How to Choose the Best Slush Machine for Different Purposes

Best Slush Puppy MachineSlushies are refreshing and the kids love it. You can buy slushies from the supermarket or the alternative option is to make them from the comfort of your own home. To make the perfect slushy, a slush machine is necessary. Thankfully, this device is now widely available. When looking for the perfect slush puppy machine, there are a few different aspects to consider.

Purpose

You should be clear of what you want your slush puppy machine for. If you were planning on buying one for commercial use, the best thing to do would be to look for a model that is fit for it. Consider where you will put it and how the location can affect your machine and the product. If you want a home slush machine for your kids, you should also consider how safe it is to use.

Size

If you’re looking for a home slush machine, why not buy a smaller one that you can store in your countertops or on small tables? On the other hand, if you’re planning to sell slushies, you may want one that can last longer. You can look for freestanding ones for commercial purposes and one that can store more to cater high demands.

Freeze Time

Whether it is for home use or for commercial, you want the best slush for everyone. The consistency of the slush is important that is why you need to keep it frozen. Some machines have a setting to choose the right level of consistency so think about this feature. Other machines cannot keep up with the heat especially when these slush machines are put outdoors. Upon browsing for a slushy maker, think about the freeze time.

Automatic or Manual

Slush machines come in different types. There are those that can be manually refilled. These are great for home use. Alternatively, you could get an automatic slush puppy machine that combines a powder mix into water. All of this is happening without you or any person doing work. All it takes is 5 minutes.

Cost

Keep in mind that a device that’s suitable for commercial use will cost more than home slush machines. This is because you need to please the customers and to do that, you need a machine that can give them the best product. However, the best machines aren’t always pricey. You just need to be keen in looking for the right one for you.

Manufacturer

When purchasing a slush machine, make sure the manufacturer is credible and trusted by many. Contact the seller to ask for a warranty. This way, you can get a replacement if there are inconsistencies in their claims.

Whatever machine you opt for, keep in mind the safety of your family and other people who will use it. You can now have more fun knowing that you are away from hazards.

Arugula Salad with Sunflower Seeds & Parmesan Cheese

Arugula SaladSo, dinner last night consisted of a really yummy salad of mixed greens with spinach, arugula, sunflower seeds, grated Parmesan cheese and some lardons dressed with some freshly-cracked pepper. What are lardons, you ask? It’s basically a fancy French way of saying little strips of fried bacon.

It was delicious, and it was another let’s-use-whatever-we’ve-got sort of kitchen sink meal. I had bacon leftover from a previous salad, we wiped out the Parmesan, I love throwing sunflower seeds into all of my salads for that salty little crunchy surprise, and we dressed it simply with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Not bad for using what you have on hand, if I do say so myself!

Have any of you ever heard of The Grocery Game? It’s basically a voucher site, but something about this one I like better than other voucher sites…well, actually, I know what: Its design is more catchy, you can view all of the products on sale/with vouchers from your local stores at once, you can sort by product or store name, Sainsburys is included, you can print your list…

But you have to pay £5 every eight weeks after your free trial of 28 days. At first I thought it was £30, which I don’t think would have been worth it but yesterday alone I gathered £10 worth of vouchers, for stuff I actually normally buy/use — even the healthy stuff at Sainsburys, like Seventh Generation dish soap and facial tissue! And I’m behind the game because I just started keeping my voucher inserts whole and dating them (most sites, like these two, tell you what insert by date and name the voucher is in, so if you’re like me before and cut them and sort of leave them all over the place, I can never tell now, for example, if I’ve already clipped and/or used an Always voucher from May 15th). I’m really excited about this one. I have four weeks to try it, so we’ll see how it goes. I do believe that sometimes you have to spend money in order to save money.

