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Best Thing I’ve Eaten This Week: Peruvian Chicken

Yummy.  We had a good week when it comes to eats, but there was one meal (well, two actually) that stood above the rest. Em was the chef behind all of this goodness, and followed this recipe (for the most part) to take us on a lovely trip to Peru! [Via Peruvian cuisine] She made a Peruvian chicken marinade with a green sauce to go along that was absolutely delicious and full of bold flavors.

Now I’ve actually been to Peru, and I remember really enjoying the food while there. But this food was on another level with bold flavors that really popped. [And the neon green color added some pizazz as well!]

peru with ruins

me in peru, circa 2007 with authentic alpaca sweater

 

So I would highly recommend checking out that recipe and adapting as you see fit. It consists largely of cumin, paprika, and garlic, along with your basic salt and pepper and oil. Marinade your chicken in that for as long as possible, and then I grilled them, because, come on!, everything is better when grilled!

For the green sauce, you’re using a lot of lime and cilantro, along with some jalapeno to back it up with a little heat. Your base for this will be a dollop of mayo and/or Greek yogurt and/or sour cream (here you can make some (un)healthy choices for yourself). This is what will really provide a bold pop of flavor that will bring out a fresh pop and contrast to the chicken.  It will also add some color to your dish as the cilantro makes the sauce a bright neon green color. Feel free to add this sauce to any number of things as it is rather tasty! [The following morning we used some to dress our breakfast burritos that we made!]

peruvian green sauce

peruvian chicken with green sauce and rice

 

As you can probably see from the above picture, we decided to have some jasmine rice and some plantains as our sides. We kept these two sides pretty basic, and used the flavors that we developed from the chicken and green sauce to bring it all together. Now I mentioned above that there were actually two dishes that I was counting as best thing of the meal. Am I cheating in not picking just one? Yes and no. Yes because I’m picking two. No because I am writing the post, and also because it was essentially the same meal – again. That’s how much we liked it!

We decided to make some Peruvian chicken kabobs over jasmine rice, topped with some green sauce. Same marinade recipe, and we had enough of the green sauce left over from the first meal that we used it for this one as well!  How great is that!?

chicken and vegetable kabob skewers

chicken and vegetable kabobs over rice with green sauce

 

As you can probably tell, these were also grilled…they’re kabobs, how can you not throw them on the grill?! [Big shout out to my bubs who went in to get us a new grill as a wedding gift...fantastic gift!]  There’s just something about grilled kabobs with meats and vegetables that is incredibly delicious. And when you marinade the meat in that Peruvian marinade and serve over rice with the green sauce drizzled over it, the dish becomes even more flavorful! I guess you can maybe tell that I enjoyed those two meals…

So let’s see if we can get a price breakdown for this meal, as I always try to do. Remember, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to eat great! [The first meal I described, with chicken, rice, and plantains.]

~$0.50  for the chicken marinade (we had all of these spices already)

~$0.50 for a few limes (marinade and green sauce)

~$0.25  jalapenos

~$0.50  half a bunch of cilantro

~$1.50  for 4-5 chicken tenderloins

~$0.25  dollop of mayo/greek yogurt

~$0.25  couple servings of rice

~$0.50  plaintain

~$4.25 Total

And this total was more than enough for dinner with leftovers…enough of the green sauce to use on breakfast burritos and our kabobs…and enough rice that we just reheated our leftovers for the kabobs as well. You really can’t beat that!

 

As Always: Eat. Be Happy.

 

motorbike in peru

bonus shot: motorbike in peru

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2014 in Advice, Budget/$$, Food, Projects/Activities

 

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Charity Gimmicks: Movember

Movember is upon us!  For those who don’t quite know what this means, it means that you may be seeing a bit more facial hair than you’re accustomed to seeing on many men. Movember (combining the words mustache and November) is a month-long campaign to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer and other men’s health issues, such as testicular cancer. The idea is that men shave on November 1st and then go the entire month of November without shaving their mustache. [Note: Many places have adapted the rules to grow out the entire beard for the month instead of just the mustache, though that is against the "official rules" below.]

movember rules

 

According to the official website, this tradition was started in 2003 and has been growing ever since, raising over $550 million to date. Some groups and offices have different pools and contests to see who is able to grow the best mustache and generate the most donations in the process. You can go the bake sale route, or any other number of typical fundraising activities.

