Monday, December 11, 2017

"Next Level Roast Chicken"

I spotted this recipe in the Washington Post Magazine.  We are always on the lookout for things to do with a roast chicken, it's a popular Sunday dinner option. Don't know if I can sell the mushroom sauce or the potato pancakes to LBA, SoBA, or Mrs. BA for that matter.

Greek-Style Roast Chicken With Rosemary Potato Pancake and Mushroom Sauce
This spatchcocked bird is fairly miraculous all by itself, but combined with the rosemary potato pancake and mushroom sauce, it’s over the top — a hearty and flavorful fall meal that will make the whole family happy.

Make Ahead: The chicken needs to marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
Servings: Tested size: 4 servings

For the chicken
  • One 4 1/4- or 4 1/2-pound whole chicken, giblets removed
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest and 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For the potato pancake
  • 1 to 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms, preferably a gourmet blend
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • Freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken: Cut out the backbone; reserve it for another use (such as stock), and then flatten the bird. Kitchen shears are the right tool for removing the backbone of the chicken, but if you don’t happen to own any, a sharp chef’s knife will do the trick. Stand the chicken on its wishbone with the breasts facing away from you and the legs reaching for the ceiling. Carefully cut down one side of the backbone from top to bottom; repeat on the other side of the backbone, and then remove it. Last, flatten the bird by pressing down hard with both hands on the breast halves.

Combine the lemon zest and juice, salt and garlic in a shallow pan just large enough to hold the bird, whisking until the salt has dissolved. Whisk in the oil, then use the mixture to coat the chicken all over. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours, turning it over several times.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Transfer the chicken to a large, rimmed baking sheet. Pour the marinade over the bird through a fine-mesh strainer (to avoid burnt garlic bits). Roast (middle rack) for 35 minutes or until the meat is firm to the touch and the skin is golden brown. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the fat/juices from the baking sheet and transfer the chicken to a platter to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, make the potato pancake: Toss the potatoes with the rosemary, salt and pepper. Heat half the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Distribute the grated potato evenly on the bottom of the skillet, pressing down firmly to form one large pancake. Reduce the heat to medium; cook for about 15 minutes, pressing on it occasionally with a spatula, until golden brown. Slide the pancake onto a baking sheet or a platter. Invert the skillet over a baking sheet and quickly invert to return the potato pancake, browned side up, to the skillet.

Add the remaining oil around the edges; cook for about 10 minutes, pressing down occasionally with the spatula until browned on the second side. It can be prepared up to this point and kept off heat until it is time to finish the chicken and then reheated over medium heat for about 3 minutes per side.

For the mushrooms: While the chicken is resting, heat the 2 tablespoons of reserved fat/juices in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, then stir in the mushrooms and the pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender.

Add the wine and increase the heat to medium-high; once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until most of the wine has evaporated. Add the broth and the juices from the resting chicken; cook until the liquid has reduced by half. Taste and season with salt and/or pepper, as needed.

Cut the chicken into pieces for serving. Divide the potato pancake into 4 equal wedges and place one on each plate. Top with a portion of chicken, then spoon some of the mushrooms and pan sauce over the top. Serve warm.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Slow Cooker Baked Potato Soup

I've covered Baked Potato Soup a few times before on this blog, namely here, here, and here.  But we're always on the lookout for variety, it being the spice of life and all that.  From Gimme Some Oven via BuzzFeed.

Slow Cooker Potato Soup
Yield: 8-10 servings
Total Time: 4 hours 20 mins
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 4 hours 10 mins

  • 6 slices cooked bacon *, diced
  • 3-4 cups good-quality chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes **, peeled (if desired) and diced
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 tablespoons bacon grease * (or butter)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 (12-ounce) can 2% evaporated milk
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
  • optional toppings: thinly-sliced green onions or chives, extra shredded cheese, extra bacon, sour cream
  1. Add bacon, 3 cups chicken stock, potatoes and onion to the bowl of a large slow cooker, and stir to combine. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, or until the potatoes are completely tender and cooked through.
  2. Once the soup has slow cooked and is about ready to serve, cook the butter in a small saucepan on the stove over medium-high heat until it has melted. Whisk in the flour until it is completely combined, and then cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Gradually add in the evaporated milk while whisking it together with the flour mixture, and continue whisking until the mixture is completely smooth. Let the mixture continue cooking until it reaches a simmer, stirring occasionally, and then it should get really thick.
  3. Immediately pour the milk mixture into the slow cooker with the potatoes, and stir until combined. Add in the cheddar cheese, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), salt and pepper, and stir until combined. If you would like the soup to be even thicker, you can use a potato masher or a large spoon to mash about half of the potatoes (while the soup is still in the slow cooker) to thicken the soup up. If you would like the soup to be thinner, add in an extra 1-2 cups of warmed chicken or vegetable stock. Stir to combine, then taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Serve warm, garnished with desired toppings. Or transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (This recipe will not freeze well.)
* You can either fry the bacon, cook it in the microwave, or buy pre-cooked bacon. If frying or microwaving, I recommend dicing the bacon before cooking it. And if you are frying it, I highly recommend saving the bacon grease for later and then using it to make your roux (instead of butter).

** I highly recommend using Yukon gold potatoes, which have the perfect texture and buttery taste for this soup. But Russet potatoes or red potatoes would also work just fine in this recipe.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Brussel Sprout Chicken Bake

I don't mind the sprout.  Recipe from Yummly.

Maple Bacon Chicken and Brussels Sprouts Sheet Pan Dinner

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Servings: 4 people
This fall inspired chicken sheet pan dinner with brussels sprouts and bacon is the best way to enjoy fall flavors without much effort at all. I mean, you literally let your oven do all the work.

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 4 strips applewood smoked bacon
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts trimmed and washed
  • 1 whole yellow onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line sheetpan with parchment paper or a baking liner. Place bacon and chicken breasts on sheetpan. Bake for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove sheetpan from oven, increase temperature to 400 degrees F.
  3. Add onion and brussels sprouts to pan. Drizzle syrup over ingredients, season with salt and pepper. Toss ingredients to evenly distribute syrup and bacon grease over all ingredients.
  4. Return to oven (even if it's not done heating up to 400 degrees. Roast for 40 minutes or until brussels sprouts are crispy and browned.
  5. Remove from oven, evenly distribute vegetables between 4 plates, slice chicken and bacon and evenly distribute between plates.
Recipe Notes
  • serve with bread, rice, pasta, or add potatoes to vegetable mix to roast everything together.

Monday, November 20, 2017


The Brave Astronaut Clan is on the road for Thanksgiving, visiting with Mrs. BA's family.  The only thing that I am aware of that we are on the hook for is the famous Costco Apple Pie but I might try and convince Mrs. BA to make these - if not for Thanksgiving, maybe for an upcoming dinner party that I am hosting. From Tasty, via BuzzFeed.