Anyways, I hope you’re enjoying your week. We took a nice long walk to our local Dairy Queen last night — a once-in-a-summer sort of thing — and there’s only one other place I have on my to-do list to go with the baby another night to kind of get it out of my system, but bagels have also always had a summer sort of connotation for me (dating back to my secondary school volleyball days!) so hopefully we’ll pop over to a bagel shop and surprise Daddy one morning. Also on my summer list is an outdoor mall with a splash pad for kids, a walk in the forest preserve, hitting a museum on a free day, going to the beach, going to my dad’s golf club pool and possibly joining a local group to make more friends around here. The days just fly by if you don’t up and decide to Just Do It, so maybe we’ll knock another item off this list today.

What are your plans now that summer is in full swing? Inspire me!

Making a Blue BLT Salad

Blue BLT SaladI had a dream on Sunday about blowing too much money from our food budget at Sainsburys, and so I was very careful on Monday to not let that happen. I wanted to go there for the local turkey lunch meat, so I figured I could also pick up two dinner items for the week, whatever was on sale. With about £30, I purchased a whole organic chicken, four pieces of bacon for a salad, a pound of ground turkey, five yogurts, some organic red kale, three tomatoes, a spice rub my husband wanted to try and well, if I’m forgetting anything, so be it.

I was about to choose between Gorgonzola or regular old blue cheese for the salad, too, but my husband reminded me we had blue in the house from the farmer’s market — yea! I get so excited by the little “saves” like that. So we had a blue BLT salad: blue cheese, bacon, arugula and organic tomatoes. It was SO good! The cheese really made it, but I was also proud of myself for picking the perfect amount of bacon and not being shy about just asking for four slices, instead of a half pound, or a quarter pound, or whatever. I wanted four slices, so all I got were four slices. (It’s the little things that make me happy.)

My husband dished up the goods before I was able to snap a picture, but with such simple ingredients you can imagine how it looked and tasted! With a little bread and fruit on the side, we had a nice family meal, a walk, and finally gave the baby a bath in the “real” tub — I know, he’s 14 months old, so #1 he’s not really a “baby” any more and #2 it took us long enough; our stopper leaked before and we kept forgetting to buy a rubber one at Wickes. He loved it, just like our little whale kiddie pool, and all in all it was a great night.

Hope your week is going well!

Looking at the Cuisinart SSB1U Electric Soup Maker

Remember when you were young and visited your nan. I’m sure she greeted you with a bowl of delicious homemade soup. Most of the taste should be credited to her recipe and cooking process. Nowadays, if you want to make extremely tasty soup for your friends and family then it is highly likely that you have no idea how to even get started. One way of doing this would be through a high quality electric soup maker. Perhaps the best one right now is the Cuisinart SSB1U.

This model is brilliant because it will help you to make your favourite meal literally within 20 to 30 minutes. After using this for a couple of months I realised just how incredible this machine was. This is because you don’t need to be a big fan of soup to use this machine. To tell you the truth, you can make all kinds of snacks and meals with this. In order to assist you through every step, you will also receive a recipe book that will include all kinds of dishes.

It literally is the perfect machine for when you have guests over. This is also because it is a multipurpose device that can be used to do lots of different jobs. For example, you can use this to crush ice, make smoothies with the blender function and of course make soup with the soup maker setting. The multipurpose function of the Cuisinart SSB1U means that you won’t have to buy different machines for the different tasks that can be carried out by one machine. This will not only make your job easier but it will also save a lot of space in your kitchen. You can always store it away quite easily too!

When it comes to capacity, this machine comes with a large 1.7-litre pitcher that will allow you to prepare a meal for lots of people. Again, this would be perfect for the time of a large gathering of friends and family.

Now that I’ve given you a brief overview, let me talk a little bit about the specific features of the machine. First of all, it has a non-stick heating plate that will do the cooking but at the same time prevent anything from sticking and causing a mess. The rapidly heating feature also has the ability to cook whole foods like vegetables and boil liquids. I’ve found that dishes like soup are made to pretty much perfect consistency and that’s why I considered this as the best soup maker on the market right now.

