Homemade Spaghetti Sauce from Scratch

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce From ScratchThere are probably as many homemade spaghetti sauce recipes as there are those who are eating it. I’m not going to be an Italian Snob (though I am one), and tell you that there is only one right way to make it. There are obviously a few hundred thousand of us Italians or so whom have had  handed down to us homemade spaghetti sauce recipes from our great Grandmas from Italy. Over the generations, perhaps we have experimented with them, tweaked them a tad or mated them with the recipes of other Italian relatives.  The recipe is a still a homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch, isn’t it? There are probably thousands, if not over a million spaghetti sauce recipes – more than there were Italian families in the old country at one time! Since this is a review website, why not share my own one-in-a-million homemade spaghetti sauce recipes.

Making Homemade Spaghetti Sauce From Scratch

A purist might say that nothing from scratch comes in a can, including tomato sauce. I find that a bit too restrictive. The key to a good homemade spaghetti sauce is that it is cooked and simmered with savory meat for several hours. To me, from scratch means that we are not using any other pre-cooked sauces, frozen meatballs, etc.. We do the seasoning and cooking ourselves. Now, if you want to take a few dozen tomatoes and crush them into a sauce all by yourself, be my guest. To me, a homemade spaghetti sauce starts with a couple of big, 28oz cans of Tomato Sauce/Puree; one can tomato paste and one can crushed tomato. Obviously, you’ll want to adjust this quantity for number of people. The three large cans of sauce with one small can of tomato paste should serve about 6-8 people (or 3 hungry Italians).  I mix all the sauce together with a cup and half of wine and 1 and 1/2 of the large cans filled with water. It may seem thin and runny at first, but remember – we’re going to cook it all day long so it has plenty of time to thicken. Don’t freak out over how runny or thick the sauce is – use your own judgment. Remember, that the sauce can be thinned with more water or wine or thickened simply by continuing to simmer it with the lid off.  I may not insist on fresh tomatoes, but I do love fresh garlic. Put about 6 fresh, garlic cloves into the sauce and don’t worry about chopping them up, the cooking will take care of extracting their flavor. The non essential seasonings can be added according to personal taste. I add about a tablespoon of basil, two tablespoons of parsley a half teaspoon of oregano and a Bay Leaf. But whose to say if I’m going to always do it that exact same way every time? You can also Salt and pepper the sauce to taste, but you’ll want it to cook for a couple of hours before you begin tasting it.  Now, that you’ve got your sauce started on the stove, it’s time to add the essential ingredients: Meat. I don’t care if you use, Stew Meat, Italian Sausage, German Sausage or Meatballs, after cooking in the sauce all day, it will taste great! I highly recommend Meatballs and Italian sausage, both, for starters.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Meatballs Recipe

Making homemade meatballs for spaghetti sauce is messy, but fun – and the result is the best aroma and smell in the world. Remember, Italian meatballs, should taste like Italian meatballs, not hamburger meat, so you need some fillers. For about a 1lb of hamburger meat, I use 1 cup of roman cheese and 1 cup bread crumbs. For seasoning, I add about a tablespoon of black pepper, 1 tablespoon of basil, 1 teaspoon oregano; 1 tablespoon garlic power, a little paprika and one minced, yellow or white onion. Mix up all of the dry ingredients together in a big mixing bowl. Beat 2 eggs in a glass with a tablespoon of milk, tablespoon of wine, teaspoon of olive oil. Optional: Add about a teaspoon of anchovy paste to the egg mixture for added salt and flavor. Now, simply add the hamburger meat, onions and egg-mixture to the bowl and thoroughly mix it all in with your “clean” hands. When the meat is thoroughly mixed, you can begin to make meatballs with your cupped hands. The size of the meatball is optional, but homemade Italian spaghetti sauce usually means large meatballs. Use your own discretion and adjust for number of people being served. Once the meatballs are made, brown them in a pan of olive oil. Important: Be careful – the meatballs will be very delicate until they are browned on all sides. When the meatballs are browned on all sides, add them to the sauce, then add your Italian Sauce and/or Stew Meat; brown them then add them to the sauce.

