Review: Lifeline

I recently downloaded this Android and IOS game called Lifeline for $2.99.

iPhone Screenshot 1

I’m not usually in the practice of paying for games or apps for my phone, but for the last couple of months I’ve been participating in the Google Opinion Rewards app which is free to download, but pays you in Google Play credit for take occasional brief surveys.

I had gained about $5 worth of credit and decided to browse the games section of the Play store to see what might interest me and while pocket Minecraft would have been my first choice, I didn’t have quite enough to match the $6.99 cost. So, when I scrolled down and saw a tiny little astronaut I was already hooked.

You’re connected to Taylor, a inexperienced astronaut who has crash landed on an unknown moon and whose entire crew is dead. You must help him figure out how to survive and help him make decisions through discussions where you are given two options for how to respond. Your text choices could lead him to salvation or to his death.

 

The game is entirely text based but keeps you fully engaged and invested. With ambient music that is occasionally accompanied by heavy breathing, I could feel my blood pressure rising in certain situations when things became more tense or urgent.

The game does have a fast mode once you’ve already completed it, but initially there are times where Taylor is busy or unavailable and you must wait for him to contact you again. This draws the game out and gives a deeper sense of immersion in the story. When Taylor contacts you again, they come through as notifications on your phone as a text or email might. However, the game does not punish you if you’re unable to play or respond for any length of time.

I completed the game in about a week with intermittent ability to play, and without dying. I do wish the game where a bit longer, or maybe more episodic, but for what there was of it I thought it was really good. I enjoyed the writing, and the humor conveyed reminded me of The Martian, one of my new favorite reads, which is appropriate considering the similarities in situations.

If you’re looking for a new mobile game, and don’t mind paying a little bit for what is virtually an interactive novella, then I definitely recommend this one.

5 Stars (5 / 5)

“I Screwed Up the Bread” Pudding

breadpudding

Our breadmaker is… well… really darn old. I usually put a knife block in front of it while it’s running because the latch on the door doesn’t stay shut while it’s wobbling wildly during its mixing stages. Add the ricketyness to the fact that we got some new but not quite right paddles and I had me an ugly, underbaked loaf.

Thankfully, there’s no need to throw away imperfect homemade bread – add just a few things you probably already have in your house and you’ll have a lovely bread pudding.

This was so popular that the whole batch disappeared in less than 12 hours. Frankly, that’s only because I fought Mark off until Brie could get back from school. The recipe also came together quickly, which was great.

The only real drawback was I didn’t get a chance to properly photograph it after people realized it existed. This was my only other evidence:

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4.0 from 1 reviews
"I Screwed Up the Bread" Pudding
 
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Delicious bread pudding made from the remnants of a failed loaf of homemade bread.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 sad loaf of bread.
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup mixed berries (optional, and frozen is a-ok)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk or cream
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Tear bread into small chunks and toss together with berries in a medium sized baking pan.
  3. Pour butter evenly over bread chunks.
  4. Combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extra in medium bowl and wisk together well.
  5. Pour over bread chunks.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes or until firm (a little liquid in the center is okay, just make sure to give it time to set before serving).
  7. Let set either at room temperature for at least an hour before serving.
  8. Enjoy!

 

Nuna and Toodles Casserole

Nuna and Toodles Casserole

As proven time and again with classics like Meatloaf, the old standards are still worth returning to.

I don’t know about you, but one of the staples of my child-hood dinners, at least in the capacity of what my dad could make us when we had weekends with him, was a Tuna and Noodles Casserole. Or as we playfully called it, “Nuna and Toodles”.

tuna and noodles caserole 1

It was of course a pretty different dish than what I made with supplies on hand, but I was still able to evoke the memory of dinner with daddy and that taste of home.

tuna and noodles caserole 2

Nuna and Toodles Casserole
 
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Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces egg noodles, boiled per packaging direction
  • 2 cans tuna
  • 1 medium onion, diced, lightly sauteed
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped, cook (recommend frozen)
  • 8 ounce can cream of mushroom soup
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoons cayenne powder
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • ¾ cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl combine melted butter and breadcrumbs with a fork.
  3. In the pot you cooked the noodles in, a large bowl, or even in your baking dish, combine all the remaining ingredients until fully mixed.
  4. Spread evenly into a large glass baking dish and place in oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove and spread the breadcrumb crumble evenly on top and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes until golden on top.
  6. Serve warm and enjoy!

