Monday, April 16, 2018

Comfort Foods Fiesta

Sometimes you just need a little something that says "home" to you.  At the launchpad, I often go for my mother's standbys when I'm in need of a comfort food fix.  They are (in no particular order):
  1. Mom's Mac and Cheese, served with hot dogs
  2. Mom's Beefaroni
  3. Mom's Ham and Turkey Pie (great way to use up those Thanksgiving leftovers)
  4. Mom's Shepherd's Pie (or Hash)
  5. Mom's Meatloaf
  6. My aunt's Beef Stroganoff
There was a BuzzFeed post a while back on "25 International Comfort Foods to Try at Home" that included a recipe for Shepherd's Pie, Chicken and Dumplings (which my mother also made occasionally), and Pastina, always a great solution to when you weren't feeling well.  I went through this list several times before landing on a recipe that might fly at the Launchpad.  SoBA is a fan of the pork chop - but I'm not sure the mushroom gravy will be accepted. Recipe from How to Feed a Loon.

German Schnitzel with Mushroom Gravy
Prep time 20 mins
Cook time 12 mins
Total time 32 mins
This German Schnitzel with Mushroom Gravy is so flavorful and easy to make, even on a busy weeknight. Use veal, pork, or chicken...pound the cutlet out thin...bread, whip up the sauce, quick fry...and you are set! So delicious!
Serves: 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 oz. cremeni mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup of white wine
  • 2½ cups of beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (about ¼ teaspoon each)

  • Vegetable oil, for pan frying (about 2 cups)
  • 4 boneless pork chops (about 16 ounces, total)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs (plus two tablespoons of water)
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs (not seasoned)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon of caraway seeds
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish
  • Flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium skillet
  2. Add the butter
  3. Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute
  4. Add the onion and cook for another 4 minutes, or until translucent
  5. Add the mushrooms and cook until they start to release liquid, about 4 minutes
  6. Add the flour and stir to incorporate
  7. Add the wine, stirring to combine. Cook until the wine reduces down, about 4 minutes
  8. Add the stock, and stir frequently . The sauce will start to thicken over the next 5 minutes
  9. Stir in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce
  10. Season with salt and pepper
  11. Keep warm

  1. Heat the oil in a large, sturdy skillet over medium-high heat
  2. Pound the cutlet between wax paper, or in a large freezer bag, by using the side of a meat tenderizer. Pound down to about ⅛". Trim any jagged sides, and/or excess fat
  3. Place the flour in one medium-sized bowl
  4. Place the eggs in another bowl and gently mix together. Mix in another 2 tablespoons of water
  5. In a third bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, paprika and caraway seeds
  6. Dredge each cutlet in the flour, then dip in the egg wash (shake off excess), then dredge in the bread crumb mixture
  7. Fry each cutlet (don't overcrowd the pan) for about 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown
  8. Serve with gravy poured over top and garnished with lemon wedges and parsley.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Off to MARAC Hershey!

Today the Brave Astronaut Clan is headed for Hershey, PA for the Spring 2018 MARAC Meeting.  This is one of those occasions where the entire family is headed to a conference - the fact that the conference hotel has an indoor water park and there is a free shuttle to HersheyPark made it kind of hard to keep LBA and SoBA away.

There is a game that archivists play at meetings, which we call "BUZZ" the archivist.  Basically, you have to identify the archivist in the hotel lobby without looking for a name tag (which some of my colleagues forget to take off).

I spotted this on McSweeney's a while back - maybe we have a new game to play in the hotel bar.

Academic Conference Hotel Bar Bingo

Monday, April 9, 2018

Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells

We're big fans of the Pioneer Woman at the Launchpad.  We're also big fans of the chicken alfredo that Costco sells.  This would be a winner on the Launchtable, I think.

Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells
via the Pioneer Woman
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Servings: 8

  • 20 whole jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained
  • 2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Olive Oil, for grilling or frying
  • 3/4 cups Ricotta Cheese
  • 3/4 cups Cottage Cheese
  • 3/4 cups Grated Mozzarella Cheese, plus more for the top
  • 2 cups Grated Parmesan Cheese, plus more for the top
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Minced Fresh Parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Basil
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream, plus more, as needed
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a grill pan or iron skillet over medium heat, drizzle with olive oil, and cook the chicken on both sides until it's done. Remove and shred with two forks and allow to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, cottage cheese, mozzarella, 1 cup of the Parmesan, eggs, 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, salt, pepper, and chicken. Stir to combine, splashing in 2 tablespoons heavy cream if needed. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and sprinkle over the flour. Whisk and cook until the roux turns golden brown. Pour in the milk and cream, whisking constantly, and cook for a few minutes, until thickened. Add the garlic, the additional 1 cup Parmesan, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon minced parsley, and minced basil and stir until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.