This year I am participating at my office with a group of guys.  We are trying to generate funds by having people “bet on us” (or just give money to whoever they like the best/looks the silliest!), and we will be selling different foods and trinkets at work. We took our clean-shaven “before” pictures, and will post weekly update pictures to encourage people to donate and follow our facial hair journey. People can also make donations to wear jeans to work – whatever is acceptable at work and helps to raise money works!

For me personally, Movember almost works in reverse. I have had a beard since I was able to grow it, and I am rarely clean shaven. So I actually look very strange for my initial shave, and then after about two weeks I go back to looking “normal.” In fact, I believe that I have only been clean shaven about 3 times in the past six years. This means that Em, who I have known for over six years, has only seen my naked face a few times. And there’s a reason for that – I look like a young child with my babyface.  This was confirmed by Em who said that I “look weird…no, just ‘different’” and by multiple people at work who all saw and laughed at how unbelievably young I look.  Check out below:

Selfie alert:

IMG_20141031_171901780

movember

 

 

So I am participating in this “charity gimmick” to hopefully help raise awareness and some funds for men’s health issues. Movember comes right on the heels of October which is breast cancer awareness month – probably a month where you see the color pink more often than any other time. Many will also remember the ALS “ice bucket challenge” gimmick that helped raise an extraordinary amount of money for that foundation. Whether it happens to be merchandise colored pink, 5ks/walks, baked sales, mustache growing, auctions, or dumping icy buckets of water on oneself – various charities and foundations have looked to find ways to get people to care about causes. I am in favor of these different techniques that get people involved, raise awareness, and help to generate necessary funds for research and treatment.

 

PS.  To donate, go to this website!  If you want to donate on behalf of my team, search “trokspot” and then make your donation. [Don't worry, I don't actually get any of the money, it all goes to the cause!]

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Cold Cuts

GEICO does it again with one of their commercials.  This one somehow manages to make me laugh every time it’s played.  It also reminds me of a certain Buddy, who also happens to love cold cuts; however, I do not think that his love of cold cuts gets him to the point of dancing/cheering in the grocery store.  This one is for you, Buddy.  And the cold cuts.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Food, Media/Movies/TV

 

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NPR’s got jokes: SkyMaul2

I really enjoy NPR.  They have a great balance of serious and well-done journalism, along with some really interesting human interest stories that may not be “hard news” but are still very educational and informative. One interview that I recently heard on my drive home from work was this piece on “Sky Maul 2.”  This one had me laughing out loud (LOLzing) during my drive.

It’s a great interview with two of the authors/comedians who have written a book to parody the common in-flight magazine, Sky Mall .  For those who are unaware, Sky Mall magazine provide some of the most random products that you will probably ever imagine, and many that you probably would not have imagined had you not seen them displayed in the magazine.  And yes, you can actually buy these products (they have a website as well, who knew?!).

So these guys, who are quite creative, have put together a magazine of hilarious products that are a spoof of the type of products you might find in a Sky Mall magazine. Sky Maul 2, features products such as “ship in a bottle removal kit,” “wearable coat rack,” or “condo-pony.” One thing that they point out in the interview is that it’s actually fairly difficult to “out-Sky Mall Sky Mall” as the actual Sky Mall products are often hard to believe….you really have to push the line and be creative – borderline ridiculous – to spoof the products. [Click here for the 4 minute interview.]

I also found this story very entertaining because I have a friend who, when travelling, will often post pictures of Sky Mall products and give them his own funny caption or take on them.  I always love it when this guy is travelling, because his Instagram account always brightens my day.  A few examples:

sky mall matching family pajamas

His caption: Is this the same mom model? Does she use color-coded Christmas pajamas to differentiate between her two families?

sky mall world's largest map

His caption: Perfect for explaining the Falklands War to small children.

heated cat shelter in sky mall

His caption: For that imaginary consumer who loves his cat enough to buy Ms. Whiskers shelter from SkyMall but not enough to let her inside the house.

 

As you can see, my friend is pretty clever and witty himself when it comes to Sky Mall captions.  Perhaps he should have come up with Sky Maul?  Regardless, I enjoy when he travels for this very reason.  But the SkyMaul2: Where America Buys His Stuff publication does seem pretty promising to deliver on some fairly humorous material.  Maybe a good gag gift Christmas item?

