Asparagus Fritter Sticks with Dill Mustard

Makes: 12 servings
Yield: 5 cups asparagus sticks 1/2 cup dip
Prep 10 mins
Cook 3 mins per batch
Oven 200°F

Ingredients

1 cup cold water
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil for deep-fat frying
1 pound green, white, and/or purple asparagus, trimmed
1/2 cup Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill weed
2 tablespoons honey

Directions

1. Place an ovenproof dish in oven. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. For batter, in a large bowl whisk together the water, cornmeal, flour, cornstarch, egg, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Batter will be lumpy.
2. In a large skillet heat about 1 inch of oil to 350 degrees F. Working with 3 or 4 spears at a time, dip asparagus into batter, letting excess batter drip into dish. Carefully slide coated spears into hot oil. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes, depending on thickness of spears, until golden. Remove with tongs. Place on paper towels to drain, then transfer to baking dish in warm oven while frying remaining spears.
3. Meanwhile, for dip, in a small bowl combine mustard, dill weed, and honey. Serve with asparagus fritter sticks.

 

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Sauteed Mushrooms

Total Time:

30 min

Prep
15 min
Cook
15 min

Ingredients

1/8 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 cup sliced white onion
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 cup cleaned and sliced portobello mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Heat a large skillet to high heat and add the oil. Wait 1 or 2 minutes for it to come up to the smoking point. Add the onion and garlic and toss furiously so that the garlic doesn’t burn. When the onions become translucent add the mushrooms and toss until all mushrooms are golden brown and caramelized. Remove from the heat. Add butter and thyme and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.

 

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Star Trek Into Darkness Movie Review- A Great Summer Blockbuster, A Disappointing Star Trek Film

star-trek-into-darkness

As a long time Star trek fan I had high hopes for Star Trek Into Darkness.

After ST:TNG (if you don’t know what that stands for you should probably stop reading now) I went through an similar pattern of initial excitement followed by disappointment and finally ambivalence on each of the Star Trek on television shows (DS9, Voyager, Enterprise) to the point where I didn’t even watch the final few seasons of each.

Each had its problems; DS9 (how could it there be an interstellar war and the Enterprise not be there?), Voyager (ugh, another alpha quadrant race in the delta quadrant, again with the Borg?), Enterprise (snore…) and after an absence that saw the ST:TNG movies sputter (another ugh- Nemesis) on the big screen I was excited when JJ Abrams was selected to reboot Star Trek.

I enjoyed the reboot more than I expected. It payed homage the original series and incorporated enough of the Star Trek canon while entertaining a new generation of movie goers. It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty darn good. I liked it so much I even ignored some of the nits that would have driven me crazy in a lesser movie- shiny phasers? Interwarp beaming?

The stage was set for a new movie, with a great new cast and a ton of story possibilities in the alternate time line created by the reboot.

I scored early preview tickets and settled in to watch after a a year or so of diligently avoiding spoilers and internet leaks. I had limited myself to only the official trailers. I thought I had pieced together the plot but was pleasantly surprised by some of the twists and turns.

SPOILER ALERT

Like Star Trek at its best, the movie delivers action with equal parts commentary on current events. The plot revolves around a terrorist, John Harrrison, a former ally who has turned against the federation whom he believes has murdered his crew. Harrison is eventually revealed to be Khan one the most famous villains in Star trek lore. And this version of Kahn is a badass. Genetically engineered to be superior in intellect and physical strength with a ruthless nature to match, it’s hard to imagine how he and his crew were ever forced to leave to Earth in the first place. The parallels to 9/11, drone warfare, and hunt for Osama Bin Laden are obvious as the Kirk volunteers to take the Enterprise to the edge of Klingon space and launch special long range torpedoes to kill Khan when he goes into hiding on the Klingon home world. An act of sabotage leaves the Enterprise crippled unable to escape and vulnerable to the Klingons who are expected to destroy the ship and starting a war desperately wanted by a faction of Starfleet who crave such a conflict.

