Monday, May 30, 2016

Happy Memorial Day!

Rest assured, the Brave Astronaut Clan is poolside for the Memorial Day Holiday.  It's sure to be a great summer.  If I were to make these, I could bring them to the pool, right?  There's no glass in them or I'll just maintain they are the kid-friendly ones. From A Spicy Perspective via BuzzFeed.

Vodka Gummy Bears Pops 
Yield: 10
Prep Time: 20 minutes (active time)

  • 1 1/4 cup vodka 
  • 1 1/4 cup gummy bears 
  • 3 cups Sprite or Ginger Ale (or Fanta!) 
  • wooden popsicle sticks 
  1. Pour the vodka in a bowl. Add the gummy bears, cover, and allow them to soak for 24-72 hours. The longer the gummy bears soak, the more vodka they absorb. They also grow in size! 
  2. Once the gummy bears have soaked to your liking, stir to separate them. They strain one-third of them out of the vodka and place in the bottom of 10 popsicle molds. Pour Sprite over the gummy bears until just covered, about one-third full. Then place in the freezer for 60-90 minutes. 
  3. Once the first layer is frozen, add the popsicle sticks and add a second layer of strained gummy bears and soda. Freeze again and repeat a third time. The total layering/freezing process should take around 4+ hours. 
NOTE: For a kid-friendly variation, omit the vodka and soaking process.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Signers: Massachusetts

In today's post, we look at the state that gave us the President of the Congress and it's most vocal supporter of American Independence.

  • John Adams (1735-1826), already covered in the post on the Declaration Committee, was likely the most influential member of the Continental Congress.  After the Declaration, he was appointed Minister to France and helped to negotiate the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War.  After serving as Washington's Vice President, Adams was elected as the nation's second president.  He died on July 4, 1826, within hours of his ally and later rival, Thomas Jefferson.  At Declaration, you can order a "John Adams" pizza with lobster roll”, celery, chives, and old bay mornay.
  • Samuel Adams (1722-1803), cousin to John Adams, Sam was more of a firebrand, if that were possible.  After leaving the Congress, he returned to Massachusetts and was later elected as the state's governor.
  • Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814), was a merchant who turned to politics, serving in the state legislature.  He later attended the Constitutional Convention, but did not sign that document as he did not endorse its ideals.  He later organized a redistricting effort in Massachusetts to benefit his own party, leading to the term, gerrymandering.  He later served as Vice President, dying in that office in 1814.
  • John Hancock (1737-1793), was a successful merchant whose ships were stopped outside Boston, leading Hancock to organize the Boston Tea Party.  After leaving Congress, he also served as Governor of Massachusetts.
  • Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814), was not as fervent as the other members of the Massachusetts delegation, yet supported the Declaration and signed the document.  He went on to serve as Attorney General of Massachusetts and later served on the State Supreme Court.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Patty Melts

I'm a sucker for the Patty Melt.  And I love the Pioneer Woman.  I'm sure to love these.  Plus, if I make her Onion Straws?  Bliss.

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, May 16, 2016

French Silk Pie

Why haven't I had this before?  Recipe from Cup of Jo, via a BuzzFeed post about Chocolate and Pretzels hanging out together.

No-Bake French Silk Pie 
By Tieghan Gerard of Half-Baked Harvest

What you’ll need:
For the Pretzel Crust
  • 1 ¾ cups crushed pretzels 
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted 
  • ¼ cup honey

For the Pie Filling
  • 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened to room temperature. 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (add ¼ cup more if you prefer sweeter) 
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract 
  • 4 whole eggs

Grease an 8 or 9-inch pie plate or spring form pan.

In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter and honey together until smooth. Add the crushed pretzels and mix until combined. Press mixture firmly against the bottom and sides of your pie plate. Place in the fridge.

In a small microwave safe bowl melt 6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate on 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until melted and smooth (about 1-2 minutes).

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the melted chocolate and the vanilla extract. Whisk the mixture thoroughly until combined.

Turn your mixer to medium speed and over a period of 15 to 20 minutes add in the four eggs, one at a time, leaving about 5 minutes between each egg addition. Once the pie filling is well mixed, pour it into the pretzel crust. Smooth out the pie filling and place the pie in the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours or overnight.

Add a cup or two of whipped cream and garnish with a few chocolate curls if desired.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Signers: New Hampshire and South Carolina

Next up for the Signers of the Declaration are the Granite State and the Palmetto State.