Ingredients for 12 brigadeiros
  • 400 g (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing
  • 40 g (⅓ cup) cocoa powder
  • chocolate sprinkles, to decorate

  1. Put a pot on a medium low heat and melt the butter with the condensed milk.
  2. Stir in the cocoa powder and continue to stir for 10-15 minutes until the mixture begins to pull away from the edge of the pot.
  3. It’s done when you run the spoon through the centre of the mixture and it takes a few seconds to combine again.
  4. Spread the mixture onto a buttered plate and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  5. When set, roll the mixture into small balls and coat them in the chocolate sprinkles, (you may need to apply a small amount of butter to your hands to help them from sticking).
  6. Enjoy!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Slow Cooker Chicken and Mushroom Stroganoff

One of my richest memories of growing up was traveling to my aunt's house for New Years and she would make Beef Stroganoff.  I should build this into the recipe repertoire at the Launchpad. From the Recipe Critic via BuzzFeed.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Mushroom Stroganoff
Prep time 5 mins
Cook time 5 hours
Total time 5 hours 5 mins
Slow Cooker
Serves: 4

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 8 ounce sliced mushrooms
  • 1 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (10½) ounce cream of chicken soup
  • 1 envelope (1¼ ounce) dry onion soup mix
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
  • 1 pound large egg noodles for serving

  • Place the chicken in the bottom of a lightly greased slow cooker. Add the mushrooms. In a medium sized bowl add cream cheese, cream of chicken soup, and dry onion soup mix. Mix until incorporated and spread on top of chicken and mushrooms.
  • Cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 3-4. Serve over noodles and top with fresh parsley and salt and pepper.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Chowder Soaked Toast

I spotted this article and recipe in the New York Times Magazine a while back and it stirred great memories of summers in Maine at my grandmother's house. I feel like this made an appearance on the dining room table more than once.

Chowder Soaked Toast

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced, scraps reserved
  • 2 ribs celery, minced, scraps reserved
  • 2 sprigs tarragon
  • 30 littleneck clams, rinsed and scrubbed
  • 6 ounces dry white wine
  • 6 ounces clam juice
  • ⅓ pound guanciale, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 leeks, dark, woody green parts removed, sliced into coins and washed well
  • 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, medium dice
  • 2 sprigs thyme, picked
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 12 ounces chopped clams
  • 6 pieces of a dense rustic loaf, cut into thick 2-inch-by-2-inch squares
  1. Put the olive oil in a Dutch oven, and heat on medium-high for approximately 1 minute, until the oil starts to streak. Add onion scraps and celery scraps, tarragon and littleneck clams. Stir briefly to coat with oil, and barely soften, then add the wine. Reduce the wine by half, then add 3 ounces of clam juice. Cover, and allow clams to steam open, checking often so as to remove the clams as they open, until all are open and removed. Set clams aside. 
  2. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth, and reserve the liquid. Remove all but 6 clams from the shell. Meanwhile, in a cast-iron or heavy-bottomed sauté pan, render the slices of guanciale in the canola oil until they are browned evenly on both sides. Reserve the fat and the guanciale.
  3. In the Dutch oven, heat the guanciale fat, and add onion, celery, leeks, potatoes and thyme, stirring to coat. Season with salt and pepper, and cook over low heat until the vegetables have just started to soften, taking care not to brown, about 5 minutes. Cover the vegetables with remaining clam juice, and simmer until potatoes are al dente.
  4. Stir in the cream, and simmer until vegetables are cooked through, taking care not to boil. Add the chopped clams and the littlenecks, and season to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Remove from heat.
  5. Toast the bread until golden, and place each piece in a bowl. Cover the toast with pieces of guanciale, and then add a ladleful of the chowder, about 6 ounces. Garnish with the remaining littleneck clams still in the shell.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Cocktails for Trick or Treating!

Tomorrow is Halloween at the Launchpad.  This year, LBA will venture out on his own (for the second year).  SoBA will still be supervised whilst trick or treating - I think it's Mrs. BA's turn to walk and for me to sit home and pass out candy.  I think that I I will mix up a batch of these and me and the neighbors can sit and wait for the little children to come looking for candy.  And any enterprising adults can put in a request for one too! Recipe from boulderlocavore.

The Grave Digger Cocktail
The Grave Digger cocktail is perfect not only for Halloween but as a celebration of fall. Flavors of apple and ginger make this a great seasonal sipper.
Servings 1 cocktail
Author Toni Dash

  • 2 ounces Hard Cider
  • 1 ounce Whiskey (I used Bourbon - I will too, BA)
  • Ginger ale, to fill
  • Crushed ice

In a 12-16 ounce tumbler or high ball glass, combine the hard cider and whiskey. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Fill with ginger ale.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Slow Cooker Lasagne

Much to Mrs. BA's chagrin - it's fall, it's cold, and it's slow cooker season.  This recipe works well with my desire to have lasagne without the need for the all the work that goes into it. From Gimme Some Oven via BuzzFeed.

Slow Cooker Lasagna
Yield: 10-12 servings
Total Time: 4 hours 25 mins
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 4 hours

  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage or ground beef
  • 2 (24-ounce) jars of good-quality Italian pasta sauce
  • 16 uncooked no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 32 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup finely-chopped fresh basil
  • Add the ground Italian sausage (or ground beef) to a large saute pan, and cook over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through, using a large spoon to stir and break up the meet into small crumbles as it cooks. Remove from heat and drain off any excess grease. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, as the meat is cooking, go ahead and get ready to assemble the lasagna. Begin by spraying the insert of a large 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Then layer the ingredients in the following order:
    1. Spread 1 1/2 cups pasta sauce evenly along the bottom of the slow cooker.
    2. Layer about 4 lasagna noodles — breaking them into smaller pieces as needed to fit — evenly over the sauce to cover the bottom of the slow cooker.
    3. Layer about 1/3 of the ricotta cheese (a little over 1 cup) evenly on top of the noodles.
    4. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the shredded Mozzarella cheese and 2 Tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese in an even layer on top of the ricotta.
    5. Layer about 1/3 of the cooked ground meat in an even layer on top of the cheeses.
    6. Layer about 1/3 of the chopped spinach in an even layer on top of the ground meat.
    7. Layer 1 cup of pasta sauce in an even layer on top of the spinach.
    8. Repeat with another layer of noodles, ricotta, Mozzarella/Parmesan, ground meat, spinach, and sauce. Then repeat with another layer of noodles, ricotta, Mozzarella/Parmesan, ground meat, spinach, and sauce. Then add one more layer of noodles, sauce, and Mozzarella.
  • Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours, or until the noodles are tender.
  • Turn off the heat, and sprinkle the top of the lasagna evenly with the remaining Parmesan and fresh basil. Serve immediately. (Or if you let the lasagna sit and rest for 30 minutes, it will cut into pieces much more easily.)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Farewell to the Brave Astronaut's Parents

The Brave Astronaut is away today, my siblings and I have traveled to Bermuda to carry out our parent's final wishes - that is to scatter their ashes across the waters of Bermuda.  My mother died in 2006 and my father just this past April.

We will attend to our parents today and then spend a fair bit of time drinking.  My father left us with the means to have a weekend toasting their memories.  I don't know about my siblings - but I will be drinking these - it's the official drink of Bermuda.

The Dark and Stormy

  • 2 ounces Gosling's or Myers's dark rum
  • 5 ounces ginger beer
  • Lime wedge

Pour the rum over ice in highball and fill with ginger beer. Squeeze in the lime wedge.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Banana Bread Cheesecake

Dear Readers, you are aware of SoBA's love of the boomerang shaped fruit.  There are always bananas available at the launchpad.  He prefers them to be a little on the unripe side - so we often have banana bread in the house, too.  You may also be aware of the Brave Astronaut's love of a good cheesecake (as long as it's my mother's recipe).

Here's a recipe that kills two birds with one stone.  Via BuzzFeed.

Banana Bread Bottom Cheesecake
Servings: 10

Banana Bread Layer
  • 4 bananas (as ripe as possible)
  • 4 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Cheesecake Layer
  • 32 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon gelatin powder
  • Caramel, for drizzling
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork.
  3. Add in the oil, egg, vanilla, and sugar. Stir until combined.
  4. Add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir until just combined. Don’t over mix.
  5. Pour the banana bread batter into a greased springform pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is set.
  6. In a large bowl, add the softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until combined.
  7. Microwave the milk until hot for about 2 minutes, and add in the gelatin powder.
  8. Quickly stir until gelatin is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  9. Pour the gelatin mixture over the cream cheese and whisk again until smooth.
  10. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the baked banana bread and cool for 3 hours or overnight.
  11. Drizzle with caramel and enjoy!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Garlic Butter Stuffed Chicken

Did you know that garlic is a natural blood thinner?  I need to eat more garlic. Via BuzzFeed.