 

[kitten sweater from skymall...]

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2014 in Media/Movies/TV, Projects/Activities

 

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TV Choices

UPDATE:

Truth and transparency here on Trokspot, and the truth is that I actually did flip back and forth for a bit between the WS and HGTV.  I probably caught 3-4 innings worth of action, which turned out to be a blowout. (Unfortunately for the WS, it still had disappointing ratings - lowest ever for a Game 1 - despite the bump my partial viewership provided.)  What I also found very interesting was on my drive into work this morning (the morning after Game 1), ESPN’s Mike and Mike had Mark Texiera on to talk about the WS and baseball more broadly.  Texiera was interesting to listen to, as he had a very thorough understanding of baseball and it’s place in American sports, and articulated his points very well. He ended up saying that baseball needed to make some changes so that it didn’t get “left behind” or lost in the American sporting landscape.  He also pointed out that his sons were “fan aged” (I believe around 8 years old) but that they really weren’t interested in baseball and didn’t see it as action packed or entertaining, yet when he takes them to Knicks games, he said that they were extremely interested in the game on the court.  I don’t know that he said anything Earth-shattering or completely brand new, but it was very interesting to me that he had this perspective and insight even while he himself is situated in the game. Certainly worth a listen.   (Start around 20minutes for the piece I’m talking about.)

http://espn.go.com/espnradio/play?id=11745138&s=espn

 

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For those who don’t know, the World Series begins tonight. (Baseball)  Those who have been around the blog for a while know that I’ve been a bit critical of baseball in the past, for its seeming inability to generate interest and ratings, especially for the casual sports fan (see here and here for example.) This post may not be so different from my previous criticisms; and in fact, it seems that many others have been more vocally critical of MLB ratings and interest as well.

world series

I’ve heard that some of the games this post-season have been great games, but many have also pointed out that it’s been difficult to find many of these great games as they have been broadcast on 7 different networks just this postseason.  Game to game, people don’t always know where to go and how to find them.  Of course, those die hard, traditional fans will know and make the effort to find them and sit down to watch. But random Joe sports-fan will probably not.  And that seems to be just a part of the problem baseball has had, not just this postseason but for several – how to attract casual sports fans.

My post here is not to reiterate what I have already done on a few different occasions. But as I have was driving home from work listening to a local ESPN affiliate station, I heard quite a bit of discussion that echoes my thoughts…dwindling to little interest in baseball, what would it take to get people talking about/watching the games (some sort of controversy?!).  They then went on to discuss where the World Series games would fall on their hierarchy of TV viewing (with many of them stating that they would probably not notice if/when the World Series ended).  The first four games are Tuesday (tonight), Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.  So what else on TV might be more intriguing to watch than the crowning of the best team in baseball?  I will just look at the first two weeknight games here as Friday and Saturday are the weekend, and football days.

Here are mine:

Tuesday:

Selfie: Okay, this show is not great.  It gets some cheap and cheesy jokes that you can see coming from a mile away…the humor doesn’t have a lot of depth and isn’t that creative or clever, but we’ve watched the first couple of episodes and still haven’t given up on it quite yet.

New Girl: This one is one of our favorites.  If you haven’t watched New Girl, then you should start.  But start from the beginning because you will come to know the characters and the character development is really great and you grow to know them like they are actually people you know.  And so funny!  PS. This show was actually foiled as the WS is being shown on Fox…boo!

Manhatten Love Story: This is another new one that we have begun watching.  Em is more into this one than I am at this point…I still see it as a bit cheesy, and I don’t know how I feel about the inner dialogue, but I’m still giving it a chance.  Like Selfie, it’s got plenty of cheap, surface-level jokes, but it also has some decent humor mixed in as well.

new girl

 

Wednesday:

These shows need even less explanation as they speak for themselves. Wednesday is for the classics.

The Middle: This holds a special place in our hearts as it takes place in Indiana. The comedy in this one is pretty great, and really does hit home with the blue-collar Indiana theme that they are going after (albeit, sometimes putting Indiana in a somewhat negative light).  It shows a “normal” family (yet dysfunctional) trying to make it and get through their day to day lives.