New Hampshire
  • Josiah Bartlett (1729-1795), the ancestor of fictional President Jed Bartlet, was a physician as well as a politician.  He was the second person to sign the Declaration, following John Hancock. Following the Revolution, he was elected President and then Governor of New Hampshire.
  • Matthew Thornton (1714-1803), was also a physician, like his colleague Josiah Bartlett.  He arrived late to the Continental Congress, but in time to sign the document on behalf of New Hampshire. At Declaration, Thornton possibly has the most unique pizza concoction on the menu, with turkey confit, idiazabal cheese, cranberries, and maple gravy.
  • William Whipple (1730-1785), was born in what would become the state of Maine and served in the Continental Congress as well as the Continental Army. General Whipple led troops against General Burgoyne at the battles of Stillwater and Saratoga.  He died in 1785, having suffered from a heart ailment for several years, falling from his horse while traveling his court circuit.
 South Carolina
  • Thomas Heyward, Jr. (1746-1809), after signing the Declaration, he returned to South Carolina to serve as a judge.  Imprisoned by the British during the Revolution, he returned to the bench following the war. The Heyward Pizza at Declaration contains shrimp, sweet peppers, bacon, lemon confit, spinach, and romesco.
  • Thomas Lynch, Jr. (1749-1779), fell ill shortly after signing the Declaration and retired from the Congress.  In 1779, he and his wife sailed for the West Indies and the ship vanished.
  • Arthur Middleton (1742-1787), was captured by the British when Charleston was overrun in 1781.  Imprisoned for over a year (along with Heyward and Edward Rutledge), his fortune was destroyed during the Revolution, but he remained active in politics until his death in 1787.
  • Edward Rutledge (1749-1800), the youngest member of the Continental Congress, Rutledge, along with his brother John, were both very active in South Carolina politics.  He left the Congress after signing the Declaration to help defend South Carolina from the British.  He later returned to the state legislature and was elected Governor, but he died at the conclusion of his term, at age 50.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Shrimp Quesadillas

On those occasions when the Brave Astronaut Clan visits a Mexican restaurant, I will often order the fajitas with shrimp.  When we order Chinese, I almost always order shrimp with broccoli.  I like shrimp - and recently we've learned that so does LBA.  SoBA, not so much.  But he does like quesadillas.  Maybe I can sneak these past him.  Recipe from my culinary love, The Pioneer Woman

Quesadillas de Camarones
September 29, 2009
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Servings: 6 Servings

  • Flour Tortillas 
  • 12 whole Large Shrimp, Peeled And Deveined 
  • 8 ounces, fluid Mexican Red Sauce 
  • 1 whole Large Onion 
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper 
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper 
  • 2 cups Cheese, Grated (Monterey Jack Is Best) 
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 
  • Salt To Taste 


Pour red sauce over shrimp. Set aside.

Chop vegetables into large pieces. Heat skillet over high heat and add olive oil. Cook vegetables over high heat until they start to get brown/black. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Return skillet to high heat, then dump in the shrimp with the sauce. Cook, stirring only occasionally, until shrimp is opaque. Add in a little water if the sauce gets dry. Remove from skillet and chop into bite-size pieces.

In a separate skillet, heat butter. Place a tortilla in the skillet, then layer on ingredients: cheese, vegetables, and shrimp. Top with a little more cheese and a second tortilla. Cook on both sides, adding butter before flipping to the other side so the tortilla isn’t overly dry.

Remove from skillet and slice into wedges. Serve with rice, beans, salsa, sour cream, guacamole—whatever you’d like!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Is it 5:00 yet?

Thursday is Cinco de Mayo (I was reminded of this from the post from where this recipe comes).  Cheverly Day is May 21, where there will be kick-ass fireworks.  The pool opens in less than a month marking the unofficial start of summer.

Therefore, it's time to drink! From Creative Culinary via the above linked post from

The Firecracker - Watermelon, Lime and Cucumber Cocktail
Serves 2

  • 4 oz Prairie Cucumber Vodka 
  • 4 (1-inch) cubes of seedless watermelon 
  • 2 limes, diced 
  • 2 oz simple syrup (boil 1/4 cup water and sugar just until sugar dissolves. Add 1/4 cup ice to cool - refrigerate leftovers) 

To Garnish:
  • Lime Rim (equal amounts salt and sugar combined with some fresh grated lime) 
  • 2 Watermelon Slices 
  • 2 cucumber slices 
  • 2 small mint sprigs 
Combine vodka, watermelon and lime in a cocktail shaker. Muddle all ingredients well. Add simple syrup, fill with ice, cover and shake until ice cold.

Rim the glasses with a cut lime and dip in the lime rim mixture.

Fill the glasses with ice and pour the ingredients from the shaker into the glasses.

Garnish with a watermelon slice, a cucumber slice and a mint sprig.

  • No Cucumber Vodka? No problem. Simply add a couple of slices to cucumber to the watermelon and lime and muddle them together; use regular vodka of your choosing. Enjoy!