Monday, July 10, 2017

Appetizers? Get 'em on the Dinner Menu!

These items are billed as appetizers for your next party.  But I could easily see any of these making it into the Brave Astronaut Dinner Rotation.  From BuzzFeed (there are six at the link - here is my favorite).

Chicken Parmesan-Stuffed Garlic Bread
Servings: 3-4

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 cup oil, for frying
  • 1 large baguette
  • 10-12 mozzarella slices
  • Garlic Butter:
    • ⅓ cup melted butter
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan, grated
  •  Marinara sauce

PREPARATION
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180˚C.
  2. Slice the chicken breast into 1-centimeter thick strips.
  3. Place the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs into 3 separate bowls. Roll a chicken strip in the flour, dusting off any excess. Dip the strip into the egg, then place into the bread crumbs, coating it completely.
  4. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  5. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat to 350˚F/180˚C.
  6. Fry the breaded chicken strips until both sides are golden brown. Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel.
  7. Slice the baguette into thirds or fourths (each baguette piece should be roughly the same length of the fried chicken strips), and hollow out the insides of the baguette pieces with a knife.
  8. Lay two slices of mozzarella on top of each other with a 1-inch overlap. Place a chicken strip on the overlapping region, then fold the mozzarella tightly around the chicken.
  9. Gently fit the rolled chicken strips into a hollowed baguette piece.
  10. Slice the stuffed baguette pieces into 1-inch slices, then place them tightly side-by-side on a baking sheet lined with foil.
  11. In a small bowl, mix together ingredients for garlic butter.
  12. Brush the garlic butter evenly over the baguette slices, making sure it drips in between the slices.
  13. Wrap the foil over the re-assembled baguette and bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melted and the top is starting to brown.
  14. Remove the foil and serve with marinara. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

James K. Polk - The Napoleon of the Stump

James K. Polk, the 11th President died shortly after leaving office, having served only one term in office.  But in those four years, he accomplished a great deal for the country.  A great deal more than any other one-term presidents that we have ever had, or um, currently have.

In the afterlife, James K. Polk has had several in[term]ents.  When he died of cholera at his home in Tennessee, he was buried outside of Nashville.  His remains were moved a year later to his former home.  Then in 1893, after the family home was sold and demolished, Polk (and his wife, Sarah) were disinterred and moved to the grounds of the Tennessee state Capitol.

Now, more than 100 years later, there is a movement to move the Polks again, this time to the Polk childhood home in Columbia Tennessee.  You can read more here.  This post is really just an opportunity to have this song appear on this blog.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil

Growing up, I spent a fair number of summers at my grandmother's home in Maine, with my family.  There were tales of big lobster bakes on the beach, which I didn't experience, but always had lobster at least once during our stay there.

Tomorrow would have been my father's 88th birthday and the Brave Astronaut Clan is in New York to settle some lingering affairs of my father's estate.  There is sure to be card playing, shouting, drinking, and good food.  Maybe we should have lobster.  If not, maybe a Shrimp Boil. From Damn Delicious Via BuzzFeed.

Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients
  • 1 pound baby Dutch yellow potatoes
  • 3 ears corn, each cut crosswise into 6 pieces
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 (12.8-ounce) package smoked andouille sausage, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves 
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook potatoes until just tender and parboiled, about 10-13 minutes. Stir in corn during the last 5 minutes of cooking time; drain well.
  3. In a small bowl, combine butter, garlic and Old Bay Seasoning.
  4. Place potatoes, corn, shrimp and sausage in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Stir in butter mixture and gently toss to combine. 
  5. Place into oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the shrimp are opaque and corn is tender. 
  6. Serve immediately with lemon wedges, garnished with parsley, if desired.
This delicious recipe brought to you by Damn Delicious http://damndelicious.net/2017/02/13/sheet-pan-shrimp-boil/

Monday, June 26, 2017

Blackberry Whiskey Lemonade

Yes Please. Recipe from Life as a Strawberry via BuzzFeed.

Blackberry Whiskey Lemonade
PREP TIME 30 mins
TOTAL TIME 30 mins
YIELD: Serves 4-5

INGREDIENTS
For the Blackberry Simple Syrup:
  • 12 oz. fresh blackberries
  • ½ cup sugar

For the Blackberry Whiskey Lemonade:
  • 7.5 oz. whiskey
  • 7.5 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 large rosemary sprig
  • 6 oz. blackberry simple syrup

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Blackberry Simple Syrup:
  1. Put the blackberries and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until blackberries have softened and you have a thick syrup.
  3. Strain syrup through a mesh sieve to separate any seeds or lumps from the syrup. You can discard the leftover pulp, although I like to freeze it in ice cube trays and pop a cube or two in smoothies.
  4. Let syrup cool on the counter for 20 minutes or so before you make the drinks.

For the Blackberry Whiskey Lemonade:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large shaker and add a handful or two of ice cubes. Depending on the size of your shaker, you may have to shake the drinks in two batches.
  2. Shake to combine and chill drinks.
  3. Pour over ice into glasses and serve.
NOTES
Lighten the drinks up a bit (and stretch them to serve more people!) by topping each drink off with a splash of tonic water or sparkling wine.

Fresh, in-season blackberries are generally so juicy that you don't really need water as an added liquid for this simple syrup - you just have to give them enough time to do their thing and release all their juices! If you'd like to speed the cooking process or if your berries are on the drier side, add ½ cup water to the syrup and cook normally.

Use basil instead of rosemary for a fun twist!

For a stronger herb flavor, add a sprig or two of rosemary to the syrup while it cooks.

You can substitute other liquors for the whiskey in this recipe if you like - personally, though, I love the depth of flavor that whiskey or bourbon bring to this cocktail!

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.