Garlic Butter-Stuffed Chicken

  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (that doesn't seem like nearly enough garlic)
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • Oil, for frying
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. In a bowl, add the butter, garlic, and parsley and mix until fully combined.
  3. Shape butter into a log and wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  4. On a cutting board, slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally.
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and pound until the chicken is ⅛-inch thick.
  6. Divide the butter into fourths.
  7. Place a portion of butter on the flattened chicken breast and roll it up, creating a log. 
  8. Coat the rolled chicken in flour followed, by eggs and bread crumbs. Repeat once more. 
  9. Cover the chicken in plastic wrap and chill while oil is heating.
  10. Fry in oil for 3-4 minutes, until edges are golden brown.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  12. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Monday, September 18, 2017

I'm Still Here - Will Someone Make Me a Snickerdoodle?

I have neglected this blog for a while - I've been occupied with other things, including a recent medical issue, but I think I am going to be OK.  I've missed posting recipes for the past few weeks (posting anything, really).  LBA and SoBA are back in school and the grind of school days are upon us.

Here's a recipe for Snickerdoodle cookies, which are definitely in the Top 5 of the Brave Astronaut's favorite cookies.  Via BuzzFeed.

The Best Soft And Chewy Snickerdoodle Cookies
Makes 24 cookies

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C).
  2. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon until evenly incorporated. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl whip the butter with vanilla until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the sugar and brown sugar and mix until well incorporated.
  5. Add the eggs and stir until thoroughly incorporated.
  6. Using a sift add the flour, cream of tartar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and sift into the dough. Combine until evenly mixed.
  7. Using your hands roll dough into ping pong sized balls.
  8. Dip the dough into cinnamon sugar mixture and roll around covering the dough ball completely.
  9. Place cookie dough on parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  10. Enjoy!

Monday, August 28, 2017

It's Back to School Eve!

Tomorrow LBA will start 7th! grade and SoBA will enter the 4th! grade.  I'm not exactly sure when the boys got that old.  We had quiche tonight, which Mrs. BA makes very well, albeit made last night.  I didn't have a recipe queued up for tonight, nor did I have any recipes worth sharing for tonight's recipe until, VIOLA! BuzzFeed to the rescue again.

I made a simple easy, chicken parm the other night, which both boys ate voraciously.  LBA even had some the next day as a sandwich, and then again for leftover dinner the next evening.

Crispy Chicken Parmesean

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 8 slices of fresh mozzarella
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • Basil, thinly sliced, to serve 

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C).
  2. Cut the chicken breasts in half widthwise to make 4 thin breasts.
  3. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and onion powder.
  4. Coat the chicken in flour, then egg, and then bread crumbs.
  5. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet and fry the chicken on both sides until brown, about 4 minutes each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  6. Place the fried chicken breasts in a baking dish. If they don’t fit side by side, gently overlap them.
  7. Pour the marinara over the chicken and top with mozzarella slices and Parmesan.
  8. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbling.
  9. Serve with freshly chopped basil.
  10. Enjoy!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Creamy Lemon Chicken

I made this a few weeks ago for the Clan.  It was well received - even by SoBA is a little bit picky.  He just needs to remember there is more to life than Pasta and Peas. Via BuzzFeed.

Creamy Lemon Chicken

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1½ tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1¼ cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • On a cutting board, cut the chicken breasts in half, widthwise.
  • Lay chicken flat and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Gently coat the chicken pieces in the flour, shaking off any excess.
  • Heat a skillet on medium heat and add the butter and oil, swirling together to coat the pan.
  • Place the chicken breasts into the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Flip the chicken and cook the other side, another 3-5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
  • Pour ¼ cup of the chicken stock in the pan and scrape up any bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the rest of the stock and the cream and stir.
  • Season with salt and pepper, and add the lemon juice.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken back to the pan and top with sliced lemons.
  • Spoon the sauce over the chicken.
  • Remove from heat. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
  • Serve with parsley and extra sauce.
  • Enjoy!

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's August - Let's Get Drunk!

The Brave Astronaut Clan is sans a summer vacation this year - although we are getting away for a few days to visit the Brave Astronaut's sister in North Carolina, where the boys will spend the week, though Mrs. BA and I will only be there for about 36 hours.

We will have to try and fit in the drinking into that period of time (via BuzzFeed).  This is my favorite of the five from the link.

Raspberry Mojito Punch
Serving: 1

  • 1/2 lime, cut into wedges
  • 5-6 raspberries (a nice handful of 'em)
  • 1 spoonful of sugar
  • 10-12 mint leaves (a good bunch)
  • 2 ounces white rum
  • Club soda
  1. Throw the lime wedges, raspberries, mint, and sugar into a glass.
  2. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, press down on the ingredients to mush them all together and get all of the juice out of the lime wedges.
  3. Add ice and pour in rum (you can just eyeball the amount, if you don't have something handy to measure) and then top the glass off with club soda.
  4. If you want it a little more or less sweet, you can always add slightly more or slightly less sugar. It's also delicious with less rum, or no rum at all. Play around with the recipe and find the right ratio for you and your friends.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

I'm Bored! Let's Do Something!

Welcome to the August doldrums.  There's no more camp for LBA and SoBA (that will come as good news to SoBA, who did not have the greatest summer camp experience this year - not sure about LBA though).  Mrs. BA and I are working on various plans to keep LBA and SoBA occupied until school starts later this month.

Here's a list from DCist of "14 Places to Go With Kids In and Around DC."


ANACOSTIA SKATING RINK: We tend toward indoor skating at the SkateZone, but this would be a different perspective.

THE FREER AND SACKLER GALLERIES:  Museums are usually a good way to go when it's either too hot or raining, something it does a lot in August.

KENILWORTH PARK AND AQUATIC GARDENS:  This is a popular destination from our little corner of the world.  I should really go there.

NEWSEUM: Been there before and would go back - but it's always hard to reconcile paying for a museum in a town where all the museums are free.

ROOSEVELT MEMORIAL: Definitely in my top 5 of the many memorials around the city.

2 AMYS: Although I might opt for the new Pizza Paradiso that just opened closed to home.

NATIONALS PARK: We've only been to a few games so far this season - but SoBA and LBA are going to a clinic there on Saturday morning and then we are all going to the game on Saturday night.

EAST POTOMAC GOLF COURSE: I would play more golf.

BUREAU OF ENGRAVING AND PRINTING: This was one of my favorite stops on my 6th grade trip to DC.

DUMBARTON OAKS: A nice place to take the air, which in August can be questionable.

GRAVELLY POINT: The Clan has done this.  If it's a nice day and the wind is in the right direction, you can see lots of planes and have a nice picnic by the river.

MARIAN KOSHLAND SCIENCE MUSEUM: This might be too much like school for LBA and SoBA - but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Marcus Samuelsson's Ribs

Of all the Chopped judges, he is not one of my faves, but I think his food would be more than tasty.  Via BuzzFeed. You can even get the recipe right now!