Add 1 cup sauce to the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Using a spoon, fill each of the jumbo shells generously with the chicken/ricotta mixture. Lay them face down in the pan, then pour the sauce all over the top. Sprinkle on extra mozzarella and Parmesan, then bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbly and golden.

Serve with salad!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Pita Pizzas

LBA and SoBA are in the midst of their Spring Break at the Launchpad.  They have reached an age where they can be on their own, with LBA in charge of SoBA.  Both Mrs. BA and I can keep an eye on them virtually to ensure they don't hurt themselves or others.

LBA, who is now 13, can also cook for himself, on a limited basis.  Recently, he requested the addition of pitas in his lunch and then I saw this recipe, which I think he could handle.  From the Baker Chick via BuzzFeed's "19 No-Fuss Meals You Can Make Using What's In Your Fridge."  I am trying to be better about eating and cooking out of the freezer.

Five Minute Pita Pizzas
Yield: 4 pita pizzas

  • 4 pocketless pita flatbreads
  • ¾ cup of marinara sauce
  • 12 slices of provolone cheese (mozzarella or other cheese would work well too!)
  • Pepperoni, sausage, veggies or other toppings of your choice

  1. Spread a couple tablespoons of sauce on each pita, leaving a small crust around the edge. Top with 3 slices of cheese each and any meat/veggies you like.
  2. Place the pitas one at a time directly on the rack of a toaster oven. Toast for 3-4 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.
  3. Alternately- bake at 450F on a cookie sheet for about 10 minutes, or until golden, broiling for a minute or two to get the topping extra crisp if desired.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Opening Day in America!

Time for that seminal rite of spring, Opening Day for Baseball!  Thanks to George Will and the Washington Post for reminding us what really counts right now - at least until October.

"There'll be two buses leaving the hotel for the park tomorrow.
The 2 o'clock bus will be for those of you who need a little extra work.
The empty bus will leave at 5 o'clock."
— Dave Bristol, Milwaukee Brewers manager, 1972

Everyone needs extra work to prepare for the season. [answers below (full disclosure - I got only 14 right)]

1. Name the fourth player (the others are Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays) with a career .300 average, 500 home runs and 100 stolen bases.
  • Mark McGwire
  • Reggie Jackson
  • Albert Pujols
  • Harmon Killebrew
2. Name the player that played in the most wins.
  • Cal Ripken Jr.
  • Pete Rose
  • Hank Aaron
  • Brooks Robinson

3. Name the last player to get 3,000 hits without winning a batting title.
  • Ichiro Suzuki
  • Derek Jeter
  • Rafael Palmeiro
  • Craig Biggio

4. Who got 30 homers and 100 RBIs in a season for five different teams?
  • Xavier Nady
  • Bobby Bonds
  • Alfonso Soriano
  • Gary Sheffield

