Chicken with Lemon- Basil Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon (packed) grated lemon peel (aka: lemon zest)
  • 1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried

Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.  (WAIT TIL ITS READY!)

Do yourself a favor and flatten your chicken so you don’t have one piece that is cooked and another thicker piece that is not cooked.  If you don’t have a hammer, use a pot.  This also makes the chicken more tender. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.20160429_224831248_iOS

Add chicken to skillet and sauté until brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.  I usually set a timer to make sure I don’t cook too long. You don’t really need to mess with them while they are in there – just let them cook.   Transfer chicken to platter; tent with foil and let it rest.

20160429_230805891_iOSAdd lemon juice, garlic and lemon peel to same skillet. Stir over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add chicken broth; boil until reduced to sauce consistency, about 8 minutes.  Use a rubber spatula to “clean” the pan and mix in the chicken crumbs.

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When you wipe the pan, it should leave a streak.  That means its reduced.

Mix basil into sauce.  mix in juices from the plate that has been resting the chicken.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.20160429_232429156_iOS

Chicken Chardon

Ingredients

  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a shallow bowl, beat the egg with salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon garlic powder. In a separate dish, mix bread crumbs with 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.

Mix together the melted butter and lemon juice. Pour about 2/3 of the butter mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Tilt pan to coat the bottom.

Spread mushrooms in an even layer in the bottom of
the dish.

Dip each chicken breast into the egg mixture, then into the bread crumb mixture. Place on top of the mushrooms.

Drizzle remaining butter over the chicken, and sprinkle with parsley.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until chicken is golden brown and juices run clear.

Cheese Soufflé

  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • 3 egg yolks, whisked
  • 3 egg whites, beaten until stiff
  • 1/4 cup diced ham (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)

Prep 15 m
Cook 20 m
Ready In 30 m

Melt butter in a medium bowl in the microwave. Stir in flour, salt and pepper.

Whisk in milk then cheese, until combined. Cook in microwave for 2 minutes on High

Whisk in flour until combined. Cook for another 1-1/2 to 2 minutes until mixture becomes a smooth, thickened sauce.

Whisk egg yolks until blended. Add a little of the sauce to the yolks; stir thoroughly. Stir in yolk mixture back into the sauce.

Beat egg whites until stiff in another medium bowl.

Fold egg yolk/sauce mixture gently into beaten egg whites just until combined. (Mixture does not have to be completely blended.)

Add ham and parsley (optional)

Gently spoon or pour into 2 lightly greased 2-cup straight-sided ramekins or souffle dishes.

Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (160 degrees C) oven until puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Twice-Baked Potato

  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • 8 slices bacon – I go turkey bacon
  • 1 cup sour cream – can also have vegetarian
  • 1/2 cup milk (lactaid works ok)
  • 4 tablespoons butter (lactose free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided (I usually use Parmesan since it is a hard cheese)
  • 8 green onions, sliced, divided

Prep 15 m
Cook 1 h 15 m
Ready In 1 h 30 m

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Bake potatoes in preheated oven for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.

When potatoes are done allow them to cool for 10 minutes.

Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a large bowl; save skins.

To the potato flesh add sour cream, milk, butter, salt, pepper, 1/2 cup cheese and 1/2 the green onions. Mix with a hand mixer until well blended and creamy.

Spoon the mixture into the potato skins. Top each with remaining cheese, green onions and bacon.

Bake for another 15 minutes.

Baked Cod with Lemon

Ingredients

  • 4 (6-ounce) cod fillets
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, for egg wash
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme

Butter Sauce:

  • 2 cups white wine (recommended: Chardonnay)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 2 clove garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter – like put it in a freezer
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

Total Time: 1 hr
Prep: 10 min
Inactive: 30 min
Cook: 20 min

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the fillets on a sheet tray or rack so the fish can release its natural juices.

Place the bread crumbs into a shallow dish. In a separate shallow dish add 2 beaten eggs. Season both sides of the fillet with salt and pepper. Once seasoned, brush the belly side of the cod with the egg. Dip the egg side into the bread crumbs.

In a cast iron skillet add grapeseed oil. Before placing fish into pan, make sure the skillet is very hot. Sear only 1 side of the fish (the side with the bread crumbs). Once 1 side is seared, place the skillet in the oven for about 3 to 4 minutes until cooked.

Once the fish is cooked, flip it over and add the lemon juice, butter and sprig of thyme. Let melt and baste the fish with the juice.

Pour over the Butter Sauce and serve.

Butter Sauce:
In saucepan, add wine, sprigs of thyme, shallot and garlic. Set on back burner to allow the wine to reduce. Once the sauce is reduced to a syrup, strain and add the heavy cream, and lemon juice and bring to a slight simmer.

Whisk in cold butter and once melted add the fresh chives and season with black pepper.

Asparagus – Oven Roasted

  • 1 bunch thin asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)

Prep 10 m
Cook 15 m
Ready In 25 m

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F

Place the asparagus into a mixing bowl or zip lock bag, and drizzle with the olive oil.

