Monday, August 22, 2016

Mini Meatball Casserole

When I'm interested in comfort food I will usually go for my Mom's Beefaroni.  Leave it to the one woman that I might consider leaving Mrs. BA for to provide me with an alternative. Via the Pioneer Woman.

Mini Meatball Pasta Bake
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Cook Time: 1 Hours
Servings: 12 Servings

  • 3/4 pounds Italian Sausage 
  • 3/4 pounds Ground Beef 
  • 1/2 cup Regular Oats 
  • 1 cup Grated Parmesan 
  • 1 whole Egg, Beaten 
  • 1/4 cup Minced Fresh Parsley 
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste 
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced 
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced 
  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Diced Tomatoes 
  • 1 can (8 Ounces) Tomato Paste 
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar 
  • 2 cups Hot Water 
  • 12 leaves Basil 
  • 12 ounces, weight Ziti Pasta, Cooked To Al Dente 
  • 16 ounces, weight Fresh Mozzarella, Cut Into Large Cubes 

In a bowl, mix together the sausage, beef, oats, 1/2 of the Parmesan, egg, half the parsley, and salt and pepper until well combined. Form into small meatballs (about 1/2 inch) and brown in batches in a skillet over medium heat. Remove the meatballs from the pan and drain.

Add the onions and garlic to the skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, salt and pepper, sugar, and water. Stir and bring to a simmer, then add in the meatballs and continue simmering for 20 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow it to cool. Stir in the basil once cool.

In a casserole dish, add half the pasta, half the mozzarella cubes, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and half the meatball sauce. Repeat with another layer, ending with the meatball sauce. Cover with foil and either refrigerate for up to 2 days, or bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve piping hot!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Vacation Cereal Chicken Strips

The Brave Astronaut Clan is on vacation this week - so there is sure to be some vacation cereal in the beach house - probably Cap'n Crunch or maybe Fruit Loops.  Maybe if SoBA and LBA and their friends don't eat them all, we can make these this week.  From the Pioneer Woman.

Cap'n Crunch Chicken Strips
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Servings: 4 Servings

  • 12 whole Chicken Tenders (strips) 
  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour 
  • 2 whole Eggs, Beaten 
  • Salt And Pepper 
  • 2 cups Cap'n Crunch Cereal 
  • Vegetable Oil, For Frying 
  • Ketchup, For Serving 

Put the flour in a shallow bowl and add some salt and pepper. Put the egg in a second shallow bowl. Crush the cereal in a third bowl, leaving a few larger chunks.

Dip the chicken strips first in the flour, then the egg and then the cereal.

Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the strips in batches until golden brown and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes, turning them so they don't burn. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with extra salt. Serve with ketchup!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Mrs. BA Hits a Big Number

Today is Mrs. BA's birthday - she's hit the 1/2 century mark. I am more and more in love with her every single day.  She is the best wife and mother.  If you see her around today, make sure you wish her a happy birthday. 

Tonight we will gather at the pool (her favorite summer place) to celebrate with friends.  Tomorrow we leave for vacation. 

Doesn't she look great?  And I'm the one younger than she is?

FYI - dear readers, I am unplugging for the week while on vacation.  I am in need of a respite from technology for the week.  I plan to do as little as possible, except sit on the beach, swim in the ocean, and relax.  No Facebook, no games on my phone or other devices.  I'll be back soon!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Road Trip

The Brave Astronaut Clan is heading out for some much needed vacation time.  No, not to Vacationland again this year - we're staying a little closer to home, but still beach bound.

I have always wanted to drive cross country and hit all the sites along the way.  Some day, I will do this.  I have wanted to do this for years.  And hey, you can't tell me that science is wrong.

According To Science, This Is The Perfect And Best Road Trip You Can Possibly Take
(via shareably)
Be honest with yourself: at some point you’ve probably thought about going on a cross-country road trip. Whether it be driving across Canada, United Kingdom, United States, or wherever you’re from, it’s probably crossed your mind at some point.

Luckily, for those in the United States, the “perfect road trip” has finally been planned.