There are plenty of ship chases, battles with Klingons, and explosions to keep the average movie goer entertained. On that level I enjoyed the movie.

But ultimately as a Star Trek fan I was disappointed. First I want to acknowledge this article, The Braver, Better Movie That Star Trek Into Darkness Could Have Been from Wired which makes some great points.

The good Star Trek movies have been about loss, consequences, and the search for one’s true self.

In Star Trek: The Motion Picture (ST:TMP) both Kirk and Spock struggle with their destinies. Kirk makes a choice to reject his promotion to Admiral and reverse his career path to get back to his “…own best destiny,” commanding a starship. Spock learns that rejecting his human emotion isn’t worth the life of isolation from his friends that it would require.

In Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (ST:TWOK) the Enterprise crew suffers the loss of Spock who sacrifices the himself “…for the needs of the many.” The decision to maroon Khan and his followers and without ever checking on their progress has dire consequences the Enterprise and her crew. Kirk also comes face to face with his life that could have been- a son who despises him.

In the Star Trek: The Search for Spock (ST:TSFP) the crew sacrifice their careers and ultimately the Enterprise herself to recover Spock. Kirk’s son is also murdered by the Klingons.

Ignoring Star Trek: The Voyage Home and the unwatchable Star Trek: The Final Frontier

Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country (ST:TUC) has the Kirk struggling with change. Will he allow his distrust of the Klingons and bitterness over the death of his son start a new war for the federation, “…If there is going to be a ‘Brave New World’ our generation is going to have the hardest time going to live in it.”

Star Trek Into Darkness (ST:ID) was looking great. Khan had been re-introduced, still ruthless but with a legitimate gripe against the Federation and this version of Kirk had come to realize that he needed to temper his gut feelings with the input of his stellar crew. And in a flipflop of ST:TWOK he sacrifices himself to save the Enterprise.

“It’s a miracle!”

“There is no such thing,” replies Spock.

I was stunned with the notion that they would kill Kirk. And if the movie had stopped there it not only would have been a great summer blockbuster but a great Star Trek movie as well.

In 1982, when I saw ST:TWOK I had no idea what to expect. I can remember sitting in the theater watching Spock die after saving the Enterprise in utter shock.

“…I never took the Kobayashi Maru test until now. What do you think of my solution?”

http://youtu.be/dhcR-w-56tA

At the time I had no idea that Spock would be resurrected in the next movie. For all intents and purposes that was it and probably the end of Star Trek movies altogether.

Flash forward to ST:ID. The tension and dread of Kirk’s death were washed away in the final minutes of the film. Kirk is revived by Khan’s blood  (I’m a doctor, not a miracle worker), Khan is recaptured and put back into deep freeze, and the Enterprise embarks on its five year mission of exploration. Roll credits.

Maybe JJ couldn’t help himself. Since he’s moving on to direct the next Star Wars movie, perhaps he couldn’t resist leaving Kirk’s return to another director.

Fair enough.

But the resolution is too trite, too clean.

How did Spock change? Why not have him compromise his values to save Kirk? “The needs of one outweigh the needs of the many…”

No play on the “I have been and always shall be your friend?”

Why put Khan in deep freeze? Isn’t a universe with Khan escaping a lot more interesting then leaving him in a freezer at Starfleet command? The next movie wouldn’t necessarily have to be about Khan just because he escaped. Isn’t that a decision best left up to the next director?

What’s the deal with McCoy synthesizing an formula to help Kirk recover from death. Haven’t you taken the jeopardy out of death for the rest of the series?

Ultimately JJ Abrams took ST:WOK, considered by nearly everyone to be the greatest of the Star Trek movies, and re-imagined it as a Star Trek episode ending with a giant reset button.

There is no price paid for Kirk’s recovery.

There was no character growth by Spock to make it happen.

There are no fans eagerly waiting for the next movie to see how Kirk will be recovered and wondering about what Khan is up to…

In short while ST:ID is a fun movie it adds little to the Star Trek mythos.