I’ve already mentioned the blender function and I knew about this before I used the product. Despite this, I didn’t expect to be wowed when witnessing this in action. This is because you will get a very powerful feature with high quality stainless steel blades. This will allow you to make all kinds of soups and sauces while adding ingredients at any point during the process. You’ll literally have the soup ready in 20 minutes! There’s also an internal heating feature that will keep your meal nice and warm while you prepare for dinner. All of this is possible due to the powerful motor integrated into this electric soup maker. As soon as the soup is ready, you can literally lift the lid and pour it into the bowl and have it ready to eat.

While the Cuisinart SSB1U is pretty much the best soup maker, it also has several other plus points associated with it. For example, it comes with a 3-year warranty that will protect the buyer greatly. Furthermore, it also has a self-clean function. This will mean that you won’t need to spend too much time or effort to clean up the mess straight after the meal has been cooked.

By now, you must’ve realised how great this soup-making machine is but there are a few things that you need to be aware of before you buy it. The main thing is the size of the pitcher, which stands at 1.7 litres. From this, only a maximum of 1.4 litres can be used for hot meals while all 1.7 litres can be used for cold drinks. Furthermore, you’ll easily be able to use this for frying vegetables and giving them that brown appearance that’s often seen in soups. However, you cannot do this with meat. If you want to use meat in your recipe, you’ll need to cook this before throwing it into the machine.

You should definitely focus on all of the advantages and disadvantages of this soup maker and then make your decision on whether to get it or not. This is exactly what I did and I don’t have many complaints about this.

Cooking with Food Strainers

Properly using food strainers can make your cooking easier and tastier. There are a few tricks to using your food strainer, and we’ll cover some of those in this post. Also, I want to touch on the differences between a colander and a food strainer since many people confuse the two, and their purposes.

Semantics are what confuse people when the topic of food strainers is brought up. Technically, a colander strains food very well, but it is not a food strainer. Colanders are what you use to drain pasta noodles from its water, and a strainer is what you use for making pasta sauce and jam. Food mills are also considered strainers since they do the same job, just more efficiently.

Recipes that use food strainers are generally sauces and desserts. Bell peppers that have been diced finely can be pressed into the strainer to get a delicious juice out of them. Blackberries and raspberries can be used the same way for flavouring ganaches, icings, and other sweets. The best thing is that you get the entire flavour in the liquid, while separating the pulp and skin so you can throw it away.

The biggest time saving comes when you are making jams and tomato sauce. Fruit that is seedy can be processed in just a few minutes by running it through a food mill. This includes strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and grapes. For pasta sauce, trying to skin a lot of tomatoes can become very annoying, so after they have been blanched, just toss them into a strainer or food mill and run them through. Inside the strainer you have pulp (or crushed tomatoes) and outside you have the sauce.

Using the right food strainer for the recipe is important, and now that you know the difference between the types and how to use them, you are well on your way!

Important Gluten-Free Baking Tips That Anyone Can Use

These are some things to bear in mind for gluten-free baking.Baking takes a lot of skills and stamina to be able to create delicious concoctions and recipes that can make your family proud. Baking cakes and pastries is one enjoyable pastime that can help boost your self-esteem during parties and celebrations. However, new developments have pointed to the harmful effects of ingesting large amounts of certain food types like gluten. It has been shown to have ill-effects on health, which gives rise to ailments like celiac disease. This disease is known to increase the death rates of people with heart condition and cancer.

Studies have shown, by comparing 10,000 people 50 years ago to 10,000 people today, that the prevalence of celiac disease has grown to around 400% between the two time periods. The increase is attributed to bad eating habits and lifestyle. The way of life that people led half a century ago was simpler and a lot less complicated that it is today. Hence, a full-blown killer disease like celiac, was contained within a small sphere of the population back then. However, you can enjoy a gluten-free lifestyle.