5.  Which player struck out three times in a game just once in 13 seasons?
  • Joe DiMaggio
  • Tony Gwynn
  • Ozzie Smith
  • Ozzie Guillen
6. Who hit .461 at home but .286 on the road?
  • Roberto Alomar
  • Gil Hodges
  • Larry Walker
  • Carl Yastrzemski
7. Who was the last person to enter September batting over .400?
  • Daniel Murphy
  • George Brett
  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Rod Carew
8. What player led his league in hits for three different teams?
  • Juan Pierre
  • Napoleon Lajoie
  • Willie Keeler
  • Paul Molitor
9. Who hit .408 in a season but lost the batting title?
  • Shoeless Joe Jackson
  • Ty Cobb
  • George Sisler
  • Ted Williams
10. Who hit at least 40 doubles in 10 seasons?
  • Stan Musial
  • Tris Speaker
  • Wade Boggs
  • Harry Heilman
11. Who was the first 40-year-old with a 100-RBI season?
  • Willie Mays
  • Dave Winfield
  • Andres Galarraga
  • Edgar Martinez
12. Which player is the most recent to win consecutive MVP awards?
  • Alex Rodriguez
  • Albert Pujols
  • Miguel Cabrera
  • Mike Trout
13. Who had the most career homers (399) without a 30-homer season?
  • Al Kaline
  • Andres Galarraga
  • Dale Murphy
  • Joe Carter
14. Who has the highest career batting average among players with at least 300 homers?
  • Rogers Hornsby
  • Lou Gehrig
  • Babe Ruth
  • Ted Williams
15. Who is the only non-Yankee with 500 home runs and three championships?
  • David Ortiz
  • Ted Williams
  • Albert Pujols
  • Jimmie Foxx
16. Who are the four right-handed hitters to lead the major leagues in hitting at least three times?
  • Rogers Hornsby, Napoleon Lajoie, Roberto Clemente, Miguel Cabrera
  • Tommy Davis, Roberto Clemente, Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn
  • Rogers Hornsby, Tommy Davis, Roberto Clemente, Miguel Cabrera
  • Napoleon Lajoie, Tommy Davis, Wade Boggs, Miguel Cabrera
17. Who are the two pitchers to have 300 more strikeouts than walks (not counting intentional walks) in a season?
  • Bob Feller and Nolan Ryan
  • Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan
  • Bob Feller and Randy Johnson
  • Sandy Koufax and Randy Johnson
18. Which player was the only batter to average 200 hits per season in his first 14 seasons?
  • Ichiro Suzuki
  • Paul Waner
  • Pete Rose
  • Derek Jeter
19. Who holds the career record for doubles?
  • Carl Yastrzemski
  • Ty Cobb
  • Tris Speaker
  • Stan Musial
20.  Who are the three pairs of rookies of the year who were later enshrined in Cooperstown?
  • Luis Aparicio and Frank Robinson, Tom Seaver and Rod Carew, Andre Dawson and Eddie Murray
  • Willie McCovey and Don Drysdale, Tom Seaver and Rod Carew, Luis Aparicio and Tony Kubek
  • Luis Aparicio and Tony Kubek, Andre Dawson and Eddie Murray, Don Drysdale and Brooks Robinson
  • Don Drysdale and Brooks Robinson, Luis Aparicio and Frank Robinson, Andre Dawson and Eddie Murray
21. Who holds the record for most four-strikeout games?
  • Ryan Howard
  • Reggie Jackson
  • Adam Dunn
  • Pete Incaviglia

22. Who struck out in a record 37 consecutive games in a single season?
  • Brad Hawpe
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia
  • Adam Dunn
  • Aaron Judge

23. What player was the first to win three MVP awards?
  • Carl Hubbell
  • Jimmie Foxx
  • Stan Musial
  • Roy Campanella
24. Who are the two third basemen with 500 home runs?
  • Eddie Matthews and Mike Schmidt
  • Eddie Matthews and Mel Ott
  • Jim Thome and Mike Schmidt
  • Mike Schmidt and Ernie Banks

25. Who was the first player to get 3,000 hits in the 20th century?
  • Eddie Collins
  • Napoleon Lajoie
  • Honus Wagner
  • Ty Cobb
26. What player had 999 walks with three starts to go in his career and did not reach 1,000?
  • Greg Maddux
  • Jim Bunning
  • Jim Perry
  • Fergie Jenkins
27. Who were the only two players to bat cleanup in a World Series at age 20?
  • Ty Cobb and Miguel Cabrera
  • Andruw Jones and Raul Mondesi
  • Miguel Cabrera and Andruw Jones 
  • Ty Cobb and Raul Mondesi
28. Who led his league in RBIs in 2014 while batting second?
  • Mike Trout
  • Rickey Henderson
  • Chase Utley
  • Johnny Damon
29. Although not in the Hall of Fame until 2017, what player reached base more than Jeff Bagwell, Roberto Clemente and Tony Gwynn and had five seasons with at least 30 doubles and 70 stolen bases (Ty Cobb had only three)?
  • Tim Raines
  • Craig Biggio
  • Alan Trammell
  • Shoeless Joe Jackson

