Monday, November 28, 2016

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

I'm always on the lookout for good slow cooker recipes. This one uses flank steak, one of Mrs. BA's favorites though it seems like a sin to do this to flank steak. I might consider a chuck roast instead. From 30 Things to Eat in November from BuzzFeed, recipe from GimmeSomeOven.

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu 
Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 15 mins

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed slightly
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut against the grain into 4 pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup beef stock (or I used dry red wine)
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 16 ounces pappardelle pasta (or any kind of pasta will do)
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, for serving (optional)
  • chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until golden and lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Season the beef with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Pour the tomatoes and broth over the beef and add the garlic, carrots, bay leaves and thyme.

Cover and cook on high for 6 hours, or on low for 8-10 hours. Discard the herbs and shred the beef in the pot using two forks.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions. Drain, return to the pot, and add the sauce from the slow cooker. Increase the heat to high and cook, stirring, until the pasta and sauce are combined, about 1 minute.

Divide among 8 pasta bowls and top each with 1 tablespoon Parmesan and (optional) 1 tablespoon ricotta. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

Recipe appeared on Gimme Some Oven and was "used with permission [on that site] from Skinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker Recipes by Gina Homolka"

Monday, November 21, 2016

Honey Crueller Donuts

The Brave Astronaut clan will be headed for a Mrs. BA family Thanksgiving this week - so no Thanksgiving specific recipe this week - but I am still thankful for many things, especially Mrs. BA and that she lets me use my deep fryer - like last night when we fried chicken wings.  Now I can make these beauties.  From Life is a Party via BuzzFeed.

Homemade Honey Cruller Donuts

  • 1 cup water 
  • 6 tbsp butter 
  • 2 tbsp sugar 
  • 1 cup flour 
  • 3 eggs 
  • oil for frying 
  • For the Glaze 
    • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar 
    • 1 tbsp honey 
    • 4 tbsp milk
  1. To begin with, bring the water, butter, and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Then, add in the flour and use a whisk to incorporate. Switch to a wooden spoon, and lower the heat to medium. Stir the dough and cook until the bottom of the pan is covered in a film and the dough has dried out. 
  2. Put the hot dough in a stand mixer with a paddle beater and mix on medium to cool the dough slightly. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated. 
  3. Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Cut out square 3 x 3 sheets of parchment paper (my batch made about 18 smallish donuts), and pipe donuts on to them, being careful not to overlap the beginning and end of the donut. 
  4. Heat oil to 375 degrees in a deep fryer. When the oil is hot, place one or two donuts, paper side up, into the oil. The donut will separate from the paper in a few seconds, and you can remove the floating paper with tongs. Allow the donut to fry until it is a rich golden brown, then flip over and do the same on the other side. (Test your first donut to make sure it's not not doughy in the middle and adjust your cooking time if needed). Remove from the oil and allow the donuts to cool completely on a paper towel, and finish frying them all. 
  5. To make the glaze, combine the icing sugar, honey and milk in a bowl and stir together. Dip the good side of the donuts, one at a time, into the glaze. Set on a rack to set completely. Enjoy!

Monday, November 14, 2016

One Pan Chicken Parmesan Pasta

The boys have been agitating for Mrs. BA to make Chicken Parmesan again.  Maybe this will satisfy them.  From one pot pasta dinners from BuzzFeed via Unicorns in the Kitchen. It's a quick an easy solution for weeknight dinners. I'm not a big fan of Ragu sauce - but you could substitute your favorite jarred sauce.

One Pan Chicken Parmesan Pasta
Yields 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
A healthier version of an all-time favorite, this One Pan Chicken Parmesan Pasta is great for weeknight dinners and is ready in less than 40 minutes!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 chicken breast, cut into small pieces
  • 1 jar Ragu Homestyle Thick and Hearty Traditional Sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 ounce pasta
  • 1/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (or more)

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Saute onion until golden brown.
  2. Add in chicken breast pieces and saute until the color has changed to light brown, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add in Ragu Homestyle Thick and Hearty Traditional Sauce and water. Stir and add in pasta. cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until pasta is cooked. uncover and let it simmer until the sauce is thick and reduced.
  4. Top with parmigiano reggiano and mozzarella, cover and cook for 1 minute until cheese is melted.
  5. Serve warm.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What's Next?

I hope that this post will be somewhat coherent, but I must admit to being a little shell shocked, still.  In the words of my candidate, this loss hurts and it will for a long time.

This morning, I woke to rain - it was as if Mother Nature herself was weeping along with a majority of this country.  I sat down yesterday evening, prepared to watch this nation elect the first woman president.  All of the evidence, all of the polls, it all pointed to a big Democratic evening.  It started out as expected, with the Republicans jumping out to an early lead.  Then some big electoral prizes stayed "too close to call" for too long.  The night stretched out and when I finally went to bed at 1:30, it was mostly over.  She had the most narrow of paths and it was unlikely that she was going to pull it out. Mrs BA had gone to bed earlier and was physically ill most of the night.  I also woke up feeling sick - unsure about the country I was waking up to.

