5 Small Appliances Every Kitchen Should Have

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top small kitchen appliancesWe all love to eat, but cooking our favorite dishes in our kitchen can sometimes be a real chore. If you would like to expand your horizons and get more use out of your kitchen, then there are a number of small appliances that can help. Sure, we all have a cabinet where we send those machines that we thought we would get a lot of use out of but quickly lost interest. Hopefully some of the appliances below won’t suffer the same fate as they can not only be fun to use, but they can also help you improve the overall quality of your diet. The kitchen can be a daunting place for a lot of folks, but if you have the right equipment, both the time and the effort spent making your favorite recipes can be greatly reduced.

Juicers

We all know that we should be getting more fresh fruits and vegetables into our diet, but who has the time to eat what is required? A juicer can condense just about all of the nutritional value of your favorite produce into a convenient, easy to consume glass of juice. It is still smart to eat the occasional fruit for some added fiber, but juicing provides a great way to instantly elevate your vitamin and mineral intake on a daily basis.

Centrifugal and masticating juicers both can handle a wide variety of fruits and veggies. Centrifugal machines are fast and loud, and they are also rather easy to use and to clean. Masticating juicers are slower and quieter, and the newer models tend to also be simple to use and keep clean. Whichever type of model that you choose will allow you to take advantage of all of the health benefits that one of these machines have to offer. If you are looking to get healthier, then a juicer is a must have addition to you countertop.

Food Processors

One of the main reasons that people avoid cooking at home is the amount of work involved. Nobody wants to put in a full day’s work in the office only to come home and spend hours chopping vegetables or mixing ingredients. This is where having a quality food processor can make a big impact. Slicing, dicing, mincing, mixing, chopping and shredding can all be taken care of in one machine. They are fast, versatile, and extremely handy when it comes to food preparation. Chop onions in a flash without battling tears running down your face. Mix your own dough, or shred your own cheese with ease. Just about any recipe can make use of a food processing machine to speed up the process of cooking.

These truly are a extreme time savers when it comes to making a home cooked meal and well worth the investment. These are some of the best selling small kitchen appliances that people love to use in their home to cut down on the work involved in cooking. Do your homework, read the reviews, and buy yourself a high quality food processor. You will wonder how you ever got along without one in the kitchen.

Toaster Ovens

One of these ovens can really transform the way that you cook by making everything a lot more convenient and less costly. Even if you already own a toaster, these countertop ovens can do a lot more than bread and well worth the counter space. If you like to bake, cook, broil, roast, or reheat, one of these appliances can do most of the jobs that your microwave and full sized oven do but in a smaller, easier to use package. This is another versatile machine that you can use in many different ways to justify your investment. They also tend to use a lot less energy than a full sized range making them more economical in the long run. For a novice chef, a toaster oven can be a tremendous benefit.

Ice Cream Machine

Who does not like ice cream? Having your own ice cream maker gives you the flexibility to create your own frozen treats whenever you get a craving. Kids love them, and it is a great way to bring the family together for a tasty activity. You also get to control what ingredients that you use in your recipes and you can make them as healthy or as decadent as you choose. Kids also love to experiment with lots of flavors so the fun is almost endless. This appliance is sure to put a smile on everyone’s face as well as yours since they are one of the simplest machines to use. They also tend to be less expensive than the other appliances on our list.

Blender

While we already have added juicers, a capable blender is also a great addition to any home. From cocktails to juice to milk shakes, using a blender is a great way to save you time while creating terrific tasting drinks. While they can be a little noisy, the higher quality models don’t have to run as long so it is only a temporary inconvenience.

For those who tend to shy away from their kitchen for fear of hard work or just simple intimidation, having the right appliances can make all of the difference in the world. It is possible to learn to love cooking as much as you love eating, just make sure that you have the right tools to get the job done right.


Double Jogging Stroller Ideas

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top double jogging strollersJuggling work, kids, and your health can lead to a lot of stress for new parents. Constantly feeling that there is just not enough time in the day to take care of everything that really matters can take its toll. Usually the first thing that gets sacrificed is your own well being. Whether it be your diet, you end up eating things that are fast and convenient instead of things that are good for you, or carving out time for a good workout, you always run out of time. The kids come first, as they should, and looking after them usually does not leave any time to get a run in.

There is a solution that a lot of folks who love to run have found, and that is a jogging stroller. You can look after the children while you treat yourself to an aerobic stress release. It is a better investment than a treadmill in that it is an activity that the entire family can enjoy and it gets the kids out of the house and into the outdoors for a fun adventure all while letting Mom and Dad burn some calories running. For those with more than one kid, a double running stroller may be just what the doctor ordered.

Are They Safe?