Toss to coat the spears, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper. Arrange the asparagus onto a baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake in the preheated oven until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes depending on thickness.

Sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.

Wake-up Call

“Dad.”

“Huh…What?”

Groggy eyes half opened. John rolled over and saw his son, Michael, standing in his underwear at the foot of Johns’ bed.

“I don’t feel good”, the five year old stated. His small hands cupped his bare stomach in an effort to keep it from moving around.

‘Oh, great. ‘, John thought to himself. “Go get a drink of water. ”

The boy obediently turned and walked out.

John sighed and ran his fingers through his hair as the sound of running water came through his bedroom door. He looked over at the digital clock next to him. It was 3:l5 a.m. John sighed again. ‘It’s all part of being a single parent’

“Dad?” Michael reappeared at the door.

“Yeah, bud?”

The boy was clutching his stomach again, trying to squeeze out the pain. “It didn’t help. ”

I’m going to get zero sleep tonight, John thought to himself.  “Alright, You wanna sleep with me?” John flipped back the comforter that covered him.

The boy nodded his head slowly and stood where he was.

“Well, come on then.” John said.

Michael sleepily waddled over to the side of the bed and crawled on top. Like a drunk puppy, he walked on hands and knees, finally stopping and coming to rest next to his dad.

John grabbed the comforter below his sons feet and flipped it over the both of them. Laying back down, John turned and faced his son. “How do you feel?”, John said while thinking to himself, What a great kid.

The boy paused and then said, “I think…”

“You feel better?” John asked hopefully.

The boy said nothing.

“You still feel a little sick?”

Michael, only inches from his dads face, looked tenderly into his father’s eyes and said, “I’m gonna throw up.”

Everything went into slow motion.

John began backing away just as his sons eyes inflated to their maximum size. The boy’s body twitched and his mouth locked open into position, ready to fire its watery projectile. Recognizing what was happening, John redoubled his efforts to evacuate ground zero when the toddler bomb hit. He pushed his body away from his son, sliding across the linen in time to escape the first gusher of hot stomach fluids, mixed with chunks of who knows what.

Johns body finally propelled off his bed and landed hard on the floor. Now, fully awake, he looked over at his son.

Michael was sprawled out on the bed, head down, mouth and nose dripping the puce ingestive juices into an ever-widening puddle of brownish yellow, scattered with pieces of last nights’ dinner. The toxic fumes from his sons’ explosion reached Johns nostrils and gave him a wave of nausea also.

“In the bathroom!” was all John could say. Michael didn’t move.

John stood up surveying the impact area.  Johns’ side of the bed was covered with slimy, smelly intestinal fluid of his stiff son. Running in his underwear, John reached down and grabbed his son, pulling him off the soiled sheets.

I guess he did eat all of his cabbage... John thought grossly to himself. Holding him at arms length, John raced Michael out of the door, towards the bathroom.

“Dad…”, was all Michael could say before his body twitched spastically in Johns’ hands. The father heard a liquid fountain from his sons’ mouth. It splattered sickly on the wall and floor, just in time for John to step firmly into it. After a few steps of walking on something as desirable as walking on hot coals, John came upon the closed door that led to his bathroom.  He sat his drenched son down and grabbed the door handle.

It was locked. The bathroom door tended to lock on its own occasionally.

Usually, when it was most inconvenient.

“DaaAAAAAAHHHHHHUUGGGGGGHH!”, Michael said affectionately to his father, disposing another load of “Michael Juice” onto his fathers’ legs.

Johns whole focus was now on opening that door.  Separating the door handle from the door proved to be ineffective.  John therefore decided to do the next logical thing; break it down!

Slamming his shoulder against the door, it gave way with a loud crack along with a substantial amount of the door jam.  He twisted around, grabbed his child and rushed towards the toilet like a running back crossing the end-zone

Placing his son in front of it and pushing his head down, just in time for the toilet to catch a perfect reception of pass number four.

Touchdown!

Training is VR’s Bread and Butter

As VR becomes more popular and companies strive to find compelling ways to use it and make money, more and more applications of VR seem to come out of the woodwork.  Lately new applications such as 360 live streaming of sports events, search and rescue drones used to find victims and of course, porn, has popped up.  However, there is one application of VR that industries “discover” that should never be considered groundbreaking: Training.  Think of it: the purpose of training is to teach someone a skill or gain knowledge in a controlled and simulated environment.  Training is virtual reality in its basic form.

For all the efforts and marketing surrounding VR as an evolutionary step for entertainment, the real genesis of VR has been in the area of training.  The best example of an industry pushing all of its chips into VR is the military who has been using Virtual Reality for years…like over 100!  Granted, the flight simulators of World War I where a pilot was sitting in a barrel cut down the middle and controlled by wires isn’t exactly high-tech by today’s standards, but it was an indication of the true value of augmenting reality that still is fundamental today.  Practice what you do in a safe and (relatively) cheap environment repeatedly until you are skilled enough to do it in the real world.  The thousands of pilots and other military members whose lives have been protected in a virtual environment during training (not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel not being burned) cannot be overstated.  As advancements in technology continues to grow, more military applications are in use; practicing parachute landings, soldiers practicing the art of walking through hostile terrain, sailors in submarine simulators and virtual ship bridges.  All of these applications save time, resources and overall produce better trained military members.