According to the algorithm - it hits all the biggies.  Those that I would be able to take off this list (as I've already been there) - are in bold.
  1. Grand Canyon, AZ 
  2. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT 
  3. Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID 
  4. Yellowstone National Park, WY 
  5. Pikes Peak, CO
  6. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
  7. The Alamo, TX (can you see the basement there?)
  8. The Platt Historic District, OK 
  9. Toltec Mounds, AR 
  10. Elvis Presley’s Graceland, TN 
  11. Vicksburg National Military Park, MS 
  12. French Quarter, New Orleans, LA 
  13. USS Alabama, AL
  14. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL 
  15. Okefenokee Swamp Park, GA 
  16. Fort Sumter National Monument, SC 
  17. Lost World Caverns, WV 
  18. Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, NC 
  19. Mount Vernon, VA 
  20. White House, Washington, DC 
  21. Colonial Annapolis Historic District, MD 
  22. New Castle Historic District, Delaware
  23. Cape May Historic District, NJ 
  24. Liberty Bell, PA 
  25. Statue of Liberty, NY 
  26. The Mark Twain House & Museum, CT 
  27. The Breakers, RI 
  28. USS Constitution, MA 
  29. Acadia National Park, ME 
  30. Mount Washington Hotel, NH 
  31. Shelburne Farms, VT 
  32. Fox Theater, Detroit, MI 
  33. Spring Grove Cemetery, OH 
  34. Mammoth Cave National Park, KY 
  35. West Baden Springs Hotel, IN 
  36. Abraham Lincoln’s Home, IL 
  37. Gateway Arch, MO 
  38. C. W. Parker Carousel Museum, KS 
  39. Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion, IA 
  40. Taliesin, WI 
  41. Fort Snelling, MN 
  42. Ashfall Fossil Bed, NE 
  43. Mount Rushmore, SD 
  44. Fort Union Trading Post, ND 
  45. Glacier National Park, MT 
  46. Hanford Site, WA 
  47. Columbia River Highway, OR 
  48. San Francisco Cable Cars, CA 
  49. San Andreas Fault, CA 
  50. Hoover Dam, NV

Monday, August 8, 2016

Toll House Cookie Pie

I like chocolate chip cookies.  I like pie.  Both together would be fine with me. From A Family Feast via BuzzFeed.

Toll House Chocolate Chip Pie
Serves: 8 servings
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 55 mins
Total time: 1 hour 10 mins

  • 1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell 
  • 2 eggs 
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour 
  • ½ cup granulated sugar 
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar 
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, softened to room temperature 
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts 
  • Vanilla ice cream (optional but highly recommended, for serving)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a deep dish pie plate with the unbaked pie crust, crimping the edges. Set aside. 
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs on high speed until light and foamy. Add the flour and both sugars to the bowl and mix again until combined. Then add the softened butter and mix one more time until completely mixed. 
  3. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts and mix until the chocolate and nuts are evenly mixed throughout the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared pie crust. 
  4. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted halfway between the edge and the center of the pie comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for about 30 minutes. 
  5. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Chicken in Tomato Sauce

One of my favorite dishes my mother made growing up was her version of chicken cacciatore.  She would brown some chicken pieces and then smother them in some tomato sauce and serve it up.  Tonight LBA, SoBA, and I had breakfast for dinner (though we were going to have meatloaf until I realized we only had one pound of ground beef in the house).  In learning that I discovered that we need to eat out of the freezer for a while - there's too much in there.

So time for some chicken dishes.  From Cafe Delites, via BuzzFeed.

COOK TIME 10 mins
TOTAL TIME 11 mins
Serves: 4


  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves 
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley leaves 
  • ½ teaspoon ground oregano 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, halved to make 4 fillets 
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic 
  • 1 cup your favourite Marinara tomato sauce 
  • 1-2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (adjust to your tastes) 
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  1. Preheat the broiler/grill to a medium heat setting. 
  2. Combine the herbs in a shallow bowl with salt and pepper and oil. Coat both sides of each chicken fillet with the oil. Heat a large heavy oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add the fillets and pan fry on each side until golden (about 3 minutes on each side). 
  3. Add the garlic to the same pan and allow to fry until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Spoon the marinara sauce over and around the chicken. Add the Italian seasonings into the sauce and stir them through. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella over each chicken fillet; transfer to the oven and broil / grill until the cheese has melted and the chicken is cooked through (about 3 to 5 minutes). 
  4. Garnish with freshly chopped parmesan cheese and serve over zucchini noodles, rice, pasta, steamed vegetables, or with a salad!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The 50 Best Animated Films (so far)

With LBA and SoBA in the house, I've seen my fair share of animated films.  So when this list came out, I knew I needed to comment.  There's a lot on Japanese anime on this list, which I haven't seen many of.  What say you? My comments in italic. From The Playlist via kottke.

