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.


Juicing Your Way Into The New Year

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kb6000It is that time of year to make a resolution for a better 2015.  Setting a goal and committing to it is always a tough task to pull off.  We all start with high hopes, but the actual work and discipline that is required usually starts to take its toll on our motivation.  One of the best ways to overcome this is to make it something that is easily attainable and not too difficult to maintain.  Juicing can be one such way to do something positive for your health, yet be simple to stick with, provided you set yourself up right at the beginning.

The easiest way to do this is to find the perfect juicer for your needs.  You may not have a lot of time and want something that gets the job done lightning fast.  You may want to juice a lot of leafy greens.  You may also want the quietest machine possible.  Unfortunately there is not one juicer that can do all of these things exceptionally well.  You will have to comprise on some things when buying a new juicing machine.  However, it is possible to get one that can provide you with a quality experience.

Some of the Top Rated Juicers for 2015

As we close out 2014, there are certain juice extractors that stand out among the rest as far as their performance, quality, and owner satisfaction rates.  The models below are among the best customer rated juicers heading into 2015.  If you are looking for a new juicing machine for your kitchen, then these are some of the sure fire picks that are mostly likely to not disappoint.

Omega NC800HDS

This is the newest horizontal juicer from Omega and it has a couple of new features that really set it apart.  It comes with a wide feed chute, something mos masticating juicers do not have.  The advantage of this feature is that you can now drop in bigger sized fruits and vegetables into the juicer without cutting them up first.  This can save a lot of time.  This juicer is quiet, sturdy, provides high juice yield and delivers a quality juice.  It is also relatively easy to clean.  The NC800 has already gotten great customer reviews in its early release and is sure to be a model to consider in 2015.

Breville 800JEXL

This is a high end centrifugal juicer that has been a user favorite for awhile.  It is a stainless steel powerhouse that provides an extremely easy and fast juicing experience.  Breville juicers are among the highest customer rated machines on the market.  They get high scores for having easy to use, simple to clean, and dependable juicers.  If you are constantly in a rush, or you just want to get done as quickly as possible, then this is the model for you.  The 800JEXL was one of the best juicers in 2014 and we see no reason why it should slip in 2015.

Kuvings B6000 Whole Slow Juicer

This is a vertical masticating juicer that has one main feature that sets it apart from others in its class.  This unit comes with a wide feed chute, the first upright to have this feature, and it really makes an impact.  The design of this juicer helps save on space, and the new feed chute helps save on juicing time.  This model really started to make a name for itself towards the end of the year and it should be a contender going into the next.

Breville JE98XL

For those who are interested in what the 800JEXL can do, but don’t want to pay nearly $300 for a juicer, the JE98XL is an excellent option.  It has a slightly less powerful motor, and its body is made of a hard plastic rather than stainless steel, but it can still deliver the same high quality and fast juicing experience but at a much lower price.  You can probably pick this up for about half the cost of Breville’s higher end model.  This juicer has been a wildly popular option for those who want to save a little and we so no reason for this to change in the future.

No Bad Choices

There are plenty of high quality juicers out there to choose from and finding a machine to provide all of the goodness that juicing has to offer is not that hard.  But with all of those choices, it might take some time to find that juicer that is just right for you.  Prioritizing the aspects that you want most in a new juicer can help you save time while you are looking.  The important areas for a juicer to perform well in are; speed, ease of clean up, noise, price, types of foods you are going to juice, and ease of use.  Knowing which of these factors you value most before you go shopping can make the entire process go a lot quicker.  Getting any juicer is better than not having one at all, so with that in mind, there really is no wrong choice to be made.

 


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.


3 Quick & Simple Cake Recipes

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cake-recipes
Many people love dessert but at times the idea of getting up every 30 minutes to check what is in the oven can be quite unpleasant. If baking is not your hobby, yet you are looking for a quick simple dessert to prepare with all the flair and taste then you need to consider the following 3 amazing dessert recipes;

Quick Black Forest Cake Recipe

Ingredients
1)1 tablespoon butter.
2) An adequate proportion of devil’s food cake mixed with pudding.
3)1 can cherry pie filling.
4)1-1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips.
5)1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar.
6)3 eggs.
7)1 tablespoon almond extract.
8)2 tablespoons milk.
10)2 sizable skillets.

Instructions
1)Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C.

2)Combine together cake mix, almond extract, 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, beaten eggs and cherry pie filling, beat to form a nice blend.

3) Grease skillet and pour batter in the pan.

4) Place the blend into the skillet, and bake for about 50 to 60 minutes while maintaining the heat at 175 degrees C. Remove from heat and let cool.

5) To make topping, heat the remainder of the semi sweet chocolate chips, batter and milk in the other skillet over medium heat. Once the sweet chocolate chips are in liquid state and blend is mixed, stir in confectioner’s sugar.

6) Spread topping over cooled cake and serve with any appropriate food or drink.

Apple Cake Recipe

Requirements
1)1-1/4 cups vegetable oil.
2)1/3 cup milk.
3)3 cups all-purpose flour.
4)1 tablespoon salt.
5)1-1/4 cups brown sugar.
6)2 cups white sugar.
7)3 eggs, (beaten).
8)1 tablespoon baking soda.
9)1/2 cup batter.
10)1 cup chopped walnuts.
11)3-1/2 cups apples (peeled and chopped).
12) Adequate amount of baking powder.
13) Adequate amount of vanilla.