Block Party Ribs
by Marcus Samuelsson
Servings: 12

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 slabs pork ribs 
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 poblano chile, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1-inch ginger, peeled and chopped
  • Salt
  • 1¼ cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 12-ounce bottle beer
  • ½ cup coffee
  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Whisk together all the rub ingredients in a small bowl.
  1. Spread the rub evenly over the pork ribs and place on a wire rack set over a baking sheet with meat side up. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. For the BBQ sauce, heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add poblano chile, red onion, garlic, ginger, and a pinch of salt, then cook until onions begin to soften. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and bring the mixture to a simmer. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook at an active simmer until the mixture is reduced to about 2 cups, about 30-45 minutes.
  3. Once reduced, cool slightly then transfer mixture to a blender. Puree until smooth.
  4. Preheat oven to 275˚F/140˚C.
  5. Uncover the ribs, keeping them raised over the baking sheet on the wire rack.
  6. Pour 2 cups of water into the bottom of the baking sheet.
  7. Spread 1 cup of the BBQ sauce over each rack of ribs.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven for 3-3 ½ hours.
  9. Remove ribs from oven and preheat the broiler to high.
  10. Broil the ribs for 5-10 minutes to finish, until the sauce caramelizes.
  11. Cut into individual ribs.
  12. Enjoy!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Garlic Herb Roasted Potatoes

My grandmother used to make the best roasted potatoes. She used to make them in a big stockpot - shaking them as they roasted. My mother tried to replicate them countless times - even watching my grandmother cook them - but couldn't pull it off - the potatoes would fall apart. There's a family rumor that it was chicken fat that made them better (and staying hole).

I have made roasted potatoes in the oven to some success - and would make these in a heartbeat. Via BuzzFeed.

Roasted Potatoes
Servings: 5-6

  • 13 4-lb russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • More salt & pepper to taste
  • Small handful fresh parsley leaves, minced to garnish
  • Preheat oven to 425°F/220°C.
  • Fill a large pot with water and boil. Add salt, baking soda, and potatoes, and stir. Return to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes after returning to a boil. A fork should easily pierce the potato pieces by the end. Drain and let sit one minute while moisture evaporates.
  • Combine olive oil, rosemary, garlic, and a few grinds of black pepper in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir constantly until garlic just begins to turn golden, about 2-3 minutes. Immediately strain oil through a fine-mesh strainer over the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and mix.
  • Shake the pot that the potatoes are in so that they slam against all sides of the pot, this will loosen the outer layer of the potatoes to form a mashed layer around each potato piece.
  • Transfer potatoes to a large rimmed baking sheet and separate them, spreading them out evenly. Transfer to oven and roast, without moving, for 30-35 minutes. Using a thin, flexible metal spatula flip potatoes. Continue roasting until potatoes are deep brown and crisp all over, turning and shaking them a few times during cooking, 30 to 40 minutes longer.
  • Transfer potatoes to a large bowl and add the garlic-rosemary mixture (optional) and minced parsley. Toss to coat and season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 24, 2017

One Pot Taco Mac and Cheese

Tacos are a big hit, especially with LBA.  And Mac and Cheese is one of SoBA's favorites.  So this dish is sure to be a winner, right?  I did make it a few weeks ago and it went over . . . OK.  It might make it into the rotation but only in a pinch.  For SoBA it was too close to my mother's beefaroni.  Recipe from BuzzFeed.

One Pan Taco Macaroni and Cheese


  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning, divided
  • ½ pound small, dry macaroni
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 cups shredded white cheddar (yellow cheddar works as well)
  • 1 cup tomato, diced
  • Green onions, diced, for garnish 


  1. In a large skillet, heat approximately 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the onions until they begin to soften. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the ground beef and 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning. Using your spatula, break up the ground beef and stir until cooked. Drain the excess liquid from the pan.
  3. Add water, beef stock, pasta, tomatoes, and 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning back to the pan.
  4. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring twice to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Increase heat to medium after 15 minutes, and stir pasta until most of the liquid is gone.
  5. Turn off heat and add the shredded cheese. Stir until cheese is completely melted.
  6. Top with green onions, and enjoy!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

No Selfies Here, yet

Today is the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing.  Earlier this year, NASA launched (see what I did there?) a new database of images.  From the press release, "The NASA Image and Video Library website consolidates imagery spread across more than 60 collections into one searchable location."

You can access the images here.  Here is an image I downloaded from the database, showing Neil Armstrong coming down the ladder of the LEM.

And another of the Earth taken from the spacecraft.

In this year, the centennial of the birth of John F. Kennedy, the Brave Astronaut shares with you, the 1962 speech in which the President laid out the plans to go to the moon.

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

  • 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

  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

  • 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 
  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

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

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


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.
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!

  • 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

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.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Flying the Colors

Today, June 14, was Flag Day.  There is an American flag that flies outside the launchpad every day.  There are some who say that you put your flag out on Flag Day and fly it until the 4th of July.  There are others that only put it out on Federal holidays.  I like the flag outside the launchpad - but given that it is out there everyday - I'm going to need to replace it more often.  But out there it is.

Flag Day has always had significance in my family - it was my parent's wedding anniversary.  My parents were married for 53 years before my mother's death in 2006.  As most of you know, my dear readers, my father was reunited with my mother earlier this year.  I am sure they are tucked away in some corner of heaven (on a park bench) having a great time catching up.

June 14 is also my MIL's birthday - so if you know her or see her - be sure to wish her the best.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Shrimp Fajitas

LBA has developed a taste for the prawn. SoBA, not so much. I would be fine with more shrimp on the menu. I made shrimp, chicken, and beef kebabs a few weeks ago and they were well received by all. And we've already established that both boys love the taco / fajita, maybe I could thrown some chicken and steak in the pan too. Recipe via BuzzFeed.

Shrimp Fajitas
Servings: 5

  • 5 flour tortillas
  • ½ red bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced lengthwise
  • ½ green bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced lengthwise
  • ½ orange bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced lengthwise
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Olive oil1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Cilantro
  • Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
  • Wrap the tortillas in foil and place on the corner of a baking sheet.
  • Add the bell peppers, red onion, and shrimp to the sheet and season with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, and lime.
  • Toss to coat.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, flipping the shrimp halfway through.
  • Serve with warm tortillas, salsa, guacamole, cilantro, and lime.
  • Enjoy!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Homemade Strawberry Pop-Tarts

I have been known to keep a stockpile of pop-tarts in my desk at work.  They are referred to as "emergency breakfast."  Here's a recipe for homemade ones that would be a little harder to keep in my desk - plus they probably wouldn't survive the trip into the office anyway. From Just A Taste via BuzzFeed.

5-Ingredient Strawberry Breakfast Pastries
PREP: 10 minutes
YIELD: 6 servings

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (half of a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1 Tablespoon strawberry jam
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 large egg
  • Powdered sugar, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Cut the puff pastry into six rectangles by following the perforations in the dough to first cut the sheet into three long rectangles and then cut each rectangle in half to form two smaller rectangles. Transfer the pastries onto the baking sheet, arranging them at least 1 inch apart.

Lightly score the dough by cutting a border 1/2-inch from the edges (do not cut through the pastry). Prick the center of the pastry several times with a fork.

In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese and strawberry jam. Place a dollop of the cream cheese mixture in the centers of each pastry and spread it within the scored area. Top the cream cheese with the sliced strawberries.

Whisk together the egg with 1 Tablespoon water. Brush the edges of the pastry with the eggwash then bake the pastries for 15 to 17 minutes until golden and puffed.

