Jalapeno Mac & Cheese

Thanksgiving was great.  I was not in charge of the turkey which always makes me happy.  I was in charge of some side dishes though, including the mac and cheese.  Super simple recipe.

I made 2 lbs of noodles (elbow, shells, whatever you want).  Start off by cooking those noodles per the instructions on the box and drain.  Add about 4 TBSP of butter just to keep things from sticking too much to the pot.  Let it melt and return the noodles.   Then I added 2 5oz containers of pepper Boursin cheese and 2ish cups of cream to help the melting process.  I added about 2 cups of shredded mild cheedar and 1 cup of marble cheddar.  Be generous with the cheese – it is mac and CHEESE!  Add 1 4oz can of diced jalapeno. Mix it all together.  Taste it at this point, if there isnt enough heat, add more jalapeno — you can add heat but you can’t take it away if you use too much out of the gate.

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You can stop there and serve once its all melted and blended together.  Since I was making multiple dishes for Thanksgiving, I buttered a large casserole dish and put the mac and cheese in it, topped with more shredded cheese and dotted with about 2 TBSP of diced butter.  That way about an hour before dinner, I could put all my dishes in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour to reheat and be hot for dinner.  If you do this, watch your cheese – after about 30 minutes I covered with foil so the top wouldn’t burn.

It’s simple and delicious and great as leftovers.

Soundboxing VR

I haven’t taken advantage of all my free time as I could have and so I’ve fallen behind on keeping up with VR games and experiences.  BUT, I will comment on one of my favorite games in VR to date.  Soundboxing.

I play this game on the HTC Vive and it is available on Steam for only $7.99.  Totally and completely worth it.  As the site and Steam description outline, this game is VR music video kickboxing game where players create the beats  (there really isn’t any kicking involved yet, maybe sometime in the future when Vive trackers pick up traction).  The game is made up of user-generated content and there are a lot of options available.  The music and videos are on YouTube; you can browse by genre, look at playlists, and browse the most popular challenges being played.  Not only can you play a user’s challenge and try to get the #1 spot on the leaderboard, you can create your own challenge and see if anyone (even yourself) can get the highest score.

Your left controller is a yellow boxing glove, and the right controller is red.  I suggest you strap the controllers on your wrist.  When the challenge starts, you basically hit the yellow beats (bubbles) with the yellow glove, and the same for the red.  A fun component to the game are the “dancing” robots (you can disable this if you want to be a solo act).

Scores are a combination of accurately hitting the beats and not missing any, AND the strength by which you hit them (there is a left and right meter for strength).  When you heat a beat at at least full strength, you get an explosion.  This can be distracting, especially when you have beats flying at you through the explosions faster than your hand-eye coordination can process.  And don’t try to watch the music video in the background – you will miss a beat or two or many.

Some routines are more difficult than others.  I tend to like the ones that have a lot of movement (may as well get my cardio in while I’m playing).  You can definitely tell the difference between players that have rhythm and can dance, and those who do not.  I am not a dancer.  My routines are not very creative….so I don’t make them often.  You might find a few though.

You will break a sweat playing this game.  I’m not fond of sweating at all, but even that doesn’t stop me from playing this game.  It is my absolute favorite with 43.7 hours on record thus far.  I will replay a challenge over and over again until I get 100% accuracy.  Then I try for the #1 spot on the board.  I am not #1 on many.  The game gives you updates when someone beats your position on the leaderboard…. If you’re competitive, go back and challenge your challenger for the higher rank.  Bonus: the website keeps track of your challenges and scores so you can see them anytime outside of VR.

Beware, you could easily spend hours playing, and wake up sore the next day.  I keep saying I’m going to add weights to my wrists to make it more difficult, but to be honest, the weight of the controllers (which isn’t really much) is good enough.  As a side note, there is an article about a man who lost 50lbs playing this game using additional weights.  What a fun way to exercise.

Ultimately, this is a must have.  It is fun to challenge your friends online if they have the Vive, or in person as a sort of party game.  Just make sure to have some paper towels and alcohol swabs ready to clean the headset before passing it on to a new player.