A new eating pattern that advocates the use of non-harmful ingredients and food is now emerging. These would include the use of gluten-free ingredients in cooking and baking. Literature online has sprouted on how to go about cooking and baking this type of food. There are basic concepts that one has to know before embarking on this new lifestyle. The list would include the following:

1. On wheat flour – the flour that is commonly used today for baking comes from wheat. This type of flour, along with flour that comes from barley and rye, is off-limits to gluten-free advocates. Ready mix gluten-free flour, made from nuts and legumes can be bought in any grocery outlets and online stores.

2. Gluten on flour – the flour from wheat is not gluten per se. It is composed of two proteins that become gluten once they come in contact with water. Gluten is the gooey paste-like mixture that is elastic and with strong sticky bonds, like those seen in the making of pizza dough.

3. Gluten helps dough rise – gluten is brought about by the addition of liquid into the flour, and the kneading and mixing that goes into the process. These three factors will bring about a consistency that bonds the gluten molecules into long sticky strands. Once yeast is added into the mixture, this mixture expands as gluten molecules traps the gases from the yeast.

4. Recipes would determine the amount of gluten – baking bread would entail a lot of gluten as compared to cakes. The latter does not have as much chewiness as bread, but a fair amount of gluten is retained to hold it together and keep it from crumbling. Pie crust on the other hand, has less gluten than either cakes or bread. It has minimal infusion of liquid with shortening, and requires a fair amount of mixing to combine the ingredients. Hence, gluten levels are kept to a minimum in the baking process.

5. Pans used in baking – since use of non-gluten flour would result to an unstable mix – you should bake bread in Bundt or load pans, and rolls in muffin fans. Using these pans would ensure a food presentation with a semblance of form and shape. Always remember that substituting regular flour with non-gluten flour will cause your mixture to lose its form, hence the recommended use of specific pans for baking.

6. Gum and protein – Putting a small amount of ordinary gum into the mixture can simulate the sticky feel of gluten. Gum infusion should be kept to a minimum, which is around 1/4 teaspoon for every cup of flour. This has been used in a couple of recipes online for non-gluten baking. As a substitute for the protein in gluten, you can also use egg whites or a whole egg into the mixture instead of water.

7. Cross contamination – it is better to have two sets of baking utensils for gluten and non-gluten baking. There must also be separate containers, sifters and pans so as to avoid contamination.

8. Experiment – it is always practical to experiment on your old home cooking recipes by using non-gluten ingredients instead of your regular ingredients. This would assure you that the family would like what you bake, since you will be coming up with their usual favourites regardless of changes in types of ingredients. There are also many gluten-free recipes online and blogs that can help you succeed in this new form of endeavour.

 

Is Your Pantry Gluten-Free?

While there are those who switch to a gluten-free diet by choice, it’s necessary for others. When it comes to this diet, there will be an overall change to what you eat. Your food storage will be converted entirely to a gluten-free pantry.

In this article, you’ll learn more about the basics of a gluten-free diet and more importantly, what you need to keep in your pantry.

First things first

Changing your kitchen to a gluten-free pantry is not as easy as it seems. A change in diet means a change in your way of life. Before you get started on discarding food that has gluten, internalise first. You have to be ready for the changes to come. You should condition your mind. Think of this as an opportunity for you to be healthier.

Once you’ve mentally conditioned yourself, setting up your pantry will be a lot easier. Simply remember you’re doing this for the better.

Basic Gluten-Free Flours

Flour is an essential component to food. It is used to make cakes, breads, pizzas and pastas. Flour is also used when frying, baking and other cooking methods. Gluten-free flour is a basic essential for your pantry. When you’re someone who has celiac disease and enjoys baking, this flour will get you back to baking in no time. If you’re also about to do some grocery, the following examples can make shopping easier for you.