Finishing Your Homemade Italian Spaghetti Sauce

Here is a special tip: Don’t dump out the drippings. Add a half cup of wine, vodka or both along with a couple of ladles full of the tomato sauce to the drippings and let the heat of the pan turn it into a nice brown gravy; then add to sauce.  To finish making homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch, you need only one more thing: Time. A good homemade spaghetti sauce requires a minimum of 4 hours cooking time. For best results get the sauce started by 10AM for a 7PM dinner. Make sure the sauce simmers gently as to not burn the meat to the bottom of the pan. Stainless steel cookware is notorious for burning sauce and meatballs, so keep an eye on the sauce; stir gently and frequently; use or remove lid depending on how thick you want the sauce. I know that some people like a really thick sauce like a gravy, but I think most Italians prefer the sauce to be a little juicier. Remember, when the sauce is juicy, it is doing a better job of cooking and extracting the flavors of the meat. However you like it will be handed down as another one in a million scratch homemade sauce recipes.

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Starbucks Tassimo

I Love Starbucks Tassimo
Verona T Discs

I love Starbucks coffee and I won’t apologize for admitting it. I am also not too proud to say their T-Discs are the best. Sadly, I won’t be saying that much longer since Starbucks has abandoned their relationship with the Tassimo Single Cup Brewing system several months ago.  This is a huge loss for Tassimo and fans of Starbucks coffee who own Tassimo Single-Cup Brewers. Drinking a cup of Starbucks Tassimo coffee at home is every bit as good as getting one of those piping hot cups of black coffee handed over the counter to you from your local Starbucks store, minus the heat sleeve. Countless times, I have tried other coffee roasts hoping to find a cheaper alternative to Starbucks and countless times I found myself going back to the Starbucks coffee shops and buying the big 2lb bags of Starbucks roasted coffee at my local Costco store. Nothing else measures up to Starbucks, so it is no surprise that nothing else measures up to my love for their Tassimo, either.

When I tried to convince myself that life without Starbucks Tassimo would work out okay, I was in for a rude awakening. The Tassimo marketing folks have really dropped the ball, here. There just isn’t a suitable replacement for their brewers that tastes even remotely as good as Starbucks T Discs. Unfortunately, there are so few choices at the local retailers. Tassimo searches in Google pull up gobs of information and sales on Gevalia Tassimo T Discs which about as bland and flavorless as the gourmet coffee I used to drink prior to my love affair with Starbucks. Maxwell House is okay – maybe even better than Gevalia, but doesn’t come close to Starbucks. There are some other T discs which cannot be found in retailers and are even a bit of a challenge to find online such as Carte Noire and Kenco. Hopefully, I will get the chance to try them and review them and compare them to Starbucks at a later time. For now, I love Starbucks and want to buy up as much of the remaining inventory that I can get my coffee stained hands on.

Where to Buy

Starbucks Tassimo T DIscKnowing that JC Penneys at one time carried Starbucks for Tassimo. I went to my local mall which is being demolished. (except for Sears and Penneys). Much to my pleasant surprise there was an assortment of Starbucks Tassimo Coffee which was marked down from $16.99 to $10.99 for 12 Pack T Discs. There were even three varieties: Melange Maison, Columbia and Verona.  I grabbed as many packages of Starbucks T-Discs that would fit into my arms and feeling like I still didn’t get enough. How long do Tassimo T Discs last, I wondered?  I explained to the cashier why I was buying so many: “I love these T-discs and they don’t make them anymore”, I told her.  She was no fool and mentioned that she regretted buying a Keurig when she tasted how good the Starbucks for the Tassimo tasted. Then she said with a teasing little smirk that she no longer has to regret that decision. There an infinite number of Keurig Coffee flavors at the retailers and though they aren’t as good as Starbucks Coffee, they are significantly better than Gevalia and Maxwell House. I came home and immediately brewed a cup of the Melange Maison which I had never tried before. It was delicious, but so was the Verona and Columbia that I had this morning. Of all my favorites, I think I love the Starbucks Tassimo Columbia flavor the best. There is also a very popular, highly rated Tassimo T Disc flavor that can only be found online, called African Kitamu which I have never tried. If you’re looking for Tassimo Starbuck T-Discs online, there is still time to find all of these different flavors – and none of them will disappoint.

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Belvedere Vodka

Belvedere Vodka
– A Review

Belvedere Vodka

Is Belvedere Vodka worth all the hoopla? I’ve been hearing about how great this Polish Vodka is for the last 4-5 years, then it dawned on me: The only thing I knew about Belevedere Vodka was from the radio advertisements which of course, insist that this is a premium vodka worth a hefty price tag that puts it in the range of Grey Goose. Make no mistake about it, Belvedere is considered a top shelf vodka and has the price tag to back it up. Belvedere was made to compete with expensive Russian vodkas – this one is distilled from Dankowskie Gold Rye and bills itself as an uncompromising alternative choice to those expensive Russian brands. Well, if you’ve seen my review on Ruskova, Russian vodka brands aren’t all that expensive. Belvedere better have something going for it in order to back up its asking price: $30.00 for a 1 Liter and about $45.00 for a 1.75 Liter. How does Belvedere do in our vodka ratings and how does it compare to grey goose vodka?