Remove the pastries from the oven oven, dust with powdered sugar (optional) and serve.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Bourbon Chocolate Balls

I am a new convert to the brown liquor, specifically the sweet bourbon.  In honor of Memorial Day and the opening weekend of the pool - here is something that would be able to be consumed on the pool grounds.  There's alcohol in them, but no one would know, amirite? (via BuzzFeed)

Chocolate Bourbon Balls
Makes 30 balls

  • 12 graham crackers, crushed
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 5 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup melting chocolate
  • ¾ cup walnuts, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a small bowl or glass jar, add the mixed nuts and bourbon. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and let sit overnight.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla until sugar is dissolved. Add in the crushed graham crackers, vanilla, chocolate chips, walnuts, and remaining bourbon.
  3. Freeze for 10-15 minutes or until firm enough to roll.
  4. Form mixture into small balls, and refrigerate.
  5. Coat the balls in melted chocolate and top with walnuts.
  6. Chill for 1 hour.
  7. Enjoy!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Chicken Wings Seven Ways

LBA has a thing for the wing of chicken.  Mrs. BA has a good recipe, but here are a few more worth trying (from BuzzFeed).  My favorite of the list is below.

Root Beer Chicken Wings

  • 3 pounds chicken wings
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 cup bbq sauce
  • 16.9 ounces root beer
  • Extra bbq sauce, to taste
  • Brown sugar, to taste
  1. Season chicken wings with salt and pepper.
  2. Spray your slow cooker pot with cooking spray, add chicken wings, bbq sauce and root beer.
  3. Cover, cook on low for 4 hours. Remove wings from slow cooker, place on parchment lined tray. Brush more bbq sauce onto wings, sprinkle some brown sugar.
  4. Put under broiler for 8 -10 minutes. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fun With Data

Most of you, my dear readers know what I do for a living.  I work for a government agency that is responsible for collecting and preserving the records of the federal government, primarily the "born digital" records of the government.  Every once in a while, I spot something in the paper or online that is just too good not to share.  This is one of those instances. From Greater, Greater Washington.

Population growth by census tract for cental DC and Arlington. Image by Esri.
The map above comes from a website, Esri, that is using census data to track population trends across the United States, between 2012 and 2017. The darker the blue, the more growth, the light orange indicates no growth or a decline.  In the above picture, the Launchpad is in that dark blue area at the upper right. So we're doing OK.

Clicking on the link above, will bring you to the article and then you can search your own neighborhood and see what your people are doing.  Here is the link to the Esri map.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Creme Brulee in the Crock Pot

Sold!  I love Creme Brulee.  I love the crock pot.  I have a kitchen torch.  From Dessert for Two via BuzzFeed.

Slow-Cooker Creme Brûlée
Yields 2
Prep Time 5 min
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2hrs, 5min

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1/4 of a vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  1. Combine the egg yolks, whipping cream and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a bowl. Whisk to combine.
  2. Using a dull knife, scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean and add it to the cream mixture. It should be about 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla bean seeds. You can substitute extra, if you prefer.
  3. Whisk the mixture together very well.
  4. Meanwhile, take 2 12" long pieces of foil and roll them up into a snake shape. Curl it into a circle, pinching the ends together. Place in the bottom of your slow cooker. Repeat with the other piece of foil.
  5. Place each ramekin on top of each foil ring.
  6. Pour boiling water in the slow cooker (carefully! Don't splash water on the custards) until the water reaches up about 1/3 of the way on the ramekins.
  7. Turn the slow cooker to LOW and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. When done, the custard should be set--poke it with a knife to be sure.
  8. Cover and chill the custards at least 6 hours.
  9. Before serving, sprinkle the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar evenly over both custards and torch with a culinary torch until brown.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day.  As most of you know, my dear readers, I lost my mother eleven years ago.  Here's a picture of my mother with a very young LBA.  It's one of my favorite pictures.  She was very happy to have had the chance to meet her seventh grandchild and I really wish she had the opportunity to meet SoBA, her eighth - the two of them are very much alike.

Now the reason for me to still celebrate Mother's Day is in the picture below.  Mrs. BA, the mother of LBA and SoBA is a great mother and the best partner that I could ever ask for.  The Brave Astronaut Clan is on the road today to celebrate with Mrs. BA's mother and two sisters, also mothers in their own right. 
Happy Mother's Day to all those moms out there and especially to my mother, wherever she is - though she is certainly engaged in a lengthy conversation with my father - reunited now and to Mrs. BA - I love you very much!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Slow-cooker Steak Sandwiches

We've entered that time in the spring where both LBA and SoBA are playing baseball (practicing two nights a week and sometimes games on weeknights).  And I'm coaching SoBA's team - so the Clan is often not around for dinner until an odd hour.

We are going to need to amp up our prepared meal plan, cue the slow cooker. Recipe from Dinner then Dessert via BuzzFeed's "30 Delicious Things You Never Knew You Could Make with a Crock-Pot."

Slow Cooker Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 15 minutes
Servings 8

  • 4-5 pounds chuck roast
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 can (10.5 ounces) can condensed French onion soup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1 inch yellow onion sliced into 1/4" slices
  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms sliced
  • 1 inch green bell pepper sliced into 1/4" slices
  • 6 hoagie rolls
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Provolone Cheese

  1. Season the chuck roast with the Kosher salt and pepper (if you are sensitive to sodium, adjust to your taste or you can even leave the salt out altogether since you're adding broth and soup).
  2. Heat the pan (or if you can brown in your slow cooker)
  3. Add the canola oil and when it ripples and is hot add in the roast and brown, deeply, for 4-5 minutes on each side.
  4. In your slow cooker add the beef, the beef broth, the french onion soup, Worcestershire sauce, and the beer.
  5. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  6. Add in the onion, mushrooms, and bell pepper in the last hour of cooking.
  7. To serve, toast your hoagie rolls with a bit of butter spread onto the cut sides.
  8. With a very sharp knife cut your beef against the grain.
  9. Add your cheese of choice, some of the meat and top with the cooked veggies.
  10. I like to have a bit of the liquid (with the fat skimmed off on the side, but it is totally optional - but sounds delicious!)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Honey Garlic Slow Cooker Ribs

I know that I've said this before - but I should really use my slow cooker more.  And I may have not said this before - but I should eat more ribs. Via Tasty by BuzzFeed.

Easy Honey Garlic Slow Cooker Ribs
Servings: 3–4

  • 1 (2½–3 lb) rack of pork ribs, halved
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 cup honey
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced

  1. Season ribs evenly with salt, pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Rub in on all sides.
  2. Add honey, soy sauce, and garlic to a large slow cooker.
  3. Transfer the ribs to slow cooker and turn them over in sauce until coated. Position the ribs so they are standing up, with the meatier side down, and so the meat side is against the walls of the slow cooker, with the bone sides facing in.
  4. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 7 - 8 hours. Check after the allotted time, you want to make sure the meat is cooked through and tender.
  5. Remove the ribs and transfer to cutting board.
  6. Cut between the bones to separate into individual ribs.
  7. Serve with additional sauce from the slow cooker, as needed.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Asparagus with Avgolemono Sauce

Two weeks ago (yes, I'm aware I didn't post one week ago), I posted a recipe about Chicken and Asparagus.  Asparagus is one of those vegetables that I enjoy, but as I learned to eat them from my father, I prefer cold, with a hollandaise sauce (actually just mayo and Italian dressing).  I spotted this recipe in the Washington Post Food Section and think I might give it a try.

Asparagus With Avgolemono Sauce
Avgolemono is a lusciously silky, brightly citrusy Greek sauce made with egg and lemon juice that can be drizzled liberally over anything from vegetables and poultry to fish. It takes just 5 minutes to whip up, and it’s healthful to boot. Here, it turns simple steamed asparagus into a truly elegant dish.
Make Ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated a day in advance.
Servings: 4 servings

  • 1/3 cup no-salt-added chicken broth
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bunch (14 to 16 ounces) asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

Bring about 2 inches of water to a rapid boil in a large pot fitted with a collapsible metal steamer.

Heat the broth in a medium saucepan over medium heat; once it bubbles at the edges, reduce the heat to low.