 

 

 

Special Diets: Some Tips

Here’s the flip side of the gluten-free trend that I hear so many people complaining about – more awareness and more demand means that people with severe gluten intolerance have more options when they hit the grocery store or dine out. I think that’s pretty awesome. And I tend to feel the same way about most “fad allergy” movements.  I don’t care if it’s a placebo effect issue – people feel better.

I myself have my own dietary issue I battle with – GERD – or gastroesophageal reflux disease. It’s essentially really bad acid reflux, all the time. I take medication for it, but it’s still an on-going challenge to keep it in check. When I’m not careful , I tend to be in a lot of pain and my sleep is badly disrupted.

Technically, I’m supposed to avoid caffeine, fatty food, red meat, citrus, spicy food, milk, chocolate, and alcohol — you know — all the good stuff. In practice, like most people, I have specific things that tend to set me off. There’s a gap between what the doctors say will *probably* make me feel awful and the things that make me feel bad in practice. There are two ways to try and figure out what foods are actually causing you discomfort:

A food diary

This is the easier of the two options. Write down what you eat, when, and track your general reactions. You’ll likely start to see patterns emerge that you may not have noticed previously.

The elimination diet

This method is tough, but effective. Cut absolutely every possible item that could be causing you issues out of your diet entirely. Slowly introduce things back in one-by-one and track how you feel.

I’ve admittedly only gone the food diary route thus far. The worst triggers for me have turned out to be tomatoes, red meat, caffeine, and alcohol. It’s worse if I combine any of those (and if you notice, those are basically the components of a fancy date-night dinner — alas, alack).

It’s also smart to Google the heck out of whatever condition you may have. For years, I had been trying to figure out what to do while in the middle of especially bad attacks. When I’ve forgotten my med and made the mistake of, say, having a glass of wine with a steak and a handful of chocolates immediately before bed (an extreme and not quite accurate example), I find myself sitting bolt upright, suddenly conscious and pulled out of my sleep cycle, coughing and choking on the burning in the back of my throat. I tried treating it with milk and Tums, but nothing really ever made a dent. Eventually I discovered a tip in a random GERD forum about eating a banana. I can’t tell you how much of a difference this has made for me.  Yes, just eating a banana. Maybe two, if things are really terrible. BOOM, burning sensation GONE. Back to sleep I go. RELIEF.

Of course, if your symptoms are severe or really persistent, make sure you go to see a doctor. It’s important to rule out anything really serious.

What special dietary needs do you have? Have you found any tips or tricks to alleviate symptoms? Are there any kinds of recipes Qwerty could focus on that would be helpful for you?

Summer Squash Garlic and Chicken Pasta

Summer Squash Garlic and Chicken Pasta

This Sunday I got the most excellent call from my brother-in-law to let me know that he had a few summer squash from his garden for me.

They were big and beautiful and ready for eating. I grated up one to put in a zucchini raisin bread, and the rest I diced up with some sauteed chicken and a 40 clove garlic sauce from Trader Joe’s to pour over some multicolored bow-tie pasta.

summe squash garlic chicken pasta 1

The flavor was so light and fresh and just screamed “summer”.

Summer Squash Garlic and Chicken Pasta
 
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Author:
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Boil the pasta as the package directs.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, saute the chicken in the olive oil over medium high heat for until mostly cooked through.
  3. Add squash to the pan and cook for a few minutes until they start to soften.
  4. Add the garlic simmer sauce and simmer over medium low for five minutes.
  5. Spoon the garlic chicken squash mixture over a bowl of pasta.
  6. Enjoy!
Notes
Instead of the Trader Joe's sauce, you can simply butter and season the pasta and mix with non-sauced chicken and veggies.

 

 

Thursday Link Rodeo

Forget a roundup – this here is a link rodeo! It’s a collection of cool/exciting/delicious food news, recipes, and more that we’ve encountered recently. Yeehaw. Or something.

Hosted by a marshmallow.

Image from The Kitchn.

Image from The Kitchn.

1. Fluffernutter, peanut butter, and marshmallow creme cookie sandwiches from Serious Eats.
2. How to make fluffy marshmallows from The Kitchn.
3. Toasted marshmallow shot glasses from Bustle.
4. Marshmallow vodka infusion from MixThatDrink.
5. Peanut butter marshmallow squares from LVOE.

Ten (ish) Summer Road-trip Essentials

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I have logged a lot of long hours on the road driving between Montana and California over the years. From 104 to -35 degrees Fahrenheit, through heat waves, flash-floods, and scary-slick ice (and the occasional wildlife hanging out in the middle of the road – remind me to tell you about the Wyoming bunny suicide run sometime) – I’ve dealt with a lot of road conditions. I’ve slowly honed my list of essentials over the years, cutting things that now seem frivolous and adding other things after desperately needing them while stuck miles and miles away from any other human person.