Belvedere Vodka Taste Test

The first shot of Belvedere will give you plenty of vanilla and crystal smooth sweetness. The first bite is smooth and creamy; which gives you the great anticipation of wanting more. Unfortunately, that’s about where the excitement ends. The bitterness of the vodka sticks in the middle and back of your throat like an unwelcome house guest. It is certainly not the best vodka I’ve ever tried. Furthermore, I didn’t get some of the pepper and additional complexities one would expect from a Russian or Polish vodka in this price range. About the best I can say about Belvedere vodka is that it’s priced a tad under the much over-rated Grey Goose and is at least as good.

Cheaper Alternatives

For less than half the price of one, 1.75L bottle of Belvedere Vodka, you can pick up a 1.75L bottle of Russian Shot vodka. Having run low on my last bottle of Ruskova, I decided to pay about $5.00 more for the Russian Shot vodka which was given a 93 rating by the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago. At $18.99, the Russian Shot Vodka is about $37.00 cheaper than the 1.75L of Belvedere…and it’s about twice as good. No kidding…the Russian Shot Vodka has the vanilla-cream sweetness of the Belvedere, but without the long-burn and aftertaste that sticks to the middle and back of the throat. Russian Shot Vodka is instantly likeable -and proves that you don’t have to pay a premium to enjoy a good vodka martini. But wait…there is one thing missing with the Russian Shot Vodka…the bottle isn’t nearly as fancy. If you good tasting vodka at a cheap price, go with Svedka, Ruskova or Russian Shot Vodka. If you want a fancy bottle; have lots of money and don’t mind the bitter aftertaste, then by all means go for the Grey Goose or Belvedere.

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Snapea Crisps

Snapea Crisps

Snapea Crisps are yet another attempt at taking a supposed healthy, green vegetable and making it into a delicious and crispy snack. Most people agreed with me that Veggie Straws were a great tasting snack, but not everyone agreed on the health and nutrition part of my review. I immediately though of Veggie Straws when I first opened a bag of them by Calbee. For some reason, I am a sucker for these kinds of snacks. I enjoy the texture of crunchy, salty, crispy, tasty and unusual snacks and as long as they are not chalk full of transfats, they’re healthy enough for me. But what about a snack that really goes the extra mile and is made from real vegetables? Can it actually taste good and be healthy, too? Let’s face it, we don’t all agree on what’s healthy and what’s unhealthy, but can’t we be a bit more lenient with our snacks and at least get some reasonable sense of the difference between junk food and real food? Perhaps, not as my readers of the veggie straw article might point out. So, let’s begin by examining Snapea Crisps solely from their taste and then we shall examine the ingredients and leave the healthy part up for debate.   Let’s start by reviewing the taste of these Crispy snacks by Calbee.

Snappea Crisps (Snap Pea Crisps) look, feel and smell exactly as their name implies: They are indeed exactly how you would imagine Snap Pea Crisps to be; light, airy, crispy and from first appearance are exactly like snap peas. They are also pretty much the very same size and shape as snap peas and even have a bit of an embossed texture where you imagine the peas might be located. There is nothing better than eating a snack that looks like a crispy, airy and light version of the real thing, right? Calbee Snapea Crisps do not disappoint the look-and-feel test, so how do they taste? Delicious and I by that I mean snapea crisps are really, really good. Even if you are not a Snap Pea lover (which I am not), don’t sell them short. They have enough of the flavor of real snap peas without the overpowering bitterness and tough texture. Snapea Crisps, like veggie straws, are light, crisp and airy, but they taste better. They are very lightly salted – just enough, but not too much. But don’t take my word for it – there are dozens of user popular opinions; ranging from 4 to 5 stars. Making Snap Peas crisp are a matter of good taste and Calbee has done them just right. Now, shall we talk about how healthy they are? Well, okay – if we must.

Are they Healthy?

