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TV Choices

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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Best Thing I’ve Eaten: Catch-up Edition

For those who have been around Trokspot for a while, you probably know that one of my favorite segments is the “Best Thing I’ve Eaten This Week” where I document a favorite meal that we’ve had that week and try to give a price breakdown as well.  You probably also know that I’ve not been quite as good at keeping up with this segment in recent months.  Well, my goal is to get back to being fairly regular and consistent on these posts moving forward.

It’s not that we haven’t had great food that I’m happy to talk about; I just haven’t been as good about documenting it.  So here is a bit of a summary of sorts of several meals that could have made it recently.  Hopefully you enjoy:

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Thanks to our wedding, we have quite a few new kitchen tools, which are all very exciting, including this very cool personalized cutting board and new set of nice knives featured above.

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This one was a hearty mid-western meal; something we don’t usually do a lot of…Here we have BBQ pork chops, scalloped potatoes, and green beans.  We don’t normally do a lot of pork, but pork is reasonably priced and often on sale, so it’s really not a bad choice if you are looking to change things up (assuming you are like us and not a pork regular).  Tip for the pork chops: season them with more salt and pepper than you think you need and get a good sear on them (very high heat on each side for a couple of minutes).  Then, turn the heat down, add some BBQ sauce and let it simmer to finish cooking (simmering like this in the BBQ will help keep it moist).

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Grilled chicken, jasmine rice, and tomato cucumber salad.  You can’t go wrong with just about anything on the grill, and we love the tomato cucumber salads – they are very versatile and can take on so many flavors.  This particular version used some greek yogurt and lemon juice as the sauce to go along with the tomato, red onion, and cucumber. Other sauces to try: red wine vinegar and oil, balsamic vinegar and oil.

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Whoa! Breakfast for dinner!  We don’t do this too often, although Em wishes we would.  This was not exactly an omelette…more of an egg scramble with tomato, bell pepper, onion, and sausage.  With some potatoes to go along side, it truly was a breakfast for dinner.

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Fajitas Fajitas Fajitas!  I know that I’ve featured fajitas several times previously, but how can you not love a good fajita.  Sauteed peppers and onions well seasoned along with some chicken strips and topped with cheese, salsa, and avocado.  When we cook fajitas, we always like to season with a bit of lime juice too, if we have some fresh lime (which we usually try to keep around).  This is one of those things where you can add a spritz at every level – as you are cooking the chicken, satueeing the vegetables, combining the two together, and then on top of your completed fajita.  Season at every step of the process, as my friend, GZ (Geoffrey Zakarian) likes to say.

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Pesto salmon with tomato cucumber salad and couscous.  This one is probably the healthiest of the bunch (we generally try to stay fairly healthy), and arguably had the most flavorful pop of the bunch as well.  Anytime you add pesto to a dish – especially freshly made – you are going to get some fantastic and very bold flavor.  When we make our pesto we usually stick with the basics, which is still excellent – fresh basil, olive oil, parmesan cheese, some lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper.  Put that together in a food processor and you are set.  This tomato salad above was the red wine vinegar variety – along with a bit of the extra pesto mixed in with the tomato, cucumber, red onion, and mozzarella cheese.  Again, we love those quick and easy little salads that are so fresh and have so many variations and possibilities.  Herb tip:  We have found that having fresh basil around is excellent for lots of dishes and flavors that we like.  Basil and cilantro are probably the top two herbs that I would point to as being much much better fresh than dried.  So if you have to choose which herbs to get fresh, I’d start with those two.  We also have noticed that our basil plant has been extremely resilient, despite being outside in the South Florida sun, while cilantro will die on you regardless of how well you take care of it….solution: get a basil plant, but probably just stick to buying the fresh cilantro.

Now we’re caught up.  I’ll be sure to get back to more consistently posting Best Thing I’ve Eaten Week posts.  Until next time:

Eat. Be Happy.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2014 in Budget/$$, Food, Projects/Activities

 

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#6wordsmiami

NPR Miami, WLRN, has a current project going, entitled #6wordsmiami.  They have asked listeners to write a story about South Florida in six words.  They will be selecting some of those stories to be published, and they will be inviting some individuals who submit stories to attend the 2014 Miami Book Fair.  According to WLRN’s website, writers are encouraged to consider “the humidity here, our mango season, and how you’re so South Florida.”  So I decided to give it a shot and wrote a handful of six word stories:

 

SoFlo summer heat. Winter’s warmth reconciles.

[This is what it's all about - the winters in Florida!]

 
 

Beach house pastels. Tropical living reigns.

[Our beachy little house!]

 
 

Heat, traffic, rain. Beach cures all.

 
 

Mariscos y cervezas. La cultura vibrante.

[Can't do South Florida without a little Latino flavor!]

 
 

Newlywedded bliss. Lake Worth, beachside paradise. 

[Our life.]

 
 

Speedos, thongs, tans. Implants. Beachlife exposed.

[Yes, you see plenty of this in South Florida...]

 

 

Em wrote a few as well, taking a slightly sillier approach:

Gator snatched my puppy, in Florida. :(  

[Do not worry, this is NOT a true story...Wendy is ok!]

 
 

Bleached blonde hair. On a man.

[#truth]

 
 

Newlyweds making out on the beach.

[This is also not a true story...maybe one of these days! ;) ]

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2014 in Media/Movies/TV, Projects/Activities

 

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Holy Matrimony

It’s now official!  We got hitched!  After nearly 7 years of dating and two years of living together, Em and I are finally married.  The event was absolutely lovely, with the ceremony in Em’s hometown church and the reception at her house.  I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: We could not have asked for our special day to have been any better.  Many thanks to all those who helped make it that way – whether it was helping with planning/preparation, being in the wedding (reading, singing, bridal party), photographers/DJ/food for the day, coming to celebrate with us, or anything else wedding related.  A huge thank you to all – parents, friends, and family for making it a success.

For now, enjoy just a handful of pictures from the day.  (Official pictures still to come.)

kiss

my family

my family

the church - how regal

the church – how regal

bridal party fun

bridal party fun

first dance

first dance

wendy leads us to the reception

wendy leads us to the reception

depauw guys

depauw guys

depauw crew

depauw crew

me with flowers

Again, such a lovely event that Mrs. Metroka and I will remember forever as being absolutely perfect!

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2014 in Projects/Activities, Puppy

 

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Those who know, know.

Yes, for those who know, you know.  This is, indeed, the final countdown.  I am excited.

 

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2014 in Advice, Projects/Activities

 

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