Here’s what you need to get you through a summer road trip:

1. An actual map.
You never really know when your phone, its charger, the charging cord, or your network service is going to fail spectacularly, so it’s important to go the old fashioned route and have a real, paper map on hand. If you’re going anywhere even slightly remote, I guarantee it will come in handy.

2. A first aid kit.
I know, you’re totes immortal. But bring one, in case you or someone you happen upon needs it unexpectedly.

3. Jumper cables.
A car basic, but important to make sure you have on hand before hitting the road. Try and get the longest ones you can – you’ll find the short ones difficult to use if you’re ever stuck in an awkward part of a parking lot.

4. Tire pressure gauge.
Changes in elevation and temperature can do funny things to your tires. Make sure to check the pressure before you hit the road and once you’ve reached your destination.

5. Windshield washer fluid.
It sucks to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with a mountain of bugs on your windshield and no way to clean them off. Keep an extra jug of this stuff handy in case you run out before you get to the next gas station.

6. Water.
The general rule is a gallon per person per day. So, in case of real emergency, keep about 5 gallons per person on hand in a container meant for longer term storage (BPA-free).

7. Blankets.
Because temperature changes and naps.

8. Food.
Non-perishable is preferable (nuts, snack bars, etc.), but don’t let that keep you from packing a few indulgent items that need to be eaten quickly.

9. Matches or a lighter.
Just in case. Or, you know, s’mores.

10. A spare tire AND a tire jack.
You need both if you get a flat.

EXTRA CREDIT — An AAA Membership. Super handy if your car breaks down and great for discounts while you’re traveling. Definitely worth it if you have a little extra cash.

Bonus comfort items:

A. Baby wipes.
Get the biodegradable kind to feel less icky about their environmental impact. And enjoy freshening up when you don’t have access to a real shower.

B. Disposable toothbrush.
These may be wasteful, but they are SUCH a relief when you are feeling gross from those McDonalds hashbrowns.

C. Lip Balm
You’re likely to cross through a lot of climates when you’re on the road and the skin on your lips is going to react by drying out. Keep that from happening with a little Chapstick or

D. Sunglasses
Do not leave these at home. You will be miserable. Seriously.

E. Sunblock
You know you like dangling your arm out the window while you drive with the music blasting, but then you get that sad, hurty one-armed sunburn and an increased risk of skin cancer. Remember to bring sunblock and you won’t end up looking like a half-human, half-lobster road monster.

F. A tent.
During the summer, you may as well save yourself some cash and stay at a KOA instead of a cruddy hotel. There are tons of great campsites and lots of websites to help you find them – and the cost of a tent (plus a flashlight, sleep mat, pillow, and sleeping bag) will pay for themselves after you’ve used them a few times.

Enough about essentials – what’s your favorite road trip food? (I have a weird love of Hardees biscuits and gravy, as terrible as they are. And old habit that has stuck with me, I’m afraid.)

Gluten-Free Banana Pancakes

Gluten-Free Banana Pancakes

For the last few days I’ve been staring at our super ripe bananas trying to decide what to make with them. Every morning I contemplate a Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie, but have gone with a bagel or cereal instead, or I’ve thought about some of Brandie’s Cinnamon Streusel Banana Bread or those Banana Muffins I liked so much, but it just didn’t feel like the choice.

So this morning I decided to make some gluten-free banana pancakes; low carb, low fat, natural sugars, and high in taste.

gluten free banana pancakes 3

Not that health is usually a decider in my dietary choices, but it’s a nice side affect for something so delicious.

gluten free banana pancakes 1

These were a great use of old bananas, super simple to make, and very tasty.

gluten free banana pancakes 2

Gluten-Free Banana Pancakes
 
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Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 very ripe (brown) bananas
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter
Instructions
  1. Heat a skillet on medium heat until a drop of water placed in the center will sizzle and dance, but not immediately evaporate.
  2. Use a small amount of the butter to grease the pan in a medium sized circle, and then using a ⅓ cup scoop, pour some of the batter onto the pan.
  3. Cook until the top of the pancake starts to make bubbles and holes, and checking under the edge the bottom is golden brown.
  4. Flip and cook on the other side until it is also golden brown.
  5. Stack and serve with maple syrup, butter, jam, powdered sugar, or whatever your preferred pancake topping is.
Notes
To create a fluffier pancake, add 2 tablespoons of gluten free "flour" or pancake mix to the batter.