Instructions
1) Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.

2) Grease and flour a skillet.

3) Sift together sugar, salt, baking powder and floor in a large bowl. Make a shallow hole in the center of the dough, add vanilla, oil and eggs then stir well. Fold in chopped apples and nuts.

4) Place dough in a pan which is smeared with batter.

5) Bake in the oven for about 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

6) To make the topping; in a skillet, mix brown sugar, butter and milk. Bring to a boil while making sure to stir steadily.

7) Remove from heat and top with the glaze while still hot.

Quick Coffee Cake Recipe

Ingredients
1)1 egg.
2)1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
3)1/3 cup shortening.
4)1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour.
5)1/2 teaspoon salt
6)1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda.
7)2 tablespoons batter (melted).
8)1/2 cup milk.
9)6 tablespoons white sugar.
10)1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
11)1/2 cup brown sugar.

Directions
1) Preheat the oven to about 220 degrees C. Grease and flour a sizable square pan.

2) Blend together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a sizable bowl. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender to the appropriate size.

3) Stir the egg well in a separate bowl then add in vanilla and milk. Add this mixture to the dough blend and stir carefully until just blended.

4) Pour batter into pan and spread uniformly. Sprinkle top with melted butter.

5) Combine together 2 teaspoons flour, half teaspoon cinnamon and brown sugar in a separate bowl. Sprinkle on top of the cake.

6) Pour batter into prepared skillet, place dough and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. You could alternatively insert a toothpick in the center of the cake, if it comes out clean, the bake is ready.

Dessert is supposed to be a treat, and slaving over a hot oven and allocating time that you don’t have is not all that rewarding.  But hopefully some of these cake recipes will help you save time in the kitchen and give you and your family something to look forward to after your meal.

For those that are not in the mood for cake, check out the video below to learn how to make a fast and delicious chocolate mousse.  Save time, eat great!


What Kind of Juicer Should I Get?

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juicer-buying-guide

Whenever we getting into conversations with people eager to learn more about juicing, this is the most common question that we get.  Our last post hopefully gave you some great ideas about different recipes that you can use with your juicer, but for those who do not have one and are thinking about joining the ever growing number of health conscious individuals who have gotten into juicing, getting a top juicer is a crucial step.  But with some many wonderful choices and different types of juicers available it is hard to know which juicer is going to be best for you.

Below are just a few ways that you can narrow down your choice to find a juicing machine that you will enjoy using on a daily basis.  What’s the point of having a juicer, or any kitchen appliance, if it is just going to sit in the back of the cabinet collecting dust?  So finding something that you like to use everyday should be the primary goal.

Centrifugal Juicer or Masticating Juicer

When shopping for a new juicer, this is one of the first things that you will surely come across.  There are two main types of juicers and each as their positives and negatives.  So first we should determine which of these will best suit our needs.

Centrifugal juicers are generally exceptionally fast at juicing.  They chop and spin whatever is dropped into the machine at a very high rate of speed.  These juicers are great with hard vegetables and fruits like carrots, apples and cucumbers.  So if you envision juicing these types of foods regularly then this type of juicer is for you.  Keep in mind that centrifugal juicers are also very loud.

Masticating juicers on the other hand are a little bit slower in how they juice produce.  The slower method also means they are a lot quieter to operate.  These types of machines are wonderful for cabbage, kale, lettuce, spinach, wheatgrass and other leafy vegetables.  If you want to juice a lot of these types of foods then you will be better off with this type of machine.

Clean up is also another important factor to consider, and today’s high quality models of both types of these juicers should be rather easy to clean.  Neither has any distinct advantage in this area.

Reading Online Juicer Reviews

I always find that sorting through various customer reviews from actual customers is always a tremendous help.  I want to hear how those who have the product in their home like or dislike it.  If you search through different online stores you will soon discover that juicers being sold today are very high quality and you have will have several great options to choose from.

There are two brands that we particularly like when it comes to juicers.  For centrifugal juicers, you just can’t go wrong with a Breville juicer.  They are extremely well made and customer ratings for these juicers are impressively high.  If you decide that a masticating juicer would best fit your needs, then getting an Omega juicer is something that we recommend.  We use these machines and love them.  You can read some great juicer reviews on different Omega models at http://www.top10juicers.net/omega-juicers/

How Much Should I Spend on a Juicer?

Of course, this is always a chief concern for most of us that are looking to buy something.  Don’t skimp when it comes to getting a juicer because cheap ones usually are a disappointment.  Get yourself a good juicer if you can.  Top rated juicers are going to run you somewhere between $100 – $300 and if you can afford it then I would stay somewhere in that price range.  Juicers below $100 are typically not worth the hassle, and juicers above $300 usually don’t offer anything significantly better to justify spending more in our opinion.

So shop around online and you should have no problem finding a good deal on a machine that is easy to use, and can provide you years of juicing goodness.  It is never too late to get healthy and eat and drink better.  Changing your diet can be simple with the help of great tools in the kitchen.  This is why we are so zealous in our love for juicing and how it can truly have a positive impact on how you look and feel.  So get juicing and don’t look back.

If you want to see the Omega juicer that we use in our kitchen check out the video below.  This is not our vid, but it is a great demonstration on what this model can do.  We love using it.