Long suffering Star Trek fans deserved better and certainly the potential for greatness was there but unfortunately ST:ID comes up short.

To paraphrase James T. Kirk from ST:TWOK, “…like a poor marksman, JJ keeps missing the target!”

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Carbonara with Pan Seared Scallops

Scallops
Carbonara with Pan Seared Scallops
by Laureen King from Art and the Kitchen
Prep Time 10-15 mins.     Cook time: 15-20 mins    Serves: 4
Ingredients for Scallops:
  • 12-16 large scallops (3-4 per person)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • Salt & Pepper

Ingredients for Carbonara:

  • 8 slices of thick cut bacon diced (I try to find bacon with less fat, or cut away excess fat)
  • 1 shallot finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic (leave whole)
  • 4 green onions
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 cup parmigiano reggiano grated
  • fresh ground pepper
  • pasta of your choice (I used Linguine, but most recipes use Spaghetti)

Directions:

*This recipe tastes best served VERY fresh, so don’t let it sit or Scallops and Pasta dry out quickly . Have ALL your ingredients and pots ready to go to make easy work of this.

*Start water boiling for pasta.
*Oven on warm

Pots required
: large pot for cooking pasta, skillet for frying bacon, garlic and shallots, skillet for pan searing scallops, large bowl for combining pasta and sauce.

Perfect Pan Seared Scallops
  1. Blot scallops with paper towel to remove any water. Salt and pepper.
  2. Heat large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  3. Make sure skillet is hot before adding scallops but not smoking.
  4. Add scallops leaving plenty of space between. Overcrowding the pan will drop the pan temperature and cause scallops to steam rather than sear. (may have to do in batches)
  5. Sear for about 2-4 minutes or when bottom is a nice golden brown. Don’t move them around in the pan or you will prevent them from forming that nice brown crust. After a couple of minutes have peek under to see if golden brown.
  6. Turn  to sear other side. (about 1-3 more minutes)
  7. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to pan now.
  8. Spoon the melted butter over the scallops as the other side finishes cooking.
  9. Transfer to paper towel covered plate.
  10. Keep warm in oven.

Pasta Carbonara

  1. Start cooking pasta.
  2. In small bowl mix together cream, egg yolks and 3/4 of cheese.
  3. In large skillet cook bacon until crisp, add shallots and 1/2 green onions.
  4. Smash down garlic clove a bit, add to bacon. (remove prior to adding pasta)
  5. When pasta is finished cooking, drain well, then add to skillet of bacon.
  6. Toss well, then transfer to large bowl.
  7. Add cream mixture to pasta and combined well. Make sure pasta is still hot in order to cook the eggs and melt the cheese. 

Arrange pasta on plate, top with seared scallops, add some fresh ground pepper, grated parmesan, and green onions.

The original site has great step by step photos as well.

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Red Rock Downtown Barbecue- Ypsilanti, MI

redrock-ypsi

…Red Rock is able to offer in-house smoked Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket, Saint Louis Style Ribs, Chicken and in-house smoked Bacon.

This is an amazing restaurant in downtown Ypsilanti. I was a little worried, the location isn’t known for great food or ambiance. But I was pleasantly surprised.

This place specializes in authentic barbecue served in a classy decor. I highly recommend this restaurant- it’s one of my go-to places for out of town visitors.

Red Rock Downtown Barbecue – Ypsilanti, Michigan

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iPad App Recommendations

Apple iPad E Books

Chrome– Great browser replacement for Safari.

Evernote– Ultimate note taking application, great free account syncs across all platforms.

Penultimate– Drawing and doodling application.

Dropbox– Cloud storage syncs across all platforms.

Flipboard– Awesome web site reading app.

Skype– Video conferencing app.

LinkedIn– Professional networking site.

Grocery IQ– Useful app to manage your grocery list.

Keynote– Presentation app.

Facebook– Social networking app.