If you believe Snap peas are healthy than you’ve gotta believe they are pretty nutritious. The number one ingredient is Snap Peas. One ingredient that some might find slightly offensive is the corn oil. I can’t see how anyone could be too critical of the health value of this delicious snack. After all, it is a snack and not part of one’s daily nutrition allowance.  Snapea Crisps are one of the tastiest and most innovative snacks I’ve ever tried. I’ll be buying another bag and soon which brings up the next question: Where do you buy these crispy critters?

Where to Buy

Many standard grocers carry Snapea Crisps. The health stores almost always carry them and you can always find them online. Check your grocery store today.

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Mityvac 7400 Engine Oil Extractor

mityvac 7400
mityvac 7400

A Review on the Mityvac 7400

Engine Oil Extractor Method of changing Oil

If you’ve googled the term, fluid extractor, you’ve probably discovered the Mityvac 7400 Engine Oil Extractor. The Mityvac 7400 is the most often used and reviewed car engine oil extractor on the internet.  But the Mityvac 7400 is more than just a car oil extractor. This product comes in real handy if you want to change a variety of fluids in your car without having to get under the vehicle and get your Sunday clothes dirty. You can use the Mityvac to change your transmission fluid, differential fluid, power steering, brake fluid, coolant and just about any other fluids that you would otherwise have a hard time getting underneath your car to drain.  The Mityvac 7400 makes it easy, but  is removing fluids this way really as convenient as changing your oil the old fashioned way?

Is it easier than an Old Fashioned Oil Change?

Using the Mityvac for Changing Oil

In my case, I tried the Mityvac for the first time for removing oil from a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta which had a non-standard diameter; and very tightly fastened drain plug. I didn’t want to jeopardize the lock-tight seal on the drain plug and risk the future oil leaks associated with old, used cars. Knowing that there were products made for these situations, and knowing that I have the same drain plug problem with my 1997 5-Series BMW, I thought it would be useful to have one for all of the other fluids changes that I’m hesitant to perform on these used cars. My research led me to the Mityvac product which had many positive, 4-star reviews by satisfied users and owners of a variety of different car manufacturers and models. As positive as these reviews were overall, there were some complaints too, as there always are.

How to use the Mityvac 7400

Using the Mityvac 7400 fluid extractor for oil changes is almost as easy as pumping up your basketball tires. Make sure your engine is warm, but not hot. Connect the plastic tubing to the pump; remove your dipstick and insert the tube all of the down the inside of the dipstick gauge until you feel it touching the bottom of your oil pan. Begin pumping the handle up and down just like a bicycle pump. In a matter of seconds, you’ll notice oil flowing up from the tube and down into the cylinder-shaped canister. It took me about 10 minutes to extract the 4 quarts of oil from the 2003 Jetta. Sounds good so far, right? Hang on.

What’s not to like about Changing your Oil this Way?

Removing the oil was the easy part. What’s left to do was the messy part. As with any oil change, the oil filter is usually dripping with oil. When I removed the oil filter, gobs of dirty oil dripped inside the floor of the engine shield. I could not reach it without elevating the car. I was forced to back up and use the ramps to clean the mess that was made. Then, I had these messy tubes full of old engine oil. I didn’t feel good about leaving the oil in them, so I pumped water through the system a few times to clean the tubes and cylinder. When all was said and done, the Mityvac 7400 did not save me any time with my oil change. On the other hand, the product did allow me to change the oil without loosening a plug and risking damage or leaks from the oil pan. It’s also nice knowing that I can change other fluids without having to reach hard-to-get places, bolts and plugs. Don’t buy any fluid extractor thinking it’s a mess-free, easier and quicker way to change your oil. Do buy it if you want to avoid the hassle and risks associated with stripped oil drain plugs or other fluids with difficult to reach drains. In those cases, the Mityvac engine oil extractor represents a useful way to safely change your car fluids.

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Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500

This product has been discontinued and review has been removed.

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Dehydrated Okra

Dehydrated OkraDehydrated Okra by Davis Lewis Orchards is almost as tasty as it is fun to eat. My appreciation of Veggie Straws comes to mind. Other okra brands are often sliced into coin sized bites. This takes a great deal of fun out of the snack and defeats the purpose of dehydrated okra in my opinion.

