“Easy, Fast and Amazing Broccoli Soup”

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Gordon Ramsey’s simple and elegant recipe for broccoli soup shows what’s good about cooking.  Fast, easy, simple and so tasty.  Enjoy on a cold winter night!!

Broccoli Soup:
INGREDIENTS
to taste Water
to taste Salt
to taste Black pepper
2 heads Broccoli very fresh
to taste Olive oil optional, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
Cut the florets off the heads of broccoli. Cut the stems into similarly sized pieces. Add all of the broccoli — florets and stems — into a pot of rapidly-boiling, salted water (2 tablespoons salt in 5 quarts of water). Cover. Cook 3.5 to 4 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, put the cooked broccoli pieces into a blender. Fill blender about halfway with cooking liquid. Blend carefully since it’s hot. Add more cooking liquid as necessary to achieve the desired consistency. Check seasonings.

If desired, add cheese (goat cheese or cheddar cheese) to the bottom of the bowl before pouring the soup in. Serve, drizzled with olive oil or a bit of cream if desired.  Add croutons for a crunch and some love a ton of black pepper in it.  Use your imagination!! Enjoy!!

“Oakland Raiders Final Grades v.s. Kansas City Chiefs”

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Final Oakland Raider Grades v.s. Kansas City Chiefs; Week 12:

(7-4)  Kansas City Chiefs  20

(1-10)  Oakland Raiders  24

First of all how about an A + for the energy and support of the crowd.  It was absolutely pouring down rain at times and the fans were so into the game.  If on earth there was ever a fan base that deserved this win, it was the Oakland Raider fans.  Wow!

Quarterback:

The conditions at times were awful with the rain, especially in the first half.  Derek Carr had his ups and downs but the thing that will be remembered is the last drive.  People wondered if he could make it happen in the clutch when he had to and they found out the answer.

The Raiders threw 6 of 8 times on first down in the first half, and it opened things up for the run.  Carr was off at times and still showed impatience, especially in the first half when he gave up on plays too early.  What was very encouraging though was his patience on the last touchdown pass to James Jones to win the game.  The offensive line gave great protection and it was a great play.  The crossing pattern is so hard to beat and I love it a lot over the popular fade.  Carr showed he has what it takes and is learning.

GRADE:  B

The last drive was great to see, showing that Carr can keep his cool and be patient enough to wait for his WR to get open.  This OL protects him well and it showed.  He only threw for 5.0 yards per catch AND was 18-35 for 179 yards though but hopefully those were somewhat due to the conditions.

Running Backs: 

Central Florida’s Latavius Murray was not even invited to the NFL combines even after a great career in college.  This shows how ridiculous the NFL combines are.  A healthy Murray was given the chance to shine last night and he did come through.  His two touchdown runs were decisive and the offensive line dominated the Chiefs at times.  Murray’s 90 yard run was a direct minded runner hitting a hole and having the speed to beat the defense.  Murray had a break out game but had to leave early due to a concussion.

Grade:  B+

The Raiders fans have been crying out for Murray to get a chance and he finally did.  The elitist NFL not even letting Murray be at the NFL combines shows why there are more hits than misses sometimes in the draft.  I loved Murray in college and I think he’s ready to make his mark in Oakland.

Offensive Line: 

The offensive line has been wrongly getting the blame for the running games failures.  The Raiders in the first half threw the ball 6 times on first down which in itself was a miracle.  It opened up things for the offense.  It made KC have to respect the pass on first down and helped the Raiders in the running game greatly.  Unfortunately they went back to their old ways after half time.  The Raiders announcers rightly called out the Raiders coaching staff in the second half for their predictability.  The coaching staff went back to the run in the 3rd quarter with 6 of 8 first downs being runs up the middle.  The Raiders struggled in the third quarter offensively and the correlation is not hard to see.

Grade:  B+

Some Raider fans and people in the media have wrongly gotten on this OL.  In the first half against the Chiefs when the Raiders passed so often on first down, it opened things up for the run because they now were not predictable.  Murray also helped them by being decisive and hitting the holes when they opened.  The Raiders protected Carr as usual giving up only one sack and this makes Derek Carr the second best protected qb in the NFL.

