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.