broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets 
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 3 tablespoons flour 
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock 
  • 1 cup milk, warmed 
  • 2 1/2 cups freshly-grated cheddar cheese (I recommend sharp cheddar) 
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste 
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely-ground black pepper, or more to taste 
  • 2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup extra shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook pasta al dente in a large stockpot of salted water according to package instructions. About 2-3 minutes before the pasta reaches al dente, add in the broccoli florets and let them cook alongside the pasta for the remainder of the cooking time. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, as the pasta water is heating, melt butter in a (separate) medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute or until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the flour until combined and cook for an additional 1 minute, whisking occasionally. Slowly whisk in vegetable or chicken stock until the mixture is smooth. Then slowly whisk in the milk until it is combined. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture comes to a simmer. Then remove from heat, and stir in the cheddar, Parmesan, salt and pepper until the cheese sauce is smooth. Remove from heat.

Once the pasta and broccoli are cooked, pour the cheese sauce on top of the pasta, add in the chicken, and toss until everything is evenly combined.

At this point, you can either serve the pasta stovetop-style as-is. Or pour the pasta into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish, and sprinkle with extra cheddar cheese and Panko breadcrumbs. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the top becomes slightly crispy and the breadcrumbs are slightly golden. Remove and serve immediately.