My immediate problem was what we would say to LBA and to SoBA.  Mrs. BA and I finally decided on something to the extent of, "we've survived bad presidents before and we will do it again."  We urged them to be extra kind to people today as most of the people they would encounter would likely be feeling the same way as their mom and dad.

I tried to stay off Facebook and other social media sites today but I kept returning and saw the whole gamut of reactions: anger, sadness, depression, fear, desperation.  Throughout this campaign, I have encountered Republicans who weren't planning on voting for him.  I also know of some Republicans who did vote for him.  I didn't understand it, but I accepted it.  I just didn't realize there were so many of them.  Or that so many Democrats would stay home in unprecedented numbers.  In a democracy, if you don't vote, you don't get to complain.  If you want something changed, you have to be the agent of change.

So now we have a new agent of change.  I don't know what is going to happen.  I have all of those feelings that my friends have verbalized on Facebook.  I'm going to do the best I can in the coming days, months, and four years ahead.  But I won't stop working to be an agent of change for good.  We will get through this.

I am a Democrat.  I am an American.

Life is too short to hold on to hate and anger for too long.  I'll pick myself up and I'll go forward.  I encourage all of you to come along with me. Together we can make a united America again.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

It's Election Day - Get out and Vote

If you don't vote, you don't get to complain.  Today is the day where the nation will elect the 45th President of the United States. I would like to tell you that I don't care who you vote for, as long as you vote - but you really should vote for her.

You might find it surprising to learn that in the age of the country, we are only four presidents old (via the Washington Post). "When President Obama was born (1961), President Herbert Hoover was still alive (1874-1964). When Hoover was born, President Andrew Johnson (1808-1875) was still alive. When President Johnson was born, President John Adams (1735-1826) was still alive. And just like that, we've connected present day to the Founding Fathers."

Monday, November 7, 2016

Election Day Drinking

If you didn't start drinking during this election season, you weren't paying attention.  Here's 4 recipes to get you through tomorrow night.  But be sure to finish the night with champagne when we elect the 45th President of the United States!  Recipes from  Is it wrong that I like the Donald one the best?  But I'm sure to take in a Hillary or two.

The Donald
Tall and golden like a gilded casino tower, this choice is anything but subtle.
  • 2 oz vodka 
  • .5 oz Goldschl├Ąger gold-leaf cinnamon schnapps 
  • Orange juice 
  • Garnish: Orange wheel and cotton candy 
Pour the vodka and Goldschl├Ąger into an ice-filled Collins glass, and top with the orange juice. Garnish with an orange wheel and big puff of cotton candy.

The Mike Pence 
With a strong tea (party) base and a deep red color, it’s the (side)kick you need to start your night.
  • 1 bag hibiscus tea (such as Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger) 
  • 2 oz bourbon Club soda 
  • Garnish: Cherries 
Prepare the tea according to package instructions and let cool. Pour the prepared tea and bourbon into an ice-filled Collins glass, top with a splash of club soda, and garnish with cherries.

The Hillary 
A riff on the classic Democrat cocktail, this option’s a little stiffer than the one you might ordinarily choose.
  • 2.5 oz gin 
  • 1.5 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • .5 oz peach liqueur 
  • 5 oz honey syrup* 
  • Soda water 
  • Garnish: Lemon wheel 
Pour all of the ingredients except the soda water into an ice-filled Collins glass, stir, and top with the soda water. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
* Honey syrup: Heat equal parts honey and water in a small saucepan, and stir until the honey is completely dissolved. Cool and store refrigerated for up to 1 week.

The Tim Kaine 
Even though it may not be the most exciting cocktail, pretty much everyone loves this super sweet “dad drink.”
  • 1 oz Silver Fox Virginia rum 
  • Cola 
  • Garnish: Apple fan 
Pour the rum into an ice-filled Collins glass, and top with cola. Garnish with an apple fan, and serve with a big smile.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

One week to go

Today is November 1.  In one week's time, Americans will go to the polls to elect the 45th President.  All evidence and polls indicates that, eight years after electing the first African-American President of the United States, we are about to elect the first female President of the United States.

I have not hidden that I am a Democrat - but I am also an American.  I will admit that the Democratic nominee for President is not an ideal candidate, she has flaws and she has trouble relating to people sometimes.  But she is a smart, policy driven, candidate, who truly believes in the greatness of America.  She is a fighter who will truly work for the best of every American.

The Republican nominee for President is unhinged, dangerous, and unfit for the office.  When he makes a declaration that he "will keep us in suspense" regarding the election results, and will contest them if they don't go his way, because the system is "rigged" - he undermines the very foundations of American democracy.

I have Republican friends and almost every single one of them, without exception, is not planning to vote for him.  They may not be voting for her, which is fine, but they cannot bring themselves for vote him, which is even better.

I am willing to let people have a difference of opinion - if people really want to vote for him, I can't stop them.  What I can't accept is that people can't vote for her because of statements (and misstatements) that have been perpetuated by the Republican party and nominee.  You can dislike her, but there is nothing about the Republican nominee that could ever get me to vote for him and I would hope that those who are considering voting for him might change their minds.