30. What player is the only player with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 stolen bases?
  • Kenny Lofton
  • Honus Wagner
  • Rickey Henderson
  • Tim Raines
31. Who was the only 300-game winner between the world wars?
  • Carl Hubbell
  • Lefty Grove
  • Ted Lyons
  • Wait Hoyte
32. What pitcher threw a no-hitter with no walks and 17 strikeouts?
  • Don Wilson
  • Max Scherzer
  • Nolan Ryan
  • Warren Spahn
33. Who scored the most World Series runs?
  • Derek Jeter
  • Yogi Berra
  • Mickey Mantle
  • Roger Marris
34. Who was the first White Sox player to be named MVP?
  • Nellie Fox
  • Dick Allen
  • Luke Appling
  • Eddie Collins
35. Who won 25 or more games three times in the 1960s but never won a Cy Young award?
  • Sam McDowell
  • Denny McLain
  • Bob Gibson
  • Juan Marichal
36. Which player won the most ERA titles?
  • Pete Alexander
  • Roger Clemens
  • Sandy Koufax
  • Lefty Grove
37. Who is the only catcher to win three batting titles?
  • Joe Mauer
  • Ernie Lombardi
  • Eugene "Bubbles" Hargrove
  • Rogers Hornsby
38. Who led his league in batting average his first two seasons?
  • Napoleon Lajoie
  • Ichiro Suzuki
  • Tony Oliva
  • Rod Carew
39. Which player had three seasons with 40 or more homers and fewer strikeouts than homers?
  • Johnny Mize
  • Ted Kluszewski
  • Lou Gehrig
  • Joe DiMaggio
40. Who was the Hall of Famer who hit a record four triple plays?
  • Deacon McGuire
  • Joe Start
  • George Sisler
  • Brooks Robinson 
41. Bonus question: What manager said, "Our phenoms aren't phenomenating."?
  • Casey Stengel
  • Gil Hodges
  • Lou Piniella
  • Lefty Phillips

  1. Albert Pujols
  2. Pete Rose
  3. Derek Jeter
  4. Gary Sheffield
  5. Joe DiMaggio
  6. Larry Walker
  7. George Brett
  8. Paul Molitor
  9. Shoeless Joe Jackson
  10. Tris Speaker
  11. Dave Winfield
  12. Miguel Cabrera
  13. Al Kaline
  14. Rogers Hornsby
  15. David Ortiz
  16. Rogers Hornsby, Napoleon Lajoie, Roberto Clemente, Miguel Cabrera
  17. Sandy Koufax and Randy Johnson
  18. Ichiro Suzuki
  19. Tris Speaker
  20. Luis Aparicio and Frank Robinson, Tom Seaver and Rod Carew, Andre Dawson and Eddie Murray
  21. Ryan Howard
  22. Aaron Judge
  23. Jimmie Foxx
  24. Eddie Matthews and Mike Schmidt
  25. Honus Wagner
  26. Greg Maddux
  27. Ty Cobb and Miguel Cabrera
  28. Mike Trout
  29. Tim Raines
  30. Tim Raines
  31. Lefty Grove
  32. Max Scherzer
  33. Mickey Mantle
  34. Nellie Fox 
  35. Juan Marichal
  36. Lefty Grove
  37. Joe Mauer
  38. Tony Oliva
  39. Ted Kluszewski
  40. Brooks Robinson
  41. Lefty Phillips

Monday, March 26, 2018

Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breasts

The Brave Astronaut is coming off a "lost week" - I came home from work on Tuesday and did not return to the office until this morning.  What started out as a bad cold, developed into a raging sinus infection, then a swollen eyelid.  Modern medicine (and good antibiotics) are a good thing.  In the 96 hours spanning Tuesday through Friday - I slept for about half of them.  I drank a lot of tea and orange juice, and ate some pasta and soup - I didn't have much of an appetite.

But Life Goes On.  Here at the Launchpad - we are big fans of the boneless chicken breast.  And we do a variation on this recipe, but it's always nice to see some other ways to mix it up.  Recipe from recipetineats via BuzzFeed's "5-Ingedient Chicken Dinners"

Crispy Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Prep Time 7 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Total Time 15 mins
This ultra crispy Parmesan Crusted Chicken is 5 ingredient, 10 minute magic that happens to be gluten free. The idea with this recipe is that shredded parmesan melts, tuns golden and adheres to the chicken, forming a crust. Parmesan has such an intense flavour that you don't need any other seasonings in this. It tastes like schnitzel, but the coating flavour is far stronger and crunchier (but no carbs!) but is not as thick as a traditional breadcrumb coating. Serve it with cauliflower mash with browned butter for the ultimate low-carb meal!