The fun and mystique of this very peculiar snack stems from the fact that it retains it’s shape and size after the Okra is dehydrated. Only the texture of the vegetable is changed. (Or is it a fruit?) Whatever it is, Davis Lewis orchards do a masterful job of preserving the snack in the deyhdrating process so it retains it’s original form and shape after it’s dried. What does change is what every okra hater will appreciate about dehydrated okra over the real thing. Davis Lewis Orchards takes a stringy, slimy vegetable and transforms it into a perfectly preserved crispy, light, hollow, tasty snack. The oil on the outside gives the dehydrated okra a shiny, appetizing appearance. Okay, one thing to note, here: You know you like a snack when you keep opening up the bag to grab another bite. That’s how good this stuff is. However, the dehydrated okra probably doesn’t taste quite as delicious as it could. Let’s talk about why.

How Dehydrated Okra Could be Better

If only Davis Lewis Orchards had chosen another type of oil instead of Canola, I’d give their snack a supreme rating. As I’ve described in other, healthy snack reviews, canola oil makes things taste a tad fishy or like oil paints. Peanut oil, sunflower oil or palm oil would all be much tastier choices for these types of snacks, not to mention, healthier. Don’t let my aversion to canola oil dissuade you from this light, crispy snack. Understand this: I am not an okra lover, but the texture of Davis Lewis Orchard’s dehydrated version of this peculiar vegetable makes all the difference in the world. You owe it to yourself to give it a try.

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DP67DEB3 Intel Core i7 Motherboard Review


The DP67DEB3 is a genuine Intel Core i7 Motherboard. If the CPU is the brain, the motherboard is the heart and soul inside the Antec 300 ATX Chassis of my son’s high performance computer.  I decided to go with an Intel brand motherboard on his high-end Core i7 system for a couple of reasons: One, I’ve built and installed thousands of computer systems and by and large, the Intel brand motherboards were the most reliable. Two (and this goes hand-in-hand with reason #1), Intel designed the technology. The board is based on the latest Intel Core i7 technology. While there are plenty of great motherboard manufacturers like Supermicro, MSI and ASUS, Intel is the one that designed the 2nd Generation i7 and they aren’t nearly so quick to launch new products before thoroughly testing them. While other motherboard manufacturers are releasing their models based on Intel’s design, much of the genuine  Intel products are still in the labs being tested. The 2nd Generation Intel Core i7 is no exception. This is an authentic 2nd Gen board with an affordable price tag.

The DP67DEB3 Motherboard at a Glance

The DP67DEB3 supports the latest, 2nd-Generation Intel iCore Processor series, including the i3, i5 and i7 which use the new 1155 socket. . This Intel motherboard is based on the Intel P67 Express Chipset with plenty of the latest features.  To name a few: A MicroATX board equipped with 2 USB3.0 Ports,  SATA Raid 0, 1, 5 and 10. Memory on the DP67DEB3 is expandable up to 64GB of RAM using 4ea, DDR3 Memory sockets. One of the biggest improvements of the new, 2nd-gen Intel iCore technology is the speed of the USB 3.0 which is 10-times faster than USB 2.0! That’s 4800MBPS vs just 480MPBS. You don’t need the latest and fastest Core i7 Processor to get these new benefits. Even an i3 user will enjoy the benefits of the Intel i7, full-featured motherboard. What else is there to like? Overclocking is supported on this board. Intel has not always had the latest, state of the art technology and speed, but in this case they’ve sweetened things up a bit. The DP67DEB3 is not only a safe choice, but a solid performer. Like all Intel, Boxed products, the DP67DEB3 comes with a full, 3-Year warranty. While the latest 2nd-Gen systems may not match the low prices of value, AMD built systems, they won’t necessarily break your bank budget either. The Intel DP67DEB3 can be had for under $129.00 and matched with a high performance, i3 CPU for under $300.

Where to Buy the Intel 2nd-Gen Motherboard

The DP67DEB3 is now Intel’s old news. There are faster, cheaper motherboards which support the latest generation of i7 Processors. However, there is still plenty of support for their older generation boards, if you need it. Check the Intel and Auction websites for old, refurbished models.

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Best K Cup Coffee

best k cup coffee
Sumatran Green Mountain Extra Bold

You won’t find the best K Cup Coffee in a can

If you’re looking for the Best K Cup Coffee think outside of the can. I learned my lesson on my last K Cup purchase. Gourmet coffee doesn’t come in a can and anyone who makes coffee in a can is not likely to make a very good, bold cup of coffee regardless of the coffee maker, brewer, blend, flavor, coffee beans or price. Since getting a Keurig Coffee Maker, I’ve only tried 5 different K Cup Coffee brands and flavors, so don’t get the idea that this is an exhaustive K-Cup Coffee single cup review. The beauty of the Keurig Brewing system is the number and variety of K Cups brands; more than any other coffee pods type brewing systems. The six I’ve tried probably represent less than 5% of the K Cups market. To begin the best k cup coffee taste test, let me list the 6 K Cup Coffee brands that I’ve tried to date:

5 K Cup Coffees Tested

  • Folgers Black Silk
  • Van Houtte Kenya Kilimandjaro
  • Green Mountain Coffee Breakfast Blend
  • Donut Shop Medium Roast
  • Newman’s Organic Extra Bold
  • Green Mountain Coffee Sumatran

My tasting and reviewing of these five different Keurig K-Cups brands has taught me not to judge a brand on only one flavor. I tend to like medium to darker roast coffees, so my opinions here are not necessarily an indictment against one particular brand, unless of course we’re talking about Folgers.

The Worst K Cup Coffee?

folgers dark silk k cups coffee
Dark Silk

Don’t be fooled into thinking a canned coffee maker like Folgers has a different formula for its K cups. Upon the recommendation of my brother, I tried the Folgers Dark Silk. They should call it, Dark Soot. In fact, it was the sour, cheap canned aftertaste from my first cup of Folgers this morning that prompted me to do a quick review on them all. Normally, I can drink one or two cups of coffee without getting the jitters, but for some reason, canned coffee like Folgers cuts that amount in half. So much for Dark Soot. This one gives a bad name to the single cup coffee maker invention and brewers in general. Now, on to the rest.

K Cup 5th Runner-Up: Van Houtte Kenya Kilamandjaro

van houtte kilimandjaro k cups coffee
Kenyan Kilimandjaro

I love African Coffees, particularly Kenyan, so I got excited about trying this one. My enthusiasm ended after the 2nd or 3rd sip. For a coffee that is supposed to be bold, there is very little flavor to the Van Houtte Kenyan. If they can’t get an African coffee right, what can they do right? For this reason, I doubt that there is another variety of Van Houtte that I could ever consider the best k cup coffee.

 4th Runner up: Green Mountain Coffee Breakfast Blend.

Green Mountain Breakfast Blend K Cup CoffeeGreen Mountain Coffee breakfast blend is really a pretty decent tasting cup of coffee. My only problem with this brand is that the roast is a little lighter and therefore slightly more acidic than I like. There is nothing out of the ordinary about breakfast blend that would make one boast about the quality of a single cup, k-cups brew and it’s at least 2-notches below the best K Cup Coffee I’ve tried to date.

3rd Runner Up: Donut Shop Medium Roast

Donut Shop K-Cups Coffee
Donut Shop Medium

I don’t know much about real donut shop coffee, but this particular K-Cups brand is really good. They advertise that Donut Shop K-Cups is made from 100% Arabica beans – and I can tell.  The Medium Roast seems ever so slightly acidic to me, but it’s easily as good as the coffee you’ll get from most coffee shoppes and it’s plenty strong enough.

2nd Runner Up: Newman’s Own Organic Extra Bold


Newmans Extra Bold K Cups Coffee
Newman’s Extra Bold

This one was so good when I tasted it at Costco one day that it caused me to buy one of their $69.00, Mr Coffee Keurig Coffee makers. Newman’s Own Organic Extra Bold is robust, smooth; with no sour or sooty after taste of other dark coffees. I’m always hesitant to buy an extra dark coffee, because sometimes they end up tasting more like a cheap French Roast; smokey and ash flavored. Newman’s Extra Bold is an excellent dark cup of coffee. Now on to the winner:

Best K-Cup Coffee to Date: Green Mountain Sumatran

Green Mountain Sumatran K-Cups Coffee

My so-so impression of Green Mountain Breakfast Blend made me a little hesitant to try this one at first, but since I love a good cup of Sumatran I had to give this one a try and it ended up being the best k-cup I have tried thus far. Like the Newman’s, the Green Mountain Sumatran is dark, rich and smooth. The reason I like it better is two reasons: Slightly stronger and more complex and deeper in flavor. To date, the Sumatran from Green Mountain is the Best K Cup Coffee I’ve tried.

Final Ratings

  1. Newman’s Own Extra Bold K-Cup
  2. Green Mountain Sumatra K-Cup
  3. Donut Shop Medium Roast K-Cup
  4. Green Mountain Breakfast Blend K-Cup
  5. Van Houtte Kenya Kilmandjaro K-Cup
  6. Folgers Black Silk K-Cup

The beauty of K-Cup Brewers is that there is no shortage of brands and varities; you can even make tea. One of the more popular brands of K-Cup coffee is Timothy’s World Coffee which I haven’t tried yet. For now, the best K-Cup coffee award goes to the Green Mountain Sumatra.