Whisk the egg in a medium bowl until foamy, then add the lemon juice and cornstarch, whisking until incorporated. Gradually add 2 tablespoons of the hot broth to the egg mixture, constantly whisking to incorporate.

Pour the tempered mixture into the saucepan with the remaining broth (over low heat); cook, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes, to form a lightly thickened sauce. Remove from the heat, stir in the salt and cover to keep warm.

Place the asparagus spears in the steamer basket, cover and steam for 3 to 6 minutes (depending on their thickness), until crisp-tender.

Serve the asparagus drizzled with the sauce and garnished with the parsley leaves.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Alan LeGloahec, 1929-2017

On Monday, April 3, 2017, my father left this world for the next. His journey ended just days after a diagnosis of leukemia. My father was not a patient man, so my siblings and I all agreed that once he was presented with this diagnosis, he was going to get on with it. We would have liked more time with him, but we were blessed with 87 good years. The picture above shows him at 40 years of age - I found the picture about 10 years ago and was immediately struck by how much I looked at him. For many years, I had thought that I favored my mother's side of the family - but there was no denying that he was my father. The picture shows my father in his element, a book in his hands (though there is likely a glass of scotch close by and probably a cigarette burning in an ashtray) and the model ship in the background is one that he surely made, a lifelong devotion of his, making models, and painting lead soldiers.

This picture to the left shows my father at the Jones Beach airshow, just last summer. My father was not a veteran - but loved war movies, military history, and history in general. Below is a picture of my father at a tank museum that my siblings and I took him to, also just last summer. He made many a model of tanks - and there are many, many models of tanks that he never got to build. Maybe I can get LBA and SoBA in model building.

My mother passed away 11 years ago, this past February, and I am sure that he is back with her now. My mother firmly believed that when you got to heaven, you got to be whatever age you wanted and I hope for his sake, she is about 20 and he is the same. They were married for 53 years and raised four children - I am the youngest of all of us. He was also the proud grandfather of eight, LBA and SoBA, along with three children from my brother and sister. He also became a great grandfather just in the past few years.

For the past nine years, he was blessed to have found a companion who took care of him as much as he took care of her. While she could never replace my mother, he found love a second time, and my siblings and I were grateful that she was in his life.

My father spent his professional life on Madison Avenue. He was a Mad Man, before any of us knew what a Mad Man was. He started working at American Home Products, which later became Wyeth, before being bought by Pfizer, in pharmaceutical advertising. He later left AHP to go over to the advertising side exclusively, ending his career at McCann-Erickson. He really enjoyed watching MadMen, as we all did - and we looked forward to talking to him about the latest episode after it aired.

I can't begin to express my thanks to all of those who have supported me and my family over the past week - so many messages of love and support have come to us through Facebook, texts, phone calls, and emails. When we sent my father home on Thursday morning, my brother offered some words of remembrance about my father, quoting Napoleon, one of my father's favorite historical figures, by saying, "What is history but a fable agreed upon?" He offered several stories about my father, which my siblings and I all contributed to, and also included the words of the "Chairman of the Board":

"I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way."

Thanks Dad for everything.  Rest well, you've earned it.  We all love you and miss you - but we know that you are always with us.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Chicken and Asparagus

I'm always on the hunt for easy dinners. By the time we all get home - one moment of indecision can lead to dinner on the table by 7:30 or later. We use the crock pot when we can - but the dinner in 30 minutes or less is always welcome. From A Saucy Kitchen via BuzzFeed.

One Pan Lemon Chicken with Asparagus
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings: 4 people

  • 4 chicken breasts boneless, skinless
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
  • 1 pound asparagus stalks ends trimmed and then cut in half
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 zest of lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley roughly chopped + more for garnishing
  1. Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic cling wrap and pound them down to make them even in thickness. This will help the chicken cook evenly and make for more tender chicken. If your breasts are extra thick you can also just cut/slice them in half. Place the flour, salt & pepper in a shallow dish and gently toss the chicken breasts to coat in flour.
  2. In a large skillet add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and bring to a medium high heat. When the oil is hot add the chicken to the skillet and cook each side for about 5 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Once cooked remove the chicken and place on a paper towel lined plate. Set aside while you cook the asparagus.
  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet. Add the asparagus stalks and sauté for a minute. Add the garlic and sauté another minute longer until fragrant.
  4. In a small bowl or cup whisk together the lemon juice and mustard until fully mixed. Pour into the skillet with the asparagus along with the chicken stock. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce down to a simmer. Cover and let cook another 3-4 minutes or until the asparagus is tender.
  5. Stir in the parsley and then add the chicken back to the pan and rotate the breasts to coat in the liquids. Taste the sauce and season with more salt & pepper as needed.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Raspberry-Almond Brownies

As I believe I have mentioned here - raspberries are possibly the most favorite fruity of the Brave Astronaut.  And I have a sweet tooth.  WIN-WIN!  From Tutti Dolci via BuzzFeed.

Raspberry-Almond Blondies
Yield: 12 blondies

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • powdered sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Combine melted butter, brown sugar, egg, almond extract, and salt in a medium bowl; whisk until smooth. Fold in flour just until incorporated, then fold in white chocolate chips. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top with an offset spatula. Top batter with raspberries and sliced almonds.
  2. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and set in the middle, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Just before cutting, chill in the freezer for 10 minutes. Carefully lift parchment to remove bars from pan and place on a cutting board; dust with powdered sugar and cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Come on Down! You're the Next Contestant on the Price is Right!

LBA and SoBA are off from school tomorrow.  It's a professional day for the faculty at the school.  I am taking the day off - maybe we'll do something fun - outside. Or maybe we'll just sit around and watch TV - including the "most fabulous hour on television - the PRICE IS RIGHT!"

List from BuzzFeed.  BuzzFeed comments in regular type, my comments in italics.

The Definitive Ranking Of “Price Is Right” Pricing Games

75. Double Prices: By far the worst game on The Price Is Right (henceforth referred to as TPIR). There are literally two prices given for a prize and the contestant just has to choose the correct one. There’s no cool props, generally no big prize on offer, and no need for the contestant to do much of anything besides stand and smile dumbly as they take their 50/50 shot at some mediocre winnings. NEVER AGAIN, TPIR. NEVER AGAIN. The Brave Astronaut agrees, though I haven't seen this game - but it sounds boring

74. Switch?: What a fun little question mark on the end of this one’s name. I like to imagine it being pronounced by a middle-aged gentleman who is utterly taken aback by the possibility of the two prices being incorrect. “Swiiiitch???” The game itself sucks, though. Sorry, generic middle-aged man who only exists in my head. Also not a lot to this game

73. One Right Price: Another game that basically boils down to, “Hey, there’s two prices, so…choose the right one.” That’s what the game is even called. One Right Price. Step up the creativity, guys.

72. One Wrong Price: The inverse of One Right Price, except now there are three prizes to choose from instead of two. The extra prize makes this game just slightly less blah. It’s still really damn blah, but…not quite as much.

71. Pick a Number: Literally what it says. The price is missing a number. You pick that number.

70. Most Expensive: There are three prizes. Shockingly, one costs more than the other two. Can you deduce which one it is?

69. Flip Flop: Flip Flop? More like THIS GAME IS A FLOP. Although I will say I've seen this game before and it least has some tension.

68. Side by Side: Very similar to Flip Flop, but it’s a little more fun to watch because the way the numbers move is kind of cool. But still, boring

67. Coming or Going: Another game from the “just give us these two sets of numbers in the correct fashion” playbook. It’s the best of the bunch because it’s actually really fun watching as the numbers cascade from side to side while the contestant is trying to make up his or her mind.

