Monday, November 30, 2015

Pizza Pinwheels

I am in charge of lunches for LBA and SoBA.  Most days that means a ham and turkey wrap for LBA and PB&J for SoBA.  Lately, I turned them on to sandwich pepperoni and mozzarella cheese sandwiches.  They seem to like them.

Of course, Friday is pizza movie night at the launchpad.  On occasion we will also have special dinners downstairs for a big sporting event, with nachos, little hot dogs and other snacky items.  I think these would be a great addition.  Recipe Via BuzzFeed.

Pizza Pinwheels
Makes 14 to 16
Recipe by Lindsay Hunt


  1. 1 17.6-ounce package puff pastry, thawed to room temperature 
  2. ½ cup marinara 
  3. 3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese 
  4. ½ pound sliced pepperoni

Preheat the oven to 400ยบ F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.

Roll out one sheet of the puff pastry on a floured surface, using a rolling pin to make it slightly larger.

Top with half the marinara, half the pepperoni, and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Starting at one of the narrow ends of the rectangle, roll the dough into a tight log, pressing down to seal. Slice into 1-inch pieces and place on the baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each pinwheel.

Repeat with the remaining sheet of puff pastry, marinara, pepperoni, and 1 cup mozzarella to make more pinwheels. Sprinkle each pinwheel with the remaining cheese.

Bake the pinwheels until they are golden brown and the puff pastry is cooked through, 18 to 22 minutes. Serve hot.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

Slow Cooker Apple Crisp

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

Slow Cooker Apple Crisp
Serves: 6 servings

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

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

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

Monday, November 9, 2015

Slow Cooker Roast Beef

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

Slow Cooker Beef Roast

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 2, 2015

Penne Alla Vodka with Chicken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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