Gaming: Super Mario 3D Land

I remember playing my first Mario game back in the 90’s. I spent so much time trying to beat Super Mario Bros. Deluxe on my Gameboy Color. I haven’t bought a Super Mario game for a handheld console since, until Super Mario 3D Land.

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Super Mario 3D Land is a game where you get to explore and walk through the different levels. Your goal in this game is to get to the flagpole before time runs out. Of course you have to avoid being hurt by enemies, stepping on spikes, lava, or just falling into the abyss. You can also try to find the three stars hidden in each level. This game does not restrict you to a certain path, but lets you walk freely through the world.

I had never played a Mario game that allowed you to wander through the levels. I am very used to the scroll-screen play where you just jump over things and attack enemies as you go. It was an interesting experience to not have a designated route to take. The game itself I found to be pretty easy, but finding the stars hidden in the levels made the game more interesting. The one downside (in my opinion) is the game will give you a flying, invincible Mario if you lose a life a few times in a row. While this might be nice for younger children, it kind of took some of the challenge away. All in all Super Mario 3D Land was a pretty good game. I enjoyed playing it, but it wasn’t very challenging with the “assists” that the game gives you, and could easily be completed in a few hours (if you aren’t looking for the hidden stars).

Super Simple Manicotti

Though I don’t always have time for it, I love cooking meals from scratch. There’s something satisfying about creating a wonderfully tasty dish with simple ingredients. This week I’m going to show you how to make manicotti from scratch.

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For the manicotti you’ll need:

1 egg

1 3/4 cups ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups grated cheese (you can use mozzarella, an italian blend, or another white cheese)

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/4 cup pesto (optional)

12 manicotti shells

 

For the sauce you’ll need:

1 jar pasta sauce (~645mL)

OR

1 can crushed tomatoes (~600mL)

Oregano, salt, pepper, basil, thyme, celery seed, pinch of sugar

A bit of water (approx. 40mL)

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1) Cook the manicotti shells and run them under cold water when cooked (I usually reduce the suggested cook time by 1-2 minutes to make them easier to work with).

2) Preheat the oven to 350F.

3) Spread about 3/4 cup of the pasta sauce/ homemade sauce (see tip) onto the bottom of a 13X9 pan (or you can use two smaller pans if you don’t have a large pan)

Tip: If you are making your own sauce instead, mix the crushed tomatoes with the spices to taste and thin it out with a little water if it’s too thick. You don’t have to use all the spices, and you can switch them out to customize the flavour. I don’t have measurements for this because I just eyeball the amount and taste it as I go. You don’t need to cook the sauce down because it will get cooked when it goes in the oven.

4) Mix the egg, cheeses, and pesto (see tip) in a bowl until well blended and spoon into a resealable plastic bag (I used a giant freezer bag for this, but you can use smaller bags for easier handling)

Tip: You don’t need to use pesto in the manicotti. You can leave it out, or substitute it with something else. I find chopped spinach also works quite well in this recipe.

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5) Use scissors to cut a corner off the bag (to create a piping bag) and fill the cooked manicotti shells with the cheese mixture.

Tip: This may be tricky for the first few times. I find if you hold the shells securely in the middle they are less likely to split open. put the corner of the bag into the shell and keep on squeezing until you feel the bag being pushed back by the cheese. Remove the bag while squeezing (until the shell is full on the one side, and repeat on the other side. It does take some practice, but don’t get discouraged!

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6) Place filled manicotti shells in the baking dish and top with remaining sauce. Make sure the shells are well covered in sauce so they don’t dry out in the oven.

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7) Cover with foil and place in the oven for 40 minutes. Enjoy!

Book Nook: 10 Books You’ve Probably Skipped Over

I thought for this week I’d do a different kind of book nook. Usually I give you my review on a book I’ve been reading lately, but with final projects coming up and exams drawing near I just haven’t had the time to read anything other than textbooks. So, for this week I will be giving you the top 10 books that you’ve probably skipped by. Most of these books are not your usual run-of-the-mill modern bestsellers. I also threw in a few books that I find aren’t read enough. So if you’re looking for something new, try picking up one of the titles below:

1) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

  • A story of imperialism and evil taking place in the heart of the Congo.

2) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

  • This is an older futuristic/sci-fi novel with an interesting plot twist.

3) Atonement by Ian McEwan

  • I know this was made into a movie, but I read this before it was a movie and I’ve honestly never seen the movie. It’s an interesting love-story-gone-wrong about how a lie can destroy lives. Be prepared to hate one of the characters.

4) Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  • This is a classic mystery featuring the dynamic duo Sherlock and Watson.

5) Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

  • This is an adult fiction novel that is a good challenging read. It is a Russian story tale that takes a very dark and twisted turn.

6) To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  • A small town is riddled with inequality, and corrupt morals. Keep your eye out for Boo Radley.

7) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • The short novel about love, money, parties, and adultery during the Great Depression.

8) Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

  • Though the movies were very popular I don’t think I know anyone other than my mom who has actually read the series. The movies tend to gloss over certain parts of the books and whole chunks are taken out in order to make the movie a reasonable length.

9) Hamlet by William Shakespeare

  • Now I know this is a play and not technically a book, but it’s quite an interesting story if you really get into it. Death, corruption, madness, betrayal, and talking ghosts…what more could you ask for?

10) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin

  • This book is witty and humorous with a main character who isn’t afraid to speak her mind.