  • 500 g / 1 lb chicken breast (2 pieces)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 garlic clove , minced (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 125 g / 4 oz / 1 1/4 cups shredded parmesan
  • 2 tbsp butter (or more oil)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  1. Cut each breast in half horizontally to make 4 steaks. If they are much thicker than 1.75 cm / 3/4" thick (at the thickest point), pound a bit.
  2. Place egg, garlic, pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk with fork.
  3. Place parmesan in a shallow bowl.
  4. Dredge chicken in egg, then place in parmesan CUT SIDE DOWN. Press, then turn. Coat with extra parmesan, press. Shake off excess. Repeat with remaining chicken.
  5. Melt butter and heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.
  6. Place chicken in non-stick skillet (or well seasoned cast iron skillet). DO NOT MOVE chicken otherwise the cheese will slide off surface before it adheres! It adheres once it turns crispy.
  7. Press down lightly with spatula. Lift a corner to take a peek and turn with tongs when it's deep golden brown (3 minutes for me).
  8. Cook the other side for 3 minutes or until also deep golden brown and crispy (again, do not move until golden). Lightly press down with spatula. Don't cook longer than 6 minutes in total - dries out the chicken.
  9. Serve immediately!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Sliced Beef Po' Boys

SoBA questions a lot of the food that comes to the Launchpad table.  We can still get away with getting him to eat if we tell him "it's steak."  You think we can get him on board with the "it's a cheesesteak?"  From the NYT Cooking website.

Mahogany Beef Po' Boys

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 7 pounds beef chuck roll, sliced into 2-inch-thick portions
  • ½ cup vegetable oil, or as needed
  • 6 to 7 stalks celery, cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 2 green bell peppers, cored and cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 2 jumbo carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 1 cup peeled garlic cloves, each clove halved lengthwise
  • 7 cups dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ⅓ cup chopped parsley leaves
  • 5 loaves French or Italian bread
  • Mayonnaise
  • shredded lettuce
  • sliced tomatoes
  • sliced pickles to dress sandwiches

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place flour in a large, wide bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Add beef, dust well on all sides and shake off excess. 
  2. Place a large, heavy Dutch oven or roasting pan with a lid over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to cover the bottom and heat until shimmering. Working in batches, add beef and sear well on all sides. Transfer beef to a platter and set aside.
  3. Add celery, onions, peppers, carrots and garlic to pan; if necessary, add more oil. Sauté until vegetables are tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add wine and 3 cups water. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and parsley. Stir well, add beef, and stir again to mix well.
  4. Cover, and transfer to oven. Cook until beef is very tender, about three hours. Transfer beef to a deep platter and keep warm. Remove and discard bay leaf. Using a hand-held immersion blender or stand blender, purée vegetables and any remaining bits of meat in pan juices to make sauce. Cut beef into slices. Slice each bread loaf in half lengthwise and crosswise, spread one side with mayonnaise, thickly layer in meat, wet with gravy, and top with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Oven Baked Fried Chicken

Sadly, both LBA and SoBA may be growing out of the "chicken nugget" easy meal solution of their lives.  But that is not to say that this recipe may work for them.  From Savory Nothings via BuzzFeed (a lot of these recipes featured thighs or drumsticks, but we are more of a white meat kind of family).

Crispy Oven Fried Chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 410°F. Place a dark-colored roasting pan (a baking tray works as well) in the oven to heat up.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and the milk.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, breadcrumbs, baking powder and seasoning together.
  4. Dip the chicken pieces in the flour, coating evenly and shaking off any extra flour.
  5. Next, coat the chicken pieces in the egg mixtures. Then, dip them into the flour again, this time coating very well.
  6. Take the baking tray out of the oven and melt the butter on it. Place the coated chicken pieces on the tray.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, carefully flip and bake for another 5-10 minutes (depending on how thick your chicken pieces are). Finish by broiling the chicken until it turns golden brown and crispy.

Monday, March 5, 2018

More Lunch Ideas

Last week I discussed SoBA and LBA's lunches - packed by me, when they are not buying lunch from school.  There is the problem when they would like something that we have had the night before (really, what child voluntarily asks for leftovers in their lunch?) but there is no way of keeping (or making) it warm for lunch.  They might be able to palate this however, and they would be infinitely better for them than their store-bought namesakes.  Via BuzzFeed.

Serves 1

  • 5 crackers
  • ¼ cup marinara sauce
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 5 slices of pepperoni
  • Cupcake liners (to separate the ingredients)
  • Grapes (optional)
  • Crackers (optional)


Place marinara in small container (we reused an old baby food jar) and place in lunchbox. Place crackers, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni in cupcake liners next to it. Serve with grapes and crackers.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Lunch Ideas

SoBA and LBA are permitted to order hot lunch at school once a week.  The rest of the time it's on me to make their lunches in the morning.  If I'm particularly motivated, I will "get ready to get ready" by packing those items not requiring refrigeration the night before and have their lunch bags ready to finish in the morning.