66. Squeeze Play: Similar-ish to Pick a Number, except now you need to pick a number to get rid of. Still boring and ridiculously simple to play, but the sound effects as the remaining numbers squeeze into place are kind of ~cool~.  I would agree with this - this game was and is one of my favorites

65. Bargain Game (formerly Barker’s Bargain Bar): The game itself probably deserves to be a tad bit lower on this list — it’s just a matter of choosing which given price is more below the actual retail price. But because this game originated as Barker’s Bargain Bar, the aura of Bob Barker has lifted it up a few spots higher in the rankings. Any game that originates with Grandpa Bob deserves better.

64. Do the Math: Math? LOL NO THANKS! The interactive chalkboard-y thing is real cool, though, so…props for that prop.  Math is Hard.

63. Freeze Frame: The design of the game’s name makes you think it’s going to be 10 times more interesting than it really is. Look at it — kind of reminds you of something out of a comic book. Like, “Freeze Frame, a battle between good and evil, as the villainous Dr. Ice attempts to freeze out the world. Only you can bring the heat back and save the universe!” And then you realize that no, you’re actually just choosing two sets of numbers that make up the price of the prize. Dr. Ice wins again.

62. Double Cross: Like Do the Math, this is another game made MUCH more interesting by the electronic screen on which it’s played. Look at those bright colors and the cool X shape and all that good stuff. That’s some good electronic screen action. This is a newish game, which I have never seen.

61. Balance Game: It’s like the scales of justice, except instead of human rights and freedom and all that, it’s about lackluster vacations to overpriced resort towns.

60. Hi Lo: Is this a good game? No. But at least the contestant has to try to figure out multiple prices rather than just choose between two options like some other games.  I think this is one of the original games - it deserves a better ranking.

59. Push Over: Push Over: a game on TPIR. Also, a person who gets this game and pretends to enjoy it so as not to anger Drew Carey.

58. Swap Meet: Swap Meet conjures up images of PTA parents getting together to trade in their old silverware in exchange for a cozy sweater or some shit like that. This Swap Meet is not that. It’s just attempting to swap one item out for another of the same price. Really the only reason it’s ranked this highly is because of the ~FuNkY~ color of the set.

57. Shopping Spree: Seems like a game that would be tons of fun, right? A shopping spree! Who doesn’t love those? Well, when the spree is limited to four so-so items, it’s not quite as exciting. The best part of this game is when the contestant somehow thinks that a couple of handbags is for sure more expensive than a gigantic plasma television and then gets SHUT DOWN by Drew.

56. Step Up: Would be better with a companion game called 2 Tha Streets but you work with what you’ve got.

55. Lucky Seven: Real talk: Lucky Seven is the worst game that offers up a car as the prize. Why? Because it’s fucking hard. These people are basically just guessing prices blind without any of the fun hints or mini prize opportunities that so many other games come with. There isn’t even a cool set to help spice things up — it’s just a big board that reveals numbers one by one. The only reason Lucky Seven is even ranked this high is that the excitement factor of having a car as the grand prize helps keep the tension high. I've always enjoyed this game - especially when Barker used to tell the winners if they had money left over, they could buy gas for their new car.  Back then, they could actually get somewhere with a couple of bucks.

54. Danger Price: This game would be SO much better if the contestant was forced to traverse a set of laser wires in pursuit of their goal, but I guess that’s not the kind of “danger” being referred to here. Still, for such a simple game, it’s weirdly addicting watching the pieces on the board rotate to reveal their prices.

53. Take Two: This game should be way more boring than it is. The contestant literally just has to choose two items, out of four, that add up to a given dollar amount. It’s wicked simple. But for some reason, those fun ’70s-style asterisks are enough to bring this game up a bit in the rankings.

52. Grand Game: As a kid, I always thought this game was way more exciting than I now do. $10,000 seemed like such a huge sum of money, and it was always portrayed as one of the higher-stakes games because of that. But then you realize that half the games out there are giving away cash and cars worth way more than $10,000, and Grand Game loses most of its luster. The residual nostalgia is what brings this game to number 52 on the list.

51. 2 For the Price of 1: Yet another relatively boring game saved by a set piece that is way more fun than it has any right to be.

50. Bonus Game: More asterisks = another solid game option. It’s not too complex, to be certain, but the addition of a bit of luck into this one ratchets up the excitement. Also, I think one of the older games and I like the suspense

49. Five Price Tags: Because this game is played for a car, it gets an automatic bump in the rankings. The game itself is pretty dull, though. Any game that mostly just involves choosing the correct price among many given options is never all that intriguing, no matter how many price tags they add to the equation.

48. Gas Money: There’s some interesting Americana at play here, with a set and name that does just enough to evoke the aura of Route 66 and the colorful Southwestern sky. But, when it comes down to it, this is just another “choose the price from among a group of prices” game. Sure, there’s a chance to win some cash thrown in, but…

47. Bullseye: A game that seems way more complicated than it actually is, and offers quite a few chances to win the grand prize. You don’t have to hit the bullseye to win, just get on the board and then hope that the grocery item that got you there offers up the victory. Sometimes these “multiple chances” games are great. But this one is almost like two games in one, except the second game is 100% luck. I have always been a fan of the grocery games

46. 1/2 Off: It’s just fun to watch a whole pile of money come cascading out of a small box, honestly.

45. Easy as 1 2 3: The game is very similar to a bunch that have been listed above, but this one comes with numbered blocks as props. And everyone knows that regressing back to childhood via the use of oversized blocks is SO in this season.

44. Line ‘Em Up: Another one of those “why do I enjoy this stupid game so much” kind of games. There’s literally no reason it should be as entertaining as it is. No reason. But here we are.

43. Magic Number: It’s all about dat sound effect.

42. Check Out: A solid game brought down by the fact that it reminds you of how you need to go shopping for dinner later even though you’ve only got $17 in your bank account right now.

41. More or Less: What a ~unique~ ’60s-inspired font!

40. Safe Crackers: Safe Crackers is one of those games that looks INFINITY TIMES better than it actually is. You except some kind of super-sleuthing, James Bond-style intrigue. Instead, you’ve just got people putting a couple numbers in order and then trying to open a comically oversize door. Why, Safe Crackers, must you make promises you can’t keep? This game would probably be in my Top 10 or 20

39. Pick a Pair: A strikingly simple game — choose two items that cost the same as each other! — paired with the fact that the contestant is given multiple choices to win makes this a game that is easy to watch, even if it never completely stirs the imagination.

38. Pay the Rent: A relatively new game, and one that offers one of the larger (if not largest) cash prizes among any of the TPIR games. The major con here is that the name of the game just reminds you how much damn money you throw away each month on rent.

37. Shell Game: A variation on one of the most classic games of chance of all time, TPIR’s version of this gambler’s temptation throws a couple pricing questions into the mix but otherwise remains pretty similar. When you stack it up against some of the other pricing games on the show, though, you realize that even the classics aren’t necessarily infallible. And Barker did it better

36. Triple Play: Lots of cars on offer, which is an automatic bonus. Otherwise, not all that great.

35. Bonkers: Because it’s always fun watching people run around, frantically mashing large tokens against a board.

34. Card Game: This game has a bit of everything — there’s a car to be won, a bit of strategy at play, and oversize props. But too often this game ends with the contestant getting the card that allows them to just name their final price right then and there, which negates everything else about the game. I always liked this game, too.  But if that "new" card is now part of the game, I agree, it takes the fun out of it.

33. Check Game: OVERSIZE NOVELTY CHECKS FTW. again, when Barker would give out the check and tall them they could only cash it backstage, classic.

32. It’s in the Bag: One of those games that really isn’t that great, but feels more enjoyable than it is because of its ubiquity. You become so used to watching as those faux-crinkled-bags descend to reveal the item within that the process becomes almost soothing.