Card Munch– Business card scanning app.

QR Reader– QR code app.

Urban Spoon- Restaurant app.

Prezi- Amazing new presentation app.

Yelp– Restaurant review app.

Zen Viewer HD– file manager and viewer.

Docs2Go– Edit Microsoft Office applications.

HBO to Go (if you have HBO)- Watch HBO content on your iPad.

 

Games

Words with Friends

Flight Control

 

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Great Steak Recipe

IMG_1188

Ingredients

Steaks
Butter
Rosemary (sprigs or ground)
Cooking Oil
Olive Oil
Salt

  1. Buy a thick cut of meat like a porterhouse. If its more than 2″ thick it’s usually better. Look for a lot of marbling (little white lines of fat through the meat). The more the better.
  2. Place the meat unwrapped on a rack in the fridge overnight (watch out for cross-contamination! make sure your fridge is clean). This ages the meat and helps dry it out. Then like an hour before you cook take it out of the fridge, pat it down with paper towels, and leave it out until your ready to season.
  3. Start a frying a pan on medium-high heat with a small amount of vegetable oil.
  4. Preheat your oven with an oven safe pan inside (preferably cast iron) to 500F degrees.
  5. Season both sides of the steak with coarse salt and a teaspoon of olive oil.
  6. Sear the steak in the frying pan for 1-2 minutes each side,
  7. Place the steak in the oven, with about three tablespoons of room temperature butter and three sprigs of fresh rosemary, works better directly applied to meat.
  8. After about 3 minutes, open the oven (there will be lots of smoke, run your fan), and flip the steak. 2-3 more minutes, pull it out. If you like it more on the well done side, leave it a little longer. Do not leave it for more than like 5 minutes because you might as well just make hamburgers. 2 minutes = rare.
  9. Remove from oven and use a wooden spoon or large soup spoon tilt the pan and repeatedly spoon the butter and juices onto the steak.
  10. Let the meat rest for about 5 minutes.
  11. Serve with mash potatoes and vegetable.

Notes: Thanks to Reddit for this great recipe. I modified it a little from my experience.

  • A little rosemary goes a long way.
  • Pre-heat frying pan and oven well.
  • This recipe creates a lot of smoke be prepared!
  • The original recipe was all done in one cooking pan.
  • One variation would be to sear the steak on a grill.
  • When flipping the steak use tongs, don’t pierce it with a fork.
  • Letting the steak rest is important, just because it’s out the of the oven doesn’t mean it’s done cooking. Resting allows the steak to finish cooking and re-absorb the moisture released during the high heat phase of cooking.
  • New York Strip = great, Rib-eye = ok.
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Tomato and Tortellini Soup

tort-soup

2 tbs. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced green pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried basil leaves, crushed
2 tsp. dried oregano leaves, crushed
¼ tsp. pepper
3 ½ cups (28 oz. can) tomatoes and juice
3 ½ cups (two 14 ½ oz. cans) chicken broth
1 cup (8 oz. can) tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 cup sliced carrots
3 tbs. minced fresh parsley
1 package (9 oz.) fresh cheese tortellini
1 cup sliced zucchini
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

In 4-quart saucepan with cover, heat oil. Saute onion, green pepper, garlic, basil, oregano, and pepper for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes and juice, broth, tomato sauce, water, carrots and parsley. Cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in tortellini and zucchini, continue cooking for 4-6 minutes or until tortellini is tender. Stir in parmesan cheese before serving.

Notes: I’ve been making this for over 20 years having found the recipe when I was in college. It’s best when made with canned tomatoes and thinly sliced vegetables.

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Olive Oil Baked Shrimp

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs fresh large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tail on)
  • 3 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • ¼ cup white cooking wine

PROCEDURE

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Combine all ingredients in an oven-safe saute’ pan
  • Bake for 10 minutes

Notes:  The red pepper flakes makes this pretty spicy. Personally I would scale back the amount. I took the tails of shrimp.

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