Games I’ve Been Playing Lately

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about gaming! I haven’t been playing as many video games since I started working full time, but I got some new games for Christmas that I’ve been enjoying working through!

So here are some of my favorites so far in 2017 :)

Zumba

This is a game that I’ve been eyeing for a year or two now. I’ve always wanted to take a Zumba class, but haven’t been able to find a class at a good time or didn’t want to go by myself, so I thought this would be a fun alternative. I got this game as a Christmas present this year and couldn’t wait to try it out!

www.microsoft.com

Overall, I really liked the game. There were songs that you would normally associate with Zumba from Latin American countries, but then there were also a lot of other regions and their dances represented at well. It provided variety if you ever got bored of one style of dance. It was a pretty good workout, too! The first time I played, I could only make it through about four songs before being beat. But I could feel myself getting stronger the more that I played, and that encouraged me to play even more.

There was also a kind of “training” mode, where you could learn complicate steps for each style of dance in slower motion and repeatedly practice them. That was a good introduction to the game for me since I don’t fancy myself that much of a dancer where I could work on those moves before being thrown into the song.

The only thing I didn’t like about the game is the user interface. Moving between menus was motion activated, meaning you had to raise your hand in the air to select songs. Oftentimes you would have to stand with your arm raised for thirty seconds or more before it even read that you were trying to navigate between the menus, and then you had to hover for a couple seconds for it to select. If your hand wavered slightly, it would come off the selection. It really didn’t make sense why you couldn’t use a controller to navigate through the game in addition to using your hand.

Castle Crashers

electricsistahood.com

This is a fun arcade style game that Andrew and I have played on and off for a while now that we recently returned to beat. You play as knights who storm castles to rescue all of the kidnapped princesses. You can level up your knight and allocate your skill points, and in some parts of the game you compete for the princesses’ kiss. It’s reminiscent of older games to me since it’s pretty straight forward, which is why I think I enjoy it so much. There’s a lot of humor in it as well, like you can battle your allies and the winner receives a kiss from the princess.

xbox.com

We’ve only played this together so far, so I can’t attest to the single player, but the multiplayer is great! There are a lot of games that I’ve played with Andrew that aren’t really meant for multiplayer, but this one is perfect for it. There are a couple other mini games on the side that you can play online, and those are fun if you need a break from the main storyline.

 

LEGO Lord of the Rings

You guys know that I love the Lord of the Rings, books or movies, I’ll take ’em all. This game is no different. I’ve always been a big fan of the Lego video games, having played Lego Jurassic World, and Lego Hobbit.

The game does a good job of condensing the main plot line while still keeping the original charm of the movie. Many of the scenes are shot for shot recreations of the movie but with Lego characters instead, which I loved. Plus there is the standard Lego humor (i.e. one of the humans in the opening scenes of the movie drops his ring, a pig gets caught stealing carrots instead of Merry and Pippin, just funny little bits here and there that make you laugh).

http://criticallysane.com

The game breaks down the plot down into levels, but I love the game play between the levels. There is an open-world where you can move all over middle-earth and complete side quests,  find letters to forge new items from the blacksmith, buy characters and power ups, etc. Plus it’s just fun to ride around on a horse through the Shire and through Rohan.

http://www.gamesoft.hu

This is one of those games that I can’t play for just fifteen minutes because as soon as I pick up the controller I’ll play it for four hours. Plus, even though it’s a Lego game, it is still very pretty! From the setting in the Shire to Mordor, the scenery and background images are beautiful! It makes me want to watch the movies.

 

Have you played any good games recently?

Homemade Baked Apple Chips

A couple of months ago, I realized that Andrew and I were throwing out about half a bag of apples every other week. It’s cheaper to buy them in a bag than individually where I buy my groceries (roughly $3  a bag as opposed to $1 an apple), but I hate being wasteful. There were just too many apples for Andrew and I to eat before they went bad.

So I started to think of ways that we could use those apples instead of throwing them out. That’s when I remembered my mandolin slicer that my mother-in-law bought me for Christmas, and I started making apple chips!

The whole process takes a bit of time, but it’s so easy that it’s really not a whole lot of work. It took me a couple of tries to get the temperature and the baking time right, but once I got that down it’s almost as easy as pie. ;) All you need is a couple of baking trays, some apples, a mandolin slicer, and some cinnamon and sugar.

You can use pretty much any apple you’d like. I’ve tried making them with Gala, Granny Smith, and Pink Lady apples and they’ve all turned out just fine, they just have different flavors. I usually use Pink Lady apples, as they’re a little more tart and Andrew and I like them to not be quite as sweet.

I highly recommend using a mandolin slicer, as it cuts the apples into thin, even slices. I tried once with just a knife, but my slices were too thick to fully dry and they never got crispy. I use the 1.5 mm piece in my mandolin and found that’s the best size, at least of the sizes I have.

Start by preheating your oven to 225° F and greasing a couple of baking pans with cooking spray.

Next, start slicing your apples. You can decore your apples beforehand to get the stem and seeds out, but I just cut those middle pieces in half and cut out the stem and seeds.

Arrange the apple slices on your baking sheets. You can place them pretty close together since they will shrink as they cook and some overlapping is fine. Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top and place in the oven.

Bake for 1.5 to 2 hours. I flip the slices about halfway through cooking and sprinkle the other sides with cinnamon sugar.  Then switch the racks that each sheet was on, so that they cook evenly.

I also place an extra sheet on the bottom of the oven so that I can cook more at one time. So that they don’t burn, I switch the sheets every twenty minutes or so to get a more even baking. This isn’t necessary though if you have more racks in the oven or are only cooking two sheets at one time.

The chips should be pretty firm when they are done. They will crisp up more once they are completely cooled. If they are still really flimsy or a little damp, then they aren’t done yet. I always check on them every ten minutes or so the last half hour to make sure they don’t burn. If they’re brown, they are over done!

These are about halfway done, right before I flip them!

Let them cool and then enjoy!

I love to make these apple chips on the weekend. I can pop them in the oven while I’m watching a movie or doing housework and check on them every so often. They’re pretty easy once you figure out how long to cook them as each oven varies.

Plus, the house always smells wonderful as these cook, like apple pie!

© Copyright Rebecca Smith | 2011-2016