With the investment of a few key companies, this focus on VR training has grown the last few years in the commercial world.  Commercial airlines have been doing it since the 1960s, but recently a new company called STRIVR Labs has made headlines.  This Stanford based company that focuses on sports training has reignited the discussion on the use of VR and specifically 360 video for training.  When major sports stars’ brag about how using VR helps give them an edge in studying their craft, people sit up and listen.  It is only a matter of time before every football quarterback will be studying defensive formations with a VR headset and every baseball team will be spending the majority of batting practice hitting against a simulation of the real pitcher they will face that night.  For those with access to sports teams (professional or college), this can mean lots of business.

Similarly, many of the discussions bThere had with pilots at the 2015 International Council of Airshows was focused on deliberate training applications. With aviation fuel prices greater than $5 a gallon and the requirement for airplanes to be recertified for every 100 hours in the air, any cost savings would be welcome.  Pilots would also have unlimited access to see their routine over and over again making the maneuvers automatic.  This technology bring not only efficiency but safety as well.

If any virtual reality company is looking for a profitable venue to start making headway, they should not overlook the opportunities in the use of VR for training.  Certainly, a very basic business strategy is to find an industry where they might have access and industry knowledge, go in with a camera and an expert in a particular skill and shoot footage of any process that requires skill or repetitive knowledge for the purposes of training.

Obviously the footage may not be as cool as watching a base jumper leap off a bridge or killing endless hordes of aliens, but it pays…it has for over a century.

Welcome to My Mind

On the web (and through thousands of years on paper) people have realized a central desire to be heard.

Rondal visiting Venice for the first time with his kids. This was taken in front of the train station on an extraordinarily hot summer day.
Rondal visiting Venice for the first time with his kids. This was taken in front of the train station on an extraordinarily hot summer day.

Most prefer a pleasant or productive version of being heard such as singing a beautiful ballad or writing the Declaration of Independence versus passing gas (either direction) or that sound you make when stubbing your toe in the middle of the night but your in the baby’s room so you cant make a sound however a quiet whimper escapes your throat and the world spins slightly to the left.

And being heard is not just for the basic needs of human existence:

“Hey Zurg, pass me that tree branch so I can knock that saber-tooth upside the head…”

“Hey Ugh, pass me that tree branch so I can hit Zurg upside the head for being stupid…”

Sometimes, deeper and more profound realizations come into ones mind and there is a need to express these thoughts or opinions to others.

“Hey guys, why don’t you grab a stick and sharpen the end so it would be like you have a big tooth like that saber-tooth? … not that you would still have a chance but whatever.”

The objective of this blog is to entertain, enlighten and maybe even start a fight or two.  Undoubtedly, I will explore all sorts of topics that are of interest to me.  I will do my best to keep them separate, maybe put them in specific categories or keep them in alphabetical lists.  Occasionally I will just scramble them all up just to screw with you.  As you will find out, I have quite a few topics with which I have real working experience, and quite a few areas of interest that I have done extensive research.

The other 98% will all be just BS.

Enjoy!

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Honey, God Told Me To Go To Home Depot

I needed to return some stuff for work this morning. So I grabbed my wife’s car and while driving around I got this “feeling” that I needed to go to Home Depot. Now… for those of you who know me well, you’re saying to yourself, “Of course he has that feeling to go to Home Depot; he has that three times a day”. But this feeling it was especially strong.

So obeying my inner DIY nerd, I dutifully pulled in to the Home Depot parking lot which was filled beyond capacity; unusual for 10 am on a Friday. However, with the center of the Blizzard projected to be over the center of my house, people were stocking up on whatever was left at various grocery stores and home supply stores.

When I walked through the contractors door (because only real men do that), I saw familiar female Home Depot employee struggling with a large box in the aisle. I walked over and said “You need some help?”

I don’t know if she recognized me or not but she replied “Yeah that would be great, but I only need to open this box just a little. Once customer see what’s inside they’ll open up the rest.”

I ripped open the top of the box and inside was an amazing sight. Inside there had to be at least 50 snow shovels! Snow shovels about to be sold on the day the blizzard starts!

You see, last year I didn’t really get to use my snow shovel because I was in the hospital for the entire winter. The year before that, I used my snow shovel but I ended up breaking it toward the end of the year. Last month I threw it out and was planning on going out and buying another one whenever I got around to it. But of course I’ve been busy with work and other responsibilities and never did make it out to buy another shovel; including the last few days. And of course every time I have gone by in the last few days in every store they’ve been sold out.Snow Shovels

So right before me was an entire case of three different types of shovels. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Of course within the 3 seconds that I opened up the case, someone saw it and shouted “Shovels over here!” The response was something similar to a car alarm going off in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.

Nevertheless I was able to pick up two different shovels and was at the cash register before the horde realized what was happening.

I got two: one for my son and one for my daughter