Wide Receivers: 

For people giving Carr passes acting like the Raiders have no talent at wide receiver, you need to get real.  James Jones is a solid red zone possession receiver and he proved his worth on the final drive.  Andre Holmes was targeted 10 times by Carr who was off on some of his passes.  Holmes ended up with a 5 catch performance and was a step out of bounds away from a big touchdown grab.  He’s proving that he can play in this league.  The Raiders coaches are still clueless not playing the ultra fast Brice Butler more.  Just not getting it.

GRADE:  B

The conditions were rough all night, especially in the first half.  When the Raiders receivers were needed though they came through and they were big when they needed to be.  The Raiders still need a fast #1 wide out but these guys have grit.

Defensive Line:

FINALLY a good game from the DL.  It wasn’t epic, but for how bad they’ve played this year it was a good thing to see and it changed the game.  They still only got 2 sacks with Mack being shut out for the 10th time in 11 games.  He’s just not a great pass rusher right now in his career and that is somewhat disappointing.

Grade:  B

They kept the Chiefs from having a 100 yard game but they did give up 4 yards a carry and only had 2 sacks.  Alex Smith is definitely not Johnny Unitas but it was still a nice showing.

Justin Tucks’ heads up play saved the Raiders after one of the dumbest celebrations ever, especially from a team that has no wins.  Tuck was disruptive and determined and it showed.

Linebackers:

If Khalil Mack burps, the media and some Raider fans say how awesome he does it.  He is totally over hyped.  I don’t deal with hype; I deal with facts.  Mack is not good at rushing the passer.  What he is good at is disrupting the run and making plays against the run.

While Khalil Mack was getting all of the publicity and credit even though for the 10th time he had no sacks and only 3 tackles; Sio Moore and Miles Burris were combining for 21 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack and one pass deflection.

The best linebacker on the Raiders by far is Sio Moore, not Khalil Mack.  When he is healthy, Moore is a game changer which was shown by his 9 first half tackles.  When he blitzed he put pressure on Smith and on the last drive had that key sack.

Grade A-

This unit is the strength of the defense and is carrying them.  Sio Moore is a stud, Mack is great against the run, and even with a missed tackle here and there, Burris has proven to be very valuable and makes plays.

Defensive Backs:

The Raiders defensive backs played well against the run.  They did struggle in the second half but when it counted they came through.  It wasn’t a world beating performance but it was a good showing on a rainy northern California night.  Charles Woodsen and Larry Asante played like this was the last game they’d ever play and were inspiring combining for 17 tackles.  Woodsen alone had 3 tackles for losses.

Grade B 

The Raiders safeties were all over the field at times.  Other than the really bad touchdown pass to Jamaal Charles, the Raiders DB’s played a good game for the most part even with struggling in the second half.

Coaching:

This should be a two part answer.  For the first half the Raiders coaching staff had their second best game of the season.  Six times they passed on first down and it opened up the offense and allowed them to not be predictable.  Kansas City didn’t know what was coming and the first half was dominated by the Raiders.  In the second half, Oakland ran 6 of 8 times up the middle and they struggled.  I also don’t understand why they empty the backfield on short yardage situations which tells the defense they are going to pass.  It makes no sense at all.

Grade B-

The coaches had a good first half but went back into a shell in the third quarter that helped Denver get back into the game.  I have no idea why they are so conservative when the Raiders have nothing to lose.  They finally started Murray and the results speak for themselves.

Special Teams:

Denarius Moore’s punt return fumble could have been much more costly than the 3 points it gave up.  It could have changed the momentum and the direction of the game.  Janikowski hit one field goal.  Marquette King had a good night but when it counted, he hit a low line drive that helped the Chiefs with a nice return.

Grade C+

The conditions played a role but it wasn’t a great day for the special teams.

Next Opponent:  @ St. Louis Rams (4-6; last game, win @ home against the Denver Broncos 22-7)

Outlook:

Next weeks game is usually not a good one for west coast teams traveling east.  The Raiders struggle mightily when they travel back east and with the Rams defense coming into their own, this will be a hard fought game.  Latavius Murray’s health will be in question and it will remain to be seen which team shows up in regards to the Raiders play calling; especially on first down.  This should be a low scoring close game.

“Easy & Fast Decadent Shortbread”

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“Easy & Fast Decadent Shortbread”

This is the fastest and easiest way I know to make amazing short bread cookies.  I used unsalted sweet butter and it is so tasty.  Eat it with my nutella hot chocolate, a cup of great coffee, or with a great brandy, cognac or glass of wine.  With a cold glass of milk, you are in heaven.