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Photochromic Lenses vs Transition Lenses

Photochromic Lenses vs Transitions

photochromic lenses vs transitions
Photochromic vs Regular Eyeglasses

Before I even begin to answer the question, let’s make one thing clear: Transition Lenses are Photochromic Lenses. Transition Optical is a brand of Photochromic, transitional sunglass lens. I am unable to do a full review on transition lenses because I haven’t actually tried them. Why? Cost. Transition lenses cost about 6-7 times more than the traditional photochromic offered by the Zenni Optical online eyeglasses retailer. What is different about transition lenses that would make them cost so much more? Transition Optical advertises that there photochromic glasses are made from patented dyes. Well, okay – that sounds nice, but what does it do for me or you? From what I could find, Transition Optical neither offers any detailed explanations of the benefits of their patented dyes, nor are there any impressive reviews comparing their advantages over traditional, generic color-changing shades. I did see one advantage – that is, transition lenses come in flatter, thinner glass than the traditional photochromic lens which is offered by Zenni Optical. That’s not enough to make me pay $139 more for them. So, what did I do? Well, my first pair of glasses from Zenni Optical were so cheap, that I decided to buy another pair and give the transitional technology a try. So for the sake of a review, let’s forget about Transition Lenses and talk about how these lenses in general, perform as sunglasses and regular glasses.  Your first question might be, “why would I want photochromic lenses on my eyeglasses?”.. Good question.

Why buy Photochromic Lenses?

Photochromic Sunglasses
Photochromic vs Regular Sunglasses

My Lasik Monovision has served me well, but there are times when I like to see better; mainly while driving a car. My prescription, cheap eyeglasses from Zenni Optical are great, except they leave me squinting while driving a car. It would also be nice to have 20/20 vision in both eyes while hiking, bike riding, fishing and viewing nature in the great, sunny, Colorado outdoors. For a measly $19.00 extra, it was time to give photochromic lenses a try. I duplicated my prescription from my last Zenni Optical order and added the transitional feature for just $19.00 more. So, how do they perform?

Do Photochromic Lenses Work?

As a pair of indoor glasses, my new glasses work much better than I had imagined.  They stay nearly as light as my regular glasses indoors and become sufficiently dark outdoors. The transition from darkness to sunshine is much better than I anticipated. The photochromic lenses reach about 80% of their total darkness in about 2 minutes. In approximately 15 minutes, they are as dark as you’d ever want them to be. The same is true in reverse. I was really worried that the photochromic lenses would not turn light quickly enough when coming in from the outdoors. I was pleasantly surprised. In about 2 minutes the photochromic lenses adjusted to about 80% of their total lightness, making them completely adequate for seeing indoors. Likewise, it takes about 15 full minutes for them to achieve their full lightness indoors. This is completely satisfactory for me. I thought the photochromic technology was the greatest thing since sliced bread until I took them for a drive.

Using Photochromic Sunglasses in Your Car

I got in the car with my new chameleon sunglasses hoping to experience great driving vision combined with the same protective, brown-tinted shade of my regular sunglasses. As I drove into the bright sunlight, I wondered why it was taking so long for the sunglasses to darken. After 10 minutes, I concluded that my transitional sunglasses were not going to darken as much as I wanted them to. The tinted or UV coated glass of the car was keeping the photochromic technology from doing its intended job. On the other hand, maybe this is exactly what they were supposed to do, since the car glass is already protected. That may be true, but unfortunately, my eyes still felt like squinting and reaching for a pair of regular, dark sunglasses. hmmm…darn – photochromic glasses sounded so good. In conclusion, auto-changing sunglasses lenses work great for every day use in and outside of your home or office. Just don’t expect to get relief from the bright sunlight while using them in your car. Maybe photochromic lenses are something we can learn to love?