The Goldbergs: I think this was my favorite new show last year, and in its 2nd season this year, it has not failed to disappoint.  It is set in 19-eighty-something and chronicles the lives of the Goldbergs.  But what it really does is chronicle the childhoods of pretty much every kid that grew up in the 80′s and early 90′s, which is why I find it so funny – I remember so much of the stuff that they reference!

Black-ish: This is a new one, and there are some interesting critiques and observations to make about this show as a whole (perhaps for a different post). However, the comedy in this is actually pretty good and does a pretty decent job of dealing with both race and gender ideas through comedy.  Thus far, we have enjoyed this new series.

Modern Family: This one is a classic and needs no explanation as it is loved and acclaimed by so many people. The writing and humor in it is brilliant and seems to get better season by season.  The way that the episodes tie together the families through the layered plots and subplots is hysterical.  We are avid ModFam fans.

goldbergs

I would also sprinkle in just about anything on FoodNetwork and/or HGTV – Chopped, Restaurant Impossible, Love It or List It, Flip or Flop, etc.  In short, I will probably not be watching too much of the World Series, as I find many other “regular shows” on TV more interesting and appealing to my own taste.  So there it is – my making fun of baseball post. But hey, if you’re into it, then enjoy watching it…but as for me, I will spend my viewing time elsewhere!

Will you be watching?  What things might tear you away from the Series?

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Food, Media/Movies/TV, Projects/Activities, Sports

 

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Best Thing I’ve Eaten This Week: Cheat Lasagna

As promised, “The Best Thing I’ve Eaten This Week” segment is back, and today, it happens to be some delicious lasagna. This lasagna was lasagna with a twist, however, and it was actually inspired by the library – Thanks library!

Em had a program with the kids where they made “mini lasagna cups.”  They took wontons, put one in a cupcake tin to form a crust/noodle cup, put some sauce and cheese in it, and topped it with another.  A pretty neat little idea, really.  Easy and fun to assemble for the kids, and you get little individual servings of faux lasagna.

Well, after this program at the library, Em was left with a whole lot of wontons and quite a bit of cheese.  So we decided to bring that idea home, but we decided to make a more traditional, large pan lasagna instead of the individual sized lasagna cups that the kids made at the library.  This ended up being super easy, and it really tasted a heck of a lot like lasagna!

What we did: Start off with your favorite meat (or veggie if you prefer) sauce.  When making lasagna, I prefer to use ground sausage instead of our usual ground turkey or beef.  (This was another reason we were inspired to make lasagna – we had some extra sausage to use!)  I used the sausage along with some diced onion and chopped carrot, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and of course, tomato sauce (I usually use the canned “crushed tomatoes” when making my sauces).  The sauce was delicious, and honestly, once you finish your sauce, there is really very little work left to do.

Time to start building.  When layering our lasagna, I like to start with a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of the pan.  This will make your lasagna slightly more sloppy, but it will also prevent you from worrying about your noodles (in this case, wontons) sticking to the bottom of the pan or burning.  So cover your thin layer of sauce with a layer of wontons.  Then add some mozzarella and parmesan cheese.  Another layer of sauce, and stack another layer of wontons.  Finally, one last layer of sauce and then finish with cheese on top.  It’s always nice to end with the cheese on top so that you can get that incredible crusted cheese flavor right on top as it bakes. (You can adjust the order of your layers and what kinds of cheeses you choose to order as you see fit.  I don’t care for ricotta, even though it is traditionally used in lasagna, so we just use mozzarella and parmesan.)

wonton lasagna

bottom layer – sauce first, then wontons

wonton lasagna

cheese on top of the wontons

wonton lasagna

another layer of sauce on top of the cheese and then top with wontons

wonton lasagna

coming out of the oven – cheese on top so that it gets a nice cheese crust

 

When you’re happy with your layers, you just need to pop it in the oven. It really doesn’t take too long – ~15minutes at about 400degrees should get you there.  Check on it, and when it’s ready, just slice it up and serve!  Remember, by doing the bottom layer as sauce, it probably won’t stack or stand up very neatly on its own, but you also won’t end up with anything burnt or crusted on the bottom.

wonton lasagna

serve in a bowl- delicious but messy!