LBA is a fan of the "sandwich" pepperoni and mozzarella on a sandwich (he's recently turned to pita bread) as opposed to the slider and SoBA likes that as well but usually opts for the ham wrap (sliced ham on a small tortilla.  Maybe I can get SoBA interested in these (though those tomatoes may be a non-starter). Via BuzzFeed.

Ham and Cheese Kebabs
Serves 1

  • 2 cherry tomatoes, cut in half on a diagonal
  • 2 slices of ham
  • 2 cubes of cheddar cheese
  • 2 pieces of diced sandwich bread
  • 1 orange (optional)
  • Crackers (optional)
  • Carrots sticks (optional)
Place one cherry tomato (cut-sides facing each other), a slice of ham, a cube of cheddar cheese, and a piece of bread on each skewer. Serve with an orange and carrot sticks.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Patty Melts

Patty Melts are one of those things that if they are on the menu, I'm going to order them (same for escargot).  So why wouldn't I make this at home?  The better question is "why aren't I" now that the Pioneer Woman has told me how?

Patty Melts
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Servings: 4

  • 1 stick Butter
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Halved and Sliced
  • 1-1/2 pound Ground Beef
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 5 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
  • 8 slices Swiss Cheese 8 slices Rye Bread
In a medium skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Throw in the sliced onions and cook slowly for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown and soft.

In a medium bowl, mix together the ground beef, salt & pepper, and Worcestershire. Form into 4 patties.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a separate skillet over medium heat. Cook the patties on both sides until totally done in the middle.

Assemble patty melts this way: Slice of bread, slice of cheese, hamburger patty, 1/4 of the cooked onions, another slice of cheese, and another slice of bread. On a clean griddle or in a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter and grill the sandwiches over medium heat until golden brown. Remove the sandwiches and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet. Turn the sandwiches to the skillet, flipping them to the other side. Cook until golden brown and crisp, and until cheese is melted.

Slice in half and serve immediately!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Rosemary Garlic Fried Potatoes

We worship the Pioneer Woman at the Launchpad.  She is our "go-to gal" for many recipes.  We have started making hash browns at the Launchpad on weekends to go with the egg sandwiches that we often have.  And her Onion Straws are a staple for us.  SoBA is not a huge fan of the roasted potato, but I bet I could sell him on these.

Rosemary Garlic Fried Potatoes
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: 8

  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, Scrubbed Clean And Cut Into Chunks
  • Vegetable Oil, For Frying 
  • 6 whole Rosemary Sprigs
  • 12 cloves Garlic, Sliced
  • Kosher Salt, for sprinkling
  • Smoked Paprika (optional), for sprinkling 

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully lower the potato chunks into the water and cook them until fork-tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then pour onto a sheet pan and allow them to dry completely and cool slightly.

Bring a pot of vegetable oil to a temperature of 350 degrees. (NOTE: Put pot on the back burner of the stove if you have children in the house.) Using a slotted spatula and working in batches, carefully lower cooked potatoes into the oil and allow them to fry for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden and slightly crisp. Add a few garlic slices and rosemary to the pot, and continue frying for another minute or so, until potatoes or deep golden and crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate, making sure to get all the garlic and rosemary out. Sprinkle generously with salt and repeat in batches with the rest of the potatoes, rosemary, and garlic.

Serve with steak, chicken, or fish (or salad!)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Beef Stroganoff

I've previously posted about my like of Beef Stroganoff, here, here, and here.  Evidently, according to Google, it was the top trending recipe of 2017.  Maybe I will actually get around to making it in 2018.  Recipes from BuzzFeed - here's my favorite of this list (it doesn't have mushrooms - Mrs. BA and SoBA will be happy) via the Spirited Violet.