Accidents do happen, but today’s jogging strollers are designed to be able to handle faster speeds, bumpier terrain, and adverse conditions all while providing parents a stable piece of equipment that is easy to control and stop. Bigger wheels, dedicated suspension, hand brakes and even tethers allow you to stay in control and help provide a safe ride for the little ones.

Top Double Strollers For Runners

BOB Revolution Duallie – This is one of the most popular double joggers on the market. Lightweight design, durable fabrics, storage and safety features have made this a huge hit with parents and kids alike. Anyone looking to buy a new double stroller should look at this model first.

Baby Jogger 2014 X3 Summit – This was built for off road use and it is an extremely durable and capable stroller for serious runners. Air filled tires, comfortable suspension, adjustable sun canopy, and hand brakes are just some of what make this unit so good. This is their latest model so there are not a ton of customer reviews, but their previous models were all highly touted by users. If you like to get off the pavement and go into some bumpier terrain then this would be a perfect option.

Top Rated Brands

As you can see from above, BOB and Baby Jogger are two of the best selling makers when it comes to double joggers. Combing through various double jogging stroller reviews gives you a good picture that these two are clearly above other stroller manufacturers when it comes to owner satisfaction. Strollers that can handle two or three kids are going to be more expensive than single models, so you want to make sure that you get the very best, and you probably can do no wrong going with either of these two brand names.

The Family That Runs Together

Obviously running is a great activity that can provide numerous health physical and mental health benefits to the runner, but the kids benefit as well. First, they are able to get out of the house and experience the world with Mom and Dad. It is a true adventure for them and most little ones thoroughly enjoy the ride. Second it is something that the entire family can partake and benefit from. Spending time with one another in a healthy activity is a winning combination that can also ingrain good habits. If you love to run, investing in a jogging stroller is something that is definitely worth looking into.


Ice Cream Maker Buying Guide

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top ice cream makers 2015Seriously, who does not love ice cream?  For those with a severe sweet tooth, buying premium ice cream can be a rather expensive habit.  On the other hand, purchasing your own ice cream machine for your home can be quite an economical alternative to feed your desire for frozen goodies.  If you have never thought about getting one of these for your kitchen, then you are in for a treat…literally.  Luckily, quality ice cream making units come in a wide range of prices and features that will enable you to find a capable machine no matter what your budget may be.

What Are the Best Ice Cream Machines?

Cuisinart makes some of the most popular units with several models that are highly rated by users.  Combing through various reviews of ice cream makers online and it is quite apparent that you really can’t go wrong picking up one of these small appliances.  Breville also has a top rated maker, but it is also quite expensive.  Leilo, Hamilton Beach, Nostalgia Electrics, and White Mountain are also very good options with numerous positive feedback from customers.  One of the great features of most of these machines is that they are able to make more than just ice cream, they can also make other frozen treats.  Gelato, sorbet, frozen drinks, and frozen yogurt can also be produces by most of these machine which helps add to their overall value.

What To Look For In A New Machine?

Most of the more affordable ice cream makers use a bowl that must be frozen before starting the ice cream making process.  Some bowls are double insulated which helps speed up the process and save time, however it may take several hours to get the bowl to the right temperature.  It will also require you to make room in your freezer for the bowl to fit.

Some of the more expensive models come with their own compressor which does not require you to freeze the bowl.  This added convenience is the main reason for the higher price tag.

Capacity is also another important factor when deciding on which model to buy.  How much ice cream do you need to make?  How many mouths will you need to feed?  Higher capacity units may be slightly more expensive.  However, in the long run, making your own ice cream will end up saving money.

Do They Produce Good Ice Cream?

I have had experience with several model ice cream makers, and they do indeed produce some great tasting results.  The consistency is usually on the soft side, but once done, you can put the ice cream your freezer for an hour or two in order to firm it up if desired.  These machines are also really simple to use, with most being as easy as a push of a button.  The hardest part of using these home machines is the required patience need while eagerly waiting for the job to get done.

Are They Expensive?

As mentioned earlier, home ice cream makers come in a wide range of price points.  From $30 all the way up to over a thousand dollars, finding a machine to fit your budget and your needs should not be to hard.

If you have cabinets full of small appliances that you never use, you may be quite hesitant to add another one to the your collection.  But for anyone with a serious ice cream addiction, getting your own machine is a worthy investment.


Palate Pleasing Pastry Recipes

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tastey pastry

For all those that love to bake we have got a few pastry recipes that might tempt your tastebuds. Perfect for parties, bake sales or just to surprise your family, there is nothing as putting a smile a someone’s face as you offer them some freshly prepared pastry dishes.

Muffin Madness

Sizzle up your everyday muffins with these great mix of flavors.