31. Make Your Move: Whenever this game is played, I like to think about how much oil is used in between appearances to ensure that the track upon which the multicolored signs slide remains as slick as ever. Then I imagine just taking the signs and pushing them around wildly for no reason at all other than to experience the soothing glide of a well-oiled track.

30. Grocery Game: This game requires a surprising amount of skill — five grocery items are put in front of you, and you just have to come up with whatever combination of the five you think will put you within the (relatively small) price range required to win. The intrigue comes from the fact that there are so many different ways this game can be played; the contestant is give numerous paths to follow, and it’s always intriguing to see which one he or she follows. But then some idiot chooses like, 12 boxes of cookies and goes WAY overboard and you realize just how frustrating all that freedom can be. Again, the grocery games are definitely my favorites.

29. Temptation: There really isn’t much temptation here, despite the name. It’s not like the contestant is given a new offer to walk away each time, increasing as they get closer and closer to winning the car. Either way, it’s strangely enthralling watching Drew Carey hit the little buttons that reveal the actual numbers in the price of the car.

28. Golden Road: I used to think this game was THE BEST. I mean, there’s gold, and a road, which makes it seem like the game will be a long journey through a land of riches and mystery. But then the reality of the game appeared to me as I grew older. The golden road itself is all flash, no substance. The real game is just choosing one of the given numbers to complete the price of the prize at hand — not anything really different from many lesser pricing games. Still, the nostalgia I feel for the Golden Road keeps it ranked in the top 30.

27. Clock Game: Race-against-the-clock games are always enjoyable because they expose the true strength (or weakness) of the human spirit under pressure. This is a clock game distilled to its very essence — I mean, it’s literally called the Clock Game. And so while the contestant might simply be standing still the entire game, there’s a certain energy and pace to this one that infuses it will just enough je ne sais quoi. The quiet tones of Barker calling higher and lower were always soothing.

26. Cover Up: The real fun here comes from the fact that the contestant is given multiple chances to win the prize. Get just one number right, and you can continue. And since there are so many opportunities possible here, it’s one of the best games for playing along at home.

25. Money Game: Am I completely and utterly taken in by the little drawing of the car that the contestants must try to uncover? Yes. Why do I find it so great? Unclear. Just let it happen. And I remember watching when there wasn't a space in the middle, yep, I'm old.

24. Pass the Buck: The setup for the main part of the game is fine — choosing which of two items is priced a dollar too low. But once the contestant reaches the main board and must face the possibility of hitting a “lose everything,” the tension reaches a new level. This is a game with multiple ways to win, and even if the contestant doesn’t get the car, there is still just about as much money on offer as a “consolation prize” as there is total for some other pricing games.

23. Now…or Then: A history lesson and a pricing game all wrapped into one. What a fun look back into the past, when times were simpler and we weren’t paying absurd amounts of money for basic products.

22. Stack the Deck: Perhaps seems better than it actually is because it looks like one big card game. And unlike the Card Game, this one doesn’t have any crazy circumstances in which the point of the game is basically rendered null in one fell swoop.

21. Time Is Money: This one’s got a countdown clock, but instead of counting down time, it counts down money. And as each dollar ticks away, the excitement level starts ticking upward.

20. Any Number: When a game offers such a HUGE distance between its top prize and lowest prize, it feels like so much more is at stake. And perhaps no game represents this better than Any Number. You can either walk away with a car, or with barely enough to cover the cost of a cheap meal at the deli down the street. And with such a simple structure to follow, this game makes for incredibly good viewing. I always used to root for the piggy bank.

19. Pocket Change: I really like the games where they have to pick envelopes off a board at random

18. Race Game: A race against the clock, plus a person sprinting around and looking goofy, plus four different prizes up for grabs, makes for a successful game. One of my Top 10 - it goes up a notch when the contestant wipes out.

17. That’s Too Much: If only because it’s fun to watch as the host forces contestants to scream, “That’s too much!” with way more fervor than any person has the right to say those words.

16. Range Game: Who knows if the Range Game machine really takes as long to reset as they keep claiming. But there’s something about that fact — the idea that this is a special moment that comes around rarely, so it should be cherished — that is utterly endearing. I, too, love the explanation about they can't restart the game 

15. Dice Game: As Beyoncé says, “Man it feel like rollin’ dice, man this feel like rollin’ dice.” I always wanted them to give the dice to hang from the mirror of the new car.

14. One Away: In times past, Bob Barker requested that contestants kindly ask the “ladies” if they have at least X amount of numbers right. Now, with Drew Carey, it’s just “sound effects lady” who is in charge. Where have the other ladies gone? Do they no longer have the ability to crosscheck the price of the car against the contestant’s given price?

13. Let ‘em Roll: As with the Dice Game, watching people roll dice is strangely enthralling. And the model-cum-croupier watching with her oversize stick at the ready makes this feel like a true ~Vegas~ game.


11. Switcheroo: If only because saying “Switcheroo” is hilariously enjoyable.

10. Pathfinder: You know in the first Harry Potter when Harry, Ron, and Hermione have to play as pieces on a life-size chess board, and you’re like, “Wait, being a human game piece actually looks kind of cool,” until you realize they are going to be violently attacked by the non-human pieces and it all starts to seem way too dangerous for kids to be participating in? This is kind of like that, but safer and with a car at the end. This game is in the right slot.

9. Punch a Bunch: The vicarious power you feel as a contestant slams their first through those small money holes is INCREDIBLE. "And be sure not to pull the paper out that is inside."

8. Rat Race: No, not the seminal (read: not seminal) 2001 film, but a game played with actual (robotic) rats. And while the outcome is clearly predetermined by producers, it’s still fun to watch and pretend that the little rats are actually real and fiercely competing for glory.

7. Spelling Bee: Again, my predilection for games involving pulling random slips off of a large board helps raise this game in the rankings. Plus, spelling bees are fun.

6. Ten Chances: Alternately one of the most exhilarating and most frustrating games on offer, there’s just something special about Ten Chances. And it combines watching the host hit small buttons with the fun of sliding little signs along a well-oiled track, so obviously I can’t resist. And the game requires relatively good penmanship, which is a lost art.

5. Three Strikes: Is this game actually anything like baseball? No. But does it do its darndest to make the most out of the comparison with fun props and the like? Hell yeah.

4. Hole in One: An all-time classic. Combines the fun of a regular pricing game with the tension of watching a golf tournament. OK, maybe more like watching your relatives play mini-golf, but still. The combination of shopping savvy and golfing skills needed to succeed at this game means that it is never dull, and even a contestant who has studied all of the prices of items usually on offer by TPIR obsessively won’t be guaranteed a win. That kind of uncertainty adds just the right amount of tension. when Barker would always make that first putt (and make the contestant hold his mike - perfect

3. Master Key: What is it about watching people turning fake keys in comically large fake locks that makes for good television?

2. Cliff Hangers: Ugh, SO MANY TIMES have I wanted to be able to reach into the TV screen and just grab a hold of the little yodeling climber and shake him and say, “DO YOU NOT SEE YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY TO CERTAIN DEATH? TURN AROUND, ALL YE WHO CLIMB HERE.” And yet, watching that poor guy plummet over the edge is one of the most iconic moments you can have on TPIR. A simply glorious game. The yodeling song would push this down a few notches for me.

1. Plinko: Is there any universe in which Plinko would not be the number one game on TPIR? Plinko is THE ultimate symbol of TPIR, and even though the top prize isn’t as high as some of the other pricing games, Plinko remains the one game that EVERYBODY wants to play. I mean, they even did an entire Plinko-only episode, for crying out loud. Congratulations, Plinko, on your literal perfection. We are not worthy.