5 Ingredient Beef Stroganoff
Serves 4
Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 20 min
Total Time 30 min

  • 1 (8 ounce) package egg noodles
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can fat free condensed cream of mushroom soup (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Prepare the egg noodles according to the package.
  2. In a separate large skillet over medium heat, saute the ground beef over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until browned. Drain the fat and add the soup and garlic powder. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and combine the meat mixture with the egg noodles. Add the sour cream, stirring well, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Notes  (from the Spirited Violet)
  • We have used ground turkey for this recipe to save money. We have also used half the amount of meat in the recipe before as well and it tastes just fine!
  • I have been given a lot of feedback about the amount of garlic powder being too much. Yes, I used a whole tablespoon and this wasn't a typo; I enjoyed it and that is how it read from the original recipe as well. Use your cooking intuition if you feel that is too much for you and halve it, if necessary.
  • If you feel the noodle mixture is dry, pour milk into the empty mushroom soup can and pour in the finished mixture to make it easier to stir.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Garlic Soup

I'm a fan of the French Onion Soup.  I like Garlic.  This might be a nice change of pace.  From Brooklyn Supper via BuzzFeed.

Garlic Soup
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
A hearty, fortifying garlic soup recipe made with roasted and sautéed garlic along with potatoes, shallots, and fresh herbs.
Makes: 4 servings
Author: Brooklyn Supper

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil , divided
  • 2 large heads hardneck garlic (12 – 15 cloves each), divided
  • 1 large shallot , peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
  • sea salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 1 quart rich stock – chicken, beef, or vegetable
  • 4 sprigs each fresh thyme and parsley, tied with twine
  • 2 medium russet potatoes , cut into 1-inch cubes

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Trim root end off one head of garlic. Set cloves, trimmed side down, in a small, oven-proof ramekin. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Cover with foil, set on a rimmed baking sheet, and slide into oven. Roast garlic for about 15 minutes, or until garlic is soft, but not at all brown. Once garlic is done, carefully remove foil and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, slide cloves out of their skins and reserve.
  3. In a heavy bottomed 2- or 3-quart pot, heat butter and 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Trim, smash, and peel remaining head of garlic. Add cloves to pot, along with the sliced shallots, a pinch of sea salt, black pepper, and chili pepper flakes. Sauté 2 - 3 minutes, then turn heat to low and cover; cook, stirring occasionally, cook for about 30 minutes.
  4. Remove cover, up heat to medium, and sauté until shallot and garlic brown just a bit on the edges. Add white wine and scrape up any brown bits, then pour in 3 cups stock and add potatoes, reserved roasted garlic, and tied herbs (or bouquet garni), along with a generous pinch of sea salt.
  5. Bring mixture to a boil, and then turn heat down to a bubbling simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  6. Remove bouquet garni and carefully puree soup in a blender. Return soup to pot, adding up to 1 more cup of broth, if needed. Add sea salt to taste, add a splash more of white wine if needed, lots and lots of black pepper, and serve with a sprig of thyme and minced parsley leaves.
  7. The flavor will develop further after a day in the fridge. The soup reheats beautifully, but does tend to thicken – keep a 1/2 cup or so of stock (water will work, too) on hand to thin soup if needed.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Where's Fred When We Need Him?

Sadly, Fred Rogers left us fifteen years ago next month. Like my mother (and last year, my father) I sometimes think, how would they react to what's going on right now? Mr. Rogers would know what to do.
  • Last April, posted a link to Twitch.TV that was streaming all 886 episodes of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. (I don't think the link is active anymore - but you can also watch episodes on Amazon Prime) I would be fine killing some time over there (if I wasn't living in the alternate reality of the West Wing when I can).
  • One month later, kottke again posted about Mr. Rogers, this time about the sweaters that he wore throughout the years.
  • Then in November it was announced there was to be a documentary film about Mr. Rogers, titled, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" The first trailer dropped this week.

"Love is at the root of everything
All learning, all parenting, all relationships
Love or the lack of it.
And what we see and hear on the screen is part of who we become."
- Fred Rogers

Monday, January 15, 2018

Chicken in Milk

I know what you're thinking.  How can that be good?  Roast Chicken is a popular Sunday dinner at the Launchpad.  I'm always looking for gravy with my chicken, this might do the trick.  From Jamie Oliver via BuzzFeed.

Chicken with Milk

  • 1.5 kg free-range chicken
  • olive oil
  • ½ a stick of cinnamon
  • 1 good handful of fresh sage
  • 2 lemons
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 565 ml milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F
  2. Season the chicken generously all over with sea salt and black pepper, then fry in a snug-fitting pot with a little oil until golden, turning the chicken to get an even color all over.
  3. Remove from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and throw away the oil left in the pot. You'll be left with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pan which will give you a lovely caramel flavor later on. 
  4. Put your chicken back in the pot with the cinnamon, sage leaves, lemon zest, unpeeled garlic cloves and milk.
  5. Cook in the hot oven for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until cooked through, basting with the cooking juices when you remember. The lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce which is absolutely fantastic.
  6. Pull the meat off the bones and divide it onto your plates. Spoon over plenty of juice and the little curds. Serve with wilted spinach or greens and some mashed potato, if you like.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

2018 New Year's Resolutions

It's been a while since I've made resolutions, possibly because I'm bad at keeping them.  But you, dear reader, can hold me to these.  I'm resolved to do these things this year.