50. "Brave" - I haven't seen this movie. When Mrs. BA took the boys to see this, I went to see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
49. “The Pirates! Band Of Misfits” (2012) - haven't seen it
48. “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs” (2009) - a cute film.
47. “Tokyo Godfathers” (2003) - haven't seen it
46. “Frankenweenie” (2012) - I think LBA and SoBA have seen pieces of this
45. “Zootopia” (2016) - "What.  Do.  You.   Call.  A.  Three.  Humped.   Camel?        Pregnant."
44. “Kung Fu Panda” (2008) - Jack Black is pretty good.
43. “Shaun The Sheep Movie” (2015) - haven't seen it
42. “Paprika” (2006) - haven't seen it
41. “Song Of the Sea” (2014) - haven't seen it
40. “Sita Sings The Blues” (2008) - haven't seen it
39. “Boy & The World” (2013) - haven't seen it
38. “April And The Extraordinary World” (2015)  - haven't seen it
37. “The Adventures of Tintin” (2011) - I grew up reading these books and I enjoyed this movie.
36. “Ponyo” (2008) - haven't seen it
35. “The Illusionist” (2010) - haven't seen it
34. “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” (2006) - haven't seen it
33. “Ernest & Celestine” (2012) - haven't seen it
32. “Wolf Children” (2012) - haven't seen it
31. “The Secret Of Kells” (2009) - haven't seen it
30. “The Emperor’s New Groove” (2000) - Disney, and based on its ranking not one of the better ones, but not bad.
29. “Mary And Max” (2009) - haven't seen it
28. “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit” (2005) - a bit creepy, but amusing.
27. “Lilo & Stitch” (2002) - more Disney, and a cute film.
26. "Winnie The Pooh” (2011) - the books are better.
25. “Rango” (2011) - For some reason SoBA and LBA have a thing for this one.
24. “A Town Called Panic” (2009) - haven't seen it
23. “Millennium Actress” (2001) - haven't seen it
22. “Monster House” (2006) - haven't seen it
21. “How To Train Your Dragon” (2010) - SoBA and LBA also tend toward sequels, and this one is actually not as good as the second one.
20. “Finding Nemo” (2003) - into the Pixar movies we go - Mrs. BA and the boys went to see the sequel a week or so ago - I have yet to see it.  This one would be higher on my list.
19. “Monsters, Inc.” (2001) - MIKE WAZOWSKI!  KITTY! One of my favorites.
18. “Toy Story 3” (2010) - appropriate that this is here, the others are better, but I still can't watch the end of this one without crying.
17. “Anomalisa” (2015) - haven't seen it
16. “Coraline” (2009) - haven't seen it
15. “The Lego Movie” (2014) - well it is AWESOME.
14. “Ratatouille” (2007) - Mrs. BA doesn't like this one, because she doesn't do rats.
13. “Chicken Run” (2000) - I've seen pieces of it, but it's not one of my favorites.
12. “Persepolis” (2007) - haven't seen it
11. “Wall-E” (2008) - doesn't do it for me.
10. “The Wind Rises” (2013) - haven't seen it
9. “Waltz With Bashir” (2008) - haven't seen it
8. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009) - not a bad movie, but I wouldn't call it "animated"
7. “The Tale Of Princess Kaguya” (2013) - haven't seen it
6. “Inside Out” (2015) - I haven't seen this yet, but the boys have.
5. “The Triplets of Belleville” (2003) - haven't seen it
4. “It’s Such A Beautiful Day” (2012) - haven't seen it
3. “Up” (2009) - I don't know if this one should be this high?
2. “The Incredibles” (2004) - another good one but #2?
1. “Spirited Away” (2001) - haven't seen it

I'm wishing there were more Disney movies on this list.  101 Dalmatians?  Any of the Shrek movies?