Rating on Zenni Photochromic Lenses

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evga gts 450

Maybe the hardest of the hard-core gamers want a faster graphics card, but for the majority of computer users, the EVGA GTS 450 is overkill by a long-shot. In this series of reviews on my son’s home-built computer, we went fairly high-end on performance without becoming too extreme. Last week we reviewed the Asus 24″ Monitor.  The GTS-450 fits beautifully with a system that is mostly used for game programming, not actual gaming. Don’t get me wrong, this graphics card is plenty capable of performing impressive frame-rates with the latest games, but it is by no stretch of the imagination, the gamer’s spare-no-expense, state-of-the-art graphics card. It would be tough to find a more suitable, reasonably priced graphics card, particularly for the needs of the game-programmer, occasional gamer who needs performance, but not the very fastest, most expensive graphics card on the planet. Besides, no matter which graphics card you buy today, there will always be a faster, more expensive one on the horizon. The 450 represents the sweet-spot in computing graphics power were value and performance meet. I looked at a few comparable Radeon graphics cards and was unable to get the quite the same performance per dollar. So, now you know why I chose the GTS-450, but why the EVGA brand?

EVGA Brand makes a Difference

There are as many different versions of the GTS-450 as there are brands of socks. I chose the EVGA version of the GTS 450 based on two things: EVGA is a 4-star reviewed product with a very good track-record among hundreds of different users. Other makers of the same GTS-450 card are not always rated so well. The second reason I chose the EVGA GTS 450 was its outstanding price: $99.00 after mail-in rebate. $100 for a relatively high-performance graphics card like the EVGA GTS 450 is not too shabby.  So, how does this competitively priced GTS 450 graphics card by EVGA look on paper?

EVGA GTS 450 Specs

  • EVGA 01G-P3-1450-TR GeForce GTS 450 (Fermi) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
  • Chipset Maker: Nvidia
  • Memory Clock Speed: 3608MHz
  • Core Clock: 822MHz
  • Processor Cores: 192
  • Shader Clock Speed: 1654MHz
  • Open GL: 4.0
  • DirectX: 11.0
  • Memory Size: 1GB
  • Connections: 1 HDMI Port and 2 DVI Ports
  • Warranty: 2 Year Parts/Labor
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Antec 300 Review

Why use the Antec 300 Chassis for your Next PC?

antec 300The Antec 300, might not be the most exciting component of the super, Core i7 System my son and I built last week, but it is the most noticeable and works well with the OCZ Power Supply. The Antec 300 Case stands 18″ tall, weighs 16lbs and is made from quality, black steal. To be more specific:

Chassis Details

The Antec 300 is 18.30″ deep x 8.10″ wide x 18.00″ high and weighs 15.9lbs. It comes with 2 huge fans: 1ea 120MM in the rear and 1ea 140MM for the top. The top fan includes a speed setting switch: Low, Medium and High. At the medium setting, the Antec chassis, combined with the OCZ Modular Power Supply, runs fairly quietly. The Antec 300 doesn’t come with any cool glass on the sides or flourescent lights and cabling inside. If that’s important to you, you can buy those separately. As it comes out of the box, the Antec 300, is a rugged looking business class machine that probably won’t be mistaken for some high school kid’s gaming computer. antec 300 inside caseDon’t get me wrong, it’s more than capable of playing that role if that’s how you want to use it, but the Antec 300 is probably more practical than it is good-looking. While the Antec 300 is a genuinely a Mid-Tower ATX Case, it will easily accommodate Micro ATX and Mini-ITX motherboards as well as ATX. The Antec 300 has plenty of expansion room: 3ea: 5.25″ Bays, 6ea: 3.5″ Bays and 7 expansion slots. The power supply mounts on the bottom in a smart way so that there is plenty of room for peripherals. USB and Audio ports are conveniently located at the top of the chassis where they can be easily seen and accessed. That’s the Antec 300 in a nutshell. I think what I like the most about this chassis is it’s large size and easy access. Both side panels slide on and off like a hot knife through butter. One of my pet peeves with other computer chassis is how difficult it can be to simply take off a side panel. The drives simply use screws to fasten inside the chassis, without the need for some kind of silly mechanism or obscure hardware to fastent them. And speaking of screws, the Antec 300 comes with more than you’ll ever need. I really love having the access to the USB and audio ports on top. I feel very confident that the computer stays cool housed inside the Antec 300 and it runs noticeably cooler than my son’s old P4 Dinosaur in its old CasEdge case. If that’s not enough to like, the Antec 300 comes with a 3 year warranty as opposed to the 1 Year on most 3rd Party computer components. This tells me that the fans inside the Antec 300 are probably excellent quality and should hold up well for the next few years.

At a popular online computer retailer, I found over 2500 hundred user reviews. 96% of these users rated the Antec 300 chassis 4 stars or better. That’s quite an endorsement for a computer chassis. I think the Antec 300 is the perfect match for the OCZ 600W Modular power supply.

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