  1. I resolve to play golf at least once a month, when conditions allow.  (To that end, Mrs. BA did give me a gift certificate to play at least one round, once the ground is no longer frozen solid.)
  2. I resolve to go to the movies at least once a month.  We do go to the movies as a family fairly often, but I would like to go to the movies (and maybe dinner) with Mrs. BA a little more regularly.  LBA has reached an age where he can be trusted to watch over SoBA and they can be left for a period of time, provided we are not all that far away.  I also gave Mrs. BA a movie gift card so that we can get started on this right away.  We have already seen "The Last Jedi" in January, but that is not to say that we couldn't go see something else (or even see "Last Jedi" a third time).
  3. I resolve to not run around like a crazy person every morning as we try to get ourselves out of the house to school and work.  Part of that is getting out of bed before 7:00am, part of it is going to bed at a reasonable hour (which I have been doing of late), and maybe some of it is one of these wonder products that I need to help me.
  4. I would like to lose some weight this year.  Yes, yes, I know we all say that, but I really should do it.  I'm 50 now, with a variety of ailments and aches that would be alleviated by dropping some pounds.  I bought a bicycle last year that has not seen a great deal of action and it should.  My FitBit tells me that I get between 6,000 and 7,000 steps a day - but I would like that number to be the 10,000 daily goal that is recommended.  My goal is 20 pounds.
  5. I would like to be a better father to LBA and SoBA.  I don't think that I'm doing an awful job - but having lost my father last year, I am reminded that it would be nice if my boys have more good memories than bad ones of me.  I need to be more patient (especially with SoBA, who seems to know exactly where my buttons are that cause me to lose my mind), yell less, and be more aware of what's going on with their lives (LBA is officially a teenager now and that brings a whole host of other issues with it).

Monday, January 8, 2018

Gateau au Yaourt (French Yogurt Cake)

LBA and SoBA enjoy yogurt almost every morning.  They, like their father, also appreciate the sweeter things - so perhaps this cake might make an appearance.  Mrs. BA is the baker at the launchpad, so she would have to be on it. From Food52 via BuzzFeed.

Gateau au Yaourt
Makes one 10-inch cake

  • 250 milliliters (1 cup) whole milk plain yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 160 grams (3/4 cup plus 1 scant tablespoon) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 80 milliliters vegetable oil (slightly less than 4oz.)
  • 250 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt 

  1. Heat the oven to 350° F and line a round 10-inch cake pan with parchment paper. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Fold the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture, mixing only until all traces of flour disappear. Be careful not to overwork the dough.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden and a tester comes out clean.
  6. Let stand for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Slow Cooker Pizza Dip

Growing up, when my mother would make spaghetti, once the sauce was done and simmering on the stove, I would often take a piece of white bread and put some sauce on it as a little "amuse-bouche" before dinner.  This recipe would make me feel a lot like I did back then.  Recipe from One Sweet Mess via BuzzFeed.

Happy New Year to all!  If you're in the vicinity of the Launchpad, you should stop by for our New Year's Day Open House!

Slow Cooker Pizza Dip
Yield: 8 servings
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes

Pizza Dip
  • 1 pound sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup green pepper, diced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can pizza sauce
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Garlic Bread Dippers
  • 1 French baguette, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4-1/3 cup parmesan cheese

Pizza Dip
  1. In the insert of your slow-cooker, add green peppers, onions, garlic, pizza sauce, and parmesan cheese. 
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and red pepper flakes. Brown the sausage until it’s cooked through, breaking it up with your spatula or wooden spoon as you go.
  3. Add the cooked sausage to the slow-cooker with the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Cook on low for 4 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in mozzarella cheese right before serving.

Garlic Bread Dippers
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line a sheet pan with the French baguette slices.
  3. In a small sauce pan over low heat, add the butter and garlic cloves. Cook until the butter is melted, stirring occasionally. Once the butter is melted, add the salt and Italian seasoning. Cook on low for two minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Using a pastry brush, coat the slices with the butter mixture. Top with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.