Ingredients:

470 gm Wheat flour
450 gm Sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp Baking powder
250 gm Water
130 gm Sunflower oil
1 tsp Vanilla essence
2 Zest of limes

[Raspberry Butter cream]

500 gm Icing sugar
220 gm Margarine
3 tsp Raspberry pulp
3 Almonds (sliced)
9 Raspberries (whole)

Instructions to follow:

For the cake add wheat, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Mix the ingredients thoroughly to make a mixture of all the dry ingredients. In another bowl, mix sunflower oil, vanilla essence, zest of limes and water to make a solution of all the liquid ingredients. Next, pour the dry mixture slowly into the liquid mixture while beating continuously until a smooth and even texture is reached.

Next, take a muffin tray and grease it with butter. Divide the muffin batter into equal parts onto the tray and insert it into a pre-heated oven at 180 degree. Let the muffins bake for 10 to 15 minutes if you are using a mini muffin tray or 20 to 40 minutes if you’re using a jumbo muffin tray. Once done, insert a toothpick into the center of the muffins. If the toothpick comes out clean the muffins are done, otherwise, bake them for 5 more minutes. Let the muffins cool before applying the icing on top.

Raspberry Butter Cream

In a blender, take the margarine and pour in sugar slowly while beating at medium speed. Then add in pulp of raspberries gradually while beating continuously until the mixture is smooth. With the help of a pasty bag decorate the muffins and top it off with sliced almonds and whole raspberries.

Mini Cheesecake

Very easy recipe to make before guests arrive.

Ingredients:

Crust

1/3 cup Graham cracker crumbs
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs Margarine (melted)

Filling

8 ounce Cream cheese (softened)
1 Egg
1/4 cup Sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp Lemon juice
1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 Lemon zest (grated)

Instructions to follow:

In a bowl, mix the crackers, margarine and sugar until properly mixed. Grease a muffin tray with butter and put one heaping tablespoon of the resulting mixture into each cup of the muffin tray (press firmly on the mixture so that it goes completely flat). Insert the tray into a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees and let it bake for 5 minutes.

While the crust cools, mix the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla essence until the mixture gets fluffy. When that’s done, mix in the egg slowly. Pour this mixture into the muffin tray (fill it up to 3/4th of the cups on the tray). Bake it for 25 minutes at 325 degrees. Let it cool while it’s still in the tray. Once cooled, remove from tray and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry

It can be a bit of a hassle to make but the results are worth the effort.
Ingredients:

5 tsp Active dry yeast
2/3 cup Sugar
1 tsp Salt
3 Egg yolks
2 tsp Vanilla essence
2/3 cup Milk
3 and 3/4 cups Flour
1 and 1/2 cup Butter (unsalted)

Filling

8 ounces Cream cheese
1/4 cup Sugar
1 Egg yolk
1 tsp Vanilla essence
1/4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Orange zest (grated)
1 tsp Lemon zest (grated)
2 tbs Flour

Glaze

1 and 1/4 cup Confectioner’s sugar
3 tbs Lemon juice

Instructions to follow:

Dough

In a large bowl pour 1/4 cup of warm water and add sugar and yeast to it. Let it sit for 5 minutes. When it gets foamy, stir in salt, yolks, vanilla, and milk. Next, add flour to the mixture until it turns into a soft and sticky dough. Cover this dough for an hour. Make sure to keep it somewhere cool.

Butter mixture

Take the butter on a cool surface, roll it with a rolling pin until it softens. At this point add 1/2 cup of flour while blending the mixture until it’s fully combined. Take this butter mixture and cut into 6 inch squares; wrap it in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Proceed to take the dough and roll it into 12 inch squares. Put the butter mixture diagonally in the middle. Enclose the butter mixture using the dough like an envelope. Seal it by pinching the edges of the dough. Roll it from the center and do it in such a way that is forms an 18 by 8 inch rectangle. Fold the dough like a book and refrigerate it by wrapping it in a plastic wrapper for 1 hour before rolling it out again. Repeat this procedure twice or more to make the pastries crispier.

In a bowl mix in all the filling ingredients until it smooths and refrigerate it for an hour or more. Take the refrigerated 18 by 8 inch rolled out dough and cut it into 4 inch squares. Stretch two corners of the square (that are opposite to each other) to form flaps.

Take one heaping tablespoon of the filling and put it in the middle of the square. Top it with blueberries. Brush the flaps with egg wash and seal the filling carefully within the square by overlapping the flaps. Brush the entire pastry with egg wash.

Put the pastries on a baking sheet (3 inches apart) and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until the pastries turn golden.

For the glaze, whisk in sifted confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice until thickened. Serve the danish pastry with drizzled glaze on top.

Buttercrust Dough Recipe

Want to see how to make the perfect buttercrust pastry dough?  We found this video below that gives easy to follow directions and provides a great illustration of the steps involved.