 

Will you notice that you used wontons instead of noodles?  The taste is very similar – and quite delicioius. The wontons are a bit thinner than what noodles would be, so you will not have the structure of the lasagna being able to stand up neatly on its own (part of this is also due to my own preference for starting with sauce on the bottom).  If you wanted it to be a bit thicker, you could probably stack two wontons for each wonton layer instead of just one (one is fairly thin).  However, I was pretty happy with the overall consistency and end result just using one.  The ease of prep and the time you save using wontons instead of noodles far outweighs any slight difference in taste you may notice.

I always try to price out our meals just to show that you can eat great for a reasonable price.  In this case, it’s tricky because we had some of the leftovers from the library event.  We didn’t have to buy the wontons or the cheese in this case – just the sauce.  So here we go:

~$0.75 can of crushed tomatoes for the sauce

~$0.25 carrot for the sauce

~$0.25 half of an onion

~$1.00 leftover sausage for the sauce

~$1.00   Cheese: (We didn’t pay for it, but I do know what we normally pay for cheese)

~$0.50  Wontons: (We didn’t pay for it, and here is my best guess)

~$3.75 TOTAL for a full pan of delicious lasagna

 

As Always: Eat. Be Happy.  

 

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2014 in Advice, Budget/$$, Food, Projects/Activities

 

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Risky Resume??

I was recently on linkedin and read through an article titled “5 Things On Your Resume That Make You Look Old,” warning people that age discrimination is real and that individuals should be cognizant of how their resumes portray them (in this case, in terms of age).  After reading through it, I decided to to take a look at my own most recent resume to see how I stacked up.

Here are the 5 things to leave off your resume:

Screenshot 2014-10-14 at 10.48.51 PM

Damn.  I’m starting off 0 for 1.  Right at the top of my resume, just beneath my name (in what I think is a reasonably nice header), I have my home address listed.  I agree that people nearly always send things electronically, but I still think that if you’re applying (especially locally) it probably doesn’t hurt to have the employer know that you are a local, and potentially a more serious candidate. I tend to disagree, and I think it’s still reasonable to keep it on there.

 

Screenshot 2014-10-14 at 10.54.15 PM

Ouch.  0 for 2.  I still have a hotmail account, and I still use it.  I even have it listed on my resume.  I do have a (joint) gmail account that Em and I use together, but I don’t have that one listed on my resume.  I will admit that I have thought about this on multiple occasions previously to the point of almost being self-conscious about still using a (perfectly good) hotmail address.  All the cool kids are on the gmail these days…perhaps it’s time to upgrade.

 

Screenshot 2014-10-14 at 10.57.59 PMHome phone number.  To this I would respond that I do have my “home phone number” listed…it just happens to be my cell phone.  I don’t have it labeled specifically as home/cell/work.  I just have it listed and assume that most people will understand that it is the number to reach me at, regardless of home/cell/etc.  I would agree with the above and say that it’s probably easiest to just list one number (probably your cell), and there’s no need to worry about labeling it.

 

Screenshot 2014-10-14 at 11.02.42 PMWhat have I become!?! A 60 year old man, apparently.  I double space after periods.  It’s a habit.  I’ve done it since I’ve learned to type (on a computer – not on a typewriter!).  I do it right here on this blog, I’ve done it on every paper that I can remember writing, and just about everything else.  I know that the new norm is to not do this, but I do it without thinking most of the time.  Are people really that adept at noticing the spacing between sentences at 1 versus 2 spaces?

 

Screenshot 2014-10-14 at 11.06.24 PM

Okay, I don’t think I have any of these “outdated skills” listed, although after seeing my track record from above, maybe I don’t know what is or isn’t outdated.  No, I do not have MS-DOS listed, though I do have “familiar with thefacebook.com and myspace.com” listed.  (I’m joking!)  This one is pretty obvious I think (though again, exactly which skills are outdated maybe aren’t).  My advice would be to look at the required/desired skills for whatever company or position you are interested in and try to tailor your skills to those – that will hopefully keep your skills less “outdated.”

 

While I don’t think the above is necessarily a perfect list, I do certainly agree that you need to be cognizant of how your resume portrays you to your potential future employer.  I also learned that despite being 29 with an advanced degree and a fairly strong skill set by most standards, my resume makes me appear to be a curmudgeonly man in my 60s who may or may not still be using AOL dial-up internet or even a typewriter…  Hopefully that’s not the case, but it was interesting to take a look at some of these specific pieces of information as included/not included on my resume!

 

 

 

 

 
 

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