  1. There are many different types of gluten free flours.Bean flour: This flour is produced from pulverised beans. Not only is it a great substitute, they are packed in protein and fibre and very low in fat. If you’d like to make brownies or cakes, stock some bean flour in your pantry. This is also a perfect substitute for wheat flour.
  2. White rice flour: Not only can you eat white rice as source of carbohydrates, you can also use white rice flour in baking. It can mix easily with our types of gluten-free flours. The only disadvantage of white rice flour is that it doesn’t contain too many nutrients.
  3. Sweet rice flour: This is another type of flour you can store in your pantry. This is a good component to making sauces and gravy thicker. Buckwheat flour. Despite its name, buckwheat flour is not at all related to wheat. This flour is completely gluten-free and is perfect for making pancakes and noodles. It also does a lot of good to your health with all the amino acids it contains.

Basic Gluten-Free Sauces

While there are a lot of sauces and gravy packed with gluten, the number of gluten-free ones is increasing. You don’t have to deprive yourself from enjoying saucy and succulent meals. The following are some gluten-free sauces you can store in your pantry.

  1. You can also get various gluten free sauces.Barbecue sauce: There are a lot of barbecue sauces that contain artificial smoke flavourings that have gluten. Trusted brands of sauces have made gluten-free ones so you can still enjoy your grilled steak without it being dry.
  2. Worcestershire sauce: This kind of sauce is something that may not be easy to find. Majority of sauces have malt vinegar in them, which has gluten. One good alternative is to create your own Worcestershire sauce with the help of online recipes.
  3. Cheese sauce: Everyone loves cheese. It’s one thing that’s hard to give up. Even if you’re preparing your pantry, you don’t have to sacrifice cheese sauce. With the help of recipes, you can create your own cheese sauce. It will be just as good and flavourful as the one with wheat flour.
  4. Teriyaki sauce: Japanese food is well loved the world over. That’s why if you’re into cooking chicken teriyaki or other teriyaki-based dishes, don’t worry. You can easily substitute your soy sauce into a gluten-free one to mix with sake and sugar. It will be just as good as the original.

Basic Gluten-Free Meat

You don’t have to sacrifice your meat in a gluten-free diet. Unprocessed meat can be part of your pantry. It’s important that you buy those that are freshly cut and unflavoured. The preservatives, seasonings and flavourings contain gluten, which you don’t want.

Once you have your unprocessed meat, simply season it with pepper and salt. You can even add herbs to make it more flavourful and aromatic. You can still fry, steam or grill your meat. Just remember to always match it with fresh vegetables and fruits. This way, you’re still able to eat a well-balanced meal despite your condition.

Basic Gluten-Free Vegetables

You can practically eat all kinds of fresh vegetables. The only time it goes against your gluten-free diet is when it’s cooked with wheat, flour, soy sauce and other gluten-based ingredients.

Make sure to eat your vegetables and fruits as fresh as possible. There can be harmful bacteria in those that have been stored for too long. To keep all the nutrients in them, the best way is to steam it and eat them right away.

Recipes you can make

There are a lot of recipes you can make using food found in your pantry. The key is to learn about the different ingredients and cooking techniques so you can make meals. When you’re on a gluten-free diet, it doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to boring food.

A good trick is to eat your meat with vegetables and fruits, like preparing a cranberry and apple-filled pork and roasting it. Steaming chicken and preparing it with homemade garlic sauce and pickled vegetables is scrumptious enough.

Things you need to remember

Keeping a gluten-free pantry is just as important as keeping any kind of food storage. Always keep in mind that you are in a different but not a difficult kind of diet. Maintain a certain sense of discipline so you can be just as healthy.

When it comes to letting go some of your favourite foods, learn to substitute. We all know it’s hard to give up drinking beer or eating bacon. But there are other substitutes that can be a perfect alternative.

Lastly, treat your pantry as an opportunity for you to be more creative in the kitchen and be just as healthy and happy. Not all changes should be bad.

So if you’re about to make your own pantry, list the basic gluten-free food products you can get. Make sure to confirm your list with a doctor, to ensure that it’s really gluten-free. Whatever happens, your health is still top priority.