You can’t stop eating these amazing favorites!  I always try to make a double batch because they are so addicting!  Enjoy and save one for me!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Preparation:

Cream sugar and butter. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour and mix thoroughly. Turn out onto a surface floured with remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Knead dough until it cracks on surface. Roll out 1/4-inch thick and cut out with cutters. Prick cookies with fork tines and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 275° for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Makes about 2 dozen shortbread cookies.

Suggestions: 

-I sprinkle a little sugar on the top of mine before baking.  I’ve even used colored sugar for a unique look.  This is not an overly sweet cookie; the key to the taste is the butter.

-Dont use margarine!

-If you dont eat them right away, let them cool and store in an air tight container and they will stay good for days.  I’m sure they wont last hours though.

“Derek Carr is a Breath of Fresh Air in an NFL Lacking in Leadership”

derek carr

“Derek Carr is a Breath of Fresh Air in an NFL Lacking in Leadership”

 In the last 2 weeks we’ve seen the best and worst of what the NFL has to offer in regards to leadership. Some passed, some were epic fails.

The Chicago Bears are a very proud organization, but it took a deep step backwards in their last game against their arch rival, the Green Bay Packers.   At half time the Packers were winning 42-0. For the first time in 94 years a team had given up over 50 points in consecutive games.

The comments from the Packers players were strong and brutal. Wide receiver Randall Cobb said it was obvious “they laid down”. Defensive lineman Datone Jones said the Packers believe in their quarterback and it’s obvious the Bears don’t. He also said “when you don’t believe in your quarterback, you begin to just play for yourself. We don’t have that in Green Bay”.

Jay Cutler is 31 years old but with his unshaven face, he looks more like a beat up 45 year old. On the sidelines he looks bored, disinterested and distant. He also now has a reputation of being a coach killer and a player that is not liked by coaches or teammates. Add head coach Marc Trestman’s emotionless gaze, and it’s a very bad look in Chicago.

Lamarr Houston started the ball rolling with his moment in the sun for the Bears. Down by 4 touchdowns against the New England Patriots, he finally got his first sack of the year late in the fourth quarter against their backups. He decided that he needed to celebrate the moment by jumping up and dancing. Unfortunately his knee knew that 300 lb men jumping in the air isn’t ever a good idea and his knee buckled. The result was a torn ACL that would keep him out for the season. When interviewed afterwards, Houston laughed and said, “It was probably not a good thing for me to celebrate when my team was so far behind but it’s not a problem because things happen”. He sounds broken hearted.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has struggled this year.   He’s the poster child for the cookie cutter quarterback that the NFL has created. He’s fast, super athletic and big with a strong arm. On the bad side he still struggles playing quarterback at the NFL level. Pretty much most of the college quarterbacks are more athlete than quarterback but that story is for another day.

Even though he has struggled, he has also stayed as brash and arrogant as ever.   After the 5-4 49ers beat the New Orleans Saints in overtime, he posted a photo on Twitter and Instagram to all of his “haters”. It was him putting a finger to his mouth saying “shhhhhh”. The 49er fans have never embraced Kaepernick and they never will because of this kind of brash immaturity. His over sensitivity to online criticism would borderline on bizarre if it wasn’t so prevalent with so many celebrities and athletes.

Often disgruntled and immature Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall didn’t quite like the comments made to him by a Detroit Lion fan after Chicago’s record collapse against the Packers. Marshall started a twitter fight with the fan, and we all know those end well for famous people. Marshall challenged the fan to a fight! He said that he would pay the fan up to $25,000 if the fan would fight him and beat him. The fan took him up on it telling him to come to Detroit. Reports of Don King reaching out to Marshall after his melt down were greatly exaggerated.   Brandon Marshall has done a lot of work for charity and seems to do nice things but at his age to want to fight people because he’s too insecure to handle criticism is pathetic but unfortunately the norm.

After spraining my neck from shaking my head, I then read some of the things Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. Derek Carr has shown a lot of potential and even though it still remains to be seen if he will be the long term answer at quarterback for the Raiders, most of the signs are good.

He has shown a level headedness and calmness on the field that most young quarterbacks don’t have. He has a strong arm and is very accurate passing on the run. He still has a big weakness in handling a rush and sometimes looks antsy while in the pocket and time will tell if he can overcome these issues.

Where Carr really excels though, is in his leadership abilities. He’s said several times that he has to play better for them to win, even if he plays well. He’s also kept his head in talking to the media and says all of the right things. This last weekend he said he felt bad that the team has to suffer because he is learning to be a quarterback in the NFL.  Along with his humbleness, his work ethic is also turning heads and he has said a few times, “I’ll work harder than anyone”.

Derek Carr has been very old school in most of his life decisions.   At 23 he is married, already has a child and considers his faith in God to be the most important thing in his life.   His maturity and confidence is evident on and off the field.

You can also see it in the confidence that the Raiders players have in him. Many are hopeful for the future and they believe in him. Wins are going to be very hard to come by for Oakland with their brutal schedule this year, but after many failed draft picks and attempts at getting a quarterback, Carr seems to be the type of stable and talented player that the Raiders have needed for a long time; on and off the field.

Week 10 Preview Denver Broncos (6-2) @ Oakland Raiders (0-8)

Denver-at-Oakland

Week 10 Preview Denver Broncos (6-2) @ Oakland Raiders (0-8)

11/9/14, 1:15 PM (PST) @ O.Co Coliseum, Oakland, California

In the last 3 years, Denver hasn’t lost to the Raiders and the average margin of victory is 20 points. Last week Denver continued their dominating #1 ranked run defense giving up only 66 yards rushing to New England. Unfortunately Peyton Manning threw 2 interceptions, missed on several passes and ended up with a quarterback rating of 54. Tom Brady was Tom Brady throwing 4 touchdowns and the Patriots blew out the Broncos 43-21.

People can laugh but the Raiders really are getting better.  They now have a quarterback with many good young players.  Their offensive line is near the best at protecting the quarterback and that’s even with sketchy and predictable play calling.

In Seattle the Raiders hung tough after a rough first half and lost 30-24 against an out of sync Seahawk team. The Raiders offensive play calling continued to be as predictable as warm Northern California weather in the fall. The Raiders ran the ball 90% of the time on first down last week, and 90% of second down they passed. I’ve never seen a more predictable offensive scheme in my life. You cant run the ball when you are so predictable, especially when teams pretty much put 7-8 on the line of scrimmage on every first down, and then go into a pass defense on second down. It also kills your quarterback because there are so many 3rd and longs. The Raiders had an inspired come back though and never quit which was nice to see for Oakland fans.

The Raiders will win if:

DEFENSE: The Raiders need to get to Manning, so they will have to blitz and blitz often. The Raiders have the next to last worst pass rush in the NFL and they cannot get to the quarterback rushing 4 players.   Peyton Manning is the best protected QB in the history of the NFL and it isn’t close. No one has been sacked less than Manning. With his history of failures in the post season with many key interceptions (including another Superbowl meltdown and pick six) it’s obvious if you make Manning uncomfortable, you can beat him. The Raiders need to mix it up and hide their blitzes but if Peyton has all day to throw, it’s going to be a long day for Oakland.

The Raiders have to do better against the run. They gave up 150 yards on the ground last week and that is terrible.   Add the 1 sack, and the struggles of the defensive line continue. When your defensive backs are making most of the tackles, your defensive front 7 are struggling. The Raiders need to make this a grind it out physical game.

OFFENSE: Denver has the #1 rated run defense in the NFL and the Raiders are going to have to air it out today to win. They also have to stop running up the middle on every first down. Teams are daring the Raiders to pass the ball and until they throw it downfield, no one will respect them and they will continue to crowd the line of scrimmage to stop the run. In the San Diego game the Raiders threw many deep balls and it opened up the run game and they had their best offensive showing of the year.

Greg Olsen seems to be the only one in the NFL that is enamored with undrafted free agent Kenbrell Thompkins who was cut by New England but is now taking time away from Brice Butler which is mind blowing. Brice Butler was just coming into his own and now he’s the #4 WR?   This coaching staff just isnt’ cutting it but that’s for another day.

Derek Carr is going to have to have the game of his life. He is also going to have to audible more. Several times the Raiders had running plays drawn up on first down and Seattle had 8 guys near the line of scrimmage. A deep ball after a play action pass is in order.

The Broncos will win if:

DEFENSE: They get to Derek Carr. I don’t see the Raiders running much against Denver so this allows their DL to tee off on Carr. The Raiders OL has been one of the best protecting the quarterback so this will be a good match up.

Brice Butler is a matchup problem for Denver due to his great speed but the Raiders now have him #4 behind Kenbrell Thompkins and it makes no sense what so ever. Coaching is just a part of the reason the Raiders are 0-8.

OFFENSE: They will win if they protect Peyton Manning. The Raiders DL is atrocious at times especially rushing the passer and I see a really good Denver OL handling them pretty easily. The Raiders will have to blitz and it’s up to Denver to pick up the blitz. If Manning has time, the Raiders have no chance with him throwing to all of that amazing talent.  Manning will have a big day today if DC Jason Tarver doesn’t attack. If Tom Brady quarterbacks this team, they go undefeated; Manning and the Broncos are loaded. .

I also see the Broncos running the ball more. In the past the Broncos have ran more on the Raiders than most teams and I see that trend happening again. Manning almost threw 60 times last week and that is not what they want to do.

Conclusion:

Things are looking up in Oakland and the long awaited days of payback will come sooner than later. Unfortunately it wont happen today I don’t think.  With Denver having a really good OL and the Raiders lacking a pass rush, this is not a good match up.  Denver looks to rebound from another road loss and they want to get back on track to getting home field advantage in the playoffs.

On paper, this game looks like a huge mismatch with the 0-8 Oakland Raiders hosting the most talented team in the NFL. I see Denver getting ahead early and the Raiders playing catch up for most of the game. The Raiders will not be able to run much and when you have to throw a lot to get back into a game, the sacks will start to come. The only chance the Raiders have is to have a great pass rush, and to keep the game close by half time. I see Denver winning this one going away with the Raiders again playing hard until the last whistle.

Final Score:   Broncos 38-Raiders 20

“Lightning Fast Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus”

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Lightning Fast Roasted Red Pepper Hummus:

I’ve been making hummus for years.  It is very easy and inexpensive to make a large batch.  I use the roasted red bell peppers in a jar that you find in the olives section in the grocery store as a cheat.  Once you eat this you will never buy it in a store ever again.  Use your imagination and create your own recipe.  This recipe takes 2 minutes.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can of chick peas/garbanzo beans (15 oz) (drained and rinsed but it’s optional)
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (lime juice can be used too)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed to taste
  • 1/2 cup -3/4 cup roasted red peppers (to taste)
  • Pinch of Paprika

PREPARATION:

I like to drain and rinse the beans because I don’t like the liquid in the can.  In a food processor, put the garlic in and mince it or crush it by hand and add into the food processor.   Then add the bell peppers and give 2-4 pulses.  Now combine the rinsed beans, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Process it to the desired consistency.  After putting it into a bowl for serving, dust with a pinch of paprika, and/or top with a good olive oil.  If you’d like, top with thinly sliced green onions as well.  For a kick, put a pinch of cayenne pepper before processing.

Put it in a bowl on a plate, and surround it with vegetables and pita or flat bread.  You will impress your friends and family with this fast and classic staple that will be the talk of any gathering.  After eating this you will never buy store bought again!  Enjoy!!!

Tips and Variations:

For garlic hummus, use 3-5 cloves of crushed garlic to taste and knock the socks of your guests.

Use the Hummus instead of mayonnaise for a tangy treat in your sandwiches.

You can also go non traditional.  Slice up a baguette or use any type of French bread if you don’t have pita bread.  Slice it and crisp it in the oven to create a texture difference.

Use with any type of cracker.  The hummus is an amazing addition do sandwich roll ups.

I’ve heard of some people using it on their eggs, and I have two friends who are addicted to using it on their hamburgers and even dip their French fries in it!  I’m not going to judge.  Enjoy it the way you like it.  Remember, use your imagination!

Two Minute Nutella Hot Chocolate

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Two Minute Decadent Nutella Hot Chocolate

My love for Nutella is of legend and this is a great treat during a crisp fall evening or a rainy or snowy winters night.  Make naughty editions for the adults, or add tasty treats for kids of all ages.  Make big batches or treat yourself!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk (Any type of milk; from nonfat to whole)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Nutella

Optional:  shaved chocolate or caramel sauce and/or whip cream to top it.  Candy canes and peppermint sticks, cognac and brandy.

Instructions: 

Heat milk to steaming in a microwave or a stove top pan.  Mix the Nutella immediately into the milk until it melts.  Top with whip cream, shaved chocolate and drizzle with caramel or chocolate sauce.  Warms up ANY cold night.

Suggestions:

Put candy canes or peppermint sticks in the mugs for stirrers.  For adults add a splash of cognac or brandy for a warm